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were as safe in that greater motion as when we felt that lesser one in our little wooden sleeping places. When the wind was up and sang through the sails and disturbed me with its violent clamor, he would call it music, and bid me hark to the sea organ; and with that name he quieted my tender apprehensions.
When I looked around with a mournful face, he would enter into my thoughts and tell me pretty stories of his mother and sisters, and a cousin that he loved better than his sisters, whom he called Jenny. One time, and never but once, he told me that Jenny had promised to be his wife if ever he returned to England; but that he had his doubts whether he should live to get home. This made me cry bitterly.
The captain and all were singularly kind to me and strove to make up for my uneasy and unnatural situation. The boatswain would pipe for my
diversion, and the sailor boy would climb the dangerous mast for my sport. The rough foremastman would never willingly appear before me till he had combed his long black hair smooth and sleek, so as not to terrify me. The officers got up a sort of play for my amusement; and Atkinson, or, as they called him, Betsy, acted the heroine of the piece. All ways that could be contrived were thought upon to reconcile me to my lot.
I was the universal favorite; I do not know how deservedly, but I suppose it was because I was alone. Had I come over with relations or attendants, I should have excited no particular curiosity; I should have required no uncommon attentions. I was one little woman among a crew of men; and I believe the homage (which I have read) that men universally pay to women, was in this case directed to me in the absence of all other womankind. I do not know how that may be; but I was a little princess among them, and I was not six years old.
I remember the first drawback which happened to my comfort was Atkinson's not appearing the whole of one day. The captain tried to reconcile me by saying that Mr. Atkinson was confined to his cabin ; that he was not quite well, but a day or two would restore him. I begged to be taken in to see him, but this was not granted.
At length, by the desire of Atkinson himself, as I have since learned, I was permitted to go into his cabin and see him. He was sitting up, apparently in a state of great exhaustion ; but his face lighted up when he saw me and he kissed me, and told me that he was going a great voyage far longer than that which we had passed together, and he never should come back. And though I was so young, I understood well enough that he meant this of his death ; and I cried sadly. But he comforted me and told me that I must be his little executrix and perform his last will, and bear his last words to his mother and sisters and to his cousin Jenny, whom I should see in a short time. He gave me his blessing as a father would bless his child; and he sent a kiss by me to his mother and sisters; and he made me promise that I would go and see them when I got to England.
Soon after this, he died; but I was in another part of the ship and I was not told of his death till we got to shore a few days after. Oh, what a grief it was when I learned that I had lost an old shipmate who had made an irksome situation so bearable by his kind assiduities! And to think that he was gone, and I could never repay him for his kindness!
When I had been a year and a half in England, the captain, who had made another voyage to India and back, prevailed upon my friends to let him introduce me to Atkinson's mother and sisters. Jenny was no more : she had died in the interval, and I never saw her.
In the mother and sisters of this excellent young man I have found the most valuable friends I
possess on this side of the great ocean. From them I have learned passages of his former life; and this, in particular,— that the illness of which he died was brought
on by a wound which he got in a desperate attempt, when he was quite a boy, to defend his captain against a superior force. By his premature valor in spiriting the men, they finally succeeded in repulsing the enemy
This was that Atkinson, who, from his pale and feminine appearance, was called Betsy ; this was he who condescended to play the handmaid to a little, unaccompanied orphan that fortune had cast upon the care of a rough sea captain and his rougher crew.
From “ Eliana."
THE LESSON OF THE FERN
In a valley, centuries ago,
Grew a little fern leaf green and slender
Veining delicate and fibers tender -
Rushes tall and moss, and grass grew round it,
Drops of dew stole in by night and crowned it,
Monster fishes swam the silent main,
Stately forests waved their giant branches,
Mammoth creatures stalked across the plain;
Nature reveled in grand mysteries,
Did not number with the hills and trees;
Earth one time put on a frolic mood,
Heaved the rocks and hanged the mighty motion
Of the deep, strong currents of the ocean;
Crushed the little fern in soft, moist clay,
0, the long, long centuries since that day!
Useless? Lost? There came a thoughtful man,
Searching nature's secrets, far and deep;
From a fissure in a rocky steep
Fairy pencilings, a quaint design,
And the fern’s life lay in every line!
MARY L. BOLLES BRANCH.