Part 4 out of 6
'Same fate. When well over to the left bank I was carried
out again. What! was I too to be drowned? It began to look
like it. I was getting cold, numb, exhausted. And - listen!
What is that distant sound? Rapids? Yes, rapids. My
flannel shirt stuck to, and impeded me; I would have it off.
I got it over my head, but hadn't unbuttoned the studs - it
stuck, partly over my head. I tugged to tear it off. Got a
drop of water into my windpipe; was choking; tugged till I
got the shirt right again. Then tried floating on my back -
to cough and get my breath. Heard the rapids much louder.
It was getting dark now. The sun was setting in glorious red
and gold. I noticed this, noticed the salmon rolling like
porpoises around me, and thought of William with his rod.
Strangest of all, for I had not noticed her before, little
Cream was still struggling for dear life not a hundred yards
below me; sometimes sinking, sometimes reappearing, but on
her way to join her master, as surely as I thought that I
'In my distress, the predominant thought was the loneliness
of my fate, the loneliness of my body after death. There was
not a living thing to see me die.
'For the first time I felt, not fear, but loss of hope. I
could only beat the water with feeble and futile splashes. I
was completely at its mercy. And - as we all then do - I
prayed - prayed for strength, prayed that I might be spared.
But my strength was gone. My legs dropped powerless in the
water. I could but just keep my nose or mouth above it. My
legs sank, and my feet - touched bottom.
'In an instant, as if from an electric shock, a flush of
energy suffused my brain and limbs. I stood upright in an
almost tranquil pool. An eddy had lodged me on a sandbank.
Between it and the land was scarcely twenty yards. Through
this gap the stream ran strong as ever. I did not want to
rest; I did not pause to think. In I dashed; and a single
spurt carried me to the shore. I fell on my knees, and with
a grateful heart poured out gratitude for my deliverance.
. . . . . . .
'I was on the wrong side, the side from which we started.
The river was yet to cross. I had not tasted food since our
early meal. How long I had been swimming I know not, but it
was dark now, starlight at least. The nights were bitterly
cold, and my only clothing a wet flannel shirt. And oh! the
craving for companionship, someone to talk to - even Samson.
This was a stronger need than warmth, or food, or clothing;
so strong that it impelled me to try again.
'The poor sandy soil grew nothing but briars and small
cactuses. In the dark I kept treading on the little prickly
plants, but I hurried on till I came in sight of Samson's
fire. I could see his huge form as it intercepted the
comfortable blaze. I pictured him making his tea, broiling
some of William's trout, and spreading his things before the
fire to dry. I could see the animals moving around the glow.
It was my home. How I yearned for it! How should I reach
it, if ever? In this frame of mind the attempt was
irresistible. I started as near as I could from opposite the
two islands. As on horseback, I got pretty easily to the
first island. Beyond this I was taken off my feet by the
stream; and only with difficulty did I once more regain the
My next object was to communicate with Samson. By putting
both hands to my mouth and shouting with all my force I made
him hear. I could see him get up and come to the water's
edge; though he could not see me, his stentorian voice
reached me plainly. His first words were:
'"Is that you, William? Coke is drowned."
'I corrected him, and thus replied:
'"Do you remember a bend near some willows, where you wanted
to cross yesterday?"
'"About two hours higher up the river?"
'"Would you know the place again?"
'"Are you sure?
'"You will see me by daylight in the morning. When I start,
you will take my mare, my clothes, and some food; make for
that place and wait till I come. I will cross there."
'"Keep me in sight as long as you can. Don't forget the
'It will be gathered from my words that definite instructions
were deemed necessary; and the inference - at least it was
mine - will follow, that if a mistake were possible Samson
would avail himself of it. The night was before me. The
river had yet to be crossed. But, strange as it now seems to
me, I had no misgivings! My heart never failed me. My
prayer had been heard. I had been saved. How, I knew not.
But this I knew, my trust was complete. I record this as a
curious psychological occurrence; for it supported me with
unfailing energy through the severe trial which I had yet to
OUR experiences are little worth unless they teach us to
reflect. Let us then pause to consider this hourly
experience of human beings - this remarkable efficacy of
prayer. There can hardly be a contemplative mind to which,
with all its difficulties, the inquiry is not familiar.
To begin with, 'To pray is to expect a miracle.' 'Prayer in
its very essence,' says a thoughtful writer, 'implies a
belief in the possible intervention of a power which is above
nature.' How was it in my case? What was the essence of my
belief? Nothing less than this: that God would have
permitted the laws of nature, ordained by His infinite wisdom
to fulfil His omniscient designs and pursue their natural
course in accordance with His will, had not my request
persuaded Him to suspend those laws in my favour.
The very belief in His omniscience and omnipotence subverts
the spirit of such a prayer. It is on the perfection of God
that Malebranche bases his argument that 'Dieu n'agit pas par
des volontes particulieres.' Yet every prayer affects to
interfere with the divine purposes.
It may here be urged that the divine purposes are beyond our
comprehension. God's purposes may, in spite of the
inconceivability, admit the efficacy of prayer as a link in
the chain of causation; or, as Dr. Mozely holds, it may be
that 'a miracle is not an anomaly or irregularity, but part
of the system of the universe.' We will not entangle
ourselves in the abstruse metaphysical problem which such
hypotheses involve, but turn for our answer to what we do
know - to the history of this world, to the daily life of
man. If the sun rises on the evil as well as on the good, if
the wicked 'become old, yea, are mighty in power,' still, the
lightning, the plague, the falling chimney-pot, smite the
good as well as the evil. Even the dumb animal is not
spared. 'If,' says Huxley, 'our ears were sharp enough to
hear all the cries of pain that are uttered in the earth by
man and beasts we should be deafened by one continuous
scream.' 'If there are any marks at all of special design in
creation,' writes John Stuart Mill, 'one of the things most
evidently designed is that a large proportion of all animals
should pass their existence in tormenting and devouring other
animals. They have been lavishly fitted out with the
instruments for that purpose.' Is it credible, then, that
the Almighty Being who, as we assume, hears this continuous
scream - animal-prayer, as we may call it - and not only pays
no heed to it, but lavishly fits out animals with instruments
for tormenting and devouring one another, that such a Being
should suspend the laws of gravitation and physiology, should
perform a miracle equal to that of arresting the sun - for
all miracles are equipollent - simply to prolong the brief
and useless existence of such a thing as man, of one man out
of the myriads who shriek, and - shriek in vain?
To pray is to expect a miracle. Then comes the further
question: Is this not to expect what never yet has happened?
The only proof of any miracle is the interpretation the
witness or witnesses put upon what they have seen.
(Traditional miracles - miracles that others have been told,
that others have seen - we need not trouble our heads about.)
What that proof has been worth hitherto has been commented
upon too often to need attention here. Nor does the weakness
of the evidence for miracles depend solely on the fact that
it rests, in the first instance, on the senses, which may be
deceived; or upon inference, which may be erroneous. It is
not merely that the infallibility of human testimony
discredits the miracles of the past. The impossibility that
human knowledge, that science, can ever exhaust the
possibilities of Nature, precludes the immediate reference to
the Supernatural for all time. It is pure sophistry to
argue, as do Canon Row and other defenders of miracles, that
'the laws of Nature are no more violated by the performance
of a miracle than they are by the activities of a man.' If
these arguments of the special pleaders had any force at all,
it would simply amount to this: 'The activities of man'
being a part of nature, we have no evidence of a supernatural
being, which is the sole RAISON D'ETRE of miracle.
Yet thousands of men in these days who admit the force of
these objections continue, in spite of them, to pray.
Huxley, the foremost of 'agnostics,' speaks with the utmost
respect of his friend Charles Kingsley's conviction from
experience of the efficacy of prayer. And Huxley himself
repeatedly assures us, in some form or other, that 'the
possibilities of "may be" are to me infinite.' The puzzle
is, in truth, on a par with that most insolvable of all
puzzles - Free Will or Determinism. Reason and the instinct
of conscience are in both cases irreconcilable. We are
conscious that we are always free to choose, though not to
act; but reason will have it that this is a delusion. There
is no logical clue to the IMPASSE. Still, reason
notwithstanding, we take our freedom (within limits) for
granted, and with like inconsequence we pray.
It must, I think, be admitted that the belief, delusive or
warranted, is efficacious in itself. Whether generated in
the brain by the nerve centres, or whatever may be its
origin, a force coincident with it is diffused throughout the
nervous system, which converts the subject of it, just
paralysed by despair, into a vigorous agent, or, if you will,
Now, those who admit this much argue, with no little force,
that the efficacy of prayer is limited to its reaction upon
ourselves. Prayer, as already observed, implies belief in
supernatural intervention. Such belief is competent to beget
hope, and with it courage, energy, and effort. Suppose
contrition and remorse induce the sufferer to pray for Divine
aid and mercy, suppose suffering is the natural penalty of
his or her own misdeeds, and suppose the contrition and the
prayer lead to resistance of similar temptations, and hence
to greater happiness, - can it be said that the power to
resist temptation or endure the penalty are due to
supernatural aid? Or must we not infer that the fear of the
consequences of vice or folly, together with an earnest
desire and intention to amend, were adequate in themselves to
account for the good results?
Reason compels us to the latter conclusion. But what then?
Would this prove prayer to be delusive? Not necessarily.
That the laws of Nature (as argued above) are not violated by
miracle, is a mere perversion of the accepted meaning of
'miracle,' an IGNORATIO ELENCHI. But in the case of prayer
that does not ask for the abrogation of Nature's laws, it
ceases to be a miracle that we pray for or expect: for are
not the laws of the mind also laws of Nature? And can we
explain them any more than we can explain physical laws? A
psychologist can formulate the mental law of association, but
he can no more explain it than Newton could explain the laws
of attraction and repulsion which pervade the world of
matter. We do not know, we cannot know, what the conditions
of our spiritual being are. The state of mind induced by
prayer may, in accordance with some mental law, be essential
to certain modes of spiritual energy, specially conducive to
the highest of all moral or spiritual results: taken in this
sense, prayer may ask, not the suspension, but the enactment,
of some natural law.
Let it, however, be granted, for argument's sake, that the
belief in the efficacy of prayer is delusive, and that the
beneficial effects of the belief - the exalted state of mind,
the enhanced power to endure suffering and resist temptation,
the happiness inseparable from the assurance that God hears,
and can and will befriend us - let it be granted that all
this is due to sheer hallucination, is this an argument
against prayer? Surely not. For, in the first place, the
incontestable fact that belief does produce these effects is
for us an ultimate fact as little capable of explanation as
any physical law whatever; and may, therefore, for aught we
know, or ever can know, be ordained by a Supreme Being.
Secondly, all the beneficial effects, including happiness,
are as real in themselves as if the belief were no delusion.
It may be said that a 'fool's paradise' is liable to be
turned into a hell of disappointment; and that we pay the
penalty of building happiness on false foundations. This is
true in a great measure; but it is absolutely without truth
as regards our belief in prayer, for the simple reason that
if death dispel the delusion, it at the same time dispels the
deluded. However great the mistake, it can never be found
out. But they who make it will have been the better and the
happier while they lived.
For my part, though immeasurably preferring the pantheism of
Goethe, or of Renan (without his pessimism), to the
anthropomorphic God of the Israelites, or of their theosophic
legatees, the Christians, however inconsistent, I still
believe in prayer. I should not pray that I may not die 'for
want of breath'; nor for rain, while 'the wind was in the
wrong quarter.' My prayers would not be like those
overheard, on his visit to Heaven, by Lucian's Menippus: 'O
Jupiter, let me become a king!' 'O Jupiter, let my onions
and my garlic thrive!' 'O Jupiter, let my father soon depart
from hence!' But when the workings of my moral nature were
concerned, when I needed strength to bear the ills which
could not be averted, or do what conscience said was right,
then I should pray. And, if I had done my best in the same
direction, I should trust in the Unknowable for help.
Then too, is not gratitude to Heaven the best of prayers?
Unhappy he who has never felt it! Unhappier still, who has
never had cause to feel it!
It may be deemed unwarrantable thus to draw the lines between
what, for want of better terms, we call Material and
Spiritual. Still, reason is but the faculty of a very finite
being; and, as in the enigma of the will, utterly incapable
of solving any problems beyond those whose data are furnished
by the senses. Reason is essentially realistic. Science is
its domain. But science demonstratively proves that things
are not what they seem; their phenomenal existence is nothing
else than their relation to our special intelligence. We
speak and think as if the discoveries of science were
absolutely true, true in themselves, not relatively so for us
only. Yet, beings with senses entirely different from ours
would have an entirely different science. For them, our best
established axioms would be inconceivable, would have no more
meaning than that 'Abracadabra is a second intention.'
Science, supported by reason, assures us that the laws of
nature - the laws of realistic phenomena - are never
suspended at the prayers of man. To this conclusion the
educated world is now rapidly coming. If, nevertheless, men
thoroughly convinced of this still choose to believe in the
efficacy of prayer, reason and science are incompetent to
confute them. The belief must be tried elsewhere, - it must
be transferred to the tribunal of conscience, or to a
metaphysical court, in which reason has no jurisdiction.
This by no means implies that reason, in its own province, is
to yield to the 'feeling' which so many cite as the
infallible authority for their 'convictions.'
We must not be asked to assent to contradictory propositions.
We must not be asked to believe that injustice, cruelty, and
implacable revenge, are not execrable because the Bible tells
us they were habitually manifested by the tribal god of the
Israelites. The fables of man's fall and of the redemption
are fraught with the grossest violation of our moral
conscience, and will, in time, be repudiated accordingly. It
is idle to say, as the Church says, 'these are mysteries
above our human reason.' They are fictions, fabrications
which modern research has traced to their sources, and which
no unperverted mind would entertain for a moment. Fanatical
belief in the truth of such dogmas based upon 'feeling' have
confronted all who have gone through the severe ordeal of
doubt. A couple of centuries ago, those who held them would
have burnt alive those who did not. Now, they have to
console themselves with the comforting thought of the fire
that shall never be quenched. But even Job's patience could
not stand the self-sufficiency of his pious reprovers. The
sceptic too may retort: 'No doubt but ye are the people, and
wisdom shall die with you.'
Conviction of this kind is but the convenient substitute for
knowledge laboriously won, for the patient pursuit of truth
at all costs - a plea in short, for ignorance, indolence,
incapacity, and the rancorous bigotry begotten of them.
The distinction is not a purely sentimental one - not a
belief founded simply on emotion. There is a physical world
- the world as known to our senses, and there is a psychical
world - the world of feeling, consciousness, thought, and
Granting, if it pleases you, that material phenomena may be
the causes of mental phenomena, that 'la pensee est le
produit du corps entier,' still the two cannot be thought of
as one. Until it can be proved that 'there is nothing in the
world but matter, force, and necessity,' - which will never
be, till we know how we lift our hands to our mouths, - there
remains for us a world of mystery, which reason never can
It is a pregnant thought of John Mill's, apropos of material
and mental interdependence or identity, 'that the uniform
coexistence of one fact with another does not make the one
fact a part of the other, or the same with it.'
A few words of Renan's may help to support the argument. 'Ce
qui revele le vrai Dieu, c'est le sentiment moral. Si
l'humanite n'etait qu'intelligente, elle serait athee. Le
devoir, le devouement, le sacrifice, toutes choses dont
l'histoire est pleine, sont inexplicables sans Dieu.' For
all these we need help. Is it foolishness to pray for it?
Perhaps so. Yet, perhaps not; for 'Tout est possible, meme
Whether possible, or impossible, this much is absolutely
certain: man must and will have a religion as long as this
world lasts. Let us not fear truth. Criticism will change
men's dogmas, but it will not change man's nature.
MY confidence was restored, and with it my powers of
endurance. Sleep was out of the question. The night was
bright and frosty; and there was not heat enough in my body
to dry my flannel shirt. I made shift to pull up some briar
bushes; and, piling them round me as a screen, got some
little shelter from the light breeze. For hours I lay
watching Alpha Centauri - the double star of the Great Bear's
pointers - dipping under the Polar star like the hour hand of
a clock. My thoughts, strange to say, ran little on the
morrow; they dwelt almost solely upon William Nelson. How
far was I responsible, to what extent to blame, for leading
him, against his will, to death? I re-enacted the whole
event. Again he was in my hands, still breathing when I let
him go, knowing, as I did so, that the deed consigned him
living to his grave. In this way I passed the night.
Just as the first streaks of the longed-for dawn broke in the
East, I heard distant cries which sounded like the whoops of
Indians. Then they ceased, but presently began again much
nearer than before. There was no mistake about them now, -
they were the yappings of a pack of wolves, clearly enough,
upon our track of yesterday. A few minutes more, and the
light, though still dim, revealed their presence coming on at
full gallop. In vain I sought for stick or stone. Even the
river, though I took to it, would not save me if they meant
mischief. When they saw me they slackened their pace. I did
not move. They then halted, and forming a half-moon some
thirty yards off, squatted on their haunches, and began at
intervals to throw up their heads and howl.
My chief hope was in the coming daylight. They were less
likely to attack a man then than in the dark. I had often
met one or two together when hunting; these had always
bolted. But I had never seen a pack before; and I knew a
pack meant that they were after food. All depended on their
When I kept still they got up, advanced a yard or two, then
repeated their former game. Every minute the light grew
stronger; its warmer tints heralded the rising sun. Seeing,
however, that my passivity encouraged them, and convinced
that a single step in retreat would bring the pack upon me, I
determined in a moment of inspiration to run amuck, and trust
to Providence for the consequences. Flinging my arms wildly
into the air, and frantically yelling with all my lungs, I
dashed straight in for the lot of them. They were, as I
expected, taken by surprise. They jumped to their feet and
turned tail, but again stopped - this time farther off, and
howled with vexation at having to wait till their prey
The sun rose. Samson was on the move. I shouted to him, and
he to me. Finding me thus reinforced the enemy slunk off,
and I was not sorry to see the last of my ugly foes. I now
repeated my instructions about our trysting place, waited
patiently till Samson had breakfasted (which he did with the
most exasperating deliberation), saw him saddle my horse and
leave his camp. I then started upon my travels up the river,
to meet him. After a mile or so, the high ground on both
banks obliged us to make some little detour. We then lost
sight of each other; nor was he to be seen when I reached the
Long before I did so I began to feel the effects of my
labours. My naked feet were in a terrible state from the
cactus thorns, which I had been unable to avoid in the dark;
occasional stones, too, had bruised and made them very
tender. Unable to shuffle on at more than two miles an hour
at fastest, the happy thought occurred to me of tearing up my
shirt and binding a half round each foot. This enabled me to
get on much better; but when the September sun was high, my
unprotected skin and head paid the penalty. I waited for a
couple of hours, I dare say, hoping Samson would appear. But
concluding at length that he had arrived long before me,
through the slowness of my early progress, and had gone
further up the river - thinking perhaps that I had meant some
other place - I gave him up; and, full of internal 'd-n' at
his incorrigible consistency, plodded on and on for - I knew
Why, it may be asked, did I not try to cross where I had
intended? I must confess my want of courage. True, the
river here was not half, not a third, of the width of the
scene of my disasters; but I was weak in body and in mind.
Had anything human been on the other side to see me - to see
how brave I was, (alas! poor human nature!) - I could have
plucked up heart to risk it. It would have been such a
comfort to have some one to see me drown! But it is
difficult to play the hero with no spectators save oneself.
I shall always have a fellow-feeling with the Last Man:
practically, my position was about as uncomfortable as his
One of the worst features of it was, what we so often
suffered from before - the inaccessibility of water. The sun
was broiling, and the and soil reflected its scorching rays.
I was feverish from exhaustion, and there was nothing,
nothing to look forward to. Mile after mile I crawled along,
sometimes half disposed to turn back, and try the deep but
narrow passage; then that inexhaustible fountain of last
hopes - the Unknown - tempted me to go forward. I
persevered; when behold! as I passed a rock, an Indian stood
He was as naked as I was. Over his shoulder he carried a
spear as long as a salmon rod. Though neither had foreseen
the other, he was absolutely unmoved, showed no surprise, no
curiosity, no concern. He stood still, and let me come up to
him. My only, or rather my uppermost, feeling was gladness.
Of course the thought crossed me of what he might do if he
owed the white skins a grudge. If any white man had ever
harmed one of his tribe, I was at his mercy; and it was
certain that he would show me none. He was a tall powerful
man, and in my then condition he could have done what he
pleased with me. Friday was my model; the red man was
Robinson Crusoe. I kneeled at his feet, and touched the
ground with my forehead. He did not seem the least elated by
my humility: there was not a spark of vanity in him.
Indeed, except for its hideousness and brutality, his face
was without expression.
I now proceeded to make a drawing, with my finger, in the
sand, of a mule in the water; while I imitated by pantomime
the struggles of the drowning. I then pointed to myself;
and, using my arms as in swimming, shook my head and my
finger to signify that I could not swim. I worked an
imaginary paddle, and made him understand that I wanted him
to paddle me across the river. Still he remained unmoved;
till finally I used one argument which interested him more
than all the rest of my story. I untied a part of the shirt
round one foot and showed him three gold studs. These I took
out and gave to him. I also made a drawing of a rifle in the
sand, and signified that he would get the like if he went
with me to my camp. Whereupon he turned in the direction I
was going; and, though unbidden by a look, I did not hesitate
I thought I must have dropped before we reached his village.
This was an osier-bed at the water's side, where the whole
river rushed through a rocky gorge not more than fifty to
sixty yards broad. There were perhaps nearly a hundred
Indians here, two-thirds of whom were women and children.
Their habitations were formed by interlacing the tops of the
osiers. Dogs' skins spread upon the ground and numerous
salmon spears were their only furniture. In a few minutes my
arrival created a prodigious commotion. The whole population
turned out to stare at me. The children ran into the bushes
to hide. But feminine curiosity conquered feminine timidity.
Although I was in the plight of the forlorn Odysseus after
his desperate swim, I had no 'blooming foliage' to wind
[Greek text which cannot be reproduced]. Unlike the
Phaeacian maidens, however, the tawny nymphs were all as
brave as Princess Nausicaa herself. They stared, and
pointed, and buzzed, and giggled, and even touched my skin
with the tips of their fingers - to see, I suppose, if the
white would come off.
But ravenous hunger turned up its nose at flirtation. The
fillets of drying salmon suspended from every bough were a
million times more seductive than the dark Naiads who had
dressed them. Slice after slice I tore down and devoured, as
though my maw were as compendious as Jack the Giant Killer's.
This so astonished and delighted the young women that they
kept supplying me, - with the expectation, perhaps, that
sooner or later I must share the giant's fate.
While this was going on, a conference was being held; and I
had the satisfaction of seeing some men pull up a lot of dead
rushes, dexterously tie them into bundles, and truss these
together by means of spears. They had no canoes, for the
very children were amphibious, living, so it seemed, as much
in the water as out of it. When the raft was completed, I
was invited to embark. My original friend, who had twisted a
tow-rope, took this between his teeth, and led the way.
Others swam behind and beside me to push and to pull. The
force of the water was terrific; but they seemed to care no
more for that than fish. My weight sunk the rush bundles a
good bit below the surface; and to try my nerves, my crew
every now and then with a wild yell dived simultaneously,
dragging the raft and me under water. But I sat tight; and
with genuine friendliness they landed me safely on the
It was quite dark before we set forth. Robinson Crusoe
walked on as if he knew exactly where my camp was. Probably
the whole catastrophe had by this time been bruited for miles
above and below the spot. Five other stalwart young fellows
kept us company, each with salmon spear in hand. The walk
seemed interminable; but I had shipped a goodly cargo of
When I got home, instead of Samson, I found the camp occupied
by half a dozen Indians. They were squatted round a fire,
smoking. Each one, so it seemed, had appropriated some
article of our goods. Our blankets were over their
shoulders. One had William's long rifle in his lap. Another
was sitting upon mine. A few words were exchanged with the
newcomers, who seated themselves beside their friends; but no
more notice was taken of me than of the mules which were
eating rushes close to us. How was I, single-handed, to
regain possession? That was the burning question. A
diplomatic course commanded itself as the only possible one.
There were six men who expected rewards, but the wherewithal
was held in seisin by other six. The fight, if there were
one, should be between the two parties. I would hope to
prove, that when thieves fall out honest men come by their
There is one adage whose truth I needed no further proof of.
Its first line apostrophises the 'Gods and little fishes.'
My chief need was for the garment which completes the rhyme.
Indians, having no use for corduroy small clothes, I speedily
donned mine. Next I quietly but quickly snatched up
William's rifle, and presented it to Robinson Crusoe, patting
him on the back as if with honours of knighthood. The
dispossessed was not well pleased, but Sir Robinson was; and,
to all appearances, he was a man of leading, if of darkness.
While words were passing between the two, I sauntered round
to the gentleman who sat cross-legged upon my weapon. He was
as heedless of me as I, outwardly, of him. When well within
reach, mindful that 'DE L'AUDACE' is no bad motto, in love
and war, I suddenly placed my foot upon his chest, tightened
the extensor muscle of my leg, and sent him heels over head.
In an instant the rifle was mine, and both barrels cocked.
After yesterday's immersion it might not have gone off, but
the offended Indian, though furious, doubtless inferred from
the histrionic attitude which I at once struck, that I felt
confident it would. With my rifle in hand, with my suite
looking to me to transfer the plunder to them, my position
was now secure. I put on a shirt - the only one left to me,
by the way - my shoes and stockings, and my shooting coat;
and picking out William's effects, divided these, with his
ammunition, his carpet-bag, and his blankets, amongst my
original friends. I was beginning to gather my own things
together, when Samson, leading my horse, unexpectedly rode
into the midst of us. The night was far advanced. The
Indians took their leave; and added to the obligation by
bequeathing us a large fresh salmon, which served us for many
a day to come.
As a postscript I may add that I found poor Mary's address on
one of her letters, and faithfully kept my promise as soon as
I reached pen and ink.
WHAT remains to be told will not take long. Hardships
naturally increased as the means of bearing them diminished.
I have said the salmon held out for many days. We cut it in
strips, and dried it as well as we could; but the flies and
maggots robbed us of a large portion of it. At length we
were reduced to two small hams; nothing else except a little
tea. Guessing the distance we had yet to go, and taking into
account our slow rate of travelling, I calculated the number
of days which, with the greatest economy, these could be made
to last. Allowing only one meal a day, and that of the
scantiest, I scored the hams as a cook scores a leg of roast
pork, determined under no circumstances to exceed the daily
No little discipline was requisite to adhere to this
resolution. Samson broke down under the exposure and
privation; superadded dysentery rendered him all but
helpless, and even affected his mind. The whole labour of
the camp then devolved on me. I never roused him in the
morning till the mules were packed - with all but his blanket
and the pannikin for his tea - and until I had saddled his
horse for him. Not till we halted at night did we get our
ration of ham. This he ate, or rather bolted, raw, like a
wild beast. My share I never touched till after I lay down
to sleep. And so tired have I been, that once or twice I
woke in the morning with my hand at my mouth, the unswallowed
morsel between my teeth. For three weeks we went on in this
way, never exchanging a word. I cannot say how I might have
behaved had Fred been in Samson's place. I hope I should
have been at least humane. But I was labouring for my life,
and was not over tender-hearted.
Certainly there was enough to try the patience of a better
man. Take an instance. Unable one morning to find my own
horse, I saddled his and started him off, so as not to waste
time, with his spare animal and the three mules. It so
happened that our line of march was rather tortuous, owing to
some hills we had to round. Still, as there were high
mountains in the distance which we were making for, it seemed
impossible that anyone could miss his way. It was twenty
minutes, perhaps, before I found my horse; this would give
him about a mile or more start of me. I hurried on, but
failed to overtake him. At the end of an hour I rode to the
top of a hill which commanded a view of the course he should
have taken. Not a moving speck was to be seen. I knew then
that he had gone astray. But in which direction?
My heart sank within me. The provisions and blankets were
with him. I do not think that at any point of my journey I
had ever felt fear - panic that is - till now. Starvation
stared me in the face. My wits refused to suggest a line of
action. I was stunned. I felt then what I have often felt
since, what I still feel, that it is possible to wrestle
successfully with every difficulty that man has overcome, but
not with that supreme difficulty - man's stupidity. It did
not then occur to me to give a name to the impatience that
seeks to gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles.
I turned back, retraced my steps till I came to the track of
the mules. Luckily the ground retained the footprints,
though sometimes these would be lost for a hundred yards or
so. Just as I anticipated - Samson had wound round the base
of the very first hill he came to; then, instead of
correcting the deviation, and steering for the mountains, had
simply followed his nose, and was now travelling due east, -
in other words, was going back over our track of the day
before. It was past noon when I overtook him, so that a
precious day's labour was lost.
I said little, but that little was a sentence of death.
'After to-day,' I began, 'we will travel separately.'
At first he seemed hardly to take in my meaning. I explained
'As well as I can make out, before we get to the Dalles,
where we ought to find the American outposts, we have only
about 150 miles to go. This should not take more than eight
or nine days. I can do it in a week alone, but not with you.
I have come to the conclusion that with you I may not be able
to do it at all. We have still those mountains' - pointing
to the Blue Mountain range in the distance - 'to cross. They
are covered with snow, as you see. We may find them
troublesome. In any case our food will only last eight or
nine days more, even at the present rate. You shall have the
largest half of what is left, for you require more than I do.
But I cannot, and will not, sacrifice my life for your sake.
I have made up my mind to leave you.'
It must always be a terrible thing for a judge to pass the
sentence of death. But then he is fulfilling a duty, merely
carrying out a law which is not of his making. Moreover, he
has no option - the responsibility rests with the jury; last
of all, the sufferer is a criminal. Between the judge's case
and mine there was no analogy. My act was a purely selfish
one - justifiable I still think, though certainly not
magnanimous. I was quite aware of this at the time, but a
starving man is not burdened with generosity.
I dismounted, and, without unsaddling the mules, took off
their packs, now reduced to a few pounds, which was all the
wretched, raw-backed, and half-dead, animals could stagger
under; and, putting my blanket, the remains of a ham, and a
little packet of tea - some eight or ten tea-spoonfuls - on
one mule, I again prepared to mount my horse and depart.
I took, as it were, a sneaking glance at Samson. He was
sitting upon the ground, with his face between his knees,
At three-and-twenty the heart of a man, or of a woman - if
either has any, which, of course, may be doubtful - is apt to
play the dynamite with his or her resolves. Water-drops have
ever been formidable weapons of the latter, as we all know;
and, not being so accustomed to them then as I have become
since, the sight of the poor devil's abject woe and
destitution, the thought that illness and suffering were the
causes, the secret whisper that my act was a cowardly one,
forced me to follow the lines of least resistance, and submit
to the decrees of destiny.
One more page from my 'Ride,' and the reader will, I think,
have a fair conception of its general character. For the
last two hours the ascent of the Blue Mountains had been very
steep. We were in a thick pine forest. There was a track -
probably made by Indians. Near the summit we found a spring
of beautiful water. Here we halted for the night. It was a
snug spot. But, alas! there was nothing for the animals to
eat except pine needles. We lighted our fire against the
great up-torn roots of a fallen tree; and, though it was
freezing hard, we piled on such masses of dead boughs that
the huge blaze seemed to warm the surrounding atmosphere.
I must here give the words of my journal, for one exclamation
in it has a sort of schoolboy ring that recalls the buoyancy
of youthful spirits, the spirits indeed to which in early
life we owe our enterprise and perseverance:
'As I was dozing off, a pack of hungry wolves that had
scented us out set up the most infernal chorus ever heard.
In vain I pulled the frozen buffalo-robe over my head, and
tried to get to sleep. The demons drew nearer and nearer,
howling, snarling, fighting, moaning, and making a row in the
perfect stillness which reigned around, as if hell itself
were loose. For some time I bore it with patience. At
length, jumping up, I yelled in a voice that made the valley
ring: You devils! will you be quiet? The appeal was
immediately answered by silence; but hearing them tuning up
for a second concert, I threw some wood on the blazing fire
and once more retired to my lair. For a few minutes I lay
awake to admire a brilliant Aurora Borealis shooting out its
streams of electric light. Then, turning over on my side, I
never moved again till dawn.'
The first objects that caught my eye were the animals. They
were huddled together within a couple of yards of where we
lay. It was a horrible sight. Two out of the three mules,
and Samson's horse, had been attacked by the wolves. The
flanks of the horse were terribly torn, and the entrails of
both the mules were partially hanging out. Though all three
were still standing with their backs arched, they were
rapidly dying from loss of blood. My dear little '
Strawberry' - as we called him to match William's 'Cream' and
my mare were both intact.
A few days after this, Samson's remaining horse gave out. I
had to surrender what remained of my poor beast in order to
get my companion through. The last fifty miles of the
journey I performed on foot; sometimes carrying my rifle to
relieve the staggering little mule of a few pounds extra
weight. At long last the Dalles hove in sight. And our cry,
'The tents! the tents!' echoed the joyous 'Thalassa!
Thalassa!' of the weary Greeks.
'WHERE is the tent of the commanding officer?' I asked of the
first soldier I came across.
He pointed to one on the hillside. 'Ags for Major Dooker,'
was the Dutch-accented answer.
Bidding Samson stay where he was, I made my way as directed.
A middle-aged officer in undress uniform was sitting on an
empty packing-case in front of his tent, whittling a piece of
'Pray sir,' said I in my best Louis Quatorze manner, 'have I
the pleasure of speaking to Major Dooker?'
'Tucker, sir. And who the devil are you?'
Let me describe what the Major saw: A man wasted by
starvation to skin and bone, blackened, almost, by months of
exposure to scorching suns; clad in the shreds of what had
once been a shirt, torn by every kind of convict labour,
stained by mud and the sweat and sores of mules; the rags of
a shooting coat to match; no head covering; hands festering
with sores, and which for weeks had not touched water - if
they could avoid it. Such an object, in short, as the genius
of a Phil May could alone have depicted as the most repulsive
object he could imagine.
'Who the devil are you?'
'An English gentleman, sir, travelling for pleasure.'
He smiled. 'You look more like a wild beast.'
'I am quite tame, sir, I assure you - could even eat out of
your hand if I had a chance.'
'Is your name Coke?'
'Yes,' was my amazed reply.
'Then come with me - I will show you something that may
I followed him to a neighbouring tent. He drew aside the
flap of it, and there on his blanket lay Fred Calthorpe,
snoring in perfect bliss.
Our greetings were less restrained than our parting had been.
We were truly glad to meet again. He had arrived just two
days before me, although he had been at Salt Lake City. But
he had been able there to refit, had obtained ample supplies
and fresh animals. Curiously enough, his Nelson - the
French-Canadian - had also been drowned in crossing the Snake
River. His place, however, had been filled by another man,
and Jacob had turned out a treasure. The good fellow greeted
me warmly. And it was no slight compensation for bygone
troubles to be assured by him that our separation had led to
the final triumphal success.
Fred and I now shared the same tent. To show what habit will
do, it was many days before I could accustom myself to sleep
under cover of a tent even, and in preference slept, as I had
done for five months, under the stars. The officers
liberally furnished us with clothing. But their excessive
hospitality more nearly proved fatal to me than any peril I
had met with. One's stomach had quite lost its discretion.
And forgetting that
Famished people must be slowly nursed,
And fed by spoonfuls, else they always burst,
one never knew when to leave off eating. For a few days I
was seriously ill.
An absurd incident occurred to me here which might have had
an unpleasant ending. Every evening, after dinner in the
mess tent, we played whist. One night, quite by accident,
Fred and I happened to be partners. The Major and another
officer made up the four. The stakes were rather high. We
two had had an extraordinary run of luck. The Major's temper
had been smouldering for some time. Presently the deal fell
to me; and as bad luck would have it, I dealt myself a
handful of trumps, and - all four honours. As the last of
these was played, the now blazing Major dashed his cards on
the table, and there and then called me out. The cooler
heads of two or three of the others, with whom Fred had had
time to make friends, to say nothing of the usual roar of
laughter with which he himself heard the challenge, brought
the matter to a peaceful issue. The following day one of the
officers brought me a graceful apology.
As may readily be supposed, we had no hankering for further
travels such as we had gone through. San Francisco was our
destination; but though as unknown to us as Charles Lamb's
'Stranger,' we 'damned' the overland route 'at a venture';
and settled, as there was no alternative, to go in a trading
ship to the Sandwich Islands thence, by the same means, to
On October 20 we procured a canoe large enough for seven or
eight persons; and embarking with our light baggage, Fred,
Samson, and I, took leave of the Dalles. For some miles the
great river, the Columbia, runs through the Cascade
Mountains, and is confined, as heretofore, in a channel of
basaltic rock. Further down it widens, and is ornamented by
groups of small wooded islands. On one of these we landed to
rest our Indians and feed. Towards evening we again put
ashore, at an Indian village, where we camped for the night.
The scenery here is magnificent. It reminded me a little of
the Danube below Linz, or of the finest parts of the Elbe in
Saxon Switzerland. But this is to compare the full-length
portrait with the miniature. It is the grandeur of the scale
of the best of the American scenery that so strikes the
European. Variety, however, has its charms; and before one
has travelled fifteen hundred miles on the same river - as
one may easily do in America - one begins to sigh for the
Rhine, or even for a trip from London to Greenwich, with a
white-bait dinner at the end of it.
The day after, we descended the Cascades. They are the
beginning of an immense fall in the level, and form a
succession of rapids nearly two miles long. The excitement
of this passage is rather too great for pleasure. It is like
being run away with by a 'motor' down a steep hill. The bow
of the canoe is often several feet below the stern, as if
about to take a 'header.' The water, in glassy ridges and
dark furrows, rushes headlong, and dashes itself madly
against the reefs which crop up everywhere. There is no
time, one thinks, to choose a course, even if steerage, which
seems absurd, were possible. One is hurled along at railway
speed. The upreared rock, that a moment ago seemed a hundred
yards off, is now under the very bow of the canoe. One
clenches one's teeth, holds one's breath, one's hour is
surely come. But no - a shout from the Indians, a magic
stroke of the paddle in the bow, another in the stern, and
the dreaded crag is far above out heads, far, far behind;
and, for the moment, we are gliding on - undrowned.
At the lower end of the rapids (our Indians refusing to go
further), we had to debark. A settler here was putting up a
zinc house for a store. Two others, with an officer of the
Mounted Rifles - the regiment we had left at the Dalles -
were staying with him. They welcomed our arrival, and
insisted on our drinking half a dozen of poisonous stuff they
called champagne. There were no chairs or table in the
'house,' nor as yet any floor; and only the beginning of a
roof. We sat on the ground, so that I was able
surreptitiously to make libations with my share, to the
According to my journal: 'In a short time the party began to
be a noisy one. Healths were drunk, toasts proposed,
compliments to our respective nationalities paid in the most
flattering terms. The Anglo-Saxon race were destined to
conquer the globe. The English were the greatest nation
under the sun - that is to say, they had been. America, of
course, would take the lead in time to come. We disputed
this. The Americans were certain of it, in fact this was
already an accomplished fact. The big officer - a genuine
"heavy" - wanted to know where the man was that would give
him the lie! Wasn't the Mounted Rifles the crack regiment of
the United States army? And wasn't the United States army
the finest army in the universe? Who that knew anything of
history would compare the Peninsular Campaign to the war in
Mexico? Talk of Waterloo - Britishers were mighty fond of
swaggering about Waterloo! Let 'em look at Chepultapec. As
for Wellington, he couldn't shine nohow with General Scott,
nor old Zack neither!'
Then, WE wished for a war, just to let them see what our
crack cavalry regiments could do. Mounted Rifles forsooth!
Mounted costermongers! whose trade it was to sell 'nutmegs
made of wood, and clocks that wouldn't figure.' Then some
pretty forcible profanity was vented, fists were shaken, and
the zinc walls were struck, till they resounded like the
threatened thunder of artillery.
But Fred's merry laughter diverted the tragic end. It was
agreed that there had been too much tall talk. Britishers
and Americans were not such fools as to quarrel. Let
everybody drink everybody else's health. A gentleman in the
corner (he needed the support of both walls) thought it
wasn't good to 'liquor up' too much on an empty stomach; he
put it to the house that we should have supper. The motion
was carried NEM. CON., and a Dutch cheese was produced with
much ECLAT. Samson coupled the ideas of Dutch cheeses and
Yankee hospitality. This revived the flagging spirit of
emulation. On one side, it was thought that British manners
were susceptible of amendment. Confusion was then
respectively drunk to Yankee hospitality, English manners,
and - this was an addition of Fred's - to Dutch cheeses.
After which, to change the subject, a song was called for,
and a gentleman who shall be nameless, for there was a little
mischief in the choice, sang 'Rule Britannia.' Not being
encored, the singer drank to the flag that had braved the
battle and the breeze for nearly ninety years. 'Here's to
Uncle Sam, and his stars and stripes.' The mounted officer
rose to his legs (with difficulty) and declared 'that he
could not, and would not, hear his country insulted any
longer. He begged to challenge the "crowd." He regretted
the necessity, but his feelings had been wounded, and he
could not - no, he positively could not stand it.' A slight
push from Samson proved the fact - the speaker fell, to rise
no more. The rest of the company soon followed his example,
and shortly afterwards there was no sound but that of the
Early next morning the settler's boat came up, and took us a
mile down the river, where we found a larger one to convey us
to Fort Vancouver. The crew were a Maltese sailor and a man
who had been in the United States army. Each had his private
opinions as to her management. Naturally, the Maltese should
have been captain, but the soldier was both supercargo and
part owner, and though it was blowing hard and the sails were
fully large, the foreigner, who was but a poor little
creature, had to obey orders.
As the river widened and grew rougher, we were wetted from
stem to stern at every plunge; and when it became evident
that the soldier could not handle the sails if the Maltese
was kept at the helm, the heavy rifleman who was on board,
declaring that he knew the river, took upon himself to steer
us. In a few minutes the boat was nearly swamped. The
Maltese prayed and blasphemed in language which no one
understood. The oaths of the soldier were intelligible
enough. The 'heavy,' now alarmed, nervously asked what had
better be done. My advice was to grease the bowsprit, let go
the mast, and splice the main brace. 'In another minute or
two,' I added, 'you'll steer us all to the bottom.'
Fred, who thought it no time for joking, called the rifleman
a 'damned fool,' and authoritatively bade him give up the
tiller; saying that I had been in Her Majesty's Navy, and
perhaps knew a little more about boats than he did. To this
the other replied that 'he didn't want anyone to learn him;
he reckon'd he'd been raised to boating as well as the next
man, and he'd be derned if he was going to trust his life to
anybody!' Samson, thinking no doubt of his own, took his
pipe out of his mouth, and towering over the steersman, flung
him like a child on one side. In an instant I was in his
It was a minute or two before the boat had way enough to
answer the helm. By that time we were within a dozen yards
of a reef. Having noticed, however, that the little craft
was quick in her stays, I kept her full till the last, put
the helm down, and round she spun in a moment. Before I
could thank my stars, the pintle, or hook on which the rudder
hangs, broke off. The tiller was knocked out of my hand, and
the boat's head flew into the wind. 'Out with the sweeps,' I
shouted. But the sweeps were under the gear. All was
confusion and panic. The two men cursed in the names of
their respective saints. The 'heavy' whined, 'I told you how
it w'd be.' Samson struggled valiantly to get at an oar,
while Fred, setting the example, begged all hands to be calm,
and be ready to fend the stern off the rocks with a boathook.
As we drifted into the surf I was wondering how many bumps
she would stand before she went to pieces. Happily the water
shallowed, and the men, by jumping overboard, managed to drag
the boat through the breakers under the lee of the point. We
afterwards drew her up on to the beach, kindled a fire, got
out some provisions, and stayed till the storm was over.
WHAT was then called Fort Vancouver was a station of the
Hudson's Bay Company. We took up our quarters here till one
of the company's vessels - the 'Mary Dare,' a brig of 120
tons, was ready to sail for the Sandwich Islands. This was
about the most uncomfortable trip I ever made. A sailing
merchant brig of 120 tons, deeply laden, is not exactly a
pleasure yacht; and 2,000 miles is a long voyage. For ten
days we lay at anchor at the mouth of the Columbia, detained
by westerly gales. A week after we put to sea, all our fresh
provisions were consumed, and we had to live on our cargo -
dried salmon. We three and the captain more than filled the
little hole of a cabin. There wasn't even a hammock, and we
had to sleep on the deck, or on the lockers. The fleas, the
cockroaches, and the rats, romped over and under one all
night. Not counting the time it took to go down the river,
or the ten days we were kept at its mouth, we were just six
weeks at sea before we reached Woahoo, on Christmas Day.
How beautiful the islands looked as we passed between them,
with a fair wind and studding sails set alow and aloft.
Their tropical charms seemed more glowing, the water bluer,
the palm trees statelier, the vegetation more libertine than
ever. On the south the land rises gradually from the shore
to a range of lofty mountains. Immediately behind Honolulu -
the capital - a valley with a road winding up it leads to the
north side of the island. This valley is, or was then,
richly cultivated, principally with TARO, a large root not
unlike the yam. Here and there native huts were dotted
about, with gardens full of flowers, and abundance of
tropical fruit. Higher up, where it becomes too steep for
cultivation, growth of all kind is rampant. Acacias,
oranges, maples, bread-fruit, and sandal-wood trees, rear
their heads above the tangled ever-greens. The high peaks,
constantly in the clouds, arrest the moisture of the ocean
atmosphere, and countless rills pour down the mountain sides,
clothing everything in perpetual verdure. The climate is one
of the least changeable in the world; the sea breeze blows
day and night, and throughout the year the day temperature
does not vary more than five or six degrees, the average
being about eighty-three degrees Fahrenheit in the shade. In
1850 the town of Honolulu was little else than a native
village of grass and mat huts. Two or three merchants had
good houses. In one of these Fred and Samson were domiciled;
there was no such thing as a hotel. I was the guest of
General Miller, the Consul-General. What changes may have
taken place since the above date I have no means of knowing.
So far as the natives go, the change will assuredly have been
for the worse; for the aborigines, in all parts of the world,
lose their primitive simplicity and soon acquire the worst
vices of civilisation.
Even King Tamehameha III. was not innocent of one of them.
General Miller offered to present us at court, but he had to
give several days' notice in order that his Majesty might be
sufficiently sober to receive us. A negro tailor from the
United States fitted us out with suits of black, and on the
appointed day we put ourselves under the shade of the old
General's cocked hat, and marched in a body to the palace. A
native band, in which a big drum had the leading part,
received us with 'God save the Queen' - whether in honour of
King Tamy, or of his visitors, was not divulged. We were
first introduced to a number of chiefs in European uniforms -
except as to their feet, which were mostly bootless. Their
names sounded like those of the state officers in Mr.
Gilbert's 'Mikado.' I find in my journal one entered as
Tovey-tovey, another as Kanakala. We were then conducted to
the presence chamber by the Foreign Minister, Mr. Wiley, a
very pronounced Scotch gentleman with a star of the first
magnitude on his breast. The King was dressed as an English
admiral. The Queen, whose ample undulations also reminded
one of the high seas, was on his right; while in perfect
gradation on her right again were four princesses in short
frocks and long trousers, with plaited tails tied with blue
ribbon, like the Miss Kenwigs. A little side dispute arose
between the stiff old General and the Foreign Minister as to
whose right it was to present us. The Consul carried the
day; but the Scot, not to be beaten, informed Tamehameha, in
a long prefatory oration, of the object of the ceremony.
Taking one of us by the hand (I thought the peppery old
General would have thrust him aside), Mr. Wiley told the King
that it was seldom the Sandwich Islands were 'veesited' by
strangers of such 'desteenction' - that the Duke of this
(referring to Fred's relations), and Lord the other, were the
greatest noblemen in the world; then, with much solemnity,
quoted a long speech from Shakespeare, and handed us over to
His Majesty, who did not understand a word of English, or
Scotch, looked grave and held tight to the arm of the throne;
for the truth is, that although he had relinquished his
bottle for the hour, he had brought its contents with him.
My salaam was soon made; but as I retired backwards I had the
misfortune to set my heel on the toes of a black-and-tan
terrier, a privileged pet of the General's. The shriek of
the animal and the loss of my equilibrium nearly precipitated
me into the arms of a trousered princess; but the amiable
young lady only laughed. Thus ended my glimpse of the
Hawaian Court. Mr. Wiley afterwards remarked to me: 'We do
things in a humble way, ye'll obsairve; but royalty is
royalty all over the world, and His Majesty Tamehameha is as
much Keng of his ain domeenions as Victoria is Queen of
Breetain.' The relativity of greatness was not to be denied.
The men - Kanakas, as they are called - are fine stalwart
fellows above our average height. The only clothing they
then wore was the MARO, a cloth made by themselves of the
acacia bark. This they pass between the legs, and once or
twice round the loins. The WYHEENES - women - formerly wore
nothing but a short petticoat or kilt of the same material.
By persuasion of the missionaries they have exchanged this
simple garment for a chemise of printed calico, with the
waist immediately under the arms so as to conceal the contour
of the figure. Other clothing have they none.
Are they the more chaste? Are they the less seductive -?
Hear what M. Anatole France says in his apostrophe to the
sex: 'Pour faire de vous la terrible merveille que vous etes
aujourd'hui, pour devenir la cause indifferente et souveraine
des sacrifices et des crimes, il vous a fallu deux choses:
la civilisation qui vous donna des voiles, et la religion qui
vous donna des scrupules.' The translation of which is
(please take note of it, my dear young ladies with 'les
epaules qui ne finissent pas'):
'Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Be this as it may, these chocolate-skinned beauties, with
their small and regular features, their rosy lips, their
perfect teeth - of which they take great care - their
luxurious silky tresses, their pretty little hands and naked
feet, and their exquisite forms, would match the matchless
Through the kindness of Fred's host, the principal merchant
in the island, we were offered an opportunity of becoming
acquainted with the ELITE of the Honolulu nymphs. Mr. S.
invited us to what is called a LOOHOU feast got up by him for
their entertainment. The head of one of the most picturesque
valleys in Woahoo was selected for the celebration of this
ancient festival. Mounted on horses with which Mr. S. had
furnished us, we repaired in a party to the appointed spot.
It was early in the afternoon when we reached it; none of the
guests had arrived, excepting a few Kanakas, who were engaged
in thatching an old shed as shelter from the sun, and
strewing the ground with a thick carpet of palm-leaves. Ere
long, a cavalcade of between thirty and forty amazons - they
all rode astride - came racing up the valley at full speed,
their merry shouts proclaiming their approach. Gaudy strips
of MARO were loosely folded around their legs for skirts.
Their pretty little straw hats trimmed with ribbons, or their
uncovered heads with their long hair streaming in the wind,
confined only by a wreath of fresh orange flowers, added to
their irresistible charm. Certainly, the bravest soldiers
could not have withstood their charge. No men, however, were
admitted, save those who had been expressly invited; but each
lady of importance was given a CARTE BLANCHE to bring as many
of her own sex as she pleased, provided they were both pretty
As they rode up, we cavaliers, with becoming gallantry,
offered our assistance while they dismounted. Smitten
through and through by the bright eyes of one little houri
who possessed far more than her share of the first
requirement, and, taking the second for granted, I
courteously prepared to aid her to alight; when, to my
discomfiture, instead of a gracious acknowledgment of my
services, she gave me a sharp cut with her whip. As,
however, she laughed merrily at my wry faces, I accepted the
act as a scratch of the kitten's claws; at least, it was no
sign of indifference, and giving myself the benefit of the
doubt, lifted her from her saddle without further
chastisement, except a coquettish smile that wounded, alas!
more than it healed.
The feast was thus prepared: poultry, sucking-pigs, and
puppies - the last, after being scalded and scraped, were
stuffed with vegetables and spices, rolled in plantain
leaves, and placed in the ground upon stones already heated.
More stones were then laid over them, and fires lighted on
the top of all. While the cooking was in progress, the
Kanakas ground TARO roots for the paste called 'poe'; the
girls danced and sang. The songs were devoid of melody,
being musical recitations of imaginary love adventures,
accompanied by swayings of the body and occasional choral
interruptions, all becoming more and more excited as the
story or song approached its natural climax. Sometimes this
was varied by a solitary dancer starting from the circle, and
performing the wildest bacchanalian antics, to the vocal
incitement of the rest. This only ended with physical
exhaustion, or collapse from feminine hysteria.
The food was excellent; the stuffed puppy was a dish for an
epicure. Though knives and forks were unknown, and each
helped herself from the plantain leaf, one had not the least
objection to do likewise, for the most scrupulous cleanliness
is one of the many merits of these fascinating creatures.
Before every dip into the leaf, the dainty little fingers
were plunged into bowls of fresh water provided for the
purpose. Delicious fruit followed the substantial fare; a
small glass of KAVA - a juice extracted from a root of the
pepper tribe - was then served to all alike. Having watched
the process of preparing the beverage, I am unable to speak
as to its flavour. The making of it is remarkable. A number
of women sit on the ground, chew the root, and spit its juice
into a bowl. The liquor is kept till it ferments, after
which it becomes highly intoxicating. I regret to say that
its potency was soon manifested on this occasion. No sooner
did the poison set their wild blood tingling, than a free
fight began for the remaining gourds. Such a scratching,
pulling of hair, clawing, kicking, and crying, were never
seen. Only by main force did we succeed in restoring peace.
It is but fair to state that, except on the celebration of
one or two solemn and sacred rites such as that of the
LOOHOU, these island Thyades never touch fermented liquors.
IT was an easier task when all was over to set the little
Amazons on their horses than to keep them there, for by the
time we had perched one on her saddle, or pad rather, and
adjusted her with the greatest nicety, another whom we had
just left would lose her balance and fall with a scream to
the ground. It was almost as difficult as packing mules on
the prairie. For my part it must be confessed that I left
the completion of the job to others. Curious and
entertaining as the feast was, my whole attention was centred
and absorbed in Arakeeta, which that artful little
enchantress had the gift to know, and lashed me accordingly
with her eyes more cruelly than she had done with her whip.
I had got so far, you see, as to learn her name, the first
instalment of an intimacy which my demolished heart was
staked on perfecting. I noticed that she refused the KAVA
with real or affected repugnance; and when the passage of
arms, and legs, began, she slipped away, caught her animal,
and with a parting laugh at me, started off for home. There
was not the faintest shadow of encouragement in her saucy
looks to follow her. Still, she was a year older than
Juliet, who was nearly fourteen; so, who could say what those
looks might veil? Besides:
Das Naturell der Frauen
Ist so nah mit Kunst verwandt,
that one might easily be mistaken. Anyhow, flight provoked
pursuit; I jumped on to my horse, and raced along the plain
like mad. She saw me coming, and flogged the more, but being
the better mounted of the two, by degrees I overhauled her.
As I ranged alongside, neither slackened speed; and reaching
out to catch her bridle, my knee hooked under the hollow of
hers, twisted her clean off her pad, and in a moment she lay
senseless on the ground. I flung myself from my horse, and
laid her head upon my lap. Good God! had I broken her neck!
She did not stir; her eyes were closed, but she breathed, and
her heart beat quickly. I was wild with terror and remorse.
I looked back for aid, but the others had not started; we
were still a mile or more from Honolulu. I knew not what to
do. I kissed her forehead, I called her by her name. But
she lay like a child asleep. Presently her dazed eyes opened
and stared with wonderment, and then she smiled. The tears,
I think, were on my cheeks, and seeing them, she put her arms
around my neck and - forgave me.
She had fallen on her head and had been stunned. I caught
the horses while she sat still, and we walked them slowly
home. When we got within sight of her hut on the outskirts
of the town, she would not let me go further. There was
sadness in her look when we parted. I made her understand (I
had picked up two or three words) that I would return to see
her. She at once shook her head with an expression of
something akin to fear. I too felt sorrowful, and worse than
When the night fell I sought her hut. It was one of the
better kind, built like others mainly with matting; no doors
or windows, but with an extensive verandah which protected
the inner part from rain and sun. Now and again I caught
glimpses of Arakeeta's fairy form flitting in, or obscuring,
the lamplight. I could see two other women and two men. Who
and what were they? Was one of those dark forms an Othello,
ready to smother his Desdemona? Or were either of them a
Valentine between my Marguerite and me? Though there was no
moon, I dared not venture within the lamp's rays, for her
sake; for my own, I was reckless now - I would have thanked
either of them to brain me with his hoe. But Arakeeta came
In the day-time I roamed about the district, about the TARO
fields, in case she might be working there. Every evening
before sundown, many of the women and some of the well-to-do
men, and a few whites, used to ride on the plain that
stretches along the shore between the fringe of palm groves
and the mountain spurs. I had seen Arakeeta amongst them
before the LOOHOU feast. She had given this up now, and why?
Night after night I hovered about the hut. When she was in
the verandah I whispered her name. She started and peered
into the dark, hesitated, then fled. Again the same thing
happened. She had heard me, she knew that I was there, but
she came not; no, wiser than I, she came not. And though I
What is worth
The rest of Heaven, the rest of earth?
the shrewd little wench doubtless told herself: 'A quiet
life, without the fear of the broomstick.'
Fred was impatient to be off, I had already trespassed too
long on the kind hospitality of General Miller, neither of us
had heard from England for more than a year, and the
opportunities of trading vessels to California seldom
offered. A rare chance came - a fast-sailing brig, the
'Corsair,' was to leave in a few days for San Francisco. The
captain was an Englishman, and had the repute of being a boon
companion and a good caterer. We - I, passively - settled to
go. Samson decided to remain. He wanted to visit Owyhee.
He came on board with us, however; and, with a parting bumper
of champagne, we said 'Good-bye.' That was the last I ever
saw of him. The hardships had broken him down. He died not
The light breeze carried us slowly away - for the first time
for many long months with our faces to the east. But it was
not 'merry' England that filled my juvenile fancies. I
leaned upon the taffrail and watched this lovely land of the
'flowery food' fade slowly from my sight. I had eaten of the
Lotus, and knew no wish but to linger on, to roam no more, to
return no more, to any home that was not Arakeeta's.
This sort of feeling is not very uncommon in early life. And
'out of sight, out of mind,' is also a known experience.
Long before we reached San Fr'isco I was again eager for
How magnificent is the bay! One cannot see across it. How
impatient we were to land! Everything new. Bearded dirty
heterogeneous crowds busy in all directions, - some running
up wooden and zinc houses, some paving the streets with
planks, some housing over ships beached for temporary
dwellings. The sandy hills behind the infant town are being
levelled and the foreshore filled up. A 'water surface' of
forty feet square is worth 5,000 dollars. So that here and
there the shop-fronts are ships' broadsides. Already there
is a theatre. But the chief feature is the gambling saloons,
open night and day. These large rooms are always filled with
from 300 to 400 people of every description - from 'judges'
and 'colonels' (every man is one or the other, who is nothing
else) to Parisian cocottes, and escaped convicts of all
nationalities. At one end of the saloon is a bar, at the
other a band. Dozens of tables are ranged around. Monte,
faro, rouge-et-noir, are the games. A large proportion of
the players are diggers in shirt-sleeves and butcher-boots,
belts round their waists for bowie knife and 'five shooters,'
which have to be surrendered on admittance. They come with
their bags of nuggets or 'dust,' which is duly weighed,
stamped, and sealed by officials for the purpose.
1 have still several specimens of the precious metal which I
captured, varying in size from a grain of wheat to a mustard
The tables win enormously, and so do the ladies of pleasure;
but the winnings of these go back again to the tables. Four
times, while we were here, differences of opinion arose
concerning points of 'honour,' and were summarily decided by
revolvers. Two of the four were subsequently referred to
Wishing to see the 'diggings,' Fred and I went to Sacramento
- about 150 miles up the river of that name. This was but a
pocket edition of San Francisco, or scarcely that. We
therefore moved to Marysville, which, from its vicinity to
the various branches of the Sacramento river, was the chief
depot for the miners of the 'wet diggin's' in Northern
California. Here we were received by a Mr. Massett - a
curious specimen of the waifs and strays that turn up all
over the world in odd places, and whom one would be sure to
find in the moon if ever one went there. He owned a little
one-roomed cabin, over the door of which was painted 'Offices
of the Marysville Herald.' He was his own contributor and
'correspondent,' editor and printer, (the press was in a
corner of the room). Amongst other avocations he was a
concert-giver, a comic reader, a tragic actor, and an
auctioneer. He had the good temper and sanguine disposition
of a Mark Tapley. After the golden days of California he
spent his life wandering about the globe; giving
'entertainments' in China, Japan, India, Australia. Wherever
the English language is spoken, Stephen Massett had many
friends and no enemies.
Fred slept on the table, I under it, and next morning we
hired horses and started for the 'Forks of the Yuba.' A few
hours' ride brought us to the gold-hunters. Two or three
hundred men were at work upon what had formerly been the bed
of the river. By unwritten law, each miner was entitled to a
certain portion of the 'bar,' as it was called, in which the
gold is found. And, as the precious metal has to be obtained
by washing, the allotments were measured by thirty feet on
the banks of the river and into the dry bed as far as this
extends; thus giving each man his allowance of water.
Generally three or four combined to possess a 'claim.' Each
would then attend to his own department: one loosened the
soil, another filled the barrow or cart, a third carried it
to the river, and the fourth would wash it in the 'rocker.'
The average weight of gold got by each miner while we were at
the 'wet diggin's,' I.E. where water had to be used, was
nearly half an ounce or seven dollars' worth a day. We saw
three Englishmen who had bought a claim 30 feet by 100 feet,
for 1,400 dollars. It had been bought and sold twice before
for considerable sums, each party supposing it to be nearly
'played out.' In three weeks the Englishmen paid their 1,400
dollars and had cleared thirteen dollars a day apiece for
Our presence here created both curiosity and suspicion, for
each gang and each individual was very shy of his neighbour.
They did not believe our story of crossing the plains; they
themselves, for the most part, had come round the Horn; a few
across the isthmus. Then, if we didn't want to dig, what did
we want? Another peculiarity about us - a great one - was,
that, so far as they could see, we were unarmed. At night
the majority, all except the few who had huts, slept in a
zinc house or sort of low-roofed barn, against the walls of
which were three tiers of bunks. There was no room for us,
even if we had wished it, but we managed to hire a trestle.
Mattress or covering we had none. As Fred and I lay side by
side, squeezed together in a trough scarcely big enough for
one, we heard two fellows by the door of the shed talking us
over. They thought no doubt that we were fast asleep, they
themselves were slightly fuddled. We nudged each other and
pricked up our ears, for we had already canvassed the
question of security, surrounded as we were by ruffians who
looked quite ready to dispose of babes in the wood. They
discussed our 'portable property' which was nil; one decided,
while the other believed, that we must have money in our
pockets. The first remarked that, whether or no, we were
unarmed; the other wasn't so sure about that - it wasn't
likely we'd come there to be skinned for the asking. Then
arose the question of consequences, and it transpired that
neither of them had the courage of his rascality. After a
bit, both agreed they had better turn in. Tired as we were,
we fell asleep. How long we had slumbered I know not, but
all of a sudden I was seized by the beard, and was conscious
of a report which in my dreams I took for a pistol-shot. I
found myself on the ground amid the wrecks of the trestle.
Its joints had given way under the extra weight, and Fred's
first impulse had been to clutch at my throat.
On the way back to San Francisco we stayed for a couple of
nights at Sacramento. It was a miserable place, with nothing
but a few temporary buildings except those of the Spanish
settlers. In the course of a walk round the town I noticed a
crowd collected under a large elm-tree in the horse-market.
On inquiry I was informed that a man had been lynched on one
of its boughs the night before last. A piece of the rope was
still hanging from the tree. When I got back to the 'hotel'
- a place not much better than the shed at Yuba Forks - I
found a newspaper with an account of the affair. Drawing a
chair up to the stove, I was deep in the story, when a huge
rowdy-looking fellow in digger-costume interrupted me with:
'Say, stranger, let's have a look at that paper, will ye?'
'When I've done with it,' said I, and continued reading. He
lent over the back of my chair, put one hand on my shoulder,
and with the other raised the paper so that he could read.
'Caint see rightly. Ah, reckon you're readen 'baout Jim,
'Him as they sus-spended yesterday mornin'. Jim was a
purticler friend o' mine, and I help'd to hang him.'
'A friendly act! What was he hanged for?'
'When did you come to Sacramenty City?'
'Day before yesterday.'
'Wal, I'll tell yer haow't was then. Yer see, Jim was a
Britisher, he come from a place they call Botany Bay, which
belongs to Victoria, but ain't 'xactly in the Old Country. I
judge, when he first come to Californy, 'baout six months
back, he warn't acquainted none with any boys hereaway, so he
took to diggin' by hisself. It was up to Cigar Bar whar he
dug, and I chanst to be around there too, that's haow we got
to know one another. Jim hadn't been here not a fortnight
'fore one of the boys lost 300 dollars as he'd made a cache
of. Somehow suspicions fell on Jim. More'n one of us
thought he'd been a diggin' for bags instead of for dust; and
the man as lost the money swore he'd hev a turn with him; so
Jim took my advice not to go foolin' around, an' sloped.'
'Well,' said I, as my friend stopped to adjust his tobacco
plug, 'he wasn't hanged for that?'
''Tain't likely! Till last week nobody know'd whar he'd gone
to. When he come to Sacramenty this time, he come with a
pile, an' no mistake. All day and all night he used to play
at faro an' a heap o' other games. Nobody couldn't tell how
he made his money hold out, nor whar he got it from; but
sartin sure the crowd reckoned as haow Jim was considerable
of a loafer. One day a blacksmith as lives up Broad Street,
said he found out the way he done it, and ast me to come with
him and show up Jim for cheatin'. Naow, whether it was as
Jim suspicioned the blacksmith I cain't say, but he didn't
cheat, and lost his money in consequence. This riled him
bad, so wantin' to get quit of the blacksmith he began a
quarrel. The blacksmith was a quick-tempered man, and after
some language struck Jim in the mouth. Jim jumps up, and
whippin' out his revolver, shoots the t'other man dead on the
spot. I was the first to lay hold on him, but ef it hadn't
'a' been for me they'd 'a' torn him to pieces.
'"Send for Judge Parker," says some.
'"Let's try him here," says others.
'"I don't want to be tried at all," says Jim. "You all know
bloody well as I shot the man. And I knows bloody well as
I'll hev to swing for it. Gi' me till daylight, and I'll die
like a man."
'But we wasn't going to hang him without a proper trial; and
as the trial lasted two hours, it - '
'Two hours! What did you want two hours for?'
'There was some as wanted to lynch him, and some as wanted
him tried by the reg'lar judges of the Crim'nal Court. One
of the best speakers said lynch-law was no law at all, and no
innocent man's life was safe with it. So there was a lot of
speakin', you bet. By the time it was over it was just
daylight, and the majority voted as he should die at onc't.
So they took him to the horse-market, and stood him on a
table under the big elm. I kep' by his side, and when he was
getting on the table he ast me to lend him my revolver to
shoot the foreman of the jury. When I wouldn't, he ast me to
tie the knot so as it wouldn't slip. "It ain't no account,
Jim," says I, "to talk like that. You're bound to die; and
ef they didn't hang yer I'd shoot yer myself."
'"Well then," says he, "gi' me hold of the rope, and I'll
show you how little I keer for death." He snatches the cord
out o' my hands, pulls hisself out o' reach o' the crowd, and
sat cross-legged on the bough. Half a dozen shooters was
raised to fetch him down, but he tied a noose in the rope,
put it round his neck, slipped it puty tight, and stood up on
the bough and made 'em a speech. What he mostly said was as
he hated 'em all. He cussed the man he shot, then he cussed
the world, then he cussed hisself, and with a terr'ble oath
he jumped off the bough, and swung back'ards and for'ards
with his neck broke.'
'An Englishman,' I reflected aloud.
He nodded. 'You're a Britisher, I reckon, ain't yer?'
'Wal, you've a puty strong accent.'
'Wal, I could jest tie a knot in it.'
This is a vulgar and repulsive story. But it is not fiction;
and any picture of Californian life in 1850, without some
such faithful touch of its local colour, would be inadequate
A STEAMER took us down to Acapulco. It is probably a
thriving port now. When we were there, a few native huts and
two or three stone buildings at the edge of the jungle
constituted the 'town.' We bought some horses, and hired two
men - a Mexican and a Yankee - for our ride to the city of
Mexico. There was at that time nothing but a mule-track, and
no public conveyance of any kind. Nothing could exceed the
beauty of the scenery. Within 160 miles, as the crow flies,
one rises up to the city of Mexico some 12,000 feet, with
Popocatepetl overhanging it 17,500 feet high. In this short
space one passes from intense tropical heat and vegetation to
pines and laurels and the proximity of perpetual snows. The
path in places winds along the brink of precipitous
declivities, from the top of which one sees the climatic
gradations blending one into another. So narrow are some of
the mountain paths that a mule laden with ore has often one
panier overhanging the valley a thousand feet below it.
Constantly in the long trains of animals descending to the
coast, a slip of the foot or a charge from behind, for they
all come down the steep track with a jolting shuffle, sends
mule and its load over the ledge. We found it very difficult
in places to get out of the way in time to let the trains
pass. Flocks of parrots and great macaws screeching and
flying about added to the novelty of the scene.
The villages, inhabited by a cross between the original
Indians and the Spaniards, are about twenty miles apart. At
one of these we always stayed for the night, sleeping in
grass hammocks suspended between the posts of the verandah.
The only travellers we fell in with were a party of four
Americans, returning to the Eastern States from California
with the gold they had won there. They had come in our
steamer to Acapulco, and had left it a few hours before we
did. As the villages were so far apart we necessarily had to
stop at night in the same one. The second time this happened
they, having arrived first, had quartered themselves on the
Alcalde or principal personage of the place. Our guide took
us to the same house; and although His Worship, who had a
better supply of maize for the horses, and a few more
chickens to sell than the other natives, was anxious to
accommodate us, the four Americans, a very rough-looking lot
and armed to the teeth, wouldn't hear of it, but peremptorily
bade us put up elsewhere. Our own American, who was much
afraid of them, obeyed their commands without more ado. It
made not the slightest difference to us, for one grass
hammock is as soft as another, and the Alcalde's chickens
were as tough as ours.
Before the morning start, two of the diggers, rifles in hand,
came over to us and plainly told us they objected to our
company. Fred, with perfect good humour, assured them we had
no thought of robbing them, and that as the villages were so
far apart we had no choice in the matter. However, as they
wished to travel separate from us, if there should be two
villages at all within suitable distances, they could stop at
one and we at the other. There the matter rested. But our
guide was more frightened than ever. They were four to two,
he argued, for neither he nor the Mexican were armed. And
there was no saying, etc., etc. . . . In short we had better
stay where we were till they got through. Fred laughed at
the fellow's alarm, and told him he might stop if he liked,
but we meant to go on.
As usual, when we reached the next stage, the diggers were
before us; and when our men began to unsaddle at a hut about
fifty yards from where they were feeding their horses, one of
them, the biggest blackguard to look at of the lot, and
though the fiercest probably the greatest cur, shouted at us
to put the saddles on again and 'get out of that.' He had
warned us in the morning that they'd had enough of us, and,
with a volley of oaths, advised us to be off. Fred, who was
in his shirt-sleeves, listened at first with a look of
surprise at such cantankerous unreasonableness; but when the
ruffian fell to swear and threaten, he burst into one of his
contemptuous guffaws, turned his back and began to feed his
horse with a corncob. Thus insulted, the digger ran into the
hut (as I could see) to get his rifle. I snatched up my own,
which I had been using every day to practise at the large
iguanas and macaws, and, well protected by my horse, called
out as I covered him, 'This is a double-barrelled rifle. If
you raise yours I'll drop you where you stand.' He was
forestalled and taken aback. Probably he meant nothing but
bravado. Still, the situation was a critical one. Obviously
I could not wait till he had shot my friend. But had it come
to shooting there would have been three left, unless my
second barrel had disposed of another. Fortunately the
'boss' of the digging party gauged the gravity of the crisis
at a glance; and instead of backing him up as expected, swore
at him for a 'derned fool,' and ordered him to have no more
to do with us.
After that, as we drew near to the city, the country being
more thickly populated, we no longer clashed.
This is not a guide-book, and I have nothing to tell of that
readers would not find better described in their 'Murray.'
We put up in an excellent hotel kept by M. Arago, the brother
of the great French astronomer. The only other travellers in
it besides ourselves were the famous dancer Cerito, and her
husband the violin virtuoso, St. Leon. Luckily for me our
English Minister was Mr. Percy Doyle, whom I had known as
ATTACHE at Paris when I was at Larue, and who was a great
friend of the De Cubriers. We were thus provided with many
advantages for 'sight-seeing' in and about the city, and also
for more distant excursions through credentials from the
Mexican authorities. Under these auspices we visited the
silver mines at Guadalajara, Potosi, and Guanajuata.
The life in Mexico city was delightful, after a year's tramp.
The hotel, as I have said, was to us luxurious. My room
under the verandah opened on to a large and beautiful garden
partially enclosed on two sides. As I lay in bed of a
morning reading Prescott's 'History of Mexico,' or watching
the brilliant humming birds as they darted from flower to
flower, and listened to the gentle plash of the fountain, my
cup of enjoyment and romance was brimming over.
Just before I left, an old friend of mine arrived from
England. This was Mr. Joseph Clissold. He was a
schoolfellow of mine at Sheen. He had pulled in the
Cambridge boat, and played in the Cambridge eleven. He
afterwards became a magistrate either in Australia or New
Zealand. He was the best type of the good-natured, level-
headed, hard-hitting Englishman. Curiously enough, as it
turned out, the greater part of the only conversation we had
(I was leaving the day after he came) was about the
brigandage on the road between Mexico and Vera Cruz. He told
me the passengers in the diligence which had brought him up
had been warned at Jalapa that the road was infested by
robbers; and should the coach be stopped they were on no
account to offer resistance, for the robbers would certainly
shoot them if they did.
Fred chose to ride down to the coast, I went by coach. This
held six inside and two by the driver. Three of the inside
passengers sat with backs to the horses, the others facing
them. My coach was full, and stifling hot and stuffy it was
before we had done with it. Of the five others two were fat
priests, and for twenty hours my place was between them. But
in one way I had my revenge: I carried my loaded rifle
between my knees, and a pistol in my belt. The dismay, the
terror, the panic, the protestations, the entreaties and
execrations of all the five, kept us at least from ENNUI for
many a weary mile. I doubt whether the two priests ever
thumbed their breviaries so devoutly in their lives. Perhaps
that brought us salvation. We reached Vera Cruz without
adventure, and in the autumn of '51 Fred and I landed safely
Two months after I got back, I read an account in the 'Times'
of 'Joe' Clissold's return trip from Mexico. The coach in
which he was travelling was stopped by robbers. Friend
Joseph was armed with a double-barrelled smooth-bore loaded
with slugs. He considered this on the whole more suitable
than a rifle. When the captain of the brigands opened the
coach door and, pistol in hand, politely proffered his
request, Mr. Joe was quite ready for him, and confided the
contents of one barrel to the captain's bosom. Seeing the
fate of their commander, and not knowing what else the dilly
might contain, the rest of the band dug spurs into their
horses and fled. But the sturdy oarsman and smart cricketer
was too quick for one of them - the horse followed his
friends, but the rider stayed with his chief.
THE following winter, my friend, George Cayley, was ordered
to the south for his health. He went to Seville. I joined
him there; and we took lodgings and remained till the spring.
As Cayley published an amusing account of our travels, 'Las
Aforjas, or the Bridle Roads of Spain,' as this is more than
fifty years ago - before the days of railways and tourists -
and as I kept no journal of my own, I will make free use of
A few words will show the terms we were on.
I had landed at Cadiz, and had gone up the Guadalquivir in a
steamer, whose advent at Seville my friend was on the look-
out for. He describes his impatience for her arrival. By
some mistake he is misinformed as to the time; he is a
quarter of an hour late.
'A remnant of passengers yet bustled around the luggage,
arguing, struggling and bargaining with a contentious company
of porters. Alas! H. was not to be seen among them. There
was still a chance; he might be one of the passengers who had
got ashore before my coming down, and I was preparing to rush
back to the city to ransack the hotels. Just then an
internal convulsion shook the swarm around the luggage pile;
out burst a little Gallego staggering under a huge British
portmanteau, and followed by its much desired, and now almost
despaired of, proprietor.
'I saw him come bowling up the slope with his familiar gait,
evidently unconscious of my presence, and wearing that sturdy
and almost hostile demeanour with which a true Briton marches
into a strange city through the army of officious
importunates who never fail to welcome the true Briton's
arrival. As he passed the barrier he came close to me in the
crowd, still without recognising me, for though straight
before his nose I was dressed in the costume of the people.
I touched his elbow and he turned upon me with a look of
impatient defiance, thinking me one persecutor more.
'How quickly the expression changed, etc., etc. We rushed
into each other's arms, as much as the many great coats slung
over his shoulders, and the deep folds of cloak in which I
was enveloped, would mutually permit. Then, saying more than
a thousand things in a breath, or rather in no breath at all,
we set off in great glee for my lodgings, forgetting in the
excitement the poor little porter who was following at full
trot, panting and puffing under the heavy portmanteau. We
got home, but were no calmer. We dined, but could not eat.
We talked, but the news could not be persuaded to come out
Who has not known what is here described? Who does not envy
the freshness, the enthusiasm, of such bubbling of warm young
hearts? Oh, the pity of it! if these generous emotions
should prove as transient as youth itself. And then, when
one of those young hearts is turned to dust, and one is left
to think of it - why then, 'tis not much comfort to reflect
that - nothing in the world is commoner.
We got a Spanish master and worked industriously, also picked
up all the Andalusian we could, which is as much like pure
Castilian as wold-Yorkshire is to English. I also took
lessons on the guitar. Thus prepared, I imitated my friend
and adopted the ordinary costume of the Andalusian peasant:
breeches, ornamented with rows of silvered buttons, gaiters,
a short jacket with a red flower-pot and blue lily on the
back, and elbows with green and scarlet patterns, a red FAJA
or sash, and the sombrero which I believe is worn nowhere
except in the bull-ring. The whole of this picturesque dress
is now, I think, given up. I have spent the last two winters
in the south of Spain, but have not once seen it.
It must not be supposed that we chose this 'get-up' to
gratify any aesthetic taste of our own or other people's; it
was long before the days of the 'Too-toos,' whom Mr. Gilbert
brought to a timely end. We had settled to ride through
Spain from Gibraltar to Bayonne, choosing always the bridle-
roads so as to avoid anything approaching a beaten track. We
were to visit the principal cities and keep more or less a
northerly course, staying on the way at such places as
Malaga, Cordova, Toledo, Madrid, Valladolid, and Burgos. The
rest was to be left to chance. We were to take no map; and
when in doubt as to diverging roads, the toss of a coin was
to settle it. This programme was conscientiously adhered to.
The object of the dress then was obscurity. For safety
(brigands abounded) and for economy, it was desirable to pass
unnoticed. We never knew in what dirty POSADA or road-side
VENTA we should spend the night. For the most part it was at
the resting-place of the muleteers, which would be nothing
but a roughly paved dark chamber, one end occupied by mules
and the other by their drivers. We made our own omelets and
salad and chocolate; with the exception of the never failing
BACALLAO, or salt fish, we rarely had anything else; and
rolling ourselves into our cloaks, with saddles for pillows,
slept amongst the muleteers on the stone flags. We had
bought a couple of ponies in the Seville market for 7L. and
8L. Our ALFORJAS or saddlebags contained all we needed. Our
portmanteaus were sent on from town to town, wherever we had
arranged to stop. Rough as the life was, we saw the people
of Spain as no ordinary travellers could hope to see them.
The carriers, the shepherds, the publicans, the travelling
merchants, the priests, the barbers, the MOLINERAS of
Antequera, the Maritornes', the Sancho Panzas - all just as
they were seen by the immortal knight.
From the MOZOS DE LA CUADRA (ostlers) and ARRIEROS, upwards
and downwards, nowhere have I met, in the same class, with
such natural politeness. This is much changed for the worse
now; but before the invasion of tourists one never passed a
man on the road who did not salute one with a 'Vaya usted con
Dios.' Nor would the most indigent vagabond touch the filthy
BACALLAO which he drew from his wallet till he had
courteously addressed the stranger with the formula 'Quiere
usted comer?' ('Will your Lordship please to eat?') The
contrast between the people and the nobles in this respect
was very marked. We saw something of the latter in the club
at Seville, where one met men whose high-sounding names and
titles have come down to us from the greatest epochs of
Spanish history. Their ignorance was surprising. Not one of
them had been farther than Madrid. Not one of them knew a
word of any language but his own, nor was he acquainted with
the rudiments even of his country's history. Their
conversation was restricted to the bull-ring and the cockpit,
to cards and women. Their chief aim seemed to be to stagger
us with the number of quarterings they bore upon their
escutcheons; and they appraised others by a like estimate.
Cayley, tickled with the humour of their childish vanity,
painted an elaborate coat of arms, which he stuck in the
crown of his hat, and by means of which he explained to them
that he too was by rights a Spanish nobleman. With the
utmost gravity he delivered some such medley as this: His
Iberian origin dated back to the time of Hannibal, who, after
his defeat of the Papal forces and capture of Rome, had, as
they well knew, married Princess Peri Banou, youngest
daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella. The issue of the
marriage was the famous Cardinal Chicot, from whom he -
George Cayley - was of direct male descent. When Chicot was
slain by Oliver Cromwell at the battle of Hastings, his