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.
and learned that one of the men, who, as well as I could see in the darkness, was a young-looking man, in the European dress, and covered up in a large cloak, was the agent of the firm to which our vessel belonged; and the other, who was dressed in the Spanish dress of the country, was a brother of our captain, who had been many years a trader on the coast, and that the lady was his wife.  She was a delicate, dark-complexioned young woman, of one of the respectable families of California.  I also found that we were to sail the same night.

As soon as we got on board, the boats were hoisted up, the sails loosed, the windlass manned, the slip-ropes and gear cast off; and after about twenty minutes of heaving at the windlass, making sail, and bracing yards, we were well under way, and going with a fair wind up the coast to Monterey.  The Loriotte got under way at the same time, and was also bound up to Monterey, but as she took a different course from us, keeping the land aboard, while we kept well out to sea, we soon lost sight of her.  We had a fair wind, which is something unusual when going up, as the prevailing wind is the north, which blows directly down the coast; whence the northern are called the windward, and the southern the leeward ports.

[1] ``Bear-a-hand’’ is to make haste.


We got clear of the islands before sunrise the next morning, and by twelve o’clock were out of the canal, and off Point Conception, the place where we first made the land upon our arrival.  This is the largest point on the coast, and is an uninhabited headland, stretching out into the Pacific, and has the reputation of being very windy.  Any vessel does well which gets by it without a gale, especially in the winter season.  We were going along with studding-sails set on both sides, when, as we came round the point, we had to haul our wind, and take in the lee studding-sails.  As the brig came more upon the wind, she felt it more, and we doused the skysails, but kept the weather studding-sails on her, bracing the yards forward, so that the swinging-boom nearly touched the spritsail yard.  She now lay over to it, the wind was freshening, and the captain was evidently ``dragging on to her.’’ His brother and Mr. Robinson, looking a little disturbed, said something to him, but he only answered that he knew the vessel and what she would carry.  He was evidently showing off, and letting them know how he could carry sail.  He stood up to windward, holding on by the backstays, and looking up at the sticks to see how much they would bear, when a puff came which settled the matter.  Then it was ``haul down’’ and ``clew up’’ royals, flying-jib, and studding-sails, all at once.  There was what the sailors call a ``mess,’’—­ everything let go, nothing hauled in, and everything flying.  The poor Mexican woman came to the companion-way, looking as pale as a ghost, and nearly frightened

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