Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

since acknowledged, the man on the boat to his fate. Indeed, I am certain I should have had more to fear from their avarice than to hope from their humanity; and it is more than probable that my life would have been taken, to secure them in the possession of my watch and several half-eagles which I had about me. The accident happened at eight o'clock in the morning; in the course of some hours, as the day advanced, the sun grew warmer, the wind blew from the south, and the water became calmer. I got upon my knees, and found myself in the small lake St Louis, about three to five miles wide: with some difficulty, I got upon my feet, but was soon convinced, by cramps and spasms in all my sinews, that I was quite incapable of swimming any distance, and I was then two miles from the shore. I was now going, with wind and current, to destruction; and cold, hungry, and fatigued, was obliged again to sit down in the water to rest, when an extraordinary circumstance greatly relieved me. On examining the wreck, to see if it were possible to detach any part of it to steer by, ] I perceived something loose, entangled in a fork of the wreck, and so carried along: this I found to be a small trunk, bottom upwards, which, with some difficulty, I dragged up upon the barge. After near an hour's work, in which I broke my penknife, whilst trying to cut out the lock, I made a hole in the top, and, to my great satisfaction, drew out a bottle of rum, a cold tongue, some cheese, and a bag full of bread, cakes, &c. all wet. Of these I made a seasonable, though very moderate use; and the trunk answered the purpose of a chair to sit upon, elevated above the surface of the water.

After in vain endeavouring to steer the wreck, or direct its course to the shore, and having made every signal-with my waistcoat, &c.—in my power, to the several headlands which I had passed, I fancied I was driving into a bay, which, however, soon proved to be the termination of the lake, and the opening of the river, the current of which was carrying me rapidly along. I passed several small uninhabited islands; but the banks

of the river appearing to be covered with houses, I again renewed my signals, with my waistcoat and a shirt, which I took out of the trunk, hoping, as the river narrowed, they might be perceived. The distance was too great. The velocity with which I was going convinced me of my near approach to the dreadful rapids of La Chine. Night was drawing on; my destruction appeared certain, but did not disturb me very much: the idea of death had lost its novelty, and had become quite familiar. I really felt more provoked at having escaped so long to be finally sacrificed, than alarmed at the prospect. Finding signals in vain, I now set up a cry or howl, such as I thought best calculated to carry to a distance, and, being favoured by the wind, it did, although at above a mile distant, reach the ears of some people on shore. At last I perceived a boat rowing towards me, which, being very small and white-bottomed, I had for some time taken for a fowl with a white breast; and I was taken off the barge by Captain Johnstone, after being ten hours on the water. I found myself at the village of La Chine, twenty-one miles below where the accident happened, having been driven by the winding of the current a much greater distance. I received no other injury than bruised knees and breast, with a slight cold. The accident took some hold of my imagination, and for seven or eight succeeding nights, in my dreams, I was engaged in the dangers of the

Cascades, and surrounded by drowning men, &c. My escape was owing to a concurrence of fortunate circumstances. I happened to catch hold of various articles of support, and to exchange each article for another just at the right time. Nothing but the boom could have carried me down the Cascades without injury, and nothing but the barge could have saved me below them. I was also fortunate in having the whole day: had the accident happened one hour later, I should have arrived opposite the village of La Chine after dark, and, of course, would have been destroyed in the rapids below, to which I was rapidly advancing. The trunk which furnished me with provisions and à resting-place above the water, I have every reason to think was necessary to save my life; without it, I must have passed the whole time in the water, and have been exhausted with cold and hunger. When the people on shore saw our boat take the wrong channel, they predicted our destruction: the floating luggage, by supporting us for a time, enabled them to make an exertion to save us; but as it was not supposed possible to survive the passage of the Cascades, no further exertions were thought of, nor, indeed, could they well have been made.

* It was at this very place that General Ambert's brigade of 300 men, coming to attack Canada, was lost: the French at Montreal received the first intelligence of the invasion, by the dead bodies floating past the town. The pilot who conducted their first bateau, committing - it is said intentionally, the same error that we did, ran for the wrong channel, and the other bateaux following close, all were involved in the same destruction. The whole party with which I was, escaped : four left the barge at the Cedar village above the rapids, and went to Montreal by land; two more were saved by the canoe; the barge's crew, all accustomed to labour, were lost; of the eight men who passed down the Cascades, none but myself escaped, or were seen again; nor, indeed, was it possible for any one, without my extraordinary luck, and the aid of the barge, to which they must have been very close, to have escaped; the other men must have been drowned immediately on entering the Cascades. The trunks,&c. to which they adhered, and the heavy greatcoats which they had on, very probably helped to overwhelm them; but they must have gone at all events : swimming in such a current of broken stormy waves was impossible ; still, I think my knowing how to swim, kept me more collected, and rendered me more willing to part with one article of support to gain a better: those who could not swim would naturally cling to whatever hold they first got; and, of course, many had very bad ones. The captain passed me above the Cascades on a sack of woollen clothes, which were doubtless soon saturated and sunk.'

AN EAST INDIAN STORY.

ABOUT two years before my arrival at Bombay, a Lieutenant Bellarmine had disappeared in a mysterious way, which left it uncertain whether he had fallen in a skirmish with a body of Pindarees, or if, as was reported on some unascertained authority, he had joined these wild depredators, and remained willingly in some of their fastnesses. His previous habits gave a sort of colour to this strange story, for he was known to be a rash, thoughtless lad, distinguished for his bravery, but continually involved in all sorts of quarrels and debt. He was on this account out of favour with most of the superior officers, but was, notwithstanding, a good deal liked in society, from the frank, generous tone of his conversation, and a certain rattling, agreeable merriment, which used to thaw the stiffness of Bombay hospitality into involuntary good-humour. To these qualities he probably owed his union with a very amiable woman, whom his irregularities and ultimate disappearance left at the presidency in a state little short of distraction. His own fate only gave rise to wonder and curiosity, but that of his wife excited universal commiseration. Had there been authentic accounts of the death of her husband, her situation would have been much less distressing ; for she could then have embarked at once for England, where, though her friends were poor (as was reported), her allowance as an officer's widow would at least have placed her above want. In her present situation, she was pitied and respected by every one. No aid that she could have wished for was awanting, but she uniformly declined every attention, except that of one or two friends-relations, it was understood, of her husband. It was at the residence of one of these gentlemen that I first saw her.

During the dry season, the English inhabitants of Bombay generally quit their houses within the confined

walls and streets of the town, and betake themselves to temporary residences erected on a small green plain between the fortification and the sea. Some of these annual edifices are spacious erections, with a court-yard, stables, kitchen, huts for servants, &c. all constructed of poles and the woody reeds of the country ; the dwellingplaces being made tight by a coat of clay-plaster. Another set of residences consist of large tents, which are generally occupied by gentlemen of the military service, and whose clean, white appearance, as they stand scattered over the green, with the black servants moving about among them, and the horses, or sometimes a camel, picketed in front, give peculiar animation to the scene. It is best enjoyed from the opposite rising-ground on the Bombay esplanade, where the sea in the distance, and the background of the little island of Colabba, studded with palmtrees, are added to the picture. I had been out one evening with a military friend, of the name of Malloch, on this walk, and had lingered till long after sunset, enjoying the coolness of the sea-breeze. The tents still glittered white in the starlight, and we were sauntering along slowly, sometimes stopping to mark the figures that were in motion about the little camp, and once or twice to gaze on a group or two of dancers in front of some of the tents. One party who seemed to enjoy the exercise with much animation had two flute-players, whose music gave them an additional attraction. The scene altogether was uncommonly pleasing; but Malloch, whose attention was fixed entirely on the music and dancing, after gazing till his enthusiasm was kindled, suddenly called out: 'It is Eastlake's tent, I declare : let us join them. There is a lady there just now whom I have long wished to see.'

We may go, I daresay,' said I, knowing how difficult it would be to keep back my impetuous companion, and aware that we could meet with nothing but the kindest reception from my gallant friend and his hospitable lady.

We accordingly paced downwards across the esplanade, and, leaping the rail by which it is surrounded, soon found

« ZurückWeiter »