for common use, mutual promises being exchanged to use the utmost moderation with these luxuries.
The day of our departure at length dawned. Our ship was the Cachalot,* an
old whaling vessel, that was reputed furthermore to be one of the
finest vessels afloat. She was a boat of 500 tons. During the two days
prior to our departure crowds of relatives came down to Havre to see us
off. Among them were many mothers and sisters who were extremely
devout, and inasmuch as only a few of the travellers were atheists, and
this was our last day before leaving on a voyage of six months'
duration, a journey that was to take us from the Atlantic on over into
Pacific waters, the decision was reached to make one final expenditure
to hold mass on behalf of a safe journey. Arrangements were
accordingly made for a special mass to be held in the church.
said on the eve of such a departure is invariably a grave affair; for
some who participated, this would undoubtedly be their last mass. Such
was the comment made to me by a delightful youth nearby who was
listening devoutly to this mass; he was one of the editors of the Journal du Commerce, and
was called Bottin. I silently indicated by nodding my head that I was
thinking at that same moment exactly what he had just voiced. During
the elevation of the host, I glanced around; everyone was kneeling and,
I can assure you, all were praying devoutly.
mass was over, a proposal was made to hold a fraternal banquet at a
cost of one franc ,fifty centimes each.** We numbered 150 passengers
all told, 15 of whom were women. By turning our pockets insideout, 225
francs were finally collected. This sum was adequate. This last
dissipation, however, made sad inroads into what remained of our
capital. That our parents and friends were forced to contribute on
their own behalf goes without saying, for we were not rich enough to
include them. Mirandole and two others were appointed a committee of
three and arranged at a price of thirty sous, a splendid banquet
despite our meagre capital.
banquet was to take place at Ingouville; at four o'clock we were all to
assemble at the docks and at five o'clock take our places at the
banquet table. All were as punctual as if attending mass. Since the
participants arrived in pairs, they were seated in an orderly manner.
An effort was made to be gay. I say an effort was made; for, as a matter
* Spermaceti Whale.
* * Approximately 30 cents; the franc was worth 20 cents, and contained 100 centimes.