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Mr. T. P. Cooke : a red flannel shirt, trousers and jacket of blue pilot cloth, an oilskin hat, with a clay pipe stuck in the band : nor was a clasp knife tied round his waist with a lanyard, forgotten, to complete his costume. Some of the others played at shuffleboard, fenced, wrestled, or exercised themselves laboriously on gymnastic poles.
It is soon time for tea, the widow doing the honours; after that, the hot water and lemons, with little bright glass bottles, and a snappish argument between the Irish attorney and the Montreal Jew; a. quiet talk with the clergyman and the captain, a rubber of whist, a chess-board, and words of courtesy and kindness to the widow.
Sometimes, when the evening was very fine, we went on deck, and listened to wonderful narratives of the soldiers and sailors, and quaint ditties with overgrown choruses. One of the topmen had a splendid voice; he was the beau ideal of an English seaman-active, good-tempered, handsome, and full of fun—a favourite with all.
There was among the passengers a family of three brothers and a sister, from the north of Ireland, about to settle in Canada ; they were hardy, serious, respectable people, having some little capi
tal in money and goods, and their own strong arms and honest hearts, to depend upon ; the class of people of all others the most useful in a colony. They, too, used to sing for us at times; they knew but one kind of music, and that best suited to their powerful, but harsh and untrained voices. Many a cunning stage arrangement might have failed to give the deep effect which lay in their solemn, stern, Presbyterian hymns.
Later in the evening there came another pipe, seasoned with discussion on what passed for events in the day, a little moralizing, and always a rigid examination of the conduct of that constant offender, the weather; and then we slept.
One night, when we were off the coast of Ireland, the wind freshened up, and the clouds thickened ominously. The next morning dawned upon a gale of wind ; the sea had risen a good deal, and the ship rolled sufficiently to account for a very small party at breakfast. The storm was against us, blowing with increasing violence that day and night, and the next day. Nearly all the passengers were sick, and the sailors were doing their work in a quiet, steady way, that shewed they were in earnest.
At about five in the afternoon, the clouds seemed
to have been all blown up together into one dense mass of dark and threatening gloom, and, as if for miles round the wind had focussed to one spot, it burst upon the ship. The masts bent slowly down as she rose upon the wave, and the spray foamed up among the spars. They must shorten sail; it seems madness to ascend the straining ropes, but no one hesitates ; there is a moment's lull in the trough of the sea : some of the sailors are up already; our favourite, the topman, is first, busy with the reef of the maintopsail. The ship rises on the swell, and the storm roars again through the shrouds: the sheets snap like thread; light as a cloud the canvass flies to leeward; a man is entangled in its ropes, borne away upon the wind; the mist closes over him—he is seen no more.
The tempest soon afterwards subsided, without further mischief. When the weather cleared, we found ourselves close to the headland we had seen two days before ; we had been travelling backwards and forwards, ten miles an hour, ever since. At the climax of the gale the noise had been so great, that many of those in their berths below thought we were assuredly lost. This conviction had very different effects upon different individuals : some pulled the bed-clothes over their heads, and lay in
shivering inactivity; others were so dreadfully ill, that death itself scarcely appeared a change for the worse. Not so our nautically-inclined lieutenant; he could no longer remain in doubt; so, determined to know the worst, he emerged from the hatchway in full pirate costume, as he had lain down at the beginning of the storm. Sprawling on the deck, he looked out upon the sea : just at this moment a gigantic green wave, with a crest of foam, stood right over the ship; with a shout of terror, and an expression of face in which fright had overcome starvation and sea-sickness, he rushed across the deck, grasping at the stanchion under the poop as the first support he could lay hold of, and twining his arms and legs round it with a force no persuasions could relax; there he remained for two hours, a figure of fun never to be forgotten. The ship was soon put to rights, not having sustained any serious injury, and we went our way.
A whale was always an object of sufficient interest to collect us upon deck, and unmask a battery of telescopes. Our nearest view of one was under circumstances as advantageous to us as disagreeable to himself. The ship was going through the water about four knots an hour when the monster overtook us : as we were travelling in the same direction,
there was ample opportunity for observing the state of his affairs. He was attacked by three threshers, (formidable-looking fellows, about eight feet long,) and had evidently much the worst of it, though he flourished his tail tremendously, flogging his track into a bloody foam. His enemies were most systematic in their attack; each in his turn threw himself out of the water, and fell with full weight on the whale's head ; thus, while it was above the surface, keeping up a continual hammering thereon. It is said, but I am not pledged to the fact, that a sword-fish is always in league with these pursuers, poking the whale underneath with his sword, when sinking to avoid his allies ; so that the poor victim is much in the situation of a member of the Church of England of the present day—as he swims in the sea of controversy, a blow from the Evangelical pulpit strikes him down, and a thrust from the “ Tracts for the Times” drives him up again ; the only difference is, that amongst his assailants there is no bond of unity.
It is said that, in a chase of this kind, the quarry never escapes : the fish in question were far too busy to attend to us; they soon left us behind, and may, for all I know, be worrying each other still with true polemic pertinacity.