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    Chapter 5

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    Chapter 6
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    Taking it "by and large," as the sailors say, we had a pleasant ten days'
    run from New York to the Azores islands--not a fast run, for the distance
    is only twenty-four hundred miles, but a right pleasant one in the main.
    True, we had head winds all the time, and several stormy experiences
    which sent fifty percent of the passengers to bed sick and made the ship
    look dismal and deserted--stormy experiences that all will remember who
    weathered them on the tumbling deck and caught the vast sheets of spray
    that every now and then sprang high in air from the weather bow and swept
    the ship like a thunder-shower; but for the most part we had balmy summer
    weather and nights that were even finer than the days. We had the
    phenomenon of a full moon located just in the same spot in the heavens at
    the same hour every night. The reason of this singular conduct on the
    part of the moon did not occur to us at first, but it did afterward when
    we reflected that we were gaining about twenty minutes every day because
    we were going east so fast--we gained just about enough every day to keep
    along with the moon. It was becoming an old moon to the friends we had
    left behind us, but to us Joshuas it stood still in the same place and
    remained always the same.

    Young Mr. Blucher, who is from the Far West and is on his first voyage,
    was a good deal worried by the constantly changing "ship time." He was
    proud of his new watch at first and used to drag it out promptly when
    eight bells struck at noon, but he came to look after a while as if he
    were losing confidence in it. Seven days out from New York he came on
    deck and said with great decision:

    "This thing's a swindle!"

    "What's a swindle?"

    "Why, this watch. I bought her out in Illinois--gave $150 for her--and I
    thought she was good. And, by George, she is good onshore, but somehow
    she don't keep up her lick here on the water--gets seasick may be. She
    skips; she runs along regular enough till half-past eleven, and then, all
    of a sudden, she lets down. I've set that old regulator up faster and
    faster, till I've shoved it clear around, but it don't do any good; she
    just distances every watch in the ship, and clatters along in a way
    that's astonishing till it is noon, but them eight bells always gets in
    about ten minutes ahead of her anyway. I don't know what to do with her
    now. She's doing all she can--she's going her best gait, but it won't
    save her. Now, don't you know, there ain't a watch in the ship that's
    making better time than she is, but what does it signify? When you hear
    them eight bells you'll find her just about ten minutes short of her
    score sure."

    The ship was gaining a full hour every three days, and this fellow was
    trying to make his watch go fast enough to keep up to her. But, as he
    had said, he had pushed the regulator up as far as it would go, and the
    watch was "on its best gait," and so nothing was left him but to fold his
    hands and see the ship beat the race. We sent him to the captain, and he
    explained to him the mystery of "ship time" and set his troubled mind at
    rest. This young man asked a great many questions about seasickness
    before we left, and wanted to know what its characteristics were and how
    he was to tell when he had it. He found out.

    We saw the usual sharks, blackfish, porpoises, &c., of course, and by and
    by large schools of Portuguese men-of-war were added to the regular list
    of sea wonders. Some of them were white and some of a brilliant carmine
    color. The nautilus is nothing but a transparent web of jelly that
    spreads itself to catch the wind, and has fleshy-looking strings a foot
    or two long dangling from it to keep it steady in the water. It is an
    accomplished sailor and has good sailor judgment. It reefs its sail when
    a storm threatens or the wind blows pretty hard, and furls it entirely
    and goes down when a gale blows. Ordinarily it keeps its sail wet and in
    good sailing order by turning over and dipping it in the water for a
    moment. Seamen say the nautilus is only found in these waters between
    the 35th and 45th parallels of latitude.

    At three o'clock on the morning of the twenty-first of June, we were
    awakened and notified that the Azores islands were in sight. I said I
    did not take any interest in islands at three o'clock in the morning.
    But another persecutor came, and then another and another, and finally
    believing that the general enthusiasm would permit no one to slumber in
    peace, I got up and went sleepily on deck. It was five and a half
    o'clock now, and a raw, blustering morning. The passengers were huddled
    about the smoke-stacks and fortified behind ventilators, and all were
    wrapped in wintry costumes and looking sleepy and unhappy in the pitiless
    gale and the drenching spray.

    The island in sight was Flores. It seemed only a mountain of mud
    standing up out of the dull mists of the sea. But as we bore down upon
    it the sun came out and made it a beautiful picture--a mass of green
    farms and meadows that swelled up to a height of fifteen hundred feet and
    mingled its upper outlines with the clouds. It was ribbed with sharp,
    steep ridges and cloven with narrow canyons, and here and there on the
    heights, rocky upheavals shaped themselves into mimic battlements and
    castles; and out of rifted clouds came broad shafts of sunlight, that
    painted summit, and slope and glen, with bands of fire, and left belts of
    somber shade between. It was the aurora borealis of the frozen pole
    exiled to a summer land!

    We skirted around two-thirds of the island, four miles from shore, and
    all the opera glasses in the ship were called into requisition to settle
    disputes as to whether mossy spots on the uplands were groves of trees or
    groves of weeds, or whether the white villages down by the sea were
    really villages or only the clustering tombstones of cemeteries. Finally
    we stood to sea and bore away for San Miguel, and Flores shortly became a
    dome of mud again and sank down among the mists, and disappeared. But to
    many a seasick passenger it was good to see the green hills again, and
    all were more cheerful after this episode than anybody could have
    expected them to be, considering how sinfully early they had gotten up.

    But we had to change our purpose about San Miguel, for a storm came up
    about noon that so tossed and pitched the vessel that common sense
    dictated a run for shelter. Therefore we steered for the nearest island
    of the group--Fayal (the people there pronounce it Fy-all, and put the
    accent on the first syllable). We anchored in the open roadstead of
    Horta, half a mile from the shore. The town has eight thousand to ten
    thousand inhabitants. Its snow-white houses nestle cosily in a sea of
    fresh green vegetation, and no village could look prettier or more
    attractive. It sits in the lap of an amphitheater of hills which are
    three hundred to seven hundred feet high, and carefully cultivated clear
    to their summits--not a foot of soil left idle. Every farm and every
    acre is cut up into little square inclosures by stone walls, whose duty
    it is to protect the growing products from the destructive gales that
    blow there. These hundreds of green squares, marked by their black lava
    walls, make the hills look like vast checkerboards.

    The islands belong to Portugal, and everything in Fayal has Portuguese
    characteristics about it. But more of that anon. A swarm of swarthy,
    noisy, lying, shoulder-shrugging, gesticulating Portuguese boatmen, with
    brass rings in their ears and fraud in their hearts, climbed the ship's
    sides, and various parties of us contracted with them to take us ashore
    at so much a head, silver coin of any country. We landed under the walls
    of a little fort, armed with batteries of twelve-and-thirty-two-pounders,
    which Horta considered a most formidable institution, but if we were ever
    to get after it with one of our turreted monitors, they would have to
    move it out in the country if they wanted it where they could go and find
    it again when they needed it. The group on the pier was a rusty one--men
    and women, and boys and girls, all ragged and barefoot, uncombed and
    unclean, and by instinct, education, and profession beggars. They
    trooped after us, and never more while we tarried in Fayal did we get rid
    of them. We walked up the middle of the principal street, and these
    vermin surrounded us on all sides and glared upon us; and every moment
    excited couples shot ahead of the procession to get a good look back,
    just as village boys do when they accompany the elephant on his
    advertising trip from street to street. It was very flattering to me to
    be part of the material for such a sensation. Here and there in the
    doorways we saw women with fashionable Portuguese hoods on. This hood is
    of thick blue cloth, attached to a cloak of the same stuff, and is a
    marvel of ugliness. It stands up high and spreads far abroad, and is
    unfathomably deep. It fits like a circus tent, and a woman's head is
    hidden away in it like the man's who prompts the singers from his tin
    shed in the stage of an opera. There is no particle of trimming about
    this monstrous capote, as they call it--it is just a plain, ugly
    dead-blue mass of sail, and a woman can't go within eight points of the
    wind with one of them on; she has to go before the wind or not at all.
    The general style of the capote is the same in all the islands, and will
    remain so for the next ten thousand years, but each island shapes its
    capotes just enough differently from the others to enable an observer to
    tell at a glance what particular island a lady hails from.

    The Portuguese pennies, or reis (pronounced rays), are prodigious. It
    takes one thousand reis to make a dollar, and all financial estimates are
    made in reis. We did not know this until after we had found it out
    through Blucher. Blucher said he was so happy and so grateful to be on
    solid land once more that he wanted to give a feast--said he had heard it
    was a cheap land, and he was bound to have a grand banquet. He invited
    nine of us, and we ate an excellent dinner at the principal hotel. In
    the midst of the jollity produced by good cigars, good wine, and passable
    anecdotes, the landlord presented his bill. Blucher glanced at it and
    his countenance fell. He took another look to assure himself that his
    senses had not deceived him and then read the items aloud, in a faltering
    voice, while the roses in his cheeks turned to ashes:

    "'Ten dinners, at 600 reis, 6,000 reis!' Ruin and desolation!

    "'Twenty-five cigars, at 100 reis, 2,500 reis!' Oh, my sainted mother!

    "'Eleven bottles of wine, at 1,200 reis, 13,200 reis!' Be with us all!

    "'TOTAL, TWENTY-ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED REIS!' The suffering Moses!
    There ain't money enough in the ship to pay that bill! Go--leave me to
    my misery, boys, I am a ruined community."

    I think it was the blankest-looking party I ever saw. Nobody could say a
    word. It was as if every soul had been stricken dumb. Wine glasses
    descended slowly to the table, their contents untasted. Cigars dropped
    unnoticed from nerveless fingers. Each man sought his neighbor's eye,
    but found in it no ray of hope, no encouragement. At last the fearful
    silence was broken. The shadow of a desperate resolve settled upon
    Blucher's countenance like a cloud, and he rose up and said:

    "Landlord, this is a low, mean swindle, and I'll never, never stand it.
    Here's a hundred and fifty dollars, Sir, and it's all you'll get--I'll
    swim in blood before I'll pay a cent more."

    Our spirits rose and the landlord's fell--at least we thought so; he was
    confused, at any rate, notwithstanding he had not understood a word that
    had been said. He glanced from the little pile of gold pieces to Blucher
    several times and then went out. He must have visited an American, for
    when he returned, he brought back his bill translated into a language
    that a Christian could understand--thus:

    10 dinners, 6,000 reis, or . . .$6.00

    25 cigars, 2,500 reis, or . . . 2.50

    11 bottles wine, 13,200 reis, or 13.20

    Total 21,700 reis, or . . . . $21.70

    Happiness reigned once more in Blucher's dinner party. More refreshments
    were ordered.
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    Chapter 6
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