The tribulations of travel, Part 2

Continuing the narrative from an article published in 1810 about a journey down the St Lawrence Seaway:

“One of the crew caught hold of me, and kept me down under the water, but contrary to my expectation, let me go again. On rising to the surface, I got hold of a trunk, on which two men were holding. Just at this spot, where the Split Rock rapids terminate, the bank of the river is well inhabited; and we could see women on the shore running about much agitated. A canoe put off and picked up three of our number, who had gained the bottom of the barge, which had upset, and got rid of its cargo; these they landed on an island. The canoe put off again, and was approaching near to where I was, with two others, holding on to the trunk, when, terrified with the vicinity of the cascades, to which we were approaching, it put back, notwithstanding my exhortations in French and English, to induce the two men on board to advance. The bad hold which one man had of the trunk, to which we were adhering, subjected him to constant immersion, and in order to escape his seizing of me, I let go the trunk, and in conjunction with another man, got hold of the boom, (which, with the gaff, sails, etc, had been detached from the mast to make room for the cargo) and floated off. I had just time to grasp this boom, when we were hurried into the cascades; in these I was instantly buried, and nearly suffocated. On rising to the surface, I found one of my hands still on the boom, and my companion also adhering to the gaff. Shortly after descending the cascades, I perceived the barge, bottom upwards, floating near me. I succeeded in getting to it, and held by a crack in one end of it; the violence of the water, and the falling out of the casks of ashes, (potash), had quite wrecked it. For a long time I contented myself with this hold, not daring to endeavour to get upon the bottom, which at length I effected; and from this, my new situation, I called out to my companion, who still preserved his hold of the gaff. He shook his head; and when the waves suffered me to look up again, he was gone./ He made no attempt to come near me, being unable or unwilling to let go his hold, and trust himself to the waves, which were then rolling over his head.

To be continued

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