Two Years Before the Mast eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 502 pages of information about Two Years Before the Mast.
The captain was walking the quarter-deck, smoking his morning cigar, and Foster went as far as the break of the deck, and there waited for him to notice him.  The captain took two or three turns, and then, walking directly up to him, surveyed him from head to foot, and, lifting up his forefinger, said a word or two, in a tone too low for us to hear, but which had a magical effect upon poor Foster.  He walked forward, jumped down into the forecastle, and in a moment more made his appearance in his common clothes, and went quietly to work again.  What the captain said to him, we never could get him to tell, but it certainly changed him outwardly and inwardly in a surprising manner.

CHAPTER XIV

After a few days, finding the trade beginning to slacken, we hove our anchor up, set our topsails, ran the stars and stripes up to the peak, fired a gun, which was returned from the presidio, and left the little town astern, standing out of the bay, and bearing down the coast again for Santa Barbara.  As we were now going to leeward, we had a fair wind, and a plenty of it.  After doubling Point Pinos, we bore up, set studding-sails alow and aloft, and were walking off at the rate of eight or nine knots, promising to traverse in twenty-four hours the distance which we were nearly three weeks in traversing on the passage up.  We passed Point Conception at a flying rate, the wind blowing so that it would have seemed half a gale to us if we had been going the other way and close hauled.  As we drew near the islands of Santa Barbara, it died away a little, but we came-to at our old anchoring ground in less than thirty hours from the time of leaving Monterey.

Here everything was pretty much as we left it,—­ the large bay without a vessel in it, the surf roaring and rolling in upon the beach, the white Mission, the dark town, and the high, treeless mountains.  Here, too, we had our southeaster tacks aboard again,—­ slip-ropes, buoy-ropes, sails furled with reefs in them, and rope-yarns for gaskets.  We lay at this place about a fortnight, employed in landing goods and taking off hides, occasionally, when the surf was not high; but there did not appear to be one half the business doing here that there was in Monterey.  In fact, so far as we were concerned, the town might almost as well have been in the middle of the Cordilleras.  We lay at a distance of three miles from the beach, and the town was nearly a mile farther, so that we saw little or nothing of it.  Occasionally we landed a few goods, which were taken away by Indians in large, clumsy ox-carts, with the bow of the yoke on the ox’s neck instead of under it, and with small solid wheels.  A few hides were brought down, which we carried off in the California style.  This we had now got pretty well accustomed to, and hardened to also; for it does require a little hardening, even to the toughest.

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