Imatges de pÓgina
[ocr errors]

yell echoed along the hill-side. The although the gushing eddies from noise increased the rushing sound the open door shewed that the soil came stronger and stronger-the ri. from the opposite hill was fast setver rose higher, and roared louder; tling down, and usurping the former it overleaped the lintel of the door channel of the river.“ All very fine - the fire on the floor hissed for a this to read of," at last exclaimed moment, and then expired in smoul- Aaron Bang: " Zounds, we shall be dering wreaths of white smoke—the drowned. Look out, N- Tom discoloured torrent gurgled into the Cringle, look out; for my part, I shall chapel, and reached the altar-piece; dive through the door, and take my and while the cries from the hill-side chance." were highest, and bitterest, and most “ No use in that,” said Don Ricardespairing, it suddenly filled the cha- do; "the two round openings there pel to the top of the low door-post; at the west end of the chapel, open and although the large tapers which on a dry shelf, from which the ground had been lit near the altar-piece were slopes easily upward to the house; as yet unextinguished, like meteors let us put the ladies through those, sparkling on a troubled sea, all was and then we males can shift for ourmisery and consternation. “ Have selves as we best may.” patience, and be composed, now," At this moment the water rose so shouted Don Ricardo. “ If it in- high, that the bier on which the creases, we can escape through the corpse of poor Maria Olivera lay apertures here, behind the altar-piece, stark and stiff, was floated off the and from thence to the high ground tressels, and turning on its edge, beyond. The heavy rain has loosed after glancing for a moment in the the soil on the opposite bank, and it light cast by the wax tapers, it sank has slid into the river-course, negro into the thick brown water, and was houses and all. But be composed, no more seen. my dears-nothing supernatural in The old Priest murmured a

a prayer, all this; and rest assured, although but the effect on us was electric. the river has unquestionably been Saufe qui peut” was now the cry; forced from its channel, that there is and Sneezer, quite in his element, no danger, if you will only maintain began to cruise all about, threatenyour self-possession.” And there we ing the tapers with instant extinction. wereman inhabitant of a cold cli- “ Ladies, get through the holes," mate cannot go along with me in the shouted Don Ricardo. "Captain, get description. We were all alarmed, you out first.” but we were not chilled-cold is a “ Can't desert my ship,” said the great daunter of bravery. At New gallant fellow; “ the last to quit Orleans, the black reginents, in the where danger is, my dear sir. It is heat of the forenoon, were really the my charter ; but, Mr Cringle, go you, most efficient corps of the army; but and hand the ladies out." in the morning, when the hoar frost “ I'll be damn'd if I do,” said I. was on the long wire grass, they were Beg pardon, sir; I simply mean to but as a broken reed. “ Him too cold say, that I cannot usurp


from for brave to-day," said the sergeant you." of the Grenadier Company of the Then," quoth Don Ricardo-a West India regiment, which was bri- more discreet personage than any gaded in the ill.omened advance, one of us—“I will go myself ;” and when we attacked New Orleans; but forthwith he screwed himself through here, having heat, and seeing none one of the round holes in the wall of the women egregiously alarmed, behind the altar-piece. we all took heart of grace, and really out one of the wax tapers—there is there was no quailing amongst us.

no wind now,” said Don Ricardo; Señora Campana and her two “ and hand out my wife, Captain nieces, Señora Cangrejo and her an- N-" gelic daughter, had all betaken them- “ Ave Maria !” said the matron, selves to a sort of seat, enclosing the “I shall never get through that hole." altar in a semicircle, with the pease- Try, my dear madam,” said Bang, soup.coloured water up to their for by this time we were all deucedknees. Not a word-not an excla- ly alarmed at our situation. mation of fear escaped from them, madam;" and we lifted her towards

[ocr errors]

« Give me

“ Try, the hole-fairly entered her into it We were kept at Don Picador's head foremost, and all was smooth, for three days, as, from the shooting till a certain part of the excellent of the soil from the opposite hill, the woman's earthly tabernacle stuck river had been dammed up, and its fast.

channel altered, so that there was We could hear her invoking all the no venturing across. Three negroes saints in the calendar on the out- were unfortunately drowned, when side to “ make her thin ;" but the the bank shot, as Bang called it. But flesh and muscle were obdurate the wonder passed away; and by through she would not go, until– nine o'clock on the third day, when delicacy being now blown to the we mounted our mules to proceed, winds—Captain Nplaced his there was little apparently on the fair shoulder to the old lady's extremity, face of nature to mark that such and with a regular “Oh, heave, oh !” fearful scenes had been. However, shot her through the aperture into when we did get under weigh, we her husband's arms. The young la- found that the hurricane had not dies we ejected much more easily passed over us without leaving fearThe Priest was next passed, and so ful evidences of its violence. we went on, until in rotation we had We had breakfasted—the women all made our exit, and were perched had wept-Don Ricardo had blown shivering on the high bank. God his nose-Aaron Bang had blunderdefend us! we had not been a mi- ed and fidgeted about—and the besnute there, when the rushing of the tias were at the door. We embraced streamincreased therain once more the ladies. “My son,” said Señora fell in torrents-several large trees Cangrejo, "we shall most likely never came down with a fearful impetus meet again. You have your country in the roaring torrent, and struck the to go to-you have a mother. Oh, corner of the chapel. It shook-we may she never suffer the pangs

which could see the small cross on the east- have wrung my heart! But I knowern gable tremble. Another stump I know that she never will." I bowed. surged against it-it gave way-and “We may never-indeed, in all likein a minute afterwards, there was lihood we shall never meet again!” not a vestige remaining of the whole continued she, in a rich, deep-toned, fabric.

mellow voice; “ but if your way of “What a funeral for thee, Maria!" life should ever lead you to Cordova, said Don Ricardo.

you will be sure of having many vis Not a vestige of the body was ever sitors, if you will but give out that found.

you have shewn kindness to Maria There was nothing now for it. Olivera, or to any one connected We all stopped, and turned, and with her.” She wept-and bent over looked-there was not a stone of the me, pressing both her hands on the building to be seen-all was red pre- crown of my head. "May that great cipitous bank, or dark flowing river God, who careth not for rank or sta

so we turned our steps towards tion, for nation or for country, bless the house. The sun by this time had you, my son-bless you !" risen. We found the northern range All this was sorry work. She kissof rooms were entire, and we now ed me on the forehead, and turned made the most of it; and, by dint of away. Her daughter was standing the Captain's and my nautical skill, close to her, “ like Niobe, all tears." we had, before dinner-time, rigged a “ Farewell, Mr Cringle-may you be canvass-jury-roof over the southern happy!" I kissed her hand—she turnpart of the fabric, and were once ed to the Captain. He looked inmore sat down in comparative com- expressible things, and taking her fort at our meal. But it was all me- hand, held it to his breast; and then, lancholy work enough. However, at making a slight genuflexion, pressed last we retired to our beds; and it to his lips. He appeared to be next morning, when I awoke, there amazingly energetic, and she seemwas the small stream once more ed to struggle to be released. He trickling over the face of the rock, recovered himself, however-made with the slight spray wafting into a solemn bow-the ladies vanished, my bed-room, as quietly as if no We shook hands with old Don Picastorm bad taken place.

dor, mounted our mules, and bid a


last adieu to the Valley of the Hurri- of five hundred feet; and on the left,

an equally precipitous descent, withWe ambled along for some time out either ledge or parapet to prein silence. At length the skipper vent one from falling over. What dropped astern, until he got along- was to be done? We could not by side of me. “ I say, Tom”-I was any exertion of strength remove the well aware that he never called me tree; and if we sent back for assistTom unless his heart was full, ho- ance, it would have been a work of nest man—" Tom, what think you of time. So we dismounted, got the laFrancesca Cangrejo ?".

dies to alight,-and Aaron Bang, Oh ho! sits the wind in that quar. N-, and myself, like true knights ter? thought I. “Why, I don't know, errant, undertook to ride the mulos Captain- I have seen her to disad- over the stump. vantage--so much misery-fine wo- Aaron Bang, led gallantly, and man though-rather large to my taste made a deuced good jump of it -but”

N-followed, and made not quite “ Confound your buts, quoth the so clever an exhibition-I then ratCaptain. “ But, never mind-push tled at it, and down came mule and on, push on.”—(I may tell the gentle rider. However, we were accounted reader in his ear, that the worthy fel- for on the right side. low, at the moment when I send this “ But what shall become of us ?” chapter to the press, has his flag, and shouted the English Doctor. that Francesca Cangrejo is no less a “ And as for me, I shall return," personage than his wife.)

said the Spanish medico. However, let us get along. “Doc- Lord love you, no,” said little tor Pavo Real,” said Don Ricardo, Reefpoint; “ here, lash me to my

now since you have been good beast, and no fear.” Plaget made enough to spare us a day, let us get him fast, as desired, round the mule's the heart of your secret out of you. neck, with a stout thong, and then Why, you must have been pretty drove him at the barricade, and over well frightened on the island there." they came, man and beast, although,

“ Never so much frightened in my to tell the truth, little Reefy alighted life, Don Ricardo; that English cap- well out on the neck, with a hand tain is a most tempestuous man-but grasping each ear. However, he was all has ended well; and after having a gallant little fellow, and in nowise seen you to the crossing, I will bid discouraged, so he undertook to you good-bye.”

bring over the other quadrupeds; “ Poo-nonsense. Come along- and in little more than a quarter of here is the English medico, your bro- an hour, we were all under weigh on ther Esculapius; so, come along, you the opposite side, in full sail towards can return in the morning.”

Don Ricardo’s property. But as we “ But the sick folks in San- proceeded up the valley, the destruc

tion caused by the storm became • Will be none the sicker of your more and more apparent.

Trees absence, Doctor Pavo Real,re- were strewn about in all directions, sponded Don Ricardo.

having been torn up by the rootsThe little Doctor laughed, and away road there was literally none; and we all cantered-Don Ricardo lead by the time we reached the coffee ing, followed by his wife and daugh- estate, after a ride, or scramble, ters on three stout mules, sitting, not more properly speaking, of three on side-saddles, but on a kind of chair, hours, we were all pretty much tired. with a foot-board on the larboard In some places the road at the best side to support the feet-then fol. was but a rocky shelf of limestone lowed the two Galens, and little Reef- not exceeding 12 inches in width, point, while the Captain and I brought where, if you had slipped, down you up the rear. We bad not proceeded would have gone a thousand feet. five hundred yards, when we were

At this time it was white and clean brought to a stand-still by a mighty as if it had been newly chiselled, all tree, which had been thrown down the soil and sand having been washed by the wind right across the road. away by the recent heavy rains. On the right hand, there was a per- The situation was beautiful; the pendicular rock rising up to a height house stood on a platform scarped

tiago !”

out of the hillside, with a beautiful ging the Creole.After we had fairly view of the whole country down to shaken into our places, there was St Jago. The accommodation was every promise of a very pleasant vi. good; more comforts, more English sit. Our host had a tolerable cellar, comforts, in the massion, than I had and although there was not much of yet seen in Cuba; and as it was built style in his establishment, still there of solid slabs of limestone, and was a fair allowance of comfort, roofed with strong hardwood tim- every thing considered. The evenbers and rafters, and tiled, it bad ing after we arrived was most beausustained comparatively little injury, tiful. The house, situated on its white as it had the advantage of being at plateau of barbicues, as the coffee platthe same time sheltered by the over- forms are called, where large piles of hanging cliff. It stood in the middle the berries in their red cherrylike of a large platform of hard sun-dried husks had been blackening in the sun clay, plastered over, and as white as the whole forenoon, and on which a chalk, which extended about forty gang of negroes was now employed feet from the eaves of the house, in covering them up with tarpawlings every direction, on which the coffee for the night, stood in the centre of was cured. This platform was sur- an amphitheatre of mountains, the rounded on all sides by the greenest front box as it were, the stage part grass I had ever seen, and oversha- opening on a bird's eye view

of the dowed, not the house alone, but the distant town and harbour, with the whole level space, by one vast wild everlasting ocean beyond it, the curfig-tree.

rents and flaws of wind making its “ I say, Tom, do you see that surface look like ice, as we were too Scotchman hugging the

Creole, eh?” distant to discern the heaving of the “ Scotchman!” said I, looking to- swell, or the motion of the billows. wards Don Ricardo, who certainly The fast falling shades of evening did not appear to be particularly were aided by the sombrous shadow amorous; on the contrary, we had of the immense tree over head, and just alighted, and the worthy man all down in the deep valley was now was enacting groom.

dark and undistinguishable; and the 6. Yes," continued Bang," the blue vapours were gradually floating Scotchman hugging the Creole; look up towards us. To the left hand, on at that tree-do you see the trunk of the shoulder of the Horseshoe Hill it?”

the sunbeams still lingered, and the I did look at it. It was a magnifi- gigantic shadows of the trees on cent cedar, with a tall straight stem the right hand prong were strongly covered over with a curious sort of cast across the valley on a red prefretwork, wove by the branches of cipitous bank near the top of it. The some strong parasitical plant, which sun was descending beyond the had warped itself round and round wood, flashing through the branches, it, by numberless snakelike convolu- as if they had been on fire. He disaptions, as if it had been a vegetable peared. It was a most lovely still Laocoon. The tree itself shot up evening—the air—but hear the skipbranchless to the uncommon height perof fifty feet; the average girth of the

“ It is the hour when from the boughs trunk being four and twenty feet, or eight feet in diameter. The leaf of It is the hour when lovers’ vows

The nightingale's high note is heard; the cedar is small, not unlike the but when I looked up, I noticed

Seem sweet in every whisper'd word;

And gentle winds and waters near, that the feelers of this ligneous ser- Make music to the lonely ear. pent had twisted round the larger Each flower the dews have lightly wet, boughs, and blended their broad And in the sky the stars are met, leaves with those of the tree, so that And on the wave is deeper blue, it looked like two trees grafted into And on the leaf is browner hue, one; but, as Aaron Bang said, in a And in the heaven that clear obscure, very few years the cedar would en

So softly dark, and darkly pure, tirely disappear, its growth being im- Which follows the decline of day, peded, its pith extracted, and its core When twilight melts beneath the moon rotted, by the baleful embraces of

away." the wild fig, of this Scotchman hug


“ Well recited, skipper,” shouted gamated with the community. But Bang. “ Given as the noble poet's here in his mountain retreat, sole verses should be given. I did not master, his slaves in attendance on know the extent of your accomplish- him, he was once more an Englishments; grown poetical ever since man, in externals, as he always was you saw Francesca Cangrejo, eh?" at heart, and Richie Cloche from

The darkness hid the gallant Cap- the Lang Toon of Kirkaldy, shone tain's blushes, if blush he did. forth in all his glory as the kind

“ I say, Don Ricardo, who are hearted landlord. His head housethose ?” – half a dozen well clad ne- hold servant was an English, or groes had approached the house by rather a Jamaica negro; his equipthis time--"Ask them, Mr Bang; take ment, so far as the dinner set out your friend Mr Cringle for an inter- was concerned, was pure English; preter."

he would not even speak any thing Well, I will. Tom, who are they? but English himself. Ask them-do."

The entertainment was exceedingI put the question, "Do you be- ly good, the only thing that puzzled long to the property ?".

we uninitiated subjects, was a fri. The foremost, a handsome negro, cassee of Macaca worms, that is, the answered me, No, we don't, sir; worm which breeds in the rotten at least, not till to-morrow.”

trunk of the cotton-tree, a beautiful « Not till to-morrow?"

little insect, as big as a miller's “ No, sir, Somos Caballeros hoy,” thumb, with a white trunk and a ("we are gentlemen to-day.") black head-in one word, a gigantic

« Gentlemen to-day; and, pray, caterpillar. what shall you be to-morrow ?" Bang fed thereon, but it was beyond

Esclavos otra ves,” (“slaves again, my compass. However, all this while sir,”'), rejoined the poor fellow, no- we were having a great deal of fun, ways daunted.

when Señora Campana addressed " And you, my darling,” said I to her husband_" My dear, you are a nice well-dressed girl, who seemed now in your English mood, so I sup-. to be the sister of the spokesman, pose we must go. We had dined “ what are you to-day, may I ask ?” at six, and it might now be about

She laughed" Esclavo, a slave eight. Don Ricardo, with all the to-day, but to-morrow I shall be complacency in the world, bowed, free.”

as much as to say, you are right, my Very strange."

dear, you may go, when his young“ Not at all, Señor; there are six est niece addressed him. of us in a family, and one of us is Tio—my uncle,” said she, in a free each day, all to father there,” low silver-toned voice, "Juana and I pointing to an old greyheaded ne- have brought our guitars"gro, who stood by, leaning on his “ Not another word to be said," staff—" he is free two days in the quoth N- -“ the guitars by all week; and as I am going to have a means.” child,”—a cool admission,-"I want The girls in an instant, without any to buy another day for myself too preparatory blushing, or other bo. but Don Ricardo will tell you all theration, rose, slipped their heads about it."

and right arms through the black ribThe Don by this time chimed in, bons that supported their instrutalking kindly to the poor creatures; ments, and stepped into the middle but we had to retire, as dinner was of the room. now announced, to which we sat « « The Moorish Maid of Grana. down.

da,” said Señora Campana. They Don Ricardo had been altogether nodded. Spanish in Santiago, because he lived " You shall take Fernando the there amongst Spaniards, and every sailor's part,” said Señora Candalathing was Spanish about him; so with ria, the youngest sister, to Juana, the tact of his countrymen he had gra- “ for your voice is deeper than dually been merging into the society mine, and I shall be Anna." in which he moved, and at length ha- Agreed,” said Juana, with a loveving married a very high caste Spa- ly smile, and an arch twinkle of her nish lady, he became regularly amal- eye towards me, and then launched

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »