« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
were found among the ruins: it is supposed, however, that many more lives were lost, for of strangers, or where a whole family was burnt, there was no record; and in many places the strength of the flames would have destroyed all trace of the human form.
Quebec soon took courage: before the end of the summer a considerable number of houses were rebuilt, much better than those destroyed, and the streets were widened and improved; hundreds of temporary wooden sheds have also been erected, but by law they must be removed within eighteen months. There is no doubt that the great calamity, with its large amount of present suffering, will be an ultimate advantage to this beautiful city. CHAPTER IX.
Farewell, Quebec! The midsummer sun pours down its flood of golden light upon these scenes of beauty. As it falls on earth and water, a soft spray of luminous mist rises over the wide landscape. Above, the clear pure air dances and quivers in the glorious warmth; the graceful lines of distant hills seem to undulate with a gently tremulous motion. The broad river is charmed to rest, not even a dimple on its placid surface; no breath of air stirs through the dark forests, the silken leaves hang motionless.
The grateful fields, freed from their wintry chains, are clothed with rich crops, already blushing into ripeness. Man fills the calm air with sounds of prosperous activity; axes and hammers echo from the dockyards, ropes creak in the blocks as bales of merchandize are lifted to the crowded wharves. The buzz of many voices rises from the busy markets; wheels rattle, and hurrying hoofs ring on the pavement; the town is a great hive of thriving industry; the hundreds of ships alongside, the bees which bear the honey of many a distant land to fill its stores.
This is the day—this is the year, to see Quebec; a day of unsurpassed beauty—a year of matchless prosperity. May the day of beauty have no evening, the year of prosperity never a winter! This midsummer's noon is not warmer than the hearts of her people—not more genial than their kindness. Farewell, Quebec. The lone stranger, who came scarcely a year ago, leaves many a valued friend behind, carries with him many a grateful memory. And, when again by his English fireside, his thoughts will often wander back to happy hours passed among the snows of distant Canada.
I have arranged to go by the Montreal steamer at five o'clock in the afternoon. The day soon passes away in parting visits; they seem very hurried. There is not half time to hear or say all the kind things, or to dwell long enough on the hearty pressure of the hand, when you know that in the probability of the future, those voices will never sound in your ear again, and that you are to feel the friendly grasp no more. It was very good of those people to come down to see me start, but I had been much better pleased had they staid away. The bell rings, they hasten off the deck on to the wharf; again a hurried "good byethe paddle wheels make a few strokes backwards to gain an opening, then turn ahead, bite deep into the water, and we glide rapidly on. As we pass the wharf, those friends wave their hands, I do so too; we are quite close, but somehow my eyes are a little dim, I can scarcely distinguish them as they run along the end of the quay, keeping pace with us up to the very edge. Our hands wave once again for the last time—I cannot see a bit now. When my sight cleared we were out in the middle of the broad stream, the people on the shore but tiny specks in the distance.
In describing one American river steam-boat you describe all. The greater part of the engines is above the level of the water; two large arms labour up and down over each side of the upper deck, while a funnel from near each paddle-box puffs out the smoke. They are not fitted with masts for inland navigation; the sleeping and eating saloon is in the body of the boat; the ladies' cabin, the state-room, with the bar, ticket office, &c, are in a sort of upper story erected on the deck, their roof being the promenade. These vessels are beautifully built, and go through the water with great rapidity; fifteen and sixteen miles an hour is not uncommon; they are also comfortable and very well managed, and those between Quebec and Montreal are not surpassed by any in America.
We pass Wolfe's Cove, rich in undying memories; beyond it, green slopes, gentle woodlands, and neat country-houses, each recalling to recollection some pleasant ride or drive, or social evening; on the left, the Chaudiere river, dwindled into a tiny stream under the summer's sun, its rustic bridge, and rocky, pine-fringed banks; on the right, Cap Rouge, the end of the bold table-land on which stands the great citadel of the west. Beyond it, stretches out for many miles a rich flat tract, varied by field and forest; and ever and anon the church and village, and in the far distance the bold range of hills which shelters these fair valleys from the ice-blast of the north.
For one hundred miles up the great river, the scene is the same, monotonous if you will, but monotonous in beauty; the shores all along thickly dotted with the white cottages of the simple habi