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My First Cruise, and Other stories

William Henry Giles Kingston

  Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

  My First Cruise, and other stories, by W.H.G. Kingston.


  There are four stories here, but it is not clear whether they are all byKingston. The first one, which gives the book its name, certainly is,and possibly the third, "The Enchanted Gate".

  The first story is a sort of diary or blog written by a young midshipmanon his first voyage to sea, to his brother who was still at school.There are all the usual incidents, including swimming exercises.

  The other stories are well outside the Kingston style, but are certainlyamusing and worth reading. The book is quite short.

  ________________________________________________________________________MY FIRST CRUISE, AND OTHER STORIES, BY W.H.G. KINGSTON.




  It has become a reality, dear Harry. I feel very strange--a curioussensation in the throat, just as if I was going to cry, and yet it isexactly what I have been longing for. You know better than any one howI had set my heart on going to sea, and yet I thought that I shouldnever manage it. But, after all, here I am, really and truly amidshipman; at least a volunteer of the first class, as we are callednow. The first time I put on my uniform, with my gold-band cap anddirk, I could not help every now and then looking at the gold lace on mycollar and the buttons with the anchor and crown, and very pretty andnice they looked; and I do believe that this half-reconciled poor mamma,and Fanny, and Mary, and dear little Emily to my going when they saw mewith them on. I'll tell you how it all happened. Uncle Tom came tostay with us. He had been at the Hall a week when, the very day beforeI was to go back to school, while we were all at breakfast, he got along official-looking letter. No sooner had he torn it open and glancedat its contents, than he jumped up and shook papa by the hand, thenkissed mamma, exclaiming, "They do acknowledge my services, and in ahandsome way too, and they have appointed me to the Juno intended forthe South American station; the very ship I should have chosen! I musthave Pringle with me. No nonsense, Mary. He wants to be a sailor, anda sailor he shall be. He's well fitted for it. I'll have no denial.It's settled--that's all right." (I had been telling him the day beforehow much I wanted to go to sea.) He carried his point, and set all thehousehold preparing my kit, and then posted off for London, and rattleddown to Portsmouth to hoist his flag. He is not a man to do things byhalves. In three days I followed him. The ship was nearly ready forsea. Most of the officers had joined. There was only one vacancy,which I got. Another captain had been appointed, who had beensuperseded, and he had selected most of the officers. Many of mymessmates are good fellows, but of others the less said about them thebetter, at least as far as I could judge from the way they behaved whenI first went into the berth. We carry thirty-six guns. There is themain deck, on which most of them are placed, and the upper deck, whichis open to the sky, and where all the ropes lead, and where some gunsare, and the lower deck, where we sleep in hammocks slung to the beams,and where our berth is; that is the place where we live--ourdrawing-room, and parlour, and study, and anything else you please.There is a table in the centre, and lockers all round, and if you wantto move about you have to get behind the other fellows' backs or overthe table. Under it are cases and hampers of all sorts, which thecaterer has not unpacked. He is an old mate, and keeps us all in order.His name is Gregson. I don't know whether I shall like him. He hasbeen a great many years a midshipman; for a mate is only a passedmidshipman who wants to be a lieutenant, but can't. He has nointerest--nobody to help him on--so there he is growling and grumblingfrom morning to night, declaring that he'll cut the service, and go andjoin the Russians, and make his country rue the day; but he doesn't, andI believe he wouldn't, if they would make him an admiral and a countoff-hand. My chief friend they call Dicky Snookes. His real name,though, is Algernon Godolphin Stafford, on which he rather prideshimself. This was found out, so it was voted that he should bere-christened, and not be allowed under dreadful pains and penalties toassume his proper appellation in the berth; so no one thinks of callinghim anything but Snookes. He is getting not to mind it, which I am gladof, as he does not seem a bad fellow, and is up to fun of all sorts.There is another fellow who is always called Lord Jones or My Lord,because he is as unlike what you would suppose a nobleman to be aspossible. Then there is Polly. His real name is Skeffington Scoulding,which was voted too long, so, as poor fellow he has lost an eye, he wasdubbed Polyphemus, which was soon turned into Polly. I haven't got anew name yet, so I hope to stick to my own. I have picked up a goodmany more bits of information during the three days I have been onboard, but I have not time to tell them now. I will though, don't fear.I hope to be put in a watch when we get to sea. I don't mean inside asilver case, to go on tick!--ha!--ha!--ha! but to keep watch under alieutenant, to see what the ship is about, and to keep her out ofscrapes. Good-bye, dear old fellow, I'll tell you more when I can.--Your affect brother, Pringle Rushforth.