Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

English way. Rota served them up a good dinner, and I added to it a bottle of wine; they had plenty of cigars; and my dear wife had given them out coffee and sugar liberally. Our own dinner was but a chicken and some coccos. Poor Rota had roasted herself sufficiently for her party, we thought, without our imposing any thing more on her for us than what we considered quite necessary; but we sat after dinner over our fruit and wine, happy, most happy, enjoying more nearly the state of paradise, than when the world's gaieties could mingle in our hearts' gladness. Fears, and cares, and anxieties were all excluded; here was no intrusion : peace and plenty, and an habitual communion with God, seemed alone present with us.

At sunset our people came and ranged themselves round the great door, where they sung; sometimes two dancing, sometimes the whole. When all their evolutions were gone through, they advanced to take leave; on which occasion my dear wife gave to each a large coloured cotton kerchief, to wear on their heads; and they received the present with many demonstrations of gratitude, and said, "Good night."

The three following days the men continued to work at the stone kitchen; but, being unaccustomed to masonry, their progress was much slower than they had anticipated.

Sunday, 29th. We kept the Sabbath with all due observance of sanctity; yet amused ourselves innocently in recreative exercise, after the performance of divine service, and in the evening.

Monday, 30th.-Xavier and Diego continued

to work on the stone kitchen; and, that they might not be interrupted, I undertook to take the fish, and, with the women, to do whatever else might be required for the establishment, which had usually been the men's part. By Wednesday they finished the kitchen, the walls of which were built pretty high, entirely of dry stones; and the cooking places within were made of the same materials; the two ends of the kitchen were planked over, but about four feet of the centre was left open. The position we had chosen was safe, because the sea breeze, although originally from the eastward, was changed in its course, by the hill, to the south-west, which would carry the smoke or sparks clear of all our buildings. I was glad to have accomplished this object, for we looked every day for the breaking up of the fine weather, but it still continued; so that on Thursday and Friday the men made aquatic excursions in the canoe. On the first day they circumnavigated the western island, and brought back with them some calabashes, several fine conchs, containing their fish, and many other shells, in the same living state. My dear wife had previously arranged her former collection of shells, and was much pleased with the idea of adding some fine specimens to them from this new acquisition; for the shell loses its beauty after it has been long deserted by its inhabitant, and rolled about by the wind and sea. On Friday the men visited, before daylight, the rocks and islands to the north-east, where the brig had struck; and there they succeeded in taking three fine turtle, which they brought home, and placed in the craal. We de

voted Saturday to domestic purposes, letting the fowls and goats out for a few hours, and herding them to the southward of our habitations, clear of the planted ground. It was now the usual afternoon's pastime, with my Eliza and myself, to repair daily to the plank house for an hour, to feed our abundant poultry left there, and then to visit the quarter-deck of that vessel which, at least to us, had been a faithful ark under divine providence.

Sunday, 5th January, 1735.-Kept the early part of this Sabbath day as usual, by the performance of divine service, and by reading and explaining to our friends such parts of the gospel as they might comprehend. Towards evening the sky became overcast, which was suddenly succeeded by torrents of rain, alternating with heavy gusts of wind, from north and north-west. We had anticipated the bad weather for some days, and had taken the precaution to haul up the canoe and punt upon the beach. The wind blew all night a hurricane, which shook our habitation fearfully: my dear wife sometimes thought it would be overturned; and, indeed, if Xavier had not exercised much skill in its construction, it could not have stood. He had given it a solid basement of trees; three under the front, and three under the back, and seven lengthways across, to which the flooring was fastened by tree-nails. All the windows were made to close with sliding shutters, like shop windows, so that they could be entirely or partially open, or quite closed; and during a hurricane the safety of a house mainly depends on keeping out the wind. The doors were each of four pieces, folding back or

forwards, with a wooden bar fastening inside; so that, when shut, the gale was completely excluded. The store-room windows, indeed, were fitted otherwise they were protected only by boards, slanting one over the other, in the fashion of Spanish blinds; but these boards nearly overlapped each other, throwing off the rain entirely, and very materially breaking the force of the wind. Still our terrors were great, and we rose from our bed, and I struck a light; and we went into the great hall, to see how it fared with Mira; but she was reckless of the storm, and slept soundly. "Happy creature!" said my dear wife; "thou knowest not what anxiety means!" Towards morning the wind abated; and we also found repose, on retiring to

our cot.

A little before daybreak, I thought I heard guns firing. I instantly got up, and sent the men to the summit of the promontory to look out. They quickly returned, with information that a vessel was in distress, and they believed on a reef in the offing. I hastened back with them to the heights, and taking the glass, saw the vessel, a brig schooner, steering away to the south-west. No doubt she had been aground, but had got off. We watched her for a couple of hours, until nearly out of sight. My gracious Eliza was much moved by the recital on my return; and without expressing any natural regret at so probable an instrument of deliverance to ourselves from the island, not having come into our harbour, she thanked God that they had escaped, and were proceeding on their voyage. The rains, with occasional gusts of wind from every quarter

of the compass, continued daily, at intervals, in profuse torrents, for nine days, but may be said to have subsided entirely on Tuesday the 14th.

From the circumstance of seeing the vessel in distress, the idea of erecting a flag-staff on the promontory, on which I might hoist the brig's ensign if occasion should offer, presented itself to my mind; and I set about putting it in execution. With some trouble, we unshipped the fore top-gallantmast of the brig, which was already struck, and brought it away; and before night we conveyed it to the summit of the promontory. On Wednesday morning we fitted a truck and halliards to it; and, with the crow-bar, excavated a place in the rocky ground to receive it. After placing the mast as firmly as we could, we built the base round with stones, to steady it, and finished the job before sunset. On Thursday, we were all on foot by the grey of the morning, taking the ensign with us; and as the sun rose, I hoisted the English colours, and gave three cheers, crying aloud, "King George, and England for ever!" I felt that, by this act, I had taken possession in sovereignty for our gracious king. We left the flag flying till sunset, when the men and I ascended the hill again, with a tarpauling bag, in which we cased the colours, after lowering them at the going down of the sun.

On my return home, my dear wife regaled me with coffee and a cigar, while I expatiated on the probable consequences of the measure, perhaps with some extravagance; for we were ignorant of whose dominions we were in, or even of the probable name of the spot where we were; for our

« ForrigeFortsæt »