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About The Conservative (Nebraska City, Neb.) 1898-1902 | View Entire Issue (Sept. 27, 1900)
10 'Cbe Conservative.
NEUKASKA CITY TO MANILA AND
[ COKT1NUED FROM LAST WEEK ]
I don't know how long the gale was
in passing ; perhaps twenty minutes ;
the port and starboard ropes had broken
loose and were trailing in the sea , while
the ends of tattered canvas cracked
loudly. A great wave hnd just broken
high over fhe forecastle when I saw the
mate come slipping and sliding down
the quarter deck , his oil skins and sou'
wester dripping from the spray.
Bracing himself against the pilot house ,
he made a funnel of his hands through
which ho shouted : "Out loose the
mainsails. " We all climbed out on the
yard arms and began slashing away.
In a few moments what was left of
those splendid sheets fell overboard.
Again the sea struck us amidships ,
smashing the gangway into pieces. The
rope I was clinging to came loose from
her fastenings and as the ship righted
herself I was carried out over the water ,
Again and again I swung clear of the ship
It was not until the fourth time that I
managed to let go , and fell exhausted
upon the deck.
In a few minutes more the typhoon
passed , and the mass of black clouds
disappeared behind the sea , looking for
other prey. We all went into the fore
castle , thankful that wo could once
more gather around the little pine table
and drink onr bootleg coffee.
Death at Sea.
Shortly after this one of the crow
vent down with a fever. We did all
we could for him , but the days went by ,
and he still lay up in the miserable hard
berth , his eyes bright with fever , and
no one wondered , when , one morning
after a hard gale , we found him on
the forecastle , dead. That after
noon we wrapped him up in some old
canvas , around which wo fastened a
chain. Then , on a Sunday , we carried
our friend of yesterday to the vessel's
side. A great calm had settled down ,
the ship scarcely moved , at times seem
ing to drift backward. The skipper
ook a worn Morocco book from his
ockot , and after we had removed onr
caps , he began to read something which
I have now forgotten. I could not take
my eyes from the white canvas and its
coil of rusty chain. Then the captain
closed the book and said : "Men ! heave
the body overboard. " I watched it
strike the water. It turned from white
to yellow , from yellow to brown and
then to misty grey , as it passed from
Far out across the plain of liquid
green the sun was slowly sinking ; then
its flash died in the sea , and the day
was dead. We turned to go below.
The captain still remained with his
hands upon the bulwarks. He seemed
to be looking at something beyond the
horizon , and I heard him say , as if
speaking to himself : "They tell us that
the pea will give up her dead' ; maybe I
will meet her again. " That is all I
found out of his secret , but now I under
stand why ho treated us all so well.
On February 10th wo passed Madagas
car , where the hulls and spar. ? of vessels
lay scattered along the shore. One
morning as the sun came up the breeze
died down , not a cloud floated across
the heavens and the southern sun beat
down upon the deck with such fury as
to make the pitch molt from between
the planks and stick to our bare feet as
we walked about. I was scraping the
rust from the anchor chains when I
heard the skipper sing out : "Bring aft
the large hook ! " The carpenter soon
went running along the main deck with
a great fish hook in one hand , and in
the other a piece of salt meat. The
hook was baited and made fast to an
inch Manila rope and thrown out.
Scarcely ten minutes elapsed before there
came a tremendous jerk , and then the
fight commenced. An eight foot man-
eating shark is not the easiest thing in
the world to land , and it took seven of
us to get that fellow on deck , where he
was given the finishing touch with a
butcher knife in the shoulder.
The weather continued calm. One
day a school of porpoise went by , with
their backs above the water like a fleet
of torpedo boats. The sailors all de
clared it was a certain sign of fair wind ,
but the breeze never came and for two
weeks more the ship lay motionless upon
a glassy sea.
Fair Wind at Last.
The long-looked for trade winds came
at last , the ropes twanged merrily in the
rigging , and we squared the yards
around , no more to hear the flapping of
the canvas against the main mast , no
more to talk of signs and indications , as
now those sheets of broad canvas were
living things. And then we reached
South Africa at the Gape of Good Hope.
The sea was very heavy ; from fair
winds there sprang a gale , and it seemed
as if wo had sailed into mountains of
water which rose and fell every minute.
Great flocks of sea birds followed in
onr wake , while large flocks of Gape
pigeons hovered about.
Capo of Good Hope.
For seven days we tried to drop anchor
off the African coast but could not make
port. In the meantime old Neptune
gathered his forces for a grand jubilee.
When I shut my eyes I can see it all
again. That night we went around the
capa. How the vessel groaned ; the
forecastle sliding across the main deck ,
the pounding of the waves upon the
ship's side ; the skipper standing by the
wheel house holding a small lantern ,
now and then glancing at the compass ,
while the shadow of a smile played upon
his red face. He was then at home , in
the atmosphere he loved. But rounding
the Gape of Good Hope that February
night , through a mad , mad sea , at
fifteen knots an hour is an experience
that thrills me yet , and one I know shall
never grow dim.
Off the African coast we saw many
British transports and battleships. They
were coming in from all directions.
Tommy Atkins seemed to be enjoying
himself , lounging about , reading or
smoking , but one out of every four waste
to be the price of the gold mines among
the yellow hills.
Late in the evening of March 5th wo
anchored at St. Helena. I had often
read of the place where the great
Napoleon Bonaparte spent his last hours
in miserable captivity , where the man of
such mighty ambitions was hemmed in
by four narrow walls of stone. There
is the grave where once he lay. You
may see the place where he once looked
between steel bars. I almost imagine I
see him standing there , with his hands
upon the bars , his head sunk low be
tween his shoulders , looking longingly
northward where was his native land ,
where so often his countrymen had
shouted : -Vive 1'Empereur. ' ' Someone
has chisled in the rock where once he
lay : ' 'Let me kneel at her shrine rather
than have no ambition. " But , thanks to
the nation that called him king , he
now lays in the most beautiful palace on
earth , beneath the golden dome of the
Hotel des Invalides , at Paris.
We left St. Helena on the tenth of the
month. I remember the day before we
sailed an army transport full of Boer
prisoners arrived. They were im
mediately sent ashora under a heavy
guard. They were a ragged , dirty set ,
without uniforms and boards uncut ;
exiled upon a lonely island from which
a bird only can leave.
We crossed the equator on Match 25th.
The rain fell continually , the brec/o
freshening up and then dying down , it
took one hundred hears to cross the line
of no degree. I shall never forget how
all the crew declared that a fellow who
crosses the equator for the first time
must have his head and face shaved
clean because , they said , that Neptune ,
god of the sea , came aboard to inspect
all newcomers. The cook had a small
pig he had been fattening up for some
special occasion. One morning I saw
thu little fellow come squealing down
tlu deck carefully shaved from head to
tail. I confess I was somewhat worried
ley t they would carry out their heathen
ish idea upon me , and for several days I
carried around an iron belaying pin.
About three degrees north longitude a
good south breeze came up that morn
ing. Wo were all painting the ship.
The skipper , with his usual stride , was
pacing the quarter deck with his nose
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