« PreviousContinue »
poverty-stricken in appearance, she owned lands and cows, the house she lived in, poultry, pigs, and asses.
She greeted us with as much affection as if she had been our foster-mother, and then produced a bunch of rusty keys, and hobbling out of her door led us to the room above by an outside flight of steps. After fumbling with a wrong key, and diaboing the lock with some vehemence, she threw open the door of the guest-chamber, where we were to sit, and eat, and sleep. But the thrifty Catherina turned her chamber to many more accounts than that of accommodating strangers. It was storehouse, granary, and barn, where, besides two aged beds, with rusty coverings of reddish cloth, were long ox-goads, yellow maize, fresh beans in sacks, in heaps, and in shells, mixed up with tables, boxes, clothes, cow-bells, and collars, a drum and drumsticks, gimcrack hats, and gowns of gay printed calico for the ceremonies of the “Holy Ghost," dirty yam roots, rickety stools, donkey furniture, her husband's venerable boots and Sunday suit, the whole more or less filmed over with undisturbed dust. In the midst of this confusion, Catherina bustled about, talked, pulled out a stool, opened the window-shutters, and bade
us be welcome, with as much authority as if she had been the landlady of a tidy inn, and had been opening for us her best parlour; and, as well to enhance the favour she was doing us, as from “ a natural but corrupt love of the lie itself,” told us, that an hour before some strangers had arrived, and had come to her for lodging, which, not knowing who they were, she had refused; but that out of regard to my companion, whom she had known so long, she could not refuse him; adding, that when her husband re
turned, he would be vexed with her for taking us in, that he was very rough, and did not like to have his house disturbed. These, I was told, were sly maneuvres for raising the value of her services: although without a change of face, they were sanctioned by these words, “God knows
“ whether I lie, for He knows every thing.” “The Holy Ghost knows that what I say is true.” And whether it was that she told us we could not have milk till night, -that she had sent out for eggs, - that she had no chicken fit to be killed,- that she had not a bit of Indian-corn for our jacks, (her store-room being covered with it,) —or that she was suffering great pain in her eyes and chest, the same expressive form of words, addressed to God or the Holy Ghost, wound up the sentence.
Those who go to the Seven Cities and sleep at Catherina's should rise early and get rid of their fleas in the lake. After an uncomfortable night of dog-sleep it is almost as refreshing as a good night's rest.
Soon after five o'clock we were on our way to Ponta Delgada. The sun rose in vivid red and
. seemed to betoken a roasting day. Our road wound up the mountains and through deep dull
RETURN TO PONTA DELGADA.
lanes and flat green slopes, wholly tedious and devoid of interest; and after a noonday rest in a wine-shop kept by a woman, whose milk of human kindness (if she ever had any) had long ago “turned to cream of tartar,” and a few hours at Ponta Delgada, a boat for Ribeira Quinte being ready to start, we sailed for that place with a fine N. W. breeze.
The change from the heat, bustle, and dirt of the town, and the jolting bumps of a Jackass, to the fair and gently undulating summer seas, just rippled by a breeze that swept us bubbling along at a cheerful rate, was very agreeable. So was the shore scenery along the coast. Sheets of lava, grey with the rust of age, green cliffs, yellow corn-fields, rich orange gardens, straggling villages, long ravines, and serrated mountains, passed by as in a panorama in the warm afternoon voyage between Ponta Delgada and Ribeira Quinte; and the formal island and the pretty town of Villa Franca backed by its semi-circle of bills, white and yellow beds of pumice washed into numberless fantastic shapes, or worn into formal bays, sunken reefs, and jagged rocks with white sea-birds sitting on them, called to mind the pleasant rambles we had enjoyed among
these parts. As we neared Ribeira Quinte and were becalmed under high cliffs, a flying-fish leaped from the sea with a sharp rattle as if its wings were of glass, skimmed in semi-circles for a few seconds, and then with a splash and a glitter disappeared.
Boatmen were lolling on the sands of Ribeira Quinte when we landed, while others loaded a boat with wood for Ponta Delgada. The river brawled rapidly to the sea over a rough stony bottom; two women, to their ankles in the water, were banging, flapping, and screwing linen; the shore fluttered with drying clothes ; weary labourers, with loads of wood for their evening fires, followed by their downcast dogs, were coming home in lines; shadows were lengthening, crickets chinking, blue wood-smoke rising, children disappearing, and the last pitchers of water from the spring were coming down the lane on the heads of the slender village girls. We lost no time in getting asses, and having mounted two active ones, started at a brisk pace for the Furnas.
The ascent is tedious and difficult over the steepest and worst path in the Island of St. Michael. It is rugged, zigzag, stony, loose, slip