Page:My Life and Loves.djvu/42

This page has been validated.

That morning I had come up as usual at eleven and a strange gentleman and my father were talking together near the companion. As I appeared my father gave me a frown to go below but the stranger caught sight of me and laughing called me. I came to them and the stranger was surprised on hearing I could. swim. "Jump in, Jim!" cried my father, "and swim round".

Nothing loath I ran down the ladder, pulled off my clothes and jumped in. The stranger and my father were above me smiling and talking; my father waved his hand and I swam round the vessel. When I got back, I was about to get on the steps and come aboard when my father said:

"No, no, swim on round till I tell you to stop."

Away I went again quite proud; but when I got round the second time I was tired; I had never swum so far and I had sunk deep in the water and a little spray of wave had gone into my mouth; I was very glad to get near the steps, but as I stretched out my hand to mount them, my father waved his hand.—

"Go on, go on!" he cried, "till you're told to stop".

I went on: but now I was very tired and frightened as well, and as I got to the bow the sailors leant over the bulwarks and one encouraged me: "Go slow, Jim, you'll get round all right." I saw it was big Newton, the stroke-oar of my father's gig, but just because of his sympathy I hated my father the more for making me so tired and so afraid.

When I got round the third time, I swam very slowly and let myself sink very low, and the stranger spoke for me to my father, and then he himself told me to "come up".

I came eagerly, but a little scared at what my father might do; but the stranger came over to me,