« 이전계속 »
known, are very particular, keeps all hands em-/ us that we are too wide apart for speaking purployed. Lines are measured, towed out, stretch-poses. ed, and put on the rail; pigs are cast, and filed, and Standing a little further on, into the thickest polished into shapes to suit the fancies of their part of the fleet, we too, about nine o'clock, haul owners; cleats are nailed up, on which to coil the down our mainsail and jibs, and, leaving one man lines when not in use; splitting knives are ground, on deck as look-out, go down below to prepare by gib-tubs got ready, and all the numerous para a sound sleep for the labors of to-morrow. phernalia of a fishing smack are brought into At early daybreak we “turn out” and make readiness for instant use,
sail. Although yet too dark to distinguish the At sunset on the sixth day we sight a few of the numerous fleet in whose midst we have taken our advance vessels of the fleet, and a little breeze place, our ears are saluted on all sides by the ratspringing up at the same time, we have the satis- tle of ropes, the creak of blocks, and rustling of faction of beholding before retiring to rest the vast canvas, and we are conscious that ten thousand fleet of vessels spread out before us, their in- men are actively employed around us, at the same numerable lights glistening upon the smooth ex- moment, in the same work, and preparing for simpanse of ocean, and dancing solemnly up and ilar duties and labors. down on the great swell which the Atlantic ever As the day breaks fairly a grand spectacle keeps up, and much more resembling the vessels bursts upon our view. The sky is clear, and the in a vast naval panorama than a scene of real life. sun, as he rises above the eastern horizon, gilds There is something solemn and thought-inspiring with his rays the sails of a thousand vessels, as in a scene like this, at all events to a thinking they lie spread out upon the mirror-like surface person, who for the first time witnesses it. The of the sea. And now our crew begin looking for entire stillness which reigns by night over this acquaintances among the vessels, and my astonvast aquatic town, the absence of all noise, except ishment is unbounded at hearing them name vesthe continual faint roar of the swell, the sorrow- sels distant from a quarter of a mile to six or ful creaking of the rigging, and the solitary "sug" seven miles, and that with perfect certainty of of the vessel's bow, as she falls into the trough their correctness. To such perfection has pracof the sea ; the bare poles of the distant vessels tice trained the vision of these men, that notwiththrown in vivid, almost unnatural relief against standing mackerel catchers are scrupulously rigthe sky; the crazy motion of the little barks, as ged alike, the crew would point out not only they are tossed about at the mercy of the waves, vessels with which they were acquainted, but also having scarce steerage way; the lonely-looking tell the hailing-places of many that they had never light on the mast, seeming to be the spirit which seen before. As an “Old Salt," I prided myself has entire charge of the hull beneath; the absence not a little on my expertness in detecting differof all life where but a short time ago all was life ences in rig or build, but was obliged here to give and bustle ; all this contrasted so strangely with my art up as completely beaten. For where I the lively appearance of the vessels by day, as could not detect the slightest distinguishing charthey skim rapidly over the waters, their great acteristic, the experienced eyes of one of my compiles of snow-white canvas gleaming gayly in the panions would at one glance reveal the whole hissun, and their crews moving merrily about decks, tory of the vessel in question, and would enable as to make me almost doubt that there were in him to tell, with a certainty which scarcely ever fact in the shapeless masses drifting past us, failed, the place where she was built, where righither and thither, at the mercy of wind and wave, ged, and where at present owned. This wondermen stout and able, who had often battled for their ful faculty is the result of keen eyes and long exlives with the same old Ocean upon whose bosom perience, and is found nowhere else in such perthey were now so placidly reposing.
fection as among American fishermen. But here is one, rolling toward us,
| And now we are all under way and going, close“As silent as a painted ship, upon a painted ocean," hauled to the wind, in a northerly direction. See, and seemingly just as likely to hit us as not. We the headmost vessel of the fleet is in stays. There will hail him.
the next one tacks. Little squads of half-a-dozen “ Schooner ahoy!” hails our captain.
now follow suit, and in fifteen minutes the whole “Hillo!" is answered by a tall figure which fleet is on the other tack, standing to the westnow rises from a reclining posture on the com ward. And so we go all day, working to the panion-hatch.
windward as fast as the light breeze will bear us “How many mackerel did you get to-day?" along. Every once in a while some one heaves “ About twenty wash-barrels, mostly large." to and tries for mackerel. But mackerel wont “ Did the fleet do any thing?"
bite well, in general, on such a day as this, and “Some of them lay still a good while, and I this day we don't see a live one at all. The utguess had pretty good fishing."
most harmony of sentiment seems to prevail Here some of our crew mutter out a weak im- among this large fleet, the unity of action being precation upon the weather, which has prevented as complete as though working by signal at the us from joining the fleet before. Our friend hails commands of some commodore. It is just the US
same in going into port, or in changing the cruis“Are you just from home?"
ing ground. They all go together. But with “Yes; all well there."--And the faint sound all this they have no organized head or leader, of the waves as they surge under his bows tells but each captain acts as seems to him best. There
seems, however, at all times to be a remarkable captain, you haul back too savagely !” With the unanimity of sentiment among all hands. first movement of the captain's arm indicating the
Mackerel go in large schools, one of which presence of fish, every body rushes madly to the contains fish enough, if all caught, to fill up every rail, and jigs are heard on all sides plashing into vessel in a fleet. But, vast as such a body is, it the water, and eager hands and arms are stretchoccupies but a very small space in the ocean ed at their full length over the side, feeling anxwhich supports it. A school of fish therefore is iously for a nibble. to be searched out much as one would look for a “Sh-hish—there's something just passed my needle in a haystack-unwearying patience and fly-I felt him," says an old man standing alongdetermination being qualifications as necessary side of me. to constitute a successful fisherman as to make “Yes, and I've got him," triumphantly shouts one a fortunate searcher for needles. In hunting out the next man on the other side of him, haulmackerel, a large fleet, spreading over an exten- ing in as he speaks a fine mackerel, and striking sive area of “ground," and throwing much bait, him off into his barrel in the most approved style. is much more likely to raise a school than a sin- 2-2-zip goes my line through and deep gle vessel or small squad, and this is the reason into my poor fingers, as a huge mackerel rushes why “the fleet" is a permanency in mackereling. savagely away with what he finds is not so great
Toward evening the vind goes down, the sky a prize as he thought it. I get confoundly fluris overcast by white clouds, and the weather be- ried, miss stroke half a dozen times in hauling in comes a pea-jacket colder. Having found no fish as many fathoms of line, and at length succeed all day, we take in sail early, see every thing in landing my first fish safely in my barrel, where clear for a “ fish-day” to-morrow, and, all but the he flounders away “most melodiously" as my watch (one man) go to bed about eight o'clock. neighbor says. At midnight, when I am called up out of my warm And now it is fairly daylight, and the rain, bed to stand an hour's watch, I find the vessel which has been threatening all night, begins to pitching uneasily, and hear the breeze blowing pour down in right earnest. And as the heavy fitfully through the naked rigging, and going on drops patter on the sea the fish begin to bite fast deck perceive that both wind and sea have got and furiously. up" since we retired to rest. The sky looks low- “Shorten up," says the skipper, and we ering, and the clouds are evidently surcharged shorten in our lines to about eight feet from the with rain. In fine the weather, as my predeces- rail to the hooks, when we can jerk them in just sor on watch informs me, bears every sign of an as fast as we can move our hands and arms. excellent fish-day on the morrow. I accordingly “Keep your lines clear," is now the word, as grind some bait, sharpen up my hooks once more, the doomed fish flip faster and faster into the see my lines clear, and my heaviest jigs (the barrels standing to receive them. Here is one technical term for hooks with pewter run on greedy fellow already casting furtive glances bethem), on the rail ready for use, and at one hind him, and calculating in his mind how many o'clock return to my comfortable bunk. I am fish he will have to lose in the operation of getting soon again asleep, and dreaming of hearing fire- his second strike-barrel. bells ringing, and seeing men rush to the fire; Now you hear no sound except the steady flip and just as I see the machine" round the cor I of fish into the barrels. Every face wears an ner of the street, am startled out of my propriety, | expression of anxious determination ; every body my dream, sleep, and all, by the loud cry of Fish moves as though by springs; every heart beats ho !” I start up desperately in my narrow bunk, loud with excitement, and every hand hauls in bringing my cranium in violent contact with a fish and throws out hooks with a methodical beam overhead, which has the effect of knocking precision, a kind of slow haste, which unites the me flat down in my berth again. After recover-greatest speed with the utmost security against ing as much consciousness as is necessary to ap- fouling lines. preciate my position, I roll out of bed, jerk sav-! And now the rain increases. We hear jibs agely at my boots, and snatching up my cap and rattling down; and glancing up hastily, I am pea-jacket, make a rush at the companion-way, surprised to find our vessel surrounded on all up which I manage to fall in my haste, and then sides by the fleet, which has already become spring into the hold for a strike-barrel.
aware that we have got fish alongside. MeanAnd now the mainsail is up, the jib down, and time the wind rises, the sea struggles against the the captain is throwing bait. It is not yet quite rain, which is endeavoring with its steady patter light, but we hear other mainsails going up all to subdue the turmoil of old Ocean. We are round us. A cool drizzle makes the morning un- already on our third barrel each, and still the fish mistakably uncomfortable, and we stand around come in as fast as ever, and the business (sport half asleep, with our sore hands in our pockets, it has ceased to be some time since) continues wishing we were at home. The skipper, how with vigor undiminished. Thick beads of perever, is holding his lines over the rail with an air spiration chase each other down our faces. which clearly intimates that the slightest kind of Jackets, caps, and even over-shirts are thrown a nibble will be quite sufficient this morning to off, to give more freedom to limbs that are worked seal the doom of a mackerel.
to their utmost. "There, by Jove! the captain hauls back- “Hillo! where are the fish?" All gone? Every there, I told you so! skipper's got him-nomaha, line is felt eagerly for a bite, but not the faintest nibble is perceptible. The mackerel, which but fish still bite, but more moderately and by a moment ago were fairly rushing on board, have spirts," and in the half liquid state in which in that moment disappeared so completely that we all find ourselves, we mechanically hold our not a sign of one is left. The vessel next under lines over the rail and haul in fish with as little our lee holds them a little longer than we, but motion to our bodies as possible, for the skin in they finally also disappear from her side. And such weather gets marvelously tender, and is apt so on all around us.
to come off on very slight provocation. And now we have time to look around us At one o'clock "Seat ye, one half,” from the --to compare notes on each other's successes- stentorian lungs of the cook, proclaims dinner on to straighten our back bones, nearly broken, and the table, and one half” accordingly go down aching horribly with the constant reaching over; to “ finish their breakfast," as a facetious shipto examine our fingers, cut to pieces and grown mate remarks. The cabin of a fisherman be it sensationless with the perpetual dragging of small | known is too confined to accommodate an entire lines across them to “There, the skipper's got fishing crew with seats around the table, and a bite !-here they are again, boys, and big fellows accordingly it is customary for the oldest hands too!” Every body rushes once more to the rail, to eat first, leaving the young men and boys to and business commences again, but not at so follow at second table. fast a rate as before. By-and-by there is another After dinner we make preparations for dressing cessation, and we hoist our jib and run off a little our fish Gib-tubs, split-knives, barrels, wash-barway into a new berth.
rels, buckets, mittens, and sea-boots, are hunted While running across, I take the first good | up, and water begins to flow about decks more look at the state of affairs in general. We lie, plentifully than ever. Mackerel are “dressed” as before said, nearly in the centre of the whole by splitting them down the back, taking out their fleet, which from originally covering an area of entrails (called in fisherman's parlance * gibs"), fifteen miles each way, has “knotted up" into a letting the blood soak out of them by immersion little space not above two miles square. In in clear salt water, and then salting them down many places, although the sea is tolerably rough, in layers, in the barrels prepared for that purthe vessels lie so closely together that one could pose. Two persons compose a “gang " for almost jump from one to the other. The greatest dressing. One of them splits the fish and throws skill and care are necessary on such occasions to them to the other, who, by a dexterous twist of keep them apart, and prevent the inevitable con- his thumbs and the fingers of his right hand, exsequences of a collision, a general smash-up of tracts the entrails, and throws the cleaned fish masts, booms, bulwarks, etc. Yet a great fish into a barrel of salt water at hand. “ Dressing" day like this rarely passes off without some ves- fish is disagreeable work in itself, but generally sels sustaining serious damage. We thread our passes off lively enough, as it is the concluding way among the vessels with as much work and scene in what fishermen call “ a day's work,' and as daintily as a man would walk over ground one now learns how much he has in reality covered with eggs, and finally get into a berth | caught, and miser-like plunges up to the armunder lee of a vessel which seems to hold the pits in the riches he has that day won. Then fish pretty well. And here we fish away by too, dressing is enlivened by many a jest, and spells, for they have got “ spirty," that is, they anecdote, and song, every body feeling joyful at are capricious, and appear and disappear sud the events of the day, and hopeful for the success denly like a flash.
of the voyage. And while the operation of catchMeanwhile the rain continues pouring out of ing fish is followed with an intensity and ardor the leaden sky, which looks as though about to which does not admit of the slightest flagging of fall on us, and overwhelm us in a second deluge. attention, dressing is the very reverse, and may The wind is getting high (old. Boreas, singularly be made as lively as possible without detriment enough, always gets high on these occasions, to the work. when fresh water is plentiest), and the old hands Soon after commencing to dress, the whole are debating among themselves as to the most fleet gets under way, and steers toward the land, judicious port to be made to-night. At ten we which is faintly visible under our lee, the wind get breakfast, consisting of coffee, hot cakes, being from the northeast. Going square before bread and butter, fish, beef, sweet cakes, and it, we soon near the land, and as we do so, both apple sauce. The morning's exercise has given wind and sea increase. We have a grand chance us all a ravenous appetite, and the celerity with to try the sailing qualities of our little boat-a which the various comestibles spread out for us chance which a mackerel man never neglects; by the cook are made to disappear, would aston- for next to getting a good share of fish, a man is ish the members of “our best society.”
considered most fortunate if he has a smart sailAfter breakfast we begin to clear up decks a ing vessel. We overhaul a good many, and are little, preparatory to experiencing some part of badly beaten by a few of the vessels, as might the rough weather which is brewing. Oil cloths be expected in so large a fleet. And as we are in great demand, but the rain somehow con- come into competition with some new vessel, trives to soak through them, and they form but our crew tell at once her name, if she is known little protection. We secure our mackerel barrels to them, or if entirely unknown, at any rate her to the bulwarks, lash up the various loose objects hailing place. about decks, and put on the hatches, etc. The After dressing, we salt our catch. This is sorry work for sore fingers, hands, and arms, of which, into the wind. As her headway is deadened, after a day's work like the present, there is al- let go the anchor !” is the word, and a plash, ways a plentiful supply, mackereling being, under and the rattle of a few fathoms of cable tell us any circumstances, a business in which sores of that we are fast for the night. all kinds on hands and feet are singularly plenty “Pay out cable, boys; a good scope, and let and hard to get rid of. But salting does not last her ride easy !” and the rest of us go aft and forever, and the few preparations necessary for haul down the enormous mainsail, the wet cangoing into harbor being already completed, we vas of which feels as though made of stout wire. gather together, as dusk comes on, in little knots It is soon furled up, and a lantern fastened in the about the deck, discuss the day's work, point out rigging, and then we make a general rush for familiar vessels, and argue on their various sail- the cabin. Here wet clothes and boots are flung ing qualities, and once in a while slily peep down off and thrown pell-mell on deck, dry suits donthe companion-way" into the snug little cabin, ned, and then “one-half” crawl into their bunks, where the “ram-cat” (the sailors name for a while the balance eat their suppers. cabin stove) glows so brightly, and every thing Meanwhile we hear an incessant rattling of looks so comfortable, and in particular so dry, sails, and plashing of anchors on every side of that our hearts yearn for a place by the fire. us, while the wind whistles wildly through our Landsmen, poor fellows, have no idea how great rigging, and the rain dashes fiercely against the an amount of real, genuine, unmistakable com- skylight and deck overhead, increasing our comfort may be contained in a little box ten feet by fort by reminding us of the sufferings we have fifteen, with a table in the middle, seats and escaped. berths at the sides, a stove and hatchway at one It is not until after supper that we begin to end, a row of shelves and a box-compass at the think of the damages sustained in our persons other, and a skylight over head, the whole smell during the past day's work. And now rags, ing villainously of decayed fish and bilge-water. salve, and liniment, and all the various preparaHappily for mankind all happiness is compara- tions for ameliorating the condition of sore fintive, else would not the dirty confined cabin of a gers, sore wrists, sore arms, sore feet, sore anfisherman ever be considered a very Elysium of kles, and sore shins, are brought into requisition; comfort, and a seat by its fire be regarded as a the cook is flattered and cajoled out of modicums luxury, than which the conqueror of the world of hot fresh water, and stockings are taken off, could wish for nothing better.
sleeves rolled up, bandages unrolled, and groans We are fast nearing our haven. And glad and growls resound from every corner of the enough we all are of it, for the wind has risen, cabin. until it already blows half a gale, and the great The operation which is now commenced is waves roll after us savagely, trying to overtake considered among old fishermen as one of the us, and looking as though if they did, they would " peculiar” comforts incident to their calling. inevitably smother our little craft. And then, Comfort indeed !” incredulously observes the too, as the excitement of the day dies out, and landsman reader. “Yes, sir, comfort," say I. we stand inactively about, the rain seems colder, For, sir, allow me to say you have not yet the and our wet clothes adhere clammily to our most remote idea of the real signification of the bodies, and make moving about a misery. Yon- word comfort. Nor will you ever be fully ender is East Point Light shining brightly on our | lightened on the subject until you have been beam. The headmost of our companions have fishing a season. In fact, my dear sir, until you already shot around the point, and are running domiciliate yourself on board a Cape schooner up to their anchorage.
for a couple of trips, you will not have even a “Man your sheets, now, boys, and stand by proper idea of what a real sore is; how in the to trim aft!” sings out our skipper. And as we world then do you expect to know what comfort string along the ropes the helm goes down. She (among other matter) is to be taken out of such comes into the wind, shaking like a dog just come things? out of the water, and at the same time the sails As sores are part and parcel of the business of are trimmed flat, and we gayly round the point, catching mackerel, I will here relate my slight and in less than fifteen minutes are in smooth experience of them for the benefit of the uninitiwater.
ated. When preparing to go on board the vegTwo tacks take us nearly up to Ten Pound sel at H- I was counseled to provide myself Island Light, and, as we stand over once more, with a supply of salve and bandages for the
“Haul down the foresail!" shouts the captain. sore fingers, etc., with which I would be pester*Stand by your main and jib halyards ! see your ed on my trip. “For,” said my friends, “ fisheranchor all clear!"
men always have sores." But I laughed to my“There's a good berth, skipper," says one of self, and boastfully thought, “I am not a fisherthe old hands, right alongside of that Chatham man." But the old lady at whose house I staysmack.” (It is so dark that, do my best, I can ed during the time I was on shore, knew much not make out even the rig of the vessel to which more about the matter than I, and accordingly my old friend so readily gives a "local habitation when I got on board I found, on an examination and a name."
| into my effects, that she had put at least half-a“Here we are-down jib!" and down it rat- dozen yards of old muslin and linen in my clothes tles without any trouble, as her head swings bag. And well it was that she did so. I had
not been three whole days on board before I ex- | cap, I hear our gray-headed old skipper mutter perienced premonitory symptoms of what are softly to himself, “God pity poor sailors who are commonly called “boils," coming, one on my caught in Boston Bay in this storm." right foot, one on the ankle of the same, and one | We go to sleep early-get up late next mornon my arm (the left one). I was surprised, as I ing-get breakfast (the storm still raging) had never in my life had such things on me, and head up, and strike down the mackerel caught had always prided myself on a purity of system the preceding day; clear up decks, and then go which bore me clear of such torments. It was ashore, or visit some of the other vessels. To do quite natural that I should express my surprise, either of the latter, we do not require the assistand quite as natural that my shipmates should ance of boats, for the fleet has so crowded the express none, they looking upon such things as harbor, that one can without difficulty walk from matters of course. I did not, therefore, obtain one side of the harbor to the other, a distance of any sympathy among them.
three-fourths of a mile, on vessels. Well, I nursed my torments, and, like every | Toward evening the wind hauls to the norththing else that is nursed, they grew apace, and ward, and the weather clears up, and great snowbefore a week were called “fine large boils." I white clouds, looking like gigantic puffs of steam said I nursed them; is it necessary to add that I from some engine in the other world, roll grandly cursed them? At least, as far as my conscience across the sky, sure signs of good weather. We permitted me to do so. I was regularly lamed "turn in ” early, and are called out at three -and yet here was I on board a confounded fish o'clock A.m. to get under way. We find every ing vessel, with all available assistance required body around us in motion, some heaving up their to help in getting things in order for the fish-anchors, others hoisting their sails, some with ground. My boils are no excuse, and I am there- boats ahead, being towed out of the crowd, so as fore expected to do as others do, to pump, to run, to enable them to shape a course, and a few alto be smart, to climb, if necessary, to pull on ready steering out of the harbor. We follow suit ropes, and to-in short-do every thing that wants with all haste, and daylight finds us in Boston doing. If I groan, I am shown veteran old sores, Bay, with the fleet around us, and the hills of to* which mine are, in fishing language, only Cape Ann blue in the distance. “ darling little pets." When I venture to utter Such is a fish-day, with its accompaniments. a hope of soon being better, my friend, to whose Of a series of such is composed the trip of a kind offices I am indebted for an introduction to mackerel catcher, for the fish rarely bite well exthis infernal business, smilingly assures me that cept just before a storm. When full of fish, “this is nothing-a mere trifle : when we once which is generally in from three to five weeks, get among mackerel, then will be the time for the vessel goes back home and lands her cargo. sores." As though this was not the grand jubi. There the fish are assorted, weighed, and relee of every thing of the kind !
packed by an inspector regularly appointed for But every body on board has sores-sores of that purpose. By him the barrels are finally all descriptions, and some that are indescribable branded, to show that they are “ 200 lbs. of mack-cuts, chafes, line-sores, pickle-sores, boils, pim-erel,” No. 1, 2, or 3, as the case may be, and ples, felons, festers, agnails, bruises, and every then they are ready for sale or shipment: other species of torment that poor mortal can by Fishermen make from $150 to $350 and $400 any possibility have on his hands and feet, our during the eight months in which they labor, viz., little community are infested with. And it is from the last of March to the first of December. with our sores somewhat as with the Paddy's During the winter they in general remain at pig, which “enjoyed miserable bad health, and home, compensating for the toils of the working was getting no better very fast." Thus it hap- season by a life of total inactivity and idleness, pened, that on the evening in question, after sup spending a great part of the earnings of the past per was dispatched, every one commenced patch year in harmless dissipation, and looking to noing up his sores, laughing meanwhile at every thing higher than “ an early start in the spring for body else, making odd grimaces while attending the Banks.” Such is life in the fishing villages to their little matters.
of Cape Cod-to use a rather homely and perBefore retiring to rest I take a peep on deck. haps coarse, but trite sailor's simile, “ Like a The gale is roaring fiercely through the bare rig- Portuguese devil, when it is good it is too good, ging, and a blinding storm of hail and sleet, a and when it is bad it is worthless." blast of which salutes my face as I put it out of the companion-way, adds to the inclemency of THE ORIENTAL MERCHANT. the night. The dark storm-clouds scud wildly W HEN Haj Hamed borrowed a hundred dinars across the sky, and the wind fairly shrieks at W of the merchant Kodadad, he swore by the times, as though glorying in the strength to bear faith of the Prophet to return the sum within six down every thing coming in its path. It is truly months from that time, and fixed the hour and a wild night, and as I descend again to my com- day. He was a young man, full of hope and fortable place by the fire, I think anxiously of confidence, and Kodadad was old and wary. the poor souls who are tossed about in such “My son," said the latter, “this is perhaps a weather-cold, wet, and suffering at the mercy rash promise. Say one year." But Haj Hamed of the winds and waters. I am not alone in my would not accept a further delay. He was going thoughts, for as I shake the sleet off my rough from Tarsusto Damascus on a commercial journey,