The tribulations of travel : Part 1

Having published “Three Kings – One Throne”, the second book in my trilogy, “Finn’s Legacy”, I decided to take a short break from the eleventh century and fast forward seven hundred years to the American War of Independence.

As always, when researching for a novel, source material tempts one to get side-tracked. My putative story includes a journey in 1776, down the St Lawrence. I could not resist following this account by an English woman who made the journey in 1810 on a barge heavily laden with potash and passengers. It really illustrates how hazardous a journey could be, compared with travel today.

“On the morning of the 1st May we set out from Cedars, the barge very deep and leaky. The captain, a daring rash man, refused to take a pilot. After we passed the Cedar Rapid, not without danger, the captain called for some rum, swearing at the same time that God Almighty could not steer the barge better than he did! Soon after this we entered the Splitrock rapids by a wrong channel, and found ourselves advancing rapidly towards a dreadful watery precipice, down which we went.

The barge slightly grazed her bottom against the rock, and the fall was so great as to nearly take away the breath. We here took in a great deal of water, which was mostly baled out again before were hurried on to what the Canadians call the “grand bouillon,” or great boiling. In approaching this place the captain let go the helm, saying, “By God! Here we fill!”

The barge was almost immediately overwhelmed in the midst of immense foaming breakers, which rushed over the bows, carrying away planks, oars etc. About half a minute elapsed between the filling and going down of the barge, during which I had sufficient presence of mind to strip off my three coats, and was loosening my suspenders, when the barge sank and I found myself in the midst of people, baggage, etc.”

To be continued!

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