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CRINGLE AND CROSS-TREE;
THE SEA SWASHES OF A SAILOR.
IN WHICH PHIL TALKS OF GOING TO SEA, AND MEETS AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE.
"I have a very decided fancy for going to sea, father."
"Going to sea!" exclaimed my father, opening his eyes with astonishment. "What in the world put that idea into your head?"
I could not exactly tell what had put it there, but it was there. I had just returned to St. Louis from Chicago, where I had spent two years at the desk. I had been brought up in the wilds of the Upper Missouri, where only a semi-civilization prevails, even among the white settlers. I had worked at carpentering for two years, and I had come to the conclusion that neither the life of a clerk nor that of a carpenter suited me. I had done well at both; for though I was only eighteen, I had saved about twelve hundred dollars of my own earnings, which, added to other sums, that had fallen to me, made me rich in the sum of thirty-five hundred dollars.
My life in the backwoods and my campaign with the Indians had given me a taste for adventure. I wished to see more of the world. But I am sure I should not have yielded to this fancy if it had been a mere whim, as it is in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred with boys. I had never left, of my own accord, a place where I worked: the places had left me. The carpenter with whom I had served my apprenticeship gave up business, and the firm that had employed me as assistant book-keeper was dissolved by the death of the junior partner. I was again out of business, and I was determined to settle what seemed to be the problem of my life before I engaged in any other enterprise.
For eleven years of my life I had known no parents. They believed that I had perished in the waters of the Upper Missouri. I had found my father, who had been a miserable sot, but was now, an honest, sober, Christian man, in a responsible position, which yielded him a salary of three thousand dollars a year. But while he was the degraded being I had first seen him, his wife had fled from him to the protection and care of her wealthy father. My mother had suffered so much from my father's terrible infirmity, that she was glad to escape from him, and to enjoy a milder misery in her own loneliness.
Though my father had reformed his life, and become a better man than ever before, he found it impossible to recover the companion of his early years. She had been in Europe five years, where the health of her brother's wife required him to live. My father had written to Mr. Collingsby, my grandfather, and I had told him, face to face, that I was his daughter's son; but I had been indignantly spurned and repelled. My mother's family seemed to have used every possible effort to keep both my father and myself from communicating with her. She had spent the winter in Nice, and was expected to remain there till May.
I had never seen my mother since I was two years old. I had no remembrance of her, and I did not feel that I could settle down upon the business of life till I had told her the strange story of my safety, and gathered together our little family under one roof. Existence seemed to be no longer tolerable unless I could attain this desirable result. Nice was on the Mediterranean, and, with little or no idea of the life of a sailor, I wanted to make a voyage to that sea.
I had served the firm of Collingsby & Faxon in Chicago as faithfully as I knew how; I had pursued and captured the former junior partner of the firm, who had attempted to swindle his associate; and for this service my grandfather and his son had presented me the yacht in which the defaulter had attempted to escape. In this craft I had imbibed a taste for nautical matters, and I wished to enlarge my experience on the broad ocean, which I had never seen.
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