The Heavy Head Sea Was Beating Against Her Bows
With The Noise And Force Almost Of A Sledge-Hammer, And Flying Over The
Deck, Drenching Us Completely Through.
The topsail halyards had been
let go, and the great sails filling out and backing against the masts
with a noise like thunder.
The wind was whistling through the rigging,
loose ropes flying about; loud and, to me, unintelligible orders constantly
given and rapidly executed, and the sailors "singing out" at the ropes in
their hoarse and peculiar strains. In addition to all this, I had not got
my "sea legs on," was dreadfully sick, with hardly strength enough to hold
on to anything, and it was "pitch dark." This was my state when I was
ordered aloft, for the first time, to reef topsails.
How I got along, I cannot now remember. I "laid out" on the yards and
held on with all my strength. I could not have been of much service,
for I remember having been sick several times before I left the topsail
yard. Soon all was snug aloft, and we were again allowed to go below.
This I did not consider much of a favor, for the confusion of everything
below, and that inexpressible sickening smell, caused by the shaking up
of the bilge-water in the hold, made the steerage but an indifferent
refuge from the cold, wet decks. I had often read of the nautical
experiences of others, but I felt as though there could be none worse
than mine; for in addition to every other evil, I could not but remember
that this was only the first night of a two years' voyage.
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