Shifting Winds A Tough Yarn

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Shifting Winds: A Tough Yarn

Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Overview This book has been considered by academicians and scholars of great significance and value to literature.

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This book has been considered by academicians and scholars of great significance and value to This book has been considered by academicians and scholars of great significance and value to literature. The whole View Product. Charlie to the Rescue. Chasing the Sun. Erling the Bold. I command nothing now but my temper. That, however, is a stronghold from which nothing terrestrial can drive me. My friends style me The Captain, but I am not the hero of this tale.

No, by no means.

I am altogether unheroic in my nature, commonplace in my character. If a novelist were to describe me, he would write me down a stout little old gentleman, with a bald head and a mild countenance; mentally weak in expression, active in habits, and addicted to pipes and loose clothing. Do not imagine that this is my account of myself; no, it is an ideal resulting from the oft-repeated assurances of my wife, who is a strong-minded woman, a few inches taller than myself, somewhat raw-boned and much more powerful, physically, though less rotund. In fact, if I were to attempt a brief comprehensive description of her, I would say, without the most distant feeling of disrespect of course, that she is square and skinny—singularly so!

How she manages to separate between myself and my intellect I have never been able to understand; but then she is strong-minded, which perhaps accounts for her seeing farther into this millstone than I can. She tells me, not unfrequently, that I am weak-minded. Now, curiously enough, it is the idea conveyed in the last two words—at once—which sticks in the throats of my strong-minded opponents!

They agree with me as to the existence of the evils, they honestly deplore them, but they charge me with mental imbecility when I suggest that things should be put right at once. They counsel delay, and when the dispute reaches a certain stage they smile at me with contempt, or pity, or they storm, according to individual temperament, and usually wind up with a rasping reiteration of their original opinions, highly peppered and salted, and an assurance that I have been born at least a century before my time.

If the men of the next century are destined to do good, as their hands find opportunity, without previous delay until thousands of opportunities are lost and gone for ever; if those who put their hands to a piece of work shall carry it out with vigour in their own lifetime; if those who counsel delay shall mean due time for full consideration by themselves , and shall not mean an extended procrastination which shall free themselves from worry, and leave their work to be handed down as a legacy to their children, who shall likewise hand it down to their children, and so on ad infinitum until delay shall become a synonym for death and destruction to tens of thousands of better men than themselves,—if this shall be the sentiment and practice of the men of next century, then I confess that my sympathies are with them, and I really suspect that I must have got into the wrong century by mistake.

But as the position is irremediable now, I suppose I must, in an imbecile sort of fashion, go on my way rejoicing—if I can—sorrowing if I cannot rejoice. Billy deserves to be somewhat particularly introduced, because, besides being an actor in this tale, he was a boy of strong character.

ISBN 13: 9781481851183

If I were to sum him up and reduce the total to a concentrated essence, the result would be a sentence to the following effect:— Billy Gaff had a will of his own! Perhaps I should say a very strong will of his own. For instance, he, on several different occasions, willed to screw off the spout of the family tea-pot, a pewter one, and, having willed to do it, he did it. Again he willed, more than once, to smash a pane of glass in the solitary window of the family mansion, and he did smash a pane of glass in that window; nay, more, in consequence of being heartily whacked for the deed, he immediately willed to smash, and smashed, a second pane, and was proceeding to will and smash a third when he was caught up by his mother, beaten almost into the condition of a mummy, and thrust under the clothes of the family bed, which immediately creaked as if with convulsions, and tossed its blankets about in apparent agony.

It was the sudden removal of the said loaf by his mother to an unreachable shelf that induced the youthful Billy to stand in the middle of the room and howl, as already described. He was still engaged in emulating the storm, and Mrs Gaff, utterly indifferent to him, had cast another glance at the horrified clock, and remarked to her little girl Tottie, that Uncle John must have found work on the shore, for he was long of coming, when a heavy tread was heard in the little porch outside the door.

Billy obeyed, not by any means in consequence of the command, but because he was curious to know who was about to enter, and meant to resume yelling immediately after his curiosity on this point should be satisfied. The door opened, and a strong-built seaman stepped into the room, and looked at the family with a quiet smile on his sunburnt face.

His hair and garments were dripping with water, as if he had just walked out of the sea. On beholding him the family rose and stood for a moment speechless. Billy sat down on the floor in that prompt manner which is peculiar to young children when they lose their balance; simultaneously with the shock of being seated the word faither burst from his lips. Mrs Gaff was not wont to give way to the melting mood, but she could not restrain a few tears of joy.

On the same dark tempestuous night of which I write, a little ship was wrecked on the east coast of England. Hundreds of ships, great and small, were wrecked on the coasts of Britain during that memorable gale. The little ship to which I refer was one of the many in regard to which the newspapers said, she was dashed to pieces, and all hands perished. But in this particular case all hands had not perished: two lives had been spared, unknown to journalists and coastguardsmen.

It was the dead of night when the vessel struck.

The spot was lonely, at least a mile distant from human habitations. No anxious eyes on shore saw her quiver as each successive billow lifted her up and hurled her cruelly down; no sorrowing ear heard the shriek of despair that rose above the yelling storm, when, in little more than ten minutes, the vessel broke up, and left the crew and passengers to perish within sight of their native land.

There was one man among the number who did not shriek, who did not despair.

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He was not a hero of romance whose soul raised him above the fear of sudden death—no, he was only a true-hearted British tar, whose frame was very strong, whose nerves were tightly strung and used to danger. He had made up his mind to save his life if he could; if he should fail—what then? He never thought of what then, because, in regard to terrestrial matters, he had not been accustomed to cast his thoughts so far in advance of present exigencies.

Just before the ship broke up, this man was standing on the lee bulwark, holding by the shrouds of the mainmast, the lower part of which was still standing. A lady and gentleman clung to each other, and to the rigging close beside him. They were husband and wife. Both were comparatively young, and up to that night had been full of hope and high spirits. The husband with his right arm encircled his wife, and grasped the rigging; with his left, he pressed their little girl to his breast over which flowed the fair hair of the little one, drenched and dishevelled.

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The father was a brave man and strong, but his face was very pale, for he felt that courage and strength could not avail to save both wife and child in such a raging sea. An occasional upward glance of his eye seemed to indicate that he sought comfort from God in his extremity. The father hesitated, but a terrific wave was rushing towards the doomed ship. Without even the comfort of a hurried kiss he resigned the child.

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The young mother stretched out her arms towards her, uttering a piteous cry. The struggle was short with most of them. Previous exposure and anxiety had already quite exhausted all but the strongest among the men, and even these were unable to withstand the influence of the ice-cold water more than a few seconds. Some were struck by portions of the wreck and killed at once. Others sank without an effort to save themselves. A few swam with unnatural vigour for a yard or two, and then went down with a gurgling cry; but in a very few minutes the work of death was complete. All were gone except the strong seaman, who clasped the little child in his left arm and buffeted the billows with his right.

Once and again were they overwhelmed; but as often did they rise above the foam to continue the battle. It was a terrible fight. A piece of wreck struck the man on his back and well-nigh broke it; then a wave arched high above them, fell with a crash, and drove them nearly to the bottom, so that the child was rendered insensible, and the strong man was nearly choked before he rose again to the surface to gasp the precious air. At last a wave broke behind them, caught them on its crest, and hurled them on a beach of sand.

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