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.
rim with silk; a short jacket of silk, or figured calico (the European skirted body-coat is never worn); the shirt open in the neck; rich waistcoat, if any; pantaloons open at the sides below the knee, laced with gilt, usually of velveteen or broadcloth; or else short breeches and white stockings.  They wear the deer-skin shoe, which is of a dark brown color, and (being made by Indians) usually a good deal ornamented.  They have no suspenders, but always wear a sash round the waist, which is generally red, and varying in quality with the means of the wearer.  Add to this the never-failing poncho, or the serapa, and you have the dress of the Californian.  This last garment is always a mark of the rank and wealth of the owner.  The gente de razon, or better sort of people, wear cloaks of black or dark blue broadcloth, with as much velvet and trimmings as may be; and from this they go down to the blanket of the Indian, the middle classes wearing a poncho, something like a large square cloth, with a hole in the middle for the head to go through.  This is often as coarse as a blanket, but being beautifully woven with various colors, is quite showy at a distance.  Among the Mexicans there is no working class (the Indians being practically serfs, and doing all the hard work); and every rich man looks like a grandee, and every poor scamp like a broken-down gentleman.  I have often seen a man with a fine figure and courteous manners, dressed in broadcloth and velvet, with a noble horse completely covered with trappings, without a real in his pockets, and absolutely suffering for something to eat.


The next day, the cargo having been entered in due form, we began trading.  The trade-room was fitted up in the steerage, and furnished out with the lighter goods, and with specimens of the rest of the cargo; and Mellus, a young man who came out from Boston with us before the mast, was taken out of the forecastle, and made supercargo’s clerk.  He was well qualified for this business, having been clerk in a counting-house in Boston; but he had been troubled for some time with rheumatism, which unfitted him for the wet and exposed duty of a sailor on the coast.  For a week or ten days all was life on board.  The people came off to look and to buy,—­ men, women, and children; and we were continually going in the boats, carrying goods and passengers,—­ for they have no boats of their own.  Everything must dress itself and come aboard and see the new vessel, if it were only to buy a paper of pins.  The agent and his clerk managed the sales, while we were busy in the hold or in the boats.  Our cargo was an assorted one; that is, it consisted of everything under the sun.  We had spirits of all kinds (sold by the cask), teas, coffee, sugars, spices, raisins, molasses, hardware, crockery-ware, tin-ware, cutlery, clothing of all kinds, boots and shoes from Lynn, calicoes and cotton from Lowell, crapes, silks; also, shawls, scarfs, necklaces, jewelry, and combs for the women; furniture; and, in fact, everything that can be imagined, from Chinese fireworks to English cart-wheels,—­ of which we had a dozen pairs with their iron tires on.

Project Gutenberg
Two Years Before the Mast from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook