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a web of many textures

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Page 326


Among the disagreeables that chance to fall upon
humanity, there is nothing more painful than sea-sickness.
Those who go down on the sea for fun, after
reading romances glowing with eulogies of the ocean,
or poetry liquid with its praises, think they are going
to have a nice time. They laugh, and sing, and joke,
and affect sea-talk, and look after the small stores, and
indulge in thoughts of chowder, and even a broad hint
of fat pork fails to awaken any other feeling but one of
mirth. Thus they start. The breeze is fair, the water
is smooth, and far off is the deep sea, that “likeness of
heaven” they have read about, and which they will
now become acquainted with. By and by a motion in
the vessel is perceptible. Rising and falling with the
sea, she pitches in, right and left. A glance over the
side reveals the yeasty waves dancing in a mad game
of touch and run, here, there, and everywhere, up and
down. Here is a hill to climb, and here a vale to cross.
Now right in her teeth the vessel meets the sea, and
trembles from stem to stern. Anon she receives a blow
on one side, and then, without turning the other also,
she gets one on the opposite side. Mr. Verigreen, who
was so gay a moment ago, is now very ill. He smiles,
however, as he is addressed, and swears it is the tobacco.
The smile is a base counterfeit, — a lie, — for
there is no joy in his heart. He cannot define the feeling
that fills him. There is an utter goneness about
him. It is dreadful. There is a grateful smell of
chowder from the galley. To Verigreen it is execrable.
He thinks of the beautiful shore and its substantial
rocks, and wonders why anybody ever wants to
go to sea. The sea, as if angry at his uncomplimentary


Page 327
reflection, growls and hisses all around him. His head
aches, and his heart aches. Comfort with him has long
since fled. He still thinks, if it had n't been for the
cigars, he should have done very well. There never
was a vessel before, he knows, that pitched so much,
and he asks the man at the helm if he can't hold her a
little more steady. Will he be just so polite as to try?
He is a stern man, — he is always astern man, — and
laughs at poor Verigreen. Everybody laughs at him.
They call upon him for small stores, and he answers
with a groan; they try him with cigars, and he puts
them by; they hint at pork and molasses, and he collapses.
He begs them to throw him overboard, as an
act of personal kindness. He condemns the cigars. He
sits next the rail, because the prospect is better. There
is lead on his stomach, and he throws it. He knows he
should not have been sick but for the cigars. Poor
Verigreen! there is no mercy or compassion for him.
His experience ended, hear him, as his foot presses
terra firma, record his opinion of the sea: “Great is thy
majesty, O Ocean! Thy waves are high, and thy waters
brackish. Powerful are they, besides, and very tumultuous.
Poetry has sung thy praises, and eloquence
spouted thy glorification. And I have believed them,
— have yielded myself to the fascination of the delusive
song, that, like the chant of the siren, has brought me
to sorrow and misery. Henceforth, O Ocean! when
thy beauties I would contemplate, I will hie me to a
high hill and feast my eyes, nor trust thy unstable
waters more.”