Imatges de pàgina
[ocr errors]


entirely ceased, nor was there any sough amongst the tree-tops, but as lightning, but the storm was most before, where we sat, there was not a tremendous, blowing in gusts, and breath stirring. So complete was the veering round from east to north calm now, that after a light had been with the speed of thought. The force struck, and placed on the floor in the of the gale, however, gradually de- middle of the room, shewing the surclined, until the wind subsided alto- rounding group of shivering halfgether, and every thing was still. naked savages, with fearful distinctThe low murmured conversation of ness, the flame shot up, straight as the poor negroes who environed an arrow, clear and bright, although us, was heard distinctly; the hard we heard the distant roar of the breathing of the sleeping children storm as rushed over the mouncould even be distinguished. But I tain above us. was by no means sure that the hur- This unexpected stillness frightenricane was over, and Don Ricardo ed the women more than the fierceand the rest seemed to think as I did, ness of the gale at the loudest had for there was not a word interchan. done. ged between us for some time. “ We must go forth,” said Señora

Do you hear that ?” atlength said Campana; “ the elements are only Aaron Bang, as a low moaning sound gathering themselves for a rose wailing into the night air. It dreadful hurricane than what we approached and grew louder. have already experienced. We must

« The voice of the approaching go forth to the little chapel in the tempest amongst the higher branches wood, or the next burst may, and will, of the trees,” said the Captain. The bury us under the walls ;” and she rushing noise overhead increased, moved towards Maria's room, where, but still all was so calm where we by this time, lights had again been sat, that you could have heard a pin placed. “ We must move the body," drop. Poo, thought I, it has passed we could hear her say; we must over us after all--no fear now, when all proceed to the chapel ; in a few one reflects how completely shelter- minutes the storm will be raging ed we are. Suddenly, however, the again as loud as ever." lights in the room where the body “ And my wife is very right,” said lay were blown out, and the roof Don Ricardo; “ 80, Gaspar, call the groaned and creaked as it had been other people; have some mats, and the bulkheads of a ship in a tem- quatres, and mattresses carried down pestuous sea.

to the chapel, and we shall all re- We shall have to cut and run move, for, with half of the roof gone, from this anchorage presently, after it is but tempting the Almighty to reall,” said I; “ the house will never main here longer." hold on till morning."

The word was passed, and we The words were scarcely out of were soon under weigh, four negroes my mouth, when, as if a thunderbolt leading the van, carrying the unhad struck it, one of the windows in coffined body of the poor girl on a the hall was driven in with a roar, sofa; while two servants, with large as if the Falls of Niagara had been splinters of a sort of resinous wood pouring overhead, and the tempest for flambeaux, walked by the side of having thus forced an entrance, the it. Next followed the women of the roof of that part of the house where family, covered up with all the cloaks we sat was blown up, as if by gun- and spare garments that could be powder-ay, in the twinkling of an collected; then Don Picador Caneye; and there we were with the bare grejo, with Ricardo Campana, the walls, and the angry heaven over- skipper, Aaron Bang, and myself ; head, and the rain descending in the procession being closed by the bucketsful. Fortunately, two large household negroes, with more lights, joists or couples, being deeply em- which all burned steadily and clear. bedded in the substance of the walls, We descended through a magnifiremained, when the rafters and ridge- cent natural avenue of lofty trees pole were torn away, or we must (whose brown moss-grown trunks have been crushed in the ruins. and fantastic boughs were strongly

There was again a deathlike lull, lit up by the blaze of the resinous the wind fell to a small melancholy torches; and the fresh white splinter

[ocr errors]

marks where the branches had been as pickpockets, had brought a goblet torn off by the storm, glanced bright of water, and a small silver drinking and clear, and the rain-drops on the cup, with him, so we passed the crea« dark leaves sparkled like diamonds) ture round, and tried all we could to towards the river, along whose brink while away the tedious night. There the brimful red-foaming waters rush- had been a calm for a full hour at ed past us, close by the edge of the this time, and the Captain had steppath. After walking about four hun- ped out to reconnoitre, and on his dred yards, we came to a small but return he had reported that the massive chapel

, fronting the river, swollen stream had very much subthe back part resting against a rocky sided. bank, with two superb cypress-trees Well, we shall get away, I hope, growing, one on each side of the

to-morrow morning, after all,” whisdoor; we entered, Padre Carera pered Bang. leading the way. The whole area of He had scarcely spoken when it the interior of the building did not began to pelt and rain again, as if a exceeda parallelogram of twenty feet waterspout had burst overhead, but by twelve. At the eastern end, front- there was no wind. ing the door, there was a small altar- “Come, that is the clearing up of piece of hard wood, richly ornament- it,” said Cloche. ed with silver, and there was one or At this precise moment the priest two bare wooden benches standing was sitting with folded arms, beyond on the tiled floor; but the chief se- the body, on a stool or tressle, in the curity we had that the building little alcove or recess where it lay. would withstand the storm, consist Right overhead was one of the small ed in its having no window or aper- round apertures in the gable of the ture whatsoever, excepting two small chapel, which, opening on the bank, ports, one on each side of the altar- appeared to the eye a round black piece, and the door, which was a spot in the white-washed wall. The massive frame of hardwood planking: bright wax-lights shed a strong lustre The body was deposited at the foot of on the worthy Clerico's figure, face, the altar, and the ladies, having been and fine bald head which shone like wrapped up in cloaks and blankets, silver, while the deeper tint of the were safely lodged in quatres, while embers on the floor was reflected in we, the gentlemen of the comfortless ruby tints from the large silver cruciparty, seated ourselves,disconsolate- fix that hung at his waist. The rushly enough, on the wooden benches. ing of the swollen river prevented

The door was made fast, after the me hearing distinctly, but it occurred servants had kindled a blazing wood- to me, once or twice, that a strange fire on the floor; and although the gurgling sound proceeded from the flickering light cast by the wax ta- aforesaid round aperture. The Papers in the six large silver candle. dre seemed to hear it also, for now sticks which were planted beside the and then he looked up, and once he bier, as it blended with the red glare rose, but apparently unable to distinof the fire, and fell strong on the pale guish any thing, he sat down again. uncovered features of the corpse, However, my attention had been exand on the anxious faces of the wo- cited, and half asleep as I was, I kept men, was often startling enough, yet glimmering in the direction of the being conscious of a certain degree Clerico. of security, from the thickness of The Captain's deep snore had grathe walls, we made up our minds, as dually lengthened out, so as to vouch well as we could, to spend the night for his forgetfulness, and Bang and where we were.

Don Ricardo, and the Dr Pavo Real, “ I say, Tom Cringle,” said Aaron and the ladies, had all subsided into Bang, “all the females are snug there, the most perfect quietude, when I you see; we have a blazing fire on noticed, and I quaked and trembled the hearth, and here is some comfort like an aspen leaf as I did so, a long for we men slaves ;” whereupon he black paw, thrust through, and down produced two bottles of brandy. from the dark aperture immediateDon Ricardo Campana, with whom ly over Padre Carera's head, until Bang seemed now to be absolutely it reached it, when, whatever it was, in league, or,in vulgar phrase, as thick it appeared to scratch him sharply, “ Sneezer,

and then giving him a smart cuff, making them hiss again with the wavanished. The Priest started, put ter he shook from his shaggy coat, up his hand, rubbed his head, and and frightening all hands like the seeing nothing, again leant back, and very devil. was about departing to the land of “ Sneezer, you villain, how came nod, like the others, once more. But you here !” I exclaimed, in great in a few minutes the same black paw amazement-"How came you here, was again protruded, and this time sir ?" The dog knew me; I was pera peering black snout was thrust suaded, for when benches were rearthrough the hole after it, with two ed against him, after the women had glancing eyes, and the paw, after huddled into a corner, and everything swinging about like a pendulum for was in sad confusion, he ran to me, a few seconds, was suddenly thrust and leaped on my neck, gasping and into the Padre's open mouth as he yelping, but finding that I was angry, lay back asleep; and then giving and in no mood for toying, he planthim another smart crack, vanished ed himself on end so suddenly, in as before.

the middle of the floor close by the “ Hobble, gobble," gurgled the fire, that all our hands were stayed, Priest, nearly choked.

and no one could find in his heart to " Ave Maria purissima,ejacula- strike the poor dumb brute, he sat ted Carera,

que Bocado-what a so quiet and motionless. mouthful! - What can that be ?" my boy, what have you to say

This was more than I knew, I must where have you come from ?" He confess, and altogether I was con- looked towards the door, and then sumedly puzzled, but, from a disin. walked deliberately towards it, and clination to alarm the women, I held tried to open it with his paws. my tongue. The Priest this time “Now," said the Captain," that moved away to the other side from little scamp, who would insist on beneath the hole, but still within two riding with me to St Jago, to see, as feet of it-in fact, he could not get he said, if he might not be of use, in in this direction farther for the altar-fetching the surgeon from the ship piece—and being half asleep, he lay in case I could not find Dr Berback once more against the wall to gara, has returned, although I desi. take his seat, taking the precaution, red him to stay on board. The puphowever, to clap on his long shovel py has returned in his cursed trou. hat, shaped like a small canoe, cross- blesome zeal, for no otherwise could wise, with the peaks standing out your dog be here. Certainly, howe from each side of his head, in place ever, he did not know that I had of being worn fore and aft, as usual. fallen in with Dr Pavo Real;" and Well, thought I, a strange party cer- the kind-hearted fellow's heart melttainly; but drowsiness was fast set- ed, as he continued—“Returned tling down on me also, when the why, he may be drowned-Cringle, same black paw was again thrust take care little Reefpoint be not through the hole, and I distinctly drowned." heard a nuzzling, whining, short Sneezer lowered his black snout, bark. I rubbed my eyes and sat up, and for a moment poked it into the but before I was quite awake, the white ashes of the fire, and then head and neck of a large Newfound raising it and stretching his neck land dog was shoved into the chapel upwards to its full length, he gave a through the round aperture, and ma- short bark, and then a long loud king a long stretch, the black paws, howl. thrust down and resting on the wall, “ My life upon it, the poor boy is supporting the creature, the animal gone," said I. snatched the Padre's hat off his head, « But what can we do?” said Don and giving it an angry worry, as much Ricardo ; “ it is as dark as pitch." as to say, Confound it, I had hoped And we again set ourselves to have to have had the head in it, it drop- a small rally at the brandy and waped it on the floor, and with a loud ter, as a resolver of our doubts, wheyell, Sneezer, my own old dear Snee- ther we should sit still till daybreak, zer, leaped into the midst of us, floun.. or sally forth now and run the chance dering amongst the sleeping women, of being drowned, with but small and kicking the firebrands about, hope of doing any good and the old

[ocr errors]

priest having left the other end of the thrown in the stream, lashed togechapel, where the ladies were once ther as you are, you would have been more reposing, now came in for his drowned to a certainty," said the sbare.'

Captain, The noise of the rain increased, 5 Oh," said little Reefy, "the Docand there was still a little puff of tor was not on the mule in crossing wind now and then, so that the Pa- no, no, Captain, I knew better i dre, taking an alformbra, or small had him in tow, sir; but after we mat, used to kneel on, and placing crossed he was so faint and chill, that it on the step where the folding-doors I had to lash myself to him to keep opened inwards, took a cloak on his him froni sliding over the animal's shoulders, and sat himself down with counter, and walk he could not.".. his back against the leaves, to keep “But, Master Reefpoint, wby came them closed, as the lock or bolt was you back? did I not desire you to rebroken, and was in the act of swig- main in the Firebrand, sir" ging off his cupful of comfort, when The midshipman looked nonplusa strong gust drove the door open, sed. "Why, Captain, I forgot to take as if the devil himself had kicked it, my clothes with me, and-and-in capsized the Padre, blew out the truth, sir, I thought our surgeon lights once more, and scattered the would be of more use than any outbrands of the fire all about us. N-- landish Gallipot that you could carry and I started up, the women shriek- back." imary ed, but before we could get the The good intentions of the lad door to again, in rode little Reef- saved him farther reproof, although point on a mule, with Doctor Plaget I could not help smiling at his coming of the Firebrand behind him, bound, back for his clothes, when his whole or lashed, as we call it, to him by a wardrobe on starting was confined strong thong. The black servants to the two false collars and a toothand the females took them for incar: brush. nate fiends, I fancy, for the yells and “But where is the young lady ?" shrieks that were set up were tre.

said the Doctor. mendous.

Beyond your help, my dear Doc“Yo ho !" sung out little Reefy; tor,” said the skipper; "she is dead "don't be frightened, ladies--Lord -all that remains of her you see love ye, I am half drowned, and the within that small railing there." Doctor here is altogether so-quite “Ah, indeed !" quoth the Medico, entirely drowned, I assure you. I “poor girl-poor girl-deep decline say, Medico, an't it true?”. And the wasted, terribly wasted,” said he, little Irish rogue slewed his head as he returned from the railing of round and gave the exhausted Does the altar-piece, where he had been tor a most comical look. ;

to look down upon the body; and “Not quite," quoth the Doctor, “but then, as if there never had been such deuced near it. I say, Captain, would a being as poor Maria Olivera in you have known us? why, we are existence, he continued," Pray, Mr dged chocolate colour, you see, in Bang, what may you have in that that river, flowing not with milk and bottle ?" E loney, but with something miracu, Brandy, to be sure, Doctor," said lously like peasesoup-Water I can; Bang not call it.”

"A thimbleful then, if you please.” “ But Heaven help us, why did By all means”-and the planting you try the ford, man?? said Bang; attorney handed the black bottle to

“You may say that, sir, respond the surgeon, who applied it to his edwee Reefy; but our mule was lips, without more, cireumlocution. knocked d up, and it was so dark and Lord love us! poisoned-Oh, tempestuous, that we should have gemini!? perished by the road if we had tried “Why Doctor," said N back for St Jago ; 89. seeing a light has come over you?" here, the only indication of a living “ Poisoped, Captain - only taste." thing, and the stream looking nar,

The bottle contained soy. It was row and comparatively quiet con

some time before we could get the found it, it was all the deeper thougly poor mau, quieted; and when at -we shoved across.'

length he was stretched along a “ But, bless me, if you had been bench, and the fire was stirred up, VOL. XXXIII. NO. CCIII.

[ocr errors]

“ what

[ocr errors]



and new wood added to it, the fresh “Mr Cringle,” said the skipper, air of early inorning began to be you

mark that tree on the ridge scented. At this time we missed of the mountain, thạt large tree in Padre Carera, and, in truth, we all such conspicuous relief against the fell fast asleep; but in about an hour eastern sky ?" or so afterwards, I was awoke by "I do, Captain. But-heaven help some one stepping across me. The us !-whạt necromancy is this ! It same cause had stirred N- It

seems to sink into the mountain top was Aaron Bang, who had been to-why, I only see the uppermost look out at the door.

branches now. It has disappeared, “I say, Cringle, look here-the and yet the outline of the hill is as Padre and the servants are digging distinct and well defined as ever ; I a grave close to the chapel-are they can even see the cattle on the ridge, going to bury the poor girl so sud, although they are running about in denly ?”

a very incomprehensible way cerI stepped to the door, the wind tainly.” had entirely fallen-but the rain fell “ Hush!” said Don Ricardo, “hush! fast-the small chapel door looked the Padre is reading the funeral out on the still swollen, but subsis service in the chapel, preparatory to ding river, and beyond that on the the body being brought out.” mountain, which rose abruptly from And so he was.

But a low grumthe opposite bank. On the side of bling noise, gradually increasing, the hill was situated a negro village, was now distinctly audible. The of about thirty huts, where lights monk hurried on with the prescribed were already twinkling, as if the in- form-he finished it—and we were mates were preparing to go forth to about lifting the body to carry it their work. Far above them, on the forth-Bang and I being in the very ridge, there was a clear cold streak act of stooping down to lift the bier, towards the east, against which the when the Captain sung out sharp outline of the mountain, and the and quick,—" Here, Tom !”—the urlarge trees which grew on it, were gency of the appeal abolishing the sharply cut out; but overhead, the Mister—"Here!-zounds, the whole firmament was as yet dark and threat, hill side is in motion!" And as he ening. The morning star had just spoke I beheld the negro village, that risen, and was sparkling bright and hung on the opposite bank, graduclear through the branches of a mag- ally fetch way, houses, trees, and all, nificent tree, that shot out from the with a loud, harsh, grating sound. highest part of the hill; it seemed “God defend us !" I involuntarily to have attracted the Captain's at- exclaimed. tention as well as mine.

“Stand clear," shouted the skipper; “ Were I romantic now, Mr Crin- “ the whole hillside opposite is un. gle, I could expatiate on that view. der weigh, and we shall be bothered How cold, and clear, and chaste, here presently.” every thing looks! The elements

He was right--the entire face of have subsided into a perfect calm, the hill over against us was by this every thing is quiet and still, but time in motion, sliding over the subthere is no warmth, no comfort in stratum of rock like a first-rate glithe scene.”

ding along the well-greased ways at “What a soaking rain!” said Aaron launching an earthy avalanche. Bang; "why, the drops are as small Presently the rough, rattling, and as pin points, and so thick !--a crashing sound, from the disrupture Scotch mist is a joke to them. Un. of the soil, and the breaking of the usual all this, Captain. You know branches, and tearing up by the roots our rain in Jamaica usually descends of the largest trees, gave warning of in bucketsful, unless it be regularly some' tremendous incident. The set in for a week, and then, but then lights in the huts still burned, but only, it becomes what in England houses and all continued to slide we are in the babit of calling a soak- down the declivity; and anon a louding rain. One good thing, however, startled exclamation was heard here -while it descends so quietly, the and there, and then a pause, but the earth will absorb it all, and that furi, low mysterious hurtling sound never ous river will not continue swollen." ceased. " Probably not," said I.

At length a loud and continuous

« AnteriorContinua »