Page images


TUESDAY, April 8th. We embarked at seven o'clock, where nothing but happy faces met us. I felt I had no need of pistols here! All hands cheered us; and the women crowded round my wife, kissing her hand. Indeed, she smiled so sweetly on them, and had already done so many kind things to them, they could not but love her. We did not receive our clearance from the Customhouse before nine o'clock, which gave us time to inspect the dispositions made on board for the people. Temporary combings had been fixed to a scuttle cut in the main hatches, to protect the opening from the wash of the sea, should it at any time come over the decks. This was well; and a wind, sail was fitted to the scuttle, to throw air down between decks; so that the stock, and the people on the platform there, might breathe freely and wholesomely. Here were berths put up for Allan Derrick and his wife, for David Allwood and his wife, for young Allwood and his wife, and two berths for the three negresses and Purdy's wife, The captain was requested to sleep in the steerage with the crew, to which he readily consented; himself, Diego, and the two new negro boys, John and Harry, being packed in among them. Wę were in all, on board the schooner, fifteen in number. And in the Avon there were altogether seven; Captain Drake, Jemmy Purdy, the two New Eng

land blacks, and three white seamen. A little before nine o'clock the Avon hauled alongside, and I went on board to take a look at her. Some precautions had been taken here too against the sea, by fixing canvass so as to make a defence if necessary; with which I was much pleased. Captain Drake, who, as captain of the schooner, had cleared her out at the Custom-house, now returned, but took his station in the Avon.

The sea-breeze having set in, and the pilot being on board, we set sail; and with the fine little lugger in our wake, ran down to Port Royal in little more than an hour. As we passed the men-of-war, I perceived the Solebay had gone; so, wishing her as well as ourselves a good voyage, we stood out to sea, and dismissed the pilot. The vessels steered nearly South, keeping away about half a point, to allow for East variation. At sunset we computed our run off the land to be about eighteen leagues, which was sufficient to take us clear of the Pedro shoals; we now kept away S. W., and having run about one hundred miles by Wednesday at noon, we observed in 15° 48′ N. It was determined still to steer S. W., keeping a good look-out ahead; and at noon on Thursday we observed in 14° 46′, having run little more than eighty miles during the last twenty-four hours, by reason of going under easy sail all night, and again laying by, for some hours in the forenoon, until we could ascertain the latitude, so as to shape our course accordingly, supposing ourselves not to be very far distant from the place of our destination. After some consultation, we agreed to steer West; and, by four o'clock, breakers were discovered right

ahead; we in consequence hauled up to the northward, bringing the breakers on our beam to leeward. The Avon was now ordered to keep three or four cables' lengths ahead of the schooner, on her larboard bow. We continued to stand to the northward for about an hour, when we were enabled to keep away N.W.: at this time something like land was discerned to the southward of us, but it was too late in the day to endeavour to close with it; we therefore stood off and on, all night, holding a pretty good offing, for fear of encountering calms or currents, while among so many unknown reefs and shoals. At daylight in the morning we again descried the land to the southward, and stood in towards it. The Avon being within hail, I desired him to keep on our quarter till further orders; and I would endeavour to lead, and find the channel. After coming up with the broken water, and then running a few miles on a west course, keeping the surf on the reef about a mile within us, we were enabled to steer two points to the southward, and then S. W. A little before noon we set the high land nearest to us, bearing $.E, when the channel appeared open, having a little hummock in the distance, which I knew to be our homestead promontory. We now hauled to the wind on the larboard tack, laying up about S.S.E., and stood in. I was not without fear and apprehension, although I knew there was a navigable channel that separated the two islands on the north, through part of which, Diego, who was now at my elbow, had rowed his canoe. Thus assured, and thus backed, I ventured to keep on under easy sail,

till we found ourselves embayed within a horse-shoe reef, and were thus compelled to stand back again to escape from our perilous situation. We then rounded the edge of the reef to the westward, keeping away a little till we brought the hummock in the distance to bear S.S.E. The channel now appearing quite open, but with shoals on each side of it, we stood in again, with the Avon leading; but soon found ourselves obstructed by a long line of broken water, stretching apparently all the way across. Being thus straitened, and at a loss how to proceed, I thought it expedient to bring the schooner to an anchor for the present, under a low small coral island that lies on the eastern extremity of the breakers, and there remain until the Avon should make out the passage. I hailed Mr. Drake to that effect; and as soon as we dropped anchor, he made sail along the northern edge of the broken water that obstructed our passage, until he at length rounded its western extremity: then hauling up to the S.E., the boat entered a clear and unobstructed channel, through which she stood on, with a full sail, for about three miles; making her way quite into that harbour, which on my first arrival I had mistaken for a lake, and which I have so called more than once in the early part of this Journal.

As soon as Mr. Drake ascertained a clear channel, he hoisted a Union Jack, as was agreed on, but stood on until he entered the harbour; he then put back, standing towards the schooner. As soon as I perceived his signal, we got under weigh'; and quickly rounding the reef, hauled up to windward

of a high rock, and afterwards a low island, which lay amid channel, passing between them and the northern end of the main island. Here the Avon met us, and took her station on our weather quarter; and we sailed hence together, with a flowing sheet, and colours flying, through the strait that separates the two main islands on the north, into the open harbour, where at once a thousand wellknown objects burst upon us. Xavier had caught a glimpse of the Avon from the shore, when first exploring the channel, so that we had scarcely passed the strait when we saw the Colours go up on the promontory. Captain Taylor was much pleased with the sight, and complimented me on the occasion. I will not attempt to describe my emotion, when my dear wife pressed my hand in silence at that moment. In half an hour more we brought up in Woodland Bay, with our dear mansion, and our still dearer silk-cotton-tree, in full view before us; and at the same instant the anchor dropped, Xavier and Martin were alongside in the canoe. They were almost out of themselves; they embraced my knees, they danced about, they hugged old Diego almost to death, and bowed to the Señora Donna with all their heart. Captain Taylor was both pleased and amused by the display which they made of their joy at our return. The boats were quickly hoisted out; and we landed at once, with Diego, and the three negro girls, on the silk-cottontree beach, where Rota, with her daughter Mira, and Hachinta also, were standing to receive us : my dear wife had scarcely put foot on the shore, when they all, with one accord, threw themselves at her

« PreviousContinue »