His life and books
In Nat Gould's autobiography The Magic of Sport there is a mystery in his description of the start of the long voyage. He describes how he watched Plymouth receding into the distance when a fellow passenger joined him at the rail, who observed that he was “between the deil an’ the deep sea” and had “decided to leave the old gentleman in London and take a plunge.”
“On looking up, I saw a fellow-passenger standing beside me. He had come on at Plymouth, and was evidently bent on making himself at home. He had a jolly, jovial face and a cheery smile.” Nat replied that he hoped that “we have left your friend in London. I don’t care for travelling in such company”. “He’s no friend of mine, I assure you,” the jovial face asserted. “But you often find his influence extends even upon ships. I’ve seen a good deal of him on these vessels. Take my tip and give him a wide berth.”
Who that undesirable man was Nat does not tell us, but it was an inauspicious start. The equally anonymous fellow-passenger and Nat became good friends for the remainder of the voyage, "but there was very little to be seen of ‘the de’il’ on board the Liguria that trip”.
Nat’s mother would hardly have approved of the company into which he had already fallen even before setting foot aboard ship, let alone the friends he made on the voyage. There is something here that Nat seems to glide over quickly (1).
(1) For more information on this mystery see Nat Gould: The Biography by Tom Askey (2017) pages 21-22.