Read CHAPTER V. of The Little Skipper A Son of a Sailor , free online book, by George Manville Fenn, on

The Skipper ran as he had never run before.  Through the gate and along the sandy road, but, before he had gone a hundred yards three rough-looking boys, who were out birds’-nesting, saw him coming, and, moved by the same mischievous feeling, formed across the road, yelling and hooting at him as he came on.

At another time the Skipper would have halted, and most likely have turned back; but he was desperate now, and if there had been a dozen boys there he would have done the same.

Clenching his fists tightly and setting his teeth harder, he charged at the biggest of the three, who was in the middle of the road, his eyes flashing as he ran.  “Yah, hoo!  Stop, thief! stop, thief!” yelled the boy, throwing out his arms.  “Stop!”

Whop ­smack ­thud!

The boy was rolling over in the dust.  The Skipper had jumped over him, and heard him howling as he ran on; but Bob did not turn his head; he felt sure that he should see his father, as soon as he reached the corner where the High Road ran by in a perfectly straight line through the trees for a couple of miles, down hill and up hill, right past the station at the level crossing.

But the poor Skipper was wrong; he reached the corner and stopped dead, panting hard, for there, a good half-mile away, was the station fly, with a pair of horses going at a gallop so as to catch the train.  He stood breathing hard, feeling half stunned, and at last, with head and arms hanging, he turned off the road on to the grassy border, following the path by which his father and Jeffs came the previous day, till he reached the lake with its sandy edge.  Then he turned in among the fir-trees in a dull, half-stupid way, but had not gone many yards, before, utterly overcome by the misery he felt, he threw himself down, hid his face in his hands, and lay there sobbing as if his heart would break.

The poor Skipper did not know how time went:  he could think of nothing but that his father had gone away still angry with him, and without bidding him good-bye; and he lay there, half stunned by his misery, till a gruff voice exclaimed:  “Hullo!  Master Bob! why, here you are, then.  Bell’s rung ever so long ago; they’re looking for you everywhere, and your Ma’s in a orful way.”

The Skipper started to his feet, but with his head averted from the gardener, who was returning, after going home to his dinner; and setting off running, he made for the house, where he hurried upstairs, into his room, to bathe his swollen eyes.

Before he had finished, his mother was at the bed-room door, looking wild and anxious, but, the sight of the boy’s swollen eyes convinced her, that he had only hidden himself away in the wood so that no one should see his tears; she said nothing, but kissed him tenderly, and waited till he was ready to go down.

All that afternoon the boy spent alone, thinking.  When the bell rang for tea he was thinking still, but Mrs. Trevor thought it better not to interfere with him, and she only sighed, when she saw him take his hat and go down the garden again, toward the belt of fir-trees by the big pool.  “He’ll be better to-morrow, poor boy,” she said to herself.  “How bravely he tries to master it all ­how proud his father would be, if he knew.”

Poor Mrs. Trevor did not know the fresh grief in store for her, and the anxiety she would have to suffer, for the Skipper had made his plans at last; and that night was spent in horror and despair.