March 29 Saturday – On board the Kanawha in Boden, Jamaica, Sam wrote to Livy [MTP].
Livy darling, we took a pilot, in a dugout, 50 miles from Kingston in the open sea. He was colored, of course, & had 3 young colored fellows with him, whose wage is $5 a month apiece & find themselves. They had been out a week & 40 miles from land, & were used to that, though this is a region of high winds & great seas. They seemed to have no provisions but cocoa-nuts, & no water but the milk in the nuts, which is a plenty good enough substitute for water. It is an adventurous life, but they seemed quite indifferent to its dangers.
… [Here Sam told of Mar. 28 activities in Kingston; see entry]
We left at 8 this morning, but encountered heavy seas immediately & came back. We are taking coal. We are about to go to the country on another excursion, so I will close this. I love you dearly, sweetheart, & I wish you & the girls were here [MTP].
Sam’s notebook: “Went to sea at 8—outside 2/3 of the Atlantic came aboard & we came back & gave it up. Trip per RR to Golden Grove market. 74 tons coal. 75 pounds in a basket. ¼ of a cent per basket. 25 to 30 cents earned in 5 hours. / Capt. Baker, night. / 2 Indian (Hindu) babies” [NB 45 TS 8].
Sam’s ship log:
Went to sea at 8. Outside, 2/3 of the Atlantic came aboard, & we gave it up & returned.
R.R. trip to Golden Grove market.
What it was like is best shown by W. Foote’s photograph. Returned, to the yacht at the dock. Took aboard 74 tons of coal—in baskets carried on the head by East-Indian coolie men & women—75 pounds in a basket; wage, 1/4 of a cent per basket. The coolies earned 25 to 30 cents apiece in four or five hours, & transported 3 or 4 tons each. They came from miles in the country to get the job, & were glad to have it.
THE COOLIE TOTS.
Boy & girl, brown & plump, with grave & gentle faces. They sat on the floor of the dock, by a stanchion, hour after hour, in the midst of the passing turmoil, without food, or water, or playthings, or petting, or notice; but made no complaint:—little allegories of India, the land that has suffered all human ills, through ten thousand centuries, and learned to endure them all, & wait for death their only friend, in patience & submission. The children were there to take care of themselves while their parents worked; the parents could not visit them without urgent need, for time was costly. The mothers did come once—with a mother’s extravagance—a flying visit, a hug, a pat, & she was gone again, but even that bite for her hungry heart lost her all of two baskets of coal & cost her half a cent.
It was a dear little girl, with such dainty little brown hands, & innocent deep eyes, & such a sweet & patient face. She will remain in our memories; she is a fixture there—& very welcome, too.
Jamaica seems to be a hell for cats & dogs; they are beyond description lean & weak & despondent. There is nothing to feed them on; they can’t eat fruits, & the negroes have nothing else [MTP].
March 30 Sunday – The Kanawha made the port of Santiago in southern Cuba, where the men “visited the points of historical interest near Santiago” [NY Times Apr. 1, 1902, p.9 “The Kanawha at Santiago”].
Sam’s notebook: “Easter / Sailed early for Santiago. Rough. Arr. 3 p.m. at the Morro Castle. Prado. Queen’s …. [Square] Well kept cats & dogs. No smoking” [NB 45 TS 8].
Sam’s ship log: “Easter Sunday, March 30. Sailed for Santiago de Cuba. Reasonably rough, but not rougher, perhaps, than the seas which had driven us to refuge.
Arrived, 3 p.m., at the Moro, the fortress which overhangs the mouth of the narrow gut up which Hobson groped his way & tried to obstruct it by sinking his coal-ship across it. It takes a military eduction to know why our navy didn’t go ashore with a basket of doughnuts & batter that old shack down.
Meandered (it is the right word, for it is a crooked gut) up and anchored before Santiago.
Went ashore & had a hot walk with members of the gang through the slum-end of the town. Uninviting & uninteresting. The people seemed poor, but they were well fed. Dogs & cats ditto.
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.