Two Years Before the Mast eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 591 pages of information about Two Years Before the Mast.

Hares and rabbits, as I said before, were abundant, and, during the winter months, the waters are covered with wild ducks and geese.  Crows, too, abounded, and frequently alighted in great numbers upon our hides, picking at the pieces of dried meat and fat.  Bears and wolves are numerous in the upper parts of the coast, and in the interior (and, indeed, a man was killed by a bear within a few miles of San Pedro, while we were there), but there were none in our immediate neighborhood.  The only other animals were horses.  More than a dozen of these were owned by men on the beach, and were allowed to run loose among the hills, with a long lasso attached to them, to pick up feed wherever they could find it.  We were sure of seeing them once a day, for there was no water among the hills, and they were obliged to come down to the well which had been dug upon the beach.  These horses were bought at from two to six and eight dollars apiece, and were held very much as common property.  We generally kept one fast to one of the houses, so that we could mount him and catch any of the others.  Some of them were really fine animals, and gave us many good runs up to the presidio and over the country.

[1] Matches had not come into use then.  I think there were none on board any vessel on the coast.  We used the tinder box in our forecastle.


After we had been a few weeks on shore, and had begun to feel broken into the regularity of our life, its monotony was interrupted by the arrival of two vessels from the windward.  We were sitting at dinner in our little room, when we heard the cry of ``Sail ho!’’ This, we had learned, did not always signify a vessel, but was raised whenever a woman was seen coming down from the town, or an ox-cart, or anything unusual, hove in sight upon the road; so we took no notice of it.  But it soon became so loud and general from all parts of the beach that we were led to go to the door; and there, sure enough, were two sails coming round the point, and leaning over from the strong northwest wind, which blows down the coast every afternoon.  The headmost was a ship, and the other a brig.  Everybody was alive on the beach, and all manner of conjectures were abroad.  Some said it was the Pilgrim, with the Boston ship, which we were expecting; but we soon saw that the brig was not the Pilgrim, and the ship, with her stump top-gallant-masts and rusty sides, could not be a dandy Boston Indiaman.  As they drew nearer, we discovered the high poop, and top-gallant forecastle, and other marks of the Italian ship Rosa, and the brig proved to be the Catalina, which we saw at Santa Barbara, just arrived from Valparaiso.  They came to anchor, moored ship, and began discharging hides and tallow.  The Rosa had purchased the house occupied by the Lagoda, and the Catalina took the other spare one between ours and the Ayacucho’s, so that now each house was occupied, and the beach, for several days, was

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Two Years Before the Mast from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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