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Off Prince Edward Island
Xmas Day, 1873
Our 2nd Xmas on board has arrived & finds us in sight of two snow covered islands, but they are still 20 miles away, so we shall not anchor until to-morrow; the weather is just about the same as with you, & the day has passed away far more pleasantly than last X.mas in the Bay of Biscay, O., still the sea is very rough to-day & the ship rolls a good dealbut we are pretty well used to that now, it was too rough for the regular church, but we had prayers as usual, and are now wearing our warm clothing for the first time, as the Thermometer now stands at 40, & was down to freezing point last night; rather a sudden change as it stood 70 only 4 days ago. We left the Cape on the 17th for this island, distant 1200 miles, & had a good wind, we sounded 2 or 3 times, depth about 2 miles, & the island hove in sight about 10 o'clock this morning. All hands were on deck looking out for land till dinner time, 12 o'clock, when the Band struck up —"The Roast Beef of Old England" which sounded very nice, though the dinner was salt Pork & Pea Soup. Of course we brought private stores with us, and had a fine dinner considering; the Captain walks round just to see the tables laid out, and tastes each messes plum duff, a very ancient custom in the Navy; there are 20 messes, but he only managed about 5; after 1/3 pint of Madeira was issued to each man, and the Band played dance music, which they are still doing, so I being no dancer have got this letter underway....

They now enter the second year of the voyage.

December 21st was the anniversary of our leaving Portsmouth, so the Captain issued Wine to all hands. Just before we left the Cape our Photographer deserted so at the last moment Professor Thompson had to rush up to Cape Town & engage a young fellow there; who has been very sea sick since coming across here. We are now standing between the islands until morning when we run up to Marion island.