I SOON found that my mother's words were true. A sailor's life is indeed a hard life.
There was no time for play on board of our ship. Even in the fairest weather there was much work to be done.
On the very first night the wind began to blow. The waves rolled high. The ship was tossed this way and that. Never had I seen such a storm.
All night long the wind blew. I was so badly frightened that I did not know what to do. I thought the ship would surely go to the bottom.
Then I remembered my pleasant home and the words of my kind mother.
"If I live to reach dry land," I said to myself, "I will give up this thought of being a sailor. I will go home and stay with my father and mother. I will never set my foot in another ship."
Day came. The storm was worse than before. I felt sure that we were lost. But toward evening the sky began to clear. The wind died away. The waves went down. The storm was over.
The next morning the sun rose bright and warm upon a smooth sea. It was a beautiful sight.
As I stood looking out over the wide water, the first mate came up. He was a kind man, and always friendly to me.
"Well, Bob," he said, "how do you like it? Were you frightened by that little gale?"
"I hope you don't call it a little gale," I said. "Indeed it was a terrible storm."
The mate laughed.
"Do you call that a storm?" he asked. "Why, it was nothing at all. You are only a fresh-water sailor, Bob. Wait till we have a real storm."
And so I soon forgot my fears.
Little by little, I gave up all thoughts of going home again. "A sailor's life for me," I said.
My first voyage was not a long one.
I visited no new lands, for the ship went only to London. But the things which I saw in that great city seemed very wonderful to me.
Nothing would satisfy me but to make a long voyage. I wished to see the whole world.