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THE

WEST INDIES

AND THE

SPANISH MAIN.

CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTORY.

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I am beginning to write this book on board the brig

trading between Kingston, in Jamaica, and Cien Fuegos, on the southern coast of Cuba. At the present moment there is not a puff of wind, neither land breeze nor sea breeze; the sails are flapping idly against the masts; there is not motion enough to give us the command of the rudder; the tropical sun is shining through upon my head into the miserable hole which they have deluded me into thinking was a cabin. The marine people—the captain and his satellites—are bound to provide me; and all that they have provided is yams, salt pork, biscuit, and bad coffee. I should be starved but for the small ham-would that it had been a large one—which I thoughtfully purchased in Kingston ; and had not a kind medical friend, as he grasped me by the hand at Port Royal, stuffed a box of sardines into my pocket. He suggested two boxes. Would that I had taken them!

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It is now the 25th January, 1859, and if I do not reach Cien Fuegos by the 28th, all this misery will have been in vain. I might as well in such case have gone to St. Thomas, and spared myself these experiences of the merchant navy. Let it be understood by all men that in these latitudes the respectable, comfortable, wellto-do route from every place to every other place is viâ the little Danish island of St. Thomas. From Demerara to the Isthmus of Panama, you go by St. Thomas. From Panama to Jamaica and Honduras, you go by St. Thomas. From Honduras and Jamaica to Cuba and Mexico, you go by St. Thomas. From Cuba to the Bahamas, you go by St. Thomas—or did when this was written. The Royal Mail Steam Packet Company dispense all their branches from that favored spot.

But I was ambitious of a quicker transit and a less beaten path, and here I am lying under the lee of the land, in a dirty, hot, motionless tub, expiating my folly. We shall never make Cien Fuegos by the 28th, and then it will be eight days before I can reach the Havana. May God forgive me all my evil thoughts!

Motionless, I said; I wish she were. Progressless should have been my word. She rolls about in a nauseous manner, disturbing the two sardines which I have economically eaten, till I begin to fear that my friend's generosity will become altogether futile. To which result greatly tends the stench left behind it by the cargo of salt fish with which the brig was freighted when she left St. John, New Brunswick, for these ports.

“ We brought but a very small quantity," the skipper says. If so, that very small quantity was stowed above and below the very bunk which has been given up to me as sleeping-place. Ugh!

“We are very poor,” said the blue-nosed skipper

a

POVERTY NO DISGRACE.

7

when he got me on board. Well; poverty is no disgrace,” said I, as one does when cheering a poor man. “We are very poor indeed; I cannot even offer you a cigar.” My cigar-case was immediately out of my pocket. After all, cigars are but as coals going to Newcastle when one intends to be in Cuba in four days.

“ We are very poor indeed, sir,” said the blue-nosed skipper again when I brought out my solitary bottle of brandy—for I must acknowledge to a bottle of brandy as well as to the small ham. “ We have not a drop of spirits of any kind on board.” Then I altered my mind, and began to feel that poverty was a disgrace.

What business had this man to lure me into his stinking boat, telling me that he would take me to Cien Fuegos, and feed me on the way, when he had not a mouthful to eat, or a drop to drink, and could not raise a puff of wind to fill his sails ? “Sir," said I, “brandy is dangerous in these latitudes, unless it be taken medicinally; as for myself, I take no other kind of physic." I think that poverty on shipboard is a disgrace, and should not be encouraged. Should I ever be on shore again, my views may become more charitable.

Oh, for the good ship. Atrato,' which I used to abuse with such objurgations because the steward did not come at my very first call; because the claret was only halficed; because we were forced to close our little whist at 11 P.M., the sergeant-at-arms at that hour inexorably extinguishing all the lights ! How rancorous were our tongues ! “This comes of monopoly,” said a stern and eloquent neighbor at the dinner-table holding up to sight a somewhat withered apple. “And dis," said a grinning Frenchman from Martinique with a curse, exhibiting a rotten walnut—“dis, dis! They give me dis for my moneys—for my thirty-five pounds !"

And glancing

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round with angry eye, he dropped the walnut on to his plate.

Apples ! and walnuts!! What would I give for the • Atrato' now; for my berth, then thought so small; for its awning; for a bottle of its soda water; for one cut from one of all its legs of mutton; for two hours of its steam movement! And yet it is only now that I am learning to forgive that withered apple and that ill-iced claret.

Having said so much about my present position, I shall be glad to be allowed to say a few words about my present person. There now exists an opportunity for doing so, as I have before me the Spanish passport, for which I paid sixteen shillings in Kingston the day before I left it. It is simply signed Pedro Badan. But it is headed Don Pedro Badan Calderan de la Barca, which sounds to me very much as though I were to call myself Mr. Anthony Trollope Ben Jonson. To this will be answered that such might have been my name. But then I should not have signed myself Anthony Trollope. The gentleman, however, has doubtless been right according to his Spanish lights; and the name sounds very grand, especially as there is added to it two lines declaring how that Don Pedro Badan is a Caballero. He was as dignified,a personage as a Spanish Don should be, and seemed somewhat particular about the sixteen shillings, as Spanish and other Dons generally are.

He has informed me as to my “ Talla,” that it is Alta. I rather like the old man on the whole. Never before this have I obtained in a passport any more dignified description of my body than robust. I certainly like the word “ Alta.” Then

my eyes are azure. This he did not find out by the unassisted guidance of personal inspection. “Ojos, blue," he suggested to me, trying to

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