Alice B. (Alice Bradley) Haven.

All's not gold that glitters, or, The young Californian online

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clothes provided for their passage round the
Horn, a prospect that did not seem very agreea-
ble to them. He fdUnd himself adopting their
peculiar gait, and practising from a large collec-
tion of sea-nhiases. They taught him to climb
the rigging, the names of the different sails and
ropes, and the meaning of the curious orders Sting
out by the captain or mate, that at first had
seemed like a foreign language. It was all so
new and exciting, particularly when he came to
understand the working of the ship, that he won-
dered what people meant when they talked of
the " monotony of sea-life. " It doubtless was
monotonous to the young men in the cabin, who
slept, and eat, and drank, and lolled ground
the deck, sometimes with a book, sometimes
hanging over the ship's sides in perfect lack of
occupation, " like cows in a pasture " — Sam used
to say. He managed to get up a great feeling
of superiority and pity, when he saw them turn
out on deck after breakfast, looking so languid
and sleepy. He had been up since sunrise,
and seen the decks washed down and clea^sec^

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■».

seated in some part of the rigging, above the
unceremonious flood that followed his promenade
on deck. It was his delight to follow the sailors
to the galley for their kids of beef and cans of
coffee — what an appetite he always had for the
"hard tack," and meat almost as unimpressible to
the teeth, that fell to his own share ! The poor
fellows in the cabin were starving by their own
account, and thought as longingly of the abun-
dance and variety of the tables at Delmonico's
and the Astor, as ever the children of Israel in
the desert did of the flesh-pots of Egypt !

Many good mothers would have been troubled
at this constant companionship with men they
are accustomed to think of as degraded beings ;
but for a boy with Sam's disposition, it was fer pre-
ferabfe to the example of the more refined circle
in the cabin. Sam knew that the oaths and hon-
estly told " scrapes " of the sailors were wrong.
There was no concealment intended, and it was
easy to distinguish good and evil, when so broadly
marked.

The twenty cabin passengers, mostly young
men, who had led idle and dissipated lives in
large cities, had a code of morals, that would

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76 "all's not gold that glitters ;"

have had a more secret and fatal influence.— •
Their conversation over the card table, the unend-
ing games, in which money was always staked to
make it exciting, would have had a much worse
effect, Sam knew that almost any sailor would
drink when it was possible to do so, and had
heard the habit spoken of as the worst which
they were given to. He might have thought his
mother was mistaken in the harm, after all, if
he had seen the daily excesses of the captain's
table, and educated men boasting of the quan-
tity of wine they had, or could carry, without
being considered intoxicated. Their recklessness
of any thing good and holy was appalling, and
Sam would not have wondered so much at one
of them, who used to go aloft to the cross-trees
every fair day, and read or muse hours over his
Bible, if he had heard how jestingly the sacred
volume was named by the rest.



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OB, THE YOUNG CALIFORNIA!*. 77



CHAPTER VI.

THE STORM.

A fair and prosperous voyage was prophesied
by all, as the vessel flew along the Gulf Stream,
the air growing softer with every day's advance,
and a fair wind keeping the officers and crew in
perfect good humor.

After he had once conquered the dizziness
with which he first tried to climb the rigging,
Sam began to think with Ben, that the most de-
lightful life in the world was a sailor's. He
had never been very fond of study, though he
liked to read when the book exactly suited him.
The district school from time immemorial had
been taught by a woman in the summer. This
was partly from a motive of laudable economy
on the part of the school committee, who thought
it their duty to have the young ideas of Merrills



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78 "all's not gold that glittebs;"

Corner taught to shoot with as little expense as
possible. As to a woman's earning half as much
as a man, or justice demanding she should re-
ceive an equal rate of wages, it had never entered
into their wise heads. " A woman's school/' all
the boys in the neighborhood felt to be entirely
beneath their dignity, whether their services were
needed at home or not.

In winter, " fun " was the principal pursuit.
School was all very well, as an excuse for the
boys to get together, and most of them studied
just enough to keep out of the reach of punish-
ment. Snowballing, skating and practical jokes
upon the master, were pursued much more indus-
triously than the geography, grammar and arith-
metic, which they " went through " again and
again. Up to the time of his leaving home, Sam
had not the least understanding what English
grammar was intended for. The master who
taught it, sinned against half the rules in ex-
plaining them. He would tell them they " dun
their sums wrong," and that they " hadn't got
no lesson for a week." Nor did the boys bother
themselves with wondering what it was all about.
They were brought up to go to school so many
months every year, and supposed it was all right.

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OB, THE YOUNG CALIFORNIA**. 79

Now, at sea, there were very few books to be
found. The sailors had a collection of old song
and jest books, voyages, and biographies of cel-
ebrated criminals. One of them had bought
Fox's Book of Martyrs by mistake, at a stall,
thinking from the pictures that it was an account
of some great executions, possibly of pirates and
highwaymen. It was the only thing like a reli-
gious book in the forecastle, except a few tracts
and Testaments, sent on board by some society
before the vessel left New- York. (There was a
Bible on the cabin tabie, replaced regularly every
morning, after cleaning up, but no one ever
looked into it. Cheap novels was the only branch
of literature that had any encouragement in the
cabin, where dice, cards and dominoes, formed
the principal amusement.

It was astonishing to Sam how much he re-
collected at sea of what he had read at home.
All the books in the district school library rela-
ting to political life or history, he ran through
as he read them, Without attempting to remem-
ber. He could not recall three rules in syntax,
or the population of a single country of Europe,
but facts and events he had not read more than



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80 "all's not oold that gutters ;"

once, he could tell by the half-hour to the sail-
ors in return for their long stories, until these
simple-hearted, unlettered men, began to look
on him as a prodigy. They taught him every
kind of knot that could be tied, -or plaits that
could be twisted, all the practical seamanship that •
a boy could understand, and for the first time in
his life Sam began to feel a pride and interest in
acquiring knowledge, for its own '•sake, and for
the use he could put it to.

So for he had met with only one great disap-
pointment. He had privately longed for a storm
at sea, with " waves rolling mountains high, "
as Ben used to quote from his favorite au-
thors, and the ship " scudding under bare poles, "
one of his newly acquired nautical phrases. He
began to be afraid he should not be gratified, as
the Swiftsure was fast leaving the region of
storms behind, and the Horn seemed too distant
to calculate upon. Every day as he went aloft
to watch for a sail, he looked quite as wistfully
for clouds. The captain had promised to speak
the first homeward bound vessel, that they might
send letters to the States. He did not intend to
go into any port but Valparaiso, as they were fljo

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OB, THE YOUNG CALIFORNIAN. 81

fortunate in the outset of their voyage, and he
was anxious to round the Horn as soon as possi-
ble. So all hands watched for homeward-bound
vessels every fair day, and those who had not
become too indolent, amused themselves keeping
a diary, to be sent by them to their Mends. Sam
had an elaborate sea-letter to Ben on hand, as
his father intended writing to Mrs. Oilman, an
intention which stopped there, for though he
found plenty of " nothing in the world to do, "
he never found " time to commence. "

Ben was to be furnished with a practical
commentary on navigation, that might fit him
for his favorite pursuit, if his father ever came
to consent to it. It opened with several bold
allusions to Christopher Columbus and Captain
Cook. Sam's first great discovery in seamanship,
that there were but eight "ropes" in a ship, after
all, followed the historical introduction. It would
seem as incomprehensible to Ben as it had been
to him at first, and he enjoyed in anticipation
the puzzled look of unbelief, until the clue to the
riddle was found, when he proceeded to name
the complicated rigging, as braces, stays, clue-
lines, halyards, &c, and contradicted the popu-
4*

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82 "all's not gold that glittebs;"

lar fallacy that " sheets " were sails, as they had
alwayB supposed. A statement that "eight
bells'' did not mean eight o'clock alone, but were
sounded every four hours in the day, was added.
Ben " stood generally corrected," and a great
deal of useful information upon reefing, furling,
and slushing down the masts, was combined in
the next page.

The last was written the first stormy day they
had met with since leaving New York harbor.
Sam had been on deck, as usual, in the morning,
but retreated to the society of the forecastle, as
the wind and rain gradually increased. None of
the sailors thought it was going to end in "much
of a blow " at first, or that it was worth honor-
ing with thick jackets and " sou' westers." The
cabin passengers sat as long as possible at dinner,
to pass away the time, and bothered the captain
with useless questions every time he appeared
among them.

But the. gale increased slowly and surely.
One sail after another was taken in. The cap-
tain was on deck all night, the mate or himself
shouting their orders in the teeth of the roaring
wind, and even then the men could scarcely dis-



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83

tinguish them. Shut up in the dark and crowded
steerage, bruised with the rolling of the vessel,
Sam began to think, on the second day, that a
storm at sea was by no means so romantic as he
imagined. Some of the men, Colcord among them,
were horribly frightened, and sure they were all
going to the bottom. Some slept and some
prayed, and cried like boys — some boys would
have scorned the cowardice— and never ceased
wishing they were safe on land again. Others
swore at them for making such a disturbance,
and exhorted them, in no very pious way, to " die
like men " — at any rate.

Still the gale increased until the morning of
the third day. The captain had very little hope
that the ship could live through the tempest, and
did not attempt to conceal it from the few pas-
sengers that ventured upon deck, clinging to the
ropes and sides, lest they should share in the fate
of every thing movable, and be washed over-
board by some retreating wave. It seemed im-
possible, as the huge foam-crested surges rose
above them, that the vessel could ever be lifted
in safety, — as though the roaring waters must
close over, and drive the ship with its awful



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84 "all's not gold that glittebs;"

freight of human souls down, down, down to the
very depths of the yawning sea.

And now came a stunning shock, as the
dread changed to the horror of reality, and driven
over by the mingled force of wind and wave,
the ship lay beaten helplessly along, her tall
yards dipping the dark turbid waters.

There was no time for thought, scarcely for
fear. . The worn-put crew, the helpless passen-
gers guided by the frantic gestures of the cap-
tain, wprked with a strength and courage im-
possible in a less awful moment. The orders
shouted in their very ears died away in the roar
of the storm before they could be understood ;
but all obeyed the instinct of the moment, and
worked as one man to lighten the ship. They
cut and tore away with reckless energy every
thing within their reach. The foremast, with
every stay severed by rapid hacking strokes —
quivered, snapped like a reed in the gale, and
fell away with a dull, heavy plunge, heatd above
the awful roar. Not till then did any dare to
hope, or even see as the ship slowly righted, —
every timber creaking and shuddering as in the
strain of parting, — that the dense clouds drifted



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-a-

OR, THE YOUNG CALIFORNIA!?. 85

with less violence above them, and the gale had
spent its utmost fury.

In the first certainty of safety, no one thought
of the losses and x inconveniences that they had
suffered. Yet, by the time the sea began to
subside, captain, crew and passengers seemed to
forget the awful danger, in fretting about losses,
trifling in themselves, at least in comparison to
their escape. Not a trace of fresh provisions
now could be found, more than half the water
and meat casks had disappeared in company with
the mast. The " doctor," as the cook was called
by the sailors, mourned vainly over absenting
pots, pans and coppers, that had gone to cook,
this " food for fishes/' — and the cabin table vent-
ed their disgust to half-raw ham, and coffee,
which had more the flavor of beef tea,— on his
devoted head. The sunshine of mate aiyl cap-
tain vanished with the serene sky, as the rig-
ging of the jury-mast was retarded, and the sail-
ors exercised their ancient privilege of grumbling
on every thing that " turned up," or " didn't
turn up," as the case might be. Five, ten, fif-
teen disconsolate days above and below, until
from the change in the vessel's course, and a



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86 " all's not gold that glittebs ;"

momentary condescension on the captain's part,
it was discovered that the Swiftsure was nearing
Rio, to refit and take in fresh provisions.

Perhaps no one but the very youngest among
them remembered with more than a passing
thought how near they had been to the end of
life. The danger, though he had not known it
until it was over, had been a sermon which Sam
could not but listen to, and he wondered at first
with child-like undoubting belief in a future life,
how they could all seem so indifferent to it.
Then the recollection became less vivid, as the
sea and sky returned to their calm beauty, and
were absorbed, except in some just waking or
sleeping moment, in the eager anticipation of
land ; and above all, first setting foot in a foreign
country.

Nothing could be more welcome, or more
beautiful, than the first distant, then gradu-
ally deepening view of Rio and the country
around it. " Land ho," had a magical sound,
that brought every passenger to crowd the deck.
For the last week the discomforts of the ship
had become almost intolerable. Head winds, in-
creasing heat, salt provisions adding to the era-



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OB, THE YOUNG CALIFORNIA!*. 87

vings of thirst, that eould only make the thick
slimy water doled out to them endurable, were in*
eluded in the list of grievances. The "Swiftsure,"
was declared to belie her name entirely. The
owners were rated and blamed from morning till
night for crowding freight and passengers into a
vessel scarcely sea-worthy, as they now suddenly
discovered. Sam usually kept out of the way of
his old comrades, the sailors, unless especially in-
vited to join them, and they in turn crossed the
Captain's path as seldom as possible. Now ev-
ery thing was changed, even the wind. The
men moved with alacrity, the passengers clus-
tered sociably together, talking of tropical fruits
and wines, and were even heard to mention spring-
water complacently.

It was the realization of some of his many
dreams of enchantment to Sam, as the shore be-
came more defined. The rocks and foliage of
New Hampshire, for his home had been in one
of its least fertile parts, gave him very little
idea of the luxuriance of tropical countries, or
the vivid beauty of color of the earth, and sea and
sky, in the glowing sunset which welcomed them.
It was so strange, after the isolation of the voy-



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88 "all's not gold that gltttebsj"

age, to see other ships passing, even steamboats,
trailing their lines of smoke and vapor in the
distance. The sharp summits of the Sugar Loaf,
and the other mountains that gird this fine har-
bor, were touched by the very clouds.

The city, picturesque and novel, in the first
distant view, grew stranger still as they came
nearer and nearer, and cast anchor at last in the
far-famed harbor of Bio Janeiro.



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OB, THE YOUNG CALIFORNIAN. 89



CHAPTER Vn.

THE FIRST LETTER.

" Where do you suppose they are now,mother ?"
Hannah Oilman kept her finger on the map, as
she looked up to ask the question. She was tra-
cing out for the twentieth time, the track of the
vessel, by the aid of an Olney's Atlas.

" Let me see," answered the mother musing-
ly, waxing the linen thread more slowly, as she
dwelt on the thought of her absent ones. It
was almost the only pleasure Mrs. Oilman al-
lowed herself, a stolen respite from her never-
ending daily labor. "What day of the month
is it, Abby?"

"Twenty-ninth — Hannah, you won't get
your hat done — Mother, just see Hannah's short
straws scattered all 'round/'

" Perhaps it would be just as well if you
would attend to your own work, Abby, — how of-



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90 "all's not gold that glittebs;"

ten must I tell you, that I don't like to see chil-
dren, sisters especially, interfering with each
other. Yes, it's April 29th, Hannah, and they
expected to get into San Francisco the middle
of May, or first of June. You must look in
the Pacific for them now, near Valparaiso, I hope.
It will be a long, long time before we hear."

Four months, a long New Hampshire winter,
had gone slowly by. How slowly, only those
who count days, and weeks, and months of ab-
sence can telL At night Mrs. Gilman's last
thought was one of thankfulness, that another
day was gone. In the morning she woke with
a wish that it was night again. They were liv-
ing in a small house near the end of the village,
to which they removed the week after New-
Years. Squire Merrill had begged Mrs. Oil-
man to stay in the homestead all winter at least,
but this she could not consent to. Since she
must leave it, it was best to go at once, and she
CQuld warm the hired house, the only empty one
in the village, much more economically. It was
one of those so often seen on a country road-side,
standing in a little door-yard, low and unpainted.
There were but two rooms on the ground floor,



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OR, THE YOUNG CALIFORNIAN. 91

and an unfinished attic above ; but it was all they
would really need, and the rent was very low.
Abb/s pride was greatly hurt when she first
heard of the arrangement, and she declared very
plainly, that she " never would, never go to that
little mean place, where old Lyman had lived."
Abb/s threats were generally the extent of her
disobedience, and after all, she proved the great-
est help in moving, and getting settled again.
The two girls divided the house- work between
them now, even the baking ; for which Abby
began to show a decided genius, and Mrs. Gil-
man sat at ]ier needle from morning till night.
It was all she had to depend upon, but the first
year's house rent which she put aside.

She had a plan for the girls, which she ex-
pected Abby would rebel at, that might in the
end be a great deal of assistance to her. When
at the store she had seen piles .of coarse palm-
leaf hats brought in and exchanged for dry goods
or groceries. She did not see why Abby's nim-
ble fingers could not braid these as well as knit
stockings, for which there was little sale. The
young lady for once proved reasonable, and even
Hannah's emulation was excited, when her sister



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92 "all's not gold that gutters;"

entered into a precise calculation of what their
gains might be before the end of the winter.

The palm-leaf c^ne home, looking so fair and
even it the long bundles, and the two sisters
plunged into the mysteries of "setting up,"
and 7 " adding in," — " double turns," " binding
off" — and " closing up." While the fever last-
ed, Abby could scarcely be persuaded to take
time for eating and sleeping ; ami when the nov-
elty began to wear off, she had acquired a me-
chanical skill and dexterity that made her new
profession quite as easy as knitting. It was
harder for Hannah, until she discowed that she
could read while she braided down the crown, so
in her hurry to get to this favorite part of the
work, her hat was completed almost as soon as
her sister's. ¥

And how much do you suppose, my little city
ladies, who are always in debt when allowance-day
comes, — these industrious Yankee girls received,
as the sum of a week's hard work ; rising at five
o'clock, and never ceasing but for household du-
ties until the sun went down ? Eighteen and
three-quarter cents at first, not half as much as
youhave wasted at the confectioner's and the wors-



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OB, THE YOUNG CALIFOBNIAN. 93

ted stores in the same length of time ! Three
cents a piece for braiding^ w1k% hatband Abby
thought herself very riclv^pn she could do o^
and a half a day ! So it is — but *do iro$ pity
them too much — they tad twiy your enjoyment
in spending it. * ^ ^

Abby was on the last rou|jl of the brim,
when Hannah laid her hat down to Jfok for the
atlas. They Mad all been talking of father and
Sam, — and wishmg the captain had been going
to stop at Eio.

" ^e should have heard of him refore this if
he had/' I^mah said, " for I looked in the ship
list, the place that tells all about vessels, in
Squire Merrill's paper, the last i ime I was up
there ; and I mw some vessel had come in forty
days from Ei^^That's less than six weeks, and
it will be four months Thursday since they
sailed."

" Here comes Squire Merrill now/' remarked
Abby from her post at the front window. She
always took possession of it, and kept them in-
formed of every passer-by, if it was only a boy
driving a yoke of oxen. " I guess he does n't find
it very good wheeling, his wagon is all spattered



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94 "all's not gold that glitters;"

i

with mud. How high ' wagons look, after see-
ing sleigh* air winter^ Why I do believe he's
£oing^o stop tfe^jp ^ fie is, just as sore as I'm
alive* I'll go to the door, Hannah — he's beckon-
ing with a lett^ 0* something, as if *he didn't
want t^get out.'j* #

Mrs. pilmqp, usually so calm, felt her "heart
give a BuMen bound, as she hurried to the win-
dow in time to see Squire Merrs give the letter
to Abby, and drive off again, %ith a smiling nod
to herself as if he shared in the pleasure it
would gifre her. No doubt he did, knowing very
well, wh£n he found that heavy b^m envelope
lying at the post office, what a rejoicing it would
make.

It was Sam's coarse, but jpsy plain school-
boy hand, in the direction, anPn there had been
the least doubt hi the matter, the ship-mark on
it would have told who it came from. Abby
thought her mother was the greatest while get-
ting it open, and wondered what made her hands
tremble so. Mrs. Gilman could not command
her voice to read the very first lines, before Abby
had made out half the first page, looking over
her shoulder.



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95



To be sure she had a right to— for it com-
menced : **••*•

" Dear mother and thej/ii$8."m It was dated^
Bio Janeiro, March 4th, andTnust ha* cost
Sam a week's hard work #t leas^covering«three
large sheets tf foolscap, and full of " seeching
out " and interlining.* *

" Here we are at last, " was the bafflike and
abrupt commei^0ment, " where I never expected
to be last ThaBksgfcing Day, did I ? The Cap-
tain doesn't want to be here now ; but I've told
Ben qjl about that in my letter. Whft an awful
storm that gas, though ! I never expected to
see land, I can tell you, and old Jackson says
(Jackson is the sailor I like best, you will see
all about it in Iten's letter) he never saw such a
blow as that, an<Fhe never wants to see another.
I don't, I'm sure. I've got so much to tell you
I don't know where to begin. I suppose I
ought to say * we are all well, and hope you are
the same. * Well, we are — father and me. Jack-
son says I'm a regular i lubber,' that means
very fet, with him. I shouldn't like to have
. him call me a 'land lubber,' though. Dear
pother, you don't know how much J want


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Online LibraryAlice B. (Alice Bradley) HavenAll's not gold that glitters, or, The young Californian → online text (page 4 of 10)