In more than one way this suited Grenfell exactly. The opportunity for adventure that such a cruise offered appealed to him strongly, as it would appeal to any real live red-blooded man or boy. It also offered an opportunity to gain practical experience in his profession and at the same time render service to brave men who sadly needed it; and he could lend a hand in fighting the liquor evil among the seamen and thus share in helping to care for their moral, as well as their physical welfare. He had seen much of the evils of the liquor traffic during his student days in London, and he had acquired a wholesome hatred for it. In short, he saw an opportunity to help make the lives of these men happier. That is a high ideal for any one—to do something whenever possible to bring happiness into the lives of others.
This was too good an opportunity to let pass. It offered not only practice in his profession but service for others, and there would be the spice of adventure.
He applied without delay for the post, requesting to go on duty the following January. Whether Sir Frederick Treves said a word for him to the newly founded mission or not, I do not know, but at any rate Grenfell, to his great delight, was accepted, and it is probable the group of big hearted men who were sending the vessel to the fishermen were no less pleased to secure the services of a young doctor of his character.
At last the time came for departure. The mission ship was to sail from Yarmouth. Grenfell had been impatiently awaiting orders to begin his duties, when suddenly he received directions to join his vessel prepared to go to sea at once. Filled with enthusiasm and keen for the adventure he boarded the first train for Yarmouth.
It was a dark and rainy night when he arrived. Searching down among the wharves he found the mission ship tied to her moorings. She proved to be a rather diminutive schooner of the type and class used by the North Sea fishermen, and if the young doctor had pictured a large and commodious vessel he was disappointed. But Grenfell had been accustomed in his boyhood to knocking about with fishermen and now he was quite content with nothing better than fell to the lot of those he was to serve.
The little vessel was neat as wax below deck. The crew were big-hearted, brawny, good-natured fellows, and gave the Doctor a fine welcome. Of course his quarters were small and crowded, but he was bound on a mission and an adventure, and cramped quarters were no obstacle to his enthusiasm. Grenfell was not the sort of man to growl or complain at little inconveniences. He was thinking only of the duties he had assumed and the adventures that were before him.
At last he was on the seas, and his life work, though he did not know it then, had begun.
ON THE HIGH SEAS
The skipper of the vessel was a bluff, hearty man of the old school of seamen. At the same time he was a sincere Christian devoted to his duties. At the beginning he made it plain that Grenfell was to have quite enough to do to keep him occupied, not only in his capacity as doctor, but in assisting to conduct afloat a work that in many respects resembled that of our present Young Men’s Christian Association ashore.