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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]


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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]




BOUND for Hawaii (a hundred and fifty miles distant,) to
visit the great volcano and behold the other notable things
which distinguish that island above the remainder of the group,
we sailed from Honolulu on a certain Saturday afternoon, in
the good schooner Boomerang.

The Boomerang was about as long as two street cars, and
about as wide as one. She was so small (though she was larger
than the majority of the inter-island coasters) that when I stood
on her deck I felt but little smaller than the Colossus of Rhodes
must have felt when he had a man-of-war under him. I could
reach the water when she lay over under a strong breeze.
When the Captain and my comrade (a Mr. Billings), myself
and four other persons were all assembled on the little after
portion of the deck which is sacred to the cabin passengers, it
was full—there was not room for any more quality folks. Another
section of the deck, twice as large as ours, was full of
natives of both sexes, with their customary dogs, mats, blankets,
pipes, calabashes of poi, fleas, and other luxuries and baggage
of minor importance. As soon as we set sail the natives all
lay down on the deck as thick as negroes in a slave-pen, and
smoked, conversed, and spit on each other, and were truly

The little low-ceiled cabin below was rather larger than a
hearse, and as dark as a vault. It had two coffins on each side
—I mean two bunks. A small table, capable of accommodating


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three persons at dinner, stood against the forward bulkhead,
and over it hung the dingiest whale oil lantern that ever peopled
the obscurity of a dungeon with ghostly shapes. The
floor room unoccupied was not extensive. One might swing
a cat in it, perhaps, but not a long cat. The hold forward of
the bulkhead had but little freight in it, and from morning till
night a portly old rooster, with a
voice like Baalam's ass, and the
same disposition to use it, strutted
up and down in that part of the
vessel and crowed. He usually
took dinner at six o'clock, and then,
after an hour devoted to meditation,
he mounted a barrel and crowed
a good part of the night. He
got hoarser and hoarser all the time,
but he scorned to allow any personal
consideration to interfere with
his duty, and kept up his labors in defiance of threatened

Sleeping was out of the question when he was on watch.
He was a source of genuine aggravation and annoyance. It
was worse than useless to shout at him or apply offensive epithets
to him—he only took these things for applause, and
strained himself to make more noise. Occasionally, during the
day, I threw potatoes at him through an aperture in the bulkhead,
but he only dodged and went on crowing.

The first night, as I lay in my coffin, idly watching the dim
lamp swinging to the rolling of the ship, and snuffing the nauseous
odors of bilge water, I felt something gallop over me. I
turned out promptly. However, I turned in again when I
found it was only a rat. Presently something galloped over
me once more. I knew it was not a rat this time, and I thought
it might be a centipede, because the Captain had killed one
on deck in the afternoon. I turned out. The first glance at
the pillow showed me a repulsive sentinel perched upon each


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end of it—cockroaches as large as peach leaves—fellows with
long, quivering antennæ and fiery, malignant eyes. They
were grating their teeth like tobacco worms, and appeared to
be dissatisfied about something. I had often heard that these
reptiles were in the habit of eating off sleeping sailors' toe nails
down to the quick, and I would not get in the bunk any more.
I lay down on the floor. But a rat came and bothered me,
and shortly afterward a procession of cockroaches arrived and
camped in my hair. In a few moments the rooster was crowing
with uncommon spirit and a party of fleas were throwing
double somersaults about my person in the wildest disorder,
and taking a bite every time they struck. I was beginning to
feel really annoyed. I got up and put my clothes on and went
on deck.

The above is not overdrawn; it is a truthful sketch of inter-island
schooner life. There is no such thing as keeping a vessel
in elegant condition, when she carries molasses and Kanakas.

It was compensation for my sufferings to come unexpectedly
upon so beautiful a scene as met my eye—to step suddenly out
of the sepulchral gloom of the cabin and stand under the strong
light of the moon—in the centre, as it were, of a glittering sea
of liquid silver—to see the broad sails straining in the gale,
the ship keeled over on her side, the angry foam hissing past
her lee bulwarks, and sparkling sheets of spray dashing high
over her bows and raining upon her decks; to brace myself and
hang fast to the first object that presented itself, with hat
jammed down and coat tails whipping in the breeze, and feel
that exhilaration that thrills in one's hair and quivers down
his back bone when he knows that every inch of canvas is
drawing and the vessel cleaving through the waves at her utmost
speed. There was no darkness, no dimness, no obscurity
there. All was brightness, every object was vividly defined.
Every prostrate Kanaka; every coil of rope; every calabash of
poi; every puppy; every seam in the flooring; every bolthead;
every object, however minute, showed sharp and distinct in its
every outline; and the shadow of the broad mainsail lay black


Page 501
as a pall upon the deck, leaving Billings's white upturned face
glorified and his body in a total eclipse.

Monday morning we were close to the island of Hawaii.
Two of its high mountains were in view—Mauna Loa and
Hualaiai. The latter is an imposing peak, but being only ten
thousand feet high is seldom mentioned or heard of. Mauna
Loa is said to be sixteen thousand feet high. The rays of
glittering snow and ice, that clasped its summit like a claw,
looked refreshing when viewed from the blistering climate we
were in. One could stand on that mountain (wrapped up in
blankets and furs to keep warm), and while he nibbled a snow-ball
or an icicle to quench his thirst he could look down the
long sweep of its sides and see spots where plants are growing
that grow only where the bitter cold of Winter prevails; lower
down he could see sections devoted to productions that thrive
in the temperate zone alone; and at the bottom of the mountain


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he could see the home of the tufted cocoa-palms and other
species of vegetation that grow only in the sultry atmosphere
of eternal Summer. He could see all the climes of the world
at a single glance of the eye, and that glance would only pass
over a distance of four or five miles as the bird flies!

By and by we took boat and went ashore at Kailua, designing
to ride horseback through the pleasant orange and coffee
region of Kona, and rejoin the vessel at a point some leagues
distant. This journey is well worth taking. The trail passes
along on high ground—say a thousand feet above sea level—
and usually about a mile distant from the ocean, which is always
in sight, save that occasionally you find yourself buried in the
forest in the midst of a rank tropical vegetation and a dense
growth of trees, whose great bows overarch the road and shut
out sun and sea and everything, and leave you in a dim, shady
tunnel, haunted with invisible singing birds and fragrant with
the odor of flowers. It was pleasant to ride occasionally in
the warm sun, and feast the eye upon the ever-changing panorama
of the forest (beyond and below us), with its many tints,
its softened lights and shadows, its billowy undulations sweeping
gently down from the mountain to the sea. It was pleasant
also, at intervals, to leave the sultry sun and pass into the cool,
green depths of this forest and indulge in sentimental reflections
under the inspiration of its brooding twilight and its whispering

We rode through one orange grove that had ten thousand
trees in it! They were all laden with fruit.

At one farmhouse we got some large peaches of excellent
flavor. This fruit, as a general thing, does not do well in the
Sandwich Islands. It takes a sort of almond shape, and is
small and bitter. It needs frost, they say, and perhaps it does;
if this be so, it will have a good opportunity to go on needing
it, as it will not be likely to get it. The trees from which the
fine fruit I have spoken of, came, had been planted and replanted
sixteen times, and to this treatment the proprietor of the orchard
attributed his success.

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We passed several sugar plantations—new ones and not very
extensive. The crops were, in most cases, third rattoons. [Note.
—The first crop is called “plant cane;” subsequent crops which
spring from the original roots, without replanting, are called
“rattoons.”] Almost everywhere on the island of Hawaii
sugar-cane matures in twelve months, both rattoons and plant,
and although it ought to be taken off as soon as it tassels, no
doubt, it is not absolutely necessary to do it until about four
months afterward. In Kona, the average yield of an acre of
ground is two tons of sugar, they say. This is only a moderate
yield for these islands, but would be astounding for Louisiana
and most other sugar growing countries. The plantations in
Kona being on pretty high ground—up among the light and
frequent rains—no irrigation whatever is required.