Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion 267
new pack in a morocco case, in my trunk, which I had placed there by mistake, thinking it to be a flask of something. So a party of us conquered the tedium of the evening with a few games and were ready for bed at six bells, mariner's time, the signal for putting out the lights.
There was much chat in the smoking-cabin on the upper deck after luncheon to-day, mostly whaler yarns from those old sea captains. Captain Tom Bowling was garrulous. He had that garrulous attention to minor detail which is born of secluded farm life or life at sea on long voyages, where there is little to do and time no object. He would sail along till he was right in the most exciting part of a yarn, and then say, "Well, as I was saying, the rudder was fouled, ship driving before the gale, head-on, straight for the iceberg, all hands holding their breath, turned to stone, top-hamper giving 'way, sails blown to ribbons, first one stick going, then another, boom ! smash ! crash ! duck your head and stand from under! when up comes Johnny Rogers, capstan bar in hand, eyes a-blazing,
hair a-flying......no, 'twa'n't Johnny Rogers......
lemme see......seems to me Johnny Rogers wa'n't
along that voyage; he was along one voyage, I know that mighty well, but somehow it seems to me that he signed the articles for this voyage, but — but — whether he come along or not, or got left, or something happened —"
And so on and so on till the excitement all cooled down and nobody cared whether the ship struck the iceberg or not.
In the course of his talk he rambled into a criticism upon New England degrees of merit in shipbuilding. Said he "You get a vessel built away down Maine-way; Bath, for instance; what's the result? First thing you do, you want to heave her down for repairs