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mortal fricht and duckin he got o'tae. Ye see he was poppin about, and seeing what he could spy along the water, thinkin' may be to catch some o'us chaps lichtin up, and that he wud be able to swear till us. It war a gey mirk blowey nicht, and though he had a bit lantern wi' him, it wasna muckle guid, and sae twae fallows came on him afore he kenned, whippit him up in their arms, and in wi' him heels ower heid, or ye could say Jock Robinson! Puir body, the way he swattered and puffed and chokit was awfu'; some o' them thocht he never wud win out ava, and was gaun to be drooned outright, and that wud been a hautle waur than was intended ; but as the deil aye taks care o' his ain, in the hinder end he won oot, and rin aff hame like a drooned rat. Atween the fricht and the duckin he took a fever, and lay for three weeks; but he took care to send the wife neist morn to gie up his place, saying it didna agree wi' his health :' sae that what come o' the last baillie we had at I or may be ever will hae.”
I was rather tickled with Jock's manner of describing an adventure in which he had evidently been å prominent actor himself. “ And was nothing ever done to discover and punish the authors of this outrage ??
“Hoot, na! it was never kenned whae had dune it ; though some folks said the man hissel aye kenned fine, but was feared to say any. thing. But come awa' lads, we're lang eneuch here ; noo, sir, tak' my leister, and Andy'll gang in along wi' ye, and ye're may be stick the bonniest kipper o' a' yersel; there aye gude fish about the Curly Throat.'"
We were not long in reaching this famous stream, and after a moment or two spent in “ kindling up ” I found myself beside Andy, leister in hand, anxiously peering into the water and trying to discern our “quarry." I confess my pulse beat quicker with the excitement, which any one with a good bump of destructiveness always feels on an occasion like this. I did my best to follow the directions Andy from time to time gave me as to the way I was to handle my leister, but found it not such a simple affair as it appeared when in the skilful hands of those who had been used to it from infancy, as most of the party had been. My eye being unused to the appearance of the water lighted up, I could at first scarcely distinguish anything; but after a little my sight improved, and I then began to see a trout or salnion occasionally dart up or down out of our way ; I felt how difficult it would be for me to tell what was a fish and what was not, unless I saw the object move ; however, I relied on the well-trained eyes of my ally Andy not allowing me to lose a good chance, and a few minutes showed I was correct.
" See, look ! see, there's a fish on a 'redd'; noo's yer time. Dinna stick him Andy, lad ; gie Mr. Harry a chance."
For a second or two I could make out nothing in the direction pointed out, but upon looking attentively I did see a kind of whitish line in the water moving slightly, but which I would have pronounced a weed shaken by the running stream. “Noo, tak time, tak time! gudesake dinna be in siccan a hurry ;" as I jumped in and thrust at my mark with all the precision and strength in my power. But I was too eager; the leistor grated harmlessly on the bottom, and the fish darted away, and was the next moment transfixed and landed by Andy, who had expected what occurred.
“ Dinna heed, dinna heed; rin on; there ayr twae or three o' them here; I'se warrant ye stick the neist ane, ye made a gay gude offer ; if the fish had bidden still ye wud hadden him."
As he spoke I saw a fish dart past, and struck at it, but missed: Jock snatched the leister, “ Gie's hand o' the leister, gie's hand; ye couldna stick that; and sir he's travelling,” and away we went full cry. Andy, who had been a moment behind getting his leister out of the fish he had killed, came up, and both he and Jock made several random strokes, when Jock, in his eagerness, slipped his foot, and fell headforemest into the water, the leister flying from his hand just as I caught sight of the fish they were after, lying close in to the bank ; I snatched the leister from the hands of the prostrate Jock before he could rise, and this time taking better aim, and being in a good position on the bank above the fish, succeeded in transfixing it fairly.
“Weel done! ca a-a-a-ar-pital ! haud down his head ; haud him ticht or he'll run awa'; tak time."
Feeling, however, that I had the fish well on, I jumped into the water as I had seen the others do, to land him with greater ease ; but here again my zeal outran my discretion, and I nearly had lost all, for in going off the bank the very first step I took was on a large but shaky stem which turned with my weight, and over I went full length, holding on manfully, however, in the “scrimmage,” to my leister ; the fish pulled and I pulled, and in his own element I found the “ kipper” had the best of it, so that if Jamie Craig had not come to lend me a helping hand, I verily believe I should have lost leister, fish, and all : no one who has not felt it can imagine the strength required to keep down a good sized salmon fighting for his life and liberty. However, after a smart tussle I had the satisfaction of seeing the “ beast,” as Jamie called it, safely landed, and also that I had some excuse for the trouble he had given in the size of my conquest, which was unanimously pronounced the best fish we had yet killed.
• Hech, sir,” quoth Andy, “I tauld ye it wudna be lang or ye wad get a dooking and a fish baith ; but I wasna expeckin ye to tak sic a droonin as ye geid yersel the noo; co' way sir, I maun gie ye a drap frae the bottle, or you'll get could in the weetin', sin' yer no that used to it. Od, ye was on yer mettle that time ; be me saul, ye’se be a fisher yet if ye gang on yon gate.”
The next stream we came to being an unsafe place and full of holes, which would render it almost an impossibility for me to succeed in sticking a fish, I was content to be a looker-on, and saw a fine “ mêlée," which resulted in the capture of three more fish, two speared by Jock and one by Andy.
We had now some distance to walk before coming to any favourable place, and our light being extinguished we set off at a brisk pace, which, to tell the truth, was very agreeable to me, as I began to find, now the immediate excitement was over, that my unusually intimate acquaintance with “ Tweed's fair stream 3 " was likely to become a considerable damper on my enjoyment, in spite of the various “ drappies ” I had imbibed by Andy Craig's directions. The wind had risen, and now came in cutting "swirls ” up the water, and although I had extra clothing on, I felt the cold piercingly, from being so wet. I was therefore not sorry when we came to the “* Klaugh-head," and I once more prepared to take an active part in the operations. The light had hardly shone on the water when a fine fish was landed by Andy, and almost at the same moment I saw one lying far out in the stream. I was at him in a moment, the warning to “tak time” unheeded, as I struck out with all my strength. For an instant I felt as if the fish were “on,” the next it disappeared, dodging a hasty stroke from Andy.
“Ye had him on tho',” Jock said, as I came out mortified at my mistake ; “ye had him on, though, but ye was ower nigh the tail ; ye'll no see that ane the nicht again, he's awa wi' a flea in his lug; ye sud aye ettle to stick them nigh the head. El ! saul o' my body, yon's anither,” and snatching the leister from my hand he ran out into the stream ; I looked in vain for the fish, but to my eye nothing was visible where Jock's gaze seemed bent. Making a great stretch he struck out, and directly cried, “ Rin up, Jamie, rin up ; deel hae me and I ken how he jickit me; he's a bonnie beastie, tar. There he gangs, there Andy, see mon;" and directly a terrible fray took place, Jock and Andy scrambling about almost over each other, and both striking at the fish, which somehow contrived to run the gauntlet unhurt, till Jamie, as he ran with the light in both hands unfortunately tripped over a stone and measured his length in the water, contriving at the same time that the fork should go under him, and in an instant a' was dark. The change was magical, and several minutes elapsed before anything whatever was visible after the glaring light our eyes had been accustomed to, and then“ slowly and sadly,” each “dripping like a river god ” sought the shore. Maledictions both loud and deep were poured on Jamie's unhappy head for having fallen when he had “naething else to dae than to keep on them stotterin' feet o' his and haud the licht up."
On examining the “pokis ” containing our supply of lights, it was found there was but sufficient for two more “ rokes," as their phrase went ; and as I now began to feel I had got quite enough for one night's sport, and, besides, saw we were within a short distance of the village, I determined to walk on, and leave the party to fish two more streams, and then follow me to the village inn, where I promised them a cheerer before parting for the night.
I soon found myself by the blazing kitchen fire at R- 's inn, where I was welcomed by the bright eyes and smiling rosy cheeks of bonnie Miss R , “the maid of the inn," who insisted on getting “a bit supper” ready for me by the time my clothes were dried; and this was scarcely finished, when in came my worthy allies “ frae the fishing," and proceeded to empty the pokis of the spoils. Several of the finest fish having been selected and “made a compliment " to me, the rest were fairly divided, and then all sat down to enjoy a reeking hot jug of toddy which I had ordered, and which was several times replenished before the night was over. My presence was soon forgotten, or rather I was looked on as one of themselves, and I heard some queer tales which opened my eyes not a little to the back scenes of rural life. Songs were sung, jokes made, in short the fun was kept up “fast and furious” till “ a wee short hour ayont the twal,” when I succeeded with some difficulty in knocking up my“ donce " handmaiden Maggie, who having been directed by my landlady to sit up and let me in, had obeyed her orders by wrapping herself comfortably in a plaid, and going to sleep at the kitchen fire. However, by dint of knocking so as to waken the
landlady to waken Maggie, I succeeded in getting an entrance, and was soon oblivious of all fatigue“ in the arms of Murphy."
Thus ended my first night's leistering salmon, the principle or practice of which “out of season " I do not defend, but must needs acknowledge the sport to be first-rate ; anyhow, there is no harm in seeing the fun“ once and away.”
LIFE IN THE WEST INDIES.
BY A BRITISH OFFICER.
" Hospitality, all reality,
Old Irish Ballad.
Those of my readers who have been scared by the occidental bugbears, "yellow fever” and “hurricanes,” will, doubtless, be galvanized at the description I am about to give of West Iudia life, and of the enjoyments to be found in the insular paradises scattered throughout this tropical archipelago.
A snarling cynic once observed, that there were only two luxuries in the West Indies—the one, “sitting up to your chin in a cold bath,” and the other, “ damning Christopher Columbus for having discovered the island at all.” I am prepared to prove, in contradiction of this sweeping censure, that there are luxuries innumerable, of which the untravelled, and the cockney, or the provincial, who have never left their fire-sides, can form no idea; and, as regards the unhealthiness of the climate, I think I can show that it has been greatly exaggerated ; but more of this anon.
In the month of December, 18, having been appointed to the head of a military department at St. Kitt's, I embarked on board of a brig about to sail from Guernsey for Honduras, the Yorkshire captain of which undertaking to land me at my destination for a certain sum agreed upon between us. The tub he commanded was the slowest craft that ever was launched, I do believe; the voyage was, consequently, a most tedious one. The monotony was occasionally relieved by the capture of a shark or dolphin, and harpooning porpoises, albicores, and bonetas. All things have an end, however, and never did I pay the promised douceur of a bottle of rum to one of the crew who first descried the rugged hillocks of the barren and all but deserted island of Deseada with more satisfaction than towards the end of the seventh week of my captivity. The joyful tidings were made known to me soon after daylight, and before noon the high land of Guadaloupe was visible from the deck. In the evening we were under Antigua, and after passing Montserrat and Rock-Redonda, lay-to off Nevis for the night. Soon after daybreak we were off Charlestown, the capital, and stretching across to Basseterra, St. Christopher's. A signal was hoisted for a shore boat: some five or six left the beach simultancously, and the vessel was soon surrounded by applicants for the job of landing my luggage and myself. The alterations, and the jabbering amongst the sable boatmen, were excessively diverting.
One of the spokesmen did me the honour of claiming acquaintance, after the following fashion:-“ How you do, massa? Glad to see you back, sar.” (Mind, this was my first visit to the West Indies). “I expeck you long time, sar; I come off on purpuss for you, sar; hope you go 'shore in my boat, sar; you know'm well, sar; him really nice boat."
This disinterested offer was cut short by one of the other competitors. “ Wha' for you 'peak to da buccra off'cer? You know da gubnor sen' me for da gen'leman. Hole your tongue, you dane nigger, and lebe me Plone. Massa (addressing himself to me), you no go in dat feller boat; him no clebber, and he upset you 'fore you get to da beach; him dam tief, and no right here 'tall.”
. Amidst this din of tongues I selected a couple of the safest and most likely-looking craft, and having taken leave of my north country schipper, I jumped into the boat, of which my friend, who had claimed acquaintance, was the undoubted possessor, while the gentleman who had been dispatched by the “ gubnor," followed in our wake with the luggage. The beach at Basseterre, St. Kitt's, is none of the pleasantest to land upon, for the surf is occasionally terrific, and not unattended by danger. Next to that of Madras, it is the heaviest I know of. As the wind, however, did not set dead in shore on the day in question, I escaped a ducking, and the trunks, boxes, cases, and portmanteaus, were landed without any very great damage. Once more on terra firina, my first inquiry was for an hotel. Whereupon a slender sample of humanity, with a rhubarb-coloured complexion, shaded by a straw hat the width of a loo-table, advanced towards me, on two spindles, encased in an abbreviatod pair of nankeen continuations, and gave me to understand that the town of Basseterre could boast of a celebrated house of entertainment, kept by the renowned Polly Armytrading, of whom, as a matter of course, he remarked, I must have heard. Not wishing to undeceive our sallow friend on this point, we accompanied him along the beach until we reached a large unpainted building, with a verandah surrounding it, up to the second story. I was most cordially greeted by the worthy landlady, the aforesaid Polly Armytrading, and her four fascinating daughters; and having been ushered into a long, straggling, comfortless room, on the first floor, which, by the way, was surpassingly cool, I hinted to the hostess that a substantial breakfast, after a seven weeks' voyage, would be by no means unacceptable. While the savoury meal was being prepared, I received a visit from the fort adjutant, who had ridden from Brimstone Hill (the garrison), a distance of twelve miles, that morning. He gave me to understand that I had been expected for some time, and that he would run up to Government-house to announce my arrival to his excellency. I requested him to be the bearer of two letters of introduction to the governor, which I had brought out with me, and he also kindly undertook to forward some three or four more missives of the like description, with which my friends at home had armed me, in order that I might be well introduced to the leading members of the society at St. Kitt's.