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"Yes; my great-grandson, who goes to
the grammar-school of Thugton-cum-Sue,
sent me one as a present for my eightieth
birthday. You must know that I was born
at eight o'clock in the evening, so it was
the boy's fancy that I should send it up
exactly at that time, that he might be
reminded of the old man at a distance. It is
a singular thing that a man who was born
at eight o'clock should live to bo eighty."

I might have told him that, inasmuch as
I had encountered many things much more
singular, this last marvel was somewhat
ineffective; but as the effect of the lucifer-
match when applied to the surface of the
bubble was present to my mind, I did not
care to dispute about trifles.

"I think that fire-balloon might be
dangerous," I remarked.

"Not at allnot at all," replied the old
gentleman; "and if it does set alight a hay-
stack or so, I don't mind on an occasion like
this. I may never live to see any other

"That I think exceedingly probable," I
remarked, " if you persist in sending up
this balloon."

"Why, what has that to do with it?
You don't suppose I shall set the sky on
fire!" (That was the very thing I did
suppose.) "I have heard of folks setting
the River Semaht on fire, but as for the
skyho! ho! ho!"

I shall not describe the preparations
made for the ascent of the fire-balloon.
The old gentleman unfolded it, lighted the
tow in the little basket that hung from it
as a car, and, as it slowly arose, watched it
with delight and admiration. Upupit
went; and downdownwent my heart.
In the distance it appeared little more than
a spark. Bang! Cottageold mantrees
all were gone.

I was sitting in my arm-chair by the
fire, and a coal, which had just popped out
of the grate lay smoking on the hearth.


"A LIFE on the ocean wave, a home on the
rolling deep," may be jolly enough under
certain circumstances: only to be really pleasant
and comfortable the ocean wave should not be
much more than a ripplet, and the deep should
roll very gently indeed.

And though most people would enjoy a short
experience of smooth waters and beautiful
weather, few, if any, would care to live
entirely on the ocean wave, or to have a home
altogether on the rolling deep.

These reflections occurred to us as we were
passing the Nore light-ship a short time since.
We wondered what kind of life was theirs
to whom that vessel was, to a great extent, a
home. We wondered and passed on; we, bound
for the French coast, running as hard as a fair
wind and ebb-tide could take us; she, solitary,
moored at her station, riding quietly, with one
object only: to stay where she was. Our
wonder eventually assumed the form of
inquiry, and we gathered a number of facts
concerning light-ships and their crews which may
not be uninteresting to our readers.

At night by the seaside the lights from these
vessels may be seen, green, red, or white,
revolving or fixed, shining out bright and clear
far away to sea. Be the weather fair or foul
still the lights gleam out, brilliant and steadfast
if the night be calm and fine, but occasionally
lost sight of in rough weather as the light-ship
goes down into the hollow between the waves.

These vessels are placed where light-houses
could not be built, and are made to serve
two very useful purposes, viz., to tell sailors
where they are, or to warn them of adjacent
shoals. It is very easy for a sailor to lose
himself at sea, notwithstanding the progress
of science in aiding navigation. Sailors are,
after all, only fallible mortals, and one slight
mistake of theirs, an imperfection in the
compass, or a strong current, may put them
out of their reckoning in a very short time.
And with a dark, angry-looking sky above, and
nothing but sea all round, how are they to
discover their error? But if across the waters
they discern the light from one of those out-
posts of civilisation, they soon discover their
exact whereabouts by the distinctive
character of the light, and by consulting the
chart, and are then able to go on their right
way rejoicing.

Round the English coast alone there are
between forty and fifty light-ships; great, ugly-
looking vessels, always painted red, with their
names in large white letters on both sides.
Day after day, month after month, in fact, for
seven years each vessel has to ride at its
appointed station. After those seven years it is
taken in for a short time; the barnacles and
weeds are cleared off the bottom of the vessel,
she undergoes a thorough overhaul and repair,
and is then sent out again to begin another
seven years of pitching and tossing. Spare
light-ships are always ready to take the place
of any that are brought in for the regular
septennial overhauling, or to repair damages.

It is a matter for wonder that the vessels ride
so long at their allotted stations without breaking
loose, and herein lies the art of light-ship
management. It tells of careful supervision
and efficient service, that only about once in
every ten years is a light-ship known to break
away from her moorings. She is usually moored
with a single mushroom anchor, weighing
between thirty and forty hundredweight, which
sinks into the ooze or sand at the bottom of the
sea, becoming completely embedded; the cable
which holds it would scarcely do for a watch-
chain, each link being made of one and a half