CHAPTER II. An inhospitable reception - Halifax and the Blue Noses - The heat - Disappointed expectations - The great departed - What the Blue Noses might be - What the coach was not - Nova Scotia and its capabilities - The roads and their annoyances - A
A fearful catastrophe happened to the Fairy Queen, a small mail steamer plying between these ports, not long ago. By some carelessness, she sprang a leak and sank; the captain and crew escaping to Pictou in the ship's boats, which were large enough to have saved all the passengers. Here they arrived, and related the story of the wreck, in the hope that no human voice would ever tell of their barbarity and cowardice. Several perished with the ill-fated vessel, among whom were Dr. Mackenzie, a promising young officer, and two young ladies, one of whom was coming to England to be married. A few of the passengers floated off on the upper deck and reached the land in safety, to bear a terrible testimony to the inhumanity which had left their companions to perish. A voice from the dead could not have struck greater horror into the heart of the craven captain than did that of those whom he never expected to meet till the sea should give up her dead. The captain was committed for manslaughter, but escaped the punishment due to his offence, though popular indignation was strongly excited against him. We were told to be on board the Lady le Marchant by twelve o'clock, and endured four hours' detention on her broiling deck, without any more substantial sustenance than was afforded to us by some pine-apples. We were five hours in crossing Northumberland Strait - five hours of the greatest possible discomfort. We had a head-wind and a rough chopping sea, which caused the little steamer to pitch unmercifully. After gaining a distant view of Cape Breton Island, I lay down on a mattress on deck, in spite of the persecutions of an animated friend, who kindly endeavoured to rouse me to take a first view of Prince Edward Island.
When at last, in the comparative calmness of the entrance to Charlotte Town harbour, I stood up to look about me, I could not help admiring the peaceful beauty of the scene. Far in the distance were the sterile cliffs of Nova Scotia and the tumbling surges of the Atlantic, while on three sides we were surrounded by land so low that the trees upon it seemed almost growing out of the water. The soil was the rich red of Devonshire, the trees were of a brilliant green, and sylvan lawns ran up amongst them. The light canoes of the aborigines glided gracefully on the water, or lay high and dry on the beach; and two or three miles ahead the spires and houses of the capital of the island lent additional cheerfulness to the prospect.
We were speedily moored at the wharf, and my cousins, after an absence of eight years, were anxiously looking round for some familiar faces among the throng on the shore. They had purposely avoided giving any intimation to their parents of their intended arrival, lest anything should occur to prevent the visit; therefore they were entirely unexpected. But, led by the true instinct of natural affection, they were speedily recognised by those of their relatives who were on the wharf, and many a joyful meeting followed which must amply have compensated for the dreary separation of years.
It was in an old-English looking, red brick mansion, encircled by plantations of thriving firs - warmly welcomed by relations whom I had never seen, for the sake of those who had been my long-tried friends - surrounded by hearts rejoicing in the blessings of unexpected re-union, and by faces radiant with affection and happiness - that I spent my first evening in the "Garden of British America."