Page images
PDF
EPUB

that we heard, some time afterwards, glass_d'ye hear, you cursed neger, of the marriage being broken off, in where are you hidden ? Don't you consequence, it was said, of some wild hear when a gentleman speaks to you? freak of Doughby's. We were asking D'ye want ine to tattoo your black one another for the particulars of this brainpan ? You laugh,” he continued rupture, which neither of us had heard, to Richards and myself, relapsing into when the Kentuckian made his reap- his whimpering tones; “but if you pearance in the cabin. He had only knew-none of the women will changed his dress, and, taking him al- have me—this is the seventh who has together, was by no means an ill- packed me off.” looking fellow.

His light blue ging- “ The seventh !” cried I laughing, ham frock and snow-white trousers "what, only the seventh, Doughby? fitted him well; an elegant straw hat, Pshaw! that's nothing ; during my very fine linen, and a diamond shirt- bachelor's life I had at least two dozen pin that must have cost the best part refusals, and I am only a year older of a thousand dollars, contributed to than yourself. give a sort of genteel planter-like air. “ You be hanged with your two His first care upon emerging from his dozen! Steward, the toddy is only state-room was to empty a glass of fit for old women—too much water toddy. He then approached Richards in it; you don't know how to make and myself.

toddy. Tell your captain to come And Miss Lambton ? " said Riche liere. I'll have you sent to the devil. ards enquiringly.

No, I tell you my heart is so full, “Haven't you heard?” said Dough- it feels as if it would burst. She won't by ; “ you must have heard ! It's all hear of me. I will tell you all about up—she won't hear speak of me- it, boys—but who is that?” interpersists in her resolution-won't see rupted he, pointing to Vergennes, who me; or give me a chance of making my was standing near us, and looking on peace. I'm the most unlucky fellow in great wonderment. “Ah, Monon the face of the earth,” continued shur Tonson! happy to see you, Monhe, changing his tone on a sudden to shur Tonson! Parleh vouh English ? a melancholy sort of whine—“I wish Prenez un seat, et un glass de Madeira. I lay three hundred feet deep in the Nous parlerons hansamble le Franseh. bed of the Mississippi. I tell you, Neger, a bottle of Madeira ; and let it boys, it's clean up with me, I feel be good, or you'll get the bottle across that. I'm a lost man, done for en- your crooked shins. A bottle of Irish tirely-shall never recover it !" for me, d'ye hear, real Irish whisky,

We burst out into a violent fit of or if you haven't any, Scotch will do. laughter, as who would not have No, boys, I tell you I am a gone done at the sight of a young giant of man. Dismissed, sent away, packed seven-and-twenty, with cheeks as red off with a flea in my ear, as they say." as poppies, shoulders that seemed And so saying, he threw himself on made like those of Atlas to support a a sofa with a violence that made it world ; a pair of dark blue-grey eyes crack again ; the steward brought the with a laughing devil dancing in them, Madeira and the whisky, and we drew and a little moist just now from the round the table to condole with the effects of the toddy, and the man dying love-stricken Kentuckian. A few of love! He measured five feet thir- minutes passed in the composition of teen inches in his stockings, with legs the toddy, which was evidently desthat might have belonged to an ele- tined to play the chief part in the way phant, and fists calculated to frighten of a consoler; and when Doughby had a buffalo.

got a large beer-glass of the comfort“ Be d-d to your laughing ! " able mixture before him, he began cried Doughby—"Steward, another his narrative.

CHAPTER II.

by "

The Race. "I will tell you how it all happened, am not of that opinion, Mister Lamband how it was that Miss Lambton- ton, and if you are I can only say you in short you shall bear it all—it's the are very much mistaken. You shall first time I have spoken about it, but see yourself,' said I, “how much balnow it shall out; you shall judge and last an old Kentuckian can take in decide between us, by Jove you shall ! without sinking under it: devil a divYou recollect it was in the beginning ing duck ever swallowed more water of June that we left your house, than a Kentucky man can rum.' Richards, to go up the Mississippi- “I thought to let the old squaretoes it was a Friday, a day that I hate. see that he had a man before him, pot All seamen and hunters do hate it; it's one of his spindleshanked tallow-chopan unlucky day. All the bad luck I ped Yankees, who go sneaking about erer had, came to me on Fridays. I the meeting-house from morning till had a feeling that something would night, or moping in their rooms, and go wrong when we went on board the calculating and speculating how they Helen M'Gregor. I thought Miss can best take in honest warm-blooded Lambton looked shy upon me, and the South and Westlanders. " You shall old gentleman stiffer than ever. I see,' said —but he shook his head followed the Miss, however, wherever and walked away, and I looked after she went, so close, that once or twice him, and shook my head too. Pah! I trod the fringe off her petticoats.”. I found out afterwards that he was “ That was bad manners, Dough- president of a temperance society, tho

devil take them all! Temperance * Pshaw! What did it matter? I societies! What is rum for, if it isn't told her not to bother her head about to be drank? it, that when we got to New York, or Doughby was rapidly warming with even to Cincinnati or Louisville, I his subject. would buy her a whole shopful of “He is a queer old fellow, that Misdresses. She made no answer to that; ter Lambton, as stiff and as cold as but when I had the misfortune to tear an icicle on a water-butt. Of a morher third flounce, she said, that if I ning he was scarcely out of bed when went on in that way she would not he knocked at the door of the ladies' have a whole gown left when she got cabin in his brocade dressing-gown, to Louisville. With a whole one or and Miss Lambton must come out and done at all, Miss,' said I, you'll hear him read the whole morning seralways be a charming creature.' That vice of the Episcopal Church, and now was as pretty a compliment as make the responses, and so on, for a ever was paid in Kentucky, but she full hour. Then the whole day he did not seem to hear it.

walked about as grave and solemn as *On the third day wewere just pass- the chief-justice of the district court. ing St Helena, when old Lambton Before dinner he said a grace which came up to me. “Mister Doughby,' lasted a full quarter of an hour. The said he, quite confidential like, ' par- soup was often cold, and half the dindon me, my dear good Mister Dough- ner eaten up from under our noses, by, but don't you think that you while this was going on. Sometimes sometimes take rather too much ar- most of the other passengers had done dent spirits, and thereby injure your their dinner, and were gone to the bar health as well as give a bad example to take a glass, and he still praying. to your fellow-citizens, which, on the I was often ready to jump out of my part of a respectable man like your- skin with impatience." self, is very much to be regretted ?' “The praying was all well enough,

*** Bad example !' says 1-to be if it had not lasted so long," said I, regretted, Mister Lambton !- I take laughing. too much ardent spirits! I certainly • Pah! I hate people who are al. ways wanting to be a shining light to console myself, I drank perhaps a their fellow-citizens. There's a deal trifle more than I should have done. of pride, a deal of arrogance and pre

But what else can one do on a voyage sumption in it. If a man wishes to up the Mississippi? Much as I like pray, let him do so, and I do it my- him, old father Mississip, one gets self; but people don't want to be awful sick of him after a time, steamreminded of those things. I tell you I ing along for days and weeks together, have always found pride behind that nothing to be heard but clap-clapsort of piety. The Yankees think we clap, trap-trap-trap, or to be seen are heathens, and that they are the but the dull muddy waters and the elect who are to enlighten us. Pshawl never-ending forest. Day and night, I hate such humbug."

wood and water, water and wood. “Not so badly reasoned," observed It is wearisome work at the best. Richards.

" It was exactly two o'clock in the “ However," continued Doughby, afternoon on the seventh day of our “I soon saw that, with one thing or voyage when we got beyond Wolf's another, I was getting out of the

old Island, which, as you know, lies above gentleman's good books. He became New Madrid and below the mouth of more and more stiff and silent. That the Ohio. The poor Helen M'Gregor wouldn't have annoyed me much; but burst her boiler since then, as you'll one morning the captain came to me have heard, at that very place, and and said, in a sort of apologising man- sent half a hundred passengers into ner, that the ladies had desired him the other world. Past Wolf's Island, to beg me not to pay so many visits we came up with the Ploughboy, the to their cabin, particularly of a mor- Huntress, the Louisville, and a couple ning, when some of them had not quite more steamers, all going our way. It finished their toilet, but that I should made quite a little fleet. I was sitalways ask leave first and have myself ting in the cabin with Miss Lambton announced, as it is set down in the and the old gentleman, who were cool regulations."

and silent enough, when somebody " What!' says I, have myself called out, “ Here comes the George announced when go to see my own Washington. A glorious steamer it wife, that is to be ? What do the is that George, more like a floating other ladies matter to me, whether palace than a boat, as it goes skimthey've got on silk gowns or cotton ming along as lightly and smoothly as ones? I only go to see Miss Lamb- a swan. It's a real pleasure to see it. ton.'

I kept my place by Miss Lambton; "Miss Lambton was present,' said but, to tell you the truth, I was sitting the captain, when the ladies gave upon hot coals. What can be the me the commission; and she and Mr reason that we men feel so deucedly Lambton most particularly requested cowed and quailed by the pett coats? me to have the regulations enforced.' Hang me if I know. Suddenly there

56 • Miss Lambton !' said I; that's was a cry upon deck, “The Washinga lie now, captain. She never could ton is passing us.' I could stand it have done that.'

no longer, but bolted up-stairs, and “ Mister Doughby,' said he, 'it is sure enough there it came in all its no lie; and if another than yourself pride and power, trarara, trarara, bad said such a thing, I would have rushing and dashing and spitting fire struck him down like a mad dog. like Emperor Nap. at the head of his And I must beg of you to retract guards and dragoons and artillery. your words, and ascertain to your It was already in the midst of the own satisfaction that what I have other five steamers, passing them all: said is a fact.'

The whole of our passengers were on "So I ran off and asked Miss Lamb- deck looking on, and I can tell you ton and Mr Lambton, and they an- that our hearts beat quick as we saw swered me as dry as fagots, and said the George walking up to us. The the captain had spoken the truth. I dinner-bell rang. Not a foot moved was a’most raving mad when I heard to go below. Captain,' cried I, this, as savage as a panther; and, to "we must not let the George pass us;

[ocr errors]

you can't think of allowing such a " Mr Doughby, for heaven's sake! thing?' says I; 'must show them that MrDoughby-captain, for God's sake! we are Mississippi men.'

Will you destroy yourself, and the 66. Mister Doughby,' says he, 'it's steamer, and your fellow-citizens ? the George Washington,' says he, Will you race with the George Wash,

hundred and twenty horse power,' ington ?' says he.

* For God's sake, Mr Doughby!! ** · Devil a hundred,' said I. “You cried the Miss. only say so because you are afraid to "Mr Doughby!' squealed the old race him. And if he had two hundred Yankee, who had quite forgotten his horse power, what then? Shorten stiffness, 'I demand and insist that your stirrups and give your horse the you use your influence to prevent the spur,' say I.

captain from racing.' " I saw that the captain's blood 16 "Pshaw!' said I, 'it's nothing of was getting up; his eyes were fixed the sort-ain't going to race-only on the old George as if he would have want to see which ship goes quickest.” eaten it, and he became red and blue 66. That must not be. I protest and green, all manner of colours, like against it—the safety of our fellowa dolphin; his teeth chattered, and he citizens—our own. If the boiler bit his lips till the blood ran over bis bursts chin. On came the Washington Nonsense!' said I—' safety of quicker than ever, the paddles clat- our fellow-citizens! Our fellow-cititering, the steam hissing, the crew zens are in safety. We don't mean to hurraing like mad.

race, Mister Lambton,' says I; we * Captain,' cried I, the Wash- areonly trying for a minute which ship ington's passing you ; it's all up with can go the fastest.' the honour of the Helen M'Gregor.' "Dir Doughby !! cried Emily, half

“The captain stood there as if his beside herself-throwing her arms face had been rubbed over with chalk, round me, and trying to drag me toand the drops of sweat ran down his wards the engine -- Mr Doughby, if forehead. The five steamers that we you have the smallest affection-rehad passed were now hurraing with gard I would say—for me, exert your delight to see that we should be hum- influence, stop this horrid racing! bled in our turn. "Captain,' said I, 66 And then she left me and ran to • will you let yourself be beaten out the captain, who was standing beside of the field without firing a shot ? the engineer. The Helen M'Gregor is a new ship- “The Washington was close behind Crack on, man!'

us—we, as I said before, were running "He could stand it no longer, but slap into the mouth of the Ohio. ran forward and screamed out to the There's no finer piece of water in the stokers. More wood!' cried he, whole world for a race. The current * High pressure, high pressure!' of the Mississippi drives back that of

** Blaze away, boys !' cried I, the Ohio as far as Trinity, so that, · Blaze away, and hurra for the upon entering the river, the stream is Helen M'Gregor!!

in your favour. The two rivers are ** And the fellows pitched whole together four or five miles wide, and cartloads of wood upon the fire, form a sort of circus, enclosed by the and stirred and poked away till they shores of Illinois, of Old Kentuck, and were wet through with perspiration, her daughter Missouri.*

We were and our chimney began to whistle nearest to the Illinois side, which gave and sing, that it was a pleasure to hear us a small advantage over our oppoit. We were just entering the Ohio, nent, who was more on the Kentucky the Washington close upon our heels, side, and kept coming on faster and fastwhen old Lambton and Emily came er, with the other five boats, who had running upon deck in an almighty also clapped more steam on, a short disfright.

tance behind him. Our Helen M Gregor

The state of Missouri was almost entirely peopled by emigration from Kentucky.

still kept the lead; who the devil could away our hearing. It was a gallopade, have helped racing ? No one, of a a race between giants. certainty, except such a mackerel- “ We were close to the wood below blooded Yankee as old Lambton. All Trinity—the race as good as won, for was heat and steam, rattle and clatter; Trinity was of course the winning the engines thumping, the water post. Suddenly the captain cried out, splashing, the fire blazing and roaring He is passing us !' and, as he said out of the chimneys, which sent out the word, he looked as wild as a torclouds of smoke and showers of sparks. tured redskin, and bit his lips inore The enemy was close upon us, Father savage than ever, and caught hold of George's honest face almost in a line the quarterdeck railing as if he would with our stern.

have torn it down. " Helen M'Gregor, hold your own!' "Captain,' said I, 'it's impossible cried I. •Don't spare the wood, boys, he is not passing us.' lay it on thick, pile it up mountain- 66 Look yourself, Mr Doughby,' eous; ten dollars for you when you've said he. beaten him!'

“The man was right. The old George 6. "Hurra!' cried the hundred pas- is an almighty fast ship, that is cersengers, hurra! The Washington tain. I saw that in two minutes we loses, we are gaining ground.'

should be beaten. We had not even Only the captain could not say a so long to wait. word; he stood there with his blue "By my soul he is passing is!' lips pressed hard together, looking cried I. more like a statue than a man. We " • He is passing us,' repeated the were going our twenty knots, and captain in a low voice. He was deadly keep it up we must if we did not want white. I couldn't say a word; and as to fall back amongst the mob of the for him, he was obliged to support Huntress, the Ploughboy, and the rest himself against the railing, or he would of them. Every joint and hinge in the have fallen down. There was no help boat seemed to be cracking, the engine for it, however; the Washington's roared and groaned, the stcam howled figure-head was already in a line with and hissed.

our stern—in ten seconds, a third of " The Helen M'Gregor is a gallant the vessel's length was paraliel with lass !' cried I. ' A brave Scotchwo- us—another ten seconds, two-thirds, man! She has fire in her veins.' and in less than a minute he dashed

“And so she really had. She stretch- proudly before us with a deafening ed ont like a racehorse that feels the hurra from crew and passengers, which spur in his flank for the first time; not was echoed from the other five steamsteaming or swimming, but flying like ers, till we heard nothing on all sides a bird, rushing like a wild-cat or an elk but hurras and hurras. I would have that's been shot at; the waters of the given a thousand dollars down to have Ohio flashing from her side in a white reached Trinity two minutes sooner. creamy foam. The Kentucky shores Just then a number of voices cried on our right, with their forests and out, “The boiler's bursting! The boilcotton-trees, were flying away from er's bursting!' And there was ns; on our left, the banks of Illinois cracking noice, and then a loud rush. seemed to dance past us, the big trees Here comes the hot bath, thought I, looking like witches scampering off on and wished myself a pleasant journey their broomsticks. Behind us, the out of the world: But it was nothing; high land of Missouri was rapidly dis- the cry came from a couple of negers, appearing, Colonel Boon's plantation echoed by Miss Lambton and Mister getting smaller every second, till at Lambton, and the rest of theold women last it appeared no bigger than a dove- folk from the ladies' cabin. They had cot. Every thing around us seemed gone in a body to the engineer, and in motion, swimming, flying, racing. had so begged, and prayed, and boHurras by thousands; seven steamers thered him, that he had given in, and groaning, creaking, bissing, and rat- opened the valve, and we only half a tling; a noise and a heat that made our mile from Trinity. I am certain that heads dizzy, blinded our eyes, and took if the cowardly rascal had not done

a

« PreviousContinue »