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Chapter 60 HOME AT LAST

  • Next day was Sunday; and the mid-day sun shone upon a glassy sea.
  • After the uproar of the breeze and the gale, this profound, pervading cal_eemed suited to the tranquil spirit of a day, which, in godly towns, make_uiet vistas of the most tumultuous thoroughfares.
  • The ship lay gently rolling in the soft, subdued ocean swell; while all aroun_ere faint white spots; and nearer to, broad, milky patches, betokening th_icinity of scores of ships, all bound to one common port, and tranced in on_ommon calm. Here the long, devious wakes from Europe, Africa, India, and Per_onverged to a line, which braided them all in one.
  • Full before us quivered and danced, in the noon-day heat and mid-air, th_reen heights of New Jersey; and by an optical delusion, the blue sea seeme_o flow under them.
  • The sailors whistled and whistled for a wind; the impatient cabin-passenger_ere arrayed in their best; and the emigrants clustered around the bows, wit_yes intent upon the long-sought land.
  • But leaning over, in a reverie, against the side, my Carlo gazed down into th_alm, violet sea, as if it were an eye that answered his own; and turning t_arry, said, "This America's skies must be down in the sea; for, looking dow_n this water, I behold what, in Italy, we also behold overhead. Ah! afte_ll, I find my Italy somewhere, wherever I go. I even found it in rain_iverpool."
  • Presently, up came a dainty breeze, wafting to us a white wing from th_hore—the pilot-boat! Soon a monkey-jacket mounted the side, and was beset b_he captain and cabin people for news. And out of bottomless pockets cam_undles of newspapers, which were eagerly caught by the throng.
  • The captain now abdicated in the pilot's favor, who proved to be a tiger of _ellow, keeping us hard at work, pulling and hauling the braces, and trimmin_he ship, to catch the least _cat's-paw_ of wind.
  • When, among sea-worn people, a strange man from shore suddenly stands amon_hem, with the smell of the land in his beard, it conveys a realization of th_icinity of the green grass, that not even the distant sight of the shor_tself can transcend.
  • The steerage was now as a bedlam; trunks and chests were locked and tied roun_ith ropes; and a general washing and rinsing of faces and hands was beheld.
  • While this was going on, forth came an order from the quarter-deck, for ever_ed, blanket, bolster, and bundle of straw in the steerage to be committed t_he deep.—A command that was received by the emigrants with dismay, and the_ith wrath. But they were assured, that this was indispensable to the gettin_id of an otherwise long detention of some weeks at the quarantine. The_herefore reluctantly complied; and overboard went pallet and pillow.
  • Following them, went old pots and pans, bottles and baskets. So, all around,
  • the sea was strewn with stuffed bed-ticks, that limberly floated on th_aves—couches for all mermaids who were not fastidious. Numberless things o_his sort, tossed overboard from emigrant ships nearing the harbor of Ne_ork, drift in through the Narrows, and are deposited on the shores of State_sland; along whose eastern beach I have often walked, and speculated upon th_roken jugs, torn pillows, and dilapidated baskets at my feet.
  • A second order was now passed for the emigrants to muster their forces, an_ive the steerage a final, thorough cleaning with sand and water. And to thi_hey were incited by the same warning which had induced them to make a_ffering to Neptune of their bedding. The place was then fumigated, and drie_ith pans of coals from the galley; so that by evening, no stranger would hav_magined, from her appearance, that the Highlander had made otherwise than _idy and prosperous voyage. Thus, some sea-captains take good heed tha_enevolent citizens shall not get a glimpse of the true condition of th_teerage while at sea.
  • That night it again fell calm; but next morning, though the wind was somewha_gainst us, we set sail for the Narrows; and making short tacks, at last ra_hrough, almost bringing our jib-boom over one of the forts.
  • An early shower had refreshed the woods and fields, that glowed with _lorious green; and to our salted lungs, the land breeze was spiced wit_romas. The steerage passengers almost neighed with delight, like horse_rought back to spring pastures; and every eye and ear in the Highlander wa_ull of the glad sights and sounds of the shore.
  • No more did we think of the gale and the plague; nor turn our eyes upward t_he stains of blood, still visible on the topsail, whence Jackson had fallen;
  • but we fixed our gaze on the orchards and meads, and like thirsty men, dran_n all their dew.
  • On the Staten Island side, a white staff displayed a pale yellow flag,
  • denoting the habitation of the quarantine officer; for as if to symbolize th_ellow fever itself, and strike a panic and premonition of the black vomi_nto every beholder, all quarantines all over the world, taint the air wit_he streamings of their f ever-flag.
  • But though the long rows of white-washed hospitals on the hill side were no_n plain sight, and though scores of ships were here lying at anchor, yet n_oat came off to us; and to our surprise and delight, on we sailed, past _pot which every one had dreaded. How it was that they thus let us pas_ithout boarding us, we never could learn.
  • Now rose the city from out the bay, and one by one, her spires pierced th_lue; while thick and more thick, ships, brigs, schooners, and sail boats,
  • thronged around. We saw the Hartz Forest of masts and black rigging stretchin_long the East River; and northward, up the stately old Hudson, covered wit_hite sloop-sails like fleets of swans, we caught a far glimpse of the purpl_alisades.
  • Oh! he who has never been afar, let him once go from home, to know what hom_s. For as you draw nigh again to your old native river, he seems to pou_hrough you with all his tides, and in your enthusiasm, you swear to buil_ltars like mile-stones, along both his sacred banks.
  • Like the Czar of all the Russias, and Siberia to boot, Captain Riga, telescop_n hand, stood on the poop, pointing out to the passengers, Governor's Island,
  • Castle Garden, and the Battery.
  • "And _that"_ said he, pointing out a vast black hull which, like a shark,
  • showed tiers of teeth, _"that,_ ladies, is a line-of-battle-ship, the Nort_arolina."
  • "Oh, dear!"—and "Oh my!"—ejaculated the ladies, and— "Lord, save us,"
  • responded an old gentleman, who was a member of the Peace Society.
  • Hurra! hurra! and ten thousand times hurra! down goes our old anchor, fathom_own into the free and independent Yankee mud, one handful of which was no_orth a broad manor in England.
  • The Whitehall boats were around us, and soon, our cabin passengers were al_ff, gay as crickets, and bound for a late dinner at the Astor House; where,
  • no doubt, they fired off a salute of champagne corks in honor of their ow_rrival. Only a very few of the steerage passengers, however, could afford t_ay the high price the watermen demanded for carrying them ashore; so most o_hem remained with us till morning. But nothing could restrain our Italia_oy, Carlo, who, promising the watermen to pay them with his music, wa_riumphantly rowed ashore, seated in the stern of the boat, his organ befor_im, and something like "Hail Columbia!" his tune. We gave him three rapturou_heers, and we never saw Carlo again.
  • Harry and I passed the greater part of the night walking the deck, and gazin_t the thousand lights of the city.
  • At sunrise, we _warped_ into a berth at the foot of Wall-street, and knotte_ur old ship, stem and stern, to the pier. But that knotting of _her,_ was th_nknotting of the bonds of the sailors, among whom, it is a maxim, that th_hip once fast to the wharf, they are free. So with a rush and a shout, the_ounded ashore, followed by the tumultuous crowd of emigrants, whose friends,
  • day-laborers and housemaids, stood ready to embrace them.
  • But in silent gratitude at the end of a voyage, almost equally uncongenial t_oth of us, and so bitter to one, Harry and I sat on a chest in th_orecastle. And now, the ship that we had loathed, grew lovely in our eyes,
  • which lingered over every familiar old timber; for the scene of suffering is _cene of joy when the suffering is past; and the silent reminiscence o_ardships departed, is sweeter than the presence of delight.