|Newspaper Title||The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Ronald Walton: A Tale of Early Squatting Life in Moreton Bay|
Whaling.-Arrival at Hobart Town.-A
Yankee Whaling Snip.-Knuckle-dusters, Mutiny, Mordhr, and Oinsn Quikt En- joyments -San Francisco.
" Ono day, your fathor and mo was part of a boat's crow that was aftor a big sperm bull. Wo had a good long pull boforo wo came up with him. I harpooned him, and down ho went straight. When ho had Hourly run out ono 'tub of lino, I saw ho meant to do tho divo hand- somely, and wo bont on tho other line, for there's ni ways two tubs in a ,bont, with about threo hundred fathoms of lino in each. Well, ha still kept on going down, so I bont on a droguo-Know what a drogue is, Giovi 1-No Well, it is a Dut picco of wood about two feet square, with a loop of ropo in the centre, that's fastened to (he line ; and that is harder for tho whale to drag through the water than a boat full of men, though you mightn't think it to look at it.. Ho kept on running the line out at a great bat, and thinks I, he'll take another lino yet, blow'd if ho don't ; so I called to the other boat, and a few strokes brought them alongside, and just as he'd run out all out a' little of our
last line, their's was bent to it. Still ho went down, till wo thought we'd havo to bend on another, but ho slackened off, and wo took a turn round tho logger- head, nnd held on. Your dad was standing ready with a hutohet to cut the line in case he should take us under. He was so long showing up again, we thought he was dead or had got away ; but he rom about a quarter of a mile astern, then made straight for us like lightning Just when he wa» oloio tou», we lent two lance» into him, [and in tanteoondi hi» gnat jaw» <v- _"; h . i ; j | < ' n n >
oponed, and beforo you could say ' knife,' crash «ant the gunnel planks and ribs of the boat Yes, he bit the nose clean off hor, at the samo timo killing a poor fellow in the bows. Me and two others saw what ho meant, and jumped oveiboard. Then he made at tho boar next to us, and crushed it in the samo way, but didn't kill any one, and then dived. Thcro was another boat not fnr off, and ho carno up near it ; whether ho saw it or not I don't know, but ho turned round nnd round, and lashed the sea into foam with his flukes, ho was ko mad. Ho ninda nnother divo, and went right under the boat ; and ns ho caine up ho struck her with his tail, and sont her yards out of iho water, but only split some of tho planks. She fell, fortunately, on her keel, but with such a souse that she half filled. The captain saw the muss from the first, and bore towards us ; but before he reached us the follows in the boat had got her bailed out, and us all in ; for wo wero all holding on to oars, and bits of tho wreckage of the smashed boats. That boat was full, I toll you ; nnd it was as much as wo could do to keep hor afloat till tho ship came up to na ; but wo all got on board safe. As that was tho last boat tho Cross had, she was hauled aboard and repairod roughly. Then wo tackled the whale again, for he had served him- self round with tho linos in his fury, till ho became quito helpless, so wa soon finished him up, and lind him fust ulongaido the ship. Tho captain kept tho lower jaw of that whale, and sont it to the Museum when we got to Hobart Town. The scurvy wns so bad on board that your dad and mo, nud n lot more of us was carried ashore nnd taken to the hospital, where wo stayed eight weeks beforo wo wore ablo to walk rightly. Your governor wouldn't ship agnin, and
settled in Van Diemen's Land. I heard he got ! a grant of land for something he did there. . Ho saved the l'vos of some peoplo that gut upset out of a boat in the Derwont. It's a
plaguy risky bit of water to sail over, there's > such squalls como down from tho big mountain. , Well, he act into farming, but I don't know any-
thing moro ubout him. He wns a tou^h- ' looking old cove, and looked as if ho'd livo to tho ngo of a walnut tree.
" We shipped on n Yankee whaler-Snuko and mo. Her nnmo was the Pride of Virgiuny ; nnd a tigor of a skipper she lind. My oath I old Cathead «as a devil ! Look boro ; him mid his first mato woro knuckle-dustors, and thcro wasn't a man on board but showed tho marks of them somewhere Then one day you'd seo a poor devil triced up by the thumbs to tho rattling, or to a stay, with his toes just touching tho dock. Another time
you'd see a fellow tiod up by (ho ankles, s» as ' his finger tips only touched tho deck Wo ofton talked ovor our treatmont in the forc'slo,
and as sure's we did, bo sure did the blnstod . mato find us out. Well, thinks we, thore's a traitor somewhere, nnd if wa find bim out he'll loso tho number of his moss. We did find him out. Elo waa a young follow that we noticod got less punishment than the rest. Ono dark, stormy night, him and mo was in tho watch on deck. I was standing by tho mainmast, and him and tho mate met close to mo on tho other side, and bogan to talk low. Says tho mato, * Wall, Obadiab, what's the talk for'ard now?' 'Pedro said ho'd knifo you if ho got the chance.' 'But he won't. I'll blunt his white sknrk's tooth for that, to-morrow I What did the rest say to that?' ' We'll back you, old man. Go into him.' 'But,' snys Pedro, 'him and the skipper nnd second mata always carries revolvers, and wa haven't any.' 'Well, Podro,' thoy said, 'you plan it, and wo'll back you up. Lot thom separate, and we'll makeany terms welike with them.' 'Hoi' said the mate, ' mutiny, eh V and he sworo like like-well, hko a Yankee ; and siys ho, ' I'll maka a field day of it to morrow. If my middlo fingor was a inarliu' spiko boforo, the little un 'il bo a sheet-anchor stock in future Go and look up that murdering Spaniard I daresay he's HBleop on his watch for'ard somnwhoro.' With that the two separated. Tho mato goes aft, and Obadiah sneaks for'ard to Bpy on mo, ns ho thought. 1 cropt after him. Ho wont nlong tho low bulwarks round tho forc'sle, on tho loo side. Tho old ship was pitching into tho Boas, almost bows undor. I wns closo to him, and tho next pitch I chucked the skunk over. I slipped down below, roused all tho fullows, and told thom that Obadiah bad fallen overboard, and if they'd stand by mo, I'd put the captain and tho mate in their hands in a little while. They all shook hands with mo, and swo'o they'd stand by mo. Says I, ' I'll toll tho mate Obadiah's ill ; and if he calls down, ono of you groan as if you waa bad. If the mato comos down, you bo ready to soizo bim. If I can't got him to come, I'll call out ' Watch !' 1 hen you be ready for any- thing.' Soon tho mato came for'ard, and snys, ' You tamal loafur-whero's Obadiah ?' ' Down bolow, sir.' ' Down below I Who sont him thero 1 What's ho gono for}' ' Ho went down about half an hour ago, sir-s»id ho was ill, and wantod to soo you, but I didn't like to leavo my post thiB sort of n night, for you told ino to koop a sharp look-out ahead, mid all tho watch below was nsloop.' Ho goes to tho hatch and shouts 1 Obadiah I' floppy groans liko a mau ill (Hoppy laughed nt the recollection). Says the mate, ' What's up with you 1' ' Awful bad, sir,' groans Hoppy. ' Do como and soo if you can do anything for us. I can't wako tlioso fellows.' 'Tho tarnal skunks. I'll wako'em,'
says ho, and down ho goes shouting, ' Tumblo ! up boro you lubbers, and get ua a light, I or I'll trio« some of you up.' As ho went down tho ladder, 1 heard his pistol click. Thon thcro was an awful struggle, awl one shot wns fired. Ho was a powerful man, and it took all they could do to secure him with- out getting shot, bul they did it, and took his pistol away. ' There's no timo to loso now,' says I ; and to the mato I said, ' If you don't do all wa toll you, you'll follow your spy, Obadiah, overboard.' Ho began to rave and ourse, but wo made him shut up. Said I, ' Now, Snake, you and mo, and Hoppy '11 go aft.' So we did. I goes to the man at the whool, and Bays, 'Luff a bit, Jonathan. We'vo got the mato trapped, and'll have the skipper next.' ' All right,' says Jonathan, and ho luffs. In two minutes the skipper comes to the cabin door, shouts for the mat) liko thunder, and roars to the man at the wheel, ' Who ordered you to niter the ship's course, you precious pumpkin-headed son of n back- woodsman V 'The mate, sir 1 ' Thon ho roars again for the mate, and curses every ona into cat's meat, and jumps on the deck in a fury. Then wo manned him, and - "
" Johoshaphat ! Didn't he fight liko all-firod Virginny snakes 1 " said Hoppy.
" Yob, he was slippery, but wo fixed hiin. Wo woro afraid tho row would wake the second mate. Wo took tho skipper for'ard ; then mado the mato trail aft and call the seoond mate to his watch on deck, then sent him for'ard again. In two minutes tho seoond mate turnod out, and we nabbod him. Ho wa« a youngster, and soon caved in. He toas in a funk !"
" By (ho eternal stars and stripes he blub borod liko a biby I" broke in Hoppy.
" Woll, ho was tho last of them, and, just to tako a rise out of him, we told him he'd have to walk the plank, like the skipper and mate had done beforo him. That made him worso, and a nice hullabaloo ho kiokod up. We looked him in an empty cabin, and then senrohod tho ship for arms. Thoro was plenty for all hands. I None of us know how to navignte the ship, mid
we hadn't tho least iden what wo wrro going to do with hor, but wo hud jolly times of it for a bit. Didn't we, Hoppy V
" May I be split ef we didn't I We played np bII top-ropes. Seo, stranger," said Hoppy, " we made the skipper and mate do all the navigating, and a lot of tho work too. They cut up rough sometimes, at first, but we put on their knuckle-dustors and marked their blessed countenances hnndsomo, and they soon hove to. Jehoshaphat ! Didn't wo make smart foremast hands of 'em 1 "
" We lived in tho cabin, and made thom sloep and mess for'ard in tho foro'slo," continued Pedro j " and kept n waloh ovor the.n. We held a council of war to seo what wo should do with the ship and the prisoners ; for we couldn't koop on tho whaling ground, for fear of getting too closo quarters with somo other whaler, for we didn't caro about company just thon. The skipper was part ownor of tho ship, and mado us all sorts of offers if we'd only let him have her again. Wo wero not to be caught with chaff though. I said, ' Mates, my plan is this-go to tho Fiji Islands ; land the skipper and »eaond mate, then moko tracks for California ; »oil the »hip, and net off the beat way weean, ,8ha itn't known at'Iriioo.' «No*
s-id some of them 'Let tis take thom all together. We can make away with them when they've served our turn.' We sailed for 'FriBco, and made a good many plans on the way. We painted the ship mid boats n different colour ; altered the rig a bit, and paintod a different name on her Btorn. After about a fortnight wo bogan to ace a good many vessel* going in tho s.imo direction. Some spoke us, and wo found thoy wero nil going to 'Frisco. I couldn't make it out at all. At ¡mt wo got into port. There was a sight of shipping than>. I'J Leen lhere often before, but never saw anything like it. Tho ships soemed all drsorted. I was dressed in tho skipper's best, and Hoppy was my first, and Snake my second mate. The real skipper and mates wero all stowed away in tho coal-holo for'.ird, in the lower hold, with a guard ov» r them, ever sinco we entered port. Our plan was to soil the ship, divide the money, and evory man do as be liked after. But our plans were | all thrown out by something I'vo got to toll you. About sundown the day no got in, n boat put off from a ship that was anchored just iii-ido of us-wo wero the outsido cf nil with four men in it, and a chap that looke 1 like a skipper steering. They pulled round our ship. I says, ' What brings all those ships into port,
' Tho wind, for uno thinjr, sir,' said ho. ' What next?' siya I.
' What do yon moan by gold ?'
' Why thero's mountains, rivers, seas of gold found not far from here. The place Jstiuks of ' gold. Where air you from, that you never hoard
of it V
' Noi th Seas, whaling. Fourteen months
' Did you s'riko ile?' ' Well, somo,' I s.iid. ' Who's cap'n ?'
' Oh-say. 'Did you1 spe.k the Pride of Virginny, anywhar V
' What is she ?'
' Never saw her '
'Her Cap'n was n great friend of mine. Wo was 'prentices together.'
" t didn't liko the look of tho fellow a bit. Ho kept looking at the ship so ; and when ho liicntio-iod the real name, and said ho knew the skipper, I funked, I telt you, and wished lum. off. Says he,
' Your crew '11 bolt ; and your ship '11 be laid up, liko you seo all these scores of ships. Thoy can't sail for wa>it of mon. Follows all skedaddle to the diggings '
' Can you buy a ship hero ?' says I.
' Buy a ship hore! You can get 'om-let me seo-aevon or eight hundred tonners, at about twenty thousand dolhrs a score. But you cui't sell Bhips.'
" Ho seemed to know what I was thinking about, so I said, ' Don't waut to soil, sir.'
' Say-What's tho name of tho craft agen ?'
' Tho Retribution. Didn't you seo her nama
' Yes, I soo that-but it is so plaguey bad paintod. Got a piinlor a-board I What's your namo, cap'n 1'
' Wall, you'll hov to be smarter than most skippers, if you got out of this port with a full crow six days this side of doomsday, and then, may bo, you won't think it worth while to shift your berth for the short timo you'll hov to run. Tho Retribution. Wall, I thought she was an othor ship, but I seo sho isn't, so I'll toddle ashore. Good night, Cap'n Smart, Give way
[2*o be continued.]