C H A P T E R V
At Rio – Sail for Antonina with mixed cargo – A pampeiro – Ship on beam-ends – Cargo still more mixed – Topgallant-masts carried away – Arrive safely at AntoninaTHE cargo was at last delivered, and no one made ill over it. A change of rats also was made; at Rio those we brought in gave place to others from the Dom Pedro Docks where we moored. Fleas, too, skipped about in the hay as happy as larks, and nearly as big; and all the other live stock that we brought from Rosario, goodness knows of what kind and kith, arrived well and sound from over the water, notwithstanding the fumigations and fuss made at the quarantine.
Had the little microbes been with us indeed, the Brazilians would not have turned us away as they did, from the doors of an hospital! for they are neither a cruel nor cowardly people. To turn sickness away would be cruel and stupid, to say the least! What we were expelled for I have already explained.
After being so long in gloomy circumstances we felt like making the most of pleasant Rio! Therefore on the first fine day after being docked, we sallied out in quest of city adventure, and brought up first in Ouvidor – the Broadway of Rio, where my wife bought a tall hat, which I saw nights looming up like a dreadful stack of hay, the innocent cause of much trouble to me, and I declared, by all the great islands – in my dreams – that go back with it I would not, but would pitch it, first, into the sea.
I get nervous on the question of quarantines. 1 visit tne famous Botanical Gardens with my family, and I tremble with fear lest we are fumigated at some station on the way. However, our time at Rio is pleasantly spent in the main, and on the first day of June we set sail once more for Paranagua and Antonina of pleasant recollections; partly laden with flour, kerosene, pitch, tar, rosin and wine, three pianos, I remember, and one steam engine and boiler, all as ballast; "freight free," so the bill of lading read, and further, that the ship should "not be responsible for leakage, breakage, or rust." This clause was well for the ship, as one of those wild pampeiros overtook her, on the voyage, throwing her violently on her beam-ends, and shaking the motley cargo into a confused and mixed-up mess. The vessel remaining tight, however, no very serious damage was done, and she righted herself after a while, but without her lofty topgallant-masts, which went with a crash at the first blast of the tempest.
This incident made a profound impression on Garfield. He happened to be on deck when the masts were carried away, but managed to scamper off without getting hurt Whenever a vessel hove in sight after that having a broken spar or a torn sail, it was "a pampeiroed ship."
The storm, though short, was excessively severe, and swept over Paranagua and Antonina with unusual violence. The owner of the pianos, I was told, prayed for us, and regretted that his goods were not insured. But when they were landed, not much the worse for their tossing about, old Strichine, the owner (that was his name or near that, strychnine the boys called him, because his singing was worse than "rough on rats," they said, a bit of juvenile wit that the artist very sensibly let pass unheeded), declared that the ship was a good one, and that her captain was a good pilot; and as neither freight nor insurance had bccn paid, he and his wife would feast us on music; having learned that I especially was fond of it. They had screeched operas for a lifetime in Italy, but I didn't care for that. As arranged, therefore, I was on deck at the appointed time and place, to stay at all hazards.
The pianos, as I had fully expected, were fearfully out of tune – suffering, I should say, from the effects of seasickness!
So much so that I shall always believe this opportunity was seized upon by the artist to avenge the damage to his instruments, which, indeed, I could not avert, in the storm that we passed through. The good Strichine and his charming wife were astonished at the number of opera airs I could name. And they tried to persuade me to sing I1 Trovatore; but concluding that damage enough had already been done, I refrained, that is, I refracted my song.