« AnteriorContinuar »
accuse us of singing rowdy songs, nights; and you generally wind up by doing some scandalous thing yourself, when half of us take your part and the other half don't, and we get all together by the ears, and a pretty state of affairs ensues. No, woman! you are agreeable enough on shore, if taken homeopathically, but on a steamer, you are a decided nuisance.
We had a glorious day aboard the old Northerner; we played whist, and sang songs, and told stories, many of which were coeval with our ancient school-lessons, and like them came very easy, going over the second time, and many drank strong waters, and becoming mopsed thereon, toasted “the girls we'd left behind us,” whereat one, who, being a temperance man, had guzzled soda-water until his eyes seemed about to pop from his head, pondered deeply, sighed, and said nothing. And so we laughed, and sang, and played, and whiskied, and soda-watered through the day. And fast the old Northerner rolled on. And at night the Captain gave us a grand game supper in his room, at which game we played not, but went at it in sober earnest; and then there were more songs (the same ones, though, and the same stories too, over again), and some speechifying, and much fun, until at eight bells we separated, some shouting, some laughing, some crying (but not with sorrow), but all extremely happy, and so we turned in. But before I sought state-room A that night, I executed a small scheme, for insuring undisturbed repose, which I had revolved in my mind dufing the day, and which met with the most brilliant success, as you shall hear.
You remember the two snobs that every night, in the pursuit of exercise under difficulties, walk up and down on the deck, arm in arm, rigħt over your state-room. You remember how, when just as you are getting into your first doze, they commence, tramp! tramp! tramp! right over your head; then you hear them fainter, fainter still;" you listen in horrible dread of their return, nourishing the while a feeble-minded hope that they may have gone below—when, horror! here they come, louder, louder, till tramp! tramp! tramp! they go over your head again, and with rage in your heart, at the conviction that sleep is impossible, you sit up in bed and despairingly light an unnecessary segar. They were on board the Northerner, and the night before ḥad aroused my indignation to that strong pitch that I had determined on their downfall. So, before retiring, I proceeded to the upper deck, and there did I quietly attach a small cord to the stanchions, which stretching across, about six inches from the planking, formed what in maritime matters is known as a "booby trap.” This done, I repaired to my room, turned in and calmly awaited the result. In ten minutes they came, I heard them laughing together as they mounted the ladder. Then commenced the exercise, louder, louder, tramp! tramp! -thump! (a double-barrelled thump) down they came together, “Oh, what a fall was there my countrymen.” Two deep groans were elicited, and then followed what, if published, would make two closely printed royal octavo pages of profanity. I heard them den the soul of the man that did it. It was my soul that they alluded to, but I cared not, I lay there chuckling; "they called, but I answered not again," and when at length they limped away, their loud profanity, subdued to a blasphemous growl, I turned over in a sweet frame of mind and, falling instantaneously asleep, dreamed a dream, a happy dream of “home and thee"-Susan Ann Jane !
The next morning bright and early, the Coronados hove in sight, and at 10 o'clock we rounded Point Loma and ran alongside the coal hulk Clarissa Andrews, at the Playa of San Diego—just forty-nine hours from San Francisco.
The captain (he is the crew also) of the Clarissa Andrews, the gallant Bogart, stood on her rail ready to catch our flying line, and in a few moments we were secured alongside, our engine motionless and my journey ended.
It was with no small regret that I bade adieu to our merry passengers and our glorious captain. Noble fellow! I don't wonder enthusiastic passengers get up subscriptions and make speeches and present plate and trumpets, and what not to such men.
It's very natural. A good captain is sure to have a good ship; a voyage with him becomes an agreeable matter; he makes his passengers happy and they very naturally fall in love with him, and seek some method of displaying their attachment and “trumpeting his praise abroad.” Our captain was one of this sort; kind, courteous and obliging, and "every inch a sailor," he is as much beloved and respected by his passengers ås Dick Whiting of the California (who to my mind is the ne plus ultra of steamboat men), and when I say that the first letter of his name is Isham, I'm sure every body that ever travelled with him, will agree with me.
The Northerner, too, is a splendid and most comfortable ship, as which of the Pacific Mail boats are not? however. And this subject brings to my mind a little circumstance which took place the day before I left San Francisco.
A shabby-genteel individual, with a pale face, in the centre of which shone a purple nose that couldn't be beat (though it resembled the vegetable of that name), called on me, and drawing from his coat-tail pocket, with an air. of mystery, a voluminous manuscript, spread it solemnly before me and requested my signature. It was a petition to Congress, or Mr. Pierce, or John Bigler, or somebody, to transfer the contract for carrying the mails, from the “Pacific Company" to "Vanderbilt's Line," and was signed by Brown & Co., Jones & Co., Smith & Brothers, Noakes, Stiles & Thompson, and ever so many more responsible firms, whereof I recognized but one, which deals in candy nightly at the corner of Commercial and Montgomery streets, and pays no taxes, and whose correspondence with the Eastern States I suspect is not large. I love to sign my name. It is a weakness that most modest men have. I love to write it, and cut it, and scratch it in steeples, and monuments, and other places of public resort. Most men do. It looks pretty, passes away the time, perpetuates their memory among posterity, and costs nothing. I frequently buy something that I don't want at all, just for the pleasure of signing my name to a checkbought a ridiculous buggy the other day for no other reason that I can imagine.) But I had no inclination to append my autograph to that petition, and I declined, positively and peremptorily-declined. My friend with the nose rolled up his eyes and rolled up his paper, pocketed it, and was about to withdraw. “Stop!” said I, as a vivid recollection flashed across my mind; "what are you going about with that paper for? Didn't I see you a few months ago marching down the street at the head of a long procession, bearing a big banner with “ VANDERBILT'S DEATH LINE!” in great letters thereon, and giving vent to all sorts of scurrility against the Nicaragua route ?" The red nose grew redder, as he muttered something about “a man's being obliged to get a living," and he retired. I saw him go and get his boots blacked by a Frenchman right opposite, give him a quarter, and get him to sign his name, which that exile did and thought it was a receipt for the money, and I laughed heartily. But it is no laughing matter.
Having taken leave of all on board the dear old Northerner, and shaken hands twice all round, during which process the mate sang out, “ Bare a hand there," and I mechanically took off my glove, McAuburn and I were transported to the shore, where, while waiting for a wagon to take us to the old town of San Diego, we stopped at the little public house of the Playa, kept by a civil fellow named Donahoo, whom the Spaniards here, judging from his name (Don't know who), believe to be the son of old “Quien sabe” himself. What befell us there and thereafter I will shortly inform you.