Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

EUROPE THROUGH A WOMAN'S EYE.

CHAPTER I.

66

On the 29th of April, 1882, at three o'clock in the afternoon, the old steamship Egypt, of the National line, that had ploughed the deep for eleven years, steamed out of New York bay, and my husband and I bade good-bye to America, for a few months, For an hour before sailing, the deck was crowded with the friends of those who were about to take the long voyage of three thousand five hundred miles across the Atlantic ocean.

A graceful young lady stepped up to us and introduced herself as a sister of one of my most intimate girl friends (Jessie Beck). She had come as her sister's representative, to bid us "God speed," and at parting presented me a lovely little nosegay, a delicate cream rose encircled with forget-me-nots and geranium leaves. I almost worshiped these few flowers, and kept them fresh for many days; for if there is any place in the world where people appreciate flowers it is on the broad, deep ocean, where none of nature's green relieves the eye, but all is water—water everywhere. In two hours the shores of America had entirely vanished from sight. It was with a tinge of sadness that we stood on deck and watched the land until it appeared like a tiny speck on the horizon. We had left America, home and friends behind; but grand old historical Europe, the country we had so long desired to see, was ahead !

Everything on the vessel was new and strange, and we flew hither and thither, to learn all we could about what was to be our little world for eleven days. The Egypt is four hundred and fifty feet long and forty-six feet wide.

The såloon passengers, ninety-nine in number, occupied one part of the ship, and the steerage passengers the other. The dining saloon is one hundred and fifty feet long, the tables running the entire length, with velvet-cushioned benches for seats, and the floors are carpeted with Brussels. The state-rooms on either side of the dining-saloon are six by eight feet, with quite good accommodations. We had four meals a day; breakfast, at half-past eight; lunch, at half-past twelve; dinner, at five; and tea, at half-past eight in the evening. The meals were simply wonderful. For instance, this is an ordinary bill of fare for dinner:

Mock-turtle and spring soup.
Pigeons on toast, and mushrooms,
Mutton cutlets, curried chicken and rice.
Dresden patties, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.
Boiled mutton and caper sauce.
Roast lamb and mint sauce.
Roast fillet of veal, corned pork and vegetables.
Corned beef, roast turkey, sausages and cranberry sauce.
Duck and green peas.
Ham and tongue, pickles and asparagus.

Plum and custard pudding, damson tarts, currant pies, Leipzig and plum cakes, Genoese pastry, apple tripple blanc mange, calves-foot jelly, Charlotte russe, macaroni cheese.

Apples, oranges, raisins, and several kinds of nuts.

All of the China dishes bear this stamp, “National Steamship Company," “Pro orbis utilitate" (for the use of the world). The tureens for meats and vegetables are of solid silver, and when the bell taps, the waiters take all the covers off at once, sometimes revealing the most unheard-of mixtures. Mr. Culler took four square meals every day, and did not indulge in seasickness. But alas ! I was not so fortunate: the first night I fully realized what it was to be "rocked in the cradle of the deep,'' and the next morning upon raising my head from my pillow, I was initiated into the mysteries of sea-sickness, and it clung to me tenaciously; for seven successive days, I cast up my accounts

[ocr errors]

accurately, several times to the smallest decimal fraction. The feeling is indescribable! If any one had proposed to throw me overboard, I don't know that I should have objected. The kind hands which always minister to my comfort dressed me, and managed to get me on deck in a fainting condition. Wrapped in a heavy sea-blanket and supported on either side, I walked the deck until the color returned to my lips. But when I attempted to recline in a sea-chair the sickness returned, and I was obliged to walk again. It seemed that I must either walk or die—and thus I spent the entire day. Our second Sabbath out was, however, much more agreeably spent. We had church service in the dining saloon. Pillows piled up on the table and covered with a scarlet cloth served as a pulpit. The Captain read the service of the Church of England, my husband preached the sermon, and the renowned Philip Phillips and his son James sang, accompanied by the piano.

At sea people are more sociable than on land. Nobody thinks of waiting for a formal introduction. All sorts of people are on board, high and low, rich and poor, cultured and ignorant, selfish and generous, joyous and those bearing heavy burdens of

One lady, whose home was in Texas, started with her consumptive husband for England. He died on the steamer, just as they were entering New York Bay. She buried him in New York, and then embarked in the Egypt. This was a sad, sad trip for her. She returned to her friends in England, whom she left but two years ago to become the happy bride of her lover in Texas. On our homeward voyage, a poor mother among the steerage passengers watched anxiously by the couch of her dying child, and another gave birth to a sweet little baby, who will never be able to say, “ This is my own, my native land."

Although life on the ocean wave seems very monotonous to those afflicted with sea-sickness, yet to others it has many attractions. At night the beautiful phosphorescent lights may be seen, looking like sparkling diamonds on the water. Then the pretty rainbows in the spray; and one morning after a shower,

sorrow.

the sun shone out brightly and gave us a splendid rainbow, completely spanning old ocean; and one of the grandest sunsets I ever witnessed was on the ocean. The sun gradually slipped out of sight between the sky and the water, leaving its gorgeous robe of gold and purple floating on the ocean blue. We gazed in silent admiration on this grand picture from the brush of the Almighty. It is interesting, too, to watch the monsters of the deep at their uncouth gambols; dozens of whales apparently tried to see which could spout water the highest, and one huge fellow came so near the vessel that we had a good view of his immense ·back as he came up to blow. And how we would lean over the railing, and never tire of watching the porpoises as they leaped along beside the ship, a whole school of them at a time, chasing each other, darting hither and thither like mad creatures. And the dear, little, harmless, white sea-gulls followed the ship to feed oï what was thrown out, occasionally sitting down on the waves to rest.

There are many ways of amusement-reading, writing, chatting, singing, lounging, dreaming. A concert is given each voyage, by the passengers, for the benefit of the Seaman's Orphan Home at Liverpool; and they are quite creditable. One day as we were walking on deck we had the delightful experience of being completely drenched by a playful wave, and we looked as meek as Moses, with our garments dripping with salt water. When one looks out upon the vast ocean, and watches the heaving and swelling of the waves, and thinks of the unfathomable depth of water, he is most solemnly impressed with the greatness and power of God, and the frailty and utter helplessness of man. We had just enough rough weather to get a taste of what a storm at sea would be like. The wind blew furiously; the waves ran high, at times sweeping over the deck in torrents ; the rain beat violently ; large waves leaped over the tops of the life-boats, high above the deck; the wind was so powerful that the gentlemen could scarcely keep their footing on deck, and the ladies were oblighed to content themselves in the cabin.

One lady was blown across the deck, and two others who attempted to

walk were prostrated. Hats were blown overboard ; chairs overturned ; dishes broken, etc. As soon as it was safe for the ladies to go on deck, I sat with my husband at the stern of the vessel and watched her breast the waves as they rolled up mountain high. Sometimes the bow of the ship would be submerged in the waves, and it seemed that we must all go under, when up she would come, like a bird on the wing. A storm at sea is a grand sight, awfully grand ! and the appreciative nature could thoroughly enjoy it, if all fear of the possible results could be dispelled. The sight of a distant sail was always welcomed with delight, and the taking on of a pilot, as we approached land, was another diversion. It is a rule that a vessel must take on the first pilot she meets, to take her into the harbor.

The pilot we took, on approaching America, had been sailing about for a month seeking employment. He received $460.00 for his services, so much a foot for the number of feet of water the vessel draws. He came in a pilot boat, and then was brought from that to our steamer in a row boat, as the sailing vessel could not approach very near us. It was a pretty sight to witness the signal of red, white and blue lights by which our vessel reported its arrival off Fastnett rock, on the coast of Ireland.

How we strained our eyes to see the first faint outline of land !

We entered the dock at Liverpool at four o'clock a. m. on Wednesday, May 1o. There were no sleepy-heads that morning; everybody was up, hurrying and bustling about, seeing to baggage, giving good byes and kind wishes to newly-made friends; confusion reigned supreme. The table stewards, bedroom stewards, the stewardess, the boots, in fact all the servants who had looked at us during the voyage, hovered about expecting a fee, and asked for it if we did not take the hint.

The examination of luggage by the custom-house officials is a very trifling affair to the American tourist, unless he has cigars or fire-arms among his possessions. And during our entire trip, traveling in so many different countries, our baggage being examined twelve times, it was always done courteously, and in a very superficial manner. It is nothing worth getting nervous over.

« AnteriorContinuar »