THERE was a great battle at sea. One could hear nothing but the roar of the big guns. The air was filled with black smoke. The water was strewn with broken masts and pieces of timber which the cannon balls had knocked from the ships. Many men had been killed, and many more had been wounded.
But the captain's son, young
He saw the men leap into the boat. He heard them call to him to come. He shook his head.
"When father bids me, I will go," he said.
And now the flames were leaping up the masts. The sails were all ablaze. The fire blew hot upon his cheek. It scorched his hair. It was before him, behind him, all around him.
"O father!" he cried, "may I not go now? The men have all left the ship. Is it not time that we too should leave it?"
He did not know that his father was lying in the burning
cabin below, that a cannon ball had struck
him dead at the very
"Speak louder, father!" he cried. "I cannot hear what you say."
Above the roaring of the flames, above the crashing of the falling spars, above the booming of the gulls, he fancied that his father's voice came faintly to him through the scorching air.
"I am here, father! Speak once again!" he gasped.
But what is that?
A great flash of light fills the air; clouds of smoke shoot quickly upward to the sky; and—
Oh, what a
The blazing ship is seen no more.
There was powder in the hold!
A long time ago a lady, whose name was Mrs. Hemans, wrote a
poem about this brave boy
"The boy stood on the burning deck
Whence all but him had fled;
The flame that lit the battle's wreck
Shone round him o'er the dead.
"Yet beautiful and bright he stood,
As born to rule the storm—
A creature of heroic blood,
A proud though childlike form."