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cruise two months or more on the homeward passage,
and I desired to reach home as specdily as possible, I asked permission to join the Rapid. This was readily given; and, accordingly I enrolled my name upon the shipping-list of the Rapid, agreeing to help work the ship home at five dollars per month, and a “ leigh,” in case we should take any oil on the homeward passage.
In a few days we sailed from Lahinia for Honolulu, arriving at the latter port after a two days passage. Immediately upon our arrival, I hastened to the post-office, hoping to find letters from my friends at home. Being disappointed in this hope, I proceeded to the office of Father Damon, the seaman's pastor of the port. Upon giving him my name, he informed me that he had received two letters from my father, (which he showed me,) and gave me a detailed account of the manner in which my father had endeavored to gain intelligence of me, upon learning that I did not return to Honolulu with the Condor.
This account, and the letters to Mr. Damon, showed me how great had been my father's anxiety and solicitude in my behalf; and, requesting Father Damon to furnish me with suitable materials, I immediately sat down to write a long letter to my father, that his anxious mind might be relieved at the earliest possible moment. Mr. Damon also wrote a letter to my father, which, together with my own, was despatched without delay. After a long and pleasant conversation with this reverend and estimable man, in the course of which he did not fail to give me good advice, I bade him farewell and returned to my ship.
Instead of sailing directly for home in the Rapid, as I had anticipated, I was transferred, with the remainder of her crew, to another ship named the Frances Henrietta ; Captain West of the Rapid, of which he was agent and part owner, having decided to refit his own ship, for another season, and, exchanging her for the Frances Henrietta, return, with his crew to the United States in the latter vessel.
Accordingly, the transfer was made ; and, after remaining six weeks at Honolulu, we sailed for home in the Frances Henrietta. On the third day out, however, the ship sprung aleak, and we were compelled to make the nearest port, which was the Island of Otaheite, for repairs. In this port the upper works of the ship were recaulked and sheathed, which op
eration consumed about ten days; and, when she was ready for sea, we were detained seven days longer by a head wind, the harbor being too narrow to admit of beating the ship out to
At length, however, the wind having veered to a favorable quarter, we sailed from Otaheite.
During our passage to the Horn, we saw several whales, to which we occasionally gave chase, and innumerable black-fish. occasion, while in pursuit of a whale, one of our boats was pulled close alongside the already wounded and struggling monster, with the design of fixing a second harpoon in his body. The excitement of the chase, and the desire to be “in at the death," however, had overcome the prudence of those in charge of the boat, and sufficient caution was not observed in approaching the enraged Leviathan, which was lashing the water into foam in his violent struggles to escape from the torturing iron.
As the harpooner poised his weapon for the deadly blow, the whale suddenly went down, but ere the boat's crew had time to obey the hasty order to “ back oars !” which given instantly upon the disappearance of the whale, he had again risen to the surface within
a few yards of the boat. In a moment more his huge tail rose high into the air, as he took a second dive, and then descended full upon the bows of the boat, which it dashed, instantly, to atoms, scattering men, oars, and fragments of the wreck in every direction.
Providentially, the entire force of the blow had fallen upon the boat itself, and not upon the men, who would otherwise have been instantly killed.
The other two boats, which were near at hand at the time of this accident, came promptly to the rescue of their unfortunate shipmates, some of whom had succeeded in getting hold of oars and fragments of the boat, while others sustained themselves in the water by their own exertions.
One of the latter, being unable to keep himself afloat until the arrival of the boat, probably in consequence of injuries which he had received from flying splinters of the wreck, at the moment of its destruction, sunk to rise no more, before the eyes of his shipmates, and when relief was close at hand. All the other members of the boat's crew were rescued uninjured; but the sad event of their companion's death cast a gloom over the whole ship's company, for the deceased had been a true sailor
and a good shipmate, esteemed and respected alike in cabin and forecastle.
Meanwhile, the whale which had been the cause of this sad disaster, had ended his exploits by “flurrying ” about in such a frantic manner, that it became necessary to the safety
, of the first boat which had fastened to him, to cut the line, and let his whaleship go; whereupon, he gave a single flourish of his tail in token of defiance, and started for “parts unknown” at a furious rate; while the three remaining boats returned to the ship.
In due time, we arrived off Cape Horn, where we received the usual portion which falls to the lot of mariners in this tempestuous locality ; that is to say, severe weather, adverse winds, and plenty of hard work for all hands.
We spent nearly two weeks beating off and on, before we succeeded in doubling the Horn; and, although we met with no serious disaster, were frequently in a position of considerable peril, and more than once, narrowly escaped losing our masts, or being otherwise damaged.
One one occasion during this time, we were lying to at night under the lee clew of the main-topsail, in a living gale of wind; and the