The little boy slept brokenly that night. Bronze statues flitted through his dreams, sometimes frowning darkly on him, folding him in an iron clasp, dragging him down into the depths of roaring whirlpools; sometimes, still stranger to say, smiling, looking on him with kindly eyes, and telling him that the sea was not so far away as he thought, and that one day he should see it and know the sound of it. His bed was a white schooner,—there seemed no possible doubt of that; it tossed up and down as it lay by the wharf; and once the lines were cast off, and he was about to be carried away, when up rose the crew that he had rescued from shipwreck, and cried with one voice, “No! no! he shall not go!” The voice was that of Mr. Endymion Scraper, and not a pleasant voice to hear; moreover, the voice had hands, lean and hard, which clutched the boy’s shoulder, and shook him roughly; and at last, briefly, it appeared that it was time to get up, and that if the boy John did not get up that minute, like the lazy good-for-nothing he was, Mr. Scraper would give him such a lesson as he would not forget for one while.
John tumbled out of bed, and stood rubbing his eyes for a moment, his wits still abroad. The water heaved and subsided under him, but presently it hardened into the garret floor. He staggered a few steps, as the hard hand gave him a push and let him go, then stood firm and looked about him. Gradually the room grew familiar; the painted bed and chair, the window with its four small panes, which he loved to polish and clean, “so that the sky could come through,” the purple mussel-shell and the china dog, his sole treasures and ornaments. The mussel was his greatest joy, perhaps; it had been given him by a fisherman, who had brought a pocket-full back from his sea trip, to please his own children. It made no sound, but the tint was pure and lovely, and it was lined with rainbow pearl. The dog was not jealous, for he knew (or the boy John thought he knew), that he was, after all, the more companionable of the two, and that he was talked to ten times for the mussel’s once. John was telling him now, as he struggled into his shirt and trousers, about the vision of last night, and the dreams that followed it. “And as soon as ever I have my chores done,” he said, and his eyes shone, and his cheek flushed at the thought, “as soon as ever, I’m going down there, just to see. Of course, I suppose it isn’t there, you know; but then,—if it should be!”
The dog expressed sympathy in his usual quiet way, and was of the opinion that John should go by all means, for, after all, who could say that the vision might not have been reality? When one considered the stories one had read! and had not the dog just heard the whole of “Robinson Crusoe” read aloud, bit by bit, in stealthy whispers, by early daylight, by moonlight, by stray bits of candle begged from a neighbor,—had he not heard and appreciated every word of the immortal story? He was no ignorant dog, indeed! His advice was worth having.