On S.S. Ormonde, just leaving Toulon

Saturday, January 26, 1929

Thursday was a fine day. A cloudless sky and warm sun, but just a little cooler than Wednesday. I got a deck chair for two bob and spent most of the day in the lazy row basking in the sun along the starboard rail. In the morning there were games for the kiddies. I read astronomy and French and Nash’s Magazine. After dinner, a dance was held on the promenade deck, but women were scarce and the men were forced to struggle around together. About noon we passed Ibiza Island of the Baleric group, on our starboard. It was a very charming looking place with high rugged cliffs to the sea, capped by trees that look like toys in the distance. At four we had Majorca abeam. It, too, is a lovely island, very picturesque, and the largest of the group. Palma, the principal town, was hidden from view by a jutting point of land at the extreme southern tip of the island. The Geographic has some dandy scenes of these islands of Spain’s.

Just before dinner the big red sun dipped into the sea, tinting the clouds from a fiery red to a delicate pink. At the same time the moon shone forth from some clouds, making a silvery path away to the northeast. We were but a mile off the coast and the high rugged cliffs and uneven hills presented a somber charm in the gathering twilight. Here and there a small light twinkled, marking the crude hillside home of some farmer or shepherd. There several lights betrayed a small village. A short distance to the north rose a great hill, lightly sprinkled with snow and over 1,300 feet high. By 7:30 we were rapidly leaving the lighthouse on the northern cape in the distance.

I had retired late Thursday, so when my steward brought me tea at 6:30 or 7, I was still sleepy. Wisely he leaves the light on, though, so you can’t go to sleep again. The boat was rolling and pitching a good bit and I had much difficulty in keeping on my feet while shaving. The tea and I didn’t get along together at all. I went on deck. We were heading into a driving gale of wind which whipped icy sprays across the deck. I was very cold and it was next to impossible to stand in the wind. I would hate to be a bum sailor this late in the game so I played it safe, as I left a little unsettled, and flopped on my bunk. When I awoke it was 9:30, so I went on deck, glad I had refused breakfast. The sun was out and I stood in a sheltered place talking to a boy from just south of Edinburgh till we were in the harbor at 10:30AM. Scotch isn’t so easy to understand. The weather, two bob, and the fact that I had already seen Toulon kept me from going ashore. Didn’t do a whole lot all day, but read astronomy and spent the evening in my cabin with Jim Speight, of near Preston, England, bound for Sydney, who had been ashore exercising French words with the help of my dictionary. He is a dandy boy, 23, and a joiner and mechanic. The evening was beautiful. The moon, nearly full, over the bay, the lights of the city along the distant shore far below the black towering hills in the background. I wrote a letter to Bob Bruce and some on Jean’s and Dad’s and didn’t turn in till pretty late. One boy of 21 has got in with the wrong crowd on the boat and is dead drunk every night. He was drunk ashore and last night he fell down the 15 or so stairs outside my cabin. Some fool.

The mails didn’t come till this morning, so we have just left port a few minutes ago and are leaving the shores of France in the distance. It is still cold, but the sun is out and it should warm up some near Corsica. Still fairly rolly with a respectable wind. 9:30AM.

8:30PM —The fine morning turned into a cloudy afternoon with drizzles. Tonight it is cloudy but the moon is out. Awfully cold. Haven’t done much all day but read—French and the Egyptian life customs, superstitions, etc. written about 1842. Rather rolly most of the day and quite a number were “down.” I was rather sleepy and too much reading has given me a headache. Have a ravenous appetite, though. Jim is in bunk with a cold. His three roommates, Jim, Jim, and Jock are keeping close watch over him—bringing him food, then throwing the plates and silver out of the port-hole for the fishes. We have just passed the northernmost tip of Corsica and will soon be near Elba. Naples at 11AM and a four-hour stop. There are lots of nice people on board in 3rd and many dialects of English, from Scotch, to those from Lancashire, Liverpool, Preston, London, etc., all different.

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