Nantes our troubles began. Owing to certain questions raised between
members of the Society and the directors, the banker declined to
advance further capital. As a result, the owner who had sold the boat
made arrangements for a captain and hired all the sailors, thus being
forced to take the entire load on his own shoulders. Since he was in
the right and since all his transactions with the Society were
perfectly legal, the loss fell on the members diemseves, to the amount
of some 400 francs each. With the remaining 600 francs the Society was
obliged to land us in California! But how? That was the problem!
Evidently the Society considered us of minor importance, for we were
not consulted in the matter.
final outcome was that we were loaded into carriages that transported
us from Nantes to Laval, from Laval to Mayenne, and from Mayenne to
Caen. At Caen we were placed aboard a steamer and brought to Havre.
From this port we were scheduled to set sail on July twenty-fifth. But
after the twenty-fifth, the twenty-sixth, and the twenty-seventh had
come and gone, we grew restive under the absurd excuses offered.
Finally, on the twenty-seventh, we were told that we would not be ready
to leave before the thirtieth.
three days we waited patiently in the interests of our company. By
recalling how, in February, 1848, workers had spent three miserable
months in the service of our country, we concluded that by comparison
what we were enduring was of minor importance. So we resigned ourselves
to the delay.
unfortunately, on July thirtieth another statement was given out—the
departure had been moved ahead to August twentieth. The poorest members
of our party talked of a revolt not knowing, in fact, how they were to
live during these twenty-one days. But rich shared with poor—and we
awaited the twentieth of August. But on the very eve of our departure
we made a new discovery; namely, that the Society being, or pretending
to be, even poorer than its members, would be unable to provide many
things of primary importance for a voyage such as we were about to
undertake. These articles were sugar, coffee, rum, tea, and brandy. We
voiced our protests; we made angry remarks; we even renewed our
threats to prosecute—but the company was obdurate. And so the
unfortunate members of the Society were forced to dig down to the
depths of their pockets. Luckily, many proved so deep that the bottom
could not be reached. Finally a supply of these vitally important
commodities was provided