Friday, March 12, 2010

25Jan1872, To be Remembered in One's Dreams

CONVN. OF S. PAUL. Thursday, January 25th, 1872.
—A day of days We got up at 5 and tried not to mind the fierce short storms of rain that kept pelting down, and sure enough all was bright when we set forth at 7, Governor and F. on mules ("the Colonel" and "Sophia") and I on a pony called no less than "Grace." We went up a valley whose mountain-sides were all that Kingsley described in "At Last," the special glories being masses of tree-ferns climbing nearly from top to bottom, groves of the splendid wild plantain (?) and other wonderful large-leaved things. The whole extent of wood and bush was all overgrown by lovely creepers which ran riot in all directions and seemed only to glorify what was dead or decaying, as well as what was living and lovely. We wound out of the valley on to a high narrow ridge, which opened to us an equally wonderful valley on the other side ; and as we went on, we got into the glorious thick of the vegetation, so that one had to push aside the long plantain leaves on either hand and ride under the shadow of the ferns. The track became truly surprising ; the rides near Craigton wd. have been highways ; and Sophia and Grace, being weedy creatures, gave out at the worst bits. I was therefore promoted to the Colonel and the gentlemen rode and tied as best they might. When we got upon the higher ground of the Souffrière it was odd to see tropical vegetation reduced to regular scrub ; the air chilly from damp (for we got into a cloud) ; nevertheless bewitching little humming-birds were to be seen, and we heard one clear note of a singing bird that might have been a thrush. At last and unexpectedly we came upon the great crater surrounded by precipitous banks of great height, clothed to the very edge of the basin, which was filled with still green water exactly like a sheet of jade. Beyond this, the cloud thickened, so that we looked in vain down into the Carib country ; and settled to turn back. Indeed we had seen enough to last one's life ; and the ride back was just doubling it. The Colonel was an extraordinary creature and took me down impossible rocks and perpendicular slides, to the admiration of all beholders. The last mile or two it got very hot ; and joyful it was to get back at 12, and enjoy tub and breakfast. Then the smooth delicious row back to Kingstown, diversified by a sweet nap. An urgent message came to Mr. Rennie [FN: Governor of St. Vincent.] at Wallaboo from Château Belair, imploring him to land on his way back ; so he and F. went ashore, where all the people were gathered in high excitement. Wonderfully pretty it looked, and to be remembered hereafter in one's dreams of fair and distant scenes ; the many-coloured group on the shore, with flags flying over them ; the village over-shadowed with palms ; the lovely deep green ravines and mountains beyond, and our little boat rocking on the blue water. As the Governor landed, the schoolchildren, who were all assembled, struck up "God save the Queen" ; how it thrilled through me, to see this loving loyalty for Her rule from these utmost isles of the sea !

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