« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
not but our Aight was now discovered, yet were no longer afraid of a direct pursuit from Sinamary, where there was not one boat that could go out to sea. At ail events, we had already got considerably the start of them, and the thips in the road alone could have given us chafe. But Captains Poisvert and Bracket, over whom Aimé had no command, would not have weighed anchor and put to sea without orders from Jeannet.
We had, therefore, nothing to apprehend but from the detachment of Iraconbo, which we knew consisted but of twelve men; nor could they come after us but in a boat nearly like our own, with eight or ten armed men on board. We continued, however, ranging along the coast, and got our arms in readiness, being determined to defend ourselves if attacked, or in case our passage under the fort of Iraconbo should be impeded.
Ac four in the morning, we heard two guns to the eastward, which were answered, within a minute after, by another close to us. We were at this time before the fort, but it was dark, and we saw nothing. We failed fast, and when day appeared, Iraconbo was to leeward of us. We had now no fear of being pursued, and had only the dangers of the sea to overcome.
Our canoe was fo linall and so low sided, that every sea filled it; so that we were continually at work bail. ing her, and she was so light, that the least motion might have upset us. Hence we were nearly lost by an imprudence of which I alone was guilty. As I was row. ing, I happened to make a false stroke with my oar, and my hat fell into the water; upon which, leaning eagerly over to regain it, I threw the boat out of her trim, and it was with great difficulty we rightened her. But Berwick's addreis, together with our activity, foon remedied this disaster; and I was severely reprimanded by Pichegru, whom we had made our captain. Barthélemy, being still covered with mud, took this opportunity to wash himself. I had the misfortune to lose my hat, and had no means of defending my liead from the burning
rays of the sun, but by making myself a turban of some Banana leaves, which the negro si therman had left in the bottom of the capoe.
As we had neither compass nor instruments for taking the sun's altitude, we might have lost our way in the night; and the least gale of wind might have driven us out to sea, whenever we were obliged to keep off the fore, on account of the rocks or currents near the mouths of rivers. It had been impossible for us to bring away any provision, and we had not even a biscuit or a drop of water. Le Tellier, however, had brought two bottles of rum; and we were persuaded, the winds that constantly blow from east to west along this coast would carry us, in two days, to Moute-Krick. It was enough, therefore, if we could support our strength till then by means of this spirituous liquor.
On the 4th we suffered much from the hear. We had, however, a good breeze, with which we ranged along the coast; and when night prevented us from seeing the land, we reckoned that we were opposite the mouth of the river Marowni, the banks of which are the limits that separate the Dutch and French territories, and which is but forty leagues to wiodward of the port of Monte-Krick. Yet at eleven o'clock, when the moon rose, we perceived nothing either in the appearance of the land, or the motion of the water, to snew that we were near a great river. On the 5th we were not more fortunate, and we pursued our course till night, without any signs of the river or fort of Marowni. We were still, in all probability, somewhat to windward of the river of Amaribo, a part of the coast which rises a little towards the north-east, and interccpts the view.
On the 6th we were becalmed. Having now been three days without food, we suffered the most cruel hunger and were extremely parched by the fun, the heat of which was not now tempered by the breeze ; and, as our minds were neither occupied by motion, nor supported by the hope of speedily reaching the end VOL. VIII.
of our fatiguing voyage, we were forcibly struck with the horror of our situation, and it is with difficulty we kept up our courage ; for we had now nothing to expeat from human affiftance, nothing from our own exertions, which were thus deluded by the elements. It was on this very day of despair that we mutually urged each other to sacriớice even our just resentment, and not to suffer vengeance to take possession of our minds. We swore, in the presence of the Almighty, never to bear arms against our country, and resigned ourselves to the will of Providence,
The next day, the 7th June, and the 4th of our voyage, a breeze sprang up, and freshened a little towards eight o'clock in the morning; and at ten we were in light of Fort Marowni, and opposite the mouth of the river, which the shallow reefs and currents render very dangerous. It was, indeed, with great fatigue and risk we surmounted these obstacles. We were also much harassed by the monstrous sharks that surrounded and attacked our canoe, and which we were obliged to drive off by firing at them.
We supported the torment of hunger with so much patience, as even to indulge in pleasantries relative to the various symptoms of our sufferings. In the meanwhile we continually watched, but ftill in vain, for the fort and river of Orange, and at fix o'clock in the evening were again becalmed.
At three in the morning of the 8th, the wind freshening, we got under weigh. At one we were in fight of Fort Orange, which we doubled, intending not to go on fhore until we got as far as Monte-Krick, as had been recommended to us ; and were opposite the fort, at about a gun-shot from it, when we were saluted with several guns loaded with ball, and of a large calibre, which followed each other so rapidly, that we should inevitably have been sunk, had we not gone further out to sea. This severity made us afraid of again approach. ing the fore ; but we have fince learnt, it was merely
intended to make us hoist our flag, of which we had
At four o'clock in the afternoon the sky lowered, the wind increased, and we failed very fast ; yet we could scarcely escape the swell of the sea, which drove us to. wards the fhore. Our bravé pilot hoped we should reach Monte-Krick before the storm, but we could not expect to weather it. We were now every moment in danger of being loft: Berwick steered towards the shore, and the inftant we gained it, a heavy sea broke and upset us. It was low water, and we sunk in the mud; yet notwithstanding the exertions we were obliged to make to disengage ourselves, notwithstanding the dreadful storm that raged around us, we did not lose hold of our canoe, and even succeeded in setting her upon her bote tom.
At length we got on tore, not knowing where we were, or whether it was poffible for us to go along the coast as far as Fort Orange, from which we reckoned ourselves eight leagues ; although, in reality, our distance was but four.
We were now worn out with hunger and fatigue ; our ragged clothes were wet, and covered with mud, and we found no shelter but a wood, which was full of insects and reptiles. We had lost our arms and ainmunition when the canoe was upset: night was coming on, and we heard nothing but the howling of tigers and the roaring of the sea. What a dreadful night! The winds raging, a deluge, of rain falling, and accompanied with chilling cold. We were obliged to exert all our strength and labour throughout the night to keep hold of our canoe, which the waves continually washed away; and which, notwithstanding all our exertions, was much damaged. It will hardly be believed, that we still retained fufficient strength to perfevere in these efforts, after having suffered to much fatigue during five days and nights, without food. We were all naked in the sea, struggling with the waves, which were thus M 2
robbing robbing us of our last hopes. Barthélemy, notwithstanding his infirmities, worked with the rest, and afforded an example of patience and courage during this dreadful night.
At day break on the gth of June, which was the 6th day since our departure from Sinamary, we beheld each other with mutual compassion, half frozen with cold and almost ready to sink under our fatigues. We consoled ourselves by saying " at least we shall not die in their hands.
Pichegru had saved his pipe and his utensils for lighting it, with which we contrived to make a fire and thus dried our clothes. At length the heavens became serene, but the wind continued to blow with violence.
We now laid ourselves down upon our bellies on the sand, unable to defend ourselves from the stings of insects and the bites of crabs. Fortunately le Tellier had taken so good care of his little stock of rum that half a bottle still remained: but our hearts were fo de. pressed, that we had not strength to swallow, and only refreshed ourselves by washing our mouths and lips with these fpirits.
During this day, (the gth June) the heroic le Tellier had contrived a shelter for Barthélemy with branches of trees, and while the latter lay down to reft, or rather to faint, le Tellier, forgetting his own sufferings, drove. away the insects with a light branch, particularly from the face and hands of his master. What an affectionate attachment! what a glorious part did this worthy fellow act in alleviating our misfortunes !
At night the sky was again overcast, and we were obliged to work while the tide was in, to preserve our canoe, which we had no means of fastening. As the tigers approached very near us, we increased our fire ; and thus we passed the remainder of this night which was the second since we were cast on shore and the 7th of our escape.