When the old clipper ship took from four to six weeks to cross the Atlantic, a weekly paper was printed. On some of the swift liners of to-day on the fourth day out a paper is issued, when perhaps the steamer is “rolling in the Roaring Forties.” The sheet is a four-page affair, about six inches wide and nine inches long. It gives a description of the ship signed by the Captain; the daily runs of the ship follow, the distance still to go is stated, and the probable time it will take to make port; under “General Information” you learn about seasickness, what you have not already experienced, the necessity of exercise aboard ship, also much about the handling of luggage in Europe; some of the prose and poetry is sure to be good, and is contributed by skilled writers among the passengers. A column of “Queries” and a few brief stories and jokes brighten the sheet. The price is fifteen cents, and every copy of “The Ocean Breeze” is highly prized. On the whole, people at sea enjoy most the enforced rest, for they escape newspapers, telegrams, creditors, and the tax-gatherer.
At 11 o’clock on the deck, every pleasant day, a large, well-dressed man, attended by his valet, generously opened a barrel of fresh oysters for the passengers. This benevolent gentleman proved to be a famous Saratoga gambler. In this way he made many acquaintances and friends, and each day he increased his winnings at cards and in bets on the vessel’s run, till finally, not he, but the guileless passengers paid for the oysters.
Gambling was the business of the man who advertised by his oysters; with the actor, who romped with the pretty child, gambling was a passion. So intense was this passion with the actor that he would attempt to match silver dollars or gold sovereigns with everybody he met when ashore; between acts on the stage he would telegraph his bet to distant cities. Crossing parks or walking down Broadway his palm concealed a coin, ready for the first possible chance. He would match his coat or his home or even his bank account. On ship he matched sovereigns only.
Occasionally the “Majestic” passed in sight of some other ship, or “tramp-steamer,” and by signal exchanged names and location. Rarely do the great passenger steamers meet on the Atlantic, as the course outward is quite to the north to avoid collisions. Half-awake, half-asleep, the days on shipboard go by as in a dream, and you gladly welcome back restored health. Perhaps a sweet or strong face wins your interest or heart, as the case may be, and life-long friendships are formed. Confidence thus bestowed often begets the same in others, and you are thankful for the ocean voyage.
LIFE AT SEA A KALEIDOSCOPE
In a shady retreat on the ship after lunch sat the Harrises, Leo, the judge, and Dr. Argyle, the latter reading a French novel. Leo had just finished a new novel entitled “A Broken Promise,” Alfonso had read three hundred pages in one of Dickens’s novels that tells so vividly how the poor of London exist.