peace marked by graveness and contentment—for the world that we were
about to enter was a totally foreign world. At Valparaiso we had
secured a certain amount of information that was vague because of its
remoteness,—in other words, what information we received was both
favorable and unfavorable.
the morning of the seventh, preparations to disembark were made. No
longer, as at Valparaiso, did we plan to seek in the city a few hours
of capricious distractions or foolish pleasures, we were about to seek
work and—what is the rarest thing in the world—remuneration for our
labour. So the calmest man among us would have lied had he said that he
slept soundly. I, for my part, awoke ten times or more during the
night. On the seventh, long before daybreak, everyone was up on deck.
the sun rose we could see land, but this was still so remote that the
entrance to the bay was not even visible. From five o'clock in the
morning until noon, we ran before a quartering wind. Not until noon
were the head lands that formed its opening for the first time faintly
visible. On the right side of the bay appeared two rocks, cut through
at their base but connected on top, a formation that had created an
arch. All along the shores glistened sand, white as silver-dust. Only
at Fort Williams did the greenness begin to disappear.* On the left
rose mountains that were rocky at their base but green one-third of the
way up their slopes. On these mountains herds of cattle grazed.
our attention was diverted from the left coast, where there was only,
as at Sauroleta, a small bay where a few ships rode at anchor, and
entered on the right side. We were now approaching Fort Williams.
Having passed Fort Williams, two islands hove into view—Angel and Deer
islands. On our right were soon visible a few buildings like those of a
farm. These had verdure around them, but not a single tree. This was
the presidio.** Around this pseudo-village were seen, for the first
time, mules and horses, indicating a settlement.
the highest hill towered the telegraph, with its long black-and-white
arms, arms always in movement to announce the arrival of vessels. Below
the telegraph were a few wooden houses and about
* Probably Fort Point.
* This old Spanish presido, founded on September 17, 1776, was a
low adobe structure called Castillo de Joaquin. The Americans re-named
it Fort Montgomery.