« FöregåendeFortsätt »
seemed constructed expressly for holding men in convulsions. At first he was so shocked that he did not know what to do. I told him that the captain was to be held, whereupon, opening his powerful arms, he closed them around the captain's with the force of a hydraulic press, turning the legs over to me. These legs were a pair of the sturdiest that ever supported a human body; and I verily believe that if the feet had once touched my ribs, they would have sent me through the wall of the hut. Watching my opportunity, I wound the hammock around his legs, and my arms around the hammock. In the mean time he broke loose from Mr. Warburton's hug, who, taking the hint from me, doubled his part in with the folds of the hammock, and gave his clinch from the outside. The captain struggled, and, worming like a gigantic snake, slipped his head out of the top of the hammock, and twisted the cords around his neck, so that we were afraid of his strangling himself. We were in utter despair, when two of his sailors rushed in, who, being at home with ropes, extricated his head, shoved him back into the hammock, wrapped it around him as before, and I withdrew completely exhausted. The two recruits were Tom, a regular tar of about forty, and the cook, a black man, and particular friend of Tom, who called him Darkey. Tom undertook the whole direction of securing the captain; and although Dr. Drivin and several Indians came in, Tom's voice was the only one heard, and addressed only to “Darkey.” “Stand by his legs, Darkey!” “Hold fast, Darkey!” “Steady, Darkey!” but all together could not hold him. Turning on his face and doubling himself inside, he braced his back, and drove both legs through the hammock, striking his feet violently against the ground; his whole body passed through. His struggles were dreadful. Suddenly the mass of bodies on the floor rolled against Captain D’Yriarte's bed, which broke down with a crash, and with a fever upon him, he was obliged to scramble out of the way. In the interval of one of the most violent struggles we heard a strange idiotic noise, which seemed like an attempt to crow. The Indians who crowded the hut laughed, and Dr. Drivin was so indignant at their heartlessness that he seized a club and drove them all out of doors. An old naked African, who had been a slave at Balize, and had lost his language without acquiring much of any other, returned with a bunch of feathers, which he wished to stick in the captain's nose and set fire to, saying it was the remedy of his country; but the doctor showed him his stick, and he retreated. The convulsions continued for three hours, during which time the doctor considered the captain's situation very critical. The old woman persisted that the devil was in him, and would not give him up, and that he must die; and I could not but think of his young wife, who was sleeping a few miles off, unconscious of the calamity that threatened her. The fit was brought on, as the doctor said, by anxiety and distress of mind occasioned by his unfortunate voyage, and particularly by the mutiny of his crew. At eleven o'clock he fell asleep, and now we learned the cause of the strange noise which had affected us so unpleasantly. Tom was just preparing to go on board the vessel, when the Af. rican ran down to the shore and told him that the captain was at the hut drunk. Tom, being himself in that state, felt that it was his duty to look after the captain; but he had just bought a parrot, for which he had paid a dollar, and, afraid to trust him in other hands, hauled
ROUGH NURSING. 335
his baggy shirt a foot more out of his trousers, and thrust the parrot into his bosom, almost smothering it with his neckcloth. The parrot, indignant at this confinement, was driving his beak constantly into Tom's breast, which was scarified and covered with blood; and once, when Tom thought it was going too far, he put his hand inside and pinched it, which produced the extraordinary sounds we had heard.
In a little while Tom and Darkey got the Indians to relieve them, and went out to drink the captain's health. On their return they took their places on the ground, one on each side of their commander. I threw myself into the broken hammock; and Dr. Drivin, charging them, if the captain awoke, not to say anything that could agitate him, went off to another hut.
It was not long before the captain, raising his head, called out, "What the devil are you doing with my legs?" which was answered by Tom's steady cry, "Hold on, Darkey!" Darkey and an Indian were holding the captain's legs, two Indians his arms, and Tom was spread over his body. The captain looked perfectly sensible, and utterly amazed at being pinned to the ground. "Where am I?" said he. Tom and Darkey had agreed not to tell him what had happened; but, after the most extraordinary lying on the part of Tom, while the captain was looking at him and us in utter amazement, the poor fellow became so entangled, that, swearing the doctor might stay and tell his own stories, he began where he and Darkey came in, and found the captain kicking in the hammock; and the captain was given to understand that if it had not been for him and Darkey he would have kicked his own brains out. I relieved Tom's story from some obscurity, and a general and noisy conversation followed, which was cut short by poor Captain D'Yriarte, who had not had a wink of sleep all night, and begged us to give him a chance.
In the morning, while I was taking chocolate with Doctor Drivin, the mate came to the hut with the mutinous American sailor in the custody of four soldiers, to make a complaint to me. The sailor was a young man of twenty-eight, short, well-made, and very goodlooking, and his name was Jemmy. He, too, complained to me; wanted to leave the brig, and said that he would stop on a barren rock in the midst of the ocean rather than remain on board. I told him I was sorry to find an American sailor a ringleader in mutiny, and represented to him the distress and danger in which it had placed the captain. Doctor Drivin had had some sharp passages with him on board the brig, and, after a few words, started up and struck him. Jemmy fell back in time to avoid the full blow, and, as if by no means unused to such things, continued to fall back and ward off; but when pressed too hard, he broke loose from the soldiers, and tore off his jacket for a regular fight. I had no idea of favouring a mutinous sailor, but still less of suffering an American to be maltreated by odds, and hauled off the soldiers. In a moment the doctor's passion was over, and he discontinued his attack, whereupon Jemmy surrendered himself to the soldiers, who carried him, as I supposed, to the guardhouse. I waited a little while, and, going down, saw Jemmy sitting on the ground in front of the quartel, with both legs in the stocks above the knees. He was keenly alive to the disgrace of his situation, and my blood boiled. I hurried to the captain of the port, and complained warmly of his conduct as highhanded and insufferable, and insisted that Jemmy must A COUNTRYMAN IN TROUBLE. 337
be released, or I would ride to San Salvador on the instant and make a complaint against him. Doctor Drivin joined me, and Jemmy was released from the stocks, but put under guard in the quartel. This will probably never reach the eyes of any of his friends, but I will not mention his name. He was from the little town of Esopus, on the Hudson. In 1834 he sailed from New-York in the sloop-of-war Peacock for the Pacific station; was transferred to the North Carolina, and regularly discharged at Valparaiso; entered the Chilian naval service, and after plenty of fighting and no prize-money, shipped on board this brig. I represented that he was liable to be tried for mutiny, and had only escaped the stocks by my happening to be at the port; that I could do nothing more for him; and he might be kept on shore till the vessel sailed, and carried on board in irons. It was a critical moment in the young man's life; and, as one destitute of early opportunities, and whom necessity had probably doomed to a wayward life, and, moreover, as a countryman, I was anxious to save him from the effects of headstrong passion. The captain said he was the best sailor on board; and as he was short of hands, I procured from him a promise that, if Jemmy would return to his duty, he would take no notice of what had passed, and would give him his discharge at the first port where he could procure a substitute.
Fortunately, in the afternoon Captain D'Yriarte was sufficiently recovered to sail, and before going on board my vessel I took Jemmy to his. She was the dirtiest vessel I ever saw, and her crew a fair sample of the villanous sailors picked up in the ports of the Pacific. Among them, and as bad as any in appearance, was another countryman, Jemmy's American accomplice.
Vol. I.—U U 29