Page:The Pathfinder of the Seas.djvu/59

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31
HE RESORTS TO THE PEN

among brother officers? So I gave him a list of the officers belonging to the expedition; myself, the youngest lieutenant in the navy, at the bottom of the list. He froze up with disgust, ordered Wilkes home, and gave him the command, and so I was the gainer, for I preserved mine integrity".

Maury was next assigned to the duty of surveying Southern harbors, relative to the establishment of a navy yard in the South. In this work he assisted Lieutentant James Glynn, in the schooner Experiment and the steamboat Engineer, in the examination and survey of the harbors of Beaufort and Wilmington, and the inlets Sapelo and Doboy on the coast of Georgia. Early in the month of August, 1839, Maury was detached from the Engineer at Norfolk with leave for one month, and he set out very soon thereafter from his home in Fredericksburg to visit his parents in Tennessee to look after some business affairs for his father who had become old and infirm, and also to make arrangements for conveying them to Virginia where they were to make their home with him.

Maury had written in vain, in February and again in August, 1839, to F. R. Hassler of the United States Coast Survey offering his services as head of a triangulation party. This was one of the several attempts he made at different times to find work of such a nature as to justify his resignation from the navy. By such small threads often hangs a man's destiny. If Hassler had accepted Maury's services, his whole future would probably have been different from what it became, for an event was soon to happen to him which, though apparently at first most unfortunate, was indirectly to place him on that flood tide which led him on to fortune.