Sunday, April 11, 2010

Transcription: Mott Memoir, Part 10

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"As there were three Ministers on board we had service every Sunday morning, each minister taking his turn.  When the day was clear Mr. Foote had an awning put up over the quarter deck and seats arranged.  The capstan covered with a flag was the pulpit.  As the Ministers were Presbyterian the service was very simple and no prayer books were required.  Mr. Atkinson had a good voice and led the singing and most of the others could join him pretty well.  The crew attended these services and most of the passengers, so there was quite a small congregation.  Evy and I were used to going to Church regularly, so it seemed only right and proper to spend Sunday in that way.

The weather was fine most of the time and there were no exciting adventures.  One day the crew caught a porpoise which was an object of much interest to the passengers.  I felt sorry for the great fish as it flopped about on the deck but when we had some cooked for dinner it was a welcome change from our usual flare.  The men caught a shark also but none of the passengers would eat that, though I believe the crew was not so fastidious.

One evening about twilight when I came on deck there was no one in sight but Mr. Foote who approached in a mysterious manner saying "Hush" with his finger on his lip.  He took my arm and led me along the deck without speaking.  I was much surprised but went quietly until we came to the cook's galley where, sitting on the deck leaning against the side of the galley, were a row of men asleep.  "Look at those sleeping beauties" he whispered, then pointing to a rope twisted around a belaying pin he told me to unfasten it, as I did so a sail came down with a rush on top of the men who sprang up astonished.  It was very funny to see their bewildered faces and the look of consternation with which they regarded Mr. Foote.  I do not know what he said as I retired to the quarter deck, but I knew he was not angry, though it was a crime to go to sleep when on watch.  It was a clear quiet night.  The ship was sailing steadily and there was nothing for them to do.  It was a queer notion to have me wake them in that way but he was a queer man, perhaps that was one reason why I liked him.

As we came near the Equator the weather became so warm it was often too hot to stay long on deck in the daytime but the nights were lovely.  I wish I could describe the beauty of these evenings when the moon seemed to make a path of silver across the sea that moved so quietly.  The waves were only ripples or when the phosphorous sparkled in the water like specks of fire.  We often remained on deck till very late, it was too beautiful to leave.  After a while the weather turned cooler and as we approached Cape Horn, became quite cold and we had to wear thick coats and hoods but unless it was raining I still wished to be on deck.  I remember coming out one afternoon when Mr. Foote said it was too cold for me.  I begged him to let me stay out as I was very tired of the cabin, so saying "I'll fix you" he brought out one of his own coats and buttoned me up in it.  It came down to my knees and was so tight over my skirts I must have looked very funny.  Every one laughed when they saw me, but I not care.  If I had been older I suppose I would not have worn it.

One night I was awakened by the ship rolling so violently I almost fell out of the berth.  The rolling continued for several minutes so I had to hold onto the side of the berth to keep in.  There was a splash of water and I heard Mrs. Kinney scream.  Her stateroom was near the companionway and a wave had rushed down and into the doorway of her room.  Some of the sailors came down to wipe it up and as they laughed I knew we could not be in any danger so I was not frightened.  That was the only storm we had and that did not last long.  It must have been a sudden squall.  We reached Cape Horn about Christmas and by New Year's came around with all sails set.  The weather was clear there, no snow nor any sign of icebergs.  We were very fortunate as Cape Horn is such as dangerous place many ships have been wrecked there and other detained for weeks by contrary winds.

It was now 1848 and we were on the Pacific instead of the Atlantic.  As we came up the weather became warmer and we could remain on deck longer.  We amused ourselves sometimes when the deck was even enough by playing shuffle board.  Squares were marked on the deck with chalk, a number in each square.  The carpenter made some smooth round pieces of wood, like large checkers.  We were divided into two parties and all sat on deck and took turns in sliding the boards into the squares.  The numbers were added and the side that counted highest won.  Even the Ministers played and seemed to enjoy it as well as anybody.

As the days went by we began to feel that we were drawing nearer and nearer to Honolulu.  While on the other side it seemed to far off to even think of, but now when we realized it might be only a few weeks more, we became interested and excited.  One effect of these was an exchange of verses written in each others albums.  Evy had one but I did not have mine then.  Kate wanted me to write in hers and as I did not remember anything suitable I resolved to compose some verses myself and succeeded in producing that lines that are in the album her daughter sent me after her death.  Kate was pleased and said they were good for a little girl.  Even Mr. Foote caught the poetical fever and presented me with some original verses with a lead pencil on a piece of paper.  They were so odd I kept them for many years but now cannot find them.  I am going to write them here they are so unique.  Poor little man.  I believe these lines were more sincere than others I have much more elegant.  (Mr. Foote was killed a few years afterwards, he was mixed up in the Chinese war in some way.)
Now Dear Essie I impart
These few lines from my heart
You are bound to a foreign isle
On your parents for to smile
You have left friends far behind
But not such friends as you will find
Your father and mother on you will smile
When they behold their darling child.

The barque Samoset bears you on
By the help of one who loves you long
And when it comes that we must part
The tears will come from his fond heart
Now Dear Essie I must conclude
If these few lines do you amuse
Just put them in a book for me
That when I'm gone you'll think of me.
J. Foote
The weather had become quite warm, there was so little wind we scarcely moved, when a ship came in sight and signaled she wanted to speak to us.  As we lay to a boat came along side and a man came on deck.  He told our Captain they were short of water and asked if he could let them have some but Captain Hollis refused, saying he had only enough to last us to Honolulu.  The man was much disappointed, but Captain Hollis was firm and the boat went back without water.  Mr. Foote was highly indignant (in an aside to me he called the Captain cruel and heartless.) For some reason that I did not understand he disliked the Captain.  I was sorry for the men.  I hope they obtained water somewhere.  I suppose our Captain was right for as the calm continued he kept us on an allowance.  We could drink what we needed during the day but could only have a small amount in our staterooms.  It seems odd we could have had such a small supply of water.  We made an unusually quick voyage.  If we had been out five months as was often the case we might have suffered for want of it.

One day not long after this incident the look-out reported land in sight and we soon came to a beautiful green island, which the Captain thought at first to be Juan Fernandez, but on consulting his chart decided was Masafuera, a small island.  There was little wind so the sea was smooth.  We went as near as was safe and lay-to while the Captain sent a boat ashore to look for water.  After a short stay they returned not finding any water nor signs of inhabitants, so we went our way.  This was the first land we had seen since leaving Boston, except the top of a barren rock near Cape Horn which we thought quite interesting.  It was clear, fine day when we passed it but if there had been a storm it might have been a dangerous neighbor. 

We were now so near Honolulu I began to think of mother and long to see her.  We expected to find her there when we arrived and as we were becalmed again I became very impatient and to relieve my feelings wrote some astonishing verses dedicated to my mother.  I read them over when I was older and laughed, they were so tragic, a childish imitation of Byron.  I had been reading some of his poetry.

The calm continued for two or three days.  We hardly moved.  One day the current took us a mile backwards but at last a breeze sprang up and the Captain said if it lasted during the night we might arrive the next day.  We gathered together all our possessions and everything we did not actually need and took out some of our shore clothes that had been laid away during the voyage.  The blue chests were packed again and we were ready to go when the time came.  We made good progress during the night and some time the next day land was sighted.

How beautiful it looked as we drew near.  First the green hills appeared, then the houses and the vessels in the harbor.  We were all assembled on deck, glad and excited and yet half sorry.  Our voyage had been an extremely pleasant one.  There had been no storms, no sickness nor accidents of any kind.  If I could be a child again and have the same companions I would enjoy having it over again.  No where in my long life have I met kinder people and nicer women than those Missionaries.  In fact everyone had been pleasant and nice to us, except Bartlett and he was only a foolish boy.  As our anchor went down a boat came out from the shore and among those who came on deck was a young man who was introduced to us as John Dominis, son of the lady we were to stay with while in Honolulu.

We were much disappointed when we heard the vessel with our mother had not arrived yet.  The Samoset had made such a short voyage we had reached the Islands first.  However she would probably come in a few days so there was no use fretting about her.  We were to go with John to Mrs. Dominis house where she was expecting us.

Captain Brewer's nephew who lived in Honolulu came on board also to welcome his Uncle and Miss Pratt who was his wife's sister.

The Samoset was so high above the water now, all the women were lowered into the boat in a chair attached to ropes.  This was the first time I had seen this done as when we came on board at Boston she was close to the docks and we went up the steps on the side.  It seemed funny to me to be hoisted up over the bulwarks and let down like a bale of goods.

When we reached the landing our little ships company dispersed, some of the resident Missionaries took our friends to their homes.  Uncle Charlie and Kate accompanied Mr. Brewer to his home and John took charge of us.  Mrs. Dominis received us in such a friendly manner we soon felt quite at home with her.  She was a short stout woman, not pretty but with a pleasant expression.  Her husband Captain Dominis, an Italian by descent, was master of a sailing vessel which left Honolulu almost two years before and had not been heard of since.  It was generally supposed that ship and crew were lost, but Mrs. Dominis would not believe it.  She said they might have been wrecked on some island out of the usual track of ships and be waiting for a chance to get away.  Nothing was ever heard of them that I know of.

Now having arrived safely at our destination we bid good-bye to the good barque Samoset."

1 comment:

  1. Nice description of the trip around the Horn. thanks.


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