“Had the wind,” writes he, “(unfortunately) not hauled ahead soon after leaving the harbor’s mouth, I should positively have left them; and, indeed, I cannot but think it an unfortunate circumstance for you that it so happened, for the first loss in this instance would, in my opinion, have proved the best, as they seem to have no idea of the value of property, nor any apparent regard for your interest, although interwoven with their own.”
This, it must be confessed, was acting with a high hand, and carrying a regard to the owner’s property to a dangerous length. Various petty feuds occurred also between him and the partners in respect to the goods on board ship, some articles of which they wished to distribute for clothing among the men, or for other purposes which they deemed essential. The captain, however, kept a mastiff watch upon the cargo, and growled and snapped if they but offered to touch box or bale. “It was contrary to orders; it would forfeit his insurance; it was out of all rule.” It was in vain they insisted upon their right to do so, as part owners, and as acting for the good of the enterprise; the captain only stuck to his point the more stanchly. They consoled themselves, therefore, by declaring, that as soon as they made land, they would assert their rights, and do with ship and cargo as they pleased.
Beside these feuds between the captain and the partners, there were feuds between the partners themselves, occasioned, in some measure, by jealousy of rank. M’Dougal and M’Kay began to draw plans for the fort, and other buildings of the intended establishment. They agreed very well as to the outline and dimensions, which were on a sufficiently grand scale; but when they came to arrange the details, fierce disputes arose, and they would quarrel by the hour about the distribution of the doors and windows. Many were the hard words and hard names bandied between them on these occasions, according to the captain’s account. Each accused the other of endeavoring to assume unwarrantable power, and take the lead; upon which Mr. M’Dougal would vauntingly lay down Mr. Astor’s letter, constituting him his representative and proxy, a document not to be disputed.
These wordy contests, though violent, were brief; “and within fifteen minutes,” says the captain, “they would be caressing each other like children.”
While all this petty anarchy was agitating the little world within the Tonquin, the good ship prosperously pursued her course, doubled Cape Horn on the 25th of December, careered across the bosom of the Pacific, until, on the 11th of February, the snowy peaks of Owyhee were seen brightening above the horizon.