How he happened to be the proprietor of one of the finest steam-yachts that ever floated on the ocean was also explained, through a somewhat complicated narrative, and the details of a cruise to Bermuda, the Bahama Islands, and Cuba, followed by a voyage across the Atlantic and up the Mediterranean, the steamer and her tender having just sailed from Alexandria after the tour of Egypt.
This incident took the form of a somewhat sudden proposal to get up a race for steam-yachts round the island, for a cup of the value of fifty guineas.
Several finely modelled steam-yachts were also supplied about this time to the order of that great turf celebrity, the late Mr. Assheton Smith. Amongst these we may mention the Fire King, 230 horse power, a vessel which was the first illustration of the hollow-line system, and which proved itself to be the fastest steamer then afloat.
Six or eight war-ships, ranging in size and fighting power from monitors to torpedo-boats, were still lying at anchor off the custom-house and the Marine Hospital; transports with stores and munitions of war were discharging their cargoes at the piers; big four-masted schooners, laden with coal for the blockading fleet, swung back and forth with the ebbing and flowing tides as they awaited orders from the naval commandant; graceful steam-yachts, flying the flag of the Associated Press, were constantly coming in with news or going out in search of it; swift naphtha-launches carrying naval officers in white uniforms darted hither and thither from one cruiser to another, whistling shrill warnings to the slower boats pulled by sailors from the transports; officers on the monitors were exchanging "wigwag" flag-signals with other officers on the gunboats or the troop-ships; and from every direction came shouts, bugle-calls, the shrieks of steam-whistles, the peculiar jarring rattle of machine-guns at target practice, and the measured beats of twenty or thirty ships' bells, striking, at different distances, but almost synchronously, the half-hours.
It is true that a race for steam-yachts was got up, a little while before I left the Solent, under circumstances which suggested to me that an attempt was being made to ascertain the best speed of the Thetis; but the attempt might have existed only in my imagination, and if it was otherwise, the plan was defeated, so no harm was done.
I'd go along all right in your office back in New York for awhile, for a month, two months, six months, who knows, maybe a year, and then one day I'd look out the window, take a look down on the Battery, say at the elevated railroad or the Aquarium Building, and the Coney Island steamer dock with the barkers yelling and gesturing, and the loafers on the benches in between, and from that I'd look down the bay and see the Statue of Liberty some morning that would be, maybe, when the sun was lighting up New York Bay as it does some mornings, or maybe it would be on a late afternoon, with the sun setting over on the Jersey shore, the dark smoke from a hundred chimneys smooching across the pink and purple of it, and, if 'twas summer, a haze like a bridal veil over it all, and between that and the Battery the life of a hundred craft ferry-boats, tow-boats, lighters, windjammers, steam-yachts, ocean-liners, harbor, coastwise and foreign bound, a hundred different kinds coming and going, the Lord knows where, but to where no four walls will bound 'em for a time, be sure of that.
He hadn't a big enough imagination even to introduce into this last picture a sport dropping a dollar bill into his hat. But Foreman had a pretty good opinion of himself, and a mighty big opinion of the food, and he believed that a clever, well-knit ad. was strong enough to draw teeth. So he would go home and build steam-yachts and country places in his sleep.
He has constructed several buildings in European fashion and Chinese fashion, and ornamented them with various useful ornaments for his pleasure, and has constructed two steamers in manner of men-of-war, and two steam-yachts, and several rowing state-boats in Siamese and Cochin-Chinese fashion, for his pleasure at sea and rivers of Siam; and caused several articles of gold and silver being vessels and various wares and weapons to be made up by the Siamese and Malayan goldsmiths, for employ and dress of himself and his family, by his direction and skilful contrivance and ability.
With the approach of the end of the month the yachts began to thin out more and more perceptibly every day, the racers going westward and the cruisers following them; the steam-yachts hanging on to accompany the Channel Match to Weymouth.
"It's easy, my son," he resumed, "dead easy, and it's psychology on the hugest scale; and among the results of its study is constant improvement of the mind, going on coincidentally with the preparation of the way to the ownership of steam-yachts and racing-stables, or any other similar trifles you hanker for." "Great brain, Jim!