Read CHAPTER THIRTEEN of Masterman Ready The Wreck of the "Pacific", free online book, by Frederick Marryat, on ReadCentral.com.

When breakfast was over the next morning, Ready observed, “Now, Mr Seagrave, we must hold a council of war, and decide upon an exploring party for to-morrow; and, when we have settled that, we will find some useful way of employing ourselves for the rest of the day.  The first question is, of whom is the party to consist? ­and upon that I wish to hear your opinion.”

“Why, Ready,” replied Mr Seagrave, “it appears to me that you and I should go.”

“Surely not both of you, my dear,” interrupted Mrs Seagrave.  “You can do without my husband, can you not, Ready?”

“I certainly should have liked to have Mr Seagrave to advise with, ma’am,” replied Ready; “but still I have thought upon it, and do not think that William would be quite sufficient protection for you; or, at all events, you would not feel that he was, which is much the same thing; and so, if Mr Seagrave has no objection, it would perhaps be better that he remained with you.”

“Would you go alone, then, Ready?” said Mr Seagrave.

“No, sir, I do not think that would be right either, ­some accident might happen; there is no saying what might happen, although there is every appearance of safety.  I should like, therefore, to have some one with me; the question is, whether it be William or Juno?”

“Take me,” said Tommy.

“Take you, Tommy!” said Ready, laughing; “then I must take Juno to take care of you.  No; I think they cannot spare you.  Your mamma will want you when we are gone; you are so useful in gathering wood for the fire, and taking care of your little sister and brother, that your mother cannot part with you; so I must have either Juno or William.”

“And which would you prefer, Ready?” said Mrs Seagrave.

“William, certainly, ma’am, if you will let him go with me, as you could ill spare the girl.”

“Indeed, I do not like it; I would rather lose Juno for a time,” replied Mrs Seagrave.

“My dear wife,” said Mr Seagrave, “recollect how Providence has preserved us in such awful dangers ­how we are landed in safety.  And now, will you not put trust in that Providence, when the dangers are, as I trust, only imaginary?”

“I was wrong, my dear husband; but sickness and suffering have made me, I fear, not only nervous and frightened, but selfish:  I must and will shake it off.  Hitherto I have only been a clog and an incumbrance to you; but I trust I shall soon behave better, and make myself useful.  If you think, then, that it would be better that you should go instead of William, I am quite content.  Go, then, with Ready, and may Heaven protect you both!”

“No, ma’am,” replied Ready, “William will do just as well.  Indeed, I would go by myself with pleasure; but we know not what the day may bring forth.  I might be taken ill ­I might hurt myself ­I am an old man, you know; and then I was thinking that if any accident was to happen to me, you might miss me ­that’s all.”

“Pardon me,” replied Mrs Seagrave; “a mother is foolish at times.”

“Over-anxious, ma’am, perhaps, but not foolish,” replied Ready.

“Well, then, William shall go with you, Ready; ­that point’s settled,” observed Mr Seagrave:  “what is the next?”

“The next is to prepare for our journey.  We must take some provisions and water with us, a gun and some ammunition, a large axe for me, and one of the hatchets for William; and, if you please, Romulus and Remus had better come with us.  Juno, put a piece of beef and a piece of pork into the pot.  William, will you fill four quart bottles with water, while I sew up a knapsack out of canvas for each of us?”

“And what shall I do, Ready?” said Mr Seagrave.

“Why, sir, if you will sharpen the axe and the hatchet on the grindstone, it would be of great service, and Tommy can turn it, he is so fond of work.”

Tommy jumped up directly; he was quite strong enough to turn the grindstone, but he was much fonder of play than work; but as Ready had said that he was fond of it, he wished to prove that such was the case, and worked very hard.  Before they went to prayers and retired for the night, the axe was sharpened, the knapsacks made, and everything else ready.

“When do you intend to start, Ready?” said Mr Seagrave.

“Why, sir, I should like to get off at the dawn of day, when the heat is not so great.”

“And when do you intend to come back?” said Mrs Seagrave.

“Why, madam, we have provisions enough for three days:  if we start to-morrow morning, which is Wednesday, I hope to be back some time on Friday evening; but I won’t be later than Saturday morning if I can help it.”

“Good-night ­and good-bye, mother,” said William, “for I shall not see you to-morrow!”

“God bless and protect you, my dear child!” replied Mrs Seagrave.  “Take care of him, Ready, and good-bye to you till we meet.”

Mrs Seagrave went into the tent to hide the tears which she could not suppress.