The Magic Egg and Other Stories HTML version
The Christmas Wreck
"Well, sir," said old Silas, as he gave a preliminary puff to the pipe he had just lighted,
and so satisfied himself that the draught was all right, "the wind's a-comin', an' so's
Christmas. But it's no use bein' in a hurry fur either of 'em, fur sometimes they come
afore you want 'em, anyway."
Silas was sitting in the stern of a small sailing-boat which he owned, and in which he
sometimes took the Sandport visitors out for a sail, and at other times applied to its more
legitimate but less profitable use, that of fishing. That afternoon he had taken young Mr.
Nugent for a brief excursion on that portion of the Atlantic Ocean which sends its
breakers up on the beach of Sandport. But he had found it difficult, nay, impossible, just
now, to bring him back, for the wind had gradually died away until there was not a breath
of it left. Mr. Nugent, to whom nautical experiences were as new as the very nautical suit
of blue flannel which he wore, rather liked the calm. It was such a relief to the monotony
of rolling waves. He took out a cigar and lighted it, and then he remarked:
"I can easily imagine how a wind might come before you sailors might want it, but I don't
see how Christmas could come too soon."
"It come wunst on me when things couldn't `a' looked more onready fur it," said Silas.
"How was that?" asked Mr. Nugent, settling himself a little more comfortably on the hard
thwart. "If it's a story, let's have it. This is a good time to spin a yarn."
"Very well," said old Silas. "I'll spin her."
The bare-legged boy whose duty it was to stay forward and mind the jib came aft as soon
as he smelt a story, and took a nautical position, which was duly studied by Mr. Nugent,
on a bag of ballast in the bottom of the boat.
"It's nigh on to fifteen year ago," said Silas, "that I was on the bark Mary Auguster,
bound for Sydney, New South Wales, with a cargo of canned goods. We was somewhere
about longitood a hundred an' seventy, latitood nothin', an' it was the twenty- second o'
December, when we was ketched by a reg'lar typhoon which blew straight along, end on,
fur a day an' a half. It blew away the storm-sails. It blew away every yard, spar, shroud,
an' every strand o' riggin', an' snapped the masts off close to the deck. It blew away all the
boats. It blew away the cook's caboose, an' everythin' else on deck. It blew off the
hatches, an' sent 'em spinnin' in the air about a mile to leeward. An' afore it got through, it
washed away the cap'n an' all the crew 'cept me an' two others. These was Tom Simmons,
the second mate, an' Andy Boyle, a chap from the Adirondack Mount'ins, who'd never
been to sea afore. As he was a landsman, he ought, by rights, to 'a' been swep' off by the
wind an' water, consid'rin' that the cap'n an' sixteen good seamen had gone a'ready. But
he had hands eleven inches long, an' that give him a grip which no typhoon could git the
better of. Andy had let out that his father was a miller up there in York State, an' a story