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Title: A Lady's Captivity among Chinese Pirates in the Chinese Seas
Author: Loviot, Fanny
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Lady's Captivity among Chinese Pirates in the Chinese Seas" ***


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  The Chinese Seas.







When I first related to you the following strange and eventful
episode, you advised me, inexperienced as I was, to write and publish
it. I had never written a book in my life; but you encouraged me to
make the attempt. "Be simple," you said, "be natural, and even
simplicity and nature will suffice to make your work attractive. Add
nothing, and take nothing away. Relate all your sufferings, and bid
your pen record the faithful dictates of your memory. You will at
least find friends among that healthy class which loves the simple and
the true. Leave geology and geography alone, and be only yourself--a
young and courageous woman, cast into the midst of frightful dangers,
and miraculously saved. Many as are the readers and writers of
travels, few women have visited China, and none, save yourself, have
such a tale of adventure to relate. Write, then, and fear nothing."

It was thus, Madame, that you persuaded me, and it is thus that I have
obeyed you. I have lived, while writing, amid the scenes and
sufferings of the past. I have once again experienced all the terrors
of captivity--once again been tossed by tempests, blinded by
incendiary flames, and threatened with uplifted sabres. Inasmuch as
these things have moved me by the mere remembrance, so I trust they
may interest others in the mere recital. They will at least bear the
impress of emotion and truth.

I place myself, Madame, under your patronage, and beg that you will
accept this expression of my respect and affection.

                                                    FANNY LOVIOT.



  Departure from Havre--Regrets--A Barrier of Rocks--Rio
  Janeiro--Departure from Rio--Six Weeks at Sea--Cape Horn--
  Storms--Death of a Sailor--Catching a Shark--Land! Land!--
  The Gold Country                                            _page_ 1


  The Bay of San Francisco--Deserted Ships--The Mission--
  Dolores--Manners of the Chinese Emigrants--The Black
  Race--The Loungers of Jackson Street--Gaming Houses--The
  Black Band--The Committee of Vigilance--On Hanging         _page_ 13


  Sacramento--Fort Sutter--Nomadic Indians--Marysville--
  Shasta City--Adventure with a Bear--Weaverville--The
  Miners--The Rocky Mountains--Eureka--Return to San
  Francisco                                                  _page_ 25


  Fire--Departure for China--The "Arcturus"--An Invalid on
  Board--Chinese Sorcerers--Death--The Chinese Seas--A
  Watery Journey--Arrival at Hong-Kong--Visit to the
  Consul--Journey to Canton--Chinese Insurrection            _page_ 42


  Captain Rooney--Than-Sing--A Storm--The Typhoon--Fall of
  the Mizen-mast--Effects of the Tempest--Disasters of the
  "Caldera"--Chinese Pirates--Scene between Decks--A Crew in
  Fetters--Examination--I am threatened with Death--Plunder  _page_ 55


  Unlading--The Good Chinese--A Ray of Hope--A Second
  Flotilla--Disguise--Hunger--The Father of a Family--
  Proposed Escape--Refusal of the Crew--Rage of Captain
  Rooney--Hopes and Disappointments                          _page_ 72


  Efforts at Escape--Attempted Flight--Return to the
  "Caldera"--Capture--Cruelties of the Pirates--Portrait of
  a Pirate Chief--Chinese Prayer--Death of a Pirate--
  Seizure of a Merchant Junk--Fresh Plunder--Fortune of
  the Vanquished                                             _page_ 88


  Despair--I write the Date of my Captivity--Benevolence of
  the Pirates--A Happy Meal--A Steamer in Sight--Flight of
  the Pirates--Gratitude--Hurrah! Hurrah! I am Saved!       _page_ 107


  Captain Rooney's Story--Expedition along the Coast--The
  Pirate's Mother--Death of a Chinese--The "Lady Mary
  Wood"--Return to Hong-Kong--Protection of the
  Consul--Visit of Than-Sing--Good-bye to Captain Rooney    _page_ 122


  Departure from China--The "Malta"--Singapore--Penang--The
  Island of Ceylon--The "Bentinck"--Aden--In the Red Sea--
  The Isthmus of Suez--Cairo--The Nile--The Pyramids--
  Boulac--Alexandria--The "Valetta"--Malta--
  Marseilles--End of a Journey Round the World              _page_ 136




     Departure from Havre--Regrets--A Barrier of Rocks--Rio
     Janeiro--Departure from Rio--Six Weeks at Sea--Cape
     Horn--Storms--Death of a Sailor--Catching a Shark--Land!
     Land!--The Gold Country.

In the year 1852, on a fine spring morning, I arrived in Havre with my
eldest sister, who was going, on commercial matters, to California. We
spent several days in Havre; and on the 30th of May, being Whitsunday,
we embarked on board the little French schooner called the
"Independence," the captain whereof engaged to touch at Rio for food
and water. Besides the captain, the master, and the crew, our vessel
carried eighteen passengers, all of whom were going to seek their
fortunes in California. The weather was superb, and our captain took
advantage of a favourable breeze to set sail. The quay was crowded
with spectators, and it was not without some dismay that we overheard
their observations on the size of our schooner. "Never," said they,
"can such a boat double Cape Horn. The least puff of wind must swamp a
nutshell like that!" It is easy to conceive the impression which
opinions such as these were calculated to produce on two inexperienced
_Parisiennes_, who, like my sister and myself, were travelling for the
first time. We looked hesitatingly in each others faces; but it was
too late. The time for hesitation was gone by.

In another moment we heard the captain cry, "Let go the moorings!" All
was now over and the great sacrifice was accomplished. Farewell, dear
friends--Farewell, France--Farewell, Paris, which is a fatherland
within a fatherland!--Farewell, all that is comfortable--Farewell,
fashion, amusement, peaceful sleep, home comforts--Farewell, in fact,
to all that makes life pleasant! For five months, at the least, I must
sleep in a hammock instead of a bed; the sky must be my ceiling, and
the sea my floor. My only music will be the sound of the breaking
waves, and the untaught songs of the sailors. We are going to seek our
fortunes--to seek, but what to find? Leaning sorrowfully over the side
of the vessel, my heart full of a thousand hopes and regrets, I waved
my handkerchief in token of farewell to the friends I left behind me.
First the jetty receded; then Ingouville, with its amphitheatre of
houses; Ste. Addresse, which owes its celebrity to Alphonse Karr;
then Cape la Hêve; and then there remained only the sky and the ocean.

We spent seven days in the Channel--seven days of rain and fog, with a
leaden sky above, and the angry waves below. I was very ill during
this part of the voyage. Not till the Sunday, which was the seventh
day after our departure, had I strength to venture upon deck. The
beacon off the Lizard Point was just visible, and I stood there
watching it, till the light finally disappeared.

The passage of the Bay of Biscay was accomplished, not without danger
to our fragile bark. At length, after fifteen days on the sea, we came
within the influence of a Brazilian climate. I was never weary of
admiring those clear skies and glorious sunsets the beauty of which no
art could adequately reproduce.

We were rapidly approaching Janeiro, when we were one day startled by
a sound like the rolling of distant thunder. The sea was calm; there
was not a cloud overhead, and no other ship in sight. The deck was
crowded in an instant. The noise grew louder, and we gazed tremblingly
in each others faces. The mate, who was on the look out, cried
"Breakers ahead!" "Helm about!" replied the captain. The order came
just in time. Happily for us, our little schooner escaped with only a

Brief as this incident had been, the women were all either fainting
or shrieking. As for me, I was petrified. I had not really understood
the imminence of the danger; but I always looked upon the captain's
face as a kind of sea-barometer, and, on this occasion, the barometer
fell considerably. My poor sister was overwhelmed with terror. "Cheer
up," said I. "You have been longing for an adventure ever since we
started, and here is a promising commencement!"

Eight days after this we were in the roads of Rio Janeiro, and came in
sight of the Sugar-loaf Mountain, which towers above the bay. I can
hardly believe that there exists under heaven a more exquisite scene.
It is ineffaceably engraved on my memory. I can still see those wooded
hills, those solitary creeks, those delicious valleys, those trees
which never know an autumn tint, that immense expanse of sea, and all
that marvellous landscape, which, even as one looks upon it, seems
more of a dream than a reality.

The entrance to the port is defended by several forts, amongst which
are those of Santa Cruz, Villagagnon, and the Isle of Serpents. These
two last, which are the most imposing, are built upon islands lying
within the bay. At Rio Janeiro we rejoiced to resume the manners and
habits of Europe.

Rio is, as every one knows, a purely commercial city. The harbour, the
exchange, and the markets are crowded with merchants and sailors. The
variety of costumes, the songs of the negro porters, the chiming of
church bells, the diversity of languages and faces, German, French,
and Italian, all contribute to give a strange and lively aspect to the

During the fifteen days which we passed at Rio Janeiro, we visited all
that was worth seeing in the city and its environs. The mountains,
towards the north-east, are much built over. It is there that the
Jesuit college, the Benedictine convent, the episcopal palace, and the
Fort of Concéiado are situated. The architecture of these buildings
appeared to me both heavy and ungraceful; but I much admired the
aqueduct (finished in 1840), which brings the water from the torrents
of Corcavado down to the city fountains. The imperial palace of St.
Christopher is built at some distance from Rio, and is approached by a
portico and a double colonnade. The promenade in front is planted with
mangoes and laurels. There, like a true _Parisienne_, I did not fail
closely to observe the _toilettes_ of the Brazilian belles. Although
these ladies profess themselves the devoted followers of our French
fashions, they still indulge the Portuguese taste for ornament. The
amount of jewels worn by each would be sufficient to stock a
shop-window; and they chiefly love to dazzle from a distance. On the
whole, they are pretty; though perhaps a little too pale and sallow.
With strangers they are familiar, perhaps even somewhat coquettish,
and their nonchalance is particularly amusing. Lounging nearly all day
on sofas covered with matting, they disdain mere household matters. As
to their education, they never receive any; and their conversation is
of the most uninteresting description. Their favourite topics are
their slaves and their servants. It is no unusual sight to see these
indolent women rouse themselves from their habitual lethargy, to run
long needles into the arms or bosoms of the negresses who wait upon
them. The society of Rio Janeiro is divided into _coteries_. The young
Emperor of Brazil patronizes art, science, and letters; his people
occupy themselves only with trade and money-getting. Indeed it is not
long since a Parisian bookseller, of whom I enquired respecting the
literature most in favour at Rio, replied that the books which sold
best in the Brazils were those with red bindings! As to the commerce
of Rio, it has increased of late to an enormous degree. Sugars,
coffees, cottons, rum, tobacco, and other articles of native produce,
are exported every year to the value of several millions of piastres.
I can never forget the delight with which I visited the environs of
Rio, or the delicious excursion that we made to the neighbourhood of
Tijuca. It took us two days to get there; but we halted for the night
at a plantation, where we were received with the utmost hospitality.
Starting by daybreak the next morning, we proceeded through a
labyrinth of delightful paths, and soon found ourselves face to face
with the famous cascade, which is here precipitated into the midst of
an amphitheatre of rocks. In the presence of this spectacle I must
confess, in justice to myself, that I began to be somewhat consoled
for the absence of Paris, and the Boulevard des Italiens. Often, O
shade of Louis XIV.! as I had seen the great fountains at Versailles,
I now found them surpassed. Less agreeable, I admit, was the knowledge
that these vast solitudes were peopled with jaguars and other
ferocious beasts. After all, I prefer to admire wild animals in the
Jardin des Plantes.

Having laid in fresh provisions, the captain took advantage of the
fine weather, and we left Rio Janeiro. My sister and I had also
stocked ourselves with good things; amongst the rest, with a large
quantity of delicious little oranges, fine-skinned, perfumed, and
sweet, which are sold in Rio for a mere song.

On the 7th of July we set sail once more for California. Seeing our
little schooner depart on so long a voyage, the Brazilians proved
themselves quite as discouraging as our evil prophets of Havre. "The
'Independence,'" said they, "can never weather the tempests off Cape
Horn!" My sister implored me not to continue our voyage; but,
although I partook of all her fears, I remained inflexible.
Independently of my desire to make a fortune, I felt myself impelled
to go farther and farther away, and court the very dangers that I
feared. I was proud of having crossed the line, and could not have
borne to pause when half-way on the road. I had not much confidence in
our schooner; but, had we chosen to go on by another vessel, we must
have paid our fare twice over, and we had already spent as much as was
consistent with our means.

Behold us, then, once more at sea, and, this time, for two or three
months at the least. We talked, it is true, of touching at Lima, but
on this head there was nothing certain. Our living was detestable; and
despite the expostulations, and even the blows, with which our _chef_
was stimulated, he never seemed to improve. My belief is, that he
cooked entirely by chance. Wearied to death were we of potted meats,
cabbage-soup, and half-boiled cod. These details are not poetical, but
the facts are painfully true. On board the steamers (which put
frequently into port, and carry cattle on board) the bill of fare is
generally excellent; but in small merchant-vessels, such as the
"Independence," the food is but too often scanty and unwholesome.

For a whole week we had the finest weather imaginable. There were
five women on board; and we sewed, embroidered, and played at _loto_,
as cosily as in our own homes. Every evening we all assembled upon
deck. There we talked and sang, and the singing, it is true, was not
always very good; but at sea one's audience is not critical. Besides,
it was pleasant to listen to French airs and choruses; and, when far
away, all that recalls one's fatherland is welcome. By the way, I have
forgotten to observe that our crew was entirely French.

And now the weather began to grow colder, and the sea, become more
boisterous, no longer rocked us like a kindly nurse, but flung us
rudely to and fro. Our embroidery, our _loto_, our singing came
abruptly to an end, and we found ourselves subjected to all the
miseries of a maritime journey. Every face was pinched, yellow, and
discontented, and only groans and complaints were heard on every side.
We were not absolutely in any kind of danger; but we were the victims
of sickness and _ennui_. Thus several long weeks went by, and, day by
day, the cold grew more severe. At length we came in sight of Cape
Horn, clad in ice. Involuntarily, I thought of all the evil prophecies
which had accompanied us since we started; but, to my great surprise,
the nearer we approached the Cape, the more tranquil grew the sea. A
dead calm ensued. For forty-eight hours we never stirred a foot. At
length, towards the evening of the second day, the weather changed,
the sea became agitated, and this time we found ourselves indeed
menaced with one of those sudden storms which are peculiar to these
latitudes. The captain instantly took in every sail. At this moment a
young sailor was carried off the yards by a sudden squall, and was not
missed until it was too late to save him. I can still hear the voice
of the captain calling, and counting his sailors--"Jacques, Pierre,
André, Remy, Christian, Robert, where are you?" "Here, sir!" "And
Jean-Marie? Jean-Marie?" But Jean-Marie replied not. He had
disappeared for ever, and of our eight sailors we had lost one. Poor
Jean-Marie had been our ship's carpenter. It was his first voyage, and
he was to have been married on his return. That night, all on board
were sleepless. "They were right," thought I. "This Cape Horn is
indeed a deadly and a dangerous spot!" The moaning sea and the sighing
wind furnished a dreary accompaniment to these sombre thoughts. For
twelve days we remained tossing to and fro without making any
appreciable progress. On the thirteenth, we doubled the Cape. Soon
after this, we sailed into a warmer latitude, and crossed the line for
the second time.

And now the provisions became more and more scanty, wherefore we all
complained bitterly of the shipowner. Eight or ten days more must,
perforce, elapse before we could arrive at San Francisco; and, should
we be delayed by contrary winds, it was just probable that we might
die of hunger on the way. I began now to regret my own obstinacy, and
wished that I had yielded to my sister's entreaties. While we were yet
in this dilemma, our sailors caught a shark. It was so big, that, even
after it was harpooned and hoisted on board, I dared not venture near
it. Armed with their knives, our men speedily despatched it. It then
was delivered over, piece by piece, into the hands of our abominable
cook, who seasoned it with different sauces, and, horrible to relate,
served it up for three successive days! We had, however, endured so
many privations that every one pronounced it to be delicious, and only
the captain and two sailors refused to eat it. Even they refused not
from disgust, but superstition, believing that one day or other they
might chance to be eaten in return.

If there be a delight unknown to those whose careless lives glide by
in lettered leisure; if there be a joy untried by those Sybarites of
great cities who seek to exhaust the pleasures of this world without
risk or fatigue, it is that immense and ineffable rapture which
overflows one's heart at the close of a long sea-voyage. Not till one
has spent six months of life between the sea and the sky, the
plaything of tempests, and subject to all the dangers of shipwreck and
fire, is it possible to comprehend the intoxication of feeling with
which one hears the sailor up aloft pronounce that magic word--"Land!
land!" Everybody rushes on deck--the women burst into tears, for thus
they translate every emotion of joy or sorrow--and the men, eager and
triumphant, congratulate each other upon the distance and the dangers
which are over at last. At sight of San Francisco, our passengers
forgot all the sufferings of the journey, and began dreaming once
again of the good fortune which awaited them. My sister and I followed
the general example, and, for us, the present wore all the pleasant
colours of the future. Poor France! thou wert soon forgotten, and we
already opened our arms to this inhospitable land where gold is the
only true God.


     The Bay of San Francisco--Deserted Ships--The
     Mission-Dolores--Manners of the Chinese Emigrants--The Black
     Race--The Loungers of Jackson Street--Gaming Houses--The
     Black Band--The Committee of Vigilance--On Hanging.

On the 21st of November, 1852, we came in sight of the little islands
called the Farellones, which lie at the mouth of the bay of San
Francisco, and of Bonetta Point, which, towards the left, juts out to
a considerable distance into the sea. At this spot, a pilot came on
board to conduct our schooner through the narrow straits, which
hereabouts are scarcely more than half a mile across. The steep rocks
and sandy hills, all overgrown with brambles, which line the shore on
every side next came into sight; and, immediately afterwards, a
magnificent spectacle was presented to our view. We came, all at once,
upon a fleet met together from every nation under heaven, as if to
attest the importance of this modern city. Turning from the
contemplation of these crowded masts, and parti-coloured flags, I
beheld with surprise the scene of desolation presented by the sandy
shores on the other side of the bay. There, all crowded together and
falling to decay, lay the ruins of another fleet, scarcely less
numerous than the first. Their faded flags hung in tatters from the
broken masts; their decks had given way; and the moss was already
growing in the interstices of the boards. They had long since been
abandoned by their crews, all of whom, once landed, had fled away to
the gold regions, and left their good ships to ruin and
decay--melancholy examples of the greed of gain! Before the discovery
of the gold mines, San Francisco was a harbour frequented by whalers,
who put in there to refit and take in provisions. The dealings between
the Indians and the European sailors were at that time limited to
exchanges of skins. About half a century ago, a party of Spanish
missionaries established themselves at some little distance from the
coast, and built a small church called the Mission-Dolores, which
exists to the present day. When these Californian solitudes were
overrun by Americans and Europeans in search of gold, that lonely
spot, whither religious faith alone had penetrated, became one of the
busiest haunts of San Francisco. A fine road was opened, buildings of
all kinds sprang up around the modest chapel, and the road of the
Mission-Dolores has now become one of the gayest promenades of the

At the time of my arrival (November, 1852), San Francisco presented a
sufficiently curious aspect, with its sandy streets, its planked
foot-ways, and its houses built of wood, iron, and brick. A marvellous
activity prevailed in all parts of the city; and I was particularly
struck with the coming and going of this polyglot population, composed
of men and women of all races, complexions, and national costumes. I
was jostled every moment by the natives of eastern and western
America, of Tahiti, of the Sandwich Isles, and of every part of the
European continent. Emigration had been going on very extensively for
the three or four years preceding my arrival, and the population of
San Francisco had consequently augmented to a total of something like
sixty thousand souls.

But this city changes its aspect from day to day. Stone buildings were
even then springing up in every direction. Montgomery Street, one of
its handsomest thoroughfares, was paved, and bordered with superb
buildings. Shops, warehouses, cafés, and magnificent hotels enlivened
the street towards evening with thousands of lamps; and, seeing the
crowds that issue at night from the Metropolitan Theatre, one can with
difficulty believe that, only six years before, the Indians, lasso in
hand, scoured this very spot in pursuit of the wild horse and the

San Francisco had by this time become somewhat less expensive than
formerly. It was possible to hire a furnished room for forty piastres
per month, the value of a piastre being about four and twopence. This
was considerably cheaper than the rents of many previous years, when
shops were let at 100, 200, and sometimes 600 piastres per month. Meat
and game were also much more reasonable. Mutton was sold at one
piastre per pound, and veal at half a piastre. Milk, having at first
cost one piastre the bottle, had fallen to two shillings, one
shilling, and, finally, sixpence. Vegetables, on account of their
scarcity, were sold at enormous prices. A pound of potatoes was not
purchaseable at less than one shilling, and eggs cost from three to
six piastres the dozen. The washing of a dozen articles of linen cost
five piastres; a bottle of champagne, five piastres; and the cleaning
of a pair of boots, two shillings. On the other hand, salmon was
plentiful, and sold in all the markets at one piastre per pound. In
the early days of San Francisco, one piastre would scarcely pay for
the most simple repast without wine.

A great part of this population came originally from China; and if I
first name these emigrants, it is because their colony, established in
the midst of foreigners, presents many curious features. Their
unsocial habits are already well known. Although their industrial
inclinations drew them hither to this young and fertile country, they
nevertheless brought with them all the sullen and solitary instincts
of their race. Thus, to avoid mingling with the Europeans, they
congregated in a special quarter of the city. Sacramento Street, which
is the centre of their colony, presents all the characteristics of a
street in Canton, or any other Chinese city. Their commerce is
exclusively confined to the products of their own country; and, in
Dupont Street, they have gaming-tables always ready to tempt such of
their countrymen as may be disposed to risk their hard-won gold.

An equally curious population may be found in another part of San
Francisco. I allude to the blacks, who, like the Chinese, are settled
altogether as one great family. They inhabit one entire side of
Kearney Street; but the motives which have drawn them together arise
from quite a different source. The Americans hate the negroes, and
their antipathy is neither unknown nor dissembled. The contempt with
which they are always treated, has, naturally enough, caused these
latter to unite together in a quarter where they will neither trouble,
nor be troubled by, their oppressors.

The reciprocal hate of these two races, the one so timid, and the
other so arrogant, has induced between them a suspension of every
social relation. The blacks are excluded from all public places
frequented by their tyrants. They dare not show themselves at the
cafés, the restaurants, or the theatres; and, having no other resource
than dress, they parade the streets with cravats of the most dazzling
colours, fingers loaded with rings, and dresses the delicate tints and
textures of which contrast ridiculously with the ebon hue of the
wearers. You chance, now and then, to meet a negro who is doing his
best to imitate the manners of a gentleman; but he is sure to be
absorbed in the perfection of his boots and gloves, and is altogether
pervaded with an uneasy consciousness of his own dandyism. All the
efforts of Mrs. Beecher Stowe have not yet availed to elevate the
social position of the negro in the United States. The generous
sympathy which this lady has manifested towards the coloured
population appears simply ridiculous in the eyes of her own
countrymen; and even in this free land, where the social rights of man
have been at least conceded to them, the inferiority of their position
is still so painfully apparent, that, after all, they can scarcely be
said to have gained more than the mere privilege of making money and
being their own masters.

The rest of the population consists chiefly of Americans, French,
English, Germans, Dutch, Mexicans, Chilians, etc., etc.

Jackson Street is one of the most curious in San Francisco. On either
side, the primitive wooden huts of the first settlers are still
standing, and almost every dwelling is an eating-house, or "bar," as
it is here generally called. After dark, when the gas is lighted,
these establishments present a most extraordinary _coup d'oeil_. The
diggers, after a lucky day's labour, meet here for recreation; and
this assemblage, gathered together from all parts of the world, makes
up the strangest picture imaginable. The confusion of tongues and the
variety of costume baffle description. Negresses, Mexicans, Peruvians,
Chilians, and Chinese women decked out in furbelows and flounces, are
seen hand in hand, and side by side with men who drink, and dance, and
stamp, and shout for joy, to the sound of infernal music. Should you
pause for a few moments before the door of one of these haunts, you
are sure to witness some frightful quarrel, begun apparently in sport.
This quarrel is but the lightning which precedes the thunder. The
_melée_ soon becomes general, and you had best escape while yet you
may; for the quarter will be in a commotion for the rest of the
evening. Blood is sure to flow, and a formidable fight, in which many
lives are sacrificed, but too frequently follows.

Still more curious is it to observe these people in the gaming-houses.
There, by the light of glittering chandeliers, the contrast between
these white, black, and bronzed faces becomes more startling than
ever, crowded as they are around tables heaped with gold, silver, and
ingots. When these gaming-houses were first started, and the
gold-fever was at its height, many a serious fraças took place in the
rooms, and, more than once, the winners found themselves paid with a
pistol shot. It was then proposed to abolish the gaming-houses
altogether; but, as the government exacted enormous rents for the hire
of these establishments, they were eventually suffered to remain. The
games are various. The Mexicans play chiefly at monti; the French at
roulette, vingt-et-un, trente-et-quarante, and lansquenet; and the
Americans at faro. I shall never forget the countenances of those
professional gamblers who form, as it were, an essential part of these
establishments. They are ready to play for others as well as for
themselves, and there are few tables without three or four of these
auxiliaries. Unruffled and business-like, they play on perpetually,
and take no notice of whatever may be going forward. Playing for
themselves, they win, on the average, from four to five dollars per
diem; playing for others, they contrive to gain from eight to twelve.
The windfall-gatherers are also deserving of mention. They are mostly
Americans, who make it their business to pounce upon such stray coins,
as are not immediately claimed by the winners. Watchful of every
venture, they follow each turn of the cards, and, if a dollar be for
one instant forgotten or left upon the table, an eager hand clutches
and bears it off before the unsuspecting player has time even to
recognize the thief. The proprietors of the gaming-houses favour these
predatory individuals, and even help to distract the attention of the
novice whom they have selected for their victim. This system of
robbery is a sore trial to inexperienced players, and the consequences
are often serious. The player who finds himself defrauded, scruples
not to shoot the thief as if he were a dog. All these houses are
provided with good orchestras, and the music sounds well to the
chinking of the gold.

There is yet another and a more formidable class infesting these
places. It is known by the name of the Black Band, and consists of a
party of American swindlers. Well-dressed, skilful, and audacious,
they follow their daring craft with utter impunity, and are the terror
of the population. If they go into a gaming-house, it is with no idea
of wasting their time on the chances of the cards. They find it more
profitable and convenient simply to sweep off all the gold from the
tables, after which they coolly walk away, and no one dares to stop
them. These frauds are, as it were, consecrated by time and tradition.
The police and the local government have as yet no power to put a
stop to them, and, though the scandalous misdemeanours committed by
the members of the Black Band would fill a volume, they are yet
suffered to tyrannize over the entire community. Every day during my
stay, some merchant's house was plundered, and did the loser dare to
lodge a complaint against the robbers, they not only returned to the
charge, but destroyed everything of value that came in their way. Nor
was this all. They dined, drank, and helped themselves at all places
of public resort, with their customary audacity; and, although their
excesses had greatly diminished since the first peopling of the
colony, there was not yet established, in 1852, any legal force
sufficiently powerful to operate against them.

Arrived at San Francisco, we established ourselves in Montgomery
Street, and hired a little furnished apartment, at a rent of three
hundred francs per month. Considering that the walls were never dry,
and that our bed was always soaked in rainy weather, we may be said to
have paid somewhat dearly for our accommodation. We consoled
ourselves, however, with the panorama which lay extended before our
windows, and agreed that so glorious a prospect was cheap at any
price; for it comprehended, not only the greater part of the city and
the surrounding mountains, but included a bird's-eye view of the room
in which the Committee of Vigilance had established its tribunal.
This room was situated over a baker's shop, close under our windows,
and a piece of cord attached to a pulley hung out from the first
story, as an emblem of that simple and summary process known by the
name of Lynch law. Not many days after our arrival, an execution took
place. I chanced to awake very early that morning, and on opening my
window saw two men busily occupied in fixing a new and unusually long
cord to the pulley before mentioned. Already distant cries and the
trampling of many feet announced something unusual, and in another
moment the street was filled by an eager and angry crowd. I foresaw
the terrible scene which was about to take place, and, seized by an
overwhelming terror, dragged my sister from the room, and left the
house by a back door. In another quarter of an hour we were in the
country, where we remained and spent the day with some friends. I
afterwards ascertained that the criminal was a Spanish assassin.
Arriving at the scaffold with a cigar in his mouth, he calmly
addressed the crowd, and smoked till the very moment when the fatal
noose was tied. The story that I had heard, and the sight that I had
seen, left so painful an impression on my mind, that I was soon weary
of my lodging in Montgomery Street, and hastened to seek another.

This terrible Lynch law is so called after an unfortunate man of that
name, who became its first victim. The fatal and frequent errors which
must necessarily ensue from this illegal system, may easily be


     Sacramento--Fort Sutter--Nomadic Indians--Marysville--Shasta
     City--Adventure with a Bear--Weaverville--The Miners--The
     Rocky Mountains--Eureka--Return to San Francisco.

I spent a year at San Francisco, and, during that time, paid a visit
to Sacramento, which is the second large city of California. The
steamer took me there in a single day, and gave me an opportunity of
admiring the river scenery. The city of Sacramento stands in the midst
of a flat and fertile district, somewhat resembling the cultivated
plains of France. The buildings, like those of San Francisco, are
built partly of wood, or brick, and partly of stone.

Here commerce is less active, and the heat more oppressive, than in
the city I had just left. The surrounding marshes infect the air with
pestilential vapours, and when the river overflows its banks, the
country all around becomes one immense sheet of water. The gold
diggers at one time poured by thousands into this unhealthy district;
but the mortality amongst them was so rapid that, after the first
brief harvest, they were glad to leave it.

For those who wish to go direct to Marysville by land, there is a
comfortable stage-coach; but the roads are bad, and the jolting is
terrible. When we had traversed about twenty miles of the road, we
came upon Fort Sutter, which is inhabited by a tribe of Indians.
Looking out from the windows of a stage-coach, and seeing these wild
bands spurring across the plains, one is forcibly impressed by the
contrast between savage and civilized life. Their complexion is tawny,
their eyes large and black, and their expression, when not indicative
of discontent, is innocent and wondering as that of a child. Their
hair is straight and abundant, and black as jet, and grows down within
half an inch of the eyebrows. Their dress consists of skins and
quaintly-embroidered stuffs; on their necks and arms they wear an
abundance of necklaces and bracelets, made of shells, glass-beads, and
buttons. Notwithstanding all this finery, they are far from cleanly in
their habits. They dwell in little dome-shaped huts, built up with
clay and boughs of trees, and entered by a small opening near the
ground. Here they crowd together, men, women, children, and dogs, and
feed upon the produce of the chase and the river. Amongst other fish,
they catch an abundance of fine salmon, which they dry for winter

These Indians never eat fresh meat; but, when it is putrid, either
boil or grill it. They grow a kind of grain which they shell out into
wooden bowls, work into a paste, and bake as bread. With this, they
likewise eat grasshoppers and various other insects.

The traveller who pursues the road to Marysville, is tolerably certain
to meet with more than one troop of aborigines. They have been driven
into these desert regions before the advancing footsteps of
civilization, and, although many of them, drawn thither by curiosity
and that love of gain so common to all mankind, have ended by
embracing the habits and occupations of the new comers, many others
have, nevertheless, remained in open warfare, and several American
expeditions have already been undertaken against them.

After eight hours of travelling, in the course of which we had forded
several rivers, and encountered the worst roads I ever remember to
have traversed, we arrived at Marysville.

With the exception of some few brick houses, Marysville is constructed
entirely of wood. Situated on the enchanting banks of the Yuba, this
city resembles an immense market-place, and does in fact supply all
the villages and diggings round about. The heat here, however, is even
more overwhelming, and the fever still more fatal, than at

It was in this city, and at the very hotel where I alighted in company
with the rest of my stage-coach companions, that I met with an
adventure which very nearly cost me my life. We were dining in company
with a lady and her husband. Just as we had finished, and were about
to leave the house, we heard an extraordinary commotion in the room
overhead. The master of the hotel, in answer to our enquiries, replied
that it was only a party of gentlemen who had met to dine upstairs.
Being by this time tolerably well used to American manners, we were by
no means surprised, but merely hastened our preparations, in order to
get away before these revellers became more uproarious. It was a fine
night, and we were anxious to pursue our journey by moonlight. Already
the sound of broken plates and glasses foretold a serious ending to
the riot. We waited to pay our bill, and suffered for our honesty. At
the very moment when the master of the hotel was counting out our
change, the door upstairs flew open, and the staircase was all at once
filled by a drunken and vociferating crowd. We endeavoured to escape;
but the fight had already begun. The combatants were all armed with
revolvers, and in another instant I found myself separated from my
companions. All at once a shot was fired, a ball whistled past my ear,
and a second shot took effect upon a stranger who fell wounded at my
feet. Distracted with fear, I ran I knew not whither, and was met by
my friends, who believed me to have been injured, and were hastening
to my help. The assassin, it seemed, had singled out a gentleman who
ran for shelter down the passage where I was standing. Pursued and
fired at, he nevertheless effected his escape; but the first shot
passed within an inch of my head, and the second lodged in the left
shoulder of an unoffending bystander.

The gloom of the passage, and the male attire which I habitually wore,
had aided to mislead the would-be murderer. After all, I had a narrow
escape of it.

It may not be out of place, at this point, to describe my costume, and
to explain the motives by which I was led to adopt it. I wore a gray
felt hat, a travelling paletot, and Hessian boots, such as were then
the fashion in California. To these boots were attached a pair of
Mexican spurs, useful for the mule-riding which is so frequent a mode
of transit in these parts. Besides all this, I wore doeskin gloves, a
leather belt made to carry gold, and a poignard. This dress is not
only picturesque, but necessary; for the country is savage and
unsettled, and, in moments of danger, the woman who is thus attired
can better escape or defend herself than if she were encumbered with
the garments peculiar to her sex. Up to the present moment I had
never ceased congratulating myself on the success of my charming
disguise; but this adventure, I must confess, somewhat diminished my
confidence in my own temerity.

As may be conjectured by the preceding anecdote, the Americans, when
intoxicated, are the maddest and most dangerous of human beings. They
drink little wine; but, during their orgies, are much given to brandy,
whisky, gin, absinthe, and other strong liquors. Their blood once
inflamed, even the most peaceable among them become quarrelsome and
sanguinary, and commit murders which, in their reasonable moments,
inspire even themselves with horror.

Shasta City is a small settlement lying towards the north of
California, and consists of a single street of wooden houses situated
at some little distance from Sierra-Névada. This town was formerly the
market which supplied certain rich diggings of the neighbourhood, long
since exhausted. Instead, however, of being consequently deserted,
Shasta City still flourishes in virtue of its situation. It is a
halting-place for stage-coaches, and a station for the sale or hire of
mules, without which it would be impossible to traverse the dangerous
bridle-paths of the Rocky Mountains. Passing through this city, we
beheld one of those great social disasters so common to California.
Even at the moment of our arrival a great fire broke out, and in less
than an hour the greater part of the city was consumed. Still more
melancholy was it, towards evening, to see the unhappy inhabitants
wandering amid the smoking ruins in search of the friends and fortunes
they had lost.

Leaving Shasta City, and turning towards the north, as if bound for
Oregon, the traveller passes through a mountainous country infested
with enormous tawny bears, one of which alarmed me as I never wish to
be alarmed again. I was riding somewhat in the rear of my companions.
My mule was jogging slowly on, and, what with the fatigue of perpetual
travelling, and the extreme heat of the day, I was more than half
asleep. All at once, about twenty feet in advance, I beheld a huge
bear peeping out at me from a cleft in the rocks, and swaying his head
to and fro with the most tranquil and self-possessed air imaginable.
The reins fell from my hands; the colour rushed to my face; I was
paralyzed with terror, and had no voice to cry for help. The bear,
however, content with the impression he had made, amused himself by
rolling over and over in the middle of the road, without taking any
notice of either me or my mule. A turn in the road now luckily brought
me in sight of my companions. Their presence gave me courage, and,
unwilling to prolong this exciting _téte-à-téte_, I put spurs to my
mule, galloped rapidly on, and in another moment was indulging in a
glowing description of the dangers through which I had passed.

Not far from Weaverville, where it was our intention to halt, we came
upon Trinity River, on the banks of which many bloody battles have
been fought between the Indians and Americans. Kneeling on the backs
of our mules, we forded the stream, and landed among the rich pastures
which clothe the table-lands all round about the city. Weaverville is
the most northerly city of California, and lies amid a circle of
mountains, the summits of which are covered with perpetual snow.
Grouped together at the feet of these pine-clad mountains, the pretty
wooden houses of Weaverville have a certain tranquil and pastoral
effect, not unlike many an Alpine village. The air here is pure,
fevers are unknown, and the whole place presents a delightful contrast
to the unhealthy activity of San Francisco and Sacramento. The
transport of letters and gold is carried on by an express postal
service; and the auriferous riches of the district attract a
considerable influx of visitors.

We sojourned for some time in this peaceful locality, which seemed as
if it had never been visited by adversity or sorrow. Strolling one day
in the outskirts of the town, I came upon a desolate-looking spot, in
the midst of which stood two black crosses, such as are seen in the
French cemeteries. They occupied the very spot upon which the
foundations of a building were yet visible. Naturally curious, I
hastened to enquire the history of these funereal emblems, and heard
in reply the following narrative:--

During the first or second year which followed the discovery of gold
in California, there existed no form of regular government. Those
miners, therefore, who first penetrated into the regions of
Weaverville, were obliged, in a measure, to take the law into their
own hands, and protect themselves and their property. Here they lived
in a state of the most complete independence, subject to no taxation,
and relying for safety upon their own courage and fire-arms. Soon the
American Government recognized the necessity of organizing a political
jurisdiction for the greater safety of those masses which were
crowding, day by day, to the gold-fields of the new State. A system of
taxation was forthwith imposed upon all the cities of California, and,
amongst other measures, it was decreed that every digger should
purchase the right of exercising his vocation. These new laws met, of
course, with much opposition, and the sheriff who was despatched from
San Francisco to Weaverville, found his office by no means safe or

Amongst some of the first gold-seekers who penetrated to these
mountainous districts, was an Irishman, who had here built his house,
and established himself and family. Being summoned to open his door,
in order that the sheriff might take an inventory of his goods, he
declared himself ready to defend his domestic liberties with his life,
and refused to admit any law-officer whatever, without some more
convincing guarantee of his authority. Exasperated by this resistance,
the sheriff, who was a man of savage temper and indomitable energy,
and who had served in many an expedition against the Indians, replied
only by a shot from his revolver. The unhappy gold-digger fell dead
across the threshold of his door, and his wife, in trying to defend
him, shared his fate. Henceforth, the new taxes were raised and paid
without opposition. As for the Irishman's house, it was razed to the
ground, and those two black crosses serve to perpetuate the spot where
the victims were buried.

The greater proportion of Californian gold-diggers is Irish; and, at a
distance of about three miles from Weaverville, there lies a little
town called Sidney, which is exclusively colonized by these people.

During my stay in this district, I took advantage of an opportunity to
visit some Indian prisoners, who had not long since been taken, and
who were kept upon a piece of waste ground at some little distance
from the city. Here they had built themselves huts, and dwelt as they
might have dwelt in their native forests. They had been captured
during an expedition which was lately undertaken to avenge the murder
of an American merchant, and were here expiating the crimes of others.
Amongst them was one man so old and decrepit, that it seemed as if he
could scarcely live from one day to another. Turning slowly towards
me, he uncovered his chest, and displayed a large and deep wound, from
which the ball had not yet been extracted. Some few steps farther on
lay a young Indian woman. A thick blanket was wrapped about the upper
part of her body, and she wore a petticoat of fine matting, beyond
which her lovely little feet alone were visible. Her wrist was broken
by a pistol shot. Prostrate and motionless, she lay like a dead
creature. Her face alone glowed with a kind of savage heroism, and her
great black glittering eyes met mine steadily and coldly, as if she
were insensible to pain.

Two savage dogs, of the species called _coyotes_, had followed the
prisoners into captivity. These dogs live, like the Indians, in wild
and wandering bands. They have short legs, smooth tan-coloured skins,
and muzzles fringed like that of the fox. They abound in the desert
country round about Oregon, and, unless impelled by hunger, rarely
venture in the neighbourhood of the towns. Timid by nature, they fly
at sight of man. Amongst the prisoners I observed several women, who
were attending to their children, and cooking their food, after the
manner of civilized nations. The men of these nomadic tribes leave all
household matters to the women.

The children were playing happily together amid their sorrowful
elders. The heads of two of the number had been lately shaved, in
token of mourning. Their faces had also been blackened, according to
the Indian custom, and I was told that their parents had been killed
in the late attack. In this part of California it is only the women
who are tattooed, and the men never shave their heads, excepting for
the loss of a near relative.

We gave these Indian prisoners some game, a couple of gray squirrels,
and three doves, all of which, in California, are accounted delicious
dainties. Our offerings were received with good will, and the women,
in return, presented us with some necklaces of shells.

Weaverville is the centre of a great mining district, and its commerce
chiefly consists of provisions, household utensils, and tools used in
the diggings. The land thereabouts is of a reddish hue and of a
particularly auriferous quality. There are few spots which do not
yield some profit to the pickaxe and cradle of the miner. Provided
with these, he unearths and washes the nuggets. The first blow of the
pickaxe, and the washing of the first cradleful furnishes him with an
estimate of his harvest for the day; since he has only to measure his
gains by the speed of his labour. It was attempted, at an immense cost
of money and time, to turn the course of Trinity river, and convey a
canal through the heart of the diggings; but the project was too
gigantic, and the works were at length abandoned for want of capital.

The southern mines are much poorer than those of the north, and,
consequently, enjoy a smaller share of popularity. There are two
seasons favorable to the work; the one begins in November, during the
rainy season, and the other after the melting of the winter snows in
April or May. Were there more water in California, a larger amount of
gold would be found, and the diggers would suffer fewer miseries
during times of drought.

The profits of a gold-digger vary with the soil on which he works.
Some gain five piastres per diem, others ten, twelve, and upwards.
Some there are who, having chanced upon an unusually auriferous spot,
make fortunes rapidly; but those of whom we hear nothing are the
unlucky thousands, who, having abandoned their homes and families in
the hope of gain, arrive too late, and find only those lands which
have been exhausted by others. For such as these, despair and
starvation alone remain.

A travelling gold-digger presents a somewhat eccentric appearance. He
wears great leather boots, which reach considerably above his knees, a
coarse woollen shirt, and a felt hat beaten out of shape. To the left
of his belt hangs a bowie-knife, to the right a revolver. On his
shoulder he carries his pickaxe, on his back his bedding, and round
his neck his saucepan and miner's cradle.

Leaving Weaverville for Eureka, which lies still farther to the north
of California, we crossed a long chain of mountains, passable only by
mules. We frequently rode beside abysses so frightful that we dared
not look at them, and pursued sandy paths all seamed with serpent
tracks. In the midst of these vast solitudes, we came now and then
upon a party of muleteers. The tinkling music of the mule-bells, the
crackling of the dry leaves under foot, and the mysterious vapours by
which we were surrounded, all combined to add to the poetry of this
strange and solemn scene. In a church I have often vainly striven to
pray; but amid a nature such as this, prayer comes unbidden.

In consequence of the snow which had lately fallen, our journey was
more than usually tedious and difficult. We frequently beheld the
foot-tracks of the gray bear. Now and then we passed the carcasses of
animals which had been devoured, and came, more than once, upon fresh
blood-stains in the snow.

A few miles farther on, being quite overpowered by fatigue, we halted
at a hut which had been built by some Americans, amid the regions of
perpetual snow. We took them, at first, for brigands; but they were
simply inn-keepers, who sold us cutlets of bear ham for their weight
in gold. I had already tasted this dish at San Francisco, and found it
on both occasions delicious.

In the heart of these Oregon mountains lie table-lands, which in
summer are covered with the richest vegetation. They are, for the most
part, cultivated by emigrants from the interior of the United States.
The gathering together of these and other emigrant labourers, renders
Eureka still more important as a place of business, than either
Weaverville or Shasta City. It is a stopping-place, where travellers
pause to lay in stores of provision, and to make such purchases as are
necessary for the pursuit of either mining or agriculture. In
proportion, however, as the European and American population
increased, it became more and more incumbent upon the Eurekans, to
watch over their own personal safety. Driven from their
hunting-grounds, and forced to take refuge in the mountains, the
Indians cherished a profound hatred towards these new comers, and
Eureka became the scene of a harassing nocturnal warfare. When I
arrived at Eureka, the outrages which had lately taken place were the
theme of every tongue. Whole farms had been burnt, and whole families
massacred in the immediate neighbourhood of the city.

Eureka is but fifteen miles from Oregon, and we arrived there in the
month of November, A.D. 1853.

The houses, and even the chief hotel, are here built of wood. As
usual, wherever there are gold-diggings in the neighbourhood, there
are gaming-houses in the city. At the restaurant _La Fayette_, which
is the best conducted of these establishments, an excellent French
dinner may be had. For all this, and despite the general tendency
towards material comforts, it was difficult in 1853 to surround one's
self with many of the luxuries of life. Everybody, for instance, slept
upon straw-beds, and mattresses were unknown.

The frosts this winter were so severe, that scarcely a day passed but
I saw three or four frozen corpses brought into the town. As for our
bread and meat, we had to cut it with an axe and hammer.

The mines of Eureka are also highly productive; but here, as
elsewhere, the want of water is often sorely felt.

After staying in the city for twelve weeks, and having, by that time,
disposed of our merchandise to considerable advantage, my sister and I
returned to San Francisco. This fatiguing journey had tried us both
severely, and we now entertained serious thoughts of establishing
ourselves in business, and making our home in that city.


     Fire--Departure for China--The "Arcturus"--An Invalid on
     Board--Chinese Sorcerers--Death--The Chinese Seas--A Watery
     Journey--Arrival at Hong-Kong--Visit to the Consul--Journey
     to Canton--Chinese Insurrection.

After eighteen months of Californian life, a circumstance occurred,
which changed, not only my position, but my prospects. I became
acquainted with one Madame Nelson, a French lady who, like myself, was
engaged in commercial speculations. It was, at this time, her
intention to leave California for Batavia, in the Island of Java,
whence she had already received many letters of invitation, and where
she believed herself certain of success. Being desirous that I should
accompany her in this expedition, she proposed that we should travel
together, and share the profits, as well as the fatigues of the
enterprise. This matter was of too serious a nature to be hastily
decided; but, while I was yet hesitating, an event took place which
summarily decided it for me. One of those destructive fires so common
in San Francisco broke out next door to us, in the dead calm of a
lovely summer's night, and made such rapid progress that we with
difficulty escaped. Startled from sleep, we had but time to collect a
few valuables which we flung into a portmanteau, and threw out of the
window. Scarcely had we gone twenty paces from the house, when
staircases and flooring fell in with a tremendous crash. Three hours
later, fifty-two houses were entirely destroyed. This fire cost us
more than four thousand piastres, since we rescued nothing from our

My sister, being utterly out of heart, made up her mind to return to
Eureka, where commercial affairs were said to be unusually prosperous.
As for me, I decided to accompany Madame Nelson; for, notwithstanding
the pecuniary advantages which I hoped to derive from the journey, my
love of novelty was in nowise abated.

We then drew up the following programme of our route:--Directing our
course through the Chinese seas, we proposed touching at Canton,
Macao, Hong-Kong, and Batavia, where we hoped to remain about two
months. These matters settled, we had but to prepare for our

On the 14th of June, 1854, we embarked on board the "Arcturus," bound
for China. Our fellow-passengers consisted of four French artistes,
going to Calcutta on a musical speculation. In addition to these, we
carried thirty-five Chinese in the steerage.

On the fifteenth day of our voyage, we came in sight of the Sandwich
Islands. My companion, who up to this time had proved herself an
excellent sailor, became all at once languid and melancholy. Two of
our Chinese passengers were professed fortune-tellers. Finding that
they could both speak a little English, and hoping thereby to amuse
Madame Nelson, I summoned them to an exhibition of their talent. Half
laughing, half incredulous, my friend offered her hand to their
scrutiny. Silently and sadly they looked at it, hesitated, and
consulted together. Becoming impatient of this delay, Madame Nelson
pressed them for an explanation. "We pause," said they, "because we
fear to afflict you." "You are wrong," said she, "for I have no belief
in your art." Annoyed, perhaps, by this observation, they framed an
evil prophecy. "You have been wealthy," said they (and this was true),
"but you seek in vain to accumulate fresh riches. Your days are
numbered." Speaking thus, they gazed earnestly upon her, and seemed to
read the future in the lines upon her brow.

Painfully impressed by this prediction, my friend yielded to a
despondency which I tried in vain to dispel. I then regretted what I
had done, and strove to conceal my uneasiness by consulting the
necromancers on my own account. The second prophecy made up in a
measure for the dreariness of the first. The markings of my hand,
said they, were especially favourable. I was destined to prosperity,
and should one day become rich. One of them then pointed to a line
upon my forehead. "A great misfortune awaits you," said he; "but it
will not affect your future prosperity." I only laughed at these
predictions, and endeavoured to cheer my poor friend by every means in
my power.

The next day she was more dispirited than ever. She contrived,
however, to sketch the portraits of our Chinese soothsayers, with
which they were much delighted.

Within eight days from this time the state of Madame Nelson's health
had become truly alarming. We had no medical man on board, and my
anxiety grew daily more and more insupportable. At length one of the
Chinese offered to prescribe. In his own country he was a physician,
and he proposed administering some pills, which, hitherto, he had
never known to fail. These pills were red, and about the size of a
pin's head. The French passengers agreed with me that it was better to
trust the Chinese than leave Madame Nelson to die without help. We
offered her six of the pills. She enquired whence they came, and we
were so imprudent as to tell the truth, which immediately prejudiced
her against them. Her resistance drove us almost to despair; and when
she at length yielded, it was not from conviction, but in compliance
with my entreaties. More than six, however, she would not take.
Whether their number were too few, or administered too late, I know
not; but henceforth she grew rapidly worse. A violent delirium seized
her, during which she raved of the Chinese and their prophecies. The
delirium was succeeded by spasmodic paroxysms. I bent sorrowfully over
her; I drew her head to my bosom; and, seeing that death was close at
hand, imprinted a farewell kiss upon her lips. She looked up, smiled
languidly, as if to thank me for my love, and gently breathed her

That same night the sailors bore her body upon deck, and the captain
read aloud the funeral service. This done, they wrapt her in a sheet,
slung a cannon-ball to her feet, and consigned her to her grave in the
deep sea. That sullen plash found an echo in the hearts of all

The death of Madame Nelson left me almost broken-hearted. Far from my
friends and my country, I felt more than ever desolate, and lamented
the fatal day which bore me from my native land. What was now to
become of me, friendless and alone, in a strange and savage country?
Alas! what would I not now have given to turn back; but I could not
change the course of the ship, or turn the currents of the winds. Go
on I must, and submit to my destiny.

The navigation of the Chinese seas is rendered more than commonly
hazardous by reason of the sunken rocks which there abound. Threading
these securely, we came, one glorious day, upon the Bashee Islands. In
three days, said the captain, we should probably arrive at the end of
our journey. Just, however, as we were congratulating ourselves on
this pleasant intelligence, we were overtaken by a frightful storm of
wind and rain. Huge black clouds traversed the sky, and we saw more
than one water-spout in the distance. When the tempest at length
abated, it was succeeded by a dreary calm, which lasted for nine days.
A faint breeze occasionally sprang up, only to die away again, and
leave us more impatient than ever. At length, after beating about the
Chinese shores for more than twenty days, the captain informed us that
our sea-stores were almost exhausted. Hereupon the sailors refused to
work, unless some of their number were allowed to take a boat, and
venture in search of Hong-Kong, which, we calculated, could not be
distant more than thirty miles. The captain despatched eight men. We
then cast anchor amid a group of islands, and there awaited the return
of these brave fellows who had undertaken to risk their lives for our
safety. Twenty-four hours after, they returned with a steamer, which
towed us into the Hong-Kong roads, on the 29th of August, after a
sea-voyage of seventy-six days. Summoned to the French Consulate to
attest the death of my unhappy friend, I made the acquaintance of our
vice-consul, M. Haskell, and explained to him all the discomfort of my
present position. He advised me to relinquish an enterprise so
unfortunately begun. I replied that my only desire was to get back to
California. "Suffer me," said the vice-consul, "to make all the
arrangements for your return; and I trust that my influence may be
sufficient to ensure you every attention during the voyage." I thanked
him for his kindness, and from this time became better reconciled to
my Chinese expedition.

The island of Hong-Kong contains twenty thousand Chinese, and one
thousand European inhabitants. It is situated at the foot of an
immense mountain, and is built in the form of an amphitheatre. On
entering the principal street, the traveller is surprised to find
himself in the midst of elegant European buildings. The houses are
very large, surrounded by verandahs, and fitted up with jalousies--a
very necessary luxury in all tropical climates. On a height to the
left of the harbour stands the town-hall, and, a little farther on, an
immense line of barracks, for the accommodation of the English
soldiery. In the midst of the parade, which is a kind of fortified
esplanade, stand several pieces of cannon, so placed as to command the
principal street of the town--an arrangement admirably calculated to
ensure the respect and good conduct of the Chinese population. Here
also is an English Protestant church. The climate of Hong-Kong is
unhealthy. The summer heats are oppressive, and fevers are prevalent.

Life at Hong-Kong is monotonous to the last degree. Public amusements
are unknown; society there is none to speak of; and it offers no
resources beyond those of the domestic circle. The women never walk
out. In the first place, it is not the fashion; and, in the second, it
is scarcely possible, on account of the heat. Though it be to go no
farther than the next house, you are always carried in a palanquin.
The English gentlemen at Hong-Kong wear white suits, as in India.

Every kind of European trade is carried on at Hong-Kong for the
benefit of the English residents. Few Chinese women perform any kind
of manual labour; and, except in shops of the very poorest
description, they are not even to be seen behind a counter.
Costermongers and provision-vendors, peripatetic cake, fruit, and
sweet-stuff sellers, and enterprising speculators in grilled fish,
roast fowls, and other smoking delicacies, here abound. Of beggars,
old and young, there is no scarcity; and the blind go about the
streets ringing a little bell to attract public attention. Besides
these, there are plenty of wandering singers and musicians, who
recite quaint and monotonous legends "for a consideration."

Not the least curious members of the population are the barbers and
hair-dressers, who twenty times a-day make the tour of the city,
carrying their shaving apparatus on their backs. Should a shopkeeper
or pedestrian wish to have his head shaved, his pig-tail dressed, or
his eyebrows trimmed, he beckons to the first _artiste_ who passes by,
and the operation is forthwith performed, either in the shelter of a
doorway, or in a shady angle of the open street.

There are but two hotels in Hong-Kong, and both lodging and provisions
are quite as expensive as in California. As might be expected, the
accommodation is far inferior; and even the cleanest and best
regulated houses are infested with frightful insects. Everywhere, on
the furniture, in the presses, hidden in your shoes, clinging to your
curtains, and ensconced in your portmanteaus, you find spiders,
beetles, and mosquitoes. If you take out a garment for use, two or
three of these disgusting creatures are sure to be lying in the folds
of it. The beetles, however, are the most annoying of all; and at
night, when the candles are lighted, become almost unendurable. One
falls on your head; another alights upon your nose; and in the
morning, when you wake, you are sure to find half-a-dozen lying
drowned in your wash-hand basin, or served up, struggling, in your
tea. At table you meet with them constantly in the gravy, or the
vegetables; but this is a matter of course, and cannot be avoided.

The vegetation of Hong-Kong is the most luxuriant in the world, and
the flowers are redolent with a perfume more sweet and more
penetrating than those of Europe. Admitted to visit the garden of a
mandarin, I scarcely knew which was the greater, my delight or my
astonishment. It was an artificial world in little, interspersed with
grottoes, rocks, rivulets, and miniature mountains. There was not a
straight path in the place, and at each turn I came upon some fresh
point of view. Here were fantastic kiosks with windows of coloured
glass; rustic suspension bridges; and tranquil shrubberies, musical
with birds. It is only in balmy solitudes such as these that the
Chinese ladies can, with their pinched and mutilated feet, enjoy any
kind of out-door recreation.

Taking advantage of the time that still remained to me, I agreed to
join my fellow-travellers in a visit to Canton. Just at this period
the insurrection of 1854 was at its height, and, although the city
itself was tolerably tranquil, the neighbourhood all around was up in
arms. Under these circumstances, we could hardly hope to make any
lengthened stay.

In this enormous city (only two streets of which were then accessible
to Europeans), factories, English counting-houses, and extensive
warehouses abound. There is not a single hotel in the place. At the
houses where you wish to transact business, you send in your card. The
retail dealers are classed as a separate body of tradesmen. One
quarter of the city is wholly occupied by the porcelain-sellers,
another by the tea-dealers, a third by the silk-merchants. I was never
weary of admiring these magnificent warehouses, where are displayed
specimens of the most exquisite handiwork imaginable. Lacquered
furniture, ivory fans, carved jewel-cases, silken tapestries, and
resplendent stuffs, distract the attention of the stranger at every
step. The thoroughfare called New China Street is bordered by these
superb stores, each of which has its flat roof decorated with
parti-coloured balls, and its upright sign, where golden letters on a
scarlet ground proclaim the name and trade of the merchant. The
streets are filled by a busy, noisy crowd: strolling vendors, with
their strange guttural cries; grave and solemn citizens, with their
flowing robes and perpetual parasols; and, now and then, one or two
women of the poorer class, hurrying along with children in their arms.

If a traveller desire to visit a Chinese interior, he will not be
refused admittance to the houses of those merchants who are in the
habit of trading with the English. Having sought and obtained the
necessary invitation, I went one day to a house celebrated for its
luxury, and belonging to one of the wealthiest mandarins of the city.
I scarcely know how to describe what I there beheld. There were
flowers, musical instruments, opium-pipes, and cigarettes. From the
ceiling hung lanterns of every shape, colour, and material--lanterns
in glass, gauze, and paper--lanterns fringed, tufted, hung with bells,
and decorated in every possible manner. From the walls were suspended
pictures representative of the very infancy of art, and varnished
tablets inscribed with philosophical and poetical sentences. Above
all, however, I was curious to visit the apartments of the women; but
this was forbidden.

During the three days that I stayed at Canton, I witnessed a _fraças_
amongst the Emperor's soldiers. A Chinese army is the most ludicrous
affair imaginable. How shall I describe these absurd warriors,
dignified by the titles of "War-tigers," and "Mountain-splitters?"
Standing on a lofty terrace, I was quite near enough to distinguish
all their proceedings. Armed with lances and cumbrous matchlocks, they
crowded along in the greatest disorder, and almost every soldier
carried an umbrella, a fan, and a lantern; all of which forcibly
reminded me of the Chinese burlesques that I had seen in the theatres
at San Francisco.

The perpetual thundering of cannon, the brawling and skirmishing of
the insurgents, the frequent encounters which took place beyond the
walls, and the false alarms by which we were continually harassed, all
combined to hasten my return to Hong-Kong.

After I had been resident about a month in China, our vice-consul
informed me that a ship was about to sail for California. He was so
extremely kind as to interest the captain in my favour, and this
officer, whose name was Rooney, promised to pay me every attention in
his power. Having thanked M. Haskell for all the interest which he had
taken in my affairs, I hastened to my hotel with a light heart, and
prepared forthwith for my journey.


     Captain Rooney--Than-Sing--A Storm--The Typhoon--Fall of the
     Mizen-mast--Effects of the Tempest--Disasters of the
     "Caldera"--Chinese Pirates--Scene between Decks--A Crew in
     Fetters--Examination--I am threatened with Death--Plunder.

Towards four o'clock in the afternoon, on the 4th of October, 1854, I
went on board the brig "Caldera," which, under a Chilian flag, was
about to set sail that evening for California. Such was the honesty
and frankness of the captain's face, that I was immediately
prepossessed in his favour. Mr. Rooney was a man of about thirty-five
years of age, neither short nor tall, and, to all appearance, a
thorough sailor. His countenance betokened an energetic character, and
I would have staked my existence upon his courage and good-nature. My
first care was to visit my cabin, and arrange my luggage. Soon after
this, we weighed anchor, and put out to sea. Once on the way, I was
seized with a listless melancholy, for which I found it impossible to
account. This melancholy, which might have been a presentiment, seemed
all the stranger considering that I was returning to America, to my
sister, and my friends. Resolved, somehow or another, to shake it
off, I left my cabin and made the tour of the ship. It was a handsome
three-masted brig of eight hundred tons burthen, well rigged, and
gracefully built. I visited the saloon, the cabins, the captain's
parlour, and another which belonged to the supercargo of a commercial
house at San Francisco, the heads of which had a valuable cargo on
board. The saloon was lighted from above, and elegantly fitted up with
panellings of white and gold. So clean and orderly was every corner of
the vessel, that it seemed as if nothing adverse could take place to
interrupt our course; and I almost fancied that we might all be
allowed to sleep away the three long months which must elapse before
our arrival in California.

Of one of my fellow-travellers I shall often have occasion to speak.
He was a Chinese of about fifty years of age, and an inhabitant of
Canton. He had a commercial house at San Francisco, and was carrying
with him a large stock of opium, sugar, and coffee. His name was
Than-Sing. His features were of the type common to his nation, and
deeply scarred by the small-pox. Though plain, however, he was not
unprepossessing; for good-nature was expressed in every line of his
countenance, and his smile was kindness itself.

We sat down four to dinner, and found that no two of us belonged to
the same nation. The captain was English, the supercargo American,
Than-Sing Chinese, and I French. I am thus particular in defining our
several nationalities, in order to prove how much our difficulties
must have been increased, in any case of peril, by the differences of
language. Than-Sing spoke English as I did, that is to say,
indifferently; but not one of the party spoke French. It will
hereafter be seen how Than-Sing, who alone spoke Chinese, had it in
his power to save and serve us all. Our crew consisted of seventeen
men of various nations.

Awakened next morning by the hurrying to and fro of the sailors, I
became uneasy, dressed in haste, and went on deck. A sailor had fallen
overboard, and the ship was lying-to. His head was just visible above
the waves, and we had already left him far behind. He followed us,
swimming gallantly, and, in the course of about twenty minutes, came
alongside, and was hoisted upon deck. His comrades greeted him with
acclamations; but he replied roughly enough, as if he were ashamed of
his misfortune.

Trifling as this incident was, it left an unpleasant impression on my
mind; for it seemed as if our voyage had begun badly. The song of the
sailors augmented my melancholy. It was a fantastic and monotonous
melody, very unlike the cheerful airs sung by our French mariners.
Going back sorrowfully to my cabin, I amused myself by feeding two
charming little birds that I had brought with me from Hong-Kong. I
kissed them tenderly: for they were all that I had to love.

The breeze was mild; we had land in sight all day, and made but little
way. Towards evening the barometer fell with alarming rapidity, a
strong wind sprang up, and the sea grew boisterous. Anticipating the
coming storm, the captain made rapid preparations, and furled all
sail. It was well he did so; for we were soon to be at the mercy of
the typhoon. The typhoon is a dangerous wind, much feared in the
Indian and Chinese seas. On the sea, as on the land, it carries with
it death and destruction. It is neither a north wind nor a south wind,
and blows as much from the east as from the west. It is, indeed, a
combat between all four, and the great ocean is the scene of their
warfare. Woe, then, to the ship which has to contend against this
fearful strife! Tossed and tormented, driven on from behind, and
driven back from before, neither sailors nor steersmen avail to guide

For long hours the "Caldera" remained the plaything of this fearful
wind. We were every moment threatened with destruction. Before the
tempest had lasted two hours the mizen-mast and main-mast were both
broken half-way, and the top-gallant masts laid along the decks, with
all their cordage rent. Two of our boats had been carried away by the
waves. Below, everything was broken, and we had two feet of water in
the cabins. Added to all this, the waves broke against us with a noise
like thunder, and our timbers creaked as if the ship would go to

Every now and then, the captain came down to console me. His hair and
clothes were wet through; but, in the midst of all this danger, he
never lost his cheerfulness for an instant. "You're afraid," said he,
in his rough but kindly tones. I denied it; but my pale face betrayed
my fears, for he shook his head compassionately as he left me.

I must confess that I endured an agony of terror. Everything was
rolling about, and my poor little birds, hanging from the ceiling in
their wicker cage, shrank down together, trembling and stupefied. For
my part, I had taken refuge in my berth; for the motion was such, that
I could no longer keep my footing. All at once a frightful crash
resounded overhead, and I was flung out upon the floor. I covered my
face with my hands--I believed that the ship was going to pieces, and
that our last moments had arrived. This crash proved to be the fall of
the mizen and top-gallant masts. I marvel now that the "Caldera"
should have lived through the storm. She did live, however, and after
fourteen hours of distress, the tempest gradually abated. Towards
mid-day, the wind died quite away, and, if the sea continued to be
somewhat agitated, that agitation, after what we had lately gone
through, seemed like a delightful calm.

About four o'clock in the afternoon, I left my cabin and went into the
saloon. It was flooded with water, and strewn with a chaotic mass of
broken furniture and crockery.

I then proceeded upon deck. There, indeed, the tempest had done its
work. It was with difficulty that I could make my way from one end to
the other. Cables, chains, and broken masts lay about in all
directions. The sea was muddy, and the sky was low, and a thick haze
hung over the distance. The sailors looked weary, and one of them had
been severely wounded by a falling mast. Added to our other
misfortunes, fifty-two fowls and six pigs had been killed during the
night. We were still within sight of land, and the captain, whose
object was to get back to Hong-Kong as soon as possible, had with
difficulty hoisted a sail to the foremast. To return was imperative,
since it would take at least six weeks to repair the damage that we
had sustained. A dead calm now reigned around us, and we remembered
for the first time that we were all very hungry. Our dinner was the
dreariest meal imaginable. We were all profoundly silent. The
captain's face betrayed his anxiety, and I afterwards learnt that he
was thinking at that very time of a misfortune which happened to him
only two years before. Falling into the hands of Indian pirates,
Captain Rooney had seen all his sailors killed before his face, and,
being himself bound to the mast of his ship, was cruelly tortured. For
three months they kept him prisoner, at the end of which time he
effected his escape.

So dismal a countenance as that of the supercargo I never beheld. He
had been in mortal fear of death all through the night, and
acknowledged that he had trembled almost as much for his cargo as for
his life.

As for Than-Sing, his was the face of a man who openly rejoiced in his
safety, and his calm smile contrasted strangely with the general

For my part, I could not so readily forget the sufferings of the last
eighteen hours. "What more can I know of the horrors of the sea," I
asked myself, "if it be not to make it my grave?"

The captain ordered us early to rest. I was so weary that I could have
slept upon the floor as contentedly as upon a feather-bed, and my
berth appeared to me the most delightful place in the world. I hoped
to sleep for at least ten or twelve good hours, and had no sooner laid
down than I fell into a profound slumber.

It might have been midnight, or perhaps a little later, when I awoke,
believing myself to be the victim of a horrible nightmare. I seemed to
hear a chorus of frightful cries, and, sitting up bewildered in my
bed, found my cabin filled with a strange red light. Believing that
the ship was on fire, I sprang out of bed and rushed to the door. The
captain and the supercargo were standing each on the threshold of his
cabin. We looked speechlessly at one another, for the savage yells
grew every instant louder, and a shower of missiles was falling all
around. Pieces of stone and iron came crashing down through the
skylights, and rolled heavily about the decks, and strange flashes of
fire were reflected from without.

I clung to the captain--I could not speak--I had no voice, and the
words died away upon my lips. "Captain!" I faltered; "captain!
fire!--the ship is on fire--do you hear?--what noise is that?" But he
stood like one petrified. "I do not know," said he; and, rushing into
his cabin, came back with a revolver in his hand. That revolver was
the only weapon of defence on board. At this moment the mate came
running down. I could not hear what he said, but, dreading some
terrible misfortune, I went back into my cabin, and climbed up to the
window that overlooked the sea. By the lurid light without, I beheld a
crowd of Chinese junks. Beside myself with terror, I flew back to the
captain, crying, "Oh, they are pirates! they are pirates!" And they
were indeed pirates--those terrible pirates which scour the Chinese
seas, and are so famous for their cruelties. We were utterly in their
power. Three junks, each manned by thirty or forty ruffians,
surrounded the "Caldera." These creatures seemed like demons, born of
the tempest, and bent upon completing our destruction. Having boarded
the "Caldera" by means of grappling-hooks, they were now dancing an
infernal dance upon deck, and uttering cries which sounded like
nothing human. The smashing of the glass awoke our whole crew, and the
light which we had taken for a fire at sea was occasioned by the
bursting of fiery balls which they cast on deck to frighten us.
Calculating upon this method of alarming their victims, they attack
vessels chiefly in the night, and seldom meet with any resistance. The
captain, the supercargo, and the mate, made an effort to go upon deck.
I followed them instinctively. Driven back by flaming balls, we were
forced to beat a retreat, and narrowly escaped being burnt. It seemed
strange that they should risk setting fire to the ship, when plunder
was their evident intention. The captain, having but his revolver for
our defence, recommended that we should keep out of sight as long as
possible. Useless precaution! Accustomed as they were to predatory
warfare, they were sure to find us as easily in one place as another.
Fear, however, left us no time for reflection. We fled precipitately
between decks, and hid ourselves as best we might. Five of the sailors
were there before us, and none of us knew what had become of the rest
of the crew--perhaps they were already taken prisoners. As to
Than-Sing, he had not been seen since the evening before.

These savage cries, and this still more savage dance, went on overhead
without cessation. Through a crack in the partition which concealed
us, we witnessed all their proceedings. Seen by the red firelight,
they looked unspeakably hideous. They were dressed like all other
Chinese, except that they wore scarlet turbans on their heads, and
round their waists broad leathern belts garnished with knives and
pistols. In addition to this, each man carried in his hand a naked
sword. At this sight my heart sank within me, and I believed my last
hour was at hand. Creeping on my hands and knees, I crouched down
behind the captain, and we hid ourselves amid the merchandise, about
twenty feet from the entrance. Further than this we could not go, on
account of the goods which were there piled to the level of the upper
deck. Scarcely able to breathe, we heard them come down into the
cabins, and upset everything on which they could lay their hands. Soon
a well-known voice reached our ears. It was the voice of Than-Sing,
whom they had just discovered. A loud dispute then took place between
him and the pirates. They doubtless demanded where the rest of the
crew had hidden themselves; for he called to us in English several
times, saying, "Captain, captain! where are you? Are you below?
Answer! Come here! Come quickly!" But nobody stirred.

The captain grasped his pistol, and vowed to shoot the first pirate
who came near us; but I entreated him to do no such thing, since the
death of one man could in nowise serve us, and might, on the contrary,
incline our enemies to a wholesale massacre. He seemed to see the
justice of my fears, and hid his weapon in his bosom.

It was not long before we were discovered. I shudder still when I
recall the sound of those approaching footsteps. They raised the trap
on deck, and let down a lighted lantern. We crowded together in a vain
effort at concealment; but the light came lower and lower, and we were
seen at last. In another instant five or six pirates, armed to the
teeth, leaped into the hold, and advanced towards us. The captain then
rose up and went to meet them. Smiling, he offered them his revolver.
They drew back, as if to defend themselves; then, seeing that he held
the butt-end turned towards them, and that we made no effort at
resistance, came eagerly forward, and glared at us with savage
delight. Two of them then went up on deck, and made signs that we
should follow them. More dead than alive, I remained crouched behind
some bales. I saw my companions going, one by one. I would have
followed them, but had no strength to stir. When the last had
disappeared, and I found myself left alone with these monsters, I rose
up by a despairing effort and fell at their feet. Seeing that I was a
woman, they burst into exclamations of surprise and joy. Dreading
every instant lest they should seize me, I rushed to the door, and in
another moment found myself on deck.

Surrounded by a crowd of pirates armed with sabres and pistols, I saw
every eye fixed eagerly upon the few jewels that I wore. To pull off
my rings and ear-rings, and throw them at their feet, was the work of
a moment, for I dreaded lest I should become the victim of their
impatience. Those who were nearest clutched them greedily. An angry
scuffle ensued, and but for the interference of their captain, a
sanguinary quarrel would probably have followed. They then pushed me
towards the stairs leading to the upper deck, and there I found my
companions loaded with chains. The sea was still agitated, and huge
black clouds, last remnants of the tempest, scudded hither and thither
across the sky. The poor "Caldera," riding helplessly at anchor,
swayed to and fro like a mere log upon the waters. A thick fog froze
us with cold, and a dead silence, which was only interrupted by the
groans of the sailor who had been hurt the night before, reigned all
around us. Torn by a thousand fears and regrets, I longed to weep, but
could not shed a tear.

Meanwhile the pirates, who numbered, perhaps, a hundred men, were
searching for plunder. Two or three of them came up, and made signs to
me to observe the chains with which my companions were fettered.
Thinking that they wished to treat me in the same manner, I
submissively held out my hands; but they shook their heads. One of
them then passed the cold blade of his sabre along my throat, whilst
the others made signs expressive of their inclination to behead me. I
stirred neither hand nor foot, though my face, I dare say, indicated
the depth of my despair. Once more I extended my hands to be tied.
They seized hold of them angrily, and passed their fingers round and
round my wrists, though for what purpose I could not imagine. What
could they want? Was it their intention to cut off my hands? In this
moment I recognized all the horrors of my position. I closed my eyes,
and leaned my head against the bulwark. The sight of these monsters
was alone sufficient to make death welcome, and I awaited it with
entire resignation. I was still in this state of semi-stupefaction
when Than-Sing came up, and touched me on the shoulder. "Be not
afraid," said he; "they do not mean to harm you. Their only object is
to frighten you, lest you should attempt to set your companions at

He was now sent for by the pirate-chief, who was a small wiry-looking
man, with a countenance more intelligent and less ferocious than the
others. Than-Sing, although not fettered, was a prisoner like
ourselves, and, being the only Chinese on board, acted as our

Captain Rooney was next sent for. Calm and disdainful, he seemed to
despise the success of his captors and his own personal danger. "Is he
English?" asked the chief. Than-Sing, luckily remembering the feud
then existing between China and Great Britain, replied that the
captain was a Spaniard, and the crew composed of various Europeans.
This proved, indeed, to be a fortunate inspiration; for the pirate
instantly replied that, had we been English, our throats should all
have been cut upon the spot. He then enquired respecting the number of
persons on board, and the amount of money which we carried, and ended
by asking if I were the wife of Mr. Rooney. Having satisfied him on
the two former points, Than-Sing replied that I was a Frenchwoman,
journeying to California, a stranger in China, and quite without
friends or relatives in this part of the world. The excellent Chinese
was careful to impress this fact of my loneliness upon them, hoping
thereby to moderate any expectations which they might have formed
respecting the amount of my ransom.

Captain Rooney's hands were then released, and he had to submit to the
humiliation of accompanying the chief through every part of the ship.
He was even obliged to furnish an exact inventory of his cargo. For
our lives we were already indebted to the generous misrepresentations
of Than-Sing; but it was yet possible that the pirates might change
their minds, and although they had promised to save our lives, we
scarcely dared to depend upon it. Besides all this, more pirates might
arrive to dispute the prize, and we be sacrificed in the strife. Such
were my reflections during the absence of the captain. A scene of
plunder was at this moment being enacted before my eyes. The cabins
were first dismantled; and I beheld my own luggage transported on
board the junks. Everything was taken--even my dear little birds in
their wicker cage. "They survived the tempest," said I, "only to die
of cold and neglect!" And, with this, the tears which had so long
refused to flow, coursed hotly down my cheeks.

I was aroused from this melancholy train of thought by the return of
the captain. Our sailors were now unchained to work the ship, and the
pirate-chief gave orders that we should weigh anchor, and put into a
neighbouring bay. At the same time our men were all given to
understand that, at the least token of revolt, we should all be
slaughtered without pity. As for Than-Sing, the supercargo, and
myself, we were left on the upper deck in company with the wounded
sailor, since none of us could be of use in the management of the

At this moment one of the robbers came up with a parcel of jewels and
money, which he had just found. In one hand he held a silver fork, the
properties and uses of which seemed mightily to perplex him. He
paused, looked at me, and raised the fork to his head, as if to ask me
whether it were a woman's comb. Under any other circumstances his
ignorance might have amused me; now, however, I had no strength to
reply to him even by a sign. Than-Sing then came to my assistance, and
the pirate, having received the information he desired, went away. I
hoped that we had got rid of him, but returning almost immediately, he
held a handful of silver before my eyes, pointed towards a junk which
we had in tow, and endeavoured, by his looks and gestures, to arouse
me from my apathy. It was not difficult to interpret these signs, and
I saw with a shudder that he wanted me to fly with him. Than-Sing,
who had been silently observing this scene, now took pity on my
distress, and addressed the man in Chinese. He doubtless threatened to
betray his treachery to the chief; for the pirate hung his head, and
went silently away.

The weather was now misty, and much colder; and, half-clothed as we
were, we suffered intensely. It is but fair, however, to say that our
captors were not wholly insensible to our miseries, and that they had
at least the charity to cover us with a few rugs and pieces of

Shortly after this, we heard a sound of falling chains, and the anchor
was cast once more. Alas! was that anchor ever to be weighed again, or
was it destined to rust away throughout all the ages of time, in the
spot where it was now imbedded? Heaven only knew!


     Unlading--The Good Chinese--A Ray of Hope--A Second
     Flotilla--Disguise--Hunger--The Father of a Family--Proposed
     Escape--Refusal of the Crew--Rage of Captain Rooney--Hopes
     and Disappointments.

Day broke, and the last shades of night faded and fled. The pirates
assembled us on deck, counted us over to see that none were missing,
lifted the hatches at the foot of the mainmast, and lowered us, one by
one, into the hold. Some of them followed us down, and kept a savage
watch upon our every movement. This last proceeding struck us with a
mortal terror. Believing that our fate was just about to be decided,
we sat down mournfully among the bales of goods, and waited like
condemned criminals. Our jailers seemed now to be more cruelly
disposed than ever. Every moment, and without any kind of provocation,
they struck our poor sailors with the handles and flats of their
sabres, and amused themselves by flourishing these weapons round my
head and that of Captain Rooney. Presently they took to examining our
wrists, and laughed to see the wounds which our chains had left upon
them. Hearing a noise on deck, they, by and bye, left us; having
first taken the precaution of battening down the hatches above our
heads. Plunged into utter darkness, and almost suffocated for want of
air, we endured this captivity for more than an hour. The hatches were
then lifted, a flood of blinding sunlight poured in upon us, and the
friendly voice of Than-Sing greeted us from above.

Up to the present time, as I have already shown, the Chinese merchant
had had it in his power to render us important services. Of these he
never wearied. He was our good genius. His presence alone inspired us
with courage and endurance; and whenever he opened his mouth to
interpose between our feebleness and the ferocity of his countrymen,
our dangers seemed to diminish. His coolness never failed him for an
instant. When he was not actually with us, pursuing his work of
encouragement and comfort, he was negotiating in our favour. With that
expression of calm serenity, his plain features became at times almost
patriarchal; and I was amazed to find any Chinese gifted with
qualities of such Christian charity.

During the hour which had just gone by, the question of life and death
had probably been debated. Providence, however, had watched over us,
and we were once more spared. It was now decided by the pirate-chief
that our crew should be set to work to unlade the vessel.

The valuable freight of opium which we had on board was the property
of Than-Sing, who was accordingly sent below with Captain Rooney to
assist the pirates in clearing out these stores. The sailors then
passed the packages from hand to hand; the pirates formed a chain from
junk to junk; and the bales of sugar, rice, coffee, and other goods
were speedily transferred.

Forgotten in the midst of this excitement, I sat alone and watched the
work of spoilation.

After about an hour's labour, our sailors were allowed to rest for a
few moments, and received a scanty ration of biscuits and water.
Several of the poor fellows offered me a share of their food; but,
although I eagerly drank what water they could spare me, I found it
impossible to eat a morsel. For long hours my throat and chest had
been on fire, and I suffered cruelly from thirst.

Soon after this, Than-Sing and the captain came in search of me.
Thankful was I, indeed, to see them; for the pirates had of late been
thronging around me with gesticulations which filled me with
uneasiness. My friends then led me to a cabin, at the other end of the
vessel, where I hoped to be left without molestation. Crossing the
deck, I saw that we had anchored close in shore, and were surrounded
by an immense amphitheatre of wooded hills. At any other time I should
have been charmed with this exquisite scene; but the sight of the
"Caldera," now a mere wreck, usurped all my attention. Her broken
masts were lying along deck--fragments of doors and windows lay
scattered all about--the compass had been carried away, and the helm
was broken. Add to this the ferocious cries of our barbarian captors,
and the picture is complete. I was glad to hurry away from this sight;
but our pretty cabins were no longer recognizable. Lying upon a large
green velvet sofa, which was the only article of furniture left
entire, I yielded to an access of the profoundest melancholy. Every
moment the pirates kept passing to and fro, or coming in to cast lots
for such of the booty as was yet unshared amongst them. Remembering
how they had refused to tie my hands, and the little likelihood I had
for supposing them to be actuated by any feeling of compassion or
respect, I recalled some frightful stories read in times gone by, and
dreaded lest I should become the victim of their brutality. Sooner
than this, I resolved to throw myself into the sea. That I should now
be living to write these lines--that I should now be relating the long
story of my sufferings--seems, if I may dare to say so, like a special
manifestation of that divine goodness which measures the trial by the
strength of the sufferer.

Our provisions, with the exception of some rice and a few biscuits,
had all been carried on board the three junks. Our sailors had been
allowed no rest. Groaning under fatigues, which were enforced with the
sword, they laboured on till night-fall, and even then, but for the
intercessions of Than-Sing, would have been allowed no sleep.

My companions slept in the cabin adjoining mine, and we were allowed
to close our doors for the night. Having eaten nothing all day, and
being kept awake, moreover, by the vociferations of the pirates, whose
numbers had lately been increased by the arrival of fresh junks, I
passed a miserable night. Many a time, during these long hours of
wakefulness, I opened my little window and leaned out into the air;
but each time that I did so, my terrors were increased by the sight of
these demons quarrelling over their booty. Day dawned, and a sudden
rumour spread all at once throughout the ship. Starting from their
sleep, our sailors rushed on deck, and two or three came down crying,
"The pirates are leaving us! The pirates are leaving us!" A wild and
sudden hope possessed us. We believed that help was at hand, and that
the moment of our release had arrived. Could it be the approach of a
steamer which caused the flight of our captors? A single glance,
however, was sufficient. Alas! that which we had supposed to be a
deliverance, proved to be but an added danger. Our pirates were indeed
leaving us, but a new flotilla was bearing down upon us with all sail
set! For more than a quarter of an hour we were left alone in the
wreck, and Than-Sing explained to us that the small junks were making
off with their booty, for fear it should be wrested from them by the
new comers. These second enemies were, then, fiercer and more numerous
than the first! What would they do with us? What would now become of
us? What had we to expect? We counted the minutes as they passed, and
the junks drew rapidly nearer. I felt my very heart sink within me,
and all the horrors to which I might be subjected rushed across my
mind. "Oh, captain," said I, "I shall die with fear! Can you not help
to disguise me? let me be dressed as you are! What shall I do? I am a
woman, and these monsters are coming! Have pity on me! Have pity on
me!" "Yes, you are right," said Captain Rooney, kindly and
compassionately. Having on two pairs of trousers, he then gave me one.
We next found a shirt and a Chinese jacket, and one of the sailors
gave me his cap, beneath which I gathered up my hair. I had but one
hair-pin left, and on my naked feet a pair of slippers. Hastening into
my cabin, I dressed rapidly, and had scarcely completed this
transformation when loud shouts proclaimed the approach of our new
enemies. The small junks, which had fled before the others like
startled water-fowl, were already far away. We hid ourselves in one of
the after-cabins, and the captain grouped his men in such a manner as
might best conceal me. He and Than-Sing stood before me, and in
another moment the pirates were on board. About forty junks now
surrounded the "Caldera," each junk carrying from twenty to forty men,
and the large ones being mostly mounted with ten or twelve cannons.

The pirates of the Chinese seas make their junks their homes, and
carry their wives and children with them on every expedition. The
women assist in working the ships, and are chiefly employed in lading
and unlading the merchandise. As for the children, they carry them
upon their backs in a kind of bag, till they are able to run alone.
Each junk is commanded by a chief, and such is the terror of the
pirate-name, that, in a country which numbers three hundred and sixty
millions of inhabitants, they ravage the seas with impunity. It
sometimes happens that they have feuds among themselves, and many a
piratical sea-fight takes place, in which the victory rests with the

Hidden as we were in a lower cabin, we heard these barbarians rush
upon our decks, with the force of a torrent that had burst its
flood-gates. The first junks having carried away but a small portion
of our cargo, these new pirates found an ample prize remaining. They
therefore employed themselves in pillaging the ship, without taking
the trouble to seek for us. Presently, such of the junks as were
sufficiently laden, dropped away, and set sail for those villages
along the coast, where they were in the habit of taking refuge. In the
meantime, despite the indifference with which they treated us, fresh
fears assailed us. We dreaded lest they should exhaust our store of
provisions, and found ere long that these apprehensions were but too
well grounded. Soon, a sack of rice, and a small bag of biscuits alone
remained, and even these they would have taken from us, but for our
urgent supplications. We were now utterly destitute. For two days and
more, we could scarcely be said to have eaten anything, and, faint
with exhaustion, we abandoned ourselves to despair. As if animated
with the very spirit of destruction, the pirates demolished everything
which came in their way. The panellings in the saloon, the
looking-glasses, the windows, the doors, and such of the furniture as
was not already destroyed, they smashed into a thousand pieces. They
carried away the very hinges and fastenings from off the doors, and
even the green velvet divan, which had hitherto been left on account
of its size. The deck was strewn all over with tea, coffee, sugar,
biscuit, fragments of broken glass, and merchandise. We were
constantly obliged to turn out our pockets, in proof that we kept
nothing back; and these monsters pressed around us, every now and
then, in such numbers that we could scarcely move or breathe. My
dress, which I had hidden as best I could, was found and carried off
like everything else; and Than-Sing, who had chanced to take off his
slippers for a moment, saw them snatched up and appropriated in the
twinkling of an eye. The poor man was more annoyed by this loss, than
by all his previous misfortunes; for the slippers were made after the
fashion of his country. Hereafter, one of our sailors, who was
indifferently skilful in such matters, contrived to make him a new
pair, out of some fragments of leather which he found about the deck.

Cast upon the mercy of these savages, our situation was inexpressibly
horrible. They were not deceived by my costume; for they surrounded me
with eager curiosity, and asked Than-Sing if I were the wife of the
captain. These questions filled me with terror, and I entreated Mr.
Rooney to let me pass for his wife. They gathered round us in brutal
mockery, asking if we wished to go to Hong-Kong; and then, finding
that we were silent, laughed in our faces. Some of them, who seemed
more savage and cruel than the rest, seized our sailors by the hair,
and flourished their sabres threateningly before their eyes; whilst I,
sinking, and sick at heart, shrank down in a corner, and hoped to be
forgotten. Slender indeed was the tenure upon which we now held our
lives! Who knows what might have happened had one single drop of blood
been actually shed?

That same day, one of these men came, when none of the rest were by,
and talked for some time with Than-Sing. I saw the merchant's face
light up as the conversation progressed, and the breathless eagerness
with which he replied. The pirate was offering, as I afterwards
learnt, to effect our escape; and Captain Rooney, by help of
Than-Sing, agreed on the amount of our ransom. We were to be landed at
Hong-Kong, and, meanwhile, were desired to hold ourselves in readiness
for the first chance of escape. Two others came shortly after upon the
same errand; but, whether the reward which we offered was insufficient
to recompense them for the danger, or whether they dreaded the
discovery of their treason, I know not--at all events, not one of the
three kept his word, and we saw them no more.

Towards the evening of this day our sailors complained bitterly of
hunger. We feared being left to all the agonies of starvation; but, in
the midst of our distress, help came whence we had least reason to
expect it. Amongst these robbers there was one who seemed actuated by
sentiments of compassion. He came to us every now and then, appeared
to sympathize with our distress, and, by and bye, pointed out his wife
and children on board a neighbouring junk. Pleased to observe the
interest with which we looked upon his family, this pirate, at the
very moment when we were deploring our hunger, came back with a dish
of rice and a huge bowl filled with some kind of Chinese _ragoût_,
dressed after the Chinese fashion, with a thick saffron-coloured
sauce. Our poor fellows, little used to dainties, devoured it eagerly.
But I could only just touch it with my lips, for the odour of it
disgusted me. I contrived, however, to alleviate my hunger with a few
spoonfuls of the rice. Towards night, the junks let go the
grappling-irons, and put out to sea. It seemed scarcely probable that
they would return again in equal numbers, since our plundered state
must soon become known throughout the pirate-villages which line that

Their departure left us at least the prospect of a quiet night; but,
on the other hand, our ship was dismantled, and we had no available
means of action. Had our enemies indeed abandoned us to die slowly of
hunger, exposed to all the burning heat of a tropical sun, and swayed
helplessly to and fro upon the great ocean, thousands of leagues from
our homes and families? Than-Sing had ascertained that we were about
twenty miles from Macao. Far away, he said, between two mountains
which were just visible on the horizon, lay the city. This knowledge
only served to make us still more miserable. Life was there, safety
was there, and yet we could do nothing to help ourselves! If even we
had succeeded in weighing the anchor, what chance had we, in our
dismasted state, of drifting into any place of shelter? Glad to forget
our anxieties, if but for a few hours, we all lay down to sleep.

What a picture it was! We had constructed a kind of rude oil-lamp,
which cast a flickering glare around the cabin. This room, once so
cheerful and pretty, now more nearly resembled some hideous dungeon.
Seeing these rough sailors stretched about the floor, these upturned
faces weary with suffering, these dismantled walls, and this air of
general desolation, I began almost to tremble for my reason. Being so
wretched, what more had I to fear? What were death to one whose
sufferings had already touched the bounds of human endurance? One by
one, my companions sank away to sleep, and I alone remained, wakeful
and sorrowful, to meditate the chances of our destiny. I questioned my
past life; I searched all the corners of my memory; I asked myself
what I had done to merit this great trial? Gladly would I have
discovered any fault deserving such retribution, for I could not
endure to doubt the justice of Heaven.

It might now have been about ten o'clock at night. I had tried in vain
to sleep, and could not keep my eyes closed for five minutes together.
Torn by a thousand different emotions, I lay and listened to the
silence, till, carried away by an irresistible excitement, I rose,
made my way on deck, and, flinging myself wearily down, gazed up at
the sky and the stars. The moon shone like a silver mirror, and,
seeing the stillness and solitude of the night, I could not help
fancying that something might yet be done towards our deliverance.
Going back into the cabin, I roused Captain Rooney, and entreated him
to come with me on deck. Somewhat surprised at this request, he rose
and followed me. No sooner had we gone up, than we heard a sound of
voices close under our lee, and found that a small junk was still
lying alongside of us. The captain eagerly bent forward, as if to
count the number of our enemies. They could not have been more than
eight or ten. Having attentively observed them, he became profoundly
silent. Amazed at his apathy, I dragged him towards the jolly-boat,
which was yet hanging amid-ships, and said, "Well, captain, why do you
not rouse your men?" He looked at me with a kind of weary wonder, as
if scarcely able to comprehend my meaning. "Will you then do
nothing?" said I. "Are you content patiently to await all the horrors
of the future? Woman as I am, I would prefer a thousand times to dare
something for my safety, than linger here to die by violence or
starvation! We are but twenty miles from Macao. This boat will hold us
all. Once at sea, it is scarcely likely that the pirates, busy as they
are, will observe our flight. Should they even see us, they might no
longer care to follow us. Captain, in the name of all that is dear to
you, let us at least make the attempt!"

Captain Rooney paused, remained for a few moments lost in thought, and
then went quickly back into the cabin. "Rouse up!" said he, "rouse up,
all of you! How can you sleep while we are yet in so much danger?"
Laying aside his old habits of command, he then consulted them
respecting our common danger, and suggested a plan of escape. At the
first word of this proposition, the sailors turned disobediently away.
"You do not deserve the name of men," said the captain, angrily. "I
blush to think that a woman should be braver than you! She has the
courage to prefer death to delay; and, while flight yet offers us some
chance of safety, you hesitate, you tremble, you behave like cowards!
I see fear in every eye! No, I repeat it--no, you have not even the
courage of a woman!"

Captain Rooney's plan was this: he proposed that his crew should steal
softly upon deck, take the junk by surprise, and slay the eight
Chinese by whom it was manned. We might then, without loss of time,
set sail for Macao, where we should, in all probability, arrive before

I remained silent whilst this consultation was going forward. My
wisest course was to remain passive, in order that these men should
not have it in their power to say that I proposed such bloodshed. That
they did so accuse me was sufficiently plain, and yet I protest that
in this suggestion I had no share whatever. The captain had not
confided his projects to me; he had simply relied on my courage and
co-operation, and had held me up to the men as an example for the mere
sake of putting them to shame.

"Captain," said the supercargo, glancing angrily towards me, "that
woman is mad; and, if it be by her advice that you are acting, we but
consult the dictates of reason in refusing to obey you. This attempt
could end only in destruction. Granting that we succeeded in capturing
the junk, we should assuredly be overtaken, in the night, by others of
the pirates, and they, guessing the means by which we had obtained
possession of their cursed junk, would slay us all, without mercy."

There was justice in what he said; and the captain then fell back upon
the plan which I had first proposed. It was agreed that the boat
should be emptied of the coals with which it was now half-filled, and
lowered into the water. While the men were busy at this work, I
wandered to and fro about the deck, and, searching amidst the
_débris_, found some fragments of my dear home-letters. They were all
torn and soiled, and I gathered them together with a sigh. At this
moment, as if for the very purpose of favouring our flight, the last
junk put off, and hove away to sea, leaving us alone for the first
time since our captivity. Being now enabled to work with less
precaution, the men redoubled their efforts, and the boat was soon
unloaded. Eagerly and anxiously we crowded round, and examined it.
Alas, how great was our disappointment! Several planks had started in
the bottom of the boat, and she was no longer sea-worthy. Intense as
was their discouragement, our sailors persisted in the attempt. A dull
splash followed. We hung over the side of the vessel, and breathlessly
prayed to Heaven for help and protection.

Ten minutes thus passed by. "It cannot be done," said the captain,
falteringly; "she is already half-full of water." We looked into each
others faces, and silently dispersed. Great sorrows are dumb. Till
to-morrow nothing could now be done, and who could tell what that
morrow might bring forth?


     Efforts at Escape--Attempted Flight--Return to the
     "Caldera"--Capture--Cruelties of the Pirates--Portrait of a
     Pirate Chief--Chinese Prayer--Death of a Pirate--Seizure of
     a Merchant Junk--Fresh Plunder--Fortune of the Vanquished.

On the following day our sailors set to work gallantly. To repair the
jolly-boat would take, at the least, eight or ten hours of hard
labour, and our only hope lay in the continued absence of our enemies.
The greater part of the day went by thus, and for hours and hours no
sail was visible on the horizon. Once more we had the "Caldera" to
ourselves; but she was now a mere shell, dismantled, melancholy, and
motionless--a floating mass of utter ruin! We fixed ten o'clock at
night for the moment of our escape, and throughout all the day toiled
on without any kind of food or rest. But for the nervous energy which
kept me up, I know not how I should have borne this long starvation;
as it was, my strength was failing rapidly.

To fit a mast to the boat, and construct some kind of rude sail out of
the rags that lay strewn about our decks, occupied the men up to a
late hour of the evening. As all our rigging had been either carried
away, or cut to pieces, they even contrived to make some bamboo canes
serve in the place of ropes. This done, we prepared to leave the ship,
and were just about to lower the boat, when two junks came into sight,
and bore down straight upon us. Stowing away all that could be hidden
of our preparations, we hastened to take refuge in our cabins, and
there awaited whatever might happen.

It was not long before they hove alongside, and they had no sooner
leapt on board, than they came down in search of us. Two of the
pirates carried lanterns, by the light of which they examined us one
by one, as if to make sure that none were missing. Arrived where I lay
hidden behind some of my companions, they laughed, and called to each
other with every mark of satisfaction. One made signs to me to rise,
but I could only look up imploringly, and had no strength to stir.
Another, irritated, perhaps, by my languor, threatened me with his
sabre, which only added to my terror, and left me more helpless than
ever. But for an agonized cry, which just then drew their attention
from me towards one of their number, who had missed his footing and
fallen into the hold, I hardly know now how this scene might have
ended. Having pitched from the deck to the very bottom of the vessel,
the Chinese was brought up by one of our sailors. More dead than
alive, he lay and groaned piteously, and the pirates, being occupied
with his sufferings, and pleased, to all appearance, with the ready
help which our men had afforded him, tormented and threatened me no

Our alarms, however, were not yet ended. These barbarians seemed to
delight in our terror; and, not content with all that they had already
done, now took it into their heads to carry lighted torches into the
hold, and all about the cabins, thereby scattering a shower of sparks
in every direction, and more than once setting fire to the chips and
rubbish that lay heaped around. Had not our sailors followed, and
stamped out the sparks as they fell, the wreck must soon have been in
flames. Weary at length of this ferocious pastime, the pirates
returned to their junks, put out to sea, and left us once more in

Thankful to be released from their presence, our brave fellows flew to
work again, and rigged the jolly-boat afresh. She was still somewhat
leaky; but we had made up our minds to sink or starve at sea, sooner
than die at last by the hands of the pirates. At this solemn moment,
we were unanimous in our courage and our hope. Not one of us but
preferred drowning in the bosom of the deep sea, to the chances of
starvation or massacre. Not one of us but left his fate to Heaven, and
was content to venture, be the end what it might! In the meantime,
the weather, which had hitherto been all that we could desire, became
less favourable to our purpose. The sky, last night so serene, grew
low and cloudy, and the wind, which had up to this time been blowing
to the shore, shifted quite round, and seemed to forbid our progress.
Seeing these signs of bad weather, the captain shook his head
doubtfully; but our minds were made up. We had resolved to go, and
would not be delayed.

It had now become a matter of some difficulty to get down into the
boat; for, being gutted of her cargo, the "Caldera" necessarily drew
but little water, and floated so high above the sea-level, as to leave
an immense distance between the ship's deck and the jolly-boat. The
wounded sailor and I were then lowered by means of cords, and the
others, being more agile, contrived to clamber down in safety. The
captain then placed himself at the helm; the supercargo, the Chinese
merchant, the sick man, and myself were seated near him; the sailors
grasped the rude oars which they had themselves constructed; and,
twenty-two in number, we put out to sea. From the first moment of our
starting, two sailors were constantly baling out the water that made
its way through the bottom of the boat; and, as Captain Rooney had
already anticipated, our sail soon proved to be worse than useless,
and had to be taken down.

Struggling against a contrary breeze, and driven back by every wave
that met us, we made but little progress. Looking back towards the
"Caldera," I seemed to see its sombre outline loom larger through the
mist the farther we left it behind. High above the waves, like a huge
hearse, floated that dreary hulk. Alas! we strove in vain to fly from
it. To row in such a sea would have been difficult under the most
ordinary circumstances; and, weak and wearied as they were, our men
could make no head against the waves. Their oars, rough-hewn during
the day, were too heavy to be manageable. Washed over every moment by
the waves, the boat filled rapidly with water, and four men could
scarcely bale it out fast enough for our safety. Besides all this, an
icy wind blew from the north, and the hands of the rowers grew numbed
and nerveless. We went three miles in this manner. Then, after four
hours of superhuman effort, our sailors quite broke down, and
confessed that they could do no more. It was the will of Heaven. The
"Caldera" seemed destined to become our tomb.

"Let us return," said the captain, hoarsely, and he looked, as he said
this, like one who believes himself in the hands of fate, and hopes no
more from either God or man.

"Yes, let us go back," I replied. "Death can be but welcome after
sufferings like these."

The current, which had been hitherto our greatest enemy, bore us back,
almost without an effort on our part, to the very spot from which we
had started. The rope by which we had been let down, was swinging to
and fro as we had left it. The others caught hold of it and climbed
easily enough, but it was with the utmost difficulty that the invalid
and I were hoisted on board.

I no sooner found myself standing, once again, upon this fatal deck,
than everything swam before my eyes, and I fell heavily to the ground.
Pain and hunger were fast doing their work upon me, and the very
principle of life was ebbing from my heart. It was long before I
recovered my consciousness, and, when I opened my eyes, I found that I
was laid upon a bench and surrounded by kindly faces. Every man had
deprived himself of some article of clothing to warm and cover me.
Having but water to give, they gave it. Such cares as were in their
power to bestow they lavished on me; and so called me back to life at
the very moment when it would have been most sweet to die. Some of
them wept. Perhaps, looking at me, they thought of the wives, the
mothers, the sisters, whom they had left at home.

Finding that I was now somewhat revived, my companions stretched
themselves on the floor, and slept till morning. I also slept; but my
dreams were of that dear France which I never hoped to see again,
and, more than once, my own hot tears awoke me.

The next day was the 11th of October. I had slept for some hours, and
this brief rest had for awhile effaced the remembrance of my
sufferings. Starting up, however, in the early morning, I had no
sooner opened my eyes than all the dread reality was brought before
me. There, close beside me, stood a group of armed Chinese, and, in
the midst of them, Than-Sing, eagerly conversing. He who seemed to be
their leader, pointed towards me with his finger. I looked on in
speechless stupefaction. Captain Rooney then came up, and Than-Sing,
who still acted as our interpreter, explained the nature of the
conference. "Captain," said he, "the chief is about to carry you and
me, and this French lady, to Macao, where he hopes to get a heavy
ransom for us." Captain Rooney bowed his head in melancholy
acquiescence, and prepared to submit. I was immediately lifted by some
two or three pirates and carried upon deck; but I scarcely
comprehended what had been said, or whither they were taking me.
Than-Sing went first; and I, being helped down a wretched ladder,
followed him. I then looked up, expecting to see Captain Rooney next
on his way; but found, to my horror, that the pirates had snatched the
ladder away, and pushed off without him! No words can depict the shock
with which I beheld this last act of treachery. Leaving Canton, I had
been recommended to his care, and in all our troubles he had watched
over me with the gentlest solicitude. He was my protector--my friend;
and, parted from him, I believed myself lost beyond redemption. I held
out my arms in token of adieu, and saw the stony wonder in his face.

"Take me with you!" he cried, passionately; "Oh, take me with you!"

Then, seeing that it was useless, he covered his face with his hands,
and wept bitterly.

We were summoned, some few minutes after, to the cabin of the chief,
who told Than-Sing that Captain Rooney was presently to be forwarded
to Hong-Kong or Macao, there to negotiate for our ransoms and his own.
"In seven or eight days," said he, "all will be arranged. In the
meantime you must stay with us as hostages."

We were not suffered to remain in the chief's cabin, but had to cross
the deck and go on to the after-part of the vessel. I looked eagerly
round, in the hope of seeing the "Caldera" for the last time; but we
were already far away, and she was no longer visible.

The pirates who had us in charge then lifted a kind of trap, about two
feet square, and pushed us down into a narrow dark hole below deck,
where we had no room to stand upright, and could with difficulty lie
at full length. When we sat, our heads touched the flooring above. The
trap being left open, we could at least breathe the fresh air, and
look up to the sky; but, once shut in, our only light proceeded from a
tiny port-hole of some eight inches square, which looked out beside
the moving helm, and was not made to open. We had not lain more than
half an hour in this dreary place, when a heavy blow echoed above our
heads, followed by many others in rapid succession. Our eyes met, and
each read the same dark suspicion in the other's face. Was it possible
that they were nailing down the trap above our heads? Was this hole
destined to be our coffin and our tomb? Had we been separated from our
companions only to die slowly of hunger, thirst, and suffocation? A
cold chill ran over all my body--I struggled to my knees--I strove,
weak as I was, to force the lid up with my feeble hands. Oh, it was
despair and anguish unspeakable!

"It is thus," I thought, "that they suffer who are buried alive!"

This idea was too much for my reason. My brain burned--I lost all
self-control--I strove to dash my head against the wall, and put an
end to my miseries. In the midst of my delirium, I felt two hands
pressing mine, and saw Than-Sing bending over me, with the tears
streaming down his cheeks. He entreated me to be calm; and presently
I also wept, and strove to wait my fate with resignation. Thus two
frightful hours went by; and then, as if by enchantment, the trap was
suddenly raised, and the blessed sunlight flowed in once more upon us.
It was, but a cruel jest, and they had only feigned to nail us in,
after all!

They crowded round the opening, laughing and pointing at us; and then,
when their curiosity was satisfied, would have closed it up again, but
for the prayers and representations of my companion. They then
consented to leave about two inches open, and having taken advantage
of this opportunity to rise and change our position, we lay at full
length along the floor, and breathed, at least, a less polluted air.

Towards evening they brought us a small bucketful of water, with which
we washed our hands and faces; also some dried fish, some rice, and a
little tea. So weak was I, that my head seemed too heavy for my body,
and I now loathed the very sight of food. But Than-Sing ate eagerly,
and implored me to partake of some little nourishment. Above all, he
counselled me not to seem mistrustful of our foes, or of the food they
gave us. Thus urged, I contrived to eat half a saucer of rice, and
drink a little tea; but even this cost me a painful effort, and a
degree of emotion for which I find it difficult to account. It grew
dark about eight o'clock in the evening, and just as night was
closing in, we heard an infernal yelling upon deck. Than-Sing hastened
to reassure me. "It is the hour of prayer," said he. "Prayer!" I
repeated. "Do these monsters pray?"

By and bye, I shall have something more to tell of their religious

When it was quite dark, the pirates summoned Than-Sing upon deck.
Coming back some few minutes after, they told me that I also might go
up to take the air. We were now anchored not far from land, in the
neighbourhood of several other junks, the crews of which were all at
prayer. It seemed strange, in the presence of this calm sea and silver
starlight, to hear the dull echoing of the gongs and drums, and the
rude cries of the worshippers. This moment of brief liberty was
inexpressibly delightful, and it seemed as if the sight of all-giving
Nature might, even then, have consoled me, but for the necessity of
returning to my prison. During the long hours that followed, I could
think only of my misfortunes, and deemed myself comparatively happy in
being associated with one whose age and benevolence placed him upon
almost a paternal footing.

I had confidence in Than-Sing, and, witnessing his unshaken
stedfastness, looked upon him as my protector. He consoled me; he
looked upon me as a daughter. "While I have him by my side," thought
I, "he will, perhaps, interpose between me and my enemies, whatever be
their designs. Then, should he be taken from me, I can at least throw
myself into the sea."

One of the pirates now brought us a light, which consisted of a little
wick in a saucer of oil. Feeble as it was, it yet sufficed to light up
the walls of our narrow dungeon. Scarcely had I looked round, when I
uttered a cry of horror. Ceiling, walls, and floor were peopled by a
multitude of huge velvety spiders, enormous beetles, and monstrous
wood-lice, horned and shiny. In an another instant, three or four
great rats rushed out of a corner, and ran between my feet. Seeing my
disgust, Than-Sing offered to put out the light; but I preferred the
sight of these reptiles to the torture of hearing and feeling them in
the darkness of night. Fortunately, I still had a pocket-handkerchief
remaining. With this I covered my head and face, and, hiding my hands
under my clothes, crouched motionless in the middle of the floor
throughout the remainder of the night. Towards morning the vermin

Not long after daybreak, we were again supplied with provisions, and
with a bucket of water, in which we washed our hands and faces.
Than-Sing then informed me that the Chinese never eat till they have
performed their morning's ablution. As before, our food consisted of
rice, fish, and tea. With these they sent us two pairs of tiny
chop-sticks, each about a foot in length, and as thick as an ordinary
pencil. The Chinese hold them as we hold a pen, and handle them with
the utmost dexterity. Notwithstanding all the patience and skill with
which Than-Sing endeavoured to teach me the use of these little
sticks, I found them so impracticable as to be obliged at last to give
up the attempt, and eat with my fingers.

To-day, again, the pirates came to watch and mock at us. One of them,
more insulting than the rest, pointed first at me and then at the
Chinese merchant, and represented the action of two persons embracing.
This cowardly insult pained me more than all their previous cruelties.
I felt myself become scarlet with shame and anger, and gave way to a
passion of tears. In the midst of my distress the pirate-captain
happened to pass by, and, as if moved by my affliction, ordered the
trap to be closed above our heads.

This chief, unlike his men, had something not wholly disagreeable in
the expression of his countenance. He alone inspired me with neither
disgust nor terror. His ugliness was, so to say, individual. His face
was long and thin; he had high cheek-bones, a wide mouth, a short flat
nose with open nostrils, dark eyebrows, and very large black eyes.
His head was closely shaved, excepting on the crown, whence grew a
long thick tress, which he wore sometimes clubbed on the nape of the
neck; sometimes plaited, and bound round his head like a coronet; and
sometimes hanging down his back, a yard or more in length. Transformed
as he was by these various styles, his face always preserved a certain
pleasant character. His consideration on the present occasion inspired
me now with some hope for the future.

Than-Sing, partly to amuse me, partly to set my mind at rest, repeated
to me the questions and observations which the pirates had addressed
to him. They had asked him the number of his wives, which, in China,
is a standard of wealth; and then added that if our ransoms were not
sufficiently heavy, they would make a pirate of him, and give me in
marriage to one of their companions. Seeing me now look more
distressed than ever, the good merchant explained that the men of his
country were not permitted to intermarry with aliens, and that these
threats were only feints to draw him into conversation. "Be careful,
however," said he, "never to lay your hand upon me in their presence.
It is contrary to our custom, and they might repeat it to my
disadvantage." To all their other questions he had replied that he was
only a poor man, about to seek his fortune in California, and gave
them to understand that he was working out a cheap passage on board
the "Caldera." He was, therefore, careful to avoid any allusion which
might lead them to conjecture the extent of his means. Had they
supposed him wealthy, they would not only have quadrupled his ransom,
but might even have put him to the torture. He then spoke to me of his
family. He had but one wife, he said, and his home was in Canton. He
was the father of three daughters, of eight, eighteen, and twenty-five
years of age, the eldest of whom was married. He seemed to love them
tenderly, and wept when he spoke of them. He scarcely hoped ever to
see them again, and had but little belief in our ultimate deliverance.
I often enquired of him, at this time, respecting the manners and
customs of the pirates; to which he always replied, shudderingly, that
they were not to be depended upon, and were dangerously fond of
decapitating their prisoners.

The following day went by without any event of interest. I only
remember that the pirates questioned Than-Sing about my name and
country; and, having learned these facts by heart, amused themselves
by perpetually shouting "Fanny! Fanny!" which often startled me.

I became miserably cramped towards evening; and Than-Sing entreated
permission for me to remain upon deck somewhat longer than usual.
They consented, and I thereby had an opportunity of witnessing the
ceremonies of their evening prayer.

Every junk, like every Chinese house, is furnished with an altar. On
this altar they burn small wax-lights, and offer up oblations of meat
and drink. They pray every night at the same hour, and begin with a
hideous overture played upon gongs, cymbals, and drums covered with
serpent skins.

First of all, I saw a young Chinese come forward with two swords,
which he stuck upright in the very centre of the deck. Beside these he
then placed some saucers, a vase filled with liquid, and a bundle of
spills, made of yellow paper, and intended for burning. A lighted
lantern was next suspended to one of the masts, and the chief fell
upon his knees before the shrine. After chanting for some time, he
took up the vase and drank; and next proceeded, with many
gesticulations, to chink a lot of coins and medals together in his
hands. The paper spills were then lighted and carried round and round
the swords, as if to consecrate them. These ceremonies completed, the
captain rose from his knees, came down to the after-part of the junk,
waved the burning papers to and fro, and threw them solemnly into the
sea. The gongs and drums were now played more loudly, and the chief
seemed to pray more earnestly than ever; but as soon as the last
paper was dropped, and the last spark extinguished, the music ceased,
the prayer came to an end, and the service was over. Altogether it had
taken quite twenty minutes, and I had gained all that time in the open

That night I strove in vain to sleep. The insects which infested our
dungeon tormented me incessantly, and my feet were blistered all over
from their bites. The rats, also, which at first had fled before the
sound of our voices, were now grown but too friendly, and ran over us
in broad daylight, as we were lying on the floor.

It was now the thirteenth day of the month. The junk still coasted
along close in shore, and our position was as yet in nowise altered.
In the evening we heard a great commotion upon deck, and found that
one of the pirates had fallen overboard. Not having perceived this
accident until too late, the man was quite dead by the time they
succeeded in picking him up. They laid the corpse so close beside the
opening to our cell, that the water came streaming from it full upon
our heads. After a quarter of an hour of confusion, they gave up all
hope of bringing him back to life, and, with sullen imprecations,
flung the body back into the sea.

On the morning of the 15th, we came up with several other
pirate-junks, and joined them in giving chase to a merchant-junk,
plying between Hong-Kong and Canton with goods and passengers. All was
now excitement on board. The hours of rest were passed by, and
Than-Sing overheard the robbers concerting their plans of attack, and
calculating the probable extent of the booty. When the evening came,
we were fastened down in our dungeon more closely than ever.

It might have been about ten o'clock at night, when we once more heard
the frightful war-cries which startled us from our sleep that fatal
night on board the "Caldera." These cries were followed by a dropping
cannonade. Two shots were then fired from our own junk, the vibration
of which seemed to rend every timber around us. More dead than alive,
I vainly strove to still the beatings of my heart, and dreaded every
instant lest a ball should burst in upon us. Four junks then
surrounded the merchant-vessel, which, taken by surprise, offered but
a feeble resistance.

Amid the silence that ensued, Than-Sing contrived, with much
difficulty, to raise the trap; for we had been a long time shut in,
and the heat had become insufferable. Scarcely, however, had he
succeeded, and looked out, than he drew precipitately back, and closed
up the entrance. His terror and agitation alarmed me; but he refused
to describe what he had seen. Some hours later, however, I learnt all
that had taken place.

Having boarded and pillaged the merchant-junk, the pirates, it seemed,
proceeded to interrogate the passengers. Several of these unfortunates
unluckily confessed that they came from California, which was alone
sufficient to expose them to every kind of ill-usage. In order to
wring from them a full avowal of their riches, the pirates had put
their victims to the torture. Bound by only one thumb and one toe,
these wretched captives were suspended from the masts, and swung
violently backwards and forwards. As if this were not sufficient
suffering, their agonies were, from time to time, augmented by heavy
blows, and their shrieks were inconceivably distressing. Although
these scenes were not taking place on board our own junk, Than-Sing
guessed but too plainly the species of torture which the barbarians
had chosen to inflict.

Day broke, and the dreary silence which succeeded to the horrors of
the night was only disturbed by the slow plashing of the waves, and
the dipping oars of the rowers, who were transporting the booty in
small boats from junk to junk.


     Despair--I write the Date of my Captivity--Benevolence of
     the Pirates--A Happy Meal--A Steamer in Sight--Flight of the
     Pirates--Gratitude--Hurrah! Hurrah! I am Saved!

We had hoped that the day would, as usual, bring us some little
liberty and fresh air; but the pirates were too busy to heed us.
Absorbed in the pursuit of gain, they were all day occupied in
negotiating the sale of their plunder, and for that purpose received
on board those traders whose special line it is to buy up stolen
goods. Bathed in perspiration, racked with acute cramps, and half
stifled by the long-confined air, I suffered horribly. My skin, too,
was covered with a painful eruption, and I had become so weak that,
although my companion strove to amuse and cheer me, I was no longer
able to reply. By and bye, we heard the pirates counting their gold,
and then the splashing oars that bore the purchasers away. This done,
our jailers at length remembered our captivity, and opened the trap.
It was time they did so; for we had lain there upwards of
four-and-twenty hours! The delight which it was once more to breathe
that fresh night-air, I shall remember to my dying day.

The next day was the 17th, and a glorious morning dawned. To our
surprise, the pirates came at sunrise, and quite removed the trap.
They seemed almost pleasant, and, when the hour of breakfast came,
brought us not only an abundance of food, but even some wine. This
liquor, which is extracted from rice, is as transparent as water, and
by no means unpalatable. The flavour of it, indeed, is not unlike that
of new Bordeaux.

The junk was now coasting beside an uninhabited shore, and the
pirates, assured that we could not here be observed, left our cell
uncovered throughout the day. They even suffered Than-Sing to remain
for some time on deck, and behaved towards us with an amazing degree
of good-humour. The weather was so fine that I almost envied my
companion, and longed to follow him in his walk. Not daring, however,
to get out without permission, I ventured to stand up in my place, and
look round at the land and the sea. Oh, how delicious seemed that
sight! After having lived for seven long days in a dark and filthy
den, I now beheld the broad bright ocean, the golden sunlight, the
blue sky, and the verdant shore! Here and there, in the midst of trees
and pastures, lay tiny white villages, dotting the coast-line far
away, like white flowers in the grass. The sight of this landscape
intoxicated me. I fancied myself once more in sight of my own dear
France, and wept as I have seldom wept before or since.

At this moment the pirate-chief passed by. I pointed to the land, and
Than-Sing, who had been watching my emotion, hastened to explain that
I was praying for life and liberty. Motioning to me to be calm, the
chief then replied that he had long since despatched Captain Rooney in
a junk to Macao; that Captain Rooney was empowered to treat there for
our ransoms; and that he had expected yesterday to meet the junk on
its return. Should five more days elapse, however, without further
tidings, it was his intention, he said, to transfer us on board
another vessel. This vague reply troubled us more than ever.
Transferred to another junk, what might not be our fate? After all,
the interpretation of the thing was plain enough. They were not
disposed, somehow, to put us to death; but should they find it
impossible to extort a ransom for our liberty, they would get rid of
us to those who might not be so scrupulous. Even supposing that we had
come across a steamer by the way, what had we to hope? Would not our
captors sooner throw us overboard, than be taken in the fact of piracy
and kidnapping on the high seas?

The captain now gave me leave to walk awhile on deck, and I gratefully
availed myself of the permission. So happy was I in the enjoyment of
light and liberty, that I forgot all my former tortures, and learnt to
look upon these lawless men with feelings that were almost friendly.
They were very busy this morning, bustling to and fro, chatting
familiarly together, and dividing the spoil of the previous evening. I
confess with shame that I scarcely remembered by what means they had
wrung that spoil from their miserable victims, and could think only of
my present freedom. It was not often that the pirates took any notice
of me; but, strange to say, whenever they did look at me, it was with
an expression of good-nature of which I should scarcely have supposed
them capable.

"They like you," said Than-Sing, who had been talking with them. "They
like you, because your face and eyes are gentle; and they say that
they no longer wish any evil to happen to you."

It seemed incredible that these men should forego their native
ferocity in my favour; but perhaps my patience and my weakness touched
their hearts. On the other hand, I owed much, doubtless, to their
cupidity. When I recall the length of my imprisonment, the character
of my jailers, and all the circumstances of my capture, I can scarcely
credit, even now, the evidences of my own memory.

Having been on deck for about two hours, I went back voluntarily to
my cell. Long confinement had incapacitated me for any kind of
exertion, and I fell down upon the floor, utterly wearied and
exhausted. At the same time, I felt better than for many days past,
and the weight at my heart was lightened.

Gazing languidly around the four dreary walls within which I had spent
so many frightful hours, I observed an old book lying in one corner,
covered with dust and dirt. I had seen it before, but had not till now
the heart to take it up. It was a German work, and printed in German
text. Ignorant as I was of the language, I turned the pages over with
delight, for they reminded me of Europe and of home. At the end of the
volume were some three or four blank leaves, still tolerably clean.
"Oh," thought I, "had I but a pen, to record something of my story!"
It then occurred to me that I had one hair-pin left, and that I might
contrive to write with the point of it. My success surpassed my hopes,
and the following words, thus traced upon the page, were sufficiently

    "I have been captured by Chinese pirates, and am kept
    prisoner by them. I am a Frenchwoman, and was a passenger on
    board the 'Caldera.' This is my seventh day in the
    junk.--17th of October, 1854.--FANNY LOVIOT."

I then wrote the same thing in French upon another page, and, not
content with this, took up a rusty nail that was lying near, and
scratched my names, and the name of the "Caldera," upon the under-side
of the framework into which the trap fitted. Each letter was an inch
long, at the least, and no one searching the vessel could fail to see
it. Alas! it was far from likely that any friendly eyes would ever
behold it; and yet I loved to cherish every illusion that could help
to veil the horrors of my present position. It was a dream, perhaps;
but then it was a dream of France, and liberty!

As for the pirates, they kept passing backwards and forwards, and
glancing down every now and then, to see what I was doing. They never
guessed, however, that I was writing words which might, some day, hang
every man among them!

Having recorded these three sentences, I lay down and rested. A
thousand vague thoughts flitted through my mind, and hopes long fled
began to dawn again. Profiting by my present privileges, I soon rose
and went again on deck. The pirates were still friendly, and
encouraged me to walk where they were at work; which I did, though not
without misgivings. Some of them were busy launching a little boat,
and Than-Sing explained to me that they were going to put off on an
oyster-dredging expedition, which they presently did. It seemed that
their first haul was fortunate, for they soon came back with the boat
half full of enormous oysters, larger than any which I ever remember
to have seen before.

The cook to-day was fully employed with his stewpans and braziers, and
appeared to be giving himself airs of no little importance. A feast
was evidently in course of preparation, and he well knew that on his
skill depended the success or failure of the entertainment. First of
all, he opened and shelled the oysters, and put them over the fire in
a huge saucepan. He then fried a quantity of delicious little fishes,
besides attending, every now and then, to a quarter of pork, which was
browning before a fire close by. The sight of all these good things
sharpened our appetites, and we asked each other if we had any chance
of sharing the feast. When the hour of repast came round, Than-Sing
and I went back to our dungeon, scarcely hoping to be remembered till
the best of the dishes were eaten. How much, then, were we surprised,
on finding the pirates assemble and seat themselves all round about
our cell, while the cook, ladle in hand, went round, and helped the
company to saucerfuls of smoking oysters. Of these, Than-Sing and I
received as large a share as the rest, and although I was at first
somewhat doubtful of the sauce in which they were floating, I soon
came to the conclusion that I had seldom tasted anything more
savoury. After the oysters came the pork, and after the pork, wine,
tea, and fish fried in rice. We were liberally helped to all these
dishes. Indeed, it seemed as if the pirates wished to show us how
sociable they could be, and for this day, at least, we were treated
less as prisoners than guests. They enjoyed the dinner immensely
themselves, and more than once asked Than-Sing how I liked their

Towards the close of the feast, just as I was anticipating the comfort
of a few hours' rest, a large merchant-junk came in sight to the
leeward. Every man was on his feet in an instant, the remains of the
dinner were cleared hastily away, the flags were hoisted to the
mast-head, and the pirates, running eagerly hither and thither,
prepared for fighting. Plunder was once again the order of the day,
and we, crouched silently in our little den, awaited whatever might
take place. The merchantman, however, made too much way for us, and
the pursuit was presently relinquished. I was inexpressibly thankful
that this comparatively happy day was not destined to end in bloodshed
and pillage.

The merchantman was soon out of sight, and we were shortly overtaken
by a flotilla of pirate-junks, the captains of which proceeded to make
exchanges of merchandise and provisions. Amongst other things, our
chief bought a quantity of live ducks. As night fell, the junks all
dropped away, and we continued our solitary route.

At the hour of prayer we ventured out again, and walked on deck till
nearly ten o'clock at night. The sky was calm and blue, and the stars
shone. After my experience of the last few days, it seemed to me that
I had never known any luxury so infinite. To-night I observed that,
instead of anchoring for several hours, as we had hitherto invariably
done, we were sailing rapidly on, under press of canvass.

Going back to our dungeon, I lay as usual on the floor, and fell
asleep thinking of the pleasant liberty which I had been suffered all
day to enjoy. Waking from time to time, I heard the wind whistling
through the cordage, and the rapid gliding of the waters as our keel
ploughed onwards.

The next day was Wednesday, October 18th, 1854--a heaven-sent day,
never to be named unless with prayer and thankfulness! It might have
been about four o'clock in the morning, when we were awakened from our
sleep by the sound of hurrying feet and eager voices. After having
sailed fast all the night, the junk was now riding at anchor, and the
trap was closely fastened above our heads. I could not conceive what
our captors were about, or why they should be thus active at so early
an hour. The more I listened, the stranger it seemed. Having waited
and wondered for some time, I tried to compose myself to sleep; but
sleep would not come again, and, somehow or another, a strange
restlessness possessed me. I turned to Than-Sing, who was awake and
listening also, and asked him what he thought could be doing overhead?
He laid his finger on his lip, and, bending breathlessly forward,
paused for some moments before replying.

"Hush!" said he, at length. "They are going."

I could not imagine what he meant; but, just as I was about to
question him further, he again motioned me to silence, and repeated,
"They are going."

More puzzled than ever, I lay and looked at my companion, whose face
expressed both joy and terror, and whose voice shook strangely.

"I tell you, they are going," said he. "It is a steamer in pursuit."

"A steamer!" I repeated, stupefied and incredulous. "A steamer!" I
thought, for the moment, that my companion's brain was turned, and I
was almost angry that he should dream of reawakening hopes which I had
long since abandoned. Scarcely, however, had these thoughts crossed my
mind, when he touched me on the shoulder, repeating, "It is a steamer!
The pirates have seen a steamer, and they are escaping to the

I stared wildly in his face. My thoughts were all confusion. I dared
not trust myself to take in the sense of his words.

"You are wrong," I said. "Would they lie at anchor if they were

But he only pressed his face closely to the little port-hole, and
replied, "Yes, it is a steamer! I see it! It is a steamer!"

My heart throbbed at these words, as if it would burst; and, looking
out, I did indeed see a vessel at about two miles' distance. I say a
vessel because there was no smoke visible. Alas! what if it were but a
ship bound for Hong-Kong, Canton, or Macao? No such vessel would ever
come to our succour, and what chance had we of being discovered on
board a junk so similar to every other junk that sailed these seas?
Notwithstanding my reasoning, however, I could not control my
agitation, or keep away from the port-hole.

"Yes, yes," repeated Than-Sing, "they are going. They are flying from
the steamer!"

"But it is not a steamer," said I. "There is no smoke. It is but a
passing vessel, after all."

"I tell you that I am not mistaken. Steamer or no steamer, the pirates
are fled! Listen how their voices die away."

I listened. A profound silence reigned around us, and I only heard a
sound of murmuring voices, which became, every moment, more and more
distant. I strove to raise the trap, but Than-Sing pulled me back. At
that instant, a heavy footstep echoed overhead, and the trap was
lifted from without. It was the ship's cook, who, with startled face
and hurried gestures, looked in upon us.

"Fear nothing," said he. "It is a steamer! You are saved! It is a

And with these words he also fled, and we were left alone. Quick as
thought, I jumped up and sprang upon deck. A feverish strength
possessed me, and I uttered cries of frantic joy. It was indeed true.
We were alone, utterly alone, on board the junk, which, having
anchored somewhat too close in shore, was left half stranded by the
ebbing tide, and could not be pushed off. They had ventured here in
search of fresh water, and it was not till daybreak that they found
themselves in such close neighbourhood with the steamer. This latter,
it seemed, was also lying at anchor, and had been partly hidden by a
jutting tongue of land. Terrified, then, by the imminence of the
danger, and finding it impossible to put off to sea, the pirates had
preferred flight to fighting, and were, at this moment, abandoning
their vessel. Having waded through the shallow water that lay between
the ship's side and the land, they were now in the very act of
climbing the steep precipices which here start, as it were, from the
very verge of the sea. We could see them distinctly, and even the
plunder with which they had loaded themselves.

No language can describe the emotion with which I beheld the flight of
our enemies, and the near neighbourhood of those who would doubtless
prove to be our friends. Incoherent words broke from my lips, and I
paced to and fro with clasped hands and burning cheeks, eager for
deliverance. In the meantime, those on board the steamer had not yet
observed us, or put off a boat to our rescue. Seeing how near it lay,
I would fain have tried to wade through the sea, like the pirates, and
walk along the coast; but Than-Sing, who was cooler and wiser than I,
would hear of no such attempt. "It is useless," said he. "They will be
sure to come. Have patience, they will be sure to come."

His calmness exasperated me. I could not think why we need lose the
precious moments, and I longed to go in search of the help that Heaven
had sent us.

"Listen," said I. "Let us take the little boat, and put off to meet
them. In an hour we shall have paddled up to the ship's side. Think,
Oh think! what should we do if the pirates came back, and once more
took us prisoners? Oh come, pray come!"

But Than-Sing was immoveable. "No, no," said he, with that phlegmatic
gravity peculiar to his nation. "I tell you they will come to us. It
is a steamer. They will come to us."

I grew desperate. It was the first disagreement that we had yet had,
and I believed that he was wilfully sacrificing both our lives. Had I
known how to swim, I believe I would have attempted the distance. As
it was, I walked longingly round and round the small boat, and asked
myself whether it were not possible to manage it alone. Had I strength
enough to row or paddle two miles? Could I get it down into the sea?
Might not the pirates even now return, and might not the steamer put
off without having once perceived us? At the very moment when I was
thus debating, I felt myself grasped by the arm, and found that
Than-Sing had followed me to the after-deck.

"Look! look!" said he. "Do you see the three boats yonder?" I looked,
and there indeed were three boats rounding a point of land, and making
directly towards us. I tore off the chemise which I wore under my
sailor's dress, and tied it to a piece of bamboo that was lying upon
deck. I ran towards that side of the junk which lay nearest in their
sight, and fixed my signal in a rift between the planking! There was
now no fear, no doubt, no danger left! Ours was the only junk in
sight, and the boats were already so near, that I could distinguish
the blue jackets of the rowers. Than-Sing, standing beside me, crossed
his hands upon his breast, and bowed his head in prayer. Dreading lest
his Chinese dress should mislead our friends, I entreated him to keep
out of sight; which he did, willingly.

All at once the rowers ceased to row, and sat in the boats with
uplifted oars. Was it possible, after all, that they were about to
give up, and go back to the steamer? Leaning breathlessly forward, I
shaded my eyes with my hands, and knew not what to think. At this
moment a volley of musketry was fired from all three boats, and a
thick cloud of smoke was interposed between us. Taken by surprise,
terrified, bewildered, I fell back, believing that it was their
intention to attack the junk.

"Oh, my God!" I cried, falling upon my knees, "we shall be
killed--killed by our deliverers!"

The thought that they might actually continue to fire, supposing the
pirates to be still on board, inspired me with a sudden and desperate
energy. "Let them shoot me face to face," thought I. "Come what may, I
will make one effort more!" And with this I rushed to the prow, and
showed myself again. I pulled off my cap--I waved it wildly to and
fro--I tried to shout aloud, and immediately a prolonged "Hurrah!"
broke from every lip, and told me that a crew of English sailors were
our deliverers! They waved their hats in reply to my signal; then bent
to their oars again, and cleft the waters as an arrow cleaves the air.

They had recognized me now, and we were saved at last!


     Captain Rooney's story--Expedition along the Coast--The
     Pirate's Mother--Death of a Chinese--The "Lady Mary
     Wood"--Return to Hong-Kong--Protection of the Consul--Visit
     of Than-Sing--Good-bye to Captain Rooney.

Overwhelmed with joy, I staggered back, and fell, half-fainting, upon
deck. By the time that I had recovered, the boats were within a yard
or two of the junk. My strength was all gone now, and I wept
profusely. I could not speak--I could not even think; and when our
friends came climbing up the sides, and leaping on deck, I had no
greeting to give them. They were chiefly soldiers and officers of the
English marine service, and were accompanied by some blue-jackets and
one or two sailor-officers. Captain Rooney was with them. He could
scarcely contain his joy on seeing me again; and they all crowded
round me with every mark of interest and good-will. As for poor
Than-Sing, he was at first mistaken for a pirate, and had some
half-dozen fists shaken in his face; but I ran and stood beside him,
and Captain Rooney told them how he had saved us all, and how nobly he
had behaved from first to last.

Finding that I was not too weak to be moved, the sailors then carried
me down into one of the boats, and I left the junk for ever. While we
were on our way, the officers explained to me that they had taken down
the funnel of the steamer, in order to deceive and surprise the enemy.
As to the volley of musketry which so alarmed me, they had fired only
powder; hoping thereby to bring the pirates upon deck. Had I not gone
forward again, and had I not waved my cap as I did, they would
assuredly have fired next time with a deadlier purpose. As it was, the
removal of the cap left my light hair visible, and Captain Rooney
recognized me. When I first showed myself, they took me for a Chinese
left in charge of the junk, and mistook my white signal for an alarm
destined to recall the rest from shore. I also learnt that every one
in Hong-Kong believed either that I had been killed, or that I was
carried up into the country and sold. They, themselves, they said, had
long since given up all hope of saving me.

When we were about half way between the junk and the steamer, the
former was already in flames. As we drew nearer, we were greeted with
loud cheers, which our rowers returned heartily. At the head of the
steps by which we mounted upon deck, stood the captain, waiting to
receive us. Seeing me, he came down part of the way, and supported me
with his arm. He looked at me with as much amazement as pity, and,
grateful as I was for this universal sympathy, I felt almost ashamed
of the miserable condition in which I came amongst my deliverers. The
deck was crowded with gentlemen, chiefly inhabitants of Hong-Kong and
its neighbourhood, who had come out with the expedition from motives
of curiosity and interest. Thankful to escape from every eye, I gladly
retired to the cabin which had been prepared for my use. Here I found
clothing and every necessary awaiting me, and hastened to make such a
toilette as my weakness and weariness would allow. I looked at myself
in the glass, and scarcely recognized my own features, so haggard were
they, and so changed. My eyes were surrounded by livid circles, and my
skin was blackened by the burning sea-winds. As for my hair, that was
too hopelessly matted to be disentangled all at once; so I was forced
to leave it for awhile in its present disorder. While I was thus
employed, the boats had started away again, to the attack of three or
four pirate villages which lay close by in the creeks and coves of the

When I was calmer, and had rested awhile, Captain Rooney told me all
that had happened to himself and crew since we parted. Scarcely three
hours had elapsed, he said, from the time of our departure, when
another junk came up and took him on to Macao, leaving the crew with
the wreck. Two hundred piastres was then agreed upon as the price of
our ransom, and the pirates (confident of their own safety, since
Than-Sing and I remained as hostages in the hands of their companions)
sailed straight into port, and landed openly. Two of their number then
followed Captain Rooney into the town, believing that he would
immediately proceed to raise money among his friends. Captain Rooney,
however, did no such thing, but presented himself at once before the
governor, gave his two attendants into custody, and petitioned for
immediate succours of men and arms, in order to rescue his crew, his
passengers, and his ship, from the hands of the pirates. As Macao is a
Portuguese colony, the governor could not undertake to furnish an
expedition; but he granted Captain Rooney a military escort, and
otherwise assisted him in removing his prisoners to Hong-Kong. Arrived
at Hong-Kong, he went direct to M. Haskell, who was, as I have already
said, our French vice-consul. It was midnight when Captain Rooney made
his appearance at the consulate, and told his melancholy story. M.
Haskell's trouble and amazement may easily be conceived. Late as it
was, he took Captain Rooney with him, and went on board the "Sparta,"
then lying in harbour, under command of Admiral Sir William Hoste.
Nothing could exceed the promptness and generosity with which this
gallant officer hastened to place twenty-four marines at their
immediate disposal; or the courtesy with which the Peninsular and
Oriental Steam-Packet Company lent the "Lady Mary Wood" for their
conveyance. By six o'clock in the morning everything was in readiness,
and they steamed out of harbour, taking the two prisoners with them,
an interpreter skilled in the Chinese dialects, and several gentlemen
who went for curiosity and excitement. During the greater part of the
day they saw not a single sail. It almost seemed as if the pirates had
anticipated pursuit, and purposely abandoned their accustomed haunts.
Meeting, however, with some floating fragments of charred wood, they
came upon the track of the "Caldera," and found but a few burnt
fragments of her hull remaining. Struck with horror, they scarcely
dared ask themselves what had been the fate of the crew, but made at
once for some huts which lay at a considerable distance along the
coast. These huts were inhabited by a few fishermen and their
families; but they either were in league with the pirates, or really
knew nothing of what had taken place, for no information could be got
from them. The steamer then continued to coast close in shore, and
landed at every village, on the chance of learning something definite.
Just as they were disembarking at one of these little colonies, they
were, to their surprise, greeted with a discharge of musketry, and
found the inhabitants prepared to resist their landing. But it was
information and not fighting of which the English were in search; so
they hoisted a white flag, and sent one of the two Chinese prisoners
to treat with his countrymen. In order to insure this fellow's
fidelity, Captain Rooney pointed out to him a certain spot, beyond
which he was to pass on no pretence whatever. At this point he was to
stand and parley with the villagers, and if he but stepped beyond the
assigned limit, he should be shot down like a dog. To these warnings
he replied fairly enough, but no sooner found himself on shore, and at
liberty, than he began running at full speed. "Stop!" cried the
interpreter, just as the man neared the boundary which had been laid
down for him. He stopped, hesitated, looked back as if measuring the
distance, and then, possessed by the irresistible love of freedom, ran
on again as fast as his legs would carry him. Scarcely, however, had
he gone three yards, when the word was given to fire, and twenty balls
were lodged simultaneously in his body. "He staggered," said Captain
Rooney, "like a drunken man, dropped upon his knees, and fell never to
rise again."

The villagers believing themselves attacked this time, replied by
another volley, and a regular combat ensued. The English gained a
rapid and easy victory, most of the Chinese fled after the second or
third discharge, and only two or three of their number were killed
after all. The marines and sailors then sacked and fired the village,
and found a considerable quantity of merchandise belonging to the
"Caldera," which they carried away in triumph. Having as yet heard
nothing of us, and seeing but little likelihood of coming up just yet
with any pirate-junks, the captain of the "Lady Mary Wood" prepared to
return to Hong-Kong. Scarcely had they put the helm about, when they
met a merchant-junk, with the whole of the crew of the "Caldera" on
board. These poor fellows, it seemed, finding captain and passengers
all taken from them, had made a last despairing attempt to escape in
the same large boat which we vainly tried to navigate before. Although
the sea and wind was, this time, more favourable to their efforts,
they must have perished miserably, had they not been picked up by this
merchant-junk, when distant but a few miles from the wreck. The "Lady
Mary Wood" then took them on board, and a reward of 400 piastres was
instantly paid over to the master of the junk, in acknowledgment of
his humanity. The steamer then went back to Hong-Kong, without having
yet discovered any traces of Than-Sing or myself.

Scarcely had the first expedition returned, when a second was
organized, chiefly through the exertions and interest of M. Haskell.
Another steamer, named the "Ann," set off in search of us on Tuesday
the 17th of October, 1854. Accident alone led the captain to steer in
the direction of that very mountain under shelter of which our captors
had chanced to anchor. The steamer and the junk, as we afterwards
learnt, must have even reached the same spot much at the same time,
and anchored within a couple of miles of each other, under cover of
the darkness. It was not till morning that they perceived and rescued
us in the order which I have already related; and the date of my
deliverance was Wednesday, October 18th, 1854.

Listening to this account of all that had been done to save me, I
quite broke down again, and had no words to speak my gratitude. Still
more difficult was it to control my emotion when I read the following
letter, which had been entrusted to Captain Rooney's care, in case of

     "MADEMOISELLE,--Should this letter reach you, as I fervently
     hope it may, take some comfort, I entreat you. If money
     alone be wanted for your deliverance, draw upon me for
     whatever ransom you may find necessary.

                                           "G. HASKELL,
                             Vice-Consul of France at Hong-Kong."

Almost the whole day went by, and the three boats which had gone out
in the morning were not yet returned. As dusk came on, the captain of
the "Ann" became somewhat uneasy, and talked of weighing anchor and
going in search of his men. Before he had time to do this, however, we
were startled by the sight of a tremendous fire, at a distance of some
three or four miles along the coast. A canopy of smoke rose high above
the flames, and a red glare spread far and wide along the glassy
surface of the sea. While we were yet looking, three dark objects
emerged slowly from the farthest gloom, and came slowly on across the
lighted waters. Then the moon rose, and we recognized the boats and
their gallant crews. The men were greatly fatigued, but in high
spirits, and full of the day's adventures. Having landed at a pirate
village, they had fought a pitched battle with the inhabitants; put
some to flight, and some to death; discovered and carried off another
large share of the cargo of the "Caldera;" and finally set fire to the
village in four places at once. This time they brought back two
prisoners. The sailors and marines vied with each other in describing
their achievements, and seemed to delight in all the bloody details of
the day. I heard one boasting of the number he had killed, and the
hatred he bore towards these pagan pirates. "Hate the men as much as
you like," said one of his companions, "but why be so cruel as to kill
the women? I saw you shoot down a poor Chinese woman to-day, in cold
blood!" "You are a fool!" replied the boaster, impatiently. "Wasn't
she some pirate's mother?"

Next morning three boats, manned each by twenty hands, went out
again--this time with the intention of rowing round the island, and
surprising the pirates in the bay at the other side. The steamer
followed them at some little distance, in case of need. We watched for
a long time, and saw them round the cape and make towards the bay. At
the very moment, however, when the next stroke would have carried them
out of sight, we heard a sudden cannonade, and saw them pulling
rapidly back. The bay, it seemed, was full of junks, to the number of
forty or fifty, all armed and ready for combat; and the shores were
lined with fortifications. Luckily the balls had but whistled above
the heads of the rowers, and no harm was done. Deeming it useless to
attack forces so numerous, the captain prudently weighed anchor, and
put back for Hong-Kong. Having seventy miles of sea to traverse, we
did not arrive till eight o'clock the next morning. The steamer was
hung with ensigns taken from the enemy; and, just as we entered the
Hong-Kong roads, our captain ran up a special flag, with the motto
"All right," in token of my rescue.

Long before we landed, the news had spread throughout the city, and
the quays were crowded. Numbers of boats put off and came to meet us,
and every eye was searching for me among the passengers. Dressed as I
still was, however, in male attire, it was not easy to distinguish me
from the rest. I found myself overwhelmed with offers of hospitality.
Mr. Walker, director of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Packet
Company, pressed me to stay with his wife and family; but, grateful as
I was, I had made up my mind to take no steps till I had seen and
thanked the vice-consul. Just as I was about to go in search of him,
he came. He took both my hands in his, and looked at me with a
countenance in which pity, joy, and benevolence were each struggling
for the mastery.

"Come with me," said he simply. "I offer you shelter and protection in
the name of France."

This one name went to my very heart, and I burst into a passion of
tears. I blessed the Providence which had watched over me, and the
dear fatherland which, even in these remote climes, opened its arms to
receive me!

M. Haskell then led me to his own boat. A palanquin awaited me at the
head of the landing-stairs, and in a few minutes more I crossed the
threshold of a French home.

I spent twenty days at Hong-Kong, during which time I became the
object of universal consideration. I was visited by every person of
good standing in the city, and scarcely an European lady there but
would have done anything to help and comfort me. Notwithstanding all
this attention, I was forced to keep very quiet, and for a long time
was too ill to receive any one. This immense joy, treading so closely
on despair, proved too much for my strength, and an attack of brain
fever followed. For several days and nights I raved of pirates,
poignards, and fires. Nature triumphed at length; and, by the help of
Heaven, I recovered quickly. Just at this time arrived a packet of
letters from France and California; and I believe the home-news helped
to cure me most of all. My only hope now lay with my friends and my
country, and my only ambition was to return as soon as possible.

To lay in a stock of suitable clothing became one of the first cares
of my convalescence; and I cannot describe the satisfaction with which
I once more beheld myself in the attire of my sex. I may here remark,
by way of parenthesis, that in China the men are not only tailors, but
dress-makers. All the dresses, linen, shoes, bonnets, and so forth,
that I bought at Hong-Kong, were made by workmen.

Not many days before I left, I was gratified by a visit from
Than-Sing. The good old Chinese was on his way to rejoin his wife and
family at Canton, and came to bid me farewell. He was so richly
dressed, that at first I scarcely knew him; but he told me that these
clothes were all lent to him by a friend, since he, like myself, had
been robbed of his entire wardrobe. We talked for a long time of all
that we had suffered together, and parted with tears on both side. As
he left, he forced me to accept a richly embroidered handkerchief, as
a _souvenir_ of his friendship.

My departure was now fixed for the 11th of November, and the French
government paid my passage to Marseilles, per Indian mail-packet. On
the evening of the 10th, I received a visit from Captain Rooney and
one of the lieutenants of the "Ann." This officer, after
congratulating me on my improved health and appearance, presented me
with a book, which I instantly recognized as that very German volume
in which I had scratched, with a hair-pin, the records of my
captivity. He had found it while searching the junk, and, chancing to
take it up, opened the pages at the precise spot in which I had
written. He wished, he said, to keep the book in memory of me and my
strange adventures, and begged to be allowed to take it home with him
to England. I was, of course, but too happy to grant so trifling a
favour to one who had aided in my preservation.

As for Captain Rooney, he seemed sad and desponding enough. He felt,
he said, as if some fatality hung over him; and, grown weary of a
sea-life, now only longed to return to his home and his country. He
wished me farewell for ever.

"If my prayers be granted," said he, "you will sail safely this time.
Fear not--Providence watches over you."


     Departure from China--The "Malta"--Singapore--Penang--The
     Island of Ceylon--The "Bentinck"--Aden--In the Red Sea--The
     Isthmus of Suez--Cairo--The Nile--The
     "Valetta"--Malta--Marseilles--End of a Journey Round the

On the 11th of November, 1854, I was received on board the "Malta,"
government mail-packet. The vice-consul accompanied me on board, as if
to assure me of his generous protection up to the very last moment of
my stay, and I parted from him with feelings of such regret as I shall
not attempt to put into words. Should this narrative ever meet his
eyes, may he here read the earnest expression of my gratitude.

The line of route taken by the Indian mail-packets is certainly the
most desirable for passengers. From Hong-Kong to Singapore is a
journey of only seven days, and the steamer puts into port for
twenty-four hours, which enables travellers to see something of the
city. Singapore is chiefly inhabited by Chinese and Malays, and
contains but few European families.

From Singapore to Penang takes but three days more, and here the
steamer delays eight hours for the mails. These eight hours are,
however, sufficient to enable a passer-by to judge of the infinite
beauty of the place. It is verdant and luxuriant as a corner of
paradise, and the most delicious fruits abound in every part.

Eight days after this, we touched at Point de Galle, in the island of
Ceylon, where all the passengers were put on shore. The luggage was
then transferred to another steamer, and the "Malta" continued her
journey to Bombay. The number of travellers by this route is seldom
large. We were but thirty-two, and consisted of English, Portuguese,
and French. We all breakfasted together at a cottage-restaurateur's in
the Jardin Canella, which is the public promenade of the place.

Embarking, towards evening, on board the "Bentinck," another steamer
belonging to the same company, we started for Suez, and after ten
days' travelling touched at Aden, for the purpose of taking in coals.
It is a wretched spot--arid and desolate, and inhabited by a race of
hideous and miserable human beings. Seven days on the Red Sea brought
us to Suez, where I landed with real delight. We crossed the Isthmus
in omnibuses, and our luggage was transported by a troop of camels.
The camel-drivers were half of them blind, or nearly blind; for their
eyes, during the transit across the desert, are perpetually attacked
by myriads of flies.

Two refreshment-stations have been established along this route, for
the benefit of travellers journeying between Cairo and Suez.

Cairo, as has been truly said many and many a time before, is a city
taken from the pages of the "Thousand and One Nights." I shall not
attempt to describe it here, for it has been described well and often,
and I have nothing new to tell. I spent three days there, dreaming and
wondering, strolling through bazaars and marketplaces, and visiting
all that is most curious and surprising in the city and its
neighbourhood. As for the Pyramids, although I saw them from afar in
my passage down the Nile, I cannot say that I experienced any special
delight or enthusiasm at the sight. Cairo, and Cairo alone, usurped
all my admiration, and, far as I have travelled, and much as I have
seen, I may truly assert that no spot I ever beheld could compare with
it for novelty and magnificence.

From Cairo we proceeded by steamer down the Nile to Boulac, and at
Boulac took the railway to Alexandria. Excepting a glimpse of the
distant pyramids, and the sight of those quaint little mud-coloured
Egyptian villages which lie scattered along the banks of the great
river, this journey afforded no objects of interest by the way. At
Alexandria I remained three days, waiting the arrival of my luggage.
This city, unlike Cairo, is neither picturesque nor splendid. The
bazaars are dirty, the population is scanty, and (being chiefly
inhabited by Europeans) the oriental costume is but rarely seen. I
visited the palace of the viceroy, Pompey's Pillar, and Cleopatra's
Needle; but my heart was full of France and home, and I cared little
for either modern palaces, or vestiges of a remote antiquity. How
happy I was when I at length embarked on board the "Valetta," and knew
that in six days more I should tread French ground! On the fourth day,
we touched at Malta, but no one went on shore; and on the 26th of
December, 1854, the "Valetta" cast anchor at Marseilles.

On the 30th I was in Paris, and read the following announcement in the
columns of _La Presse_:--

"Mademoiselle Fanny Loviot, who was taken prisoner not long since by
pirates in the Chinese seas, has just returned to France in the
'Valetta,' via Marseilles."

Oh, the happiness of once more dwelling in the midst of those dear
ones who had so often lamented me with tears, and believed me lost for
ever! Oh, the delights of home, after the sufferings and dangers of a
journey round the world! I went to seek my fortune, and found only
misfortune. Still, with all their troubles, my weary wanderings had
not been wholly profitless. I had beheld Nature, bountiful and
beautiful Nature, under her most varied aspects; and if I had endured
fatigue, privation, and even disease, I had, at least, lived that life
of peril which hath its own peculiar charm for the imaginative and the

I have never yet regretted my journey, or its adventures. May the
indulgent reader, who has followed me thus far in my narrative, as
little regret the trouble of perusal!


"La Presse," December 20th, 1854.

     "The _Moniteur de la Flotte_ publishes the following
     passage, extracted from a letter dated Hong-Kong, October,
     27th, which contains some interesting details respecting a
     little '_drame maritime_:'--

     "'The Chilian ship "Caldera" left Hong-Kong on the 4th of
     October for San Francisco, having two passengers on board,
     one a young Parisian lady, named Mademoiselle F. Loviot, and
     the other a Chinese. Overtaken, two days after, by a
     frightful tempest, the captain anchored in a bay among some
     islets of the Chinese seas, whither his vessel had been
     driven by the storm. He hoped to return to Hong-Kong and
     refit, but was assailed during the night by three Chinese
     junks, and plundered without mercy. For two days these
     robbers remained in possession of the ship; but fled on the
     third day before a flotilla of fresh junks which came up to
     dispute the prize. On the 11th of October, the pirates
     belonging to one of the newly arrived junks proposed to
     conduct the captain, the Chinese, and the lady-passenger to
     Hong-Kong, there to treat for a ransom; but when the lady
     and the Chinese had got into the boat which was to transport
     them to a junk close by, the rowers pushed off, and left the
     captain behind. He, however, succeeded shortly after in
     procuring a boat, and returned to Hong-Kong. In the meantime
     the pirates carried off the young lady and the Chinese, and
     confined them in a little den on board one of the junks. "We
     were obliged," writes this young lady, in her account, "to
     keep ourselves bent almost double, for want of room, and
     were watched narrowly. In the evenings we were permitted to
     leave our prison for a quarter of an hour; but whenever the
     pirates saw other vessels approaching, they made us return
     thither immediately. When they took their own meals, they
     gave us food, and told us that, should our captain not
     forward our ransom very shortly, they would transfer us to
     the hands of other pirates. We remained thus till the
     morning of the 18th, when the Chinese, who was my companion
     in misfortune, heard the pirates calling to one another that
     a steamer was in sight and they must save themselves by
     land. They did so, accordingly, and left us on board the
     junk, free and unharmed. While we were imprisoned on board
     this vessel, the pirates one night attacked a Chinese
     merchantman, and sold the booty next day to pirate traders.
     From our dungeon on board we could distinctly hear the goods
     passed from one ship to another, and the purchase money
     counted overhead."

     "'The steamer which rescued this young lady and the Chinese,
     then proceeded to cruise round the coasts, and destroyed
     three pirate villages. It is supposed that an expedition
     will soon be fitted out against these assassins and their

"La Presse," December 30th, 1854.

     "Mademoiselle Fanny Loviot, who was lately taken prisoner by
     pirates in the Chinese seas, has just returned to France in
     the 'Valetta,' _via_ Marseilles."

"Moniteur," January 20th, 1855.

     "His Excellency Lord Cowley has just forwarded
     communications to the imperial government, respecting a
     despatch addressed to the Board of Admiralty, by
     Vice-Admiral Sir James Sterling, commander of the British
     naval station in the Indian and Chinese seas. Also a report
     dated October 20th, 1854, in which Sir William Hoste,
     captain of the 'Sparta,' gives account of an expedition
     lately undertaken against the pirates of the isle of Symoug,
     near Macao.

     "The pirates had pillaged and run aground the Portuguese
     bark 'Caldera,' carrying off a French lady, who was among
     the passengers. The British cruiser 'Lady Mary Wood,' having
     vainly pursued them, the vice-consul of France at Hong-Kong
     asked the captain of the 'Sparta,' to send a detachment on
     board the steamer 'Ann,' which the insurers of the bark
     proposed despatching on a second trial.

     "On the 17th of last October, according to the orders of Sir
     William Hoste, Lieutenant Palisser embarked with eighty-five
     men in three long boats. He anchored near the wreck of the
     'Caldera.' The morning after, having perceived some junks of
     suspicious appearance, the lieutenant gave chase with the
     three boats, the water not being deep enough to allow of the
     steamer approaching the coast. These junks made at once for
     the land, where their crews took refuge, after throwing
     their weapons into the sea. On board the first junk were
     found the young French lady and the Chinese dealer.

     "They sent both on board the 'Ann,' and burnt the junk as
     well as two other boats. They then sailed on to the village
     of Kou-Cheoumi, where the pirates had fired on the English
     ships two days before, and where they knew the stolen cargo
     was concealed. They discovered there one hundred and
     fifty-three sacks of sugar, and forty chests of tea, which
     they took away. They then burnt two villages. Having now
     discovered a third village, defended by a battery of four
     cannons and eight field pieces, the lieutenant forced his
     way through a thick copse, and attacked it. After firing a
     volley, which wounded no one, he seized the battery,
     dispersed and killed the gunners, burnt the village and the
     boats that were lying on the beach, spiked most of the
     cannons, and carried six away as trophies.

     "Sir William Hoste, in his despatch, praises the gallantry
     and good conduct of the crews which were sent on this
     expedition, and which laboured twelve hours per diem, all
     the time beneath a burning sun. He also speaks highly of
     Lieutenant Palisser, who has, within the space of five
     months, conducted five successful expeditions of a similar
     nature, and taken seventeen pieces of cannon."

"La Patrie," February 12th, 1855.

                                            "Macao, _December 6_.

     "On the 4th of October last, a Chilian ship, called the
     'Caldera,' sailed from the port of Hong-Kong and was
     grounded by stress of weather amid a group of islets lying
     to the south-west of Macao. One Mademoiselle Fanny Loviot, a
     young French lady, happened to be on board. The pirates took
     her prisoner, as well as a Chinese merchant, who was her
     fellow-passenger, and sent on the captain to Hong-Kong, to
     treat for a double ransom.

     "Informed of these facts by the captain of the 'Caldera,'
     the French vice-consul applied to Sir W. Hoste, then
     commandant of the English station, and requested, as all the
     French forces were just then absent, that he would assist in
     fitting out an expedition for the rescue of Mademoiselle
     Loviot. Sir W. Hoste acceded instantly, and despatched
     eighty of his own crew, under command of Lieutenant
     Palisser. They took the steamer called the 'Lady Mary Wood,'
     and were accompanied by several of the consignees of the
     'Caldera,' who were anxious to save whatever might yet be
     found of the cargo of that vessel.

     "A detachment of English marines, in the steamer 'Ann,'
     shortly after encountered the pirates, burnt a large village
     to which they were in the habit of retreating, killed twenty
     men, and took several pieces of cannon. Having discovered
     the junk wherein the prisoners were confined, they sacked
     and attacked all the pirate villages along that coast, and
     returned to Hong-Kong on the morning of the 19th inst. The
     young Frenchwoman had been twelve days at the mercy of these
     monsters; but, thanks to their expectations of a ransom, had
     escaped without insult or ill-usage."


Thomas Harrild, Printer, 11, Salisbury Square, Fleet Street, London.

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*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Lady's Captivity among Chinese Pirates in the Chinese Seas" ***

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