Harper's Young People, March 9, 1880 An Illustrated Weekly

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Excerpt THE FIRST NIGHT AT SEA. P.M. steam-ship Arizona sails this day at 4.30 p.m. for China and the East, viâ Suez Canal. Freight received until 4 p.m. Hands wanted. "I guess that's what I want," muttered a boy, who was comparing the printed slip in his hand with the above notice, conspicuously displayed from the yard of a huge ocean steamer alongside one of the North River piers at New York. Not a very heroic figure, certainly, this young volunteer in the battle of life: tired, seemingly, by the way in which he dragged his feet; cold, evidently, for he shivered every now and then, well wrapped up as he was; hungry, probably, for he had looked very wistfully around him as he passed through the busy, well-lighted market, where many a merry group were laughing and joking over their purchase of the morrow's Christmas dinner. But with all this, there was something in his firm mouth and clear bright eye which showed that, as the Western farmer said, on seeing Washington's portrait, "You wouldn't git that man to leave 'fore he's ready." Picking up the bag and bundle which he had laid down for a moment, our hero entered the wharf house. "Clear the way there!" "Look out ahead!" "Stand o' one side, will yer?" "Now, sir, hurry up—boat's jist a-goin!" "Arrah, now, kape yer umbrelly out o' me ribs, can't ye? Sure I'm not fat enough for the spit yet!' "Hallo, bub! it's death by the law to walk into the river without a license. Guess you want to keep farther off the edge o' the pier." The boy's head seemed to reel with his sudden plunge into all this bustle and uproar, to which even that of the crowded streets outside was as nothing. Men were rushing hither and thither, as if their lives depended on it, with tools, coils of rope, bundles of clothing, and trucks of belated freight. Dockmen, sailors, stevedores, porters, hackmen, outward-bound passengers, and visitors coming ashore again after taking leave of their friends, jostled each other; and all this, seen under the fitful lamp-light, with the great black waste of the shadowy river behind it, seemed like the whirl of a troubled dream. And the farther he went, the more did the confusion increase. Here stood a portly gray-beard shouting and storming over the loss of his purse, which he presently found safe in his inner pocket; there a timid old lady in spectacles was vainly screaming after a burly porter who was carrying off her trunk in the wrong direction; an unlucky dog, trodden on in the press, was yelling; and an enormously fat man, having in his hurry jammed his carpet-bag between two other men even fatter than himself, was roaring to them to move aside, while they in their turn were asking fiercely what he meant by "pushing in where he wasn't wanted." Suddenly the clang of a bell pierced this Babel of mingled noises, while a hoarse voice shouted, "All aboard that's going! landsmen ashore!" The boy sprang forward, flew across the gang-plank just as it began to move, and leaped on deck with such energy as to run his head full butt into the chest of a passing sailor, nearly knocking him down....
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