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I got a knot of six or eight about me, and no one could have had a more attentive audience. Some laughed at the “scholars," and went over the other side of the forecastle to work and spin their yarns ; but I carried the day, and had the cream of the crew for my
hearers. Many of the reflections, and the political parts, I omitted, but all the narrative they were delighted with ; especially the descriptions of the Puritans, and the sermons and harangues of the Round-head soldiers. The gallantry of Charles,-Dr. Radcliffe's plots,-the knavery of “trusty Tomkins,”-in fact every part seemed to chain their attention. Many things which, while I was reading, I had a misgiving about, thinking them above their capacity, I was surprised to find them enter into completely.
I read nearly all day, until sundown : when, as soon as supper was over, as I had nearly finished, they got a light from the galley; and by skipping what was less interesting, I carried them through to the marriage of Everard, and the restoration of Charles the Second, before eight o'clock.
The next morning, we took the battens from the hatches, and opened the ship. A few stifled rats were found ; and what bugs, cockroaches, fleas, and other vermin, there might have been on board, must have unrove their life-lines before the hatches were opened. The ship being now ready, we covered the bottom of the hold over fore-and-aft, with dried brush for dunnage, and having levelled everything away, we were ready to take in our cargo.
All the hides that had been collected since the California left the coast, (a little more than two years,) amounting to about forty thousand, were cured, dried, and stowed away in the house, waiting for our good ship to take them to Boston.
Now began the operation of taking in our cargo, which kept us bard at work, from the grey of the morning till star-light, for six weeks, with the exception of sundays, and of just time to swallow our meals. To carry the work on quicker, a division of labour was made. Two men threw the hides down from the piles in the house, two more picked them up and put them on a long horizontal pole, raised a few feet from the ground, where they were beaten by two more, with flails, somewhat like those used in threshing wheat. When beaten, they were taken from this pole by two more, and placed upon a platform of boards ; and ten or a dozen men, with their trousers rolled
up, were constantly going, back and forth, from the platform to the boat, which was kept off where she would just float, with the hides upon their heads. The throwing the hides upon the pole was the most difficult work, and required a sleight of hand which was only to be got by long practice. As I was known for a hide-curer, this post was assigned to me, and I continued at it for six or eight days, tossing, in that time, from eight to ten thousand hides, until my wrists became so lame that I gave in; and was transferred to the gang that was employed in tilling the boats, where I remained for the rest of the time.
As we were obliged to carry the hides on our heads, from fear of their getting wet, we each had a piece of sheep-skin sewed into the inside of our hats, with the wool next to our heads, and thus were able to bear the weight, day after day, which would otherwise have soon worn off our bair, and borne hard upon our sculls. Upon the whole, ours was the best berth ; for though the water was nipping cold, early in the morning and late at night, and being so continually wet, was rather an exposure, yet we got rid of the constant dust and dirt from the beating of the hides, and being all of us young and hearty, did not mind the exposure. The older men of the crew, whom it would have been dangerous to have kept in the water, remained on board with the mate, to stow the hides away, as fast as they were brought off by the boats.
We continued at work in this manner, until the lower hold was filled to within four feet of the beams, when all hands were called aboard to commence steeving. As this is a peculiar operation, it will require a minute description.
Before stowing the hides, as I have said, the ballast is levelled off, just above the keelson, and then loose dunnage placed upon it, on which the hides rest. The greatest care is used in stowing, to make the ship hold as many hides as possible. It is no mean art, and a man skilled in it is an important character in California. Many a dispute have I heard raging high between professed “ beach-combers," as to whether the hides shouldbe stowed shingling," or " back-to-back, and Aipper to flipper ;' upon which point there was an entire and bitter division of sentiment among the savans. We adopted each method at different periods of the stowing, and parties ran high in the forecastle, some siding with “old Bill” in favour of the former, and others scouting him and relying upon - English Bob” of the Ayacucho, who had been eight years in California, and was willing to risk his life and limb for the latter method. At length a compromise was effected, and a middle course of shifting the ends and backs at every lay was adopted, which worked well, and which though they held it inferior to their own, each party granted was better than that of the other.
Having filled the ship up, in this way, to within four feet of her beams, the process of steeving commenced, by which an hundred hides are got into a place where one could not be forced by hand, and which
presses the hides to the utmost, sometimes starting the beams of the ship, resembling in its effects the jack-screws which are used in stowing cotton. Each morning we went ashore, and beat and brought off as many hides as we could steeve in the course of the day; and, after breakfast, went down into the hold, where we remained at work until night. The whole length of the hold, from stem to stern, was floored off level, and we began with raising a pile in the after part, hard against the bulkhead of the run, and filling it up to the beams, crowding in as many as we could by hand, and pushing in with oars ; when a large “ book” was made of from twenty-five to fifty hides, doubled to the backs and put into one another, like the leaves of a book. An opening was then made between two bides in the pile, and the back of the outside hide of the book inserted. Two long, heavy spars, called steeves, made of the strongest wood; and sharpened off like a wedge at one end, were placed with their wedge ends into the inside of the hide, which was the centre of the book ; and to the other end of each, straps were fitted, into which large tackles were hooked, composed each of two huge purchase-blocks, one hooked to the strap on the end of the steeve, and the other into a dog, fastened into one of the beams, as far aft as it could be got. When this was arranged, and the ways greased upon which the book was to slide, the falls of the tackles were stretched forward, and all hands tallied on, and bowsed away, until the book was well entered; when these tackles were nippered, straps and toggles clapped upon the falls, and two more luff tackles hooked on, with dogs, in the same manner; and thus by luff upon luff, the power was multiplied, until into a pile in which one hide more could not be crowded by hand, an hundred, or an hundred and fifty, were often driven in by this complication of purchases. When the last luff was hooked on, all hands were called to the rope-cook, steward, and all-and ranging ourselves at the falls, one behind the other, sitting down on the hides, with our heads just even with the beams, we set taught upon the tackles, and striking up a song, and all lying back at the chorus, we bowsed the tackles home, and drove the large book chock in out of sight.
The sailors' songs for capstans and falls are of a peculiar kind, having a chorus at the end of each line. The burden is usually sung by one alone, and at the chorus, all hands join in,—and the louder the noise the better. With us the chorus seemed almost to raise the decks of the ship, and might be heard at a great distance ashore. A song is as necessary to sailors, as the drum and fife to a soldier They can't pull in time, or pull with a will, without it. Many a time, when a thing goes heavy, with one fellow yo-ho-ing, a lively song, like “Nancy oh ! ” “ Jack Crosstree,” &c., has put life and strength into every arm. We often found a great difference in the effect of the different songs in driving in the hides. Two or three songs would be tried, one after the other with no effect ;- not an inch could be got upon the tackles when a new song struck up, seemed to hit the humour of the moment, and drove the tackles “two blocks at
“Heave round hearty !” “Captain gone ashore!” and the like, might do for common pulls; but on an emergency, when we wanted a heavy, “raise the dead” pull, which would start the beams of the ship, there was nothing like “ Time for us to go!" Round the corner," or “Hurrah ! hurrah! my hearty bullies !”
This was the most lively part of our work. A little boating and beach work in the morning ; then twenty or thirty men down in a close hold, where we were obliged to sit down and slide about, passing bides and rowsing about the great steeves, tackles, and dogs, singing out at the falls, and seeing the ship filling up every day. The work was as hard as it well could be. There was not a moment's cessation from Monday morning till Saturday night, when we were generally beaten out, and glad to have a full night's rest, a wash and shift of clothes, and a quiet Sunday. During all this time,-- which would have startled Dr. Graham—we lived upon almost nothing but fresh beef: fried beefsteaks, three times a day,-morning, noon, and night. At morning and night we had a quart of tea to each man; and an allowance
of about a pound of hard bread a day; but our chief article of food was the beef. A mess, consisting of six men, had a large wooden kid piled up
with beef-steaks, cut thick, and fried in fat, with the grease poured over them. Round this we sat, attacking it with our jackknives and teeth, and with the appetite of young lions, and sent back an empty kid to the galley. This was done three times a day. How many pounds each man ate in a day, I will not attempt to compute. A whole bullock (we ate liver and all) lasted us but four days. Such devouring of flesh, I will venture to say, was seldom known before. What one man ate in a day, over a hearty man's allowance, would make a Russian's heart leap into his mouth. Indeed, during all the time we were upon the coast, our principal food was fresh beef, and every man had perfect health ; but this was a time of especial devouring; and what we should have done without meat I cannot tell. Once or twice when our bullocks, failed and we were obliged to make a meal upon dry bread and water, it seemed like feeding upon shavings. Light and dry feeling unsatisfied, and at the same time full, we were glad to see four quarters of a bullock, just killed, swinging from the fore-top. Whatever theories may be started by sedentary men, certainly no men could have gone through more hard work and exposure for sixteen months in more perfect health, and without ailings and failings, than our ship's crew, let them have lived upon Hygeia's own baking and dressing.
Friday, April 15th. Arrived, the brig Pilgrim, from the windward. It was a sad sight for her crew to see us getting ready to go off the coast, while they, who had been longer on the coast than the Alert, were condemned to another year's hard service. I spent an evening on board, and found them making the best of the matter, determining to rough it out as they might; but my friend S. was determined to go home in the ship, if money or interest could bring it to pass. After considerable negotiating and working, he succeeded in persuading my English friend, Tom Harris,--my companion in the anchor watchfor thirty dollars, some clothes, and an intimation from Captain Faucon, that he should want a second mate before the voyage was up, to take his place in the brig, as soon as she was ready to go up to windward.
The first opportunity I could get to speak to Captain Faucon, I asked him to step up to the oven and look at Hope, whom he knew well, having had him on board his vessel. He went to see him, but said that he had so little medicine, and expected to be so long on the coast, that he could do nothing for him; but that Captain Arthur would take care of him when he came down in the California, which would be in a week or more. I had been to see Hope the first night after we got into San Diego this last time, and had frequently since spent the early part of a night in the oven. I hardly expected, when I left him to go to windward, to find him alive upon my return. certainly as low as he could well be when I left him, and what would be the effect of the medicines that I gave him, I hardly then dared to conjecture. Yet I knew that he must die without them. I was not
a little rejoiced therefore, and relieved, upon our return, to see him decidedly better. The medicines were strong, and took hold, and gave a check to the disorder which was destroying him; and, more than that, they had begun the work of exterminating it. I shall never forget the gratitude that he expressed. All the Kanakas attributed his escape solely to my knowledge, and would not be persuaded that I had not all the secrets of the physical system open to me and under my control. My medicines, however, were gone; and no more could be got from the ship, so that his life was left to hang upon the arrival of the California.
FRITZ HAZELL.-A TEMPERANCE TALE.
“ Do I not hear some one crying murder ?” said a stranger, in a sailor's garb, addressing an old Dutchman, who sat smoking his pipe upon the stoop before his door, in an obscure part of the village of Still-Valley. "The Dutchman slowly withdrew the pipe from his mouth; and when the volley of smoke which issued forth had sufficiently cleared away, to enable him to obtain a fair view of the inquirer -"Yaw, mynheer,” he replied. I hear it again,” said the sailor; " it grows louder; what can be the meaning of it ?"
Vy,” the old Dutchman replied, “it ish no more nor no less dan
is occasioned by no common cause. There ! don't you hear that shriek ?—and now it is all still again. I should not wonder if it were murder, in sober earnest."
Vary well,” replied the Dutchman, who was in the act of restoring the
pipe to his mouth, “ may pe so.” The stranger expressed his intention of going immediately to ascertain the cause.
Shtop,” cried the Dutchman, laying his hand upon the man's arm
McFillagin, ven he ish in a shpree, ish as crazy as a herring buss in a gale, mitout a rudder, and ye had better shtay away. But let me see, dere ish de poor boy, leetle Patrick, poor lad, ven it blows too hard for him at home, he often makes a port under my shtoop here. Sometime it ish late ven his fader kick him out of door, and he come over after I goes to bed, and he lay just here all night, and I finds him curled up in de morning like a leetle tog. And den he ish so glad of a leetle biscuit and a salt herring, and he cries so pad ven I tells him he must go
home. He ish a goot poy: I had a leetle poy once myself; just such a poy was my leetle Fritz, just such a poy is Patrick.”
The interest which he felt in the fate of little Patrick increased, as it obviously was, by his associated recollections of the child he had lost, completely overcame the old Dutchman's phlegm, and he proceeded