VIP Membership

A Lady's Life on a Farm in Manitoba HTML version

Dearest M.
I sadly fear I must have contributed more paving-stones for a
certain region; for many good resolutions did I make in starting,
and not one of them has been kept, not even so much as writing
daily a portion of a letter to be sent home from New York. And now
my long story will have to be cut short, and the doings of the
last fifteen days will have to be crowded into a very limited
space; for we are in sight of land, and our excitement can only be
compared to that of school boys the last day of the term. The joy
of landing will not be unmingled with regrets in parting from our
fellow-passengers, with whom we have become fast friends; and we
are inclined mutually to believe in transmigration of souls, and
that we must have known each other in some prior state. Some are
going into Minnesota, three of them having bought 13,000 acres in
the Red River valley, which they are going to farm on a large
scale, and hope in four years to have made fortunes, another owns
mines in Colorado, having been one of the first pioneers of the
San Juan district; he is in a fair way to a princely fortune. I
fear golden apples will not be strewn on our paths, even though we
are bound the furthest west. Fifteen days have we been out of
sight of land; two days out from Queenstown we broke a piston-rod,
which obliged us to lay to, in a fearfully rough sea, for five
hours. Next day one of our four boilers burst, and again another
piston-rod; which accidents, combined with contrary winds and
heavy seas, reduced our speed to nearly half for the remainder of
the journey. Our spirits have not flagged, as, thanks to various
small games such as pitch-and-toss, running races when the ship
was rolling, quoits, and cards, we have not found time unbearably
long. The last few days we have had big sweepstakes on the run of
the ship; but, unfortunately, none of our party have won them. One
evening we had a concert; but you may imagine the talent on board
was not great when they had to call upon one of us to accompany
the _prima donna_, and the other to sing a second in a duet;
another evening we danced--or rather tried to--our band consisting
of a concertina and a flute, played by two of the steerage
passengers, but the vessel rolled so persistently that we often
lost our equilibrium and reeled like drunken men and women.
I must stop: curiosity bids me go on deck. We shall shortly be in
the quarantine harbour, the entrance of which is said to be very
fine; though I very much doubt our being able to see anything, as,
in spite of being in this much boasted climate of the new world,
it is raining and is dull enough to rejoice the hearts of true
John Bulls like your daughter's.
* * * * *
NAVY YARD, NEW YORK, April 30th.
I hope you will have got our letters sent off by the ship's boat
the night before we were allowed to land, as, though we arrived in
the quarantine harbour at 7 o'clock, it was too late for the
Custom-house and medical officers to inspect us; we therefore had
to lay to, and only moved up to the wharf about 8 o'clock the next
morning. We were greeted by a most kind letter of welcome, and the
first thing we saw as we got to the dock was the Navy Yard Tug
with the Commodore and daughters on board to receive us; and,
thanks to them, we had no difficulties or bothers. The Custom-