Sunk at Sea

Robert Michael Ballantyne
Sunk at Sea, by R.M. Ballantyne

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Title: Sunk at Sea
Author: R.M. Ballantyne
Release Date: October 31, 2007 [EBook #23271]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ASCII
SEA ***

Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

Sunk at Sea, by R.M. Ballantyne.

William Osten was a wanderer by nature. He was born with a thirst for
adventure that nothing could quench, and with a desire to rove that
nothing could subdue.
Even in babyhood, when his limbs were fat and feeble, and his visage
was round and red, he displayed his tendency to wander in ways and
under circumstances that other babies never dreamt of. He kept his poor
mother in a chronic fever of alarm, and all but broke the heart of his
nurse, long before he could walk, by making his escape from the
nursery over and over again, on his hands and knees; which latter bore
constant marks of being compelled to do the duty of feet in dirty places.
Baby Will never cried. To have heard him yell would have rejoiced the
hearts of mother and nurse, for that would have assured them of his
being near at hand and out of mischief--at least not engaged in more
than ordinary mischief. But Baby Will was a natural philosopher from
his birth. He displayed his wisdom by holding his peace at all times,
except when very hard pressed by hunger or pain, and appeared to
regard life in general in a grave, earnest, inquiring spirit. Nevertheless,
we would not have it understood that Will was a slow, phlegmatic baby.
By no means. His silence was deep, his gravity profound, and his
earnestness intense, so that, as a rule, his existence was unobtrusive.
But his energy was tremendous. What he undertook to do he usually
did with all his might and main--whether it was the rending of his
pinafore or the smashing of his drum!
We have said that he seldom or never cried, but he sometimes laughed,
and that not unfrequently; and when he did so you could not choose but
hear, for his whole soul gushed out in his laugh, which was rich, racy,
and riotous. He usually lay down and rolled when he laughed, being
quite incapable of standing to do it--at least during the early period of
babyhood. But Will would not laugh at everything. You could not
make him laugh by cooing and smirking and talking nonsense, and
otherwise making an ass of yourself before him.
Maryann, the nurse, had long tried that in vain, and had almost broken
her heart about it. She was always breaking her heart, more or less,
about her charge, yet, strange to say, she survived that dreadful

operation, and ultimately lived to an extreme old age!
"Only think," she was wont to say to Jemima Scrubbins, her bosom
friend, the monthly nurse who had attended Will's mother, and whose
body was so stiff, thin, and angular, that some of her most intimate
friends thought and said she must have been born in her skeleton
alone--"Only think, Jemimar, I give it as my morial opinion that that
hinfant 'asn't larfed once--no, not once--durin' the last three days,
although I've chirruped an' smiled an' made the most smudgin' faces to
it, an' heaped all sorts o' blandishments upon it till--. Oh! you can't
imagine; but nothink's of any use trying of w'en you can't do it; as my
'usband, as was in the mutton-pie line, said to the doctor the night afore
he died--my 'art is quite broken about it, so it is."
To which Jemima was wont to reply, with much earnestness--for she
was a sympathetic soul, though stiff, thin, and angular--"You don't say
so, Maryhann! P'raps it's pains."
Whereupon Maryann would deny that pains had anything to do with it,
and Jemima would opine that it was, "koorious, to say the least of it."
No, as we have said, Baby Will would not laugh at everything. He
required to see something really worth laughing at before he would
give way, and when he did give way, his eyes invariably disappeared,
for his face was too fat to admit of eyes and mouth being open at the
same time. This was fortunate, for it prevented him for a little from
seeing the object that tickled his fancy, and so gave him
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