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How would this day be kept on board?by@julesverne
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How would this day be kept on board?

by Jules Verne August 27th, 2023
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The next day, the 31st of March, was Sunday. How would this day be kept on board? Would it be the English or American Sunday, which closes the “bars” and the “taps” during service hours; which withholds the butcher’s hand from his victim; which keeps the baker’s shovel from the oven; which causes a suspension of business; extinguishes the fires of the manufactories; which closes the shops, opens the churches, and moderates the speed of the railway trains, contrary to the customs in France? Yes, it must be kept thus, or almost thus. First of all, during the service, although the weather was fine, and we might have gained some knots, the Captain did not order the sails to be hoisted, as it would have been “improper.” I thought myself very fortunate that the screw was allowed to continue its work, and when I inquired of a fierce Puritan the reason for this tolerance, “Sir,” said he to me, “that which comes directly from God must be respected; the wind is in His hand, the steam is in the power of man.” I was willing to content myself with this reason, and in the meantime observed what was going on on board.
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A Floating City and The Blockade Runners by Jules Verne, is part of the HackerNoon Books Series. You can jump to any chapter in this book here. Chapter XIII

CHAPTER XIII.

The next day, the 31st of March, was Sunday. How would this day be kept on board? Would it be the English or American Sunday, which closes the “bars” and the “taps” during service hours; which withholds the butcher’s hand from his victim; which keeps the baker’s shovel from the oven; which causes a suspension of business; extinguishes the fires of the manufactories; which closes the shops, opens the churches, and moderates the speed of the railway trains, contrary to the customs in France? Yes, it must be kept thus, or almost thus.


First of all, during the service, although the weather was fine, and we might have gained some knots, the Captain did not order the sails to be hoisted, as it would have been “improper.” I thought myself very fortunate that the screw was allowed to continue its work, and when I inquired of a fierce Puritan the reason for this tolerance, “Sir,” said he to me, “that which comes directly from God must be respected; the wind is in His hand, the steam is in the power of man.”


I was willing to content myself with this reason, and in the meantime observed what was going on on board.


All the crew were in full uniform, and dressed with extreme propriety. I should not have been surprised to see the stokers working in black clothes; the officers and engineers wore their finest uniforms, with gilt buttons; their shoes shone with a British lustre, and rivalled their glazed hats with an intense irradiation. All these good people seemed to have hats and boots of a dazzling brightness. The Captain and the first officer set the example, and with new gloves and military attire, glittering and perfumed, they paced up and down the bridges awaiting the hour for service.


The sea was magnificent and resplendent beneath the first rays of a spring sun; not a sail in sight. The “Great Eastern” occupied alone the centre of the immense expanse. At ten o’clock the bell on deck tolled slowly and at regular intervals; the ringer, who was a steersman, dressed in his best, managed to obtain from this bell a kind of solemn, religious tone, instead of the metallic peals with which it accompanied the whistling of the boilers, when the ship was surrounded by fog. Involuntarily one looked for the village steeple which was calling to prayer.


At this moment numerous groups appeared at the doors of the cabins, at the bows and stern; the boulevards were soon filled with men, women, and children carefully dressed for the occasion. Friends exchanged quiet greetings; every one held a Prayer-book in his hand, and all were waiting for the last bell which would announce the beginning of service. I saw also piles of Bibles, which were to be distributed in the church, heaped upon trays generally used for sandwiches.


The church was the great saloon, formed by the upper deck at the stern, the exterior of which, from its width and regularity of structure, reminded one very much of the hotel of the Ministère des Finances, in the Rue de Rivoli. I entered. Numbers of the faithful were already in their places. A profound silence reigned among the congregation; the officers occupied the apsis of the church, and, in the midst of them, stood Captain Anderson, as pastor. My friend Dean Pitferge was near him, his quick little eyes running over the whole assembly. I will venture to say he was there more out of curiosity than anything else.


At half-past ten the Captain rose, and the service began; he read a chapter from the Old Testament. After each verse the congregation murmured the one following; the shrill soprano voices of the women and children distinctly separate from the baritone of the men. This Biblical dialogue lasted for about half-an-hour, and the simple, at the same time impressive ceremony, was performed with a puritanical gravity. Captain Anderson assuming the office of pastor on board, in the midst of the vast ocean, and speaking to a crowd of listeners, hanging, as it were, over the verge of an abyss, claimed the respect and attention of the most indifferent. It would have been well if the service had concluded with the reading; but when the Captain had finished a speaker arose, who could not fail to arouse feelings of violence and rebellion where tolerance and meditation should reign.


It was the reverend gentleman of whom I have before spoken—a little, fidgety man, an intriguing Yankee; one of those ministers who exercise such a powerful influence over the States of New England. His sermon was already prepared, the occasion was good, and he intended to make use of it. Would not the good Yorrick have done the same? I looked at Dean Pitferge; the Doctor did not frown, but seemed inclined to try the preacher’s zeal.


The latter gravely buttoned his black overcoat, placed his silk cap on the table, drew out his handkerchief, with which he touched his lips lightly, and taking in the assembly at a glance—


“In the beginning,” said he, “God created America, and rested on the seventh day.”...


Thereupon I reached the door.


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This book is part of the public domain. Jules Verne (2022). A Floating City and The Blockade Runners. Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved October 2022 https://www.gutenberg.org/files/67829/67829-h/67829-h.htm


This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org, located at https://www.gutenberg.org/policy/license.html.