Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 312 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.

Project Gutenberg
Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook