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TRIBULATION AMONG THE PATRIARCHS.
breakfast. I felt a perfectly natural desire to have a good, long, unprejudiced look at the passengers, at a time when they should be free from self-consciousness-which is at breakfast, when such a moment occurs in the lives of human beings at all.
I was greatly surprised to see so many elderly people-I might almost say, so many venerable people. A glance at the long lines of heads was apt to make one think it was all grey. But it was not. There was a tolerably fair sprinkling of young folks, and another fair sprinkling of gentlemen and ladies who were non-committal as to age, being neither actually old nor absolutely young. The next morning, we weighed anchor and went to sea. It was a great happiness to get away, after this dragging, dispiriting delay. I thought there never was such gladness in the air before, such brightness in the sun, such beauty in the sea. I was satisfied with the pic-nic, then, and with all its belongings. All my malicious instincts were dead within me; and as America faded out of sight, I think a spirit of charity rose up in their place that was as boundless, for the time being, as the broad ocean that was heaving its billows about us. I wished to express my feelings-I wished to lift up my voice and sing; but I did not know anything to sing, and so I was obliged to give up the idea. It was no loss to the ship though, perhaps.
It was breezy and pleasant, but the sea was still very rough. One could not promenade without risking his neck; at one moment the bowsprit was taking a deadly aim at the sun in mid-heaven, and at the next it was trying to harpoon a shark in the bottom of the ocean. What a weird sensation it is to feel the stern of a ship sinking swiftly from under you and see the bow climbing high away among the clouds! One's safest course, that day, was to clasp a railing and hang on; walking was too precarious a pastime.
By some happy fortune I was not sea-sick.-That was a thing to be proud of. I had not always escaped before. If there is one thing in the world that will make a man peculiarly and insufferably self-conceited, it is to have his stomach behave itself, the first day at sea, when nearly all his comrades are sea-sick. Soon, a venerable fossil, shawled to the chin and bandaged like a mummy, appeared at the door of the after deck-house, and the next lurch of the ship shot him into my arms. I said :
"Good morning, Sir. It is a fine day."
He put his hand on his stomach and said. "Oh, my!" and then staggered away and fell over the coop of a skylight.
Presently another old gentleman was projected from the same door with great violence. I said:
"Calm yourself, Sir-There is no hurry. It is a fine day, Sir." He, also, put his hand on his stomach and said, "Oh, my !" and reeled away.
In a little while another veteran was discharged abruptly from the same door, clawing at the air for a saving support. I said :
TRANSGRESSING THE LAWS.
"Good morning, Sir. It is a fine day for pleasuring. You were about to say-"
"Oh, my !"
I thought so. I anticipated him any how. I stayed there and was bombarded with old gentlemen for an hour perhaps ; and all I got out of any of them was "Oh, my!"
I went away, then, in a thoughtful mood. I said, this is a good pleasure excursion. I like it. The passengers are not garrulous, but still they are sociable. I like those old people, but somehow they all seem to have the "Oh my" rather bad.
I knew what was the matter with them. They were sea-sick. And I was glad of it. We all like to see people sea-sick when we are not ourselves. Playing whist by the cabin lamps when it is storming outside, is pleasant; walking the quarter-deck in the moonlight is pleasant; smoking in the breezy foretop is pleasant, when one is not afraid to go up there; but these are all feeble and commonplace compared with the joy of seeing people suffering the miseries of sea-sickness.
I picked up a good deal of information during the afternoon. At one time I was climbing up the quarter-deck when the vessel's stern was in the sky; I was smoking a cigar and feeling passably comfortable. Somebody ejaculated :
"Come now, that won't answer. SMOKING ABAFT THE WHEEL!"
Read the sign up there-No
It was Capt. Duncan, chief of the expedition. I went forward, of course. I saw a long spy-glass lying on a desk in one of the upper-deck state-rooms back of the pilot-house, and reached after it-there was a ship in the distance:
"Ah, ah,-hands off! Com out of that!"
I came out of that. I said to a deck-sweep-but in a low voice: "Who is that overgrown pirate with the whiskers and the discordant voice?"
"It's Capt. Bursley-executive officer-sailing master."
I loitered about awhile, and then, for want of something better to do, fell to carving a railing with my knife. Somebody said, in an insinuating, admonitory voice:
"Now say-my friend-don't you know any better than to be whittling the ship all to pieces that way? You ought to know better than that."
I went back and found the deck sweep:
"Who is that smooth-faced animated outrage yonder in the fine clothes?"
"That's Capt. L****, the owner of the ship-he is one of the main bosses."
In the course of time I brought up on the starboard side of the pilot-house, and found a sextant lying on a bench. Now, I said, they "take the sun" through this thing; I should think I might see that vessel through it. I had hardly got it to my eye when some one touched me on the shoulder and said, deprecatingly;
PILGRIM LIFE AT SEA.
"I'll have to get you to give that to me, Sir. If there's any thing you'd like to know about taking the sun, I'd as soon tell you as not-but I don't like to trust anybody with that instrument. If you want any figuring done- Aye-aye, Sir?"
He was gone, to answer a call from the other side. I sought the deck sweep.
"Who is that spider-legged gorilla yonder with the sanctimonious countenance ?"
"It's Capt. Jones, Sir-the chief mate."
"Well. This goes clear away ahead of any thing I ever heard of before. Do you-now I ask you as a man and a brother-do you think I could venture to throw a rock here in any given direction without hitting a captain of this ship?"
"Well, Sir, I don't know-I think likely you'd fetch the captain of the watch, may be, because he's a-standing right yonder in the way."
I went below-meditating, and a little down-hearted. I thought, if five cooks can spoil a broth, what may not five captains do with a pleasure excursion?
WE ploughed along bravely for a week or more, and without any conflict of jurisdiction among the captains worth mentioning. The passengers soon learned to accommodate themselves to their new circumstances, and life in the ship became nearly as systematically monotonous as the routine of a barrack. I do not mean that it was dull, for it was not entirely so by any meansbut there was a good deal of sameness about it. As is always the fashion at sea, the passengers shortly began to pick up sailor terms -a sign that they were beginning to feel at home, Half-past six was no longer half-past six to these pilgrims from New England, the South, and the Mississippi Valley, it was "seven bells," eight, twelve, and four o'clock were "eight bells;" the captain did not take the longitude at nine o'clock, but at "two bells." They spoke glibly of the "after cabin," the "for'rard cabin," "port and starboard" and the "fo'castle."
At seven bells the first gong rang; at eight there was breakfast, for such as were not too sea-sick to eat it. After that all the well people walked arm in arm up and down the long promenade deck, enjoying the fine summer mornings, and the sea-sick ones crawled out and propped themselves up in the lee of the paddle-boxes and ate their dismal tea and toast, and looked wretched. From eleven o'clock until luncheon and from luncheon until dinner at six in the evening, the employments and amusements were various. Some reading was done; and much smoking and sewing, though not by
the same parties; there were the monsters of the deep to be looked after and wondered at; strange ships had to be scrutinized through opera glasses, and sage decisions arrived at concerning them; and more than that, everybody took a personal interest in seeing that the flag was run up and politely dipped three times in response to the salutes of those strangers; in the smoking-room there were always parties of gentlemen playing euchre, draughts, and dominoes, especially dominoes, that delightfully harmless game; and down on the main deck, "for'rad "-for'rard of the chicken coops and the cattle-we had what was called "horsebilliards." Horse-billiards is a fine game. It affords good, active exercise, hilarity, and consuming excitement. It is a mixture of
"hop-scotch" and shuffle board played with a crutch. A large hop-scotch diagram is marked out on the deck with chalk, and each compartment numbered. You stand off three or four steps, with some broad wooden disks before you on the deck, and these you send forward with a vigorous thrust of a long crutch. If a disk stops on a chalk line, it does not count anything. If it stops in division No. 7, it counts 7; in 5, it counts 5, and so on. The game is 100, and four can play at a time. That game would be very simple, played on a stationery floor, but with us, to play it well required science. We had to allow for the reeling of the ship to the right or the left. Very often one made calculations for a heel to the right and the ship did not go that way. The consequence was that that disk missed the whole hop-scotch plan a yard or two, and then there was humiliation on one side and laughter on the other.
When it rained, the passengers had to stay in the house, of course or at least the cabins,—and amuse themselves with games, reading, looking out of the windows at the very familiar billows, and talking gossip.
By 7 o'clock in the evening, dinner was about over; an hour's promenade on the upper deck followed; then the gong sounded and a large majority of the party repaired to the after cabin (upper) a handsome saloon fifty or sixty feet long, for prayers. The unregenerated called this saloon the "Synagogue." The devotions consisted only of two hymns from the "Plymouth Collection," and a short prayer, and seldom occupied more than fifteen minutes. The hymns were accompanied by parlour organ music when the sea was smooth enough to allow a performer to sit at the instrument without being lashed to his chair.
After prayers the Synagogue shortly took the semblance of a writing school. The like of that picture was never seen in a ship before. Behind the long dining tables on either side of the saloon, and scattered from one end to the other of the latter, some twenty or thirty gentlemen and ladies sat them down under the swaying lamps, and for two or three hours wrote diligently in their journals. Alas! that journals so voluminously begun should come to so lame and impotent a conclusion as most of them did! I doubt if there
is a single pilgrim of all that host but can show a hundred fair pages of journal concerning the first twenty days' voyaging in the Quaker City; and I am morally certain that not ten of the party can show twenty pages of journal for the succeeding twenty-thousand miles of voyaging! At certain periods it becomes the dearest ambition of a man to keep a faithful record of his performances in a book; and he dashes at this work with an enthusiasm that imposes on him the notion that keeping a journal is the veriest pastime in the world and the pleasantest. But if he only lives twenty-one days, he will find out that only those rare natures that are made up of pluck, endurance, devotion to duty for duty's sake, and invincible determination, may hope to venture upon so tremendous an enterprise as the keeping of a journal and not sustain a shameful defeat.
One of our favourite youths, Jack, a splendid young fellow with a head full of good sense, and a pair of legs that were a wonder to look upon in the way of length, and straightness, and slimness, used to report progress every morning in the most glowing and spirited way, and say:
"Oh, I'm coming along bully !" (he was a little given to slang, in his happier moods,) I wrote ten pages in my journal last night-and you know I wrote nine the night before, and twelve the night before that! Why it's only fun!"
"What do you find to put in it, Jack?"
"Oh, everything, Latitude and Longitude, noon every day; and how many miles we made last twenty-four hours; and all the domino games I beat, and horse billiards; and whales and sharks and porpoises; and the text of the sermon, Sundays (because that'll tell at home, you know); and the ships we saluted and what nation they were; and which way the wind was, and whether there was a heavy sea, and what sail we carried, though we don't ever carry any, principally, going against a head wind alwayswonder what is the reason of that?-and how many lies Moult has told-Oh, everything! I've got everything down. My father told me to keep that journal. Father wouldn't take a thousand dollars for it when I get it done."
"No, Jack; it will be worth more than a thousand dollarswhen you get it done."
"Do you?-no, but do you think it will though ?"
'Yes, it will be worth at least as much as a thousand dollarswhen you get it done. May be, more."
Well, I about half think so, myself. It ain't no slouch of a journal."
But it shortly became a most lamentable "slouch of a journal.” One night in Paris, after a hard day's toil in sight-seeing, I said:
"Now I'll go and stroll around the cafés awhile, Jack, and give you a chance to write up your journal, old fellow.' His countenance lost its fire.