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Sir Ralph the Rover sailed away, —
On the deck the rover takes his stand;
“Canst hear,” said one, “the breakers roar ?
They hear no sound; the swell is strong;
Sir Ralph the Rover tore his hair;
But even in his dying fear
1. Who was Sir Ralph? What do you guess his business was on the sea? Why did he destroy the Inchcape bell? What was the result?
2. When a character in a story or a play gets what is due him because of his acts, the result is called Nemesis or “poetic justice.” Is poetic justice given Ralph ? How soon does it follow the deed? What other stories do you know in which poetic justice is meted out to a character?
3. Robert Southey (1774-1843) wrote many poems that are widely read. “The Battle of Blenheim” and “The Falls of Lodore” are two of the most popular. Do you know either? Southey was an English author, and was once the poet laureate of England; that is, the official poet of the country.
AN ADVENTURE WITH A SHARK
UR noble ship lay at anchor in the bay of Tan
gier, a town in the northwestern part of Africa. The day had been very mild, with a gentle breeze sweeping to the northward and westward. Toward sevening the sea breeze died away, and hot, sultry breathings came from the great sunburnt desert of Sahara.
Half an hour before sundown the captain gave the cheering order to call the hands to “go in swimming,' 10 and in less than five minutes our sailors were leaping from the arms of the lower yards into the water. One of the sails, with its corners fastened from the main yardarm and the swinging boom, had been lowered into the water, and into this most of the swimmers is made their way.
Among those who seemed to be enjoying the sport most heartily were two boys, one of whom was the son of our old gunner; and in a laughing mood they started out from the sail on a race. There was a loud 20 ringing shout of joy on their lips as they put off ; they darted through the water like fishes. The surface of the sea was smooth as glass, though its bosom rose in long, heavy swells that set in from the ocean.
One of the buoys which was attached to the anchor 25 to show where it lay, was far away on the starboard quarter, where it rose and fell with the lazy swell of
Towards this buoy the two lads made their way, the old gunner's son taking the lead; but when they were within about sixty yards of the buoy, the other boy shot ahead and promised to win the race.
The old gunner had watched the progress of his son with great pride; and when he saw him drop behind he leaped upon the quarterdeck and was just upon the point of urging him on by a shout when a cry was heard that struck him with instant horror. 10
“A shark! a shark !" shouted the officer of the deck; and at the sound of those terrible words, the men who were in the water leaped and plunged toward the ship.
Three or four hundred yards away the back of a monster shark was seen cleaving the water. Its 15 course was for the boys. For a moment the gunner stood like one who had lost his reason. Then he shouted at the top of his voice for the boys to turn; but they could not hear him. Stoutly the two swimmers strove, knowing nothing of the danger from the 20 shark. Their laughter still rang over the waters, as they were both nearing the buoy. At this moment a cry went up, a cry that reached every heart - the
boys had discovered their enemy.
The cry startled the old gunner and quicker than as thought he sprang from the quarterdeck. were all loaded and shotted, fore and aft, and none knew their temper better than he. With steady hand
made strong by sudden hope, the old gunner pricked the cartridge of one of the quarter guns; then he took from his pocket a percussion cap, fixed it on its place, and set back the hammer of the gunlock. He turned s the heavy gun to its bearing. Then, seizing the string of the lock, he stood back and watched for the next swell that would bring the shark in range. He had aimed the piece some distance ahead of his mark; a moment more would settle his hopes and fears.
Every breath was hushed and every heart in that old ship beat painfully. Suddenly the silence was broken by the roar of the gun. The old man covered his face with his hands, as if afraid to see the result. If he had failed, he knew that his boy was lost. For 15 a moment after the report of the gun had died away upon the air, there was dead silence. But as the thick smoke arose from the surface of the water, there broke from the lips of the men a deafening shout.
The old gunner sprang to his feet. The first thing 20 that met his sight was the huge body of the shark floating on its back. His shot had gone true. The lads were saved.
1. Retell this story as briefly as you can. Bring out the main incident. What is it? What leads up to it ?
2. Did this adventure take place recently? Prove your answer.