Full and By: A Kanaka Voyage

IN the early days of the Spanish occupation of the Philippines, galleons sailing to South America beat for months against the easterly trades. Scurvy visited these ships, the water became foul, and often only a handful of those who had sailed lived to reach the coast of America.

Men died in the Philippines rather than attempt the return passage. Then a monk, who was about to make the voyage, turned his long and sagacious head to shortening it. He calculated that there were westerly winds to the north that would carry a vessel far to the eastward, after which it could sail south to Valparaiso with a fair wind. He induced the captain of the galleon which was to carry him to sail north from the Philippines, when his destination lay to the south of east. The result was that they ran into the northwesterlies and made an incredibly rapid passage.

Nowadays, ships sailing from the South Seas to San Francisco follow the old monk’s precedent. They do not hope to sail within four points of their true course; and even the compass is of little use, for the course is ‘full and by the wind’ for three thousand miles or more, until the cold weather sets in north of the latitude of San Francisco. Then there is a day or two of varying winds before the northwesterlies thunder down on them. The yards are swung over, the ships wear round, and they sail down their easting with the wind howling over their quarter.

This was the course of the schooner Tagua, sailing from Penrhyn Island to San Francisco; covering six thousand miles of open sea between ports three thousand miles apart.

February 20. — This morning the schooner was ready for sea, the firewood and provisions were aboard, the hatches battened down and the sails bent. I started the engine at half-past eight and steeled myself to stay in the engine room with the roaring, clashing, back-firing, murderous thing. Soon Captain Thomson gave the signal to go ahead and we were off, steaming through the Penrhyn lagoon, out of the passage into the open sea. We kept the engine going until we were three miles from land; then dropped the pilot, hoisted all our sail, and with a brisk northeast trade laid our course, full and by on the starboard tack — a course we expect to hold until we are over a thousand miles to the northnorthwest of the Hawaiian Islands. Then we will wear around with the first of the westerlies, and sail down our easting to San Francisco. Already we are fifty-six days out of Rarotonga; but we expect to make the coast of California in sixty days more.

February 22. — I have just come in from my eight-to-twelve watch on deck. The night is glorious, with a fresh easterly breeze; the schooner is holding up to north-by-east with her sails full, slipping through the water at about five knots. I paced the midshiphouse deck for an hour; then lay on the weather side of the deck to glance up at the sails blocking out the stars, and at the gesticulations of the topmasts in the sky. The full moon shone on me with a benign yellow light; the wind blew over my bare arms and chest, insinuating a sensuous pleasure, making me aware that it is good to be alive.

Lying on deck, I could check up on Six-Seas’ steering by watching the shadow of a rail stanchion beside me. When he was on his course it lay nearly athwartship. When the shadow changed its angle in relation to the ship I roared aft at him, and in a moment the shadow had swung back to its proper position.

These last two nights the sky has been striped with a peculiar cloud formation; long round clouds, not over one hundred yards in diameter, stretch for miles from east to west, losing themselves in conical points that dip below the horizon. They give the impression of parallels of latitude drawn upon the sky; of Gargantuan loaves of French bread falling like manna from Heaven. They are sombre overhead, and when we pass beneath them the wind is killed and the sails boom back and forth; but once beyond their shadow, and the wind howls down the cloudfenced lane. Where they touch the horizon it appears that it has risen to touch them, and that we are sailing over a concave sea. This gives a perspective of vast distances.

February 26. — The sky is changing to a paler and more delicate blue, and the ocean is losing that profound ultramarine of southern seas. Perhaps this bus something to do with the Equatorial Current that brings cold water from the Horn by way of the Humboldt Current. Though we are close to the equator, the temperature has dropped to seventy-three to-night, and I find a sweater comfortable during my watch on deck.

Captain Thomson tells me that on one voyage, while trying to make Malden Island, the Equatorial Current set him to westward seventy-two miles in one day; and when he was sailing as mate with Captain Williams they beat against the current for over twenty days, trying to make a distance of sixty miles! At the end of three weeks they were farther from the island than when they started, and, as the water was giving out, they had to return to Penrhyn. The next time they sailed for Malden they made their easting in lower latitudes, then sailing down on the island with the current.

This led to Malden Island and stories of the many ships that have been wrecked there. The island is not visible from more than seven miles at sea, for it is only a low bank of sand and guano; at night it cannot be sighted five hundred yards away; probably many a ship has touched its reef before land was made out.

‘Two ships were piled up on Malden within nine days of one another,’ the Captain related. ’But the story does n’t start there; it starts two or three months before the war, when Palmer, the owner of Malden, went there with a German chemist named Bach, who had given up his profession, for some mysterious reason, and wanted to get away from the world. There are plenty of that kind of people in the South Seas; they are a good set to keep away from. After they had been on Malden six months a ship came to load their guano and bring provisions. This ship brought news of the war, which greatly upset the German chemist.

‘A few months after the ship sailed, dysentery broke out and several of the labor boys died. Then one night, when Palmer was down on his back with the sickness, Bach came tramping in with a shotgun to his shoulder. His eyes were blazing and his face flushed with fever. Pointing the gun at Palmer, he yelled: “You’re a damned Britisher! I’m going to kill you!”

’Just then Palmer did n’t care whether Bach shot or not, or whether he was a Britisher or a German. But in a moment or two the chemist changed his mind about killing Palmer immediately. He cried: “I’ll let you live if you cheer for the German Empire and shout: ’Hoch der Kaiser!’ ”

‘Well,’ the Captain continued, ‘the owner told me that he shouted everything Bach told him to. He could see that the German was in a high fever and that he did n’t know what he was doing. Bach was satisfied and left, saying that he would make the whole gang cheer for the Kaiser, shooting anyone who refused.

‘After that Palmer saw no one for eleven days. The first two days he had nothing to eat; but he managed to crawl to his water bottle and bring it to his bed. On the second day, while he was wondering what had become of his house boy, and whether the German had shot all his labor gang, a hen came cackling into the room. She made a nest in a basket of clothes and laid an egg. Palmer did not disturb the egg; but when the hen came back the next day and laid another, he crept to the basket and ate it. For nine days the hen came, each day laying an egg. On these, and the gallon of water in his bottle, he lived.

‘On the twelfth day the house boy returned with a story about how the German had chased the gang to the other side of the island, shouting meaningless words and firing at them. When Palmer asked the boy why he had not returned sooner, he fell into a stubborn silence; when he asked what had become of Bach, the boy made the evasive reply that he had disappeared.

‘It is not known what happened to Bach; but Palmer believes that the laborers killed him, put his body in a canoe with the shotgun, and shoved it to sea — the canoe and the shotgun were missing when Palmer was able to get up and take stock of things. The alternative is that Bach put to sea in the canoe, with some wild fever-born notion that he would raid the high seas for the Fatherland.

‘The dysentery passed, leaving a wretched set of men, starving and baking on that bank of sand. No ships were seen for ten months, their own schooner having been piled up on the North Island of New Zealand, and their Colonial office being too bankrupt to charter a ship at the high rates shipowners were asking during the war. The food supply ran low; then the loneliness of the place started working on their nerves until they doubted if there had ever been any ships, or any lands outside of Malden. In their soberer moments they conjectured that Germany had won the war, and that they had been forgotten in the confusion of forming new colonies.

‘One night Palmer sat on his verandah in a despondent mood. He was worn to a skeleton with sickness and starvation; the solitude was palling on him until he was on the verge of insanity; his nights were sleepless and horrible. There was nothing but the sand and the sea — the monotonous, maddening rumble of the breakers on the reef. The labor boys had long since refused to work; they lay in their bunks in a state of lethargy, and even Palmer’s house boy had refused to cook his meals. He told me that it was very still that night. He was sitting upright in his steamer chair, his body too tense with the ever-increasing terror of solitude to allow him to relax. He was listening to the silence, gazing into the darkness, as he had been doing for months; waiting, expecting, hoping to hear or to see something, — something unnamable but expected, — something that would break the terrible tension he was under.

‘And suddenly that something came. The darkness was broken by a white flame that filled the whole sky with a seething mass of fire! The clouds, the island, the houses of the laborers were illuminated brighter than day; and the next instant, from that great stillness that had not been broken for months except by the low rumble of the surf, there came an ear-rending explosion. The island shook to its base, the houses swayed, windows were broken. Then, from the sky, came a rain of iron and wood that crashed through the tinroofed houses and strewed the ground with wreckage.

‘Palmer jumped to his feet with a scream; he believed he was going mad. His laborers were running from their houses, shrieking with fear. One had been killed and several injured, and his house boy had run to a corner of the verandah, where he crouched down, whining like a frightened animal.

‘The sky closed above them and instantly it became pitchy dark. The last piece of wreckage fell to the ground. With their ears numbed by the explosion, it had become deathly still. For a few moments no one moved. Then, out of the darkness, came a straggling line of panic-stricken castaways. They were the crew of the first ship to touch Malden for ten months! She had been loaded with twelve tons of dynamite on top of a general cargo including a thousand cases of gasoline. When she struck the reef the crew had piled overboard, swum ashore, and rushed inland. A few moments later a topmast had broken loose and fallen through the main hatch, exploding the dynamite.

‘Now Palmer had to feed this lot, and he did not have enough for himself. There was nothing to do but catch fish and kill all the poultry — only the hen that had fed him he refused to kill. But in nine days a second ship ran on to the reef. From her a good supply of food was salvaged, as well as two longboats. One of these boats was sent to Penrhyn and the other to Fanning Island. The Penrhyn one met with the Vaiite in port, and she put off to Malden and rescued them.’

February 28. Midnight. — We have been holystoning decks to-day preparatory to oiling them. In order to keep both watches working all day, the Captain has decided to give them the entire night below, and he and I are standing watch and watch alone tonight. The wheel has been lashed since early this morning, and we find that the Tagua sails better than if there were a man at the helm.

The Captain took the dogwatch from six to eight and called me at one bell (ten minutes to eight). When I went on deck it was quite dark, for the moon had not risen. I could hear Andy at the pumps; a moment later they sucked, he climbed over the break of the midshiphouse, wished me a pleasant watch, and went below.

I was alone; there might not have been another soul on the ship, on the sea, or on the earth. A disquieting impression of estrangement from the world came over me when I glanced across the dark undulating water, then up at the towering sails shimmering mysteriously in the starlight. The sailing lights burned feebly, casting a colored glow on the water when the ship lay over; a ray from Andy’s lamp shone through the skylight, throwing a patch of glaring whiteness on the mainsail. It vanished suddenly; my feeling of loneliness increased as I stared at the emptiness of the sea, at the old schooner moving noiselessly through the water like a phantom ship.

Presently I lay on deck with the midshiphouse skylight for a pillow. By imperceptible degrees the windward shrouds became more distinct; the halyards and lifts stood out more sharply against the dimming stars. Then a milky light, tenuous and illusive, paled the east, and the moon rose, blood-red and enormous, over a bank of clouds. The wind freshened with the moonrise, the schooner lay over gracefully, and there came a musical ripple of water along her sides and a soft churning under her counter.

Romeo, our ship’s tomcat, appeared, walking pompously like some wellgroomed steamboat captain showing off his chest and mustachios to the lady passengers. But when he was beside me he forgot his dignity, rubbed his head against my arm, and purred. Then he became frolicsome, playing mouse and cat with the ends of the handkerchief tied around my neck, springing from side to side, leaping on one corner of the handkerchief to shake it and then jumping back to a crouching position and staring at me with round glowing eyes. Before long he tired of this play, crawled on top of me, and squeezed his head between my sweater and singlet. The warmth must have been pleasant, for soon his shoulders and front paws were under; then the whole cat was beneath the sweater, curled comfortably and purring. But soon the purring ceased; Romeo was asleep.

For a time I watched the stars; then I also dropped asleep, flagrantly leaving the old schooner to the treachery of the sea.

I woke with a start, jumping to my feet before my eyes were open. Something terrible was happening. There was a caterwauling going on inside me! My alimentary canal seemed to be doing handsprings and contortionist’s feats! Romeo was in the throes of a nightmare. He scratched my chest, clawed my sweater, and yowled rabidly. With a snapping of buttons and a rending of cloth I managed to pull off the sweater. Romeo dropped to the deck; the next instant, with a flash of red eyes, his shadow weirdly elongated with tail erect, he raced across the deck and was gone. Again peace settled over the ship.

But Romeo did me a good turn, for when I was able to look about me I saw a black squall racing toward the ship. In a moment it had hidden the moon, and already the wind was freshening. I ran aft and took the lashing off the wheel. A moment later the squall struck us with a blast of rain, keeling the schooner far over. I laid the wheel hard alee until we were running with the wind abeam and the Tagua had straightened on to an evener keel. She was a beautiful sight charging through the rain and spray, her lines taut, her sails bellying, the foam fanning out thirty yards from either bow.

Captain Thomson poked his head out of his after port. ‘All right, Ropati?’ he called.

‘Yes, sir,’ I replied. ‘Just a little squall. We’re in the worst of it now.’

‘Keep her full!’ he called back. ‘I woke with a feeling that something was wrong; but I knew you would be keeping a good lookout, so I did n’t go on deck.’

‘Thank goodness you did n’t!' I muttered to myself.

Shortly after the squall had passed I heard the clock in the Captain’s cabin strike eight bells. I must have slept over an hour! I called Andy, pumped the ship, and then came to my cabin to write my journal and meditate on my perfidy.

March 1. — We ran out of the southeast trades into the doldrums this morning. Now, in the first dogwatch, we are within twenty-five miles of Fanning Island; but, as it is an atoll, we have not sighted it.

What a change is made by the cessation of the southeast trade! Gloom has settled over the little schooner; the sailors talk about their wives and sweethearts in a remorseful tone, wondering if there is the slightest hope that they will be faithful. Most of the men are sane enough to realize that there is no hope. Captain Thomson is gloomy, and there is a sarcastic bite to his words. Neither of us sleeps well, for we are in constant apprehension concerning our masts, wondering if they will stand. We go to sleep thinking about them; at the slightest unusual noise we wake with a start, our nerves tense, believing the masts are going by the board.

March 2 — This is the second sweltering day. The sea heaves in oily undulations under a cloudless sky; the schooner’s sails hang limply, billowing intermittently with a cannonade of flapping canvas as the schooner lies over, scooping up the still air in the hollow of her wings. Blocks rattle, shackles grate on traveler irons, lines strain and slacken; the yards groan against the masts until Captain Thomson or I come on deck cursing to set up the tackles. Each morning the sun rises on a cloudless horizon, ascends to the zenith, and blazes down implacably. From noon to sunset a haze gathers over the sea, blotting out the horizon so that the gray of the sea mingles with the scintillant blue of the sky. It gives a fantastic illusion, limiting the schooner to a smouldering pool of sea in the midst of a blazing void.

Decks are washed down every few hours, but it does little good, for the water evaporates as fast as it is thrown on, leaving the tar to boil in the seams, scorching the bare feet of the sailors. Yesterday there was relief in jumping over the side, to lie for hours in the tepid water; but this morning a great tiger shark smelled us out and came to lie under the counter. From then on, if a sweating sailor jumped over the side the shark woke with a lazy flap of his tail that sent him hurtling through the water and the sailor scrambling back on deck.

Only he who has been becalmed in a sailing vessel can appreciate the weariness of these blazing days. The sea, the wind, the sun, the very air, are somnolent and enervating. Each day brings a rehearsal of petulance and suffering, pacing the deck, cursing the calm, unceasingly watching the horizon for the promise of a breeze.

March 3. — Last night at eight bells Captain Thomson told me to start the engine, for a northwesterly wind had sprung up and he wanted to bring the ship on the port tack. I descended into the bowels of the ship not only with misgivings but with actual panic. The ridiculous thought flashed through my brain: ‘Who knows? Perhaps I shall never come out alive.’

‘That is absurd! Don’t be a coward!’ I shouted to myself.

‘Absurd?’ the little voice mocked. ‘You will know how absurd it is when the ship goes up in flames!’

This was the first time I had been in the engine room at night. By the light of my electric torch things assumed an unfamiliar appearance. As I walked around the engine a great coil of spring with a red knob on the end of it caught my eye. I knelt down to examine it; never had I noticed it before. It occurred to me that something was broken. That would be an excuse for not starting the machine—but no! The thing had always been there, probably — I hoped so, at any rate. A rat ran squealing under my nose. His eyes gleamed red and malevolent. Turning my flash light on the leaky fuel tank, I noticed that around the tap it was damp with gasoline.

‘That’s where the fire will enter,’

I muttered; ‘but I shan’t know the difference; there will be just one great explosion, and my troubles will be over! ’

I opened the sea cock, primed the cylinders, and turned on the switch. Then I pulled the wheel over gingerly. The engine started at once, racing at a mad rate. There was a back fire — bang! I jumped back, my whole body atremble, struck my head against the iron ladder, and dropped my flash light .

Jet blackness!

The engine was racing at a terrific speed, and now and then the room was illumined by a flash of blue flame through the carburetor flues. The flash light rolled against my feet ; I fell on my knees and groped for it. Just then the flame of a back fire ignited some gasoline on the base of the machine. Instantly the whole room seemed to be in flames! With a yell of horror I jumped for the fire extinguisher and frantically pumped it into the flames. They subsided as quickly as they had risen.

The telegraph rang with a clarion sound. By this time I was as nervous as an old hen with her brood, and the sound of the bell made me jump a foot from the floor. But in a moment I had better control of myself, so I threw in the clutch and turned to the throttle and spark. The latter was far advanced, for I had forgotten to attend to it before starting the machine. I retarded it, the back-firing ceased, and the engine chugged away at a more reasonable rate.

Presently the stop signal sounded. I turned off the switch, the gasoline, and the sea cock; then climbed on deck. Edging up to the Captain, who was bellowing orders to the sailors, I related my troubles. It was several moments before he found time to answer me.

‘Oh, well,’ he said with an expansive sweep of his hand, ‘you’ll have to get used to that kind of thing, my son.’ Then he went into his cabin to forget my alarming experience while reading an unexpurgated volume of Arabian Nights.

At twelve I had to start the engine again, for the northwesterly wind had died as soon as we got the ship around, and now a squall was forming on our starboard beam. I do not know why I have this absurd fear of machinery. I have read of no such phobias; but apparently such a one exists, and I am one of its victims. I have not been aware of it before this voyage, for a person living in the South Seas does not come in contact with machinery more deadly than a phonograph or a typewriter — but even with the latter I have had moments of apprehension lest I inadvertently jam my finger in some of its mysterious mechanism.

March 4. — Still in the doldrums. Strong current setting us to the southwest.

I have just finished reading Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native. While trading in Puka-Puka I read The Mayor of Casterbridge with great pleasure, and years ago equally enjoyed Life’s Little Ironies. A year ago, when sailing from Puka-Puka to Tahiti, I stole a copy of Under the Greenwood Tree from Harrison of Rakahanga. It turned out to be one of the stolen fruits that are not sweet — an empty, cheap love comedy of uninteresting yokels, without even a plot to add a little spice to it. The Return of theNative was better, but that is about all that can be said for it. The reader has no sympathy for any of the characters except the villainess, Eustacia; he is repelled by the ones Hardy (presumably) wishes him to sympathize with — such as the meddlesome Mrs. Yeobright, who, after wrecking her niece’s life, must dabble her pragmatical fingers in her son’s affairs with an equally disastrous result. And one is bored by such a moon calf as Clym, the hero, who has not the slightest appreciation of his delightful wife, the villainess. But the reader does sympathize a little with the terrible Wildeve, though he finds the gentle Thomasin quite empty. And the rest of the characters are hackneyed stage property: Christian Cantle, the village idiot; Grandfer Cantle, the lively old man; the mysterious reddleman who always turns up at the opportune moment to take charge of the fates of all the characters. Only Eustacia lives and is adorable; but even she is tinged with a certain cheap romanticism — a juvenile Meg Merrilies. Hardy certainly is an uneven writer; I remember reading one of his poems in which he provisioned the effect of his death on his friends. I thought it the most exquisite piece of work I had ever read.

March 5. — We are in the northeast trades at last; but they are boisterous winds, sombrous with heavy rain squalls that keep us busy day and night, letting go the main and jib halyards when the wind freshens, and hoisting the sails when it lightens. ‘Carrying on’ is impossible on this crippled schooner. I keep the main halyard coiled on deck, ready to run free, and one of the sailors standing by it when the wind freshens. A lively sea is working up, but the Tagua rides it handsomely, hardly wetting her decks.

To-night I sat on the skylight with Six-Seas while Ropes was doing his trick at the wheel. I showed him the North Star pointers, telling him that we should see Polaris soon, and that it would be our guide all the way to San Francisco, rising higher in the sky as we sailed north. Then I pointed out the Southern Cross, and asked him if he had noticed that it was nearer the horizon than formerly. He told me that all the sailors had been watching it. They thought it strange, but had decided that it was all right, and that presently it would return to its old place.

‘Perhaps it means a strong wind or rain squalls,’ Six-Seas ventured.

I expressed my doubts; then changed the subject to America, and began telling him of the wonders he would see. Before he left to take the wheel he offered to wash my clothes in the morning; all of which demonstrates that it is worth while being civil.

March 6. 9 P.M. — At dawn the sky was stippled with high mackerel clouds, giving it the appearance of an inverted choppy sea. Lower down, long mare’s-tails veined across the higher clouds, stretching from the eastern horizon to the zenith. They were an awe-inspiring sight, refulgent with the opaline flush of dawn. Captain Thomson’s face clouded when he came on deck, for mackerel clouds and mare’s-tails are a sailor’s infallible sign of heavy weather. Throughout the day we watched the barometer. As it remained steady, we took in no sail; but we kept our reefing gear on deck, ready for an emergency.

At the beginning of the first dogwatch the sky was murky, but there was no sign of a squall. It was my watch below, so I went into the Captain’s cabin to talk to him while we waited for our dinner. But there was no dinner for us to-night. I had not been below a half hour when a screaming gust of wind struck us, canting the schooner far over on her beam.

‘My God! The masts!’ Andy cried. Thrusting his head through the porthole, he yelled to Seaside’s watch to let go the main halyard; but before anything could be done the second mate shouted aft that the foresail was going.

Captain Thomson and I rushed out of the cabin. The wind was strong enough to sweep a man from deck, and the schooner keeled so far over that we had to catch hold of the taffrail to keep from sliding to the leeward side. We pulled ourselves on to the midshiphouse, and from there saw a rent in the foresail, between the first and second reef point bands. The Captain yelled to Six-Seas and Food to stand by the peak and throat halyards; but before they could cross the waist the rent broke through the reef bands, and with one great rending of canvas the sail was gone, leaving only long streamers of canvas whipping from the boltrope. One by one these were torn off and carried a hundred yards across the water before they fell; within a few moments there was hardly a yard of canvas left.

Rain poured down and the wind increased until it was blowing at hurricane force. The flying jib had been taken in at the beginning of the dogwatch. Now we managed to tie up the jib; but when we tried to lower the mainsail so that we could run before the wind without forestaysail, with all hands on the downhaul we could not budge it. As it was impossible to lay the schooner off from the wind without more headsails, — or less after sails, — we were obliged to make the best of it.

All hands, the Captain working harder than the rest, jumped on to the wreck of the foresail, unbending the boltrope with its half-dozen strips of ragged canvas. It was heavy work with the rain lashing against us, the wind blowing so fiercely we could not stand without a support. When we had the yards clear he heaved and strained, pulling a new foresail out of the lazaret; then we went, to work bending it on. A description of such a task would mean little to a landsmans; suffice it to say that when we were through our fingers were bleeding and our muscles ached. Still we had to double-reef and hoist it, and, when that was done, swing the schooner off from the wind so that we could lower the mainsail and reef it. By nine o’clock the schooner was as snug as we could make her.

It is my watch below. I lie back in my berth, listening to the rain pouring on the cabin top, the high-pitched sustained screaming of the wind. At every lurch of the ship I feel my heart jump and my muscles become tense; I cannot forget our crippled masts, and the fact that if they go while we are on this tack they will fall directly over my cabin. It is marvelous that they stood this evening! When the foresail blew out of her boltrope the Captain said to me: ‘That is the only thing that saved our masts! If we had been wearing a new foresail, and she had held, no power on earth could have saved us.’

Later. — I went on deck at midnight to stand a watch of four galling hours. The rain soaked through and poured down the neck of my oilskin; the schooner rolled so violently it was impossible to warm myself by pacing the deck. At three in the morning the sky cleared; but again high mackerel clouds stippled the sky, and long mare’s-tails stretched from the horizon to the zenith. I wonder if they mean the end of the storm or another one brewing?

March 7. Noon. — I turned in at 4 A.M. Ten minutes later Seaside called me. When I came on deck he pointed to the east, where miles of jet-black clouds were rolling up. During the ten or fifteen minutes I watched, I could see the storm approaching us at an appalling rate, probably no less than ninety miles an hour.

I called Captain Thomson, then returned to my own cabin, intent on sleep no matter what happened, for I had had no sleep since the night before. For ten or fifteen minutes I slept soundly. I was wakened gradually by the wind shrieking over the ship with a greater pandemonium than the night before. I seemed to be consciously forcing myself to sleep on, while the noise was forcing me to waken. The latter won. When fully roused I jumped out of my berth and ran to the after companionway. Captain Thomson stood at the helm. His face was drawn; the muscles on his bare arms bulged as he threw his whole weight on the wheel. Glancing beyond him, it seemed to me that the whole sea was a mass of foam tilted at an angle of forty-five degrees. The sky was partially obscured by ragged clouds, rushing past a crescent moon with incredible speed.

’My God! This is terrible!’ Andy cried; then, in native tongue: ’E matangi teie!’ A moment later he saw me and shouted: ‘How do they stand it? It’s unbelievable!’

I knew he was speaking about the masts, for we could think of little else during a storm. We were under short canvas, but still the Tagua tore through the water, heaving her bows into the air and plunging them into the sea with a mad burst of spray. The water roared and churned under our counter, and at times our lee rail would be buried three feet under.

In half an hour the Captain turned over the wheel to Second-Return, and we both went into his cabin, it being on the weather side, in less danger should the masts go. Lying on the floor, I tried to sleep, but it was useless. At six o’clock the storm had passed. Then the wind fell so light we had to turn out both watches, shake the reefs out of the sails, and hoist them to steady the ship, for she was rolling madly, putting the masts in greater danger than before. By the time the reefs were shaken out and the sails set the cabin boy had brought our breakfast, and when it was eaten eight bells had rung, and it was again my watch on deck.

Midnight. — These squall storms seem to come shortly before sundown and sunrise. A third one swept over us this evening, like a small hurricane, lasting a little over an hour, blowing at eighty to ninety miles an hour. We were prepared for this one, and both of us were too stupefied and exhausted from lack of sleep and the hard work to care how hard it blew.

At 8 P.M., when I went on deck, the sky was clear and the wind blowing at its usual force; but the seas were too high and choppy for the schooner to make any headway against them. Andy paced the deck with me, tired but elated, hoping that we had weathered the last of these hundred-milediameter squalls. He gave me his views on why sailors seldom desert the sea for other vocations, once they have been through the pleasure and pain of a deep-sea voyage.

‘It’s the contrasts that give a man a zest in life that landsmen can never know,’ he explained. ‘See what gusto we get out of a night like this! Our spirits are exulting, singing as though we were full of fine champagne. And if it had n’t been for the horror we went through in those storm squalls we should n’t be able to appreciate this fine weather. A man living ashore does n’t know what it is to look up into a fine clear sky and feel his spirits shouting for joy; to feel the trade wind blowing fresh against his face, singing in his ears in tune with the singing of his own spirits. Curse of Satan on a landlubber’s life! None of it for me! I’d rather be at sea in a rotten old schooner like this than living in a palace ashore. And when a sailor does go ashore he can enjoy wine, women, beefsteaks, and an easy life, as no shore man ever dreamt of enjoying them. Yes, sir; you have to go through misery and misery on top of misery before you can appreciate the good things of life!’

March 8. — To-day Captain Thomson and I discussed old sailor parlance, the subject having been suggested by my whistling after dinner.

‘There you are!’ he cried. ‘A man would take you for a Mississippi steamboat mate! When we get past the “ fairlyones,” and anchored in Frisco Bay, I’ll buy you and the cabin boy a tin whistle each.’ He then started in on a deep-water yarn about how the mate had caught him whistling when he was a boy aboard a square-rigger, and how he had boxed his ears.

‘But old Jackson, the mate, was n’t such a bad sort,’ he went on. ‘He explained to me later that whistling is especially disagreeable to Saint Anthony, the patron of sailors. During Anthony’s life he had been pestered by small boys whistling behind him, and ever since he took charge of the sea and sailing ships he has brought bad luck to vessels that have allowed that kind of music aboard. On one of the old square-riggers a man would be hazed by the whole crew if he was caught whistling.’

Andy was silent for a moment. Then he continued: ’Funny things, these sailor superstitions, if that’s what you’re pleased to call them. There’s Fiddler’s Green, for instance.’

‘It’s some sort of a paradise for dead sailors, is n’t it?’ I hazarded, remembering that Captain Viggo often referred to it and Barney’s Bull.

‘Yes,’ said Andy. Then, with a burst of erudition, he explained: ’It’s much the same as the Viking’s Valhalla, or the Indian’s Happy Hunting Ground, or the Moslem’s Paradise. The Vikings reckoned that the nearest thing to bliss would be a place where they could fight all day and drink all night — blood and meat were their idea of a line time, so they filled their Valhalla with them. The Indians imagined plains covered with buffalo; the Moslems built a paradise with palaces, and gardens full of plump women, and fountains gushing wine and milk and honey. Only the Christians made a mess of their hereafter by leaving the pleasant sins of the world out of it. Sailormen would never accept a Christian Heaven, even though they might go to the church with their girls when ashore. They decided, long ago, that the only fit paradise for a sailor is Fiddler’s Green.’

‘Suppose you stop beating about the bush and tell me something about Fiddler’s Green. We may all be there before long, and I’d like to know something about it.’

‘ Hm! ’ the Captain said, giving me a hard look. ‘Just shake her up in the wind, my boy, and be patient until I come alongside. Now, this Fiddler’s Green is a place where every morning a man wakes up on a ship that’s homeward bound. He’s coming into port, — into the Golden Gate, let’s say, — the weather’s fine, the sky clear, and there’s a spanking fair wind. On all sides of the bay the hills are covered with green grass, flowers are scattered here and there, and some fine old white oaks with doves cooing among the leaves, and squirrels doing handsprings on the boughs. And all along the bay, and all around Angel Island and Goat Island and the rest of ’em, are rows of saloons with girls dancing on the grass before them, to the music of fiddlers dressed in green pants and coats with brass buttons!

‘ Well, in no time at all the ship is tied up, the men paid off, and the mate strides out on deck with a smile, and says, “That’ll do, boys!” Then, more’n likely, the crew thrash the mate for all the hazing he has given them on the voyage, and then tumble ashore. When they get there they naturally carouse and fight, and whichever way they turn there’s always a fine saloon with a mahogany bar, and brass spittoons, and plenty of free lunch, and dozens of fiddlers playing, and girls dancing before it. When night comes they sit down to drink and tell long yarns; and everyone can talk at once, and hear everyone else at the same time — fine place, eh? By and by they turn in, and roll off into a happy drunken oblivion.

‘But the fine thing about this Fiddler’s Green is that when they wake up they are coming into the Golden Gate again, on a homeward-bound ship, with the clear sky and the spanking breeze, with the banks all covered with grass and flowers, and the saloons and the fiddlers and the girls dancing for all they’re worth. So, you see, death becomes one glorious homecoming after another!’

March 11. — At noon to-day, while taking a meridian altitude, I observed a large sun spot. This is disquieting.

Killed one of the pigs. Andy and I are slightly ill from overeating. My aversion to port has suddenly disappeared; the reason is too evident to mention.

March 19. — This morning, at 4 A.M., a fresh breeze sprang up from the southeast; we took a deep breath as we

eased off the sheets and let the schooner run free. This is the first time since leaving Rarotonga, eighty-four days ago, that we have been able to sail within three points of our course to San Francisco. We are passing far to the leeward of the Hawaiian Islands. This morning we cleared the Frost Shoal by five miles, with Nihoa Shoal to windward and Becker Islet out of sight to leeward. Navigating through these shoals is delicate work, but, having fine weather, we can take sights both day and night. It is my week navigating. I expected the Captain to check up on my sights with observations of his own, but he seems satisfied with my work, only watching the course I plot on the chart.

We picked up our first California gannet on the sixteenth; this morning five more joined us. They will have poor pickings in the wake of this hungry schooner.

It is appreciably colder. Our Manihiki sailors wear sweaters and coats during the day watches, though the thermometer has not yet fallen to sixty. I seem to be acclimating myself remarkably well.

We are approaching the northern edge of the northeast trades. One of these days when a cold blast comes howling down from the northwest; when fog banks roll down on us, insinuating their clammy fingers through our clothes; when the sun is lost for weeks at a time behind high curtains of clouds that shadow depression and despair on men of the sea; when storms raise their ugly heads, blowing icy spray in our face — then we may well cringe and wish ourselves back in the warm tropics. . . . Nonsense! When these things come we will show the elements how much manhood there is in the crew of this schooner!

(The ‘Kanaka Voyagewill be concluded in October)