Frank Leward: Memorials
Frank to Mrs. Leward
Frank to Mrs. Leward.
My dear Mother Theres a ship in sight and as we are becalmed they say we may have a chance of sending letters by her so Im writing as well as I can on a bucket. Im almost ashamed to write at all I know Ive done wrong I couldnt help it. I know mother you never thought I would take money that did not belong to me but I couldnt stand the disgrace. On Sunday night when all the other fellows were asleep about ten o'clock page 34I and Jones dropped down from the high window it was a fine night and we felt horrid sneaks as we got away awfully frightened some one would see our shadows the moon was so bright. We walked and ran all night keeping away from the roads and in the morning we were awfully tired and hungry so we got into a barn and slept all day till an old fellow came in and roused us up. All we had was some biscuits wed stowed away and we got some water and went off again. I had ten shillings and Jones a little and that kept us for three days till we were nearly at the town and then I sold the knife you gave me for two bob and got some food. Jones was awfully done up. In the town we met Seabrook you remember the sailor I used to go out with, hes on Lord Pennis yacht now and he took us to a public and gave us some bread and cheese and we told him we wanted to go to London to get on a ship. He said he had to go and see his wife and would take us on the yacht next morning early. He said Lord Pennis was a oner always doing something rum or other and perhaps he might take us if we asked him. Jones went to sleep in the public on a settle and I walked up to the house I thought I might get a sight of you but old mother Vamperley started up and I made off for fear shed make a row. About eight we met Seabrook and got off in the yacht boat and got on board the little Emily. Seabrook took us up to Lord Pennis who was lying on deck smoking a cigar he asked us who we were and I told him we had run away from school and wanted to go to sea. He burst out into a tremendous roar of page 35laughter I never saw anyone laugh so much he almost choked with the smoke and rolled on his side laughing. He said you have run away have you now you may just run back again. We were in an awful funk and thought it was all up. I told him what a fix we should be in and that we were safe to be expelled and couldnt go to any other school and then he said go down you young dogs and get some breakfast so we went down and had a tremendous feed I was hungry.
We kept below till the anchor was up and they were setting sail then I went up and helped and the old fellow seemed to like that. We had a splendid voyage round to London it only took four days with a fair wind all the way. Jones pitched into Lord Ps port like anything and got a little bit on and said what fools we had been not to come away before and Lord P. was awfully amused. It was splendid passing by Brighton and Hastings and the lights along the shore at night and when we were coming up the river in the afternoon near Greenwich we met this ship and Lord P. sang out to her and the Captain looked out and when he saw Lord Pennis he took off his hat and was awfully polite. So Lord Pennis hollowed out for a boat and we went on board and Lord Pennis told the skipper what we wanted and he said hed take us if he wished it he knew him in Penzance or some other place before. But he said it was a risk and hed get into a row if any one knew Lord P. said hed make it all right gave us a sovereign each and went back and we saw him soon after going page 36ashore and we sang out as he passed and he took off his hat and seemed sorry to say good bye.
We anchored there a bit and when we passed the little Emily we gave three cheers and old Seabrook and the other men cheered and then we went down the river with a fresh breeze.
By Jove it was rough in the bay of Biscay Jones was awfully sick and said he wished he hadnt come and I had to do his work. I wasnt exactly sick except once or twice when I had to go aloft But you should smell the stink of our cabin you dont know what smell is till you smell it. There are six in a small hole you can just squeeze into and the bunks are just high enough to lie down in.
In the Bay of Biscay there was a tremendous sea and it came in day and night and we were wet through for nearly a week. Wed only our Sunday jackets and things wed walked in and the first mate gave me and Jones an old rig out of his which Ive got on now. I dont think youd know me if you saw me the trousers are so awfully long and baggy and the blue flannel shirt puffs about the place like anything when theres a wind. Its awfully hot just now and I sleep on deck but I havnt changed these things for a month and shant I suppose till we get to Demerara. Papa used to say I should never succeed in life but I dont think he ever thought I should come to this. However dear mother I am happy enough on the whole and like the sea very much Ill write again when we get to Demerara give my love to Grandmamma page 37and Mabel and tell them how it was. Ive got to stop now there singing out for me to lend a hand to lower the boat to go to the ship its the William Tell bound Portsmouth.
Ive been all day writing this nearly Your affec son.