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The Lighthouse

The following is from The Lighthouse by R. M. Ballantyne:

Chapter Fifteen--Ruby Has a Rise in Life, And a Fall

James Dove, the blacksmith, had, for some time past, been watching the advancing of the beacon-works with some interest, and a good deal of impatience. He was tired of working so constantly up to the knees in water, and aspired to a drier and more elevated workshop.

One morning he was told by the foreman that orders had been given for him to remove his forge to the beacon, and this removal, this "flitting", as he called it, was the first of the memorable events referred to in the last chapter.

"Hallo! Ruby, my boy," cried the elated son of Vulcan, as he descended the companion ladder, "we're goin' to flit, lad. We're about to rise in the world, so get up your bellows. It's the last time we shall have to be bothered with them in the boat, I hope."

"That's well," said Ruby, shouldering the unwieldy bellows; "they have worn my shoulders threadbare, and tried my patience almost beyond endurance."

"Well, it's all over now, lad," rejoined the smith. "In future you shall have to blow up in the beacon yonder; so come along."

"Come, Ruby, that ought to comfort the cockles o' yer heart," said O'Connor, who passed up the ladder as he spoke; "the smith won't need to blow you up any more, av you're to blow yourself up in the beacon in futur'. Arrah! there's the bell again. Sorrow wan o' me iver gits to slape, but I'm turned up immadiately to go an' poke away at that rock--faix, it's well named the Bell Rock, for it makes me like to bellow me lungs out wid vexation."

"That pun is below contempt," said Joe Dumsby, who came up at the moment.

"That's yer sort, laddies; ye're guid at ringing the changes on that head onyway," cried Watt.

"I say, we're gittin' a belly-full of it," observed Forsyth, with a rueful look. "I hope nobody's goin' to give us another!"

"It'll create a rebellion," said Bremner, "if ye go on like that."

"It'll bring my bellows down on the head o' the next man that speaks!" cried Ruby, with indignation.

"Don't you hear the bell, there?" cried the foreman down the hatchway.

There was a burst of laughter at this unconscious continuation of the joke, and the men sprang up the ladder,--down the side, and into the boats, which were soon racing towards the rock.

The day, though not sunny, was calm and agreeable, nevertheless the landing at the rock was not easily accomplished, owing to the swell caused by a recent gale. After one or two narrow escapes of a ducking, however, the crews landed, and the bellows, instead of being conveyed to their usual place at the forge, were laid at the foot of the beacon.

The carriage of these bellows to and fro almost daily had been a subject of great annoyance to the men, owing to their being so much in the way, and so unmanageably bulky, yet so essential to the progress of the works, that they did not dare to leave them on the rock, lest they should be washed away, and they had to handle them tenderly, lest they should get damaged.

"Now, boys, lend a hand with the forge," cried the smith, hurrying towards his anvil.

Those who were not busy eating dulse responded to the call, and in a short time the ponderous materiel of the smithy was conveyed to the beacon, where, in process of time, it was hoisted by means of tackle to its place on the platform to which reference has already been made.

When it was safely set up and the bellows placed in position, Ruby went to the edge of the platform, and, looking down on his comrades below, took off his cap and shouted in the tone of a Stentor, "Now, lads, three cheers for the Dovecot!"

This was received with a roar of laughter and three tremendous cheers.

"Howld on, boys," cried O'Connor, stretching out his hand as if to command silence; "you'll scare the dove from his cot altogether av ye roar like that!"

"Surely they're sendin' us a fire to warm us," observed one of the men, pointing to a boat which had put off from the Smeaton, and was approaching the rock by way of Macurich's Track.

"What can'd be, I wonder?" said Watt; "I think I can smell somethin'."

"I halways thought you 'ad somethink of an old dog in you," said Dumsby.

"Ay, man!" said the Scot with a leer, "I ken o' war beasts than auld dowgs."

"Do you? come let's 'ear wat they are," said the Englishman.

"Young puppies," answered the other.

"Hurrah! dinner, as I'm a Dutchman," cried Forsyth.

This was indeed the case. Dinner had been cooked on board the Smeaton and sent hot to the men; and this,--the first dinner ever eaten on the

Bell Rock,--was the second of the memorable events before referred to.

The boat soon ran into the creek and landed the baskets containing the food on Hope's Wharf.

The men at once made a rush at the viands, and bore them off exultingly to the flattest part of the rock they could find.

"A regular picnic," cried Dumsby in high glee, for unusual events, of even a trifling kind, had the effect of elating those men more than one might have expected.

"Here's the murphies," cried O'Connor, staggering over the slippery weed with a large smoking tin dish.

"Mind you don't let 'em fall," cried one.

"Have a care," shouted the smith; "if you drop them I'll beat you red-hot, and hammer ye so flat that the biggest flatterer as ever walked won't be able to spread ye out another half-inch."

"Mutton! oh!" exclaimed Forsyth, who had been some time trying to wrench the cover off the basket containing a roast leg, and at last succeeded.

"Here, spread them all out on this rock. You han't forgot the grog, I hope, steward?"

"No fear of him: he's a good feller, is the steward, when he's asleep partiklerly. The grog's here all right."

"Dinna let Dumsby git haud o't, then," cried Watt. "What! hae ye begood a'ready? Patience, man, patience. Is there ony saut?"

"Lots of it, darlin', in the say. Sure this shape must have lost his tail somehow. Och, murther! if there isn't Bobby Selkirk gone an' tumbled into Port Hamilton wid the cabbage, av it's not the carrots!"

"There now, don't talk so much, boys," cried Peter Logan. "Let's drink success to the Bell Rock Lighthouse."

It need scarcely be said that this toast was drunk with enthusiasm, and that it was followed up with "three times three."

"Now for a song. Come, Joe Dumsby, strike up," cried one of the men.

O'Connor, who was one of the most reckless of men in regard to duty and propriety, here shook his head gravely, and took upon himself to read his comrade a lesson.

"Ye shouldn't talk o' sitch things in workin' hours," said he. "Av we wos all foolish, waake-hidded cratures like you, how d'ye think we'd iver git the lighthouse sot up! Ate yer dinner, lad, and howld yer tongue."

"O Ned, I didn't think your jealousy would show out so strong," retorted his comrade. "Now, then, Dumsby, fire away, if it was only to aggravate him."

Thus pressed, Joe Dumsby took a deep draught of the small-beer with which the men were supplied, and began a song of his own composition.

When the song was finished the meal was also concluded, and the men returned to their labours on the rock; some to continue their work with the picks at the hard stone of the foundation-pit, others to perform miscellaneous jobs about the rock, such as mixing the mortar and removing debris, while James Dove and his fast friend Ruby Brand mounted to their airy "cot" on the beacon, from which in a short time began to proceed the volumes of smoke and the clanging sounds that had formerly arisen from "Smith's Ledge."

While they were all thus busily engaged, Ruby observed a boat advancing towards the rock from the floating light. He was blowing the bellows at the time, after a spell at the fore-hammer.

"We seem to be favoured with unusual events to-day, Jamie," said he, wiping his forehead with the corner of his apron with one hand, while he worked the handle of the bellows with the other, "yonder comes another boat; what can it be, think you?"

"Surely it can't be tea!" said the smith with a smile, as he turned the end of a pickaxe in the fire, "it's too soon after dinner for that."

"It looks like the boat of our friends the fishermen, Big Swankie and Davy Spink," said Ruby, shading his eyes with his hand, and gazing earnestly at the boat as it advanced towards them.

"Friends!" repeated the smith, "rascally smugglers, both of them; they're no friends of mine."

"Well, I didn't mean bosom friends," replied Ruby, "but after all, Davy Spink is not such a bad fellow, though I can't say that I'm fond of his comrade."

The two men resumed their hammers at this point in the conversation, and became silent as long as the anvil sounded.

The boat had reached the rock when they ceased, and its occupants were seen to be in earnest conversation with Peter Logan.

There were only two men in the boat besides its owners, Swankie and Spink.

"What can they want?" said Dove, looking down on them as he turned to thrust the iron on which he was engaged into the fire.

As he spoke the foreman looked up.

"Ho! Ruby Brand," he shouted, "come down here; you're wanted."

"Hallo! Ruby," exclaimed the smith, "more friends o' yours! Your acquaintance is extensive, lad, but there's no girl in the case this time."

Ruby made no reply, for an indefinable feeling of anxiety filled his breast as he threw down the fore-hammer and prepared to descend.

On reaching the rock he advanced towards the strangers, both of whom were stout, thickset men, with grave, stern countenances. One of them stepped forward and said, "Your name is--"

"Ruby Brand," said the youth promptly, at the same time somewhat proudly, for he knew that he was in the hands of the Philistines.

The man who first spoke hereupon drew a small instrument from his pocket, and tapping Ruby on the shoulder, said--

"I arrest you, Ruby Brand, in the name of the King."

The other man immediately stepped forward and produced a pair of handcuffs.

At sight of these Ruby sprang backward, and the blood rushed violently to his forehead, while his blue eyes glared with the ferocity of those of a tiger.

"Come, lad, it's of no use, you know," said the man, pausing; "if you won't come quietly we must find ways and means to compel you."

"Compel me!" cried Ruby, drawing himself up with a look of defiance and a laugh of contempt, that caused the two men to shrink back in spite of themselves.

"Ruby," said the foreman, gently, stepping forward and laying his hand on the youth's shoulder, "you had better go quietly, for there's no chance of escape from these fellows. I have no doubt it's a mistake, and that you'll come off with flyin' colours, but it's best to go quietly whatever turns up."

While Logan was speaking, Ruby dropped his head on his breast, the officer with the handcuffs advanced, and the youth held out his hands, while the flush of anger deepened into the crimson blush of shame.

It was at this point that Jamie Dove, wondering at the prolonged absence of his friend and assistant, looked down from the platform of the beacon, and beheld what was taking place.

The stentorian roar of amazement and rage that suddenly burst from him, attracted the attention of all the men on the rock, who dropped their tools and looked up in consternation, expecting, no doubt, to behold something terrible.

Their eyes at once followed those of the smith, and no sooner did they see Ruby being led in irons to the boat, which lay in Port Hamilton, close to Sir Ralph the Rover's Ledge, than they uttered a yell of execration, and rushed with one accord to the rescue.

The officers, who were just about to make their prisoner step into the boat, turned to face the foe,--one, who seemed to be the more courageous of the two, a little in advance of the other.

Ned O'Connor, with that enthusiasm which seems to be inherent in Irish blood, rushed with such irresistible force against this man that he drove him violently back against his comrade, and sent them both head over heels into Port Hamilton. Nay, with such momentum was this act performed, that Ned could not help but follow them, falling on them both as they came to the surface and sinking them a second time, amid screams and yells of laughter.

O'Connor was at once pulled out by his friends. The officers also were quickly landed.

"I ax yer parding, gintlemen," said the former, with an expression of deep regret on his face, "but the say-weed is so slippy on them rocks we're almost for iver doin' that sort o' thing be the merest accident. But av yer as fond o' cowld wather as meself ye won't objec' to it, although it do come raither onexpected."

The officers made no reply, but, collaring Ruby, pushed him into the boat.

Again the men made a rush, but Peter Logan stood between them and the boat.

"Lads," said he, holding up his hand, "it's of no use resistin' the law. These are King's officers, and they are only doin' their duty. Sure am I that Ruby Brand is guilty of no crime, so they've only to enquire into it and set him free."

The men hesitated, but did not seem quite disposed to submit without another struggle.

"It's a shame to let them take him," cried the smith.

"So it is. I vote for a rescue," cried Joe Dumsby.

"Hooray! so does I," cried O'Connor, stripping off his waist-coat, and for once in his life agreeing with Joe.

"Na, na, lads," cried John Watt, rolling up his sleeves, and baring his brawny arms as if about to engage in a fight, "it'll niver do to interfere wi' the law; but what d'ye say to gie them anither dook?"

Seeing that the men were about to act upon Watt's suggestion, Ruby started up in the boat, and turning to his comrade, said:

"Boys, it's very kind of you to be so anxious to save me but you can't--"

"Faix, but we can, darlin'," interrupted O'Connor.

"No, you can't," repeated Ruby firmly, "because I won't let you. I don't think I need say to you that I am innocent," he added, with a look in which truth evidently shone forth like a sunbeam, "but now that they have put these irons on me I will not consent that they shall be taken off except by the law which put them on."

While he was speaking the boat had been pushed off, and in a few seconds it was beyond the reach of the men.

"Depend upon it, comrades," cried Ruby, as they pulled away, "that I shall be back again to help you to finish the work on the Bell Rock."

"So you will, lad, so you will," cried the foreman.

"My blessin' on ye," shouted O'Connor. "Ach! ye dirty villains, ye low-minded spalpeens," he added, shaking his fist at the officers of justice.

"Don't be long away, Ruby," cried one.

"Never say die," shouted another, earnestly.

"Three cheers for Ruby Brand!" exclaimed Forsyth, "hip! hip! hip!--"

The cheer was given with the most vociferous energy, and then the men stood in melancholy silence on Ralph the Rover's Ledge, watching the boat that bore their comrade to the shore.

Chapter Sixteen--New Arrangements--The Captain's Philosophy In Regard To Pipeology


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