Adventures and Letters HTML version

like a boy off on a holiday-- I think he is very much in love with his wife, but in spite of
himself he is glad to get a holiday, and like all of us he will be so much more glad when
he is homeward bound. They threatened to shut us out of our only chance of putting foot
on land at Madeira-- In the first place, we were so delayed by the storm that we arrived at
eight o'clock at night, so that we missed seeing it in its beauty of flowers and palms. And
then it was so rough that they said it was most unsafe for us to attempt to go ashore. It
was a great disappointment but I urged that every one loved his own life, and if the
natives were willing to risk theirs to sell us photographs and wicker baskets it was
probably safer than it looked-- So we agreed to die together, and with Somers got our rain
coats, and the three of us leaped into a row boat pulled by two Portugese pirates and
started off toward a row of lamps on a quay that seemed much lower than the waves. The
remainder on the ship watched us disappear with ominus warnings-- We really had a
most adventurous passage--towards shore the waves tossed us about like a lobster pot and
we just missed being run down by a coal barge and escaped an upset over the bow anchor
chain of a ship. It was so close that both Somers and I had our coats off and I told Cecil to
grab the chain-- But we weathered it and landed at a high gangway cut in the solid rock
the first three steps of which were swamped by the waves. A rope and chain hung from
the top of the wharf and a man swung his weight on this and yanked us out to the steps as
the boat was on the wave. The rain beat and the wind roared and beautiful palms lashed
the air with their fronds-- It was grand to get on shore once again-- At the end of the
wharf we were hustled into a sled on steel runners, like a hearse with curtains around it
and drawn by bullocks-- The streets were all of mosaic, thousands of little stones being
packed together like corn on a cob. Over this the heavy sledge was drawn by the bullocks
while a small boy ran ahead through the narrow streets to clear the way-- He had a
feather duster made of horse's tail as a badge of authority and he yelled some strange cry
at the empty streets and closed houses. Another little boy in a striped jersey ran beside
and assured us he was a guide. It was like a page out of a fairy story.
The strange cart sliding and slipping over the stones which were as smooth as ice, and the
colored house fronts and the palms and strange plants. The darkness made it all the more
unreal-- There was a governor's palace buttressed and guarded by sentinels in a strange
uniform and queer little cafe's under vines--and terraces of cannon, and at last a funny,
pathetic little casino. It was such a queer imitation of Aix and Monte Carlo-- There were
chasseurs and footmen in magnificent livery and stucco white walls ornamented with silk
SHAWLS. Also a very good band and a new roulette table-- Coming in out of the night
and the rain it was like a theatre after the "dark scene" has just passed-- There were some
most dignified croupiers and three English women and a few sad English men and some
very wicked looking natives in diamonds and white waistcoats. We had only fifteen
minutes to spare so we began playing briskly with two shilling pieces Cecil with
indifferent fortune and Somers losing-- But I won every time and the croupiers gave me
strange notes of the Bonco de Portugal which I put back on the board only to get more of
a larger number-- I felt greatly embarrassed as I was not a real member of the club and I
hated to blow in out of a hurricane and take their money and sail away again-- So I
appealed to one of the sad eyed Englishmen and he assured me it was all right, that they
welcomed the people from the passing steamers who generally left a few pounds each
with the bank. But the more I spread the money the more I won until finally the whole