A Leap For Life

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OLD Ironsides at anchor lay,
In the harbor of Mahon;
A dead calm rested on the bay –
The waves to sleep had gone;
When little Jack, the captain’s son,
With gallant hardihood,
Climbed shroud and spar – and then upon
The main-truck rose and stood!

A shudder ran through every vein –
All eyes were turned on high!
There stood the boy, with dizzy brain,
Between the sea and sky!
No hold had he above – below,
Alone he stood in air!
At that far height none dared to go –
No aid could reach him there.

We gazed – but not a man could speak! –
With horror all aghast
In groups, with pallid brow and cheek,
We watched the quivering mast.
The atmosphere grew thick and hot,
And of a lurid hue,
As, riveted unto the spot,
Stood officer and crew.

The father camon on deck – He gasped,
‘O, God, Thy will be done!’
Then suddenly a rifle grasped,
And aimed it at his son!
‘Jump far out, boy, into the wave!
Jump, or I fire!’ he said:
‘That only chance your life can save!
Jump – jump, boy!’ – He obeyed.

He sank – he rose – he lived – he moved –
He for the ship struck out!
On board we hailed the lad beloved
With many a manly shout.
His father drew, in silent joy,
Those wet arms round his neck,
Then folded to his heart the boy,
And fainted on the deck!

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