Gordon of the Lost Lagoon. A Romance of the Pacific Coast - Robert Watson - ebook

Gordon of the Lost Lagoon. A Romance of the Pacific Coast ebook

Robert Watson

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Despite the severity of the life he encounters, like a little rat, Douglas Gordon, with good mood and good fortune, with calm courage, pushes his way through difficulties. And this is followed by a fairy tale full of sea fool, the enchanting beauty of the islands in the Gulf of Georgia, the color of the promenade: a boy, a girl and a dog in a human adventure on the wild sea coast life near Vancouver.

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Liczba stron: 338

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Contents

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

To Those Who Are Not Too YoungTo Have Felt The Glow of Romance,Or Too Old To Have Forgotten It.

ROMANCE

Come with me, sail with me To the fairy isles on a fairy sea, Where the blood of the dying sun seeps red The chaste, smooth sheet of its ocean bed; The moon night-rides in her ghostly garb, Shooting her arrows with silver barb: Where passions flare and lovers meet, For men are strong and maids are sweet; Where villains plot in their dark-browed way, But pay their toll at the end of day: The strain of brawn, the thrust of wit; The glamour, the glow and the thrill of it. Drink with joy of the sparkling brew, For here at least may our dreams come true. Come with me, sail with me To the fairy isles on a fairy sea.

R. W.

CHAPTER ONE

“It must be bred in the bone, boy, or it wouldn’t be there; but I’d give a lot to know who your folks were.”

That was the limit of any reprimand I ever received from my kindly old foster-mother, Sarah Berry, when she would gasp at finding me off the end of the mill wharf, naked as on the day I was born, astride a log in the Inlet, paddling as for dear life and in deadly combat with a nigger-boy playmate who was bearing down on me astride an enemy craft in the form of another log belonging to the Northern Pacific Mills.

She would ask big Forbes, the wharf foreman, to chase us home any time he found us there again, and he would agree to do so but would forget his promise and laugh to himself as he thought how humble our log-rolling performance had been compared with the one he had seen us at just before the anxious old lady came on the scene–diving beneath a boom of logs and swimming under water till we came up on the other side.

“Just water rats!” he would mutter to himself as he made across the wharf, “and the first water rat doomed to be drowned has yet to be born.”

I was the spoiled favorite in a humble household of three, Mrs. Berry, Sam (my foster-father) and myself, then at the interesting and callow age of twelve.

I had learned in a disjointed way, from an odd phrase dropped now and again, that my real mother had died when I was born; that I had been brought up in another home until that home also got broken up; that my father might be alive, but, again, that in every probability he was not, for he had gone away after my mother’s death and had not returned to claim me.

I had never discussed the matter with my foster-mother and the information had simply seeped into my mind, a word here and another there–to me at all times uninteresting and of little account, for Mrs. Berry had not once failed in filling all the exacting requirements of both father and mother.

Sam Berry, my foster-father, was a shiftless, good-natured, easy-going, easily-led, irresponsible individual who slept, smoked and talked with much greater gusto than he did anything else. When he could not get out of it, he worked as a longshoreman. He was what he jocularly called a “Green Funnel specialist”–for Sam could spring his little joke even when it was on himself–and he conveyed the idea in his talk that it would be a lowering of his dignity for him to help in the loading or unloading of any other than a “Green Funnel" steamer, and as these vessels generally came into port at the rate of one a month they did not unduly interfere with Sam’s debates and arguments in the waterfront saloons.

Sam Berry had not always been this way. At twenty-two he had been reckoned the ablest of the younger stevedores in the great seaport of Liverpool, but time and drink had wrought changes much to Sam’s detriment. And a strange thing with him was that he could run a boat with the same skill as he could load one.

It was next to impossible for anyone to get angry with him. There was nothing in his make-up to engender anger. He had an open ear and an open hand for any kind of hard-luck story. He spent what little money he earned in the same shiftless way as he worked. The Western Hotel bartenders got the most of it.

It was lucky indeed for our little home–as I can see now–that his good-natured, big-hearted wife was a practised hand at dressmaking, for she seldom if ever saw any of Sam’s earnings and she had got so used to doing without his help that she took the condition more or less as a matter of course.

Sam was apparently past all changing. Mrs. Berry was his mainstay and his sheet anchor, and I can remember it was her constant prayer that she would be spared to outlive him, for she could conceive of herself living without Sam but never of Sam living without her.

Sam never quarreled with her. He bowed to her judgment in all things. What she said and what she did were quite all right with him. When she gave him a mild reprimand for his foolishness–and her reprimands were never other than mild–he would listen attentively and admit with a nod of his head the truth of all she said. He would even take his pipe out of his mouth as he listened, which, with Sam, was a tremendous show of deference and respect. But he would continue the uneven tenor of his ways.

I was a prime favorite with Sam and I used to look up to him as a paragon of all excellence, for did he not embody that wonderful being I so longed to grow to–a man, and a man who had sailed the seas?

Sam used to suck at his pipe and listen to my accounts of my boyish escapades with chuckles of relish. Maybe he saw in me an energy and keenness for life that he himself lacked. He never raised a hand against me and he was ever ready to make excuses for my shortcomings in spite of the remonstrances of his better half. Outside of taking on extra work or dispensing with his beer and his tobacco, Sam would have done anything in the world for me.

In his sober and contrite moments he used to hold himself up to me as a horrible example of all that a man ought not to try to grow to. At these times, he conveyed the feeling that his life would not be altogether a failure and he would not have lived in vain if the pitfalls he had tumbled into and would naturally continue to tumble into were avoided by me.

Our home was one of the semi-respectable houses–shabby-genteel–on the high side of the street overlooking Burrard Inlet and gazing into one of the numerous lumber wharves which lay to the east of the city, just beyond the freight sheds, the cheap hotels and saloons, and the conglomerate section inhabited chiefly by Japanese and negroes.

Early one afternoon, my mother–for I had learned to call her such–was sitting by the window, sewing. I was still at the table, rounding off my mid-day meal with odds and ends, as a hungry and growing boy generally does. She looked up suddenly from her work, with a worried expression on her face as she gazed at me.

“Sonny,” she said as I glanced up, “come over here; I would like to say something to you.”

I rose and went to her, standing by her side and placing my arm on her shoulder, for I knew she was feeling sad over Sam.

That morning, he had seen a “Green Funnel” liner, fully loaded, push her way through The Narrows, and six hours later he had stumbled home with a grin on his face and his pockets empty. My mother had pulled off his boots and clothing and had tumbled him into bed, where he now lay, flat on his back, asleep and breathing heavily.

“If anything should happen to me, sonny,” she said, “what would you do?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Nothing’s going to happen to you. But I guess I would just stay with Sam. He would look after me."

Strange to say, I never called Sam anything but just “Sam.”

My mother sighed. “You know, Douglas, Sam was not always a heavy drinker, not until he got caught in a fire in a shipping shed in Liverpool; after that he just seemed not to care. Now, Sam can’t look after himself.”

“Then I guess I would just have to look after him. But there isn’t anything going to happen to you,” I reiterated, as if in need of assurance on the point, for she set a fear in me. “We both need you too badly.”

“We don’t always get what we need in this world, Douglas. But I’m going to try hard so’s nothing will happen for a while.”

She put her arm round me and looked into my face.

“Sonny–I wish you were older and bigger,” she sighed, putting her cheek against mine.

“Oh, I’m getting big!”

She smiled.

“What are you going to do when you grow up, Dougie? Mr. Gartshore says that, for all your pranks and mischief, you are a good boy at school. Your school reports tell me that too.”

I thought for a moment as to what I would like to be, but had to shake my head.

“I don’t know for sure what I want to be; but I guess it’ll be something connected with boats and water.”

“Well, if you ever have to go away and I am not here;–you see that trunk in the corner?"

I nodded.

“There is a long, tin box inside. You’ve seen it.”

She rose and lifted the lid of the trunk, bringing out a good-sized cash box. She opened it. “See–right on top is this letter and it has your name on it. I put your name there, but inside of it is another letter with your name on it too. If I am not here and you have to go away, I want you to make sure that you take this with you, for it is your very own. You must never lose it. Sew it inside your coat-lining, or get somebody you can trust–somebody that likes little boys as I do–to keep it safe for you.”

“What’s inside?” I asked, with a boy’s natural curiosity.

“I don’t know all that’s in it–a letter left to you by your father, I think, all sealed and not to be opened till you are twenty-two–and as it may be your father’s very last message, his wish must be respected. There is also a letter in there from me to you, with a little present. I made it for your twenty-second birthday the same as the other, because maybe the one will help to comfort you a little should the other have something in it to cause you worry. It must not be opened till then–just as it says on the front. Will you remember that, Douglas?”

“Sure I will! That won’t be hard to remember.”

“Well–there it is, back on top of the box again, and you mustn’t forget, for it might mean much to you then.”

“But it is a long time to wait till I’m twenty-two,” I remarked.

“Yes,–and that’s why I’m telling you about it now, for lots of things can happen between the time a boy is twelve and he gets to twenty-two.”

How true were her conjectures! Lots of things did happen in my case and the wonder of it is that I ever reached that seemingly tremendously old age of twenty-two.

“What is that?” she exclaimed suddenly, starting up at a noise at the window.

I ran to the front and looked out.

“Oh,–it is just Cooney. He wants me to go out.”

“All right then,–off you go.”

She wiped her eyes and gave me a kiss. But at the time, I hardly noticed her tears and I accepted her maternal kiss as most healthy boys do–I liked the caress and would have missed it, but, getting it, I did not stop to analyze it. It was one of those intangible somethings that one thinks about only long after they have ceased.

I grabbed up my cap.

“Tell Cooney not to throw stones up at the window when he wants you. He might smash it.”

“All right!”

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