Imatges de pàgina

denly heard a dreadful crashing through the thick bushes on my right hand, as if some immense animal was sweeping, like a furious tor: nadoe, through the wood, and bearing down all before it in its destructive progress.

As I stood in anxious expectation, an immense tiger suddenly bounded over a high bush into the path before me. The increasing twilight only just permitted me to observe that the vin. dictive animal, bore in its terrible fangs the mangled body of a fine child not yet dead; but was all torn by the most ghastly wounds, and streams of blood marked the progress of the cruel monster.

Presently the whole air was rung and rent by the most piercing and agonizing shrieks that were ever emitted by human being undergoing the severest torment; and in a few seconds, a young woman rushed past me, in a state of per: fect phrenzy, calling upon her child in accents of woe that would have affected a heart of stone. Her hair was all deshevelled, her clothes almost torn from her back, and her beautiful face, and fair bosom, all scratched by the briars, and besmeared with blood.

Limmediately followed her as fast as I was able, but could not come up with her before she had sunk down among the rocks, entirely overcome by grief, madness, and fatigue.

Never did I behold so pitiable a sight. The unhappy woman, in heart. rending shrieks, still called upon the name of her lovely babe. Starting from the ground, she made another effort to pursue the fell-monster who had disturbed her peace, perhaps, for ever; but she again fell prone on the earth, and unable again to rise, she rolled in consuming anguish, beat her beauteous bo. som, more than lily fair, and tore her lovely tresses, while she uttered the most agonizing exclamations of woe.

I do not recollect that at any period of my life I have felt so inadequate to yield a fellowcreature relief as in that moment; my feelings were racked and torn by the melting spectacle before me, and I would have made almost

any sacrifice to ease the maddening force of her grief. But what balm can soothe the anguish that attends the first paroxism of grief, when a fond mother is deprived of an only beloved child ? and how much that sorrow is aggravated, when the distracted parent recollects, that it was, perhaps, through her own neglect, she was robbed of her darling offspring. Time, and the soothing attentions of a much-loved friend, can alone give rest to the afflicted mind, when its faculties have not been entirely overpowered; but I am afraid the unhappy maid whose story I am relating, would never again feel a repose to her wounded feelings in this world.

It was with great difficulty I conveyed her back to her own cottage, amongst the moun. tains. She earnestly begged she might be per. mitted to perish with her babe, and even strug. gled much to escape from my hold; but I had the good fortune to meet with a girl who resided with her, and who assisted in putting her to bed.

It appeared that the 'miserable mother had been engaged in tying up small bundles of faggots in the neighbourhood of her little cottage, and had deposited her infant upon the grass, at a small distance from her, until her business should be performed. In the mean while, one of those tremendous and ferocious animals, usually known by the appellation of Royal Bengal Tygers, spied the sweet innocent as it laid fondling on the green, and marked it for his prey. Crouching behind an adjacent brake, he, at one mighty bound, seized the unresisting victim, and bore it off through the woods, that echoed with the dreadful crashing of the bushes, and the frightful screams of the distracted mother,

But now no more shall the irresistable smiles of early innocence create the throb of parental affection in the bosom of the wretched mother. No more will she lull her lovely babe to peaceful slumbers, by all the fond endearments of rapturous love. No more shall she contemplate its heavenly face, beaming with cherubim inno. cence and purity, as fondling on her panting bosom, it presses its blooming cheeks, dimpling with unaffected smiles to her heart, and owns its mother. And now no more shall she dream of future happiness for the days of her first-born, whose early bud is for ever destroyed; or gaze upon it with that rapture, alone felt by the parent, who in the language of unutterable af. fection, whispers in her own heart," To this being I gave birth, and when the Almighty Father of mankind presented me with thee, thou lovely pledge of unalterable affection, I forgot all the pangs and anguish of my days of travail, and was bowed down to the adoration of Him, who placed in my bosom the throb of parental affection."

I never was able to learn whether this un. happy woman recovered the severe shock this cruel circumstance occasioned; and it was not in my power to revisit her lonely cot.

After I had made the tour of these islands, I visited the most interesting parts of the Concan, and spent some months in that charming country. There are many salubrious springs, and warm baths in the Concan, which are much , resorted to by the natives, as well as by the Europeans. In the vicinity of many of them, the Brahmins have erected magnificent pagodas, formed spacious lakes, and planted their sacred groves, which add great beauty to all the ad. jacent country. Yet, allowing all these distinguished ornaments their due praise, the Concan and Decan, are very far inferior, in point of fertility, to the luxuriant plains of Guzerat, which we are now traversing.

I also visited Poonah, which, in those days, was of little more consequence than an obscure village ; but which, since the Brahmin usurpa. tion, has become the metropolis of the Mahratta empire,

« AnteriorContinua »