Child's Morality Story
Adapted From Antique British Book
© James Dearmore, 2009
[Gospel Web Globe]

From Graphic Stories for Boys and Girls — published in England in the 1800's --- A series of morality stories and stories of interest for children.

It was in the month of February, 1831, a bright moonlight night, and extremely cold, that the little brig I commanded lay quietly at her anchors inside the bay.

"A bitter cold night, Mr. Parker," I said to my mate. "The tide is running out swift and strong; it will be well to keep a sharp look-out for this floating ice."

"Aye, aye, sir," answered the mate, and I went below.

Two hours afterwards I was aroused from a sound sleep by the watchful officer.

"Excuse me for disturbing you, Captain," said he; "but I wish you would turn out, and come on deck as soon as possible."

"Why, what's the matter, Mr. Parker?"

"Why, Sir, I have been watching a cake of ice that swept by at a little distance a moment ago; I saw something black upon it --- something that I thought moved."

We were on deck before either spoke another word. The mate pointed out, with no little difficulty, the cake of ice floating off to leeward, and its white, glittering surface was broken by a black spot.

"Get me a spy-glass, Mr. Parker; the moon will be out of that cloud in a moment, and then we can see distinctly." I kept my eye on the floating mass of ice, while the moon was slowly working its way through a heavy bank of clouds.

The mate stood by with a spy-glass. When the full light fell at last upon the water, I put the glass to my eye. One glance was enough.

"Forward, there," I shouted at the top of my voice; and with one bound I reached the main hatch, and began to clear away the ship's cutter. Mr. Parker had taken the glass from me to take a look for himself.

"O pitiful sight!" he said in a whisper, as he set to work to aid me in getting out the boat; "there are two children on that cake of ice!"

In a very short space of time we launched the cutter, into which Mr. Parker and myself jumped, followed by two men, who took the oars.

"Do you see that cake of ice with something black upon it, lads?" I cried; "put me alongside of that, and I will give you a month's extra wages when you are paid off."

The men were worn out by the hard duty of the previous fortnight; and, though they did their best, the boat made little way. Mr. Parker, who was suffering as he saw how little we gained, cried out "Pull, lads --- I'11 double the captain's prize. Pull, lads, for mercy's sake, pull!"

The men were willing to obey, but their strength was gone. One of the poor fellows splashed us twice in recovering his oar, and then gave out; the other was nearly as far gone. Mr. Parker sprang forward and seized the deserted oar.

"Lie down in the bottom of the boat," said he to the man; "and, captain, take the other oar; we must row for ourselves." We were soon pulling a long, steady stroke, gradually increasing in speed until the wood seemed to smoke in the oar-locks.

Such a pull! At every stroke the boat shot ahead like an arrow. Thus we worked at the oars for fifteen minutes --- it seemed to me as many hours.

"Have we almost come to it, Mr. Parker?" I asked.

"Almost, captain, don't give up: for the love of our dear little ones at home, don't give up," replied Parker. The oars flashed as the blades turned in the moonlight.

Suddenly Mr. Parker stopped pulling, and my heart for a moment almost ceased its beating; for the terrible thought that he had given out crossed my mind. But I was quickly reassured by his saying ---

"Gently, captain, gently --- a stroke or two more --- there, that will do" --- and the next moment the boat's side came in contact with something.

Parker sprang from the boat upon the ice. I started up, and, calling upon the men to make fast the boat to the ice, followed.

We ran to the dark spot in the centre of the mass, and found two little boys --- the head of the smaller nestling in the bosom of the larger. Both were fast asleep!

They were benumbed with cold, and would surely have been frozen to death, but for our timely rescue.

The children, as we learned when we afterwards had the delight of returning them to their parents, were playing on the ice, and had ventured on the cake.

A movement of the tide set the ice in motion, and the little fellows were borne away on that cold night, and would certainly have perished, had not Mr. Parker seen them as the ice was sweeping out to sea. - End of Story

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