John Murray Forbes Beginning the Journey on the Atlantic With the Gideonites - March 4, 1862
Letters and Recollections of John Murray Forbes
Steamer Atlantic, 4 March, 1862. There is nothing like beginning a journal early, so I take it up where Alice will have left me, on my way to the ship. Cousin Sim would n't hear of my plan of ordering a carriage for me and my baggage, but would have a wagon for the trunks, and drive me down. So I dispatched all my things, bag included, to wait for me at the Atlantic, and followed soon after. Arrived there, all was bustle and confusion, but our wagon was missing! — gone probably to some other Atlantic at some other Canal Street, existing in the driver's fertile brain! Mr. Gary, and William, and Sim, and little Johnny, and William Russell all started in different directions, while I kept guard in the drizzling northeaster for the wagon. Baggage and miscellaneous heaps of things gradually disappeared into the maw of the monster ship, whose wheels were turning and churning up the water as if impatient for a start. Frantic women, unprotected females, appealed to the captain and to Mr. E. L. Pierce to let them go and teach young nigs (See Mansfield French teacher left behind); others in despair about their traps, some tearful at parting, the collector busy as a bee swearing in the passengers. Finally he bundled up his papers, the wharf was emptied, and the ship full. The captain mounted the paddle-box, and still my precious trunks came not. I determined to leave them and trust to the captain and Mr. Heard for clothes, — yet lingered on the ladder to the last. Imagine my " phelinks" at the idea of not having even a tooth-brush! and at the vision of what Mary's cake would be when turned out of my trunk a fortnight hence! At last back came Mr. Cary with the wagoner in his clutches, who protested that he brought all and that it had gone on board, deep, alas, into that bottomless pit of a baggage hole, now full to the top. Thankful even for this forlorn hope, I bade our friends good-by, and took refuge in the cabin, where Mr. Hoard's things were snugly stored in our little state-room! I leave you to think of the anathemas uttered against cousin Sim, against the whole race of wagoners, and above all against my own feeble-minded self for trusting any of them!
Note: 1. Phelinks - Feelings (Thank Emily Dickinson) 2. Traps - In 1862 this word was slang for a soldier's equipment or belongings.