Around the World in 80 Days, and 57 Seconds
(The OTHER version of "Around the World in 80 Days")
by Whitney Smith
February 23, 1997
The date was October 2, 1872. I was but a young lad of 12 when the stranger gave me the offer. He said that a group of men were going to race around the world. There were going to be 2 boats racing through the oceans and to the other side of the country in the least amount of days as possible, and, if I would help them with the cleaning on board I would be paid a fee of $100. This price shocked me, because just for a sailing trip, that was a great deal. I was just a poor beggar at that time, so without asking the dangers of the trip, or getting the permission of my parents, I took the offer. The man's name was Henderson (He would not give me his first name, he said real sailors did not have first names). He had a mean, straight face, with a scar running down his cheek. I told him my name was Smith, and with that he told me to meet him at the harbor, at dawn tomorrow.
When I got home, I said nothing about the deal with the man, instead I decided that I would leave a note the next day explaining what I had done, and where I was going. "What happened to you today Thomas? Anything exciting?" my mother asked, wondering why I was in such a hurry to finish supper.
"NO! why do you ask?!" I said hastily, hearing the wonder in my mother's words.
"Oh, I just was asking."
"Well, no, just a boring day. Maybe tomorrow something will happen."
"Well, no, just a boring day. Maybe tomorrow something will happen."
"Yes, maybe something will happen tomorrow that will help this family," my mother said, just trying to get the subject off hand. With that, I excused myself and went straight to my room and began to pack my clothes for the journey the next day. I had not done the wash since last Friday, so I had to make do with the dirty clothes that I had strewn about on my floor. I had trouble hiding the suitcase because of its large mass, but I finally found some space in my closet that I could hide it in.
I had no trouble staying awake that night, because when you are going on an incredible expedition around the world the next day, it kind of keeps you awake. I had waited until 2:30 in the morning when I couldn't wait any longer. I shut the door, and took out a piece of paper to write where I was, and where I was going. After I signed my name at the bottom, I quickly folded it, and put it on my cot. Then with wasting no time I dashed out the window, making as little noise as possible, but the shutters were wood, and the fact that the hinges were old and rusty, did not help me at all, but since my parents are very heavy sleepers, I was able to go out without disturbing them from their slumber. Since there were very few places a lad could go at 2:30 in the morning, I went straight to the harbor, and wouldn't you know it, there was Henderson and some of his crew waiting there for me right on a boat!
"Hello Mr. Henderson, I am surprised to see you here at this ungodly hour, you are all ready I see."
"Aye, that we are, and you my lad are predictable, no one can resist to wait inside a boring house until dawn arrives, so you came early, of course of course. Now don't just stand there, get on board, Mason here will show you your cabin. That is where you will be spending your nights, but that is the only time you will be spending there, do you know how to cook?" said Henderson impatiently.
"Yes sir, I know how to cook a few things like..."
"Good, welcome aboard, you shall be the cook also," said Henderson, cutting me off.
Not wanting to upset the man, I did not ask any questions, I followed the man that he pointed out as Mason, and I followed him through the boat into a room with plain wooden walls, and just a small dresser in one corner. It smelled of perspiration and dead fish. "Well, Smith, get your things unpacked, and get some sleep, we will wake you up when you are going to make lunch, we are not eating any breakfasts on this trip, to save food for the victory party when we win," Mason said, chuckling to himself. I joined in on the laughter. I did not bother to put on a nightshirt, because for some reason I knew it wouldn't be worth it, I just jumped in my bed and I didn't even notice the lumpiness about it because I was as tired as a bird who just flew south for the winter.
I felt like a horse apple when I heard the shouting that seemed far away, but it was right in my ear, and I still didn't wake up, then when I felt what FELT like an earthquake, I finally opened my eyes, and sat up. "Well, looks like you are still alive after all. Well c'mon you, the men are hungry, you have slept enough," Harold said in a loud scruffy voice. Actually in retrospect, I had slept more than I usually do, because the sun was almost in mid-sky, I just felt tired. Harold led me to the kitchen, or what could be described as a kitchen, and gave me some potatoes, and a slab of beef. He told me to cook the meat, and peel and boil the potatoes and that is what we would be eating for lunch. I followed his orders, and started to peel the potatoes, and boil the water for the meat and potatoes.
After 3 cuts, and 5 burns on my hand, I finally got the meat cooked, and the table set with forks, and plates. I hung a jug of beer over the side of the boat, to keep it cold, and poured all of the shipmates a glassful, I poured myself a little also. "LUNCH IS READY!!!!" I yelled when everything was finished, and they all came rushing in, and sat at a chair. All during the meal, they talked about how far they had gone already, and how they had not had a good meal like this in however many months it had been since their last sail. Me being the smallest one, I sat alone, seeing this Mason felt bad for me, and moved into the chair next to me. "Hey, great lunch Smith, what you been up to?" Mason said with his jolly tone.
"Nothing, I have one goal on this trip. That is to stay awake," I said, actually meaning it. Mason burst out laughing at what I had just said.
"I couldn't agree with you more Smith, hey, did you hear that we are ahead of the other boat by at least 30 miles, I think we are going to win, don't you?"
"Of course I do, why do you think I came?"
We continued to talk about the trip. I really liked Mason, he was really nice to me ever since I got on board, and he was my only friend.
For the next 53 days, all went well. But on the 54th day, we spotted a sperm whale on the west port, and sperm whales sold for about $20 a pound for their meat, so, of course, we set out to get it. We harpooned it, and brought it on board, but that was just a baby, and the mother was furious, she lunged at our boat with all of its might, almost knocking it completely over, but because of its massive size, only a small hole was made, it survived 3 hits then the whale went away, discouraged. We had to set on a small island to repair our ship we worked in the water for 3 days, and then on the 4th day, we finally got it repaired. Obviously the other boat had already passed us by far, so we would have to work even harder, and go faster than we had ever gone before. We loaded back on the boat, and would not stop in any country for food and/or supplies.
After the 3rd day of catching up, on the horizon we saw the outline of another boat, and we knew instantly that that was the other captain's boat. We put up more sails than usual, and we passed them, but they also raised more sails, it was a head to head race of huge boats, imagine the funniness of that! Insults were shouted between the opposing boats as they deadlocked in the middle of the ocean, but still morale was high, and our crew pressed on. I did my usual jobs, even though the insults made me laugh, there were "your momma" jokes even back then! I cooked up some stew, but the crew refused to eat anything until they were ahead of the other boat, which they hoped would be soon, because they get awfully hungry working so hard, so fast.
After about 3 hours has passed, we were still side to side, but then a sail on the other boat broke! Leaving them behind.
"YEA! We did it, we beat them, we are going to win this race!" said Mason, cheering along with the other members of the crew, most of them I still had not yet learned their names. I got out the stew, which was not a bit cold, and I put it on the table, but the crewmen were so hungry, they barely even noticed, they just talked about the ordeal of the race. Little did we know then, that the other ship had at trick up their sleeves. After the break, I went away at cleaning the cabins, and mopping the deck so that I would get paid. That night I slept the best I had since the voyage started, and I dreamed about when I came home with all that money, and my mom who had been so worried about me cheered with happiness when I returned home with the coins in my hand. But then a voice woke me up from my slumber:
"SMITH! WAKE UP! THEY HAVE SOMEHOW PASSED US! I DO NOT KNOW HOW, BUT OUR SAIL RIPPED, IT LOOKED LIKE A KNIFE RIPPED IT BUT NO ONE WOULD DO THAT! WE NEED YOU TO FIX IT!" It was Mason, who I thought had the job of waking me up.
"But I don't wanna go to school, mom," I mumbled, not knowing what I was saying because I was barely even awake.
"C'mon you, get up, this is not time for sleeping."
I finally opened my eyes, and got up. When I got to Henderson, he gave me the tools to fix the mast. In school, I was forced to learn how to sew, so I scrambled up the mast, and climbed where the rip was, I worked my hands bloody patching it up, it took me about 1 and a half hours to do it, but when I was done, it looked almost like it hadn't been ripped. The reason it took me so long was because the wind moved the sail all around, and it was a pain to keep it in one place, and work with the other, but I finally got it done.
Them having all of their sails good, and ours having a huge rip in it, put us back more than the crash, and it seemed impossible to catch up with them. For 41 more days we went, with barely any breaks in the day, and while some people slept in the day, the ones that worked in the day slept at night, and the ones that slept in the day, worked at night, so we did not lose any time. We were almost there, we thought about only another day, and we were right. We found the boat with one day to spare, and we worked furiously at the sails to make them go faster, but we still lagged. We all wanted to win, but it seemed unlikely.
The opponent arrived at the harbor at exactly 12:00 AM on the 80th day of the expedition, making loud cheers that we could hear from afar, we arrived at 12:00 and 57 seconds; they just beat us. We went back to our homes moping about the loss. Henderson was actually the happiest one of both boats, he said that he knew we didn't stand a chance, because there was a person from the other boat on our boat the whole time, that is how the mast got cut, he just wanted us to work our hardest for something fun. In fact he actually gave me $200 instead. I became good friends with Mason, and we did everything together. My family was happy to see that I was OK and that I had brought home to them the money. We all lived happily ever after.'
PS: I just thought it would be a good add on to the classic "Around the World in 80 Days." Do not actually refer to the book on the real details.
After the race, as you know Mason and I became good friends. I learned that his first name was Sean, and that he was normally a blacksmith. I got a girlfriend, and eventually married her, her name was Rosetta Parker, we raised 2 children, a boy and a girl. The girl's name was Maryl, and the boy's name was Whitney, but he liked to be called Whit. Whitney came out to be a successful lawyer, who attended Harvard University, which was one of the few colleges at the time, but Maryl turned out to be a penniless beggar who depended on her great brother to give her money. Sean died on October 2, 1900, at exactly 12:00 and 57 seconds, exactly 28 years after the race when he was 52 years old.