departure was taken, and Ship Island
was announced as our destination.
About 7 o'clock p. m. on the twenty-sixth I was standing in the lee of the pilot house, greatly interested in the tumbling of a ragged sea. Suddenly, through the gloom, I thought I saw ‘white water’ on our starboard bow, and I said to the sergeant who stood near me, ‘We are in the midst of breakers,’ and putting my hands to my mouth, sailor fashion, I shouted, ‘Breakers!’
Looking through the pilot house window, I saw the quartermaster throwing his wheel to starboard.
Had he not started his wheel when he did, these lines would not have been written; for it was a moment later that the captain from the fore rigging bawled first, ‘Hard a-port,’ then, ‘Hard astar-board.’
As the ship came about she fell into the trough of the sea, and for a short time, which seemed an age, she was practically on her beam ends.
The sergeant vanished as if by magic.
‘Man overboard’ trembled on my lips, but I checked myself, realizing the futility of raising an alarm at that juncture.
Wiping the brine from my eyes with my sleeve, I discovered something in the lee scuppers.
Edging down carefully I seized it; whereupon a voice called out as well as it could through a Lit of the Atlantic Ocean
that had taken refuge in his mouth, ‘That's my hair.’
‘God bless you, sergeant,’ I said, ‘are you hurt?’
‘No,’ he said, ‘but I am nearly drowned.’
‘Well, now go below,’ I said, ‘and be a good boy.’
An hour later we had a full grown gale bellowing after us, and I remained on deck to watch the splendid behavior of the ship and to listen to the full chorus which seemed to be performing for my special benefit.
A gale at sea always sends me to the key of G. Finally, chilled to the marrow, I had to yield to the blast and go below.
As I stepped down between decks, behold a whole menagerie in full voice.
Every conceivable sound proceeded from hundreds of sick and scared soldiers.
Hanging my dripping clothes where I hoped they would dry over night, I flung myself into the bunk already occupied by four somewhat demoralized sergeants, thus adding one more specimen to the ‘floating show.’
The motion of the ship soon lulled me into a sixteen-knot sleep, from which