Masterman Ready

Author: Frederick Marryat

Chapter XXVIII

That night Ready sat up for two or three hours working by candle-light (William keeping him company), very busily engaged fitting up the fishing-lines with leads and hooks. At last two were complete.

"What bait must we use, Ready?"

"I should think that the best would be one of the fish out of the shells which are in the sand; but a piece of pork fat will, I dare say, do as well."

"And whereabouts would you fish, Ready?"

"The best place, I should think, would be at the farthermost end of the point, where I got the boat through the reef - the water is deep there close to the rocks."

"I was thinking, Ready, if those gannets and men-of-war birds would be good eating."

"Not very, William; they are very tough and very fishy: we must try for those when we can get nothing better. Now that we have got in the seeds and potatoes, we must all set to to-morrow morning to fell and carry the timber. I think Mr. Seagrave had better use the axe with me; and you and Juno can, when I have shown you how, hang the timber to the axle, and wheel it out to the place where we have decided upon building the house. And now we had better go to bed."

William, however, had made up his mind to do otherwise: he knew that his mother would be very glad to have some fish, and he determined, as the moon shone bright, to try if he could not catch some before he went to bed; so he waited very quietly till he thought Ready was asleep as well as the others, and then went out with the lines, and went down to the beach, where he picked up three or four shells, and, breaking them between two pieces of rock, took out the fish and baited his hooks. He then walked to the point. It was a beautiful night; the water was very smooth, and the moonbeams pierced deep below the surface. William threw in his line, and as soon as the lead touched the bottom he pulled it up about a foot, as Ready had instructed him; and he had not held his line more than half a minute, when it was jerked so forcibly, that not expecting it he was nearly hauled into the water; as it was, the fish was so strong that the line slipped through his hand and scored his fingers; but after a time he was able to pull it in, and he landed on the beach a large silver-scaled fish, weighing nine or ten pounds. As soon as he had dragged it so far away from the edge of the rocks as to prevent its flapping into the water again, William took out the hook and determined to try for another. His line was down as short a time as before, when it was again jerked with violence; but William was this time prepared, and he let out the line and played the fish till it was tired, and then pulled it up, and found that the second fish was even larger than the first. Satisfied with his success, he wound up his lines, and, running a piece of string through the gills of the fish, dragged them back to the tents, and hanged them to the pole, for fear of the dogs eating them; he then went in, and was soon fast asleep. The next morning William was the first up, and showed his prizes with much glee; but Ready was very much displeased with him.

"You did very wrong, William, to run the risk which you did. If you were resolved to catch fish, why did you not tell me, and I would have gone with you? You say, yourself, that the fish nearly hauled you into the water; suppose it had done so, or suppose a small shark instead of one of these gropers (as we call them) had taken the bait, you must have been jerked in; and the rocks are so steep there, that you would not have been able to get out again before a shark had hold of you. Think a moment what would have been the distress of your father and the agony and despair of your poor mother, when this news should have arrived."

"I was very wrong, Ready," replied William, "now that I think of it; but I wanted to surprise and please my mother."

"That reason is almost sufficient to plead your pardon, my dear boy," replied Ready; "but don’t do so again. And now let us say no more about it; nobody will know that you have been in danger, and there’s no harm done; and you mustn’t mind an old man scolding you a little."

"No, indeed, Ready, I do not, for I was very thoughtless; but I had no idea that there was danger."

"There’s your mother coming out of her tent," replied Ready. "Good-morning, madam. Do you know what William has done for you last night? Look, here are two beautiful fish, and very excellent eating they are, I can tell you."

"I am quite delighted," replied Mrs. Seagrave.

Tommy clapped his hands and danced about, crying, "Fried fish for dinner;" and Juno said, "Have very fine dinner to-day, Missy Caroline."

After breakfast they all set out for the grove, where Ready had been cutting down the trees, taking with them the wheels and axle, and a couple of stout ropes. Mr. Seagrave and Ready cut down the trees and slung them to the axle, and Juno and William dragged them to the spot where the house was to be built.

They were not sorry when dinner was ready, for it was very hard work.

That night, tired as they were, Ready and William went out, and turned eight more turtle. They continued felling the cocoa-nut trees and dragging the timber for the remainder of the week, when they considered that they had nearly enough, and on Tuesday morning they commenced building the house.


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Chicago: Frederick Marryat, "Chapter XXVIII," Masterman Ready, ed. Altemus, Henry in Masterman Ready Original Sources, accessed June 25, 2024,

MLA: Marryat, Frederick. "Chapter XXVIII." Masterman Ready, edited by Altemus, Henry, in Masterman Ready, Original Sources. 25 Jun. 2024.

Harvard: Marryat, F, 'Chapter XXVIII' in Masterman Ready, ed. . cited in , Masterman Ready. Original Sources, retrieved 25 June 2024, from