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Jack Mason, the Old Sailor   By: (1812-1859)

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[Illustration: Jack telling his stories.]







Jack Mason had been to sea a great many times when I first knew him, and he has been a great many times since. He has sailed in a ship almost all over the world. Such a host of stories as he can tell! Why, I do believe if he could find little boys and girls to talk to, he would begin in the morning as soon as he had got through his breakfast, and do nothing but tell stories about what he has seen, until it was time to go to bed at night. I don't know but he would want to stop once or twice to eat. Jack loves a good dinner as well as anybody.

Jack is the one that you see in the picture, with his pea jacket on, and a book in his hand. He is in a ship, telling his stories now to that boy sitting on a coil of rope. See, the boy is looking right at the old man, hearing all he says. I wonder what Jack is talking about now. He must be telling one of his best stories, I guess; for the boy lifts his head up, as much as to say, "Dear me! who ever heard of such a thing!"

Jack is a good man. He is not like a great many sailors that I have seen. He does not use bad words. He never drinks rum, or any thing of the kind. Sailors are apt to swear; but Jack Mason never swears. He is a Christian: he loves to pray and read his Bible. The book which he holds in his hand, as he is talking to that boy, is a Bible. He often has a Bible in his jacket pocket, when he is on board of his ship; and once in a while he stops telling stories about what he has seen, and reads some of the stories in that good book.

When I was a little boy, Jack fell from the high mast of the ship, and hurt himself so badly that he had to stay at home a long time after that. Poor fellow! he did not like to be shut up in the house. It was hard work for him. But he could not go out, until his hip got well. When he was able to sit up in a chair, I used to go and see him, and hear him tell his stories. I did not go every day, because my mother thought I had better not go every day. But I went as often as she would let me go, and staid as long as she would let me stay.

Jack was always glad to see me, and glad to tell me stories. I was always glad to hear his stories. Some sailors, who have spent a great deal of time on board of a ship, and have seen a great many places, are not good men. They do not always tell the truth. So, when they tell stories about what they saw where they went, we do not know whether to believe them or not. But Jack Mason was a good man, and I knew he would not tell me what was not true.

Shall I tell you some of the stories that this good old sailor told me when he had to stay at home, because he had broken his hip? I think I can remember some worth telling again.

"O yes, Mr. Thinker, tell us all the stories the old sailor told you."

"No, I cannot do that. I cannot remember them all."

"Well, tell us all you do remember."

"I will see about it. I will tell you some of them, at any rate. Let me see, what story shall I tell first? Shall I tell you his story about what he saw once, when he sailed a great way north? I guess I will."



If you should go a great way north, you would find it very cold. The further you go north, the colder it is. I went so far that way one time, that I got almost frozen. The ship I sailed in came close to an iceberg once, and we all thought for a while that the ship would strike the iceberg. If it had struck, it would have been broken all in pieces, and we should have been drowned or frozen, every one of us. God was kind and good to us, though. The wind was blowing very hard, and right toward the iceberg. But just as we had got almost up to it, the wind changed, and blew us away from it.

But I forgot that you do not know what an iceberg is. It is a great hill of ice. In the North Sea, these ice hills are often as high as your church, and sometimes a great deal higher... Continue reading book >>

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