Monday, December 16, 2019

The Quaker City sets across the pond

Once the journey of The Innocents Abroad had formed and begun, there was the long journey in their ship, Quaker City, across the sea. (Cue the inspiring seafaring music.)
I felt a perfectly natural desire to have a good, long, unprejudiced look at the passengers at a time when they should be free from self-consciousness—which is at breakfast, when such a moment occurs in the lives of human beings at all. …

There was a tolerably fair sprinkling of young folks, and another fair sprinkling of gentlemen and ladies who were non-committal as to age, being neither actually old or absolutely young. …
At times people would gather and sing, but for Twain, “I wished to lift up my voice and sing; but I did not know anything to sing, and so I was obliged to give up the idea.”

Many got seasick for the first few days, but not Twain.
By some happy fortune I was not seasick.—That was a thing to be proud of. I had not always escaped before. If there is one thing in the world that will make a man peculiarly and insufferably self-conceited, it is to have his stomach behave itself, the first day it sea, when nearly all his comrades are seasick. …

I like those old people, but somehow they all seem to have the “Oh, my” rather bad. I knew what was the matter with them. They were seasick. And I was glad of it. We all like to see people seasick when we are not, ourselves.
Eventually everyone adjusted. (Considering my own experience at sea for a few hours, this is good news.)
The passengers soon learned to accommodate themselves to their new circumstances, and life in the ship became nearly as systematically monotonous as the routine of a barrack. I do not mean that it was dull, for it was not entirely so by any means—but there was a good deal of sameness about it. …

As is always the fashion at sea, the passengers shortly began to pick up sailor terms—a sign that they were beginning to feel at home. …

At seven bells the first gong rang; at eight there was breakfast, for such as were not too seasick to eat it. After that all the well people walked arm-in-arm up and down the long promenade deck, enjoying the fine summer mornings, and the seasick ones crawled out and propped themselves up in the lee of the paddle-boxes and ate their dismal tea and toast, and looked wretched. …

At seven bells the first gong rang; at eight there was breakfast, for such as were not too seasick to eat it. After that all the well people walked arm-in-arm up and down the long promenade deck, enjoying the fine summer mornings, and the seasick ones crawled out and propped themselves up in the lee of the paddle-boxes and ate their dismal tea and toast, and looked wretched.
On-board entertainment eventually becomes a must.
Horse billiards is a fine game. It affords good, active exercise, hilarity, and consuming excitement. It is a mixture of “hop-scotch” and shuffleboard played with a crutch. …

That game would be very simple played on a stationary floor, but with us, to play it well required science. We had to allow for the reeling of the ship to the right or the left. Very often one made calculations for a heel to the right and the ship did not go that way. The consequence was that that disk missed the whole hopscotch plan a yard or two, and then there was humiliation on one side and laughter on the other. …
And so went the days.
That game would be very simple played on a stationary floor, but with us, to play it well required science. We had to allow for the reeling of the ship to the right or the left. Very often one made calculations for a heel to the right and the ship did not go that way. The consequence was that that disk missed the whole hopscotch plan a yard or two, and then there was humiliation on one side and laughter on the other.
Source: The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

No comments:

Disclosure

Links to Amazon.com are affiliate links and earn commissions.

Your support is appreciated.

Blog Archive

Subscribe — Follow by Email