"Through the South Seas with Jack London" by Martin Johnson - Conclusion

by Martin Johnson

Martin Johnson and a Pathé motion-picture operator on a hunt in the Solomons

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER IV - THE END OF THE VOYAGE
POSTSCRIPT

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Martin Johnson and a Pathé motion-picture operator on a hunt in the Solomons

 

CHAPTER XIV - THE END OF THE VOYAGE

At the dock, I got my luggage and Jack’s ashore and into a van, while Jack and Mrs. London went on up to the Metropole Hotel. After the luggage had passed the customs, I left it with Nakata, and got in a cab which took me to my rooms in Elizabeth Street. As I passed through the streets of Sydney, I could almost imagine I was in Chicago, with its traffic and hurry, its bustling and crowding. The Sydney street railways seemed to give excellent service. The stores are on the American plan, not the little shops so common in England. I had expected to see a city very much English, but my sober judgment is that Sydney is much more American than otherwise. In my Kansas home, I had always supposed Australia to be a bush country; so it was an agreeable surprise to find it as civilised as the States.
Sydney has nearly three quarters of a million people, and they dress and talk like Americans. There are dozens of good theatres, wherein are often enacted American plays. ("The Girl from the Golden West," and "The Merry Widow," were on at that very time.) About the only thing I could find fault with at first glance was the excessive amount of jewellery worn by the women, and, as it seemed to me, very old-fashioned jewellery—the kind we had sold over our counters in Independence a dozen years before. But anyway, I had a special grudge against all jewellery, after seeing the South Sea Islanders with their shell finger-rings, their big nose-and ear-rings, and uncouth anklets and bracelets, for, after all, was it not the same instinct for barbaric adornment that actuated the rude natives and the highly decorated women of Australia? or that actuates jewellery-wearing people the world round?
The manager of the moving picture expedition at Penduffryn had given me a letter to his agents, asking that they secure these rooms in Elizabeth Street for me. It was a suite of three well-furnished rooms, cool and comfortable, and heavenly after the weary months at sea, where I had slept in a bunk some inches too short for me. It had been six months since I had slept ashore—at Vila, New Hebrides, was the last place—and it was with difficulty I could persuade the rooms to stand still. I caught myself propping things up so they wouldn’t roll off the table or the dresser; and it seemed strange that my bed did not buck and try to pitch me out on the floor.
That evening I dined with the Londons, and then we went to the theatre. Mrs. London still had attacks of island fever. Jack had had the fever in its worst form. But none the less, we enjoyed this evening, which, for all we knew, might be the last we could spend together for a long time; for on the morrow, the Londons were to go into hospital.
They went to the St. Malo Hospital, in Ridge Street, North Sydney. Here the doctors found that Jack was indeed a very sick man. The fever they could subdue, but his mysterious ailment baffled them. Jack’s hands grew worse every day.
I went to a doctor, who burnt out my yaws with caustic potash. He advised me to lay up for a time, but I foolishly disregarded his counsel, and walked about the streets of Sydney. As a consequence, my yaws and fever grew more troublesome, and I was forced to go to bed. It all ended by my going into the Sydney Homeopathic Hospital, in Cleveland Street. Here I received competent medical treatment, under which my yaws rapidly healed. But the island fever has a trick of recurring most unexpectedly; and so it was with me. Just as I thought myself cured, another attack of fever would prostrate me.
As I lay in that hospital, I often wondered what would be the next stage of our journey. Where next would the little Snark carry her anxious crew? From now on, we would find ourselves among people very much different from the men and women of the South Seas. The world was broad, I reflected; there was no knowing what further adventures might come our way, or what strange things our wanderings would show us. One thing was sure. Greater things lay before us than we had left behind. Much as we had seen, we still had much to see. And I lay there and planned the various things I would do when I got well to make life on the yacht more comfortable; the appliances I would buy, the ventilators needed, and a hundred and one other things.
And then everything was dashed in a minute. The matron of the hospital brought me a letter from Jack, which contained discouraging news. I learned that he was little better; and that he might be getting much worse. His fever was pretty well conquered, but his other ailment was unrelieved.
This other ailment was a puzzler. "The doctors do not know what it is," ran the letter. "The biggest specialist in Australia in skin-diseases has examined me, and his verdict is that not only in his own experience has he never seen anything like it, but that no line is to be found about it in any of the medical libraries. My hands are getting worse. They are so bad to-day that I cannot close them. What it may lead to, I do not know; but one thing I do know, and that is that I must get back to my own climate. I shall have to give up my voyage around the world. I shall have a captain . . . to bring the Snark down to Sydney, where I shall sell her. The steamer does not sail for between three and four weeks from now. I shall want you to go back on said steamer, and run the engines, etc., on the trip down to Sydney . . . I can assure you that I am not a bit happy over all this."
I was dazed. I experienced a sense of deep loss. For an hour I did not know what to do. To abandon the voyage! To sell the yacht! For two years the Snark had been home to me; and now I could hardly bear to think of quitting her.
Securing my clothes from the matron, I went to the St. Malo Hospital and enquired for Jack. I was shown up to where he was lying. Mrs. London was in bed in the same room, sick with the fever. She could scarcely speak of the Snark, she felt so bad. Jack’s hands were certainly in terrible condition. The skin was thick and hard, so that he could hardly close them. And, of course, it was impossible for him to write. He explained to me. There were many chances to see the world, he said, and many voyages; but he had only one pair of hands. Writing was his profession. He could not give it up. Therefore, the voyage of the Snark must be abandoned. The doctor had told him that even if he were cured, the affliction might return should he go among the deadly Solomons again. Furthermore, a change of diet was necessary. The things we had aboard the Snark were not suited to the needs of a sick man. Fresh fruit and vegetables, and fresh meats—not canned foods and salted meats—were what he must have. So back he was going to California, his native state, where his health had always been perfect.
This was on December 9, 1908. The steamer Moresby, on which a captain and myself were to go back to the Solomons after the Snark, did not sail till the 31st. With good luck, we ought to be back in Sydney by February 1.
The interval I spent in sightseeing. Australia is a very interesting place, and, as I have said, reminds one very much of the States. In the business section, the streets are extremely narrow, but elsewhere they broaden out. The street-car service is excellent, as is the railway service. On the express trains they have large American engines and the broad-gauge tracks.
The people are very enterprising; but I think the heads of government must all be preachers or missionaries, judging by the strange laws they make. For instance: Unless a person is a guest at a hotel, he is not allowed in on Sunday; if he wishes to see a friend at one of the big hotels, he must stand outside until the friend is called. The street-cars stop during church hours, both in the morning and in the evening, and so do the trains—even the fast express trains stop wherever they happen to be at the time, and do not start up again until church service is over. Few restaurants are open on Sunday; and there are no Sunday papers.
Anything said about Sydney is not complete without a mention of the harbour—the largest and finest in the world. It is miles and miles around, from head to head, and the water is deep enough anywhere for the greatest vessel to float. Almost anywhere, a ship can tie up to the shore. An enormous amount of shipping goes in and out of the heads every day; about a dozen lines run to Europe by way of South Africa and the Suez canal; and there are nearly as many lines to America. A hundred steamers ply from here to the South Seas and Asia. And there are tramp steamers and independent sailing vessels.
When I went to see one ship off for the Gilbert and Ellis Islands, I was amazed to find several old friends. The first officer I had met in Vila, New Hebrides. On a nearby sailing vessel I met old David Wiley, the trader we had visited at Tanna. And Mr. Darbishire was leaving on the steamer for the Gilberts, to take up a government position at Ocean Island. The crew was composed of Gilbert Islanders, the first I had ever seen.
Near the close of December, Jack and Mrs. London came out of hospital. We went to the great Johnson-Burns prize fight; and while it was not much of a fight—too one-sided, for the negro was by far the better man—I would not have missed it for anything. The Australians are worse negro-haters even than Americans, and they hooted Johnson and cheered Burns—which was not at all fair; and I did not grieve much to see their idol beaten until he looked like a piece of raw beefsteak.
Jack wrote up the fight for the American press, and then gave me the original manuscript, which I value highly. My valuation will be justified when I say that, with one exception, I am the only person in the world to whom has been given an original manuscript of Jack London, though more than one has asked.
I had Christmas dinner with Mr. Darbishire at the Hotel Metropole. I ran the risk of arrest by going in on a holiday. Just imagine a Christmas dinner in a tropical climate. I had always associated Christmas with some amount of snow. And we had no cranberries! Christmas without cranberries! But we made up for other deficiencies with the finest of strawberries, and watermelon; which is something my friends in America never do have at this season of the year.
At last we secured our captain—an old man who seemed to know considerable of the South Seas. Jack and Mrs. London and Nakata went over to Hobart, Tasmania, where it was thought the cooler climate would be better for them. Captain Reed and I boarded the Moresby and left Sydney at ten o’clock on the evening of January 8. We should have left much earlier, but delayed cargo kept the ship waiting.
There were fourteen first class passengers on board. Two were French missionaries, and the rest traders; these last returning to the islands after a few weeks of drunkenness in Sydney. (They called it their "vacation.") In the morning they all looked alike—like pieces of yellow cheese-cloth. Three or four were down to breakfast, but soon left—one man with his hand rather suspiciously over his mouth.
The old captain who was to navigate the Snark back to Sydney seemed a queer old chap. As he read much and talked little, we got along all right. Soon I felt so good that I had to go round tantalising the seasick people. I knew most of the traders. I opened a fresh box of chocolates, and with exaggerated generosity passed them around. One fellow was so ungrateful as to throw a stick at me.
The Moresby was a regular old tub—not so large as the Makambo, that we had come down in. Built in 1879, she was condemned in 1905, as the underwriters declared the boilers were not safe; but they gave them a coat of paint, and the Moresby continued to run. The accommodations were not bad—electric lights, fans, and very good food. The officers and the stewardess were very jolly. While I was sorry to leave Sydney, if only for a few weeks, I found my sorrow somewhat alloyed by the very good time I had aboard the Moresby. We were to get into Brisbane on the 11th, and from there it is only nine or ten days to the Solomons.

A Florida Canoe, Solomons 

We got in Brisbane on Monday morning. After finding out that we would not sail until ten o’clock that night, the most of the passengers went up to the city. I got away from the crowd, and walked around to see the place. I think, if I were going to live in Australia, I should choose Brisbane in preference to Sydney. Sydney is a livelier and busier city, and Brisbane is just the opposite: quiet and slow; but it has such broad, pretty green streets, houses like the California bungalows, and such splendid car service, that Sydney is far outshadowed. It is very tropical, too, in Brisbane; the people dress in white, and only get busy toward evening.
His name was Bannerman, and he came aboard here at Brisbane. It was nearly midnight before we cast off and headed down the river. At eight o’clock Bannerman had been deposited with several trunks and suitcases on board by a crowd of noisy young fellows. They had strolled the deck arm-in-arm until we cast off, singing: "For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow," and "The King of the Cannibal Islands." And after we had swung away from the wharf, they cried after him to bring them back a few human heads, and they gave him advice as to how to handle the cannibals.
In the cabin the traders had been playing cards all evening, and before turning in I stopped to watch them.
Bannerman was standing behind, telling the traders who he was and where he came from; and from his pretentious talk, he must have been a person of some importance in Brisbane and elsewhere. Now he was going to the islands to rest for awhile at a trading station. He had signed on for a two-year job; as he expressed it, he was tired of civilisation, and of people; he wanted to get to a place where he could rest and take things easy. Of course, he knew that there might be a little trouble with the natives, but that did not bother him.
He went on talking in a loud voice of what he had done and what he could do. The traders paid slight heed to him; poker, as these men played it, took all their attention. Finally, I went to my cabin and turned in. Next morning we were out of sight of land, with a rough head-sea retarding our progress, and sending spray all over the ship. We pitched and rolled as only a South Sea trading steamer can roll. The traders were at their poker game when I went below, but Bannerman was not to be seen, and for several days he failed to show up at the table, and was nearly forgotten until we were half-way to the islands.
The sea was now as smooth as a mill-pond. The after-poop-deck had been covered with an awning. We were gathered on deck one morning after breakfast, the traders telling stories of the islands, when Bannerman came up rather shaky on his legs and joined us. He had nothing to say about himself now. A trader, Swanson by name, had been among the islands for thirty years and had had some bad experiences with the savages. He was relating some trouble he had had with a new bunch of tough recruits, where all the crew on his trading schooner was killed, and he had reached a missionary’s house after days without food or water.
"On what island did this happen?" enquired Bannerman.
"On Guadalcanar," replied Swanson; and turning, he seemed to see Bannerman for the first time. "Why, I believe that is where you are to be stationed, isn’t it? What part do you go to?"
I could see by the way the traders looked at each other that Swanson was about to "string" this green recruit.
"Why, I will be with Collins Brothers, but—"
"What! Collins Brothers?" and turning to another trader, Swanson asked: "Wasn’t that where Jack Dupretz was killed?"
"Yes," the other assured him. "Only a few months ago, too. But I hear it was the bush boys did the work, so it’s safe enough there now for nearly a year—you know, they never come down, only once a year."
"But they told me this was the most peaceful place in the islands," began Bannerman.
"Well, I reckon it is ’bout as peaceful as any place in the group; but don’t you think for a minute that you can go to sleep anywhere up here with both eyes shut. Of course, you are well armed and have plenty of ammunition?"
"I have a revolver and plenty of cartridges," panted Bannerman.
"That’s good; but if I were you I would get several guns and a barrel of ammunition; you can never tell what will happen here."
Now that the traders were tired of poker and had found an easy mark, they started in to throw him into a state of panic.
I had scratched my foot that morning, and careful that the yaws did not get started again in the wound, I was washing the cut every half-hour with permanganate of potash and mercury.
While the traders were busy telling their narrow experiences with the cannibals and about the different fellows who had gone to the roasting pot, I had backed out of the group and was anointing my foot with the antiseptic wash. It was necessary for me to roll up my trousers, exposing the red scars of my yaws. This attracted Bannerman’s attention.
"What’s the matter with your legs?" he asked.
"Nothing now," I answered. "Have just recovered from a slight dose of yaws."
"What’s yaws?"
"You’ll know soon enough," a trader spoke up. "Wait a few weeks from now. Everybody down here gets yaws—won’t be healthy if you don’t. You see, it’s just a slight form of leprosy."
"But a man can be careful and not catch it, can’t he?" quavered the now thoroughly discomfited Bannerman.
"No use; it catches the new fellows who have not been ’climatised;’ after you have a good dose of it once, you’ll be all right."
"But I was told it was such a healthy climate."
The men laughed this remonstrance down.
"Sure it’s a healthy climate, and you’ll enjoy it as soon as you get over your first attack of yaws or fever. Of course, the fever may hold off the yaws for awhile—depends on which comes first."
This was about the last straw to Bannerman. He drew off to himself to think over his troubles to come.
The traders let him alone for the rest of the day; but they were preparing new tales to tell him. They had intended to help things along that night at dinner, but Bannerman kept to his bunk, although the sea was as smooth as it ever gets, and it was not until lunch next day that they got a chance to make his life more miserable. This was his first appearance at the table.
"That’s right; come and fill up on white man’s grub while you’ve got the chance, for two years is a long time to live on native kai-kai and tinned foods."
"Well, I can stand it, if you fellows can," answered Bannerman bravely.
"Right you are! Now that’s the way I like to hear a man talk. I tell you, men, he will be able to handle the black boys, all right. Don’t ever let them see you are afraid of them," he cautioned the other, "or they will sure get you."
Every trader present had a tale of horror to tell. By the time the meal was over, Bannerman was in a state of collapse. The captain sat at the head of the table and said nothing during the meal. After we had finished eating, I went on the bridge with him, and we got to talking over this new trader.
"He’s the easiest mark I ever saw," exclaimed the captain. "The men generally have a good time with the new traders each trip, but this fellow seems to take it more seriously than any of the others. If he don’t get wise before we reach Tulagi, I’ll have to set him right—wouldn’t be the square thing to send him ashore in the state he’s in."
We got in Tulagi just after dark, and the dozen schooners that always come after their mail and as much liquor as they can hold, were anchored in the bay. Immediately after our anchor was dropped, their passengers swarmed aboard, all heading for the bar. I knew some of them, and I told all of them of the way we had frightened Bannerman, and they determined to help the thing along. So one captain asked three of us and Bannerman to go over to his schooner. As we got alongside, thirty natives just recruited from Malaita gave a yell, and the captain told us to get our guns ready. Poor Bannerman said he had no gun. Then the captain asked him if he had come to the Solomons to commit suicide. "Why, no man ever has one hand off his gun here!" the captain declared. At this, Bannerman wanted to go back to the steamer, but the captain said he thought the blacks were in a good humour now. The blacks were a raw, savage lot, stark naked, and adorned, as they thought, most becomingly, with big plugs in their ears, and nose-rings, shell anklets and armlets. But it was their bleached woolly hair that made them look most terrible.
We told Bannerman stories, and the captain, innocently as could be, mentioned a big massacre up near Collins Brothers’ plantation, where Bannerman was to work. Bannerman told him this identical place was to be his future home; whereupon the captain elaborated a fiction as to three white men who had lost their heads at Collins’ place a few weeks before. (As a matter of fact, Collins’ plantation is really one of the most peaceful spots in the Solomons.) Bannerman then and there declared that he would go back to Brisbane on the same steamer that had brought him. But by next morning, he informed us that he had decided to try a few months of it. I think the captain of the Moresby had seen the joke was too far advanced, and had told him that we were "stringing" him.
Governor Woodford, whose station is at Tulagi, had just bought a steamer in order to keep in touch with the other islands, and the traders were having great fun about it. It was just about the size of the Snark, and looked like a tug-boat. It was painted slate colour, the same as the British warships, and had several small guns mounted on deck. All the discipline of a warship was maintained. A native had been trained to blow a bugle; at eight in the morning the flag went up, and at sunset it came down, while the black bugler played his best, and all the schooners followed example in the raising and lowering of flags. At a civilised place, this would seem all right, but at Tulagi it was comical. The traders talked proudly of the "Solomon Island fleet" and were even facetiously arranging for it to follow the American fleet’s example and make a trip around the world.
The next morning after our arrival, this little steamer came in from Malaita, where it had been enforcing the law. A white missionary at Ulava had had trouble with the natives, and they had threatened to kill him; so he cleared out in a whale-boat to the governor’s, who sent the steamer there. As they steamed up the lagoon they were fired on by the natives, who had old Snyder rifles. When they landed fifty police natives, they were attacked with spears and arrows, several being killed. Then the steamer sent several shells into the village, and killed seven natives. Poor Bannerman’s heart throbbed on hearing this—for the captain of the Moresby could not say that this was a joke. He left the next morning for his plantation, accompanied by six natives, and I never heard of him again. Anyway, I’ll bet that he wished more than once on that trip that he were back in Brisbane.
We found the Snark in good condition at Aola. We put fuel and water aboard, stored provisions, and unfurled the sail; and then we set out on the backward trip to Sydney.
On January 27 we set out. If the weather were favourable, we ought to get into Sydney in about twenty days. That we did not do so was owing to the captain’s over-carefulness. We quickly discovered that Captain Reed was a very timid skipper. But let the words I wrote at the time tell the story.

Friday, January 29, 1909.
—It’s nine o’clock, and Henry and Wada and Tehei are asleep on the deck for’ard. It is Henry’s turn at the wheel, but I’m supposed to be on the lookout. It’s such a fine night, with nearly a full moon, and so warm and cool at the same time that it seems there could be no more perfect a night than this. A four-knot breeze and an uncommonly quiet sea, and not a cloud.
I am wearing a lava-lava only, and feel as if I’d like to discard it—not from heat, but it seems wicked to wear anything such a night as this. Those two mystical islands we have been heading for ever since we left the Solomons are just ahead about five miles—Belonna and Rennell. In an hour we will have to go about on the other tack to keep from cutting off a few hundred feet of Rennell. If I had my way, I should heave-to until morning, then go ashore, for these people are the most primitive in the world—no stranger has ever reported setting foot ashore here, unless a man named Stephens, who, when we left Sydney, was just getting up an expedition to visit these two islands, has been here by now. I am anxious to see Stephens about it.
But what a night! I can’t get over it. The sails are just drawing comfortably, and there is no sound except the swish of the water around the bow as we cut through it. It seems as if millions of stars are trying to help the moon in making things lighter; and the Southern Cross is just overhead. Henry has gone to the wheel, and sits gazing at the stars and singing South Sea songs—now of Samoa, now of Hawaii, and now of Tahiti, taking me back to the good times we had in those islands. The Snark really needs no steering to-night, but someone must be at the wheel.
And this is my last of the South Seas for perhaps a long time, perhaps forever. Those tall cocoanut trees on Rennell, which we can plainly see, are the last links of the islands. The next trees we see will be of the white man’s country. I’m almost sorry to get back, although the last few months among the South Sea islands have played havoc with the crew of the Snark. My legs have scars that will never disappear—a sure sign I am not welcomed here. Yes, it is better that we are leaving.

Sunday, January 31, 1909.
—Well, I’m contented now, for I’ve seen the wonderful natives of Rennell, and this is how it happened. Yesterday morning, when I came on deck, I found the Snark too close to the shore of Rennell to be comfortable, and it was not a nice shore to see, either, for the whole coast seemed to be jotted with rocks, and the sides of the island were nearly perpendicular. I called the captain and we went about, having decided it would be better to go around the island from the other end, for the wind was dead ahead the way we were going and we were making more leeway than anything else. So we sailed along the coast all morning, and right after dinner Henry discovered a canoe putting off to us. We backed the head-sails and waited for them. There were two natives in the first canoe, and right after them came a canoe with three natives. The canoes were well-built Polynesian outriggers, and larger than any I’ve seen, but the natives, big, brown-skinned, long-haired fellows, none under six feet in height, and all muscle, were the strangest yet. Each had a short spear with a long bone point—very fine pieces of work. Two of them had big iron-wood clubs. The largest, most intelligent fellow, whom we found to be the king, was seated in a curious chair, made to fit into the canoe. After they had got aboard, I collected the five spears, two clubs, and the chair together on the skylight, then took a half-tin of biscuits, a few fish-hooks, several strings of beads, four old files, a broken sheath-knife, and the hoop-iron off an old water-cask; and putting my things in a pile next to theirs, offered to trade. They jumped on my things with a whoop. I made some photographs of them. They did not object, but I know they didn’t catch on to what I was doing, for they wore a look of wonder during all the time I was photographing them. One thing that particularly struck me was the fine white teeth they all had, and their hair would have made any girl proud.
All the time they were aboard, they were trying to make me understand something that excited them. They would shout and throw their hands in the air, and jump around the deck, frightening the captain nearly into fits. He would have nothing to do with them, but sat on a box with a gun in his hands throughout their stay. But they did not know what a gun was. I am always interested in this kind of people, so tried to talk to them, as did Henry, but it was the first time I’ve seen him unable to use the few words he knows. The natives would have nothing to do with him or with the others, for they were too near their own colour, but I was white, and therein lay a great mystery. All the time they jabbered and pointed ashore. As near as I could make out, they wanted us to go in and anchor; but I would not get in among such a crowd of savages for anything, though I should have liked to see their women.
They wore only a small loin-cloth, made from the bark of a tree, and no other ornaments. They were tattooed all over with designs that were new to me and the king had a small ring of shell in his nose.

Trading Station, Langakauld-Ugi, Solomons 

They finally got so excited that the captain was frightened, and to make them leave he pointed his gun at them. But they only grabbed for it, thinking it was a present. The iron and brass work interested them the most. They would feel of it and try to break pieces off, and the boats they examined all over, making queer noises at everything they could not understand. Finally the captain got so aroused that he could stand it no longer; he told me to start the engines. While I was getting it ready, five excited faces watched me through the skylight, but as the first gas explosion came, those five excited faces vanished. Our visitors had jumped overboard into their canoes, leaving behind the things I had given them in exchange for their spears and the chair. Also, they had left two strings of porpoise teeth (worth about £2 in the Solomons, where they use them for money). I kept the porpoise teeth, but the other things we wrapped in an old oilskin and threw into one of the boats. I went below and threw on the clutch, and when I came up, I saw the five men fighting over the old iron I had given them. They fought and squabbled, and dropped the biscuits overboard into the water, apparently not recognising their value. One, to whom I had given a stick of tobacco, had tasted it, and finding it nauseous, had thrown it away.
We steamed ten miles into the passage between the two islands; then I stopped the engine and we slowly drifted through. At sunset a canoe followed us for an hour, but we drifted too fast for them, and they gave it up when about five miles from shore. I’ll wager it was a tired canoe-load of natives that put in to land last night, for they had to paddle hard against the current.
The captain seems to have a notion in his head that we mustn’t make any speed. What his reason is, I don’t know.
To-day we are calmed about twenty miles off the islands, and it’s hotter than sin. The tar in the deck is melting and bubbling up through the seams, so that a person feels as if walking on molasses, when compelled to walk.

Saturday, February 13, 1909. 
—The day after we cleared Rennell we were struck by a southeast squall, which settled down into a gale that lasted for four days—the most miserable four days I ever spent on the Snark. Rain, wind, and combing seas all the time! The seas were so high that it was no use trying to beat against them, so we just lay and pitched and rolled, with the seas breaking on the deck all the while, until every stitch of our clothing was wet through. Oilcloth and rubbers are useless against such weather. The salt water would get below, in spite of all we could do. We had the skylights and hatches battened down, too. Only the staysail remained set. The fourth day we tried to set a jib, but it was carried away, and the main jib-boom stay broke off, so we were in danger of having the flying-jib smashed, but we made it solid with watch tackles, and when the wind had settled a little we hoisted the mizzen double-reefed, and another jib. We soon had to lower the jib, and Henry, instead of taking it on deck, lashed it to the jib-boom, and in one night it was torn to threads by the constant plunging into the seas. Now we have only a small storm-jib left to take us into Sydney.
The fifth day, the wind let us, but we still had the heavy seas. On trying to make a little sail, we found the rigging on the mizzen-mast to be in bad condition, and it took all hands a day to repair it. Then the gooseneck on the staysail broke, and as we have no other, we patched it up with ropes. On raising the mainsail, the throat-halyards carried away, and when they were repaired, the peak did the same. A good stiff wind and the heavy seas continued, so we dared not put on full sail, but have been creeping along under double-reefed main and mizzen sails and have not attempted to set the other jib. This old captain is certainly afraid to make sail, for during the last few days we could easily have had reefs out of the sails and the jib set; but as the barometer is still low and he does not like the look of the leaden sky, he will not do it. He and I had a hot argument a few days ago because I wanted more sail put on, and he informed me that he was captain, and for me to tend to my own business—so that is what I am doing. But I know we could be a couple of hundred miles to the south if he would not be so careful. Henry is madder than a hornet; says if we stop anywhere south of Sydney he will go ashore, for he does not want to work for such a timid old man. But he couldn’t do what he threatens, for the authorities would not allow a dark-skinned man ashore.
Henry has a fit of grouchiness, so he is snappy and growling all the time. Tehei is so homesick that he can’t be cheerful. Wada is cheerful enough; but take it all in all, it is mighty unpleasant company.
Here we are only about three hundred and fifty miles from the Solomons, and we’ve been out eighteen days, with sixteen hundred miles yet to go, and Wada says there are only provisions enough for ten days more, by economising; and it’s not the best of grub, either. Salt-horse, sea biscuit, tinned salmon, beans, rice, and about twelve pounds of tea. More of the captain’s folly, for he does not know how to stock a vessel of this kind. At first, when we left the Solomons, I did not know that there was not plenty of provisions, or what poor stuff it was, for I was living on fruit and fish nearly all the time; but now the fruit is gone and the fish that we catch are the deep-water kind, dry and tasteless, and only fit for soup or for eating raw.
I hooked an enormous shark a few days ago, but it broke a large iron hook—a foot long and of 3⁄8 inch iron. It was all of sixteen feet long. Tehei says that’s the reason that we don’t get fair wind—the shark is hoodooing us.

Sunday, February 14, 1909. 
—Last night we rolled about on the swells of a calm, and we all felt better, for surely by morning the wind would freshen, and it would be a northeast wind, for that’s the wind that should be blowing at this time of the year, but up to now it’s still calm, and the little wind that is blowing is from the same old direction—southeast, and it’s hotter than blazes.
I’m commencing to chafe under so long a spell of hard luck. For awhile I did not care, but to-day I’ve been looking over old pictures of home, and home postcards. But one thing is certain—I’ll be home in less than one year now, probably before another Christmas. I’ll leave Australia as soon as I can get away from the Snark. A short time in Europe, and then home.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned a dog Mrs. London got off the wrecked Minota in the Solomons—a scotch terrier, only a pup when she came aboard, but grown since to full size. All aboard liked to play with her. She would sit and cock her head to one side while a person talked to her. Even the old, grumpy captain liked to play with her. During the heavy weather last week, Peggy could not walk on deck without being thrown from one rail to the other, and I think possibly she was injured internally; and with the lack of fresh food and exercise, she died. Mrs. London will feel bad about it, for she told me to take particular care of Peggy—that she was going to take her back to California. Now it seems as if one of the crew were gone, and the naturally superstitious Kanakas are mumbling that it is a "no good" sign.
This morning I caught a small shark—six feet four inches—but threw him overboard again, for the Kanakas were too lazy to cut him up; and after cutting up one shark, I never want to tackle another. Besides, it’s so hot that no one wants to exert himself. No wind, so no one is needed at the wheel. Everyone is stretched on deck, under the boats or in the cockpit.

Sunday, February 21, 1909.
—To-day is like last Sunday, only more so. No wind, plenty of sun, and the pitch runs cheerfully down the deck-seams. Last week we had some pretty fair weather that would take us along at six knots for as long as half a day, then the eternal flap, flap of the sails again. One day we made a hundred miles, but from seven to forty was the run on other days. Sharks are getting thick around us—so thick that when we try for other fish, these brutes swallow our bait. Then we have to hook a tackle to them, and heave on deck to get our hook and line back again. One day we caught three while fishing for dolphin. It’s interesting to find the miscellaneous assortment of fish in their stomachs. Often, the fish will be still alive. But we get other things besides sharks. Other fish are plentiful, too. Henry speared a five-foot dolphin, and Tehei catches two or three twenty and twenty-five-pound bonita every day with his pearl shell hooks. If we happen to have a little headway at night, flying fish will come aboard, and if I can find them before the Kanakas, I have a good breakfast. But if they see them first, they pull off their wings and head, and eat them raw. When a bonita is pulled aboard, while it’s still flopping on deck, the Kanakas will slice out a few steaks and start eating—very much to the disgust of the captain.
And nearly every night we take on a few passengers—big reef-birds that have flown too far from their homes, and have come aboard to rest. They will get in the life-boat or on the stern-sail, and tuck their heads under their wings and pay no attention to us, unless we try to touch them, and then they will give a sharp peck which is not pleasant, for their long beaks have edges like a saw. In the morning they go away hunting for fish; then at night I think I sometimes recognise the same birds back again.
We are now under regular deep-sea discipline, with watches the same as on a full-rigged ship. This captain is not used to sailing a small vessel like this. Probably he would be all right on a square-rigger, but he makes entirely too much fuss here. Henry and I come on watch at six o’clock until eight; then the captain and Tehei until twelve, midnight; then Henry and I until four; then the captain and Tehei and Wada until eight. Wada goes below to prepare breakfast, and at eight Henry and I go on until noon. Then the captain and Wada until four. Wada takes the wheel from two to four every afternoon, then Henry and I the first dog-watch to six. Now, we do not need a lookout here in the open sea, where there are no steamer routes, and with such a long time on deck at night, one must get some time for sleep, so of course it must be gotten in the daytime; and the consequence is that we don’t get any work done on deck, and it’s precious little I can do in the engine room.
The most serious thing now is the grub. It’s running pretty low. The potatoes and onions are all gone. We have enough rice and beans for about ten days longer, with eleven small tins of meat for variety. The sugar is all gone, and we have enough graham flour for a week. It’s so full of weevils that I don’t care how soon it goes; but we have enough sea-biscuit (also full of weevils) to last several months; five gallons of molasses, and two hundred cocoanuts, so I guess we won’t starve. And then, fish are very plentiful, but I do hope it will not come down to a fish diet, for I’m sick of them already.
Tehei, Henry and Wada take turns about being sick, but the captain makes them stand watch just the same. Tehei is useless when he is the least bit sick. He will sit at the wheel in a daze and cannot possibly steer closer than a point to the course; which makes the captain furious, as he watches the wake zig-zag like a serpent astern. He will let loose a round of adjectives that I have difficulty in understanding; and of course Tehei cannot understand, but he knows he is in some way to blame, so he sits up and looks wildly about to see what is wrong. Captain often curses the weather, the wind, the Snark, and everything he can think of that keeps us from getting to Sydney any faster; then Tehei sits up again to see what is wrong this time, for he thinks that of course, whatever it is, it must be his fault.
We are twenty-five days out to-day, and just half-way; the kerosene is nearly finished, so we are sailing along without sidelights.
And the captain swears, the Kanakas growl, Wada feigns sick, and I keep hunting in different lockers hoping to find something to eat.

Sunday, February 28, 1909.
—Thirty-three days out to-day, and the grub nearly gone. Our five-gallon can of molasses proved to be only an empty tin, so now we have only weevily hardtack, half-spoiled beans, and tea. We find that soaking the hardtack in tea for fifteen minutes will bring most of the weevils to the top so that they can be skimmed off. But the beans are hopeless. They are eatable, and that’s all. The fish have deserted us, too; but as poor as eating is, it will keep us alive for a couple of weeks, if necessary. But we might go into the Clarence river to-morrow, if we do not get a fair wind. If we get the wind, we could make Sydney in three days, but it’s a nasty head-wind now, and we are only pitching up and down and not going ahead. Clarence river is twenty miles away, only three hours, if I had gasolene; but what I have will only run about five miles, and that will be needed to take us through the bar.
Since last Sunday we have had a fair wind for two days, which set us along one hundred miles a day. Then, when everyone had visions of a square meal in Sydney inside of two or three days, the wind shifted and blew a stiff gale for two days. We put double reefs in the mizzen and mainsails, and a single one in the staysail, then put on our oilskins and settled down to two days and nights on deck, with only a few hours’ sleep. Everything wet, and no food. Imagine our tempers! Yesterday the sea and wind quieted down, but we still have the head-wind. The sky is clear, however, and the barometer has gone up; so we are hoping.
Tehei is quite surprised at the number of steamers in this world. Every day, from ten to twenty pass us, going all directions, and Tehei wonders where they all come from. A revolving light from a big lighthouse twenty miles ashore also makes him wonder. I’m going to have a good time with him in Sydney.

Friday, March 5, 1909. 
—At last we are at anchor in Sydney Harbor—thirty-six days from the Solomons. It seems mighty good to get an all night in, and something to eat. Sunday night, we got a stiff squall from the northeast, which settled down into a steady wind, taking us along over one hundred miles a day—the best we had since leaving the islands.
Wednesday evening, at five o’clock, I started the engines just outside the heads, and we steamed up the harbour faster than the harbour regulations allow, for we wanted to catch the doctor before six o’clock and be allowed to land; and we were lucky enough to catch him as he was leaving a steamer just in from China. He passed us all. Then we proceeded up the harbour and anchored in Rose Bay. The customs officers soon came aboard; then a boat-load of reporters. I did not care for reporters, for I was hungry; so Tehei, the captain, and I pulled ashore. The captain took a tram for Sydney, while I hunted up a grocery store, and loaded myself down with provisions—all I could carry. Tehei was supposed to stand by the boat, but I found him, wild-eyed, watching the trains.
Thursday morning we got a tug to take us up the harbour, for my gasolene tanks were so near empty that I was afraid of the engine’s stopping before we got up, all of which would have caused us no end of trouble. We anchored at Johnson’s Bay, only fifteen minutes from Sydney by ferry. Jack and Mrs. London and Nakata came out in the afternoon and were glad to see everything all right—except Peggy. Mrs. London felt very bad over her dying. I went to Sydney with them, to the Australian Hotel. I took Tehei, who had the time of his life on the ferries and trams and elevators. Nakata took him out for supper, and I ate with Mr. and Mrs. London. I was a strange spectacle, with two months’ growth of hair, nearly over my ears. But Jack made me come with them; and if he could stand it, I knew I could. Everyone else was in evening dress, for the Australian is the aristocratic hotel of Australia! And the way I did eat! and Jack piled more and more in front of me. He said he knew how good fresh food tasted after a long sea-trip. Then we took Tehei to the Tivoli Theatre (vaudeville), where he amused the audience by his open appreciation of each turn. But the moving pictures were his greatest delight. On the way home, we got an immense watermelon; and after we got to the Snark, he woke Wada and Henry, and the last thing I heard was Tehei telling them about it—and the first thing in the morning.
Now people are coming aboard to look at the Snark, and she will soon be sold. I shall remain until another engineer takes hold; then I shall go to Europe and home.
 · · · · · · · · ·
From the time of our arrival in Sydney with the Snark, things moved swiftly to their conclusion. When a couple of weeks had gone by, and a new engineer had been secured to take charge of the boat, the day came for me to say good-bye to the genial people with whom I had journeyed for so long. It was hard, but it had to be done. One consolation, however, I had. Some day we should see each other again. The Londons and I were residents of the same country; and the Tahitians would probably be found as long as they lived somewhere in the confines of Polynesia. And of course, Wada and Nakata I should meet at some future date in Honolulu.

Poor Jack and Mrs. London! They were quite broken-hearted at giving up the cruise. They could speak of nothing else. At the last, after having said good-bye to the Snark and to those aboard, I went up to take dinner with the Londons at the Australian Hotel.

We said little in parting. There was nothing to say. Our grief at the break-up of the little Snark family was too deep for words. For two years, through savage seas, we had fared together; comforts and discomforts, good luck and bad luck, all had been borne together. And now it was at an end. The cruise of the Snark was a thing of the past.
The time came for me to go. We shook hands, promising that we should meet again in America. Then I turned and walked very slowly from the room.

POSTSCRIPT

So ended the cruise of the Snark. Henry, the Polynesian sailor, left Sydney on March 30, 1909, for Pago-Pago, Samoa. A week before, Tehei, the Society Islander, had gone with a sailor’s bag full of gaudy calico, bound for Bora Bora. Wada San, the Japanese cook, sailed on April 11th for Honolulu.

Martin Johnson left Sydney on March 31st, on the steamer Asturias, after an unsuccessful attempt to join the South African expedition of Theodore Roosevelt. His letter did not reach Mr. Roosevelt until after all preparations for the trip had been made, when it was of course too late to consider his application.
The Asturias stopped for several days in Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth, as well as in Hobart, Tasmania. Then it proceeded up through the Indian Ocean to Ceylon; thence through the Arabian Sea to Aden; and from there up the Red Sea and through the Suez Canal to Port Said. At Port Said, Mr. Johnson made another effort to get in communication with the Roosevelt party, but found that they had left three days before. Passing through the Mediterranean to Naples, Mr. Johnson left the Asturias, and spent some days viewing Rome, Pompeii, and other interesting historical spots. His next objective was Paris, where he arrived in June. Here he secured a position as an electrician at Luna Park, but not long after, feeling a desire to see his home again, he crossed the channel to England. At Liverpool, early in September, he stowed away on a cattle-boat, and after a trying thirteen days arrived in Boston, the only member of the Snark crew to make the complete circuit of the world.

Mr. and Mrs. Jack London took Nakata, the Japanese cabin-boy, and sailed on a tramp steamer for Ecuador, South America. They arrived at their Glen Ellen, California, ranch in June. Mr. London found his native climate most healthful, and though all three were frequently brought down by attacks of fever during the ensuing six months, his mysterious ailment soon disappeared, and his hands regained their normal appearance.

Ralph D. Harrison.


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