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spreading back its blue winding path for more than two thousand miles, through still reach, foaming rapid, ocean, lake, and mighty cataract, to the trackless desert of the west.
We are near the left bank; there is no trace of man's hand; such as God made it, there it is. From the pebbly shore to the craggy mountain top— east and west—countless miles away to the frozen north, where everlasting winter chains the sap of life—one dark forest, lone and silent from all past time.
For two days more there was nothing to attract the attention but the shoals of white porpoises: we were welcomed by several; they rolled and frolicked round the ship, rushing along very fast, stopping to look at us, passing and repassing for half an hour at a time, then going off to pay their compliments to some other strangers. The pilot came quietly on board during the night, and seemed as much at home the next day as if he had been one of the crew.
By degrees the great river narrowed to twenty miles, and we could see the shore on both sides, with the row of white specks of houses all along the water's edge, which at length seemed to close into a continuous street. Every here and there was a church, with clusters of dwellings round it, and little silver streams, wandering through narrow strips of clearing, behind them. We got very near the shore once; there was but little wind; we fancied it bore us the smell of new-mown hay, and the widow thought she heard church bells; but the ripple of the water, gentle as it was, treated the tender voice too roughly, and it could not reach us. Several ships were in sight; some travelling our road, wayworn and weary; others Standing boldly out to meet the waves and storms we had just passed through. Rows of little many-coloured flags ran up to their mizen peaks, fluttered out what they had to say, and came down again when they had got their answer.
The nights were very cold; but, had they been far more so, we must have lingered on deck to see the Northern Lights. They had it all to themselves, not a cloud to stop their running wild over the sky. Starting from behind the mountains, they raced up through the blue fields of heaven, and vanished: again they reappeared, where we least expected them; spreading over all space one moment, shrinking into a quivering streak the next, quicker than the tardy eye could trace.
There is a dark shade for many miles, below where the Saguenay pours its gloomy flood into the pure waters of the St. Lawrence. Two degrees to the westward lies a circular sheet of water called Lake St. John, forty miles wide, fed by numerous small rivers. Here is the birth-place of the great tributary; its separate existence ends at Tadousac. Its course lies from west to east, half-way through a rich country, with a comparatively mild climate, where only a few wandering Indians hunt and fish, exchanging their furs with English traders at Chicoutimi: here this rude commerce has grouped together a number of houses, round a church built by the Jesuits two centuries ago. Great Bay is twelve miles lower down; thence to the river's mouth the cliffs rise straight out of the water, sometimes to fifteen hundred feet in height, in some places two or three miles apart. There is a great depth between, far greater than that of the St. Lawrence at the confluence, and large ships can go up so far. About three thousand white people are scattered about these districts; they have sawmills, and ply their laborious industry in the bush, felling the tall pine-trees.
Off the entrance to the gloomy Saguenay, lies Red Island. The shore is rocky and perilous; as we passed, the morning sun shone brightly upon it and the still waters; but when the November mists hang round, and the north-east wind sweeps up the river, many a brave ship ends her voyage there. To the south-east is seen a gentler sister—the Green Isle.
It would be wearisome to tell of all the woody solitudes that deck the bosom of the St. Lawrence or of the white, cheerful settlements along its banks, some of them growing up to towns as we advance; their back-ground swelling into mountains. It is a scene of wonderful beauty, often heightened by one of the strangest, loveliest freaks of lavish nature. The mirage lifts up little rocky tufted islands, into the air, and ships, with their taper masts turned downwards, glide past them; the tops of high and distant hills sink down to the water's edge, and long streets of trim, demurelooking houses, rest their foundations in the sky.
We are now at Grosse Isle ;* the pilot points out the quarantine station, the church, the hospital, and, in the distance, the fair and fertile island of
* The conversion of this island into a quarantine station, and the excellent arrangements made there for receiving and refreshing the emigrants, are among the many benefits conferred on Canada by Lord Aylmer during his administration there.
Orleans. Bold Cape Tourment is at length past; it has wearied our sight for two days, like a long straight road. It grows very dark, and the evening air is keen; we must go below.
About midnight I awoke. There was the splash, and heavy rattling sound of the falling anchor; the ship swung slowly round with the tide, and was still; we had reached Quebec.
I looked out of the window of my cabin ; we lay in deep shade, under a high headland which shut out half the sky. There were still a few scattered lights, far and wide over the steep shore, and among the numerous shipping around us.
Our voyage was rather a tedious one; without doubt you think so too.