CHAPTER I—HIS BAPTISM OF THE SEAThis is in the long-ago, or, to be exact, in July, 1759. The new brig Friendship, not a fortnight off the stocks, is lying in her home harbor of Whitehaven, being fitted to her first suit of sails. Captain Bennison is restlessly about her decks, overseeing those sea-tailors, the sail-makers, as they go forward with their task, when Mr. Younger, the owner, comes aboard. The latter gentleman is lowland Scotch, stout, middle-aged, and his severe expanse of smooth-shaven upper-lip tells of prudence, perseverance and Presbyterianism in even parts, as traits dominant of his character."Dick," says Mr. Younger, addressing Captain Bennison, "ye'll have a gude brig; and mon! ye s'uld have a gude crew. There'll be none of the last in Whitehaven, for what ones the agents showed me were the mere riff-raff of the sea. I'll even go to Arbigland, and pick ye a crew among the fisher people.""Arbigland!" repeats Captain Bennison, with a glow of approval. "The Arbigland men are the best sailor-folk that ever saw the Solway. Give me an Arbigland crew, James, and I'll find ye the Rappahannock with the Friendship, within the month after she tears her anchor out o' Whitehaven mud."And so Mr. Younger goes over to Arbigland.It is a blowing July afternoon. An off-shore breeze, now freshening to a gale, tosses the Solway into choppy billows. Most of the inhabitants of Arbigland are down at the mouth of the little tide-water creek, that forms the harbor of the village, eagerly watching a small fishing yawl. The latter craft is beating up in the teeth of the gale, striving for the shelter of the creek.The crew of the yawl consists of but one, and him a lad of twelve. His right hand holds the tiller; with the left he slacks or hauls the sheets, and shifts the sail when he goes about.The yawl has just heeled over on the starboard tack, as Mr. Younger pushes in among the villagers that crowd the little quay.