The Signal Gun

SOME years ago a large, strong, and beautiful

steamship set out on a voyage across the

Atlantic. There were hundreds of passengers

on board, and they had a fair prospect of a

safe and speedy passage. The ship was new,

its officers were experienced seamen, and but

little fear of accident was entertained by any.

But when far out in mid-ocean, the ship

took fire. The flames spread rapidly, and all

efforts to extinguish them proved in vain.

Then followed a scene of confusion not easily

described. Shouts amid groans, tears and

prayers, were intermingled, while the dense

columns of smoke rolled up in solemn grandeur

to the sky.

There was hurrying to and fro, the boats, which

hung by the side of the ship, were being quickly

filled with passengers and lowered to the water,

while some were procuring planks and timbers

and constructing rude rafts to save them from

the fatal embrace of the hungry sea.

Now the only hope these unfortunate people

could have of saving their lives was in being

picked up by some ship that might chance to

sail near them; for they would all perish from

thirst and hunger long before they could reach

land in their small boats or on their rafts.

When ships are in need of help at sea, they

fire a cannon at short intervals to let other 

ships know that they are in distress. This is

called the signal gun; and if the captain of a

ship hears such firing, he sails immediately in

the direction of the gun.

As soon as it was found that this noble ship

could not be saved, they began to fire the signal

gun; and among the men appointed to this

work, was a boy about seventeen years of age.

His name was Stuart Holland. He was very

faithful in the discharge of his duty, and

seemed to have no thought in regard to his own


The angry flames rushed on furiously, crowding

the passengers from the ship, and coming

nearer and nearer to the magazine, where the

powder was kept. It was considered no longer

safe for any one to remain on the ship, and the

officers and crew began to leave it. The men

all left the guns and urged Stuart to follow

them; but he steadfastly refused, working all

the harder to make up for the want of their

help. After all had left the ship and were

about to push away from the burning wreck,

they shouted to Stuart, entreating him to leave

the gun and immediately come to them before

the fire should reach the magazine, and the

terrible explosion should destroy both them

and him. But all entreaties were in vain, and

the last that was seen of Stuart Holland he

was diving down into the magazine for more


When the captain and his brave officers

dared remain no longer, they plied their strong

arms to the oars and sped away from the burning


As the boats slowly receded, every eye was

fixed on the ship, and every heart beat with

emotion for the noble boy who was so 

generously giving his own life in trying to bring

 relief to them. Regularly the faithful signal

gun boomed over the waters, and as they

heard it, they knew that Stuart was yet alive.

Lower and lower sank the ill-fated ship below

the horizon, and heavier grew the dark

cloud of smoke that hung over it, till a sound

like distant thunder came over the sea, 

fragments were thrown high in the air, and then

all was still. The fire had reached the powder,

and all that remained of the noble ship was

blown to atoms. The signal gun was heard no

more. Stuart's work was done. He had been

faithful in duty. He had given his life in a

noble endeavor to save the lives of others; yet

his memory will ever live in the hearts of all

who know his history.

Who among our readers will be as faithful

and self-sacrificing in the work of the Lord?