"Tars," said Deacon Hays, "is probably the last ship I shall ever build, and I intend to have her as perfect as possible."

So he selected a beautiful model, and, knowing that the owner wanted something very superior, he spared no time or money in procuring the best timber to be had, and the best workmen to be found; and then he watched over every stick as it was hewn and fitted in its place, every plank that was spiked on the timbers, and every spar that was prepared. When they came to put the copper sheathing over the bottom of the ship, the deacon watched it very closely. At one spot he found that the head of a copper nail which fastened the sheathing was split. The deacon's eyes were becoming rather poor, but he saw the broken head.

"Jim Spiker, I see a nail broken; isn't there a little hole by its side!"

"Not a bit of it, I'm sartin. There couldn't a drop of water get in-there in a century."

So the word of Jim was accepted, the ship was finished and launched, and made two or three prosperous voyages. During one of these she lay at a wharf in Calcutta. Now, these waters swarm with that little pest, the ship-worm. They crawled all over the ship, but could not get through the copper sheathing. At length Mrs.Teredo lit upon the broken nail, found the little hole, and squeezed herself in. Then she began to eat the timber and lay her eggs in it. Soon they hatched and increased, till that timber was full of little teredoes, and then the next and the next, till every stick in the whole ship was very badly worm-eaten. Still, the ship looked sound, sailed well, and made her long voyage.

At length, when in the middle of the great ocean, a terrible storm met her. The wind howled through the rigging as if singing a funeral dirge. The waves rolled up and writhed as if in agony.

Every spar was bent, and every timber and spike strained to the utmost. The cargo, which filled the ship was of immense value. The crew was large and the passengers were many. Worse and worse grew the storm, till at last a huge wave struck her with all its power. The poor ship staggered, groaned once, and crumpled up like a piece of paper. She foundered at sea, in the dark night, in that awful storm. The rich cargo all went to the bottom of the ocean. The drowned men and women sank down, down, miles before they rested on the bottom. All done through the neglect of Jim Spiker, who was too unfaithful to mend the hole made by the broken nail.

—My Paper