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.
our liberty last as long as possible, we rode up and down among the hide-houses, amusing ourselves with seeing the men as they arrived (it was now dusk), some on horseback and others on foot.  The Sandwich-Islanders rode down, and were in ``high snuff.’’ We inquired for our shipmates, and were told that two of them had started on horseback, and been thrown, or had fallen off, and were seen heading for the beach, but steering pretty wild, and, by the looks of things, would not be down much before midnight.

The Indian boys having arrived, we gave them our horses, and, having seen them safely off, hailed for a boat, and went aboard.  Thus ended our first liberty-day on shore.  We were well tired, but had had a good time, and were more willing to go back to our old duties.  About midnight we were waked up by our two watch-mates, who had come aboard in high dispute.  It seems they had started to come down on the same horse, double-backed; and each was accusing the other of being the cause of his fall.  They soon, however, turned-in and fell asleep, and probably forgot all about it, for the next morning the dispute was not renewed.

CHAPTER XVII

The next sound that we heard was ``All hands ahoy!’’ and, looking up the scuttle, saw that it was just daylight.  Our liberty had now truly taken flight, and with it we laid away our pumps, stockings, blue jackets, neckerchiefs, and other go-ashore paraphernalia, and putting on old duck trousers, red shirts, and Scotch caps, began taking out and landing our hides.  For three days we were hard at work in this duty, from the gray of the morning until starlight, with the exception of a short time allowed for meals.  For landing and taking on board hides, San Diego is decidedly the best place in California.  The harbor is small and land-locked; there is no surf; the vessels lie within a cable’s length of the beach, and the beach itself is smooth, hard sand, without rocks or stones.  For these reasons, it is used by all the vessels in the trade as a depot; and, indeed, it would be impossible, when loading with the cured hides for the passage home, to take them on board at any of the open ports, without getting them wet in the surf, which would spoil them.  We took possession of one of the hide-houses, which belonged to our firm, and had been used by the California.  It was built to hold forty thousand hides, and we had the pleasing prospect of filling it before we could leave the coast; and toward this our thirty-five hundred, which we brought down with us, would do but little.  There was scarce a man on board who did not go often into the house, looking round, reflecting, and making some calculation of the time it would require.

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