My name is Philip Forster, and I am now an old man.I reside in a quiet little village, that stands upon the sea-shore, at thebottom of a very large bay-one of the largest in our island.I have styled it a quiet village, and so it really is, though it boasts of being aseaport. There is a little pier or jetty of chiselled granite, alongside whichyou may usually observe a pair of sloops, about the same number ofschooners, and now and then a brig. Big ships cannot come in. But you mayalways note a large number of boats, either hauled up on the beach, orscudding about the bay, and from this, you may conclude that the villagederives its support rather from fishing than commerce. Such in reality is thefact.It is my native village-the place in which I was born, and where it is myintention to die.Notwithstanding this, my fellow-villagers know very little about me. Theyonly know me as "Captain Forster," or more specifically as "The Captain,"this soubriquet being extended to me as the only person in the place entitledto it.Strictly speaking, I am not entitled to it. I have never been a captain ofsoldiers, nor have I held that rank in the navy. I have only been the masterof a merchant vessel,-in other words, a "skipper." But the villagers arecourteous, and by their politeness I am styled "Captain."They know that I live in a pretty cottage about half a mile from the village,up shore; they know that I live alone-for my old housekeeper can scarce beaccounted as company; they see me each day pass through the place withmy telescope under my arm; they note that I walk out on the pier, andsweep the offing with my glass, and then, perhaps, return home again, orwander for an hour or two along the shore. Beyond these facts, my fellowvillagers know but little of myself, my habits, or my history.They have a belief among them that I have been a great traveller. Theyknow that I have many books, and that I read much; and they have got itinto their heads that I am a wonderful scholar.6I have been a great traveller, and am a great reader, but the simplevillagers are mistaken as to my scholarship. In my youth I was denied theadvantages of a fine education, and what little literary knowledge I possesshas been acquired by self-instruction-hasty and interrupted-during thebrief intervals of an active life.I have said that my fellow-villagers know very little about me, and you areno doubt surprised at this; since among them I began my life, and amongthem I have declared my intention of ending it. Their ignorance of me iseasily explained. I was but twelve years of age when I left home, and forforty years after I never set foot in my native place, nor eyes upon any of itsinhabitants.He must be a famous man who would be remembered after forty years'absence; and I, scarce a boy at going forth, returned to find myself quiteforgotten. Even my parents were scarce remembered. Both had died beforeI went away from home, and while I was only a mere lad. Besides, myfather, who was a mariner by profession, was seldom or never at home, andI remember little else about him, than how I grieved when the news camethat his ship was lost, and he with most of his crew were drowned. Alas! mymother did not long survive him; and their death occurring such a long timeago, it is but natural that both should be forgotten among a people withwhom they had but slight intercourse. Thus, then, is it explained how Ichance to be such a stranger in my native place.