Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

from the beach, even in the valleys, and the long grass was dry and slippery, so that it rendered the walk rather fatiguing; and we were glad to sit down under a large quince-tree on a carpet of balm, bordered with roses, now neglected, and feast our eyes with the lovely view before us. Lord Anson has not exaggerated the beauty of the place, or the delights of the climate. We were rather early for its fruits, but even at this time we have gathered delicious figs, cherries, and pears, that a few days more of sun would have perfected. The landingplace is also the watering-place. There a little jetty is thrown out, formed of the beach pebbles, making a little harbor for boats, which lie there close to the fresh water, which comes conducted by a pipe, so that, with a hose, the casks may be filled, without landing, with the most delicious water. Along the beach some old guns are sunk, to serve as moorings for vessels, which are all the safer the nearer in-shore they lie, as violent gusts of wind often blow from the mountain for a few minutes. The hight of the island is about three thousand feet.”

With all its beauties and resources, the island seemed destined never to retain those who settled on it-whether from its isolated position at so great a distance from the continent, or from some other cause, is uncertain. Not long after

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Lord Cochrane's visit, however, it received an accession of inhabitants, some of them English, who settled in it under the protection of the Chilian government.

According to the latest accounts, it had undergone another change of proprietorship, having been taken in lease from Chili by an enterprising American, who had colonized it with a number of families from Tahiti, and intended to cultivate it, rear cattle on it for exportation, and so improve the bay and harbor, as to render it a habitual resort for whalers and trading vessels navigating the Pacific.

X

Escape of Count Lavalette.
OUNT LAVALETTE, in early life, was an
COUNT

attached friend of the Bourbon dynasty, but the exciting events of the Revolution having opened to him the prospect of an ambitious career, he became one of the most intrepid soldiers and supporters of the French Republic. During the latter years of the reign of Napoleon, he held the chief place in the post establishment, from which he retired on the introduction of the Bourbons. He was now accused of having been an accomplice in the conspiracy which brought on the events which terminated in the battle of Waterloo, and, after two days' discussion, was condemned to death. Immured in prison, he endeavored to avert his fate by a writ of error, but this, along with a petition for pardon presented by Madame Lavalette, was refused. “ The day of his execution approached," says the writer of his memoirs ; “ the unfortunate man had no hope left; the turnkeys themselves trembled. On the eve of

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

that last day, the Countess Lavalette entered his prison. She had put on a pelisse of merino, richly lined with fur, which she was accustomed to wear when she left a ball-room; in her reticule she had a black silk gown. Coming up to her husband, she assured him, with a firm voice, that all was lost, and he had nothing more to hope than in a well-combined escape. She showed him the woman's attire, and proposed to him to disguise himself. Every precaution had been taken to secure his escape.

A sedan chair would receive him on his coming out of prison; a cabriolet waited for him on the Quay des Orferres-a devoted friend, a safe retreat, would answer any further objections. M. Lavalette listened to her without approving of so hazardous a plan-he was resigned to his fate, and refused to fly from it. I know how to act my part in a tragedy,' he said, "but spare me the burlesque farce. I shall be apprehended in this ridiculous disguise, and they will perhaps expose me to the mockery of the mob! On the other hand, if I escape, you will remain a prey to the insolence of prison valets, and to the persecution of my enemies.' · If you die, I die; save your life to save mine!'

The prisoner yielded to her urgent entreaties.

Now, put on the disguise,' she added; it is time to go; no farewell

no tears — your hours are

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

counted!' And when the toilet was finished, Adieu,' she said. Do not forget to stoop when you pass under the wickets, for fear the feathers in your bonnet should stick fast.'

The jailer's step was now heard. Emilie sprung behind the screen-the door opened; I passed out first, next my daughter, then the old nurse. On coming to the door leading from the passage to the outer room, I had at the same time to lift my foot and stoop my head to prevent the catching of my feathers—no easy matter; but I succeeded, and had now to face in this large room a file of five seated jailers ranged along the wall. I held my handkerchief to my eyes, of course, and expected my daughter to come, as directed, on my left; but in her flurry the poor child took the right, thus leaving the jailer at liberty to hand me out as usual. He laid his hand on my arm, evidently much moved for he concluded we had taken an eternal leave of each other—and said, 'You leave early to-night, madam ? It has been said that

my child and I gave way to screams and sobs. So far from that, we durst not so much as indulge in a sigh. At length I got to the further end, where, night and day, sat a jailer in a huge arm-chair, in a space sufficiently contracted to allow him to place his two hands on the keys of two doors; one an iron grating, the

« ForrigeFortsæt »