The twilight is sad and cloudy, 
    The wind blows wild and free, 
    And like the wings of sea-birds 
    Flash the white caps of the sea.

Friday, September 22nd. - Mr. Fisher called for me at 8 a.m., to drive me in his little carriage to the railway yard and workshops, and then to pay some farewell visits. We also went to see the market, and to get some photographs of Rosario; after which, breakfast, packing-up, and paying the bill occupied our time until one o'clock, when we started for the steamer, to return to Buenos Ayres. On our arrival alongside the 'Proveedor,' I found that nearly all our Rosario friends had come down to the landing-place to see us off, and had brought all manner of remembrances for me and the children. Flowers in profusion; a tame cardinal bird for Muriel; a pair of dear little long-tailed green paroquets; the skin of a seal, shot at the Alexandria colony; a beautiful poncho; an Argentine bit, whip, and stirrups; a carpincha skin; two pretty little muletas - a sort of armadillo, very tame, and often kept in the houses here as a pet; and several other presents, all of which, when I look at them at home, will serve to remind me of the kind donors, and of the happy days spent in the Argentine Republic.

It was not long before we were off, and steaming slowly astern of the 'Uruguay.' This boat is not so large nor so fast as the 'Uruguay,' though the difference in speed does not probably amount to more than fifteen minutes in the twenty-four hours. Her saloon and deck are not so good, but her sleeping-cabins are much larger and more comfortable. The Italian captains are equally agreeable on both steamers, the civility is the same, and the fares and food are precisely similar, so that there is not much left to influence one in the choice of vessels. We had a pleasant party at an excellent dinner in the evening, the captain only regretting that we had not been on board two days ago, when Mlle. P. and the opera company went down from Rosario to Buenos Ayres. They had a very cheery evening, and some good music, which Tom told us afterwards he thoroughly enjoyed. There were no musicians on board to-night, and not any temptation to sit up late, which was perhaps as well; one of the reasons for our going back this way being that we wished to have an opportunity of seeing the River Tigre, which we should reach in the early morning. On the upward journey we had, to save time, embarked at Campana, which is situated above that river.

Saturday, September 23rd. - At 4.30 a.m. the captain called me, being anxious that I should not miss any of the beauties of the Tigre. On my arrival on deck he kindly had a chair placed for me right in the bows, provided me with rugs and wraps, and sent for some hot coffee, which was particularly acceptable, as the morning air was fresh and chilly. The sky was flushed with rosy clouds, the forerunners of one of the most beautiful sunrises imaginable. The river itself is narrow and monotonous, the branches of the willow-tree on either bank almost sweeping the sides of the steamer. The centre channel is fairly deep; but we managed to run aground once, though we only drew nine feet, and in turning a sharp corner it was necessary to send a boat ashore with a rope, to pull the vessel's head round.

At half-past six we reached the port of Tigre, where we found many fine ships waiting for the tide, to go up the river. Some delay occurred while the passengers' luggage was being examined; but in about half an hour we were able to land and walk to the railway-station, through an avenue of shady trees, round the trunks of which the wistaria, now in full bloom, was climbing, and past several houses, whose pretty gardens were ablaze with all sorts of flowers. At the station I found a letter from Tom, telling me we were expected to breakfast at a quinta, not far from Buenos Ayres.

For about an hour and a half the line ran through a rich and fertile country, quite the garden of Buenos Ayres, until we arrived at the station where we were to alight. Here Mr. Coghlan met us and drove us to his house, which is charmingly situated in the midst of a grove of olive-trees, formerly surrounding the palace of the viceroys. After breakfast the gardener cut us a fine bouquet of roses and violets, and we walked to the tramway, and were conveyed by one of the cars, smoothly and quickly, to the city. The contrast between this mode of travelling and riding in an ordinary carriage through the ill-paved streets is very striking. It is really less fatiguing to walk than to adopt the latter mode of conveyance, and I believe that, but for the look of the thing, most people would prefer to do so. How the vehicles themselves stand the jolting I cannot imagine, for they are all large and handsome, and must suffer tremendous strains.

At noon we went with Mr. Coghlan to see the market and the museum, and to do some shopping. The market is a large open building, well supplied with everything at moderate prices; meat, game, fruit, vegetables, and flowers being especially cheap and good. House-rent and fine clothes - what Muriel would call 'dandy things' - are very dear in Buenos Ayres, but all the necessaries of life are certainly cheap. People of the middle and lower classes live much better here than they do at home, and the development of bone and muscle in large families of small children, owing to the constant use of so much meat and strong soup, is very remarkable. When once they have attained the age at which they can run about, children get on very well; but the climate, and the difficulty of obtaining a proper supply of milk in hot weather, often prove fatal to infants. It is very difficult to get good servants here, as they can easily obtain much higher pay in other capacities, and are very soon enabled to set up in business for themselves. Returning to the hotel, we collected our parcels and had some luncheon, and then proceeded to the pier, where we found the children waiting for us to embark in the gig, and we soon arrived safely on board the 'Sunbeam.'

At about half-past six, Tom and Mabelle returned from their expedition to the largest and most comfortable estancia in the country, where they were received most hospitably, and enjoyed themselves very much.

After dinner, some of our party left in the whale-boat, being anxious to be present at Madame Almazilia's benefit performance at the opera, for which I fear they arrived too late after all. Whilst we were waiting at the railway-station to-day, some of the bouquets, which were to be presented at the theatre to-night, arrived by train. The flowers were arranged in all manner of strange shapes and devices - full-sized tables and chairs, music-stands, and musical instruments, and many other quaint conceits, composed entirely of grey Neapolitan violets, marked out with camellias and other coloured flowers.

Sunday, September 24th. - Most of us went ashore in the whale-boat at ten o'clock, to attend the English church, reopened to-day for the first time for some months. After our own service we met many friends, and walked to the Roman Catholic cathedral. The streets were full of well-appointed carriages, and in the interior of the building we found a great many well-dressed ladies, and a few men. Mass had not commenced, and a constant stream of worshippers was still entering; but we remained only for a short time, and then returned to the Mole. By this time the wind had freshened considerably, and several of our friends tried to persuade us to remain on shore; but as we knew Tom was expecting us, and we wanted to get the things we required for our next journey, we thought it better to go off.

It took us two hours and a half, beating against the wind, to reach the yacht, sea-sick, and drenched to the skin. Directly we got outside the bar the sea was very bad, and each wave broke more or less over the little half-deck, under which the children had been packed away for shelter. Seeing how rough it was out at the anchorage - far worse than near the shore - Tom had quite given us up, for it was now half-past three, and was preparing to come ashore, bringing our things with him. On board the yacht we found an unfortunate French maid, and another servant, who had come off early in the morning to spend the day and have dinner with our people, but who were now lying prostrate and ill in the cabin.

Champagne and luncheon revived us a little, and Tom hurried us off to get ashore again by daylight, before the weather became worse. It was a very pleasant twenty minutes' sail to the shore, racing along before the wind, with two reefs in the mainsail - quite a different thing from beating out. The tide was high, and the captain therefore steered for the pier, where he hoped to land us. Unfortunately, however, he missed it; and as it was impossible to make another tack out, all that could be done was to let go the anchor to save running ashore, and wait until they sent out a small boat to fetch us. This took some little time during which we pitched and tossed about in a very disagreeable fashion. When the boat did at last arrive she turned out to be a wretched little skiff, rowed by two men, with very indifferent oars, and only capable of taking three passengers at a time. Tom went first, taking with him the two children, and the two poor sea-sick maids, and the boat at once put off for the land, Tom steering. It was terrible to watch them from the whale-boat, and when one tremendous sea came, and the skiff broached to, I thought for a moment that all was over, as did every one who was watching our proceedings from the pier. I could not look any more, till I heard shouts that they were safe ashore. Then came our turn. The boat returned for us, this time provided with better oars, and we were soon landed in safety, if not in comfort; and a third and last trip brought ashore the rest of the party and the luggage, Tom remaining at the tiller.

Mr. Coghlan had come down to meet us, but, seeing the peril of the first boat, had gone away until he heard we were all landed, and now returned to congratulate us on our narrow escape and present safety. After we had rested for a short time in the waiting-room, to recover from our fright and shake our dripping garments, we went to the Hotel de la Paix, where we dined, and at ten o'clock we walked down to the railway-station, where a large number of people had already assembled, some of whom were to accompany us to Azul, while others had only come to see us off.

Everything had been most comfortably arranged for us in the special train. The interior fittings of two second-class American carriages had been completely taken out, and a canvas lining, divided into compartments, each containing a cozy little bed, had been substituted. Wash-stands, looking-glasses, &c., had been provided, and a profusion of beautiful flowers filled in every available spot. In a third car two tables, occupying its entire length, with seats on one side of each table, had been placed; and here it was intended that we should breakfast, lunch, and dine.

Monday, September 25th. - We slept soundly - speaking for the children and myself - until we were aroused at six o'clock this morning by the agreeable intelligence that we had reached our destination. Azul is about 300 miles south of Buenos Ayres, on the Southern Railway. It is a small and primitive place in itself, but is situated in the midst of splendid pastures, both for rearing sheep and cattle, of which there are large flocks and herds.

Whilst we were waiting for breakfast, we walked a little distance to see a troop of mares treading mud for bricks. It was a curious, but rather sad sight. Inside a circular enclosure, some fifty yards in diameter, about fifty half-starved animals, up to their houghs in very sloppy mud, were being driven round about, and up and down, as fast as they could go, by a mounted peon, assisted by five or six men on foot, outside the enclosure, armed with long heavy whips, which they used constantly. Some of the poor creatures had foals, which were tied up a little distance off, and which kept up a piteous whinnying, as an accompaniment to the lashings and crackings of the whips. On our way back to the station we saw a horse, attached to a light gig, bolt across the Pampas at full gallop, vainly pursued by a man on horseback. First one wheel came off and then the other; then the body of the gig was left behind, and then the shafts and most of the harness followed suit; until at last - as we afterwards heard - the runaway reached his home, about five miles off, with only his bridle remaining.

At nine o'clock the breakfast-bell rang, and we found an excellent repast spread out for us on two long tables. An hour later we started in seven large carriages, and proceeded first to make the tour of the town, afterwards visiting the bank, and a fine new house in the course of construction by a native, built entirely of white marble from Italy. Then we paid a visit to some Indians - an old chief and his four wives, who have settled quietly down in a toldo near the town. They were not bad-looking, and appeared fairly comfortable, as they squatted in the open air round the fire, above which was suspended a large iron pot, containing, to judge by the look and smell, a most savoury preparation. We next went to a store, where we picked up a few curiosities, and then drove to the mill of Azul, a new establishment, of which the inhabitants of the town are evidently very proud. There is a pretty walk by the mill-stream, overhung with willows, and close by is another toldo, inhabited by more Indians.

Leaving the town, we now proceeded about two leagues across the Pampas to Mr. Frer's estancia. He is a farmer, on a very extensive scale, and possesses about 24,000 sheep and 500 horses, besides goodly herds of cattle. The locusts have not visited this part of the country, and the pastures are consequently in fine condition after the late rains, while the sheep look proportionately well. We passed a largegrasseria, or place where sheep are killed at the rate of seven in a minute, and are skinned, cut up, and boiled down for tallow in an incredibly short space of time, the residue of the meat being used in the furnace as fuel. Running about loose, outside, were four or five curly-horned rams, between two of which a grand combat took place, apparently conducted in strict accordance with the rules of fighting etiquette. The two animals began by walking round and round, eyeing each other carefully, and then retiring backwards a certain distance, which might have been measured out for them, they stopped so exactly simultaneously. Then, gazing steadfastly at one another for a few moments, as if to take aim, they rushed forward with tremendous force, dashing their foreheads together with a crash that might have been heard a mile away. It seemed marvellous that they did not fracture their skulls, for they repeated the operation three or four times before Mr. Frer could get a man to help to stop the fight, when the two combatants were led off, in a very sulky state, to be locked up apart.

Arrangements had been made for us to see as much of station-life as possible during our short visit. The peons' dinner had been put back, in order that we might witness their peculiar method of roasting, or rather baking, their food, and eating it; but we were rather later than was expected, and the men were so hungry that we were only able to see the end of the performance. Mr. Frer had also sent a long way across the Pampas for some wild horses, belonging to him, in order that we might see them lassoed; and Colonel Donovan had brought with him one of his best domidors, or horse-breakers, that we might have an opportunity of seeing an unbroken colt caught and backed for the first time.

About a hundred horses were driven into a large corral, and several gauchos and peons, some on horseback and some on foot, exhibited their skill with the lasso, by catching certain of the animals, either by the fore leg, the hind leg, or the neck, as they galloped round and round at full speed. The captured animal got a tremendous fall in each case, and if the mounted horse was not very clever and active, he and his rider were very likely to be thrown down also. There was the risk too of the man receiving an injury from the lasso itself, if it should happen to get round his body, in which case he would probably be almost cut in half by the sudden jerk.

The next proceeding was to cast a lasso at a potro, or unbroken colt, who was galloping about in the very centre of the troop, at full speed. His fore legs were caught dexterously in the noose, which brought him up, or rather down, instantly, head over heels. Another lasso was then thrown over his head, and drawn quite tight round his neck, and a bridle, composed of two or three thongs of raw hide, was forced into his mouth by means of a slip-knot rein. A sheepskin saddle was placed on his back, the man who was to ride him standing over him, with one foot already in the stirrup. All this time the poor horse was lying on the ground, with his legs tied close together, frightened almost out of his life, trembling in every limb, and perspiring from every pore. When the man was ready, the horse's legs were loosened sufficiently to allow him to rise, and he was then led outside the corral. The lassoes were suddenly withdrawn, and he dashed forwards, springing and plunging upwards, sideways, downwards, in every direction, in the vain effort to rid himself of his unaccustomed load. The man remained planted, like a rock, in the saddle, pulling hard at the bridle, while a second domidor, mounted on a tame horse, pursued the terrified animal, striking him with a cruel whip to make him go in the required direction. After about ten minutes of this severe exercise, the captive returned to the corral, exhausted, and perfectly cowed, and showing no desire to rejoin his late companions. In order to complete the process of breaking him in, we were told that it would be necessary to keep him tied up for two or three days, rather short of food, and to repeat daily the operation of saddling, bridling, and mounting, the difficulty being less on each occasion, until at last he would become as quiet as a lamb.

We now saw our train approaching, orders having been given for it to come as far as it could from the station to meet us. We wished good-bye to Mr. Frer and his party, and, with many thanks to all, got into our carriages and drove across the plains to the railway. On our way we passed some large lagunes, full of wild fowl, and surrounded by scarlet flamingoes and pelicans. The ground we had to traverse was very boggy; so much so, that two of the carriages got stuck, and their occupants had to turn out and walk. At last we reached the train, and climbed into the cars, where we found an excellent luncheon prepared, which we ate whilst the train dashed along at the rate of forty miles an hour. About seven o'clock we stopped for tea and coffee, and the children were put to bed. By nine we had reached the junction for Buenos Ayres, where an engine met us, and took most of our party into the city, in one of the cars, while we went on to Punta Lara, the station for Ensenada.

On arriving we were met by several of our men, who had been allowed to go ashore at Buenos Ayres on Sunday morning, and had not been able to rejoin the yacht since. On Sunday night, when they were to have returned, it was impossible for them to get off. Even the whale-boat was nearly dashed to pieces, at anchor, near the pier. They spent the early part of Monday morning in hunting everywhere with the pilot for the lost steward, and at last left the shore just in time to see the yacht steaming down the river, with only half her crew on board, and without a pilot. It seems they had been waited for from eight o'clock until eleven; it then became necessary to get under way, for fear of losing the tide. As it was, the yacht had not been able to get near the pier at Ensenada, and was now lying in the river, two miles out. The station-master, having been informed of the state of affairs, very kindly had steam got up in the railway tug to take us off. The children, with their nurses, remained in bed in the car, which was shunted into a siding until the morning, the doctor staying on shore in charge. The rest of us then set out for the yacht, which we reached at 1 a.m., only to be greeted with the pleasing intelligence that no fresh provisions had arrived on board for the party of friends we were expecting. The captain of the tug was good enough to promise to do what he could for us on shore; but everything is brought here from Buenos Ayres, and it is too late to telegraph for a supply. We cannot help fearing that something must have happened to our steward, for he has always been most steady and respectable hitherto, and I fancy Buenos Ayres is rather a wild place. Every inquiry is to be made, and I can only trust the morning may bring us some news.

Tuesday, September 26th. - The morning was fine, with a nice breeze, but the tide was so low that we should have been unable to get alongside the pier until ten o'clock, when Tom thought we should just miss our guests. It was therefore decided that it would be better to send the steam-tug to meet the special train, especially as, if we took the yacht in, it would be impossible to get out again in the middle of the night, when we had arranged to sail.

The steam-tug came off early, bringing two sheep, half a bullock, and some wild ducks, much to the relief of the cook's mind; but there were no vegetables to be had on shore, and of course it was too late to send to Buenos Ayres for any. We had to do the best we could without them, therefore, and I really do not think any one knew of the dilemma we had been in, until they were told, at the end of the day. The servants all turned to and worked with a will; but it was rather a different matter from having a large luncheon party on board in the Thames, with our London servants and supplies to fall back upon.

For our own part, I think we all felt that the comparative scarcity of meat this morning was an agreeable change, after our recent experiences. Animal food is so cheap and so good in this country that at every meal four or five dishes of beef or mutton, dressed in various ways, are provided. In the camp - as all the country round Buenos Ayres is called - people eat nothing but meat, either fresh or dried, and hardly any flour with it. Especially in the more distant estancias, beef and mutton, poultry and eggs, form the staple food of the inhabitants. Very little bread is eaten, and no vegetables, and an attempt is rarely made to cultivate a garden of any sort. This year, too, the ravages of the locusts have made vegetable food scarcer than ever, and it must now be looked upon quite as a luxury by very many people; for there can be little doubt that to live entirely on meat, even of the best quality, though probably strengthening, must be exceedingly monotonous.

About one o'clock we saw the tug coming off again, this time with her decks crowded. We found she had brought us fifteen ladies and thirty gentlemen - more than we had expected, on account of the shortness of the notice we had been able to give. The luncheon was managed by dividing our guests into three parties, the coffee and dessert being served on deck; but I am afraid the last division got very hungry before their time arrived. It could not, however, be helped, and it is to be hoped that the examination of the various parts of the yacht and her contents served to while away the time. Every one seemed to be pleased with the appearance of the vessel, never having seen one like her before. Indeed, the only yacht that has ever been here previously is the 'Eothen,' which formerly belonged to us.

Mr. St. John's servant brought me a most magnificent bouquet, composed entirely of violets, arranged in the shape of a basket, three feet in width, full of camellias, and marked with my initials in alyssum. Altogether it was quite a work of art, but almost overpoweringly sweet.

It was late before our friends began the task of saying good-bye - no light matter where, as in the present case, it is doubtful whether, or at any rate when, we shall meet again. At last they left us, steaming round the yacht in the tug, and giving us some hearty cheers as they passed. The Minister's flag was run up, salutes were exchanged, and the little steamer rapidly started off in the direction of the shore, followed by a dense cloud of her own smoke. Through a telescope we watched our friends disembark at the pier, and saw the train steam away; and then we turned our thoughts to the arrangements for our own departure.

Wednesday, September 27th. - A fine breeze was blowing this morning, in a favourable direction for our start, but as ten and eleven o'clock arrived, and there were still no signs of the expected stores, Tom was in despair, and wanted to sail without them. I therefore volunteered to go ashore in the gig and see what had happened to them, and telegraph, if necessary, to Mr. Crabtree. Fortunately, we met the tug on our way, and returned in tow of her to the yacht. Then, after settling a few bills, and obtaining our bill of health, we got the anchor up, and proceeded down the river under sail. Between one and two o'clock we commenced steaming, and in the course of the evening were clear of the River Plate and fairly on our way to the Straits of Magellan.