Two three-masters, one French, the other English, which had sailed a month later than "The Conquest," had arrived there at the beginning of the week, bringing despatches. There were two letters for Daniel, and with feverish hands and beating heart he took them from the hand of the old clerk. But at the first glance at the addresses he turned pale. He did not see Henrietta's handwriting.
And who knows, now, when a ship will leave?" "When? On Sunday, in five days; and that ship is 'The Saint Louis' a famous clipper, and so good a sailor, that you will easily overtake the two big three-masters that have sailed before you." Offering his hand to Daniel, he added, "Come, my dear Champcey; don't blame an old friend who has done what he thought was his duty to do."
Already the flowery waving oceans of Illinois begin to abound in ships, or what seem such, houses looming up from the horizon, like three-masters sometimes, sometimes schooners, and again little tentative sloops.
The Atlantic and Gulf Coasts fairly swarmed with small pilot-boats, mounting one long gun amidships, and carrying crews of twenty to forty men. These little craft made rapid sallies into the waters of the Gulf Stream, in search of British West Indiamen homeward bound. Other privateers were huge three-masters, carrying heavy batteries, and able to outsail any of the enemy's ships.
But, ah! how swiftly, threateningly they grew: the smaller, two-masted fore-and-afts, each seemingly unarmed but for one monster gun pivoted amidships, and the towering, wide-armed three-masters, the low and the tall consorting like dog and hunter.
After the workmen left in the late afternoon, we boys swarmed over the ships three-masters, smelling deliciously of new wood and caulking, and played we were sailors. When the rope ladders were finally in place, we raced up and down them, sitting in the crow's nest on a line with the church weather vane, and pretending to reef the sails. It was an event when the ships were launched.
Some Gloucester men were in sight, too, though most of the fleet, we guessed, were still outside of us. The coasters were colliers, three-masters both, and reefed down, wallowing in the sea. One had her foretopmast snapped short off, and such patched sails as she had on looked lonesome. The gang, of course, had to make fun of her. "There's one way to house a topm'st!"
The background of the picture alone is uninteresting, as there is no chain of mountains to form a horizon, and the eye wanders over the boundless flats of Denmark. Among the vessels lying at anchor in the harbour I saw but few three-masters, and still fewer steamers.
The massive and luxurious steamers and the little white-winged yachts, the tall "three-masters" and the trim and gracefully-sailing schooners, are in full view.
Into these three-masters, these Leviathans of Lake Ontario, the timber, boards, staves, handspikes, &c., from the interior are now shipped, and the timber carried to the head of the St. Lawrence navigation. One step more, and they will, as soon as the canals are widened, proceed from Lake Superior to London without a raft being ever made.
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