Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion 259
iron vessel, thousands of miles from her birthplace, and tell which way her head was pointing when she was in process of building.
Now an ancient whale-ship master fell to talking about the sort of crews they used to have in his early days. Said he:
" Sometimes we'd have a batch of college students. Queer lot. Ignorant? Why, they didn't know the catheads from the main brace. But if you took them for fools you'd get bit, sure. They'd learn more in a month than another man would in a year. We had one, once, in the Mary Ann, that came aboard with gold spectacles on. And besides, he was rigged out from main truck to keelson in the nobbiest clothes that ever saw a fo'castle. He had a chest full, too; cloaks, and broadcloth coats, and velvet vests; everything swell, you know; and didn't the salt water fix them out for him? I guess not! Well, going to sea, the mate told him to go aloft and help shake out the fore-to'gallants' I. Up he shins to the foretop, with his spectacles on, and in a minute down he comes again, looking insulted. Says the mate, ' What did you come down for?' Says the chap, 4 P'r'aps you didn't notice that there ain't any ladders above there.' You see we hadn't any shrouds above the foretop. The men bursted out in a laugh such as I guess you never heard the like of. Next night, which was dark and rainy, the mate ordered this chap to go aloft about something, and I'm dummed if he didn't start up with an umbrella and a lantern! But no matter; he made a mighty good sailor before the voyage was done, and we had to hunt up something else to laugh at. Years afterwards, when I had forgot all about him, I comes into Boston, mate of a ship, and was loafing around town with the second mate, and it so happened that we stepped into the Revere House, thinking maybe we