Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

find the wind dead ahead, and are obliged to run several days sharp on the wind.

On the morning of the 14th another death was announced ; the deceased, Dr. Reed, of Massachusetts, had been, for some days, conscious of his approaching end, and manifested a strong desire to have his remains conveyed to his friends. This was his last and almost only request; the fear that this might not be complied with seemed to linger with him to the last, and died only with his last pulsation. He received some encouragement from the captain, but one short hour after his death, he followed his unfortunate companions to the grave. He was buried in Lat 16° 3' N.

A report is in circulation that there are dead bodies on board. On inquiry, we learn that there are three-a man, a woman and child; they were preserved in casks of spirits, and being conveyed to the States. This created the greatest consternation in the minds of the sailors, and they unanimously resolved to leave the ship at the first port. They have a superstitious idea that vessels cannot be safely navigated with dead bodies on board. Many of the passengers were confined to their berths, some of them destined never again to leave them, until removed by death. The scurvy had appeared in its worst form, and there was nothing on board to relieve its victims. The food served out was most execrable; those in robust health were pining away, and for the invalids, there was no hope. Among the latter there were five who were deranged; they were all confined to their berths, and seemed waiting to be relieved by death. There is a physician on board, (whose father and captain Smith are sole owners of the ship), his services, however, are not at the disposition of all. The captain has flour, but pretends it does not belong to the ship, and refuses to serve it out to the passengers. He, however, offered to sell it, and two or three of us joined and bought a quantity of him, together with a quantity of sugar; all to be paid for in Panama, at Panama prices, and for all of which we never had the most distant idea of paying him a farthing. We hired the cook to prepare it for us, and thereafter were well served. With this supply, we were in a condition to invite the invalids to our table, where we could furnish them something more palatable than sea-biscuit and salt beef.

A CULTIVATED MIND DERANGED.

173

My attention was attracted to one of the passengers, who, upon my inquiring for Spanish books, offered me one of Spanish comedy; there was something polished in his manners, yet something wayward, which very much excited my interest. His clothes were good, still, in his helplessness, they had become extremely filthy. He commenced conversation, but soon stopped for a moment, as if trying to recollect himself; and said he believed he had entirely lost his mind, that his ideas were so incoherent, he feared he could not make himself understood. He first inquired where the ship was bound; I informed him, and asked him how he came on board. He did not know, but said he was informed that he was to be sent home; he did not know why, nor from whom he received the information. He wished me to converse with him, and try to set him right; he gave me the keys to his trunks, and wished me to open them. I found them stored with clothing of the best quality, together with a well selected library of books, mathematical instruments, and materials for drawing: everything indicating a man of refinement and education. In his writing desk I found a patriotic poem, composed and read by him, on board the ship in which he sailed for California: on the anniversary of our national independence. I also found a daguerreotype; the sight of this seemed to awaken pleasing emotions. It contained the portraits of a lady and child; these he recognized as his wife and little daughter. By the sight of these, he was at first overcome; his wife appeared natural to him, but he had not the most distant idea of the age of his little daughter; he wondered if it was of a suffi. cient age, when he left home, to call him father, and whether it would remember and greet him when he returned. He now realized, most painfully, the gloom that hung like a pall over his memory. The sight of the articles as I would take them out, seemed to call up others, by association. The sight of rifle and pistol-balls reminded him that he had, somewhere, a rifle and revolver, where, he did not know. I requested him to run back in his memory, if possible, to the time when he first became deranged. He said that he was attacked with the fever at Benicia, and carried on board a ship that was then lying at anchor. There were several sick on board, and during his sickness, one was brought and placed on a table in front of his berth. He watched him day after day, until one night, as the light fell dimly on his pallid features, a slight convulsion passed over him, and his jaw fell. This closed the scene; from this moment his mind had been wandering in the dark labyrinths of forgetfulness. The fever had left him, and given place to that dreaded malady, the scurvy, with which he had now become reduced almost to helplessness. His feet and limbs were swollen to double their usual size, their purple hue denoting the fearful statu to which his system was reduced. The name of this unfortunate man was E. W. Clark, Jr., of West Boylston, Mass. He gave me his name, and the address of his friends, at a time when he had but little hope of ever seeing them, with the request that I should write them the particulars of his death.

On the 16th, we were surrounded by porpoises; our first matet being an old harpooner, descended into the martingale of the ship, his harpoon being attached to a rope which passed through a tackle-block above, and was manned by about thirty passengers. At the first plunge of the ship, he “let go” the harpoon, taking effect in the back of a porpoise; “haul away, " and the huge monster was swinging in the air. This was a moment of intense excitement; the harpoon had passed almost through the body, but in hauling him from the water, it had drawn out, holding only to a half-inch of the skin. One struggle and he would have been released; but the auspicious moment passed, and at the word "ease away,” he was safely shipped on our forecastle deck. His struggles now were fearful; his throes causing the very spars to tremble. He strikes another and another, both of which are safely drawn on board. He strikes a fourth, and after hauling it several feet from the water, it falls from the harpoon and rushes through the water, staining its wake with blood. We are now well supplied with fish, but of a kind not calculated to tempt the appetite.

Chapter Twenty-ninth.

CLOUD AND CLIPPERTON ISLANDS-WHALES, SHARKS, PORPOISES, AND DOLPHINS A SHARK

CAPTURED-SHARK STEAK-"CAUDLE LECTURE"-DEATH OF SAMUEL B. LEWIS-A CALY-FOOT RACES BY THE SHIP'S FURNITURE-PASSENGER PECULIARITIES-SHORT OF PROVISIONS="BOUT SHIP"-FIRST OF JANUARY— S LUXURIES AT SEA-A TAME SEAFOWL-A PASSENGER DYING-A SHARK-A DELIGHTFUL EVENING SCENE-A DEATHBURIAL AT SEA BY CANDLE LIGHT-A TURTLE NAVIGATING THE OCEAN--HIS SUSPICIOUB CONDUCT-A WRITTEN PROTEST AGAINST THE CAPTAIN-COCUS ISLAND-CAPTURING “ BOOBIES."

On the 17th, we passed under the lea of Cloud island-lat. 19°, long. 103°. 21st; passed Clipperton island, lat. 11°, long. 103o. The air is filled with sea-fowl; the island is a rocky pile, baving the appearance of a dilapidated castle; and is surrounded by a low sandy beach. We are surrounded by whales, sharks, porpoises and dolphins; our first mate strikes a porpoise at midnight, and it is hauled on deck by the crew.

On the 22d, the mate struck a shark; it was hauled on deck, and we had shark-steak for breakfast. All out with the captain, and the lectures he receives are only equalled by those of the amiable "Mrs. Caudle.” He finds himself wofully in the minority, and confines himself to his state-room. We not only charge the adverse winds to his account, but the destitution of the ship; of his guilt of the latter charge, the jury were unanimous.

24th. The death of Samuel B. Lewis is announced. He was buried at 9 A.M., lat. 6°-12''north. He was from Elmira, N. Y., where he leaves a widowed mother to mourn his untimely death. On my return, I learned that subsequent to his starting for California, his father was accidently killed; the mother wrote for her son; he was her only solace; upon him she leaned for consolation; but on a dreary night, as the wind howled mournfully without, she dreamed her son returned, and as she was about to clasp him to her bosom, ke shrunk from her sight and disappeared forever.

We have a calm for several days with intense heat; a general restlessness is felt, passengers are out of patience; our ship has not sufficient headway to cause her to mind the tiller; she rolls about like a log, row plunging, throwing her sails all aback, now rising on a sea, the rigging slackens, the spars and yards creak, the sails again fill, and everything is again drawn to its utmost tension; she again plunges, reers, and rises lengthwise of a sea; she careens and is thrown almost upon her “beamends.” Trunks change sides, tables stand on their heads, barrels get up foot-races, much to the annoyance of the passengers, who, with shins in hand, enter most vehement protests, throwing in an occasional oath by way of emphasis. Jack "yarns" on the forecastle, Tom has out a shark-hook; the cook has been mastheaded by the captain; T—n comes down from the shrouds with a sailors oath on his lips, looks at his boots and goes up again; Wright exclaims, “certingly." Palmly looks from under his quaker hat, and swears at the captain; the Dutchman, with red whiskers, opens his mouth, which very much resembles a cavity in a brick-kiln; he looks an oath in Dutch, but don't speak. To calm our ruffled passions we were informed that we were short of provisions, and were to be put upon allowance.

On the 28th, the captain gave the order, “bout ship," and we stood in for the main land, 550 miles distant, lat. 6°, long. 96o. On the 29th, a fine breeze springs up, we again change our course and stand east, in the direction of Panama.

January 1st, 1850, lat. 6°, long. 9°; heat most oppressive; we have hard fare for breakfast, same for dinner and supper. Oh, ye knights of “Gotham !" did we not envy you? You, who are now cloyed with luxuries and greeted by the smiles of friends, but little dream that he who, twelve months ago, was your companion, has this moment dined upon sea-bread that has become the home of vermin, and beef on about the fourth anniversary of its salting, boiled in ocean-water.

A small bird flies on board in an exhausted condition; it is quite tame and eats food from our hands. Our inquiries in reference to its home and destination, were in vain; it remained on board during the day, and seemed to appreciate our kindness.

It is rumored that one of our passengers is dying; a shark is at this moment passing under the bow of the ship, as if antici.

« AnteriorContinuar »