Press enter after choosing selection

A Narrow Escape

A Narrow Escape image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

In tho winttr of 1SG2, I resided for a fow moptbfl ia Arnoy; oue oí' thu üve porte crigiiii.íly opened t:) foreign irado j in China, end tb ere the event octurred of whicb I ani ibout to wrile. I must s:ij a few voidi of tbe posit;o;i cf the town, or my slcry will uot te cjiarly uvderstocd. Anioy 3 situatcd on an islaod of the same tamo, ;;buut four tnilis from iLe open een. The rivpr which separates it froni the inuïu-laud is jrery iJe, and the tiJo runs vritli gre::t m.,id ity, haviug ü.'dinarüy a r::-o of over twüi.ty fcct. At tbe mouth of the harbor, wilh il, j chanuel on both sides, stuud the cluu.chats, very large and datigerous coralrceís, avoided carefully by all seafaring raen, and particularly by the Chinesn fisbermen, who dreud tbe effect of tbe sharp coral siurs upon iheir cot vcry streng bouts. These reefs are somewbat DBOovered at luw water, but at h'gh tide arccompletely out of siglit. One afternoon in December, n.y husband, who was tlie captain of sn Au.ercan vessei theu in the port, and a friend of ours, an Englisb naval oöieor, pro pnsed tba' we should tako a sail down the barbor in our yacht, a little pleasure boatofsome tbirty or forty tona' burden. The weather was fine, and the uual gjntlu ni'rthcast l reex.1 wa9 blowing, whicb prevails dur ing ihe wiuter montbs i i Cbiua, but Btill I could not divest my mind of a certain feeliog of approherjsiou. I oever did lil:e Biuall boat, they are so likely to be upset, particularly wben couiuiauded, as was the caso at thia time, by eeafaring uien so used to handling large craft that they do not reaüze the fiautiou ueccfsary iu sailir.g a liltle boaf. My busband overruled my objectiona, and msisted that tiothing could happen to U8. I thereforc oousented to go niyself, but stood out with regard to my cliüdren, and utterly refu.-ed to take tbem. It was alout hulf-past two when we left tbe wharf, and droppcd out iuto the strearn. ïbe wind was very nearly fuir, and we had a spleudid ruu dowu the harbor, with the wide, beautiful, open sea bofore us. Ever}' tbing was so cburming, tho air so clear nud bracing, that I furgot all my fears, and enjoyed the paseiug moment to the utmost ; eo that it was I who asked for au exlension of our voyage, wbeu we ougbt to have turned our faces bomewurd. At last, the capta n of our little crafi decided tbat we must turn back. As I mentioned before, we had been rnnning wilh the wind but itae moment we weut about, we becume conscious of such a great inerease in its foroe tbat, os vo began to beat up the sticura agaiost it, it seeraed almost a gale. No one who bas not seen the suddéu gatherinfr of bi]u:i1Is in tbe China 8ear can f orín any idea cf how almost instantaaeously tho sky willfill with clouds ud tbe wind D0T6HS6 ti a bunicane. We vpere to experience it ! Aa we turned on the starboard fcuck, weuoticcd the gatbering of the clouds, and bcaid tl, e ungry ecream of the wind, the premonition of tho coming tempest. Jiefore we could tuko in any sail, the equall struck U8 ! Th ere was an instant oí horriblo confusión, in which I heard tbe slapping of the lails, the snapping of corcfage, the hice aud bulible oí tho foaming eea, aud then foliowed a jerk that tlirew me com plotely over- judden duikuess, and a plungc into icc-culd water, üur boat had been ovei-turncd. With the natural instinct of selfpreservation, aided by some s'ióht knowledge of swiuiming, I beat tbc water witb my hajids, and nianagcd to eustain myself for an inetant (whieh scemed uo I hour), uutil my hueband nd Lis fie:.l. both expert swimmers, were beaide me aDd held me up. Fortnnately, none of us had reeeived any jnjurj from broken spars or blows of any kind. But, though we wcrc not imiuediately drowncd, whut were we to do ? The water was very cold, our pretly littlo bout was bottoni up, and drifting iulaud with the tide, whicli had just tumed ; the cily lav a 1' ng dist muü off, and the night wns c'.osing last a bout us. We looked aronnd and difcovcred, iu the gathoring darknes?, tbat we were near tlie dreaded reefs of the chawhats, and tliat soma of the rocks were still above water. Tb8 was our only hope Nover before luid the chauchats been looked upon in the light of friends, I imayine. My husband swara with me, and, before maay minutes, we were all standing on a siuaü flat space on the reef, abuut two or three feet square. We feit reprioved. Ilero at least we were out of iJie water, and, though I was wet a d vt-ry cold, I thought Kome belated tíshing boat would be likely to como aud take us off. I thought of my lutlo ones at home, and hoped that ï shuuld me tlit-m again, a hope whieh, a few miuutes before, when strupgliug iu the water, I had uttcrly abandoned. But suddunly we beca tie avvare that our posili ui was any thing but one of safciy. The tido was coming iu ! In a few minutes llie place where we stood would be covercd. The angry vraves lapped ahout the rei-'f, liko pionster hun gry !or tlieir ).rey. The water roeo steadily unlil t rcached my knees I fouud tliat I wusgrqyv ing i)U!i:b. ïhe cold was so painful tbat I could no lo'iger enduro it, and begged my husband to lcavo me to die, and to make au attempt to swim across the chauuel, to sowe smull na'ivo bu!s on tliu oiber side, trhere ho could get some kind of a boat to take him b;ick to Amoy. I urged hiiu to do thia lor tho sake of uur childrên, whp uiiht cse bc left falherless and motberless in a straDge lnd, Ha wnuld not listen to me. Ile acd our frii'iid n.'bbuil my IilükI, and pressed me closo to tlicrn to keop what ai-Mlli iliuy cou'd in my beoumbed body. All this time, frhich was in rea i ly so short, and yet whicli has taken to teil, the water was rising, rising, rising. We at kngth saw a boat to windwsrd ofus, bat Uie bowling of the storm, aLd the wasliing of the bliiiding sprav, was the o;:ly ansiver we reoeivcd to our reppa'ed slicuts for help. The bitterm-68 of dcath seemed past. I feit as if the woi t were ever. 1 wen'Jered, in a dul?, apathetic wsy, if my Eister." and friends in my fura-.vay Amerean Ik ma woul! ever knuw of my end. '■■ I thougiit wbether our bodics would be vt-ashed en lo the beau.h for curiou.- Ch:uesa cycs to pter at, and grtcdy Chinese liaüds lo rifle I tliought of wy dear lïtlle (mes i: Amoy, and wilb the thouglit 3uno tho feeliug that God, in Ilis ir!fiite gt:odnei-s ;nd mercy, could not ïiean to tuke their protectors from so far ñotu homo and friendo. For sotBC time wo wcre all silent, and then a suiiden chance iu niy husbaud's posiUoa, un lio held lm; tighlly clasped in arais, rousec! mo. "TLere's a boat ! To loewórd of us ! Sbout, all togethcr, and we may be heid!" Iti8ire] by a euddoo hope, wo gave a louci, simiiltaneous cali ; but thu boatman to whom il was dircoled apparontly did not Lear it, for we cculd uot eeo that ho uioved. Another painful interval ofsilence ensued, with the water steadily rising wiien, in a sudden lull iu tlio storm, wc heurd the cound of oars ! Not the dull sound of the Chinese paddie, but the good, trong, united dash of JJritish oars. The boat of an English man-of-war, which had been out to reconnoitre for piratcs, was reluroing. ïhis tiino our cry for help was heard, and, just as the water had reached my waist, strong raauly hauds drew me, exhausttd and faiot ing into the boat. Of our return to onr homo I know but little. Inseusibility followed on bucIi a terrible strain ou my nerves. But thauks to a gracious Providence, that mght I held my cliildren to my heart aaiü


Old News
Michigan Argus