Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 245 pages of information about Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts.
on board the Discovery; shared the dangers of that voyage, in which the ships followed up the N.W.  Coast of America and pushed into Behring’s Strait beyond the 70th parallel; was a witness, on February 4th, 1779, of his commander’s tragical end; and returned to England in October, 1780.  Eleven years later he made another voyage to the same N.W.  American Coast; this time as master’s mate under Vancouver, who had kept an interest in him since they sailed together under Cook, and thought highly of him as a practical navigator and draughtsman.  It was my brother who, under Vancouver, drew up the first chart of the Straits of Fuca, which Cook had missed:  and I have been told (by a Mr. G—­, a clerk to the Admiralty) that on his return he stood well for a lieutenant’s commission—­the rule of the Service being stretched now and then to favour these circumnavigating seamen, many of whom worked their way aft from the hawse-hole to the quarter deck.  But my father and mother dying just then, and the former having slipped a particular request into his will, Obed threw up the sea and settled down in Vellingey as a quiet yeoman farmer.

Meanwhile, in 1779, I had entered the sea service of the Honourable East India Company; and with passable good fortune had risen in it pretty fast.  Enough to say, that by the spring of 1796 I was looking forward to the command of a ship.  Just then my fortune deserted me.  In a sudden fear of French invasion, our Government bought the four new ships which the Company had building (and a bad bargain they proved).  This put a stop for the time to all chance of promotion; and a sharp attack of jaundice falling on top of my disappointments, I took the usual decrease of pay and the Board’s promise to remember my services on a proper occasion, and hauled ashore to Vellingey for a holiday and a thorough refit of health.

I believe that the eight or nine following months which Obed and I spent together were the happiest in our two lives.  He was glad enough to shoulder off the small business of the farm and turn—­as I have seen so many men play, in a manner, at the professions they have given over—­to his favourite amusement of sounding the coast of Vellingey and correcting the printed charts.  He kept a small lugger mainly for this purpose, and plied her so briskly that he promised to know the sea-bottom between Kelsey Head and Godrevy Rock better than his own fields.  As for me, after years of salt water and stumping decks, I asked nothing better than to steer a plough and smell broken soil, and drowse after supper in an armchair, with good tobacco and Obed for company.

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Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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