Vandover and the Brute HTML version

Chapter Nine
Vandover stayed for two weeks at Coronado Beach and managed to pass the time very
pleasantly. He was fortunate enough to find a party at the hotel whom he knew very well.
In the morning they bathed or sailed on the bay, and in the afternoon rode out with a pack
of greyhounds and coursed jack-rabbits on the lower end of the island. Vandover's good
spirits began to come back to him, his appetite returned, his nerves steadied themselves,
he slept eight hours every night. But for all that he did not think that things were the same
with him. He said to himself that he was a changed man; that he was older, more serious.
During this time he received several letters from his father which he answered very
promptly. In the course of their correspondence it was arranged that they should both
leave for Europe on the twenty-fifth of that month, and that consequently, Vandover
should return to the city not later than the fifteenth. Vandover was having such a good
time, however, that he stayed over the regular steamer in order to go upon a moonlight
picnic down on the beach. The next afternoon he took passage for San Francisco on a
second-class boat.
This homeward passage turned out to be one long misery for Vandover. He had never
been upon a second-class boat before and had never imagined that anything could be so
horribly uncomfortable or disagreeable. The Mazatlan was overcrowded, improperly
ballasted, and rolled continually. The table was bad, the accommodations inadequate, the
passengers hopelessly uncongenial. Cold and foggy weather accompanied the boat
continually. The same endless procession of bleached hills still filed past under the mist,
going now in the opposite direction, and the same interminable game of whist was played
in the smoking-room, only with greasier, second-class cards, amidst the acrid smoke of
second-class tobacco. At supper, the first day out, a little Jew who sat next to Vandover,
and who invariably wore a plush skull-cap with ear-laps, tried to sell him two flawed and
yellow diamonds.
The evening after leaving Port Hartford the Mazatlan ran into dirty weather. It was not
stormy—simply rough, disagreeable, the wind and sea directly ahead. Half an hour after
supper Vandover began to be sick. For a long time he sat on the slippery leather cushions
in the nasty smoking-room, sucking limes, drinking seltzer, and trying to be interested in
the card games. He dozed a little and awoke, feeling wretched, covered with a cold sweat,
racked by a pain in the back of his head, and tortured by an abominable nausea. He
groped his way out upon the swaying, gusty deck, descended to his cabin, and went to
The Mazatlan had booked more passengers than could be accommodated, the steward
being obliged to make up beds on the floor of the dining saloon and even upon some of
the tables. Vandover had not been able to get a stateroom, and so had put up with a bunk
in the common cabin at the stern of the vessel.