I was just sixteen when I ran away to sea...
ow I came to secure the patronage of Ben was not through any merit of my own, nor indeed did it arise from any very delicate sympathy on his part. The companionship in which he had long lived had naturally hardened his feelings like the rest--though not by any means to so great an extent. He was only a little indifferent to human suffering--having witnessed much of it--and usage will make callous the most sensitive natures. Moreover, Ben had himself suffered ill-treatment, as I afterwards learnt from him--savage abuse had he suffered, and this had sunk into his spirit and rendered him somewhat morose. There was some apology for him if his manner was none of the gentlest. His natural disposition had been abused, for at bottom there was as much kindness in his nature as belongs to the average of men.
A rough, splendid seaman was Brace--the very best on board--and this point was generally conceded by the others--though he was not without one or two rivals.
It was a splendid sight to see Ben Brace,
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