Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mott Memoir, Part 15

So, I guess I took a nearly year long little break!  I hadn't planned to go so long between installments but I do really want to finish up transcribing the memoir.  The last entry concerned Essie leaving Hawaii, this one will pick up where we left off, with Essie on her way to Mazatlan (for anyone following at home with a hard copy of the memoir, this is page 24 of 48):

"The Whaler and Mazatlan

There was quite a nice little cabin in the stern below the main deck upon which three state-rooms opened, one quite large, with two wide berths where our mother, Evy and the little ones could sleep, and two small staterooms with one berth each that would do for Fanny and me.  Mrs. Cook and her maid had a room opening on the deck with two berths.  The Mexican girl was to have a pillow and blankets on the cabin floor.  We thought that we should be very comfortable with the cabin all to ourselves.  We made up our berths and arranged everything as well as we could.  There was but little wind and the sea was smooth, but after we had gone to bed the weather became rough and the ship began to roll.  We were all sick and after awhile we noticed a dreadful odor like spoiled water which grew worse and worse and as we were ill already it added greatly to our woes.  That was a dreadful night, no one could sleep, even the baby and Matilda were sick.  We were miserable.  In the morning the ship was more steady and we went on deck as soon as we could to breath some fresh air.  When our mother complained to the Captain of the disagreeable smell, he said it was bilge water that had settled in the hold of the ship and remained there so long it was spoiled.  I did not understand how it leaked in.  I suppose a sailor would.  Of course he must have known about it and I wonder how he supposed we could stand it.  Our mother was very angry, she would not have come on this ship if she had had any idea of this trouble, but it was too late to go back now.  The Captain said he would arrange for us to sleep in the cabin on deck and in the meanwhile as it was a warm pleasant day he had an awning put up over the quarter deck and blankets and pillows brought and we lay down on the deck for we were still ill though better in the outside air.  That night we slept in the upper cabin which was a very primitive kind of an apartment.  There were no staterooms, only berths down each side and a table in the middle which was for meals, but we could not smell the bad water we preferred it to the lower cabin.  The Captain and mates had to sleep there.

Captain Winslow was an elderly man with grey hair.  He was really quite handsome with pleasant blue eyes and a gentle kindly expression.  He was so good natured we could not help liking him even though he had not told about the bilge water.  He was very plain and simple but not rough.

We had recovered from the sea sickness and were beginning to feel a little more comfortable when the children were taken ill with the measles.  Fanny and Salome, the Mexican girl were all sick at once.  Fortunately, Evy and I had it already but poor Evy was so ill now it was as much as she could do to take care of herself, so I was the only one able to help my mother.  It was extremely unpleasant place for sick people.  The Captain and Mate had to come for their meals as the dining table was there.  Fanny was obliged to stay in her berth but she pulled the bed clothes over her head when they came.  Matilda cried and I had to wrap her in a blanket and hold her on my lap in a little passage way by the cabin door until the men were gone.  The first mate took the measles also.  I suppose the Captain had to attend to him.  It seems almost funny to think of these events now but they were not amusing at the time.  Fortunately, no one was very sick and they all recovered without any mishap which is very strange as we had no Doctor and no conveniences of any kind.  Our mother had some simple medicines and we did the best we could.  Matilda had learned to understand and speak English so we had become great friends and I took most of the care of her.  Our poor mother must have been dreadfully worried remembering how she had lost one child at sea.

After the invalids had recovered and Fanny was able to come on deck, we found various ways of amusing ourselves and I think we unintentionally amused the Captain and the crew also.  There was not such strict formality between Captain and crew as on the Samoset.  Captain Hollis was a stern dignified man, but the good natured old Captain of the Whaler seemed to be on very friendly terms with his crew.

One day when the sea was quiet and the ship steady Fanny and I climbed into one of the boats which were lashed to the outside of the bulwarks near the stern, suddenly the boat began to tip, we were dreadfully frightened and scrambled back to the deck as fast as we could.  The second mate was standing there quietly, apparently paying no attention but we noticed his hand was on one of the ropes, so we understood why the boat had tipped.  We never dared get in again.  One time the Captain pointed to a rope that was hanging loose, a little way from the deck and told me to pull it, I did so thinking he was going to play a trick on the men as Mr. Foote had done, I took hold with both hands and pulled hard.  I found myself going up off the deck and dangling in the air.  I was afraid to let go though the rope hurt my hands.  I was let down in a minute and I could not see anyone pulling but I knew the Captain had played a trick on me.  I think he considered us, Fanny and I, a private circus.  It was really rather unusual for a whaler to carry a cargo of girls.

Evy was too ill to find much amusement in anything.  She could sit out on the deck in pleasant weather but though fortunately there was no storms, some times the wind blew hard and it was quite cold.  Poor girl there was no comfortable place for her to stay and no privacy.  We kept the cabin open during the day.  The cabin was small and close and the Captain had to come in to write in the log book.  She grew pale and thin, sometimes she had chills and there were none of the comforts her condition required.  People say now that cold weather and open air are cures for consumption, but I believe that unpleasant voyage shortened her life.  I suppose she could never have recovered but probably if she could have remained in Honolulu she would have lived much longer.

Fortunately this was a short voyage.  I do not remember exactly how long it was.  I think four or five weeks.  We left Honolulu sometime in November and arrived in Mazatlan before Christmas.  Evy passed her eighteenth birthday at sea.

As we approached Mazatlan the weather became warmer.  One pleasant evening Evy and I were sitting in the little passage way between the cabin and the deck when we were surprised to see several of the men come on the quarter deck carrying some kind of a bench.  They put it down in front of us, but some way off, and seated themselves.  It was so dark we could hardly distinguish the faces and we wondered what they were going to do.  Presently they began to sing and we understood it was intended as a compliment to us.  They sang several songs, some of them had good voices, but the songs were very odd.  After they had finished one of them had the audacity to say now we'll have a song from the Miss' Motts.  We did not comply with this request and they departed.  We had other serenades at different times afterwards but this was the most original.  They were a nice looking set of men.  The ship probably sailed sailed for some port in Maine as the whalers generally did and I suppose most of the crew were American.

A day or two before we arrived the Captain began giving mysterious hints about something dreadful he was going to do.  When we asked him what it was he would shake his head and say (Oh you will see).  When all the packing was done and we were dressed in our shore clothes Fanny and I stood on deck watching the land as the ship entered the harbor, the Captain came up and catching us both in his arms kissed us before we knew what he was going to do.  There he said I told you I'd do it.  Then we understood the dreadful mystery.  We were astonished but we did not really mind, we were very young and he seemed to us like an old man.  Needless to say our mother was not in sight.

Our ship anchored a little way from the shore and I was deeply interested in my first view of this place which was to be my home for awhile at least.  An immense rock, called El Creston, shaped like a pyramid rose high above the sea near the entrance to the harbor.  The shore curved like a half moon was low and sandy.  We were near enough to distinguish a carriage and horses on the beach and a boat leaving the shore.  As it came near us Fanny exclaimed, there is PaPa.  When he came on deck for the second time I met an unknown father.  I was so young when he left New York I had only a vague remembrance of him.  He was very kind and pleasant.  It must have been a relief to his mind to have us arrive safely.  He invited the Captain to dinner but I wonder what he would have said if he had witnessed the mysterious secret.

Poor Mrs. Cook had kept quietly in her room most of the time during the voyage.  As we were getting ready to leave the ship I saw her sitting inside her door with tears running down her face while Mary her maid was trying to console her.  The return to Mazatlan must have been most distressing under the circumstances.  Mr. Kelly a merchant in the town came on board with our father and kindly invited her to remain with his wife for awhile.

At last we were all safely lowered into the boat and rowed to the shore and another chapter of my life commenced.
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So ends this chapter, the next section will be: Mazatlan, December 1848.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for continuing with Essie's adventures. I was looking forward to hearing about Mexico and the rest of her memoirs!

    ReplyDelete

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