A Yacht Voyage Round England

Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

W.H.G. Kingston

“A Yacht Voyage Round England”


Chapter One.

The Start.

We had come home from school much earlier than usual, on account of illness having broken out there; but as none of the boys were dangerously ill, and those in the infirmary were very comfortable, we were not excessively unhappy. I suspect that some of us wished that fever or some other sickness would appear two or three weeks before all the holidays.

However, as we had nothing to complain of at school, this, I confess, was a very unreasonable wish.

The very day of our arrival home, when we were seated at dinner, and my brother Oliver and I were discussing the important subject of how we were to spend the next ten or twelve weeks, we heard our papa, who is a retired captain of the Royal Navy—and who was not attending to what we were talking about—say, as he looked across the table to mamma:

“Would you object to these boys of ours taking a cruise with me round England this summer?”

We pricked up our ears, you may be sure, to listen eagerly to the reply. Looking at Oliver, then at me, she said:

“I should like to know what they think of it. As they have never before taken so long a cruise, they may get tired, and wish themselves home again or back at school.”

“Oh no, no! we should like it amazingly. We are sure not to get tired, if papa will take us. We will work our passage; will pull and haul, and learn to reef and steer, and do everything we are told,” said Oliver.

“What do you say about the matter, Harry?” asked papa.

“I say ditto to Oliver,” I replied. “We will at all events try to be of use;” for I knew from previous experience that it was only when the weather was fine, and we were really not wanted, that we were likely to be able to do anything.

“Then I give my consent,” said mamma; on which we both jumped up and kissed her, as we had been accustomed to do when we were little chaps; we both felt so delighted.

“Well, we shall be sorry to be away from you so long,” said Oliver, when we again sat down, looking quite grave for a moment or two. “But then, you know, mamma, you will have the girls and the small boys to look after; and we shall have lots to tell you about when we come back.”

“I cannot trust to your remembering everything that happens,” said mamma. “When I gave my leave I intended to make it provisional on your keeping a journal of all you see and do, and everything interesting you hear about. I do not expect it to be very long; so you must make it terse and graphic. Oliver must keep notes and help you, and one complete journal will be sufficient.”

“That’s just the bargain I intended to make,” said papa. “I’ll look out that Harry keeps to his intentions. It is the most difficult matter to accomplish. Thousands of people intend to write journals, and break down after the first five or six pages.”

On the morning appointed for the start a little longer time than usual was spent in prayer together, a special petition being offered that our Heavenly Father would keep us under His protection, and bring us safely home again. Soon afterwards we were rattling away to Waterloo Station, with our traps, including our still blank journals, our sketch-books, fishing-rods, our guns, several works on natural history, bottles and boxes for specimens, spy-glasses, and lots of other things.

Papa laughed when he saw them. “It would not do if we were going to join a man-of-war; but we have room to stow away a good number of things on board the Lively, although she is little more than thirty-five tons burden.”

In a quarter of an hour the train started for Southampton; and away we flew, the heat and the dust increasing our eagerness to feel the fresh sea-breezes.

“Although the Lively can show a fast pair of heels, we cannot go quite so fast as this,” said papa, as he remarked the speed at which we dashed by the telegraph posts.

On reaching the station at Southampton, we found Paul Truck, the sailing-master of the cutter, or the captain, as he liked to be called, waiting for us, with two of the crew, who had come up to assist in carrying our traps down to the quay. There was the boat, her crew in blue shirts, and hats on which was the name of the yacht. The men, who had the oars upright in their hands while waiting, when we embarked let the blades drop on the water in smart man-of-war style; and away we pulled for the yacht, which lay some distance off the quay.

“I think I shall know her again,” cried Oliver: “that’s her, I’m certain.”

Paul, who was pulling the stroke oar, cast a glance over his shoulder, and shaking his head with a knowing look, observed:

“No, no, Master Oliver; that’s a good deal bigger craft than ours. She’s ninety ton at least. You must give another guess.”

“That’s the Lively, though,” I cried out; “I know her by her beauty and the way she sits on the water.”

“You’re right, Master Harry. Lively is her name, and lively is her nature, and beautiful she is to look at. I’ll be bound we shall not fall in with a prettier craft—a finer boat for her size.”

Paul’s encomiums were not undeserved by the yacht; she was everything he said; we thought so, at all events. It was with no little pride that we stepped on deck.

Papa had the after-cabin fitted up for Oliver and me, and he himself had a state cabin abaft the forecastle. There were besides four open berths in which beds could be made up on both sides of the main cabin. The forecastle was large and airy, with room for the men to swing their hammocks, and it also held a brightly polished copper kitchen range.

Everything looked as neat and clean “as if the yacht had been kept in a glass case,” as Paul observed.

Papa, having looked over the stores, took us on shore to obtain a number of things which he found we should require. We thus had an opportunity of seeing something of the town.

The old walls of Southampton have been pulled down, or are crumbling away, the most perfect portion being the gateway, or Bar Gate, in the High Street. On either side of it stand two curious old heraldic figures, and beside them are two blackened pictures—one representing Sir Bevis of Hampton, and the other his companion, Ascapart. Sir Bevis, who lived in the reign of Edgar, had a castle in the neighbourhood. It is said he bestowed his love on a pagan lady, Josian, who, having been converted to Christianity, gave him a sword called Morglay, and a horse named Arundel. Thus equipped he was wont to kill four or five men at one blow. Among his renowned deeds were those he performed against the Saracens, and also his slaughter of an enormous dragon.

The extensive docks at the mouth of the river Itchen, to the east of the town, have, of course, greatly increased its wealth. We saw a magnificent foreign-bound steamer coming out of the docks. The West India ships start from here, as do other lines of steamers running to the Cape, and to various parts of the world; so that Southampton is a bustling seaport. There is another river to the west of the town, called the Test; and that joining with the Itchen at the point where the town is built, forms the beautiful Southampton Water.

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