Honest John Maynard
The story of John Maynard has been told many a time, but we do not tire of reading of those whose love to their fellow-men, has led them to sacrifice their lives for others, and it leads us to think of Him who died in our stead, the Just One for we the unjust.
A steamboat was making it way across the sparkling waters of Lake Erie, and the pilot at the wheel was old John Maynard, but more often called “Honest John,” because he was known to be a real Christian, and had a kind word for everybody. The land was about ten miles off, when the captina, coming up from his cabin cries to the sailor,
"What's all the smoke there coming out of the hold?”
"It's from the engine-room, I guess," said the man.
"Down with you then, and let me know."
The sailor disappeared for a moment beneath, and then returned much faster than he went, and exclaimed, "The hold's on fire, sir!"
The captain rushed down and found the account too true. Some sparks had fallen on a bundle of tow. No one had seen the accident, and now not only much of the baggage, but also the sides of the vessel, were in a smoldering flame. All hands, passengers as well as sailors, were called together, and two lines being formed, one on each side of the hold, buckets of water were passed and repassed. Filled from the lake, they flew along the line of ready hands, were dashed hissing on the burning mass, and then passed on the other side to be refilled. It seemed for a few moments as if the flames were subdued.
"How's her head?" shouted the captain.
" West on west, sir," answered Maynard.
" Keep her sou' and by west," cried the captain; "we must go ashore anywhere."
It happened that a draught of wind drove back the flames, which soon began to blaze up more furiously towards the saloon, and the partition between it and the hold was soon on fire. Then long wreaths of smoke began to find their way through the skylight, and seeing this the captain ordered all the women forward, the engineer put on his utmost steam, the American flag was run up, with the union down, in token of distress, and water was thrown on the sails to make them hold the wind, and still John Maynard stood by the wheel, though now he was cut off by a sheet of smoke and flame from the ship's crew. Greater and greater grew the heat; the engineers fled from the engine-room; the passengers were clustering round the vessel's bow; the sailors were sawing planks to lash the women on; the boldest passengers were throwing off their coats and waistcoats to prepare for one long struggle for life. And still the coasts grew plainer; the paddles as yet worked well; they could not be more than a mile from shore; the boats were seen starting to their assistance.
"John Maynard!" cried the captain.
"Ay, ay, sir!" said John.
"Can you hold on five minutes longer?"
" I’ll try, sir."
Noble fellow! and he did try. The flames came nearer and nearer; a sheet of smoke would sometimes almost suffocate him; his hair was singed, and his blood seemed ready to boil with the intense heat. Crouching as far back as he could, he held the wheel as firmly as he could. A few minutes after and the vessel struck, and all save he to whom, under God, they owed their lives escaped, either in the boats or by swimming to land.
Dear reader, may this little narrative lead you to think of Jesus, who suffered on Calvary that you as a sinner might have everlasting life.