270 Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion
birth pains, lonesome and friendless, in the thick of disease and trouble and death. If there's one thing that can make me madder than another, it's this sappy, damned maritime poetry!"
Captain Brace was a patient, gentle, seldom-speaking man, with a pathetic something in his bronzed face that had been a mystery up to this time, but stood interpreted now since we had heard his story. He had voyaged eighteen times to the Mediterranean, seven times to India, once to the arctic pole in a discovery-ship, and " between times " had visited all the remote seas and ocean corners of the globe. But he said that twelve years go, on account of his family, he " settled down," and ever since then had ceased to roam. And what do you suppose was this simple-hearted, lifelong wanderer's idea of settling down and ceasing to roam? Why, the making of two five-month voyages a year between Surinam and Boston for sugar and molasses !
Among other talk to-day, it came out that whale-ships carry no doctor. The captain adds the doctor-ship to his own duties. He not only gives medicines, but sets broken limbs after notions of his own, or saws them off and sears the stump when amputation seems best. The captain is provided with a medicine-chest, with the medicines numbered instead of named. A book of directions goes with this. It describes diseases and symptoms, and says, " Give a teaspoonful of No. 9 once an hour," or " Give ten grains of No. 12 every half hour," etc. One of our sea captains came across a skipper in the North Pacific who was in a state of great surprise and perplexity. Said he:
" There's something rotten about this medicine-chest business. One of my men was sick — nothing much the matter. I looked in the book: it said, give him a teaspoonful of No. 15. I went to the medicine-chest, and I see I was out of No. 15. I judged I'd got to