Horatio Bridge - Journal of an African Cruiser (1843)
JOURNAL OF AN AFRICAN CRUISER:
COMPRISING SKETCHES OF THE CANARIES, THE CAPE DE VERDS, LIBERIA, MADEIRA, SIERRA LEONE, AND OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST ON THE WEST COAST OF AFRICA
BY AN OFFICER OF THE U. S. NAVY, EDITED BY NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE
14.--Arrived at Porto Grande, in the island of St. Vincent's, one of the Cape de Verds. The harbor is completely landlocked by the island of St. Antonio, which stretches across its mouth. Still, there is, at times, a considerable swell. The appearance of the land is barren, desolate, and unpromising in the highest degree; and the town is in keeping with the scenery. Eighty or ninety miserable hovels, constructed of small, loose stones, in the manner of our stone-fences, stand in rows, with some pretence of regularity. Besides the Governor and his aid, there are here five white men, or rather Portuguese (for their claim to white blood is not apparent in their complexions), viz. the Collector, the American Consular Agent, a shop-keeper, whose goods are all contained in a couple of trunks, and two private soldiers. We called to see the Governor, and were politely received; he offered seats, and did the honors of the place with dignity and affability. His pay is one dollar per diem. He has five soldiers under his command, two of them Portuguese, and three native negroes, one of whom has a crooked leg.
The people here are wretchedly poor, subsisting chiefly by fishing, and by their precarious gains from ships which anchor in the port. The Collector informed me that there had been sixty whale-ships in the harbor, within the past year. The profits accruing from thence, however, are very inadequate to the comfortable support of the inhabitants. The adults are mostly covered with rags, while many of the children are entirely naked; the cats and dogs (whose condition may be taken as no bad test of thedegree of bodily comfort in the community) are lean and skeleton-like. As to religion, I saw nothing to remind me of it, except the ruins of an old church. There has been no priest since the death of one who was drowned, afew years ago, near Bird Island, a large rock, at the mouth of the harbor. At the time of this fatal mishap, the reverend father was on a drunken frolic, in company with some colored women.
The Cape de Verd Islands derive their name from the nearest point of the mainland of Africa; they are under the dominion of Portugal, and, notwithstanding their poverty, furnish a considerable revenue to that country, over and above the expenses of the Colonial Government. This revenue comes chiefly from the duties levied upon all imported articles, and from the orchilla trade, which is monopolized by the Government at home, and produces 50,000 dollars per annum. Another source of profit is found in the tithes for the support of the Church, which, in some, if not all the islands, have been seized by the Government (under a pledge for the maintenance of the clergy), and are farmed out annually. These islands supply the Portuguese with a place of honorable exile for officers who may be suspected of heresy in politics, and hostility to existing institutions. They are advanced a step in rank, to repay them (and a poor requital it is) for the change from the delicious climate of Portugal, and the gaieties of Lisbon, to the dreary solitude, the arid soil, and burning and fever-laden air of the Cape de Verds. It is a melancholy thought, that many an active intellect--many a generous and aspiring spirit--may have been doomed to linger and perish here, chained, as it were, to the rocks, like Prometheus, merely for having dreamed of kindling the fire of liberty in their native land.
22.--We have spent some days at Porto Praya, the capital of St. Jago, the largest of the Cape de Verd islands; whence we sail to-day. A large part of the population is composed of negroes and mulattoes, whose appearance indicates that they are intemperate, dissolute, and vile. The Portuguese residing here are generally but little better; as may be supposed from the fact, that most of those who were not banished from Portugal, for political or other offences, came originally to engage in the slave-trade.
Going ashore to-day, we beached the boat, and a large negro, with a ragged red shirt, waded out and took me on his shoulders. There is no position so absurd, nor in which a man feels himself so utterly helpless, as when thus dependant on the strength and sure-footedness of a fellow-biped. As we left the boat, a heavy "roller" came in. The negro lost his footing, and I my balance, and down we plunged into the surf. My sable friend seemed to consider it a point of duty to hold stoutly by my legs, the inevitable tendency of which manoeuvre was to keep my head under water. Having no taste for a watery death, under these peculiar circumstances, I freed myself by a vigorous kick, sprang to my feet, and seizing the negro by the "ambrosial curls," pushed his head in turn under the surf. But seeing the midshipmen and boat's crew laughing, noiselessly but heartily, at my expense, the ludicrousness of the whole affair struck me so forcibly that I joined in their mirth, and waded ashore as fast as possible. An abolitionist, perhaps, might draw a moral from the story, and say that all, who ride on the shoulders of the African race, deserve nothing better than a similar overthrow. Sailed from Porto Praya. The bay of this port is a good one, except in south-east gales, when the anchorage is dangerous. The town, called Villa de Praya, contains about two thousand inhabitants of every shade, the dark greatly predominating. Many vessels from Europe and the United States, bound to India, Brazil, or Africa, find this a convenient place to procure water and fresh provisions, and bring, in return, much money into the city. There are three hundred troops here, nearly all black, and commanded by forty Portuguese officers. The men are under severe discipline, are tolerably well dressed, and make a soldierly appearance. It is said that a St. Jago soldier formerly wore only a cocked hat, being otherwise in a state of nature; but I cannot pretend to have seen any instance of this extreme scantiness of equipment.
23.--Saw a large green turtle asleep on the surface of the water. One of our boats went alongside of him, and two men attempted to turn him over with boat-hooks. He struggled successfully, however, to keep himself "right side up," and, in a few moments, plunged beneath the surface. Once upon his back, he would have been powerless and a prisoner, and we might have hoped for the advantage of his presence at our mess-table.
24.--We find ourselves again off the harbor of Porto Praya. I landed in quest of news, and heard of the death of Mr. Legare, and the loss of the store-ship, at this port. All hands were saved, but with the sacrifice of several thousand dollars' worth of property, besides the vessel.
On approaching the shore, three flags are observed to be flying in the town. One is the consular flag of our own nation; another is the banner of Portugal; and the third, being blue, white, and blue, is apt to puzzle a stranger, until he reads UNION HOTEL, in letters a foot long. When last at Porto Praya, a few friends and myself took some slight refreshment at the hotel, and were charged so exorbitantly, that we forswore all visits to the house in future. To-day, the keeper stopt me in the street, and begged the favor of our patronage. On my representing the enormity of his former conduct, he declared that it was all a mistake; that he was the master of the hotel, and was unfortunately absent at the time. I was pleased with this effrontery, having paid the exorbitant charge into his own hands, not a month before. It is delightful, in these remote, desolate, and semi-barbarous regions, to meet with characteristics that remind us of a more polished and civilized land.
The streets are hot and deserted, and the town more than ordinarily dull, as most of the inhabitants are out planting. The court has gone to Buonavista, on account of the unhealthiness of Porta Praya, at this season of the year. A few dozen scrubby trees have been planted in the large square, but, though protected by palings and barrels, have not reached the height of two feet. In the centre stands a marble monument, possibly intended for a fountain, but wholly destitute of water.
25.--The boat went ashore again, and brought off the consul, and some stores. We then made sail, passing to the windward of all the islands, and reached our former anchorage at Porto Grande.
28.--There are one barque and three brigs, all American whalers, in the harbor of Porto Grande. They have been out from three to six months, and are here for water, bad though it be, and fresh provisions. Their inducements to visit this port, are the goodness of the harbor, and the smallness of the port charges. No consular fee has been paid until now, when, an agent being appointed, each vessel pays him a perquisite of four dollars.
This group of islands is chiefly interesting to Americans, as being the resort of our whale-ships, to refit and obtain supplies, and of other vessels trading to the coast of Africa. Little was generally known of them, however, in America, until 1832, when a long-continued drought parched up the fields, destroyed the crops, and reduced the whole population to the verge of death, by famine. Not less than ten thousand did actually perish of hunger; and the remainder were saved only by the timely, prompt and bountiful supplies, sent out from every part of the United States. I well remember the thrill of compassion that pervaded the community at home, on hearing that multitudes were starving in the Cape de Verd islands. Without pausing to inquire who they were, or whether entitled to our assistance, by any other than the all-powerful claim of wretchedness, the Americans sent vessel after vessel, laden with food, which was gratuitously distributed to the poor. The supplies were liberal and unremitted, until the rains returned, and gave the usual crops to the cultivators.
Twelve years have passed since that dismal famine; but the memory of the aid extended by Americans has not yet faded, nor seems likely to fade, from the minds of those who were succored in their need. I have heard men, who were then saved from starvation, speak strongly and feelingly on the subject, with quivering lip and faltering voice. Women, likewise, with streaming eyes, to this day, invoke blessings on the foreign land that fed their children, when there was no other earthly help. England, though nearer, and in more intimate connection with these islands, sent not a mouthful of food; and Portugal, the mother country, shipped only one or two small cargoes to be sold; while America fed the starving thousands, gratuitously, for months. Our consul at Porto Praya, Mr. Gardner, after making a strong and successful appeal to the sympathies of his own countrymen, distributed his own stores to the inhabitants, until he was well-nigh beggared. He enjoys the only reward he sought, in the approval of his conscience, as well as the gratitude of the community; and America, too, may claim more true glory from this instance of general benevolence, pervading the country from one end to the other, than from any victory in our annals.
29.--Ashore again. An ox for our ship was driven in from the mountains by three or four horsemen and as many dogs, who chased him till he took refuge in the water. A boat now put off, and soon overtaking the tired animal, he was tied securely. When towed ashore, one rope was fastened round his horns, and another to his fore-foot, each held by a negro, while a third took a strong gripe of his tail. In this manner, they led and drove him along, the fellow behind occasionally biting the beast's tail, to quicken his motions; until at length the poor creature was made fast to an anchor on the beach, there to await the butcher.
There is here a miserable church, but no priest. Passing the edifice to-day, I saw seven or eight women at their devotions. Instead of kneeling, they were seated, with their chins resting on their knees, on the shady side of the church.
30.--The crews of the whale-ships, when ashore, occasionally give no little trouble to the colonial police. This evening, one of their sailors came up to us, quite intoxicated, and bleeding from a hurt in his head. He was bent upon vengeance for his wound, but puzzled how to get it; inasmuch as a female hand had done the mischief, by cutting his head open with a bottle. His chivalry would not allow him to strike a woman; nor could he find any man who would acknowledge himself her relative. In this dilemma, he was raving through the little village, accompanied by several of his brother whale-men, mostly drunk, and ready for a row. The Portuguese officer on duty called out the guard, consisting of two negroes with fixed bayonets, and caused them to march back and forth in the street. Fifty paces in the village would bring them to the country; when the detachment came to the right about, and retraced its steps. These two negroes formed precisely two-fifths of the regular military force at Porto Grande; but,besides this formidable host, there are some thirty officers and soldiers of the National Guard, comprising all the negro population able to bear clubs.
The women here have a peculiar mode of carrying children, when two or three years old. The child sits astride of the mother's left hip, clinging with hands and feet, and partially supported by her left arm. The little personage being in a state of total nudity, and of course very slippery, this is doubtless the most convenient method that could be adopted.
The gait of the women is remarkably free and unembarrassed. With no constraint of stays or corsets, and often innocent of any covering, the shoulders have full play, and the arms swing more than I have ever seen those of men, in our own country. Their robes are neither too abundant, nor too tight, to prevent the exhibition of a very martial stride. The scanty clothing worn here is owing partly, but not entirely, to the warmth of the climate. Another cogent reason is the poverty of the inhabitants; so, at least, I infer from the continual petitions for clothes, and from remarks like the following, made to me by a mulatto woman:--"You very good man, you got plenty clothes, plenty shirt."
_September_ 3.--The Cornelia, of New Bedford, came in and anchored. She has been out fifteen months, and has only 400 barrels of oil.
4.--Left the ship in the launch on an expedition to the neighboring island of St. Antonio; being despatched by the Commodore to procure information as to the facilities for anchoring ships, and obtaining water and refreshments. Our boat was sloop-rigged, and carried three officers, a passenger, and ten men. At 11 A.M. we "sheeted home," and stood out of the harbor with a fair breeze, and all canvass spread: but, within an hour, the wind freshened to a gale, and compelled us to take in everything but a close reefed mainsail. The sea being rough, and the weather squally, our boat took in more water than was either agreeable or safe, until we somewhat improved matters by constructing a temporary forecastle of tarpaulins. Finding it impossible, however, to contend against wind and current, we bore up for an anchorage called Santa Cruz. This was formerly a notorious haunt for pirates; but no vestige of a settlement remains, save the ruins of an old stone house, which may probably have been the theatre of wild and bloody incidents, in by-gone years. The serrated hills are grey and barren, and the surrounding country shows no verdure. nchoring here, we waited several hours for the wind to moderate, and ried to get such sleep as might perchance be caught in an unsteady boat.
By great diligence in working against wind and current, we succeeded in eaching Genella at 9 o'clock in the evening of the second day. Our ulatto pilot, Manuel Quatrine, whistled shrilly through his fingers; and, fter a brief delay, the response of a similar whistle reached our ears rom shore. A conversation was sustained for some moments, by means of houts to-and-fro in Portuguese; a man then swam off to reconnoitre; and, n his return, the people launched a canoe and carried us ashore, weary nough of thirty-six hours' confinement in an open boat. We took up our uarters in the house of a decent negro, who seemed to be the head man of he village, and, after eating such a supper as the place could supply, allied out to give the women an opportunity of preparing our beds.
Meanwhile, the pilot had not been idle. Though a married man, and the ather of six children, he was a gay Lothario, and a great favorite with he sex; he could sing, dance, and touch the guitar with infinite spirit, nd tolerable skill. Being well known in the village, it is not surprising that the arrival of so accomplished a personage should have disturbed the slumbers of the inhabitants. At ten o'clock, a dance was arranged before the door of one of the huts. The dark-skinned maidens, requiring but little time to put on their ball-costume, came dropping in, until, before midnight, there were thirty or forty dancers on foot. The figures were compounded of the contra-dance and reel, with some remarkable touches of the Mandingo balance. The music proceeded from one or two guitars, which, however, were drowned a great part of the time, by the singing of the girls and the clapping of each individual pair of hands in the whole party. A calabash of sour wine, munificently bestowed by a spectator, increased the fun, and it continued to wax higher and more furious, as the night wore away. Our little pilot was, throughout, the leader of the frolic, and acquitted himself admirably. His nether garments having received serious detriment in the voyage, he borrowed a large heavy pea-jacket, to conceal the rents, and in this garb danced for hours with the best, in a sultry night. Long before the festivity was over, my companions and myself stretched ourselves on a wide bag of straw, and fell asleep, lulled by the screaming of the dancers.
The next morning we were early on foot, and looked around us with no small interest. The village is situated at the point where a valley opens upon the shore. The sides of this vale are steep, and, in many places, high, perpendicular, and rocky. Every foot of earth is cultivated; and where the natural inclination of the hill is too great to admit of tillage, stone walls are built to sustain terraces, which rise one over another like giant steps to the mountain-tops. It was the beginning of harvest, and the little valley presented an appearance of great fertility. Corn, bananas, figs, guavas, grapes, oranges, sugar-cane, cocoa-nuts, and many other fruits and vegetables, are raised in abundance. The annual vintage in this and a neighboring valley, appertaining to the same parish, amounts to about seventy-five pipes of wine. It is sour and unpalatable, not unlike hard-cider and water. When a cultivator first tries his wine, it is a custom of the island for him to send notice to all his acquaintances, whoinvariably come in great force, each bringing a piece of salt-fish to keep his thirst alive. Not unfrequently, the whole produce of the season is exhausted by a single carouse.
The people are all negroes and mulattoes. Male and female, they are very expert swimmers, and are often in the habit of swimming out to sea, with a basket or notched stick to hold their fish; and thus they angle for hours, resting motionless on the waves, unless attacked by a shark. In this latter predicament, they turn upon their backs, and kick and splash until the sea-monster be frightened away. They appear to be a genial and pleasant-tempered race. As we walked through the village, they saluted us with "Blessed be the name of the Lord!" Whether this expression (a customary courtesy of the islanders) were mere breath, or proceeded out of the depths of the heart, is not for us to judge; but, at all events, heard in so wild and romantic a place, it made a forcible impression on my mind. When we were ready to depart, all the villagers came to the beach, with whatever commodities they were disposed to offer for sale; a man carrying a squealing pig upon his shoulders; women with fruits and fowls; girls with heavy bunches of bananas or bundles of cassada on their heads; and boys, with perhaps a single egg. Each had something, and all lingered on the shore until our boat was fairly off.
Five or six miles further, we landed at Paolo, where reside several families who regard themselves as the aristocracy of St. Antonio, on the score of being connected with Señor Martinez, the great man of these islands. Their houses are neatly built, and the fields and gardens well cultivated. They received us hospitably, principally because one of our party was a connection of the family. I was delighted with an exhibition of feeling on the part of an old negro servant-woman. She came into the parlor, sat down at the feet of our companion, embraced his knees, and looked up in his face with a countenance full of joy, mingled with respect and confidence. We saw but two ladies at this settlement. One was a matron with nine children; the other a dark brunette, very graceful and pleasing, with the blackest eyes and whitest teeth in the world. She wore a shawl over the right shoulder and under the left arm, arranged in a truly fascinating manner.
The poorer classes in the vicinity are nearly all colored, and mostly free. They work for eight or ten cents a day, living principally on fruit and vegetables, and are generally independent, because their few wants are limited to the supply. The richest persons live principally within themselves, and derive their meats, vegetables, fruits, wine, brandy, sugar, coffee, oil, and most other necessaries and luxuries, from their own plantations. One piece of furniture, however, to be seen in several of the houses, was evidently not the manufacture of the island, but an export of Yankee-land. It was the wooden clock, in its shining mahogany case, adorned with bright red and yellow pictures of Saints and the Virgin, to suit the taste of good Catholics. It might have been fancied that the renowned Sam Slick, having glutted all other markets with his wares, had made a voyage to St. Antonio. Nor did they lack a proper artist to keep the machine in order. We met here a person whom we at first mistook for a native, so identical were his manners and appearance with those of the inhabitants; until, in conversation, we found him to be a Yankee, who had run away from a whale-ship, and established himself as a clock and watch-maker.
After a good night's rest, another officer and myself left Paolo, early, for a mountain ride. The little pilot led the way on a donkey; my friend followed on a mule, and I brought up the rear on horseback. We began to ascend, winding along the rocky path, one by one, there being no room to ride two abreast. The road had been cut with much labor, and, in some places, was hollowed out of the side of the cliff, thus forming a gallery of barely such height and width as to admit the passage of a single horseman, and with a low wall of loose stones between the path and the precipice. At other points, causeways of small stones and earth had been built up, perhaps twenty feet high, along the top of which ran the path. On looking at these places from some projecting point, it made us shudder to think that we had just passed, where the loosening of a single one of those small stones might have carried us down hundreds of feet, to certain destruction. The whole of the way was rude and barren. Here and there a few shrubs grew in the crevices of the rocks, or wild flowers, of an aspect strange to our eyes, wasted their beauty in solitude; and the small orchilla weed spread itself moss-like over the face of the cliff. At one remarkable point, the path ran along the side of the precipice, about midway of its height. Above, the rock rose frowningly, at least five hundred feet over our heads. Below, it fell perpendicularly down to the beach. The roar of the sea did not reach us, at our dizzy height, and the heavy surf-waves, in which no boat could live, seemed to kiss the shore as gently as the ripple of a summer-lake. This was the most elevated point of the road, which thence began to descend; but the downward track was as steep and far more dangerous. At times, the animals actually slid down upon their haunches. In other places, they stept from stone to stone, down steep descents, where the riders were obliged to lie backwards flat upon the cruppers.
Over all these difficulties, our guide urged his donkey gaily and unconcernedly. As for myself, though I have seen plenty of rough riding, and am as ready as most men to follow, if not to lead, I thought it no shame to dismount more than once. The rolling of a stone, or the parting of stirrup, girth, or crupper, would have involved the safety of one's neck. Nor did the very common sight of wooden crosses along the path, indicating sudden death by accident or crime, tend to lessen the sense of insecurity. The frequent casualties among these precipitous paths, together with the healthfulness of the climate, have made it a proverb, that it is a natural death, at St. Antonio, to be dashed to pieces on the rocks. But such was not our fate. We at length reached the sea-shore, and rode for a mile along the beach to the city of Poverson, before entering which metropolis, it was necessary to cross a space of level, sandy ground, about two hundred yards in extent. Here the little pilot suddenly stuck his heels into the sides of his donkey, and dashed onward at a killing pace; while mule and horse followed hard upon his track, to the great admiration of ragamuffins, who had assembled to witness the entrée of the distinguished party.
Poverson is the capital of the island, and contains about two thousand inhabitants, who, with few exceptions, are people of color. The streets are crooked and narrow, and the houses mean. We called upon the military and civil Governors, and, after accepting an invitation to dine with the former, left the place for a further expedition. Passing over a shallow river, in which a number of women and girls were washing clothes, we ascended a hill so steep as to oblige us to dismount, and from the summit of which we had a fine view of the rich valley beneath. It is by far the most extensive tract of cultivated land that we have seen in the island, and is improved to its utmost capacity. We thence rode three miles over a path of the same description as before, and arrived at the village and port of Point-de-Sol. The land about this little town is utterly barren, and the inhabitants are dependent on Poverson for food, with the exception of fish. A custom-house, a single store, a church, and some twenty houses of fishermen, comprise all the notable characteristics of the principal seaport of the island.
It was a part of our duty to make an examination of the harbor, for which purpose we needed a boat. Two were hauled up on the beach; but the smallest would have required the power of a dozen men to launch her;--whereas, the fishermen being absent in their vocation, our party of three, and a big boy at the store, comprised our whole available masculine strength. The aid of woman, however, is seldom sought in vain; nor did it fail us now. Old and young, matron and maid, they all sallied forth to lend a hand, and, with such laughing and screaming as is apt to attend feminine efforts, enabled us to launch the boat. In spite of their patois of bad Portuguese, we contrived to establish a mutual understanding. A fine, tall girl, with a complexion of deep olive, clear, large eyes, and teeth beautifully white and even, stood by my side; and, like the Ancient Mariner and his sister's son, we pulled together. She was strong, and, as Byron says, "lovely in her strength." This difficulty surmounted, we rowed round the harbor, made our examination, and returned to the beach, where we again received the voluntary assistance of the women, in dragging the boat beyond the reach of the waves. We now adjourned to the store, in order to requite their kindness by a pecuniary offering. Each of our fair friends received two large copper coins, together equal to nine cents, and were perfectly satisfied, as well they might be--for it was the price of a day's work. Two or three individuals, moreover, "turned double corners," and were paid twice; and it is my private belief that the tall beauty received her two coppers three times over.
After a lunch of fried plantains and eggs, we rode back to Poverson. On the way, we met several persons of both sexes with burdens on their heads, and noticed that our guide frequently accosted them with a request for a pinch of snuff. With few exceptions, a horn or piece of bone was produced, containing a fine yellow snuff of home-manufacture, which, instead of being taken between the thumb and finger, was poured into the palm of the hand, and thence conveyed to the nose. Arriving at the city, we proceeded at once to the house of the Commandant, and in a little time were seated at dinner.
Our host was fitted by nature to adorn a far more brilliant position than that which he occupied, as the petty commander of a few colored soldiers, in a little island of the torrid zone. He was slightly made, but perfectly proportioned, with a face of rare beauty, and an expression at once noble and pleasing. His eyes were large, and full of a dark light; his black hair and moustache were trimmed with a care that showed him not insensible of his personal advantages; as did likewise his braided jacket, fitting so closely as to set off his fine figure to the best effect. His manners were in a high degree polished and graceful. One of the guests, whom he had invited to meet us, understood English; and the conversation was sustained in that language, and in Spanish. The dinner was cooked and served in the Portuguese style; it went off very pleasantly, and was quite as good as could be expected at the house of a bachelor, in a place so seldom visited by strangers. Each of the Portuguese gentlemen gave a sentiment, prefaced by a short complimentary speech; and our party, of course, reciprocated in little speeches of the same nature. The Commandant did not fail to express the gratitude due from the people of the Cape de Verd islands to America, for assistance in the hour of need. Time did not permit us to remain long at table, and we took leave, highly delighted with our entertainment.
Mounting again, we rode out of town more quietly than we had entered it. A sergeant was drilling some twenty negro soldiers in marching and wheeling. His orders were given in a quick, loud tone, and enforced by the occasional application of smart blows of a rattan to the shoulders of his men. Suspecting that the blows fell thicker because we were witnesses of his discipline, it seemed a point of humanity to hasten forward; especially as the approach of night threatened to make our journey still more perilous than before. After riding about three miles, we met two well-dressed mulatto women on donkeys, accompanied by their cavaliers. Of course, we allowed the ladies to pass between us and the rock; a matter of no slight courtesy in such a position, where there was a very uncomfortable hazard of being jostled headlong down the precipice. We escaped, however, and spurring onward through the gloom of night, passed unconsciously over several rough spots where we had dismounted in the morning. The last mile of our mountain-ride was lighted by the moon; and, as we descended the last hill, the guide gave a shrill whistle, to which the boat's crew responded with three cheers for our return.
A good night's rest relieved us of our fatigue. The following morning, with a fair breeze and a six hours' sail, we reached our floating-home, and have ever since entertained the mess-table with the "yarn" of our adventures; until now the subject is beginning to be worn thread-bare. But, as the interior of the island of St. Antonio is one of the few regions of the earth as yet uncelebrated by voyagers and tourists, I cannot find in my heart to spare the reader a single sentence of the foregoing narrative.