On the Spartacus

The ulster and the felt hat soon came off again, for a head wind lay waiting in the offing, and the Spartacus began to pitch and toss in a manner which made all her unseasoned passengers glad to betake themselves to their berths. Mrs Ashe and Amy were among the earliest victims of seasickness, and Katy, after helping them to settle in their state rooms, found herself too dizzy and ill to sit up a moment longer, and thankfully resorted to her own.

As the night came on, the wind grew stronger and the motion worse. The Spartacus had the reputation of being a dreadful `roller', and seemed bound to justify it on this particular voyage. Down, down, down the great hull would slide till Katy would hold her breath with fear lest it might never right itself again; then slowly, slowly the turn would be made, and up, up, up it would go, till the list on the other side was equally alarming. On the whole, Katy preferred to have her own side of the ship the downward one, for it was less difficult to keep herself in the berth, from which she was in continual danger of being thrown. The night seemed endless, for she was too frightened to sleep except in broken snatches, and when day dawned, and she looked through the little round pane of glass in the port hole, only grey sky and grey weltering waves and flying spray and rain met her view.

`Oh, dear, why do people ever go to sea, unless they must?' she thought feebly to herself. She wanted to get up and see how Mrs Ashe had lived through the night, but the attempt to move made her so miserably ill that she was glad to sink again on her pillows.

The stewardess looked in with offers of tea and toast, the very idea of which was simply dreadful, and pronounced the other lady `'orribly ill, worse than you are, Miss,' and the little girl `takin' on dreadful in the h'upper berth'. Of this fact Katy soon had audible proof, for as her dizzy senses rallied a little, she could hear Amy in the opposite state room crying and sobbing pitifully. She seemed to be angry as well as sick, for she was scolding her poor mother in the most vehement fashion.

`I hate being at sea,' Katy heard her say. `I won't stay in this nasty old ship. Mamma! Mamma! Do you hear me? I won't stay in this ship! It wasn't a bit kind of you to bring me to such a horrid place. It was very unkind; it was cruel. I want to go back, Mamma. Tell the captain to take me back to the land. Mamma, why don't you speak to me? Oh, I am so sick and so very unhappy! Don't you wish you were dead? I do!'

And then came another storm of sobs, but never a sound from Mrs Ashe, who, Katy suspected, was too ill to speak. She felt very sorry for poor little Amy, raging there in her high berth like some imprisoned creature, but she was powerless to help her. She could only resign herself to her own discomforts, and try to believe that somehow, sometime, this state of things must mend; either they should all get to land or all go to the bottom and be drowned, and at that moment she didn't care very much which it turned out to be.

The gale increased as the day wore on, and the vessel pitched dreadfully. Twice Katy was thrown out of her berth on the floor; then the stewardess came and fixed a sort of movable side to the berth, which held her in, but made her feel like a child fastened into a railed crib. At intervals she could still hear Amy crying and scolding her mother, and conjectured that they were having a dreadful time of it in the other state room. It was all like a bad dream. `And they call this travelling for pleasure!' thought poor Katy.

One droll thing happened in the course of the second night - at least it seemed droll afterward; at the time Katy was too uncomfortable to enjoy it. Amid the rush of the wind, the creaking of the ship's timbers, and the shrill buzz of the screw, she heard a sound of queer little footsteps in the entry outside of her open door, hopping and leaping together in an odd irregular way, like a regiment of mice or toy soldiers. Nearer and nearer they came, and Katy, opening her eyes, saw a procession of boots and shoes of all sizes and shapes which had evidently been left on the floors or at the doors of various state rooms, and which, in obedience to the lurchings of the vessel, had collected in the cabin. They now seemed to be acting in concert with one another, and really looked alive as they bumped and trotted side by side,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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