Salt Water

W.H.G. Kingston
Salt Water, by W. H. G. Kingston

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Title: Salt Water The Sea Life and Adventures of Neil D'Arcy the
Author: W. H. G. Kingston
Illustrator: C. J. de Lacey
Release Date: May 15, 2007 [EBook #21476]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ASCII

Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

Salt Water
The Sea Life and Adventures of Neil D'Arcy the Midshipman

By W H G Kingston
"The sea, the sea," if not my mother, has been my nurse (and anything
but a dry one) from the earliest days of my recollection. I was born
within the sound of old ocean's surges; I dabbled in salt water before I
could run; and I have floated on salt water, and have been well
sprinkled with it too, from that time to the present. It never occurred to
me, indeed, that I could be anything but a sailor. In my innocence, I
pictured a life on the ocean wave as the happiest allowed to mortals;
and little did I wot of all the bumpings and thumpings, the blows and
the buffetings, I was destined to endure in the course of it. Yet, even
had I expected them, I feel very certain they would not have changed
my wishes. No, no. I was mightily mistaken with regard to the romance
of the thing, I own; but had I to begin life again, with all its dangers and
hardships, still I would choose the ocean for my home--the glorious
navy of England for my profession.
But now for my antecedents. I will not trouble the reader with many of
them. I was born at the family seat in the south of Ireland. My mother
died while I was very young, and my father, Colonel D'Arcy, who had
seen much service in the army and had been severely wounded, after a
lingering illness, followed her to the grave. During this time I was
committed to the charge of Larry Harrigan, the butler and family
factotum; and, in truth, I desired no better companion, for well did I
love the old man. He was a seaman every inch of him, from his
cherished pigtail to the end of the timber toe on which he had long
stumped through the world. He had been coxswain to my maternal
grandfather, a captain in the navy, who was killed in action. Larry had
gone to sea with him as a lad, and they had seldom been separated. A

few minutes before his commander, in the moment of victory, lost his
life, Larry had his leg shot away; and on being paid off, he repaired to
where my mother's family were residing. When my father married, he
offered the old seaman an asylum beneath his roof. He certainly did not
eat the bread of idleness there, for no one about the place was more
generally useful. There was nothing he could not do or make, and in
spite of his loss of a limb, he was as active as most people possessed
with the usual complement of supporters.
Larry had loved my mother as his own child, and for her sake he loved
me more than anything else on earth. As he considered it a part of his
duty to instruct me in his own accomplishments, which being chiefly of
a professional character, I at a very early age became thoroughly
initiated in the mysteries of knotting, bending, and splicing, and similar
nautical arts. I could point a rope, work a Turk's-head, or turn in an eye,
as well as many an A.B. Not content with this, he built me a model of a
ship, with her rigging complete. He then set to work to teach me the
names of every rope and spar; and when I knew them and their uses, he
unrigged the ship and made me rig her again under his inspection. This
I did several times, till he considered I was perfect. He next bought
fresh stuff for a new suit of rigging, and made me cut it into proper
lengths and turn it all in correctly before I set it up.
"Now you see, Master Neil," said he, "we've just got the lovely Psyche
out of the hands of the shipwrights, and it's our duty to get the
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