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The Open Collections website will be unavailable July 27 from PST ahead of Wanting to chillmess around with chain smoker usability and performance enhancements on July More information here. Warning You are currently on our download blacklist and unable to view media. You will be unbanned within an hour. Refworks. BC Historical Books. Featured Collection. We have his name, his hailing-place, a bare record of his clerkship on the Ton- quin when she swung around Cape Horn to fulfill the famous Astor's greedy dream of a great fur-trading empire on the Oregon coast, and then a half-breed's report of how James Lewis must have avenged his own suddenly heinous destiny.
On these facts this story is founded. Behind it plays the semi-comic opera of America in the making: a composite of young New York, its bankers, actors, sailors, fat Dutch farmers and innkeepers; of the outposts of an empire of hasty wealth, the wastrel islands of Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest with its hidden danger of Indian trickery, and the perfidy of the motley crew, the Wanting to chillmess around with chain smoker and Gaelic Noah's Arkful under the command of a demoniac Yankee captain.
Over it all, dominating the book, broods the romance of James Lewis and Perrault, the little singer, as deeply moving and beautiful as any in modern fiction. Astor's Opera p. Astor's Opera I, James Lewis, dead and standing forth in Heaven's court before the blinding fairness of the throne of God, relate these things out of bewildered memory of my life so lately left behind. I that was James Lewis, orphan and childless, fleck of the dust of commonest humanity, rebel son of a dull age and a raw, unsettled land, bachelor of arts who sailed a world away to count the skins from little beavers' backs, lover of life and of all men living, with the blood of three hundred Indians upon me I who sang Mozart with Mozart's own librettist and with the same voice wheedled for Mr.
Astor's pelts in the stinking cedar lodge of the flat-headed chieftain, Comcomly I whose fingers trembled to touch the pretty Perrault's cheek and yet were like avenging iron when they thrust flame to the powder store, and whose eyes that hunted beauty beyond a warehouse bin are now torn out and flung by my own act into a cold, strange sea I, stripped soul of him that was James Lewis, come into the presence of God, with His terrible bright gaze upon the whereon I now must write and tell these things from out my life.
And a man's life, though it seem no fuller than the laughter of an infant angel, is all of a man's life, and all that he may remember. There was one Captain Thorn, master of the Tonquin, erstwhile lieutenant, U. I was his chief clerk aboard, and something like his spy. He chose me because, of all the clerks, he hated me most.
He hated me because I was, like him, an American and a New Yorker and yet spoke—so he oathed I did—like a Tory, like a Hamiltonian senator, a damned unbearable pedant. When Mr. Astor described me to him as a schoolmaster something in his little gray eyes immediately told of how, in his own few school days, some tutor had birched him for being so bad at his grammar, and of how, with his proud young bottom smarting behind him all the way down from Trinity to Whitehall Slip, he had run away to sea.
In the ship's cabin, months after our first meeting, he told me that story in full. We were hugging around the Horn at last, with a sleety gale spent astern, and the islands of Diego Ramirez sinking into the long, almost endless day. The air had the hungry cool of near-by Southern ice fields, and midnight of New Year's Eve would be no darker than a restless, unbelievable dusk in the furrows of both seas.
The captain had found the cabin lantern lit. No one could possibly have burlesqued his passionate and overbearing show of discipline as he ordered me to haul it down. I've told 'm time 'n' again, but What the devil's he think he be? There, order was reestablished, economy had triumphed. I should have to lecture Perrault on the duties of a proper cabin boy.
They all called Perrault my boy. Overture to Mr. Astor's Opera 5 " Just needs a bit of talking to, sir. He's really all right. Unsettled by the weather but. How solemnly he had swallowed my last remark, for one thing. As solemnly as though he were sitting here at the table head, host to the partners for three stifF meals a day, their undying enemy for every twenty-four hours, conscious of their eyes on his strong, munching jaws when these damned landlubbers could not eat, as he could, a regular fare of sea-soured fowl or salt-porker and molasses.
As solemnly as all that he had taken to himself my prophecy about making a man of Perrault. But secondly I had smiled because, when I reached the lamp loop back over its hook, the glass had given me back a black, indented little portrait of me.
I had seen my own nose, comically long and sharp, piercing the smoked bugle of the little chimney, and the way my thin chin sloped off doubly weakly, of both its own accord and in the dimple of the glass. I smiled Yesterday, as ever so often, Ovide de Montigny had happened to meet me in the steerage and called me the old stork.
I suppose they thought we might have lights to-night. Astor's famous partners from the North-woods forts, had begun on our very first night out about the cabin lantern. One had only to touch a taper to the wick and he roared about the goddamned waste of it, the disrespect, the downright insubordination against all naval custom and his command. He began, sure enough, to roar again now. They'll all be abed by one or two. Abed by one 'r two, the British pot- licks.
He was moving towards his stateroom, but stopped in the doorway, turned around upon me, and was off again. God 'n' all the admirals, man, don't y' know y'r ship's bells yet? You're as bad as the worst of 'em, for all y'r fancy learnin'. Astor should know just how bad. Fur merchants 't thought themselves the captain's superiors and gibbered against him with their bastard Highland monkey-talk. Lazy, craven French voya- geurs, filthier 'n any Indians they'd lived and swigged amongst, boastin' how they could take their canoes through boilin' rapids and then green-faced and ill all over the deck at the first poke of a sea breeze.
Saucy little clerks out o' Montreal billiard halls and taprooms, struttin' with ex-schoolmasters from Tory colleges, all runnin' to write their memoirs at first sight of flyin' fish.
Astor's good money? Astor, the Tonquins owner, the expedition's financier back home in New York. Captain Thorn was your true navy officer. Heels thumped over our he. The Canadian canoe men were dancing. Their fringed leggings and slovenly, gay blankets whipped in the dusky breeze of a festival Overture to Mr. Astor's Opera 7 night which refused to grow dark. Paddle songs came down the hatchway, melancholy preludes to the sudden shrill burst of a Scotch bagpipe. The partners, Messrs.
M'Kay and M'Dougall and the Stuarts twain, were there with their Trinidad punch in contempt of all the captain's indignation, sharing tobacco and cheer with the voyageurs and the fawning Montreal youngsters.
Bits of Gaelic and heathenish French blew down into the cabin, and the tipsy scuffle of moceasined feet. Thorn listened grimly. Then he crooked a thick, completely calloused finger into my nankeen, and pulling me into the stateroom, closed the door on their noise. All weather, he insisted on the rubbing down of his berth and lockers.
An old Nantucket sofa jammed the recess, a monstrosity of horsehair and walnut, with furniture polish always shining damp between its eagle claws. He poured us each a precise half glass from his private Teneriffe stock. He wiped the bottom of the bottle before he'd set it down on any varnished part.
I ought to, by God. Introduce 'em to the gunner's daughter, or dump 'em on the next barren island they hanker to see. You 'n' that pretty little cabin boy you're f'rever coddlin'. He bulked so brutally. I watched him a good while. In the pearly, unreal light of this freezing midsummer dawn down at the bottom of the world he watched back at me. A swift voyage North, sir, and Oregon within the month. Astor's name had once meant nothing. Even to me, who had spent two college years in New York and sometimes, between my Latin and philosophy, had seen the name in the gazettes and on the boards of warehouses along the muddy waterfront, it had meant less than little.
For lack of harder things to do, I had gone back to my home township and taught school. They had given me my keep, and time to read and to play idly an old spinet which had somehow drifted into the schoolhouse and stayed.
I had no kin there.
My parents were dead long ago. But there were quiet valleys and deep green views towards Connecticut over the maple tops and soft marshes, and many children from the simple farms around. I must have fancied myself a Jean-Jacques of the New World. I was all of twenty-two years old then.
The farmers in this pleasant country had had their land from the new state government: small woodlands, neglected pastures and bramble patches, sold at low price to honest Whigs and veterans of the war. They had made fertile and bright fields of them. Decent townships were already springing and pricking the valley view with a glint of little Wanting to chillmess around with chain smoker, and of far-away windows like pinned Overture to Mr. Astor's Opera 9 stars by night. Young orchards reddened on the hills where the fled patrician, Roger Morris, had once chased the fox and let his park of fifty-thousand acres go rot to the greater glory of King George.
But across the plowing and the freshly springing corn the farmers bellowed to each other the strange news of One Mr. Astor, furrier, banker, tea and timber merchant, city millionaire, had just bought the heirs' rights of dead Morris in England, and of doddering Mary Morris, too, and was going to go to law and the Legislature for his due. Land, tillage, and all trespassing houses, every stone fence the farmers had put up meanwhile, he could and would claim for his own.
This first year we all laughed. I recalled the fat storehouse on Liberty Street, and the name of J. Astor printed so fatly across it. One evening, too, when I sat playing the old spinet for sweet, uncounted hours, I had happened to notice the names of Broadwood and Astor, London, on its key plate. It reminded me of all those notices I had seen in the newspapers in my college days: a Mr. Astor had always been sending another ship here, with no concern at all for the Embargo ofor announcing a ship from there with tea and cassia aboard her, or had had a conment of muskrat, wolverine, and marten from the English curers.
Talk, too, in front of the farm ovens about a butcher named Astor who had trundled around Westchester thirty years ago: older folk remembered a genial, pink-jowled German from the Fly Market, buying what cattle he could from the British and pushing his own wheelbarrow from yard to yard. Some one of the same family, perhaps, if not the identical man. And more recently still, another Astor, as pink of face io I, James Lewis but not so genial, all strong bones and sturdy neck and deep-sunken eyes below his dusty hair, with a pack strapped to his shoulder blades, trudging his way to the forests above Albany, to the sorry Indian coureurs around Lake George.
This might be the man. They recalled him stopping in at the General Putnam for a mug of Holland beer, munching and sweating gravely into the chunk of bread he had hauled out of his bundle. This must be the man. They mistrusted my age, but I was full of college honors, and of that readiness to argue which only teaching school can give. They loaned me an old mare, fit for a Quixote, and I rode her for three and a half days into the town.
On the door of the heavy-pillared, plain brick house at Broadway a brass plate carried his name.Wanting to chillmess around with chain smoker
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