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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesDick Cheveley: His Adventures And Misadventures - Chapter 9
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Dick Cheveley: His Adventures And Misadventures - Chapter 9 Post by :headdreamer Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :3265

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Dick Cheveley: His Adventures And Misadventures - Chapter 9

CHAPTER NINE

Mr Butterfield's office--My future prospects--I again visit the "Emu"--Aunt Deb's good advice--I rebel--All sailors are not beggars-- My next visit to the "Emu"--Shall I stow myself away?--Conflicting ideas--Looking over the ship, I meet with an accident--Once more a prisoner--The hold of the "Emu"--Not a stowaway--My possible fate--No bones broken--"The blue above and the blue below"--Perseverance conquers all difficulties--On the high seas--Sea-sick--On the kelson-- I give way to despair--"Help! Help!"--The yarn of Sam Switch's ghost--I feel the pangs of hunger--I review my past life--Never say die--Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink--My efforts meet with some success.


Aunt Deb made her appearance at the breakfast-table, but nothing was said about my plans for the future. As soon as I had finished, Mr Butterfield, looking at his watch, told me to run out for a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes, and said that when I came back he would take me down with him to his office.

"I shall not keep you there," he remarked; "you will afterwards come back to your aunt, who will probably find something for you to do."

I obeyed, and as soon as I got out of the house I ran off in the direction of the country. I wanted to see green fields and hedges and trees. I enjoyed the fresh air and exercise, and was longer away than I intended. On my return I found Mr Butterfield waiting for me at the door.

"Punctuality is the soul of business. Remember that," he remarked. "You have kept me waiting for ten minutes. Come along."

I begged pardon, saying that the time had passed faster than I had expected.

He walked along with sedate steps, for he was not given to rapid locomotion, his gold-headed cane heavily striking the ground as he went. He had not spoken since we left the house, and I felt that I was passing from the position of a guest to that of a junior clerk. Still, not being overwhelmed with bashfulness at any time, and as I was anxious to know what had passed between him and Aunt Deb regarding my future career, I looked up and asked him.

"Your aunt will communicate her wishes to you," he answered. "You will see presently the sort of work you will be expected to perform in my office. Let me tell you that many lads would consider themselves fortunate if they had the opportunity I am ready to give you."

He said no more. His manner, it struck me, was far less cordial than it had been, and I could not help thinking that I was indebted for this to Aunt Deb, who had probably given him an account of my adventures at home. Now I am bound to say that I consider Mr Butterfield was right; but I did not think so at the time.

We at length reached Water Street, and entered the office of Tallow, Candlemas, and Co. It was a dingy-looking place, consisting of a small outer room, the walls covered over with posters announcing the sailing of ships and other information. In it was an enclosed space, behind which sat on high stools two venerable-looking clerks, busily engaged in writing. Speaking a few words to them, Mr Butterfield passed on to an inner room, where, at a long desk running from one side to the other were arranged eight or ten persons of various ages, all scribbling away as fast as their pens could move. Their thin and pallid faces did not prepossess me in favour of the life they were leading. At the farther end, in a darker corner, was a vacant stool.

"That will be your place, Richard, when you come here to-morrow or next day," said Mr Butterfield. "You will gradually rise, till one day I may hope to see you one of my head clerks."

I looked askance at the dark corner, and I then scanned the faces of the occupants of the other seats. I could say nothing likely to please Mr Butterfield, and I therefore kept silence.

"You will begin work on Monday. Now go back to your aunt, who wishes to have you with her for the present."

I longed to say, "I thought, sir, you were going to talk to my aunt about my going to sea;" but before I could speak, Mr Butterfield, turning round, walked into his private office and left me standing by myself and looking, I felt, very foolish. As I did not wish to undergo a long inspection from the younger clerks, who were peering at me from over the desks, I passed out, breathing more freely when I found myself in the open street.

Of course I ought to have returned home; but instead of that I made my way down to the docks to amuse myself as before, by looking at the vessels. I was not long in finding out the "Emu." She was now considerably lower in the water, having apparently got most of her cargo on board, although there were still some bales and packages lying alongside ready to be shipped. I had a great longing to go on board and try to see the captain, and to ask him if he would take me. I could see no one, however, whom I could imagine to be the captain; and I therefore, after walking up and down the quay for some time, and looking at a number of other vessels, guessed by my hunger that it must be near luncheon-time, and took my way homewards. On entering the house I met Aunt Deb, who was coming down into the dining-room, by which I knew that I was not late.

"I am glad to find that you are more punctual than usual, Dick," she said. "You will soon, I hope, become regular in your habits. Follow the example of so excellent a man as my cousin, Godfrey Butterfield. You are pleased with your excellent prospects in his office, I hope?"

To this remark I made no reply, but said, "I thought, Aunt Deb, that Mr Butterfield was going to speak to you about my wish to go to sea. He told me that he would do so, and that he would have no difficulty in getting me on board a ship."

"Fiddle-de-dee about going to sea!" replied Aunt Deb. "My cousin did speak to me on the subject, and I told him at once that I would never consent to your doing so, and that I felt sure your father would not do so either. What! To throw away the brilliant prospects which through my means have been opened out to you? What! Desert your family and me, your affectionate aunt, and the kind friend who so generously consents to become your patron from the regard he has for me? What! Go and run all the risks of a turbulent ocean, and perhaps lose your life, and cause sorrow to those who have an affection for you, merely to gratify an insane fancy? No, Dick--no! I told my cousin Godfrey Butterfield, at once, that if he had any regard for me he would never encourage you in so mad a proceeding; and I begged him, as soon as possible, to give you employment in his office, so as to turn your mind away from the silly ideas you have entertained."

"I'm not at all obliged to you, Aunt Deb, for what you have done," I said, my choler rising. "It was no idle fancy in my mind, but my fixed resolution to become a sailor; and a sailor I'll be, notwithstanding your opposition."

"Hoity-toity!" exclaimed Aunt Deb, who was not accustomed to be set at defiance. "You will understand, Dick, that you were placed in my charge, and must obey my directions; and that I intend you to go into Mr Butterfield's office, and to work hard there, so that you may do credit to my recommendation some day, and render support to your family. In case of your father's death, what would become of you all? I, who have devoted my life to your family, should have the charge of their maintenance."

"Sailors are not beggars, and I should very likely make as much money by going to sea as by any other means."

"Fiddle-de-dee," again exclaimed Aunt Deb; "eat your luncheon, and don't talk nonsense."

As I was very hungry, I obeyed her, but at first I felt as if the food I put in my mouth would choke me. Ultimately, however, I was able to get on as well as usual. Aunt Deb's behaviour to me during the next few days did not contribute to reconcile me to my proposed lot. She kept me working at writing and adding up long columns of figures, not failing to scold me when I made mistakes. I pictured to myself my future dreary life--to have to sit in a dull office all day, and then to have to come home with no other society than that of Mr Butterfield and Aunt Deb as long as she remained at Liverpool. I knew nobody at Liverpool, and did not see how I was to form any acquaintances of my own. After luncheon, on Saturday, Aunt Deb, in consideration, she said, of my diligence, allowed me to go and take a walk by myself, as she felt indisposed to leave the house. I very naturally wandered down to the docks to have a look at the "Emu" before she sailed, and to inspect any other vessels that might take my fancy. I much missed my cutter yacht, as I found there existed places where I could have sailed her. I had spent some time in walking about, when I again got back to the quay where the "Emu" was moored. As I was pacing to and fro, I thought of the high stool in the dark corner of Mr Butterfield's office; the dreary, dreary days I was doomed to sit there; the dull, dull evenings in the society of Aunt Deb and her cousin, and the not more lively Sundays, with attendances at three services, for Aunt Deb was very strict in this respect. Hapless fate, with nothing better to expect than a head clerkship. The business I knew I should detest. Then I thought of the free life on the ocean, the strange lands I should visit, the curious people I should see, and the liberty I fancied I should enjoy.

As I had had a fair education, and knew that I could master navigation, I expected without difficulty to work my way up till I became an officer, and then to have the command of such a fine ship myself, just such a one as the "Emu." But how was I to get to sea? Mr Butterfield positively refused to obtain an appointment for me without the consent of Aunt Deb and that of my father, and I was confident such would not be given. Would the captain take me without further introduction, if I should offer myself? I had sense enough to know that that was very unlikely.

Suddenly the idea seized me, should I stow myself away on board, and not appear until the ship had sailed out to sea? I had a notion, notwithstanding, that this would not be a wise proceeding. I should certainly not be treated as an officer, and should very probably be sent forward to become a drudge to the crew. Still, what other chance had I to get to sea? I thought and thought.

Well, I'll go on board at all events. The blue Peter was flying at the masthead, besides which there was a board announcing that she would sail with the morning's tide. It was the custom, in those days especially, for merchantmen to sail on a Sunday. The stages leading on board had been removed, with the exception of a single plank to the gangway. My longing to go on board increasing, I indulged it. None of the crew were moving about aft. The officers, if any were on board, were, I supposed, in their cabins. I looked forward, where I saw a few of the crew, who were preparing for their supper. The cook just then made his appearance from the caboose with a large bowl containing a smoking mess of some sort. I had never been below on board ship. I thought I should like to look round and see what sort of place the hold was. The tackle which had been used for lowering the cargo was not yet unrove, and hung over the main hatchway, which had been left open for stowing some goods which, as it turned out, had not yet arrived. Seeing that no one was observing me, I seized the rope, and swung myself down till my head disappeared below the coamings of the hatchway.

Now at this place space had been left to permit of the lower hold being reached. The rope I grasped was not as long as I thought it was, and suddenly the end slipped through my fingers, and down I fell, hurting myself so much that I was unable to rise. Afraid of calling out for assistance, I lay there for some time, till the pain increased so much that I fainted away. When I came to my senses, what was my horror to find myself in total darkness, and on lifting up my hand as high as I could reach I discovered that some planks had been placed across the aperture through which I had fallen, and I was shut in. Though I had been doubtful about acting the stowaway, here I was, shut up against my will. Had I carried out the idea which occurred to me, I intended to have done it in a very different fashion, as I expected to find some comfortable place where I might obtain air, if not light and access to the store-room and water-casks. I had no notion of running the risk of starving myself, having had sufficient experience of the uncomfortable sensations accompanying inanition when I was shut up in the mill. I had thought myself very badly off then, but I was now in a much worse condition, and suffering great pain, and, as far as it appeared to me, with more than one limb broken. I tried to move, to ascertain whether this was the case. First I moved one arm, and then another. They were sound, though they hurt me. Then I tried my right leg, and then my left. They were certainly unfractured.

I was doubtful about one of my ankles. It pained me more than any other part of my body. I drew it up and felt it all over. It was tender to the touch, but none of the bones appeared to be out of their places. This examination occupied some time. I did not call out for fear of the consequences. The pain which had hitherto prevented me thinking about what would follow now decreased, and I began to consider the awkward position in which I was placed. I tried to persuade myself that I had not positively intended to act the part of a stowaway. I could not but know that I had thought about it, yet I had only gone below for the sake of seeing the hold of a ship. I could say that when I was discovered, with a tolerably clear conscience, so I fancied. Should I be discovered? That was the question. For what I could tell I might be entombed beneath the cargo and be unable to get out till I was starved to death. The thought was too dreadful for contemplation, and I tried to put it from me. I remembered how I had escaped from the old mill and the way I got out without any one to help me.

"Perseverance conquers all difficulties," I said to myself as I said then. My situation in some respects was very similar, only on that occasion I had expected, on obtaining my freedom, to meet my friends, and now I should find myself confronted by a rough crew and an irate captain, who might send me on shore, and, for what I could tell, have me put into jail if there was time for doing so. I had, at first, no idea of the size of the place in which I was shut up. I only knew that I could touch the boards above my head by extending my hand when sitting upright. I thereby knew that there would not be room for me to stand. I now crawled about and ascertained that I was in a tolerably wide place, extending fore and aft and from side to side. I was, in fact, in the lower hold or bottom of the ship, far, far down beneath a mass of cargo. How long I had been there was also a mystery to me. I might have remained in a fainting state only for a few minutes, or hours might have passed. I knew that I began to feel hungry, though I had had an ample luncheon--for on Saturdays Mr Butterfield dined early--which showed that I could not be very much hurt, and that I must have been some considerable time on board. I had, however, as I intended to stay out till dark, put a couple of buns, which I had bought at a pastrycook's, into my pocket. I refrained, as yet, from eating them, not knowing how long I might have to remain below. I thought that it must now be night, and as I supposed the crew would be asleep forwards and the captain and officers aft, they would not hear me, even if I shouted out at the top of my voice. I therefore concluded that it would be foolish to exhaust myself uselessly. "I'll wait for daylight, when they're moving about, and I shall have a better chance of making myself heard," I thought.

The place where I lay was dry and clean, though it smelt horribly of tar and other odours from which the hold of a vessel is seldom free, and was besides disagreeably close. After a considerable period had elapsed, and when the pain had much gone off, a drowsiness stole over me, and having got into a comfortable position, I fell fast asleep. I think I must have awoke at intervals, for I remember hearing a curious rippling sound beneath me. It must have had a lulling effect, for I dropped off again.

The next time I woke I heard not only a rippling sound, but a dashing of water against the sides, and presently the ship began to pitch slowly and gently. The idea at once occurred to me that I must be at sea. If so, it was where I had long wished to be, though the circumstances accompanying my entrance into a naval life differed greatly from such as I had intended them to be. Could it then be daylight?--if so, I had been much longer below than I had calculated on. The ship, I remembered, was to sail with the morning tide. That might have meant one or two o'clock, for how the tides ran I didn't know. There must have been time, at all events, for her to get away from the wharf, and to descend the Mersey. In that case the day must now be well advanced. Probably, I thought, the ship has had a fair wind, and with a favourable tide must have got rapidly along. I could not sing:--


"I'm on the sea, I'm on the sea,
I am where I would ever be;
With the blue above, and the blue below,
In silence wheresoe'er I go."


Silence there certainly was, but instead of the blue above and the blue below, there was pitchy darkness. The long sleep and the perfect rest had taken away all the pain which I had at first felt, except an uncomfortable sensation in one of my ankles.

When I was fairly aroused I again began to feel very hungry, so I ate one of my buns. I could have bolted the other, but I was becoming wonderfully prudent, and I knew that if I did so I might have nothing else to eat. All this time I had remained perfectly silent, for the reasons I have before given. I had become accustomed to the atmosphere, and I suppose that some fresh air must have come through some unseen apertures which enabled me to breathe without difficulty. It was sufficiently close, however, to make me feel drowsy, and having eaten the bun, I again dropped off to sleep.

I awoke with a horrible nausea, such as I had never before experienced. The sensations I experienced in the old vault were nothing to it. The air there, as I mentioned, was perfectly pure, besides which I was then upon solid ground; now I felt an unpleasant movement, sometimes a sort of plunging forward, then a rise and fall, and then a rolling from side to side, though being close to the keel I didn't experience this so much as if I had been on deck. It was quite sufficient, however, to make me feel terribly sick.

Oh how wretched I was! Didn't I repent of having gone down into the hold. I would ten thousand times sooner have been perched on the highest stool in the darkest corner of Mr Butterfield's counting-house than have been where I was. I was too miserable to cry out. I only wished that the ship would strike a rock and go down, and thus terminate my misery.

I need not describe what happened. For hours I was prostrate; but at length the feeling of sickness wore off, and I again became not only hungry but thirsty in the extreme. I would have given anything for a draught of water; but how was I to obtain it. One thing I felt was, that if I could not I should die. Though I was hungry I could not masticate the smallest portion of my bun, but I tried to arouse myself and began once more to move about. As I did so my hand came in contact with what appeared to be a large cask. I felt it all over. Yes, I was certain of it. It must be one of the ship's water-casks stowed in the lower tier.

I thought I might possibly find some outlet through which I might make my way into the upper part of the ship, but none could I discover. I was, in reality, right down on the kelson, though I didn't know what it was called at the time. It is just above the keel, the object of it being to strengthen the vessel lengthways, and to confine the floors in their proper position. It is placed above the cross-pieces and half-floors, and a bolt is driven right through all into the main keel. The half-floors, it must be understood, are not united in the centre, but longitudinally on either side.

Of course I was not aware of this at the time. All that I knew was, that I was down in the bottom of the ship in a horrible dark confined space, where I should be starved to death or suffocated could I not find some way out. Again and again I made the attempt, but in every direction met with obstructions. Stretching out my arms, I found I could touch each side of my prison.

Resolute as I had hitherto been, I at length gave way to despair, and shrieked and shouted for help. I bawled till my voice was hoarse and my strength exhausted; then I sat down in a state of apathy, resigned to my fate. But the love of life soon returned. I got up and crawled to the further end of my prison-house, where I met with some stout boarding which effectually prevented my further progress. After this I turned round and crawled to the other end along the kelson, but was stopped by a strong bulkhead.

Once more I stopped to listen, half expecting to hear the sailors making their way down to the hold to ascertain whence my shouts and cries proceeded, but no sound except the creaking of the bulkheads reached my ears. "I won't give in yet," I said to myself; "perhaps the crew are on deck or in the fore part of the ship, and the officers in their cabins, and my voice could not reach them; but somebody must, before long, be coming into the hold, and then, if I shout at the top of my voice, I cannot fail to be heard."

The question, however, was, when would any one come down? I had no means of ascertaining, though the steward must be getting up provisions, or the boatswain or carpenter stores from their store-room, and yet no sound might reach me, or perhaps my voice might not penetrate as far as where they were at work. Still, there was nothing like trying. Placing my hands to my sides, I shouted out, "Help, help! I'm shut up below. I shall die if you don't let me out. Oh, do come, sailors. Don't you hear me? Help! Help! Help!"

Then I gave way to a loud roar of agony and despair. After this I stopped for a few minutes listening as before, then putting my hands to my mouth, as if by so doing I should increase the loudness of my voice, I shouted with all the strength of my lungs. Suddenly the idea occurred to me that the sailors would hear my voice, but not knowing whence it proceeded would fancy the ship was haunted and would be in a dreadful fright. Strange as it may seem the thought amused me, and I gave way to an hysterical laugh. "Now I'll warrant not one of them will like to come below on account of the supposed ghost. They will be spinning all sorts of yarns to each other about hobgoblins appearing on board." Old Riddle had spun several such yarns, and they came to my recollection. One was about a boy named Sam Smitch. Sam was the dirtiest fellow on board, and could never understand what cleanliness meant. He was constantly, therefore, being punished. That didn't mend his ways, and he was a nuisance to all the crew, who, of course, gave him a frequent taste of the rope's-end and bullied him in all sorts of ways. At last Sam declared that he would jump overboard and end his misery. The men laughed at him, and said that he hadn't the courage to do it.

"Haven't I?" said Sam, "you'll see that I'll do it, and my blood will be upon your heads."

Still none would believe that Sam would do away with himself, till one morning his jacket and hat were found in the head, and when the ship's company was mustered at divisions, Sam didn't answer to his name. He was searched for everywhere, but could not be discovered, and at length it became very evident to all that Sam must have put his threat into execution and thrown himself overboard during the night. Whether any of the men recollected that it was their cruelty that had driven him to this act of desperation I can't say, but probably it didn't much trouble their consciences; they only considered he was a fool for his pains. Two or three days passed away, when Sam Smitch was well-nigh forgotten.

One night, however, one of the carpenter's crew was going along the lower-deck, when he saw a figure in white gliding past him in the distance. The figure for a moment turned its head, when, as the light of the lantern fell on it, he recognised the face of Sam Smitch. It was more than his nerves could stand, and he bolted like a shot up the ladder. Night after night some one of the crew had a similar occurrence to relate, till one and all were convinced that the ship was haunted by Sam Smitch's ghost. At last the men, gallant fellows as they were, were afraid to go below even when sent on duty. Many of them swore that even when in their hammocks they had seen Sam Smitch's ghost gliding noiselessly about the deck. The whole crew were in a very nervous state, and many were actually placed on the sick list by the doctor. At last the circumstance reached the ear of the purser, who happened not to be a believer in ghosts.

"Whew!" he exclaimed, when he heard it; "that accounts for the mysterious disappearance of some of my stores."

He informed the first lieutenant, who placed a watch in the neighbourhood where the ghost had appeared. The next night, in bodily form, the ghost of Sam Smitch was captured, dirtier than ever, but yet fat and sleek, though rather pallid. Not, however, till he was brought on deck, to be well scrubbed under the superintendence of the master at arms, were the crew convinced that the ghost was no ghost at all, but that dirty Sam, fool as he was, had been bamboozling them effectually, while he enjoyed his ease and plenty to eat below with nothing to do.

It is curious that this yarn should have occurred to me, but I suppose it did so from my case being somewhat similar to that of Sam Smitch, only he had voluntarily stowed himself away and had plenty to eat, while I was shut up against my will without a particle of food, except the buns I had in my pockets. It served also to draw me for a few minutes from the thoughts of my own misfortunes. The exertion of shouting increased the thirst I had already begun to feel. I was at the same time very hungry, but when I again tried to eat a piece of my remaining bun I could not get down the mouthful. I became rapidly more and more thirsty. The sea-sickness had worn off, but I felt more thoroughly uncomfortable in my inside than I had ever before done in my life. If any of my readers have at any time suffered from thirst, they will understand my sensations better than I can describe them. My mouth and throat felt like a dust-bin, and my tongue like the end of a burnt stick. I moved my mouth about in every possible way to try and produce some saliva, but so dry were my lips that they only cracked in the attempt.

I had scarcely hitherto believed that I should die, but now so terrible were my sensations that I didn't expect to live many hours unless I should be released. I thought over my past life. The numberless wrong and foolish things I had done came back to my recollection, while not a single good deed of any sort occurred to me. I thought of how often I had vexed my father and mother, how impudent I had been to Aunt Deb, how frequently unkind and disagreeable to my brothers and sisters. I tried to be very sorry for everything, but all the time I was conscious that I was not as sorry as I ought to have been.

Exhausted by my efforts as well as by my hunger and thirst, I lay stretched upon the kelson till I had, I suppose, somewhat recovered. Once more I said to myself, "It will not do to give in; out of this I must get." I managed again to get on my feet, feeling about in all directions. As I was doing so my hands touched what appeared to me like the side of a large cask. I was certain of it. I could make out the hoops which went round the cask, and the intervening spaces. Suddenly it occurred to me that it was one of the water-casks of the ship stowed in the lower tier. I put my ear to it, and as the ship rolled I could hear the water move about. I felt, however, very much like the fellow I had read about at school, who was placed when dying of thirst in the midst of water which remained up to his chin, but into which he could never get his mouth. Here was the water, but how I was to reach it was the question.

I felt about in the hope that some moisture might be coming through; even a few drops would help to cool my parched tongue, though I could have drunk a gallon without stopping, but the cask was strong and perfectly dry outside. I considered whether it would be possible to knock a hole in the cask, but I had no instrument for the purpose, and should not have had strength to use it even if I had found it. It was indeed tantalising to hear the water washing to and fro, and yet not be able to obtain a drop. By chance I happened to put my hands in my pockets, which always contained a knife, bits of string, and all sorts of things. Suddenly I recollected that I had been making a stand for my cutter before she was stolen, and that I had had a gimlet to bore holes in the wood. To my joy I found that I had fixed a cork on the end of it and had thrust it into my pocket. There it was. I might, by boring a hole in the cask, reach the water. How anxiously I clutched the gimlet. How fearful I was that in attempting to bore a hole I might break it. Feeling as far as I could judge for the centre of the cask, I began boring a hole, using the greatest care. At length the gimlet went right through. As I drew it forth I put it to my mouth. It was wet. How deliciously cool it felt. I then applied my mouth to the hole, but bitter was my disappointment when no water came out. I sucked and sucked at the hole, and then I blew into it, but with no satisfactory result.

I was again almost driven to despair. I tried the hole with the gimlet. It passed through it, and the iron was again wet. "What a fool!" I exclaimed, just then recollecting that to get liquor out of a cask two holes are necessary, the one to serve as a vent-hole to let in the air and the other to let out the liquid. I accordingly set to work and began boring a hole as high as I could reach above the former one. I soon accomplished my task, and as the air rushed in the water from the lower hole rushed out. I eagerly applied my mouth to it and sucked and sucked away until I was almost choked. Still I didn't feel as if I had had enough.

How delicious was the sensation as it wetted my lips, moistened my mouth, and flowed down my parched throat. I felt very much like a pitcher being filled at a fountain. The hole was small, so that only a thin stream came out. It was fortunate for me that it was no larger, or I believe that I should have killed myself by over-drinking. Not until I had withdrawn my mouth did I recollect that I must find some means of stopping the flow of water. Feeling in my pocket, I found some pieces of wood, one of which I thought I could form into a plug. In doing so I nearly cut my fingers.

After a time I succeeded, and shutting up my knife, I knocked the plug I had made in with the handle. The vent-hole was not so important to stop, so I let it alone. I was now able to eat my remaining bun, though I recollected that it was the last article of food I possessed. I afterwards took another pull at the water-cask. I had no longer any fear of suffering from thirst, which was some comfort, but I had serious apprehensions about the means of obtaining food, should I fail to make my escape from my prison. I was, however, wonderfully hopeful. I remembered how I had fed myself on the musty flour in the old mill. I kept up my spirits, in the hopes of finding something to eat among the cargo. I was aware that few edibles were exported from England, our teeming population consuming the whole produce of the country, and as much more as they can get.

I could not tell all this time whether it was night or day, as I had no means of calculating how long I had been in the ship's hold. Had I been told that a week or more had passed, I should not have been surprised, the time appeared to me so long. I now began to feel excessively sleepy, and creeping about until I discovered where the planks, if not soft, were less rough than in other parts, I lay down, and in a few seconds was fast asleep.

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CHAPTER TEN Dreamland--A vision of home--Strange proceedings of my brother Ned-- Roughish weather--I make a slight progress--A ray of light--The cargo--The wooden case--A disappointment--In darkness again--A welcome draught--My bed--My slumbers interrupted by ugly visitors--I determine to catch some rats--My further efforts at escape--My ill-success--My conscience troubles me, but I succeed in quieting it--My visions-- Tantalising Aunt Deb and Mr Butterfield--The conference of the rats-- Their opinion of mankind--Their grievances and proposed remedies--A sneeze and its effects. My slumbers were far from tranquil. I think, indeed, that sometimes I must have been half awake, for I was convinced that creatures were
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Dick Cheveley: His Adventures And Misadventures - Chapter 8 Dick Cheveley: His Adventures And Misadventures - Chapter 8

Dick Cheveley: His Adventures And Misadventures - Chapter 8
CHAPTER EIGHT My reception at home--Aunt Deb again gives her advice--My father and I pay another visit to Leighton Hall--Our guard--Interview with Sir Reginald--A score that was not settled to my satisfaction--My awkward position--My father receives a threatening letter--Aunt Deb decides on action--Preparations for my departure--The journey in the coach--Our fellow-travellers--A false alarm--My aunt's character further comes out--Our arrival at Liverpool--Our reception--Mr Butterfield--I explore Liverpool--My first visit to the "Emu"--I gain some information--I lose my way--Aunt Deb's anxiety on my account--A small difficulty well got out of--I pay another visit to the "Emu"--My ideas as to officers and seamanship receive a
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