Read CHAPTER VI - A DAY AT CHRISTIANSAND of Up The Baltic Young America in Norway‚ Sweden‚ and Denmark , free online book, by Oliver Optic, on ReadCentral.com.

“But, madam, your steamer seems to be on the point of starting,” suggested Mr. Lowington, as the Orlando rang her bell, and whistled violently.

“I cannot help it,” replied the lady, apparently taking no notice of the steamer.  “I came over here on a pleasure excursion, and now I feel as though I had lost my son.”

“Lost him, madam!  We intend to save him,” laughed Mr. Lowington.  “But we have no claim upon him.  If you desire to leave in the steamer, the boatswain shall put the boy on board whether he is willing or not.”

“No, no; that would be very, very harsh.  Let the steamer go.  This matter is of vastly more consequence than going to Christiania.  James,” she added, turning to the man in livery, “you will take the boat, get our baggage from the steamer, and take it to the hotel on shore.”

“Yes, mem,” replied James, as he very deliberately went over the side into the boat.

“This will be a sad day to me, sir,” continued Mrs. Blacklock, as she glanced at her son, who was whistling an air from the last opera, as indifferent as though his mother had been at peace in her own drawing-room.

“I beg to repeat, madam, that I have not the slightest wish to take your son into this institution.”

“But Clyde insists upon joining the ship, and what can I do?”

“You can say no, if you please.”

“You had better not say it, mother; if you do, I will run away, and go to sea in a merchant ship,” added Clyde, shaking his head.

“You hear, sir, what he says,” replied Mrs. Blacklock, with a long and deep sigh.

“That would be the very best thing in the world for a boy troubled with his complaint,” answered Mr. Lowington.

“I have no complaint; I’m not sick,” growled Clyde.

“I’m afraid you are, my boy, though you don’t know it.  The most dangerous maladies often make great progress even before their existence is suspected.”

“Nothing ails me,” added Clyde.

“This seems to be a very nice ship, and you say the students are all gentlemen,” continued the lady, glancing around her at the ship and the crew.  “If Clyde must go to sea ­”

“I must, mother,” interposed the young gentleman, very decidedly.

“If he must go to sea, he had better go with you, sir.”

“If you will walk into the cabin, madam, I will show you our regulations,” said the principal, leading the way down the steps.

Clyde followed, apparently unwilling that a word should be said which he could not hear.

“I want to speak with your mother alone,” interposed Mr. Lowington.

“I’m going too,” persisted Clyde, after Mrs. Blacklock had descended the stairs.

“I prefer to see your mother alone,” added the principal, firmly.

“You are going to talk about me, and I want to hear what is said,” replied the youth, rudely.

“Peaks, remain here,” said the principal to the big boatswain, who had followed them to the companionway.

Mr. Lowington descended the steps, and Peaks slipped in behind him, fully understanding his duty without any explanations.  Clyde attempted to follow, but the entrance was effectually blockaded by the stalwart forward officer.

“Get out of my way; I want to go down there,” said Clyde, in no gentle tones.

“It can’t be done, my hearty,” replied Peaks.

“I’m going down, any way.”

“I think not, my little gentleman.”

“Yes, I am!  Get out of my way.”

“Ease off, my hearty.  Don’t get up a squall.”

“I want to see my mother,” growled Clyde.

“You were not invited to the cabin, and your mother was,” answered Peaks, very mildly.

“I don’t care if I wasn’t; I’m going down.”

“So you said before;” and the boatswain tried to pacify the youngster, and to induce him to be reasonable; but Clyde had always had his own way, and was ready to fight for it now, even though he had nothing to gain by it.

Captain Cumberland was still walking with Miss Celia, explaining to her the nature of the discipline on board, and giving her an account of the voyage across the Atlantic.  A group of the officers had collected on the quarter-deck, and, much amused at the scene, were observing the conduct of Clyde.  As he became more violent, his sister tried to quiet him, and induce him to behave like a gentleman; but he replied to her in a tone and with words which made the captain’s cheeks tinge with indignation.

Finally, when he found that abuse had no effect upon the stout boatswain, he drew back, and made a desperate plunge at his heavy opponent.  Peaks caught him by the shoulders, and lifted him off his feet like a baby.  Taking him in his arms, with one hand over his mouth, to smother his cries, he bore him to the waist, where his yells could not be heard by his mother.

“Be quiet, little one,” said Peaks, as he seated himself on the main-hatch, and twined his long legs around those of the prisoner, so that he was held as fast as though he had been in the folds of an anaconda.  “Hold still, now, and I’ll spin you a sea-yarn.  Once on a time there was a little boy that wanted to go to sea ­”

“Let me go, or I’ll kill you!” sputtered Clyde; but the boatswain covered his mouth again, and silenced him.

“Kill me!  That would be wicked.  But I’m not a mosquito, to be cracked in the fingers of such a dear little boy as you are.  But you snapped off my yarn; and if you don’t hold still, I can’t spin it ship-shape.”

Clyde had well nigh exhausted his breath in his fruitless struggle, and before his sister went far enough forward to see him, he was tolerably calm, because he had no more strength to resist.  Then the boatswain told his story of a boy that wanted to go to sea, but found that he could not have his own way on board the ship.

In the cabin, Mrs. Blacklock told a pitiful story of the wilfulness of her son; that she was obliged to do just as he said, and if he wanted anything, however absurd it might be, she was obliged to give it to him, or he made the house too “hot” for her.  Her husband had died when the children were small, and the whole care of them had devolved on her.  Clyde had made her miserable for several years.  She had sent him to several celebrated schools; but he had got into trouble immediately, and she had been compelled to take him away, to prevent him from killing himself and her, as she expressed it.  Her husband had left her a handsome property, but she was afraid her son would spend it all, or compel her to do so, before he became of age.

Mr. Lowington repeated only what most of her friends had told her before ­that her weak indulgence would be the ruin of the boy; that he needed a strong arm.  He was willing to take him into the Academy ship, but he must obey all the rules and follow all the regulations.  The perplexed mother realized the truth of all he said.

“You will take him as an officer ­won’t you, sir?” she asked, when she had in a measure reconciled herself to the discipline proposed.

“Certainly not, madam,” replied the principal.  “If he ever becomes an officer, he must work himself up to that position, as the other students do.”

“But you could let him have one of the rooms in the cabin.  I am willing to pay extra for his tuition.”

“No, madam; he must go with the other students, and do precisely as they do.”

“Where will his servant lodge?”

“His servant?”

“Yes, James.  He will want a servant, for I don’t know that he ever dressed himself alone.”

“He can have no servant, except those of the ship.”

“That’s very, very hard.”

“Perhaps it is, but if the boy can’t dress himself alone, he must lie in his berth till he acquires the art by hard thinking.  I wish you to understand the matter thoroughly before you leave him, madam.”

Mrs. Blacklock struggled with the hard terms; but even to her the case seemed like a desperate one, and she was willing at last to try the experiment, though she intended to follow the ship wherever she went, to save him from suicide when his situation became absolutely hopeless.  The terms arranged, she followed Mr. Lowington on deck, where Clyde was discovered in the loving embrace of the big boatswain, who released him as soon as he saw the lady.

“Now, Clyde, my dear, we have arranged it all,” said Mrs. Blacklock; and it ought to be added that such a result would have been utterly impossible if the subject of the negotiations had been present.

“I don’t care if you have,” replied Clyde, bestowing a fiery glance upon the boatswain, who was smiling as blandly as though earth had no naughty boys.

“Why, what’s the matter, Clyde!” demanded the anxious mother.

“I’ve had enough of this ship,” howled the little gentleman, as he glanced again at the stout forward officer.

The complacent face of Peaks maddened him, and Clyde felt that, perhaps for the first time in his life, he had lost a battle.  He could not bear the sight of the boatswain’s placid features, unruffled by anything like anger or malice.  He felt that he had not even provoked his powerful adversary.  He howled in his anger, and then he cried in his desperation.  Suddenly he seized a wooden belaying-pin from the rail, and shied it at the boatswain’s head.  Peaks caught it in his hand, as though he had been playing toss-ball with his victim; but the next instant his anaconda fold encircled the youth again.  Mrs. Blacklock screamed with terror.

“There is no harm done, madam,” interposed the principal.  “We don’t allow boys to throw things here.”

“You are very, very harsh with the poor boy.”

“And the poor boy is very, very harsh with us.  He throws belaying-pins at our heads.”

“He did not mean any harm.”

“Perhaps not; but that’s an unpleasant way of manifesting his regard.”

“I’ve had enough of this ship!  I won’t go in her!” howled Clyde, struggling to escape from the grasp of the officer.

“Do you hear that, sir?  Poor boy!”

“He will soon learn better than to behave in this violent manner.  We can cure him in ten minutes after you have left the ship.”

“What! whip him?” exclaimed the mother, with horror.

“No, madam; we never strike a student under any circumstances, unless it be in self-defence; but if a boy won’t go when ordered, we carry him.  We always have force enough to do this without injury to the person.”

“But see the poor boy struggle!”

“It will do him no harm.”

“He says now that he will not go in the ship.”

“If I were his parent, it would be as I said, not as he said, after he had ceased to be reasonable.  I would consult the wishes and opinions of a boy of mine, as long as he behaved properly ­no longer.  You have only to leave him, and I assure you he shall be treated as kindly as he will permit us to treat him.  I do not wish to influence you, but I am confident that ruin lies in that boy’s path, unless he is reformed.”

Mrs. Blacklock actually wept.  She loved the boy with a blind affection in spite of the disrespect and even abuse that he heaped upon her.  It was a terrible struggle to her, but she finally decided to leave him on board of the ship, perhaps satisfied that nothing else could ever save him from himself, and her from the misery his reckless conduct constantly occasioned her.

“You wished to go to sea, Clyde, and I have decided to leave you in this ship,” said the poor mother, trembling with emotion.

“But I tell you I won’t stay in this ship,” roared Clyde, as Peaks, at a signal from the principal, released his prisoner.

“I can do nothing with you, my dear boy.  You won’t obey me, and I must leave you to those who can control you.  I am going on shore now, but I shall see you again at Christiania.”

“I won’t stay!” howled Clyde.

“Good by, Clyde,” said Mrs. Blacklock, desperately, as she folded her son in her arms, and kissed him on both cheeks.

“I tell you I won’t stay!” cried the angry youth, breaking away from his mother’s embrace.

“Make it short, madam,” suggested Mr. Lowington.

“Do try to be good, Clyde, and then you can come home very, very soon,” added Mrs. Blacklock, as the principal conducted her to the accommodation ladder, where the first cutter had been manned to put her on shore.

“I tell you again, I won’t stay!  If you leave me, I’ll jump overboard.”

“O!” groaned the weak mother.

“If you do, young man, we will pick you up with the greatest pleasure,” said Mr. Lowington, as he hurried the lady to the side.

“O, if he should!” gasped she.

“There is not a particle of danger, madam; Mr. Peaks will take excellent care of him,” replied her comforter.

The boatswain, at a nod from Mr. Lowington, again embraced Clyde, but did not injure him, nor permit him to injure himself.  The lady was handed into the boat, and Captain Cumberland politely performed this service for Miss Blacklock.  Of course the poor mother was in an agony of doubt and anxiety, but the students in the cutter seemed to be so cheerful, contented and gentlemanly, that she hoped for the best.

Clyde was appalled at the situation, and one of the stern realities of life seemed suddenly to dawn upon him.  As soon as his mother disappeared over the side, he ceased to struggle, for he gained nothing by it, and the students appeared to be amused by his sufferings.  Peaks released him, and the victim of wholesome discipline looked about him with a wondering stare; but there was no mother to cajole or intimidate, and he was thrown entirely upon his own resources for the means of resistance, if he purposed to resist.  He appeared to be stupefied by the situation, and Mr. Lowington, taking advantage of his bewilderment, invited him into the main cabin, where he kindly but firmly “laid down the law” to him.  Clyde was by no means conquered, but was rather considering how he should escape from this trying position.  At the close of the interview, the principal handed the patient over to one of the stewards, and requested him to see the new comer clothed in the uniform of the ship.  Peaks was directed to keep an eye on the victim while the crew were on shore.

All hands were soon seated in the boats, and in half an hour all the students in the squadron were turned loose in the streets of Christiansand.  Though the instructors were of the party, they were not required to exercise any particular supervision over their pupils.  There was hardly anything to be seen, and as a large number of the students had never crossed the Atlantic before, they wanted to know if they had come so far to see such a town.  Most of the houses were of wood, but they were neat and well kept.  As the capital of the province of Christiansand, the town was the residence of the Stift Amtmand, or governor, and of the bishop of the diocese.  It was founded in 1641, and having an excellent harbor, it is a place of considerable commercial importance, having a population of about ten thousand.

The boys visited the cathedral, which is a fine building of gray stone, and being the first which most of them had seen, it had a considerable interest to them.  They observed the people, and their manners and customs, so far as they could, with more interest than the buildings, which differed in no important respect from those in the United States.  Passing across the water front of the town, they came to the Torrisdal River, over which there is an excellent bridge.  They crossed the stream, and walked to an antiquated church.  Some of the houses on the way were very neat, pretty structures, not unlike the one-story dwellings seen all over New England.

“Here’s a Runic stone,” said Dr. Winstock, as the captain and several of the officers followed him into the burying-ground connected with the ancient church.

“What is a Runic stone?” asked Lincoln, the third lieutenant.

“A stone with Runic characters upon it.”

“I haven’t the least idea what the word means, though Poe sings, in the ’Bells,’ ­

    ’Keeping time, time, time,
     In a sort of Runic rhyme!’

Runic is derived from a word which means secret; and a Runic stone is any memorial, table, or column, on which Runic characters are inscribed, as a tombstone, a boundary mark.  There are sixteen of these characters, forming an alphabet, which were used by the ancient Scandinavians, and were thought by them to possess magical properties, and willow wands inscribed with them were used by the pagans of the north in their magic rites.  Sticks were used as almanacs, to keep the account of the days and months, and also constituted the day-books and ledgers of the ancients.  In Germany, in modern times, the baker, for example, and the purchaser of bread, each had a stick, and the number of loaves delivered was notched upon both.  Scarcely less primitive was the custom of some of our American farmers, who kept their accounts on the barn door; and I have heard a story of one who, when required to produce his books in court at a lawsuit, carried in the barn door, and held it up before the judge and jury.  In Denmark and Sweden you will see more Runic writings, especially in the museum at Copenhagen.”

“They seem to bury people here, in about the same manner as with us,” said Captain Cumberland.

“There is not half so much difference between things here and those at home as I expected to find,” added Judson.

“The houses are almost the same, and so are the people,” continued Norwood.

“People coming to Europe are often disappointed because they find almost everything so near like what they have been accustomed to,” replied the doctor.  “You will find Norway and Sweden more like New England than any other countries on the continent.  But I think you will find differences enough to excite your interest and attention before you return.”

The students walked back to Christiansand, and having exhausted the town, went on board the vessels of the squadron, ready and even anxious to continue the voyage.  The pilots were on deck, Paul Kendall and lady had returned to the Grace, and the principal only waited the arrival of the steamer Moss, from Frederiksvaern, to give the order to get under way.  The boats were all hoisted up except the first cutter, which was to bring off the unfortunate crew of the professor’s barge, as soon as they arrived.

At eight o’clock the steamer came in, and the first cutter, with the principal on board, hastened to her landing-place, to meet Sanford and his companions.  To his great astonishment and regret, they were not on board of the Moss.  The captain, who spoke English very well, knew nothing about the absentees, and was quite confident they were not on board of the Foldin, the boat which had picked them up.  Captain Hoell had said nothing to him about the accident, but then the Foldin had arrived only that morning, instead of the night before, when she was due, and their interview had been very hurried.  “Did any person in the Moss know anything about the unfortunates?” the captain was kind enough to inquire; and a passenger was found who heard some one say that a party of young men had been landed by the Foldin at Lillesand.  But the Moss had left Lillesand at six o’clock, and her captain had not seen or heard of the persons described.  Mr. Lowington was very anxious about the fate of the second cutter’s crew, and feared that some of them had been injured by the collision, so that they were unable to take the steamer back to Christiansand.  He returned to the cutter and pulled off to the Tritonia, and directed Mr. Tompion, the second vice-principal, in charge of her, to run into Lillesand, and ascertain what had become of the absentees.  Without waiting for the signal, the Tritonia got under way, and under full sail, with a fresh breeze, stood out of the harbor.  The other vessels followed her soon after, the principal intending to lay off and on till the Tritonia reported.

The ship had been searched from keel to truck for Ole Amundsen on the day before.  Of course he was not found, and the conclusion was that he had dropped into the water and swam ashore, though it was difficult to understand how he had accomplished the feat without detection.  Inquiries in regard to him were made on shore, but if any one knew him, application was not made to the right persons.

Mr. Clyde Blacklock had not yet jumped overboard, and during the busy scene of getting under way, he stood with his mouth agape, watching the proceedings with wondering interest.  He was not quite sure, after his anger had subsided, that he had made a bad bargain.  There was something rather pleasant in the motion of the ship, and the zeal and precision with which the students worked, showed that they enjoyed their occupation.  No one noticed Clyde, or even seemed to be aware of his presence.  Before, when he behaved in an extravagant and unreasonable manner, the boys only laughed at him.  They did not beg him to be pacified, as his mother and James always did; on the contrary they seemed to enjoy his chagrin.

As soon as the ship was under way, the new student was informed that he belonged to the port watch, second part, and the silver star, which designated his watch, was affixed to his left arm.  He was told that he would be called with the others to take his turn on deck during the night.

“What am I to do?” he asked, rather blankly.

“Just the same as the others do?” replied De Forrest, the fourth lieutenant, who had the deck with the second part of the port watch.  “I have your station bill.”

“What’s that?”

“It is a card on which all your duties are explained.  Here it is,” added De Forrest, producing the station bill.  “You are N; all the even numbers belong to the starboard watch, and all the odd numbers to the port.”

These cards were all printed; for among the various amusements provided for the students, a couple of octavo Novelty presses, with a sufficient supply of type and other printing material had been furnished.  All the blanks for use in the ship were printed on board, and the Oceanic Enterprise, a weekly Journal, had been regularly issued during the voyage across the Atlantic, though a gale of wind, which disturbed the equilibrium of the press and the printers, had delayed its publication a couple of days on one occasion.

Clyde read the station bill which was handed to him by the officer, but it would have been just as intelligible to him if it had been in Runic character.

“‘Reefing, main-topsail, and main-topsail halyards,’” said Clyde, reading from the card.  “What does all that mean?”

“You mind only what you have to do yourself, and not trouble your head about orders that have nothing to do with your work; for the orders come as thick as snow flakes at Christmas.  When all hands are called to reef topsails, you are one of them, of course.  When any thing is said about topsails, or topsail-halyards, you are the man.”

“Good; I understand that, and I shall make a sailor, I know,” added Clyde.

“I hope you will.  The order will come to ’settle away the topsail halyards.’  Be ready to help then.”

“But I don’t know the topsail halyards from a pint of soup.”

“Here they are,” added the lieutenant, conducting his pupil to the rail, and pointing out the main-topsail halyards.  “Then, when the officer says, ‘Aloft, top-men,’ you will run up the main rigging here, and the midshipman in the top will tell you what to do.  At the word, you will lay out on the yard, and do as the others do.  At the words, ‘Lay down from aloft,’ you will come on deck, and hoist up the main-topsail.  Nearly all your duty is connected with the main-topsail.  In tacking, you will go to the clew-garnets.”

“What are they?”

“These ropes, by which the corners of the mainsail are hauled up,” answered De Forrest, pointing out the clew-garnets.  “You will also let go the main tack.  In getting under way, you will help loose the main-topsail.  In anchoring, you are at the main clew-lines, and the main brace.  Here they are.  In loosing and furling you are on the main-topsail.  In boat service, you are attached to the third cutter.  You sleep in berth N, your ship’s number, and eat with mess N.”

De Forrest, as instructed by the principal, carefully explained the duties of the new comer, indicating every rope as he mentioned it, and describing its use.  He was prudent in his manner, and tried to give the proud youth no offence by making him feel the superiority of an officer.  The lieutenant then conducted him to his mess room, and pointed out his berth.

The wind was still from the southward, and quite fresh; and though the squadron went under short sail, it was off Lillesand in a couple of hours.  The Tritonia, which was a fast vessel, did not detain her consorts more than a couple of hours.  Mr. Tompion boarded the ship, and reported that the crew of the second cutter had landed at Lillesand, and fearing that they should miss the ship if they returned to Christiansand, had taken carioles, and left early in the morning for Christiania.  There were ten of the party, and one of them was a Norwegian, though he was dressed like the others.  Mr. Lowington could not imagine who the Norwegian was that wore the Academy’s uniform, for it did not occur to him that Ole could have joined them.  He was glad to hear that all of them were well, and able to travel; and had no doubt they would arrive in safety at Christiania.  He was aware that the crew of the second cutter were rather wild boys; but as there were no large towns in the interior, he had no fear that they would be led astray among the simple Norwegians.

The fleet filled away again, and at eight bells the following morning was off Frederiksvaern.