Texas Surgeon: an Autobiography Page: 35
This book is part of the collection entitled: Rescuing Texas History, 2010 and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries .
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walked to a nearby Boston and Albany dock where the Queen
Bess was being loaded with lumber. This lumber, pine from the
forests of Michigan then being stripped bare, was destined either
for the Barbados government or the army. The troops garrison-
ing the British West Indies were stationed at Bridgetown.
Grim East Boston, across the little estuary of the Mystic
River, is well known as the site of the Donald McKay shipyard,
where the two most famous clippers of all time, the Flying
Cloud and the Sovereign of the Seas, were built. The Queen
Bess, of obscure Tyneside origin, bore no resemblance to these
slim beauties of thirty years before. She was broad, squat,
streaked with rust, and incredibly foul. Her yards hung cocka-
bill, and her carelessly furled canvas was a lifeless gray, as if
spent from callous usage.
My heart sank as I gazed at the disorder of the decks. How
different from the American ships of the Emery Line, which also
went to the West Indies. Why, the Queen Bess did not even have
a figurehead or gilt scrollwork at her bow. But for me to turn
back would have been unthinkable. In the year i888 one simply
did not turn back.
Picking my way among butter-yellow piles of lumber, I went
up the gangplank, and confronted a thin, nondescript man with
a taffy-colored mustache and seamy, sunken cheeks. He was
standing at an open hatch, one foot on the coaming as he peered
down. Before turning to me, with great deliberation, he spat
tobacco juice into the shadowy depths. From the hold a cool,
close bilgy smell billowed up which not even the sharply res-
inous odor of the pine could disguise. Already my abdominal
region, indeed, my entire body, felt odd, although the ship lay
perfectly motionless at the dock. The very camber and shear
of the deck beneath my feet were enough to throw me off.
My instinct for spotting authority had not led me astray. The
man was Mr. Pottle, first mate of the Queen Bess. Mr. Pottle
was a Liverpool product, as dirty as his ship in speech and in
attire. Every third word he used that expletive dear to British
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Atkinson, Donald Taylor. Texas Surgeon: an Autobiography, book, 1958; New York. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth143566/m1/47/: accessed March 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries.