Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/21

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burden and perhaps eighty feet long. Rather clumsy to look at and roughly built was the Polly as compared with the larger ships that brought home the China tea and silks to the warehouses of Salem. Such a vessel was a community venture. The blacksmith, the rigger, and the calker took their pay in shares, or "pieces." They became part owners, as did likewise the merchant who supplied stores and material; and when the brig was afloat, the master, the mate, and even the seamen were allowed cargo space for commodities that they might buy and sell to their own advantage. A voyage directly concerned a whole neighborhood.

Every coastwise village had a row of keel-blocks sloping to the tide. In winter weather too rough for fishing, when the farms lay idle, the Yankee Jack of all trades plied his axe and adz to shape the timbers and peg together such a little vessel as the Polly, in which to trade to London or Cadiz or the Windward Islands. Hampered by an unfriendly climate, hard put to it to grow sufficient food, with land immensely difficult to clear, the New-Englander was between the devil and the deep sea, and he sagaciously chose the latter. Elsewhere, in the early days, the forest was an enemy, to be destroyed with great pains. The pioneers of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine regarded it with favor