FORTUNATELY for us, the ship was found to be so seriously damaged as to necessitate a long stay at this delightful island. Our friends gave us a hearty welcome, and we much appreciated their hospitality after the monotony of boat-cruising on salt grub. We now considered the practicability of attempting the ascent of the " Peter Botte," which the captain and I had reconnoitred on our previous visit. On this matter we could obtain but little information, most people maintaining that it was impossible, so we determined to make the attempt with our own resources. These consisted of a few fathoms of rope, some long bamboos, a lead and line, an axe, a saw, and a flag and staff to plant upon the top. I also took with me a long piece of twine with a bullet attached to it, and this proved the most useful of all. We selected eight of the smartest bluejackets in the ship from a host of volunteers. The party now consisted of the captain and myself, three friends from the shore, a midshipman, and the bluejackets-fourteen in all.
We left the ship before daylight, and after a three hours' walk reached the foot of the
THE ASCENT OF THE " PETER BOTTE."
mountain by a circuitous route. Here we rested, had some refreshment and a bathe: we then divided the ropes, bamboos, &c., between the party, and started, each one provided with a bottle of water. In about an hour we reached the spot from whence the captain and I had taken our observations, and halted for the stragglers. Our idea was to have made a ladder of bamboos to scale the precipice at this place; but our party was already thinned out, some of the bamboo-bearers never turned up, and our water-bottles were empty. We were already suffering from want of water, and the heat was terrible, so we decided to push on.
The bare face of the rock rose up before us for 25 feet like a wall. On either side of it the mountain went down sheer to the plain below for 1600 feet. Above the precipice was a narrow ridge rising at a sharp angle, then a smaller precipice, followed by some roughish ground to the rocks whereon stood the big boulder forming the head of the mountain. All this we could see from where we stood, and the more we looked at it the less we liked it. At the upper part of the wall of rock before us was a cleft extending downwards for about 10 feet, with some scrub growing in it. Our longest bamboos reached within a short distance of the cleft, so planting them firmly in the ground, supported by two of the men, I shinned up with a line round my waist, and succeeded in reaching the cleft, and scrambled to the top. With the small line a stouter one was hauled up and made fast round a rock, by which line the rest of the party followed.
From thence we all went straddle-legged along the ridge, with our legs hanging over the precipice on
THE ASCENT OF THE "PETER BOTTE."
Ascent of the Peter Botte Mountain, Mauritius
THE ASCENT OF THE "PETER BOTTE."
beyond our reach; so we had to send down for a bamboo, and with this we managed to reach the bullet and pull it down. Once we got hold of the line, the rest was easy. Binding a stouter line on to the twine, we pulled it over, then a stouter piece on to that, and so established a communication. Having made a ladder of bamboo, we pulled it up by the rope and made it fast round the neck. We then swarmed up the ladder, and at last stood upon the top of the famous Peter Botte.
We found ourselves upon a platform about 20 feet across each way, with a yawning precipice on every side except the way we came up, where it slanted a little. We planted the union-jack on a boarding-pike, and as the flag floated out on the breeze, we could see the answering pendants hoisted on the ships in the harbour of Port Louis, 4000 feet below and many miles distant. From our elevated position we had a magnificent panorama of the island mapped at our feet. But we had no time to enjoy the view, so having fired a rocket and given three cheers, we prepared to descend. On reaching the neck we threw our ropes and bamboos over the precipice, keeping one rope to lower ourselves down the steep places. The descent was not so easy, as darkness overtook us; but we reached the shoulder without accident. Thence to the bottom was a regular race over break-neck ground, and in another half-hour we were safe and sound on the plain.
We camped that night by the banks of the stream, and smoked our pipes with the satisfaction of having successfully accomplished what we had intended. Out of our party only five reached the top - the captain, Mr Lonsdale (a civilian), two bluejackets,
and myself. The rest broke down. The next morning we returned to the ship, and when we left Mauritius some weeks later, our flag was still floating proudly from the summit of the Peter Botte. [The Peter Botte has been frequently ascended since, and the ascent made easy by driving iron spikes into the face of the rock.]
Leaving Mauritius, we called at the Cape of Good Hope, where a court-martial assembled to try our captain for getting the Wasp ashore. The court acquitted him of all blame, and expressed an opinion that " the officers and ship's company deserved great credit for their exertions in getting her afloat." After the court-martial on the Wasp the ship was inspected by Admiral Sir Baldwin Walker, our new Commander-in-Chief, who paid me the compliment of asking me to join his flagship, the Narcissus, a beautiful 50-gun frigate, in splendid order - an offer I was fool enough to decline. But it came all right later on.
The Wasp was ordered home, and we sailed from Simon's Bay for Spithead. The day after we left, our new navigator forgot to wind up the chronometer, so the ship was navigated by dead reckoning and lunars till we reached St Helena, where the clocks were set going again. A beautiful tea-clipper, the Ethereal, was lying in the roads, and her captain bragged about her sailing, saying he would soon run us out of sight; and so he did, but astern! The Ethereal sailed an hour or two before us, but we soon overhauled her, and by sunset left her, hull down, behind us. We made a fast passage home for a sailing-ship, and ought to have anchored at Spithead forty-eight hours sooner than we did; but running up Channel with a south-west gale behind
us, we overshot the mark, found ourselves off Brighton next morning, and had to beat back.
After being inspected at Spithead, we were ordered into harbour to pay off and turn over to the Chanticleer; but as I wished to have a change, I applied for the Narcissus, Sir Baldwin Walker having asked me to join his flagship. In reply to my application I was ordered to join the Hero, a screw line-of-battle ship of 90 guns, then lying at Spithead under sailing orders for Bermuda; so bidding my shipmates adieu, I went straight aboard her, and an hour afterwards we were under weigh, the band playing "I'm off to Charlestown." Our relations with America were somewhat strained at the time, in consequence of the Mason and Slidell affair, and a large squadron was ordered to assemble at Bermuda to augment the North American Fleet under Admiral Sir Alexander Milne. Happily the matter was peacefully arranged without bloodshed. We remained four months at Bermuda. During this time the Orpheus arrived on her way to Australia: one of her lieutenants was anxious to exchange into the Hero, and although I was most happy in the ship, and the Orpheus was just the reverse of comfortable, I was so eager to go to Australia that I agreed to exchange. The arrangements were almost completed when the Orpheus' lieutenant changed his mind. The ship was afterwards totally lost on Manakau bar, New Zealand, with nearly all hands, this officer amongst the number.
From Bermuda we left with the squadron for Halifax, where we had a very good time shooting and fishing, and enjoying the hospitality for which
that station is so celebrated, and consequently so popular with the navy; but having unfortunately run upon a sunken rock near Halifax in a dense fog, we were ordered home to pay off after a happy commission. On arriving in England, I found that Sir Baldwin Walker, mindful of his promise, had applied for me, and I was ordered to join the Buzzard at Devonport for passage to the Cape. On going on board the Buzzard to report myself, I found she was going to the West Indies, not the Cape, so I returned to London, waited till I saw in the papers that the Himalaya had sailed for the Cape with supernumeraries, and reported myself at the Admiralty. So I was ordered to go out by mail steamer, and thus gained a month ashore on full pay.
I spent a most enjoyable year in the Narcissus, and received much kindness from the Admiral and his charming family. The ship was most of the time at Simon's Bay, where we found plenty of amusement, shooting and hunting. Our parson was a great hunter : one day he asked me to try a horse he had just bought out of a team from up country; he said he had to attend a funeral and couldn't try it himself. The brute never had been in harness or had had a saddle on him. He was harnessed to a country waggon, and when all was ready I jumped up and took the reins. The first thing he did was to kick the bottom of the cart in, and then bolt down the main street of Simon's Town. I had to let him go, and he galloped as hard as he could lay legs to the ground for four miles, when we came to a hill where I managed to stop him, and there left him, not best pleased
with the dirty trick the parson had played me. A settler kept a pack of hounds with which he hunted deer, foxes, and other game: as I had no horse, I used to attend on foot, and managed occasionally to be in at the death.
There was no railway at that time, and one day I walked up to Cape Town and back, a distance of forty-seven miles, for a wager. Another time I walked up to Cape Town, and went up Table Mountain the same day. A very curious thing happened on this occasion. Whilst on the top of the mountain, my companion, who had separated a short distance from me, called out to me to come. He was pressing his foot on a tuft of moss from which came a hissing sound: we stooped down to see what it was, when he jumped back, saying, "Good God, it's a puff-adder!" And so it was : his foot was on the beast's neck, and the snake was trying to bite him. Had it done so, he would have been dead in five minutes. We killed the reptile, and descended to the plain.
One day I was returning to Simon's Bay by the mail-coach, drawn by four horses. I was the only passenger. We had got more than half-way when it was evident the Hottentot driver was drunk. He began lashing the horses till they bolted, and after reeling about, the driver fell out of the cart, and being entangled in the harness, was dragged along some yards, the wheels going over his head with a bump, and leaving him on the ground. While this was going on, I seized the reins and endeavoured to stop the horses, which were now going as hard as they could gallop; but the reins broke, so looking out for a soft place, I jumped
out, and had to walk the rest of the way to Simon's Bay. The horses never stopped till they got to their stables, dragging what was left of the cart after them. The driver turned up some time afterwards none the worse.
After swinging round our moorings in Simon's Bay for several months, the Admiral sent us for a cruise to Saldhana Bay, where we had some capital shooting. About a mile from where the ship was anchored was an island called Rabbit Island; so supposing there would be rabbits on it, I asked leave to go there. It was blowing a gale at the time, so my request was refused, as the captain said he would not lower a boat in such weather. I then asked if I might go ashore if I found my own way. This was granted, as it seemed absurd and impossible. The ship's washerman had on board a small cockle-shell of a dinghy about 6 feet long, just big enough to hold one man. I got this boat over the side, put my gun into it, and wrapping up my powder-flask, caps, and wads to keep them dry, got in myself and shoved off. The island lay dead to leeward, and away I scudded before the wind and sea. As I approached the shore I saw a line of heavy rollers breaking on the beach, and a man standing there waving frantically to me to go back. This was impossible. I had no control over the boat, which was presently carried on the crest of a wave and capsized, turning bottom up, and depositing me and my chattels on the beach. Having recovered my gun and dried my things, I interviewed the solitary occupant of the island - an old Portuguese of villainous appearance and foul of speech. He said he was in charge of the island, collecting guano - the deposit of sea-birds, penguins,
A VILLAINOUS PORTUGUESE
&c. and that if I did not instantly take my departure he would kill me, at the same time producing a long knife and using the most blasphemous language. However, as my gun was now clear for action, I told him I had come to shoot rabbits, and should begin by shooting him; so he became more civil, and it ended by my having a capital afternoon's sport, bagging twenty-eight fine rabbits. The wind went down in the evening, when they sent a boat for me and took me on board. On parting with the old ruffian, he assured me that if ever I came again he would certainly kill me. I laughed at his threats, and the first fine day again visited the island along with some of my shipmates. We landed in a different place; but, sure enough, there was the old scoundrel waiting to receive us with a huge stone, with which he threatened to sink the boat. However, we laughed at him, landed, and had another day's capital shooting. Besides this, we had some good sport on the mainland with buck, paau (a sort of bustard), koran (a species of guinea-fowl), partridges of two kinds, and a fine bird locally called a pheasant, but in reality a francolin.
The American Civil War was now in full blast, and we had several visits from the celebrated Confederate cruiser Alabama, and fraternised considerably with Captain Semmes and his officers. No sooner was the Alabama outside the harbour than the United States cruiser Vanderbilt would come in. They professed to be in search of each other, and were both eager for a fight, but they never met. At this time the law-officers of the Crown were much exercised in their minds as to the right of the Alabama to send her prizes into Simon's Bay. One of these vessels, called
the Tuscaloosa, had been fitted out as a tender to the Alabama, and visited Simon's Bay for supplies. After her departure it was decided - wrongly, I believe - that if she again made her appearance she would be detained. Accordingly, on her second visit I was sent aboard by the Admiral's orders with an armed boat's crew of the Narcissus to take possession of her. The lieutenant in charge protested against this proceeding as a breach of hospitality. He then gave up command of the ship to me, and went ashore. I remained in charge for six weeks, never leaving the ship for a moment. The sails were unbent and the ship stripped to prevent any attempt at escape; but the American crew, who remained on board, accepted the situation, and were quite reconciled to their enforced idleness. When we left for England the Tuscaloosa was still there, but I believe was eventually restored to Semmes, and our action repudiated.
On the passage home we touched at Ascension, and hearing that there were pheasants on the Green Mountain, I determined to have a go at them, and applied for a licence to shoot. The authorities were equally determined to prevent me, and placed every obstacle in my way. The night before we were to sail for England I was dining ashore at the marines' mess when I obtained the licence, which permitted me to shoot one cock-pheasant. This was intended as a bit of sarcasm, as they knew the ship was to sail at 10 A.M. I at once went aboard, shifted my clothing, landed, and reached the top of the Green Mountain (2500 feet) just as dawn was breaking, when up got a cock-pheasant, which I promptly bagged. The shot brought the keeper,
THE MAN WHO WAS NOT
an old marine, to the spot. I showed him my licence, and added, "You don't suppose I was fool enough to come up here after one pheasant," at the same time slipping half-a-sovereign into his hand. "You're just the fellow I've been looking for," said the keeper; and as we thoroughly understood one another, we proceeded to beat the bushes, with the result that I shot three brace of pheasants, a rabbit, and a partridge. Well satisfied with my bag, I made haste down the mountain, and got on board as the ship was getting under weigh.
A very ridiculous thing happened on this passage. One dark and squally night I had just been relieved by the middle watch (coming on deck at midnight). We had been reefing topsails and making things snug, and I was about to turn in, when the cry was heard from aloft, "Man overboard!" The life-buoy was let go, sail shortened, ship hove to, and the lifeboat manned in less time that it takes to relate it. Rushing up from my cabin, I jumped into the lifeboat, which was lowered, and speedily disappeared into the darkness. We soon reached the life-buoy, which was burning brightly, but could see no trace of the man ; so we searched diligently for half an hour or so, and then, concluding that the poor fellow was gone, we picked up the life-buoy and sadly returned. On approaching the ship we were hailed to know if the man was saved. We reported he was lost. The boat was then hoisted up, and the ship filled on her course. The hands were now mustered to find out who was missing, but, to our great amusement and satisfaction, no one was absent. It seems that one of the men whilst reefing topsails had fallen off the yard, and his mates at once gave the alarm, " Man
overboard! " But he never reached the water, and catching a rope in his descent, got on to the deck and went to his station; supposing it was some one else overboard, never dreaming that he was the individual. However, it was very good practice, and no one was a bit the worse for it.
Our next port of call was Sierra Leone, where I landed with my gun to search for bush-fowl (francolins), which were said to abound there. Taking a n____r for a guide, he led me an awful dance; and as the heat was terrific, and we had not seen a feather, I pretended to be very angry, and told him I should certainly shoot him in default of other game. This seemed to have the desired effect, and he took me to a cassava-field, where we put up a flock of francolins, of which I bagged several.
From thence we made a long passage to Plymouth, where the ship was paid off. After a spell ashore, to which I think I was entitled, I was appointed first lieutenant of the Victoria, a screw three-decker, flagship of Sir Robert Smart, in the Mediterranean. With my old shipmates, Goodenough, flag-captain, and Codrington, commander, I joined the ship at Barcelona, and spent a pleasant time cruising about the station till Sir Robert's time expired, and he was relieved by Admiral Lord Clarence Paget.
During a spell at Malta I got permission to take a trip to Tunis in the Tyrian gunboat, commanded by my old friend Pat Murray, - an expedition that very nearly ended my career in this world. We arrived at our destination all right, and a party of us started inland, and put up at a French "fabric" where they manufactured clothes for French soldiers, and next day we set off after partridges. Having
A CLOSE SHAVE.
bagged several of these handsome birds, we prepared to return. A Mr Kirby and I were driving, and a young Fenchman riding a fine Arab horse. The Frenchman had his gun slung across his back, loaded, and with the hammers let down on the caps,- a most dangerous thing to do, but frequently practised by French sportsmen. Whilst showing off his horsemanship, the Arab kicked him over his head, landing him on his back, and breaking his gun across the stock. Having picked up the Frenchman and caught his horse, I turned my attention to his gun, and, lifting the hammers, I threw away the caps to make it all safe. I then went to place it in the trap, where Kirby was already seated, and not wishing to push the barrels against his leg, I took them by the muzzle and passed them carefully into the trap, when off went one barrel, the charge passing between my right arm and my body, singeing my coat. I then drew the weapon out, lifted the hammer of the loaded barrel, and turning the muzzle to the ground, discharged that also. The fact was that the blow on the ground had forced the detonating powder into the nipples, so that when I threw the caps away, I merely threw away the empty shells. It was a very close shave.
Soon after Lord Clarence took command he proceeded to Constantinople in the Psyche with his Staff, and he very kindly asked me to accompany him. My brother was then in the embassy at Constantinople, on the staff of Lord Lyons, so I gladly accepted, and we had a most enjoyable time, being entertained hospitably by the Ambassador, whose father, Sir Edmund, had been so kind to
me as a midshipman. Whilst on this cruise Lord Clarence asked me to be his flag-lieutenant, so I had to give up my billet as first lieutenant in the Victoria and assume my new duties; but I may say that, owing to the great kindness I always received from the Admiral and Lady Clarence, I never regretted the change, and I remained in that capacity until the Victoria was ordered home.
Captain Goodenough had, greatly to my regret, gone home with his old chief, his place as flag-captain being taken by Captain Alan Gardner; but Codrington remained as commander, one of the smartest officers in the service, and the best all-round man I ever met, so the efficiency of the Victoria was never impaired. She was, indeed, in beautiful order and splendid discipline, though she never came up to the Marlborough in the matter of drills.
By permission of the Admiral I joined a party (the others being Commanders Hopkins and Fairfax [Now Admirals Sir John Hopkins and Sir Henry Fairfax.]) on a yachting cruise to the coast of Albania,- an expedition that promised well in the matter of sport, but which ended disastrously, as I will now relate.
We had arranged to go in an old dockyard craft. called the Azof, which had at one time been a mortar-vessel, and being schooner-rigged, answered our purpose very well. At the last moment, however, when all our arrangements were complete, the master-shipwright informed the superintendent of Malta dockyard, Admiral Kellett, that the craft was unseaworthy, and so the Admiral refused to let us have her. I told the Admiral that if the
A SPORTING EXPEDITION.
master-shipwright would take his oath that she would go down outside Malta harbour, I and my friends would go in her. All the Admiral said was, " By God, the man's mad! " This was a great disappointment to us, and we were forced to look out for another craft. We finally selected a rotten old cutter called the Melita, of 26 tons. The Maltese owner of this craft evidently did not think much of her seaworthy qualities, and wanted us to insure her, which we declined to do, as we argued that if she went down we should go down in her, so what was the use? So we squared the matter by an agreement that if we lost the vessel we should pay him £200.
The night of the 31st December 1867 we danced the old year out at Admiralty House, where Lord and Lady Clarence Paget gave a ball, and in the early hours of the 1st January 1868 we repaired on board and made sail out of the harbour. Our party consisted of the above-named officers, two bluejackets, a Maltese servant, and myself. We made a good start, and by sunset had left Cape Passaro astern, and were spinning along before a fine southerly breeze, and at daylight of 2nd January Mount Etna was well abaft the beam. The breeze now freshened considerably, obliging us to reduce our canvas till we were running under a square sail, which we had borrowed at Malta. As night came on the wind and sea had increased to such an extent that it became a question whether to run any longer or lay-to. After a consultation we decided to let her run and chance it; but in thus deciding we made a mistake, for by midnight it was blowing a whole gale with a heavy sea, so that
it became most dangerous to run and too late to heave-to. The sea at this time was rolling up behind us so as to becalm the sail as the little craft sank into the hollow of the waves, and we momentarily expected that the next sea would be aboard us. Our safety now depended on keeping ahead of it: if anything happened to the sail it would have been all over with us. We passed a most anxious night. One of the bluejackets, who had been accustomed to small fore-and-aft vessels, took the helm, and stuck to it bravely all through the dreary hours: the danger we had most to fear was her broaching-to in the trough of the sea. To add to our troubles, the wretched old craft sprang a leak. We manned the pumps, but they became choked, and we had to clear away below, and throw about a ton of ballast overboard before we could get them to draw. Towards morning the gale moderated, but left a nasty sea in which the yacht tumbled about most uncomfortably. We had no sights since leaving Valetta, but by dead reckoning we made ourselves to be about twenty miles from the land, and at 10 A.M. we sighted the island of Faro to the northward of Corfu. That night we were becalmed off the island, and had to get the boat out to tow her clear of the rocks. The next morning it blew hard from the southeast directly in our teeth, and the little craft, lightened of her ballast, was nearly on her beam ends; but at midnight the wind shifted to the north-west, and we reached the anchorage off Corfu at three in the morning, thoroughly worn out, as we had had no rest since leaving Malta. It now blew hard from the northward, and we dragged
SPORT IN ALBANIA
our anchor till her stern was almost touching the rocks, in which position we remained for the rest of the night. At daylight the captain of a Greek steamer sent us a warp, which enabled us to haul into a better berth.
After a run ashore to stretch our legs and get another anchor, we started for the opposite coast of Albania, taking with us a Greek beater and his two dogs, and we anchored in the harbour of Catito in time for an evening's shoot, when we bagged ten couple of woodcock, some snipe, and ducks. From thence we went to Butrinto and had another day's shooting, when we returned to Corfu for supplies, and having shipped another beater, we sailed for the Gulf of Arta, where we hoped to get some good sport. Our bad luck continued, the south-east wind blowing strong against us; so we put into the snug little harbour of Levitatsa, where we had a capital day's shooting, bringing back twenty-one couple of cock. The next day we put into Phanare harbour, but finding the shooting indifferent, we only remained one day, leaving again on the morning of the 15th January. The wind from the old quarter was blowing hard, and finding we could make nothing against it, we put back to Phanare and anchored, intending to proceed overland if the wind continued foul. The night of the 15th set in dark and lowering; both wind and sea had increased greatly, and the yacht rode uneasily at her anchors, rolling gunwale under, throwing our traps about, and making us generally miserable. By midnight it was blowing a gale, accompanied by heavy squalls of rain and snow. The poor little craft plunged bows under as she
tugged and strained at her cables. Sleep was out of the question, and we waited anxiously for the return of day.
About 3 A.M. the wind shifted in a heavy squall to the south-west, and the sea broke right across the harbour's mouth, taking us on the broadside. Everything broke adrift: the dogs howled with fright, and the Greek beater joined in the chorus. The yacht was overwhelmed with the sea, and began to drag her anchors. Our position was now most critical: on the port side was a flat, sandy beach, the heavy rollers breaking far from the shore, while right astern was a precipitous coast with sharp-pointed rocks showing here and there through the breakers, towards which we steadily drifted. It was now all over with the yacht, and we had not long to wait. A heavy sea lifted the vessel and hurled her with a fearful crash upon the rocks, turning her broadside to the sea and canting her, fortunately with her deck towards the shore. The night was dark as pitch, lit up occasionally by forked lightning, making the scene, if possible, more awful. Rain was coming down in sheets, and the roaring of the surf drowned our voices as the doomed craft was lifted and again crashed upon the rocks, which stove in her side, filling the saloon with water. It was now every man for himself, and God for us all. Indeed it was too dark for one to see what any one else was about. Fortunately we all kept cool, with the exception of Christo, one of our Greek beaters, who after calling to all the saints to help him, jumped overboard and disappeared. Thinking it was of no use getting ashore on this inhospitable coast without a gun, I groped my way down into the
Total Loss of the Cutter-Yacht Melita on the Coast of Albania
THE MELITA GOES TO PIECES.
saloon, found my gun and a bag of cartridges, and made for the ladder, the water being up to my waist and rising fast. Calling my dog, I then jumped overboard into the raging surf, followed by the dog. A big sea carried me well up on to the rocks, up which I clambered, and then held on to prevent my being swept off by the backwash. Feeling something move under my hand, I asked who it was, and found it was one of the bluejackets, who said, "It's me, sir ; " so I sang out, "All right, my lad, we are all tarred with the same brush now." The others got ashore somehow, and in a short time we were all safe except Christo, who was jammed between the rocks and the vessel's side. We heard his cries, but were unable to help him till daylight, when we found him insensible, with some of his ribs and a leg broken. The yacht bumped for a short time longer, and we had to climb higher up the rocks to avoid the mast, which beat about our heads. But she soon went to pieces, and at daylight there was nothing left of the ill-fated Melita but broken spars and a few planks. We waited some time in hopes of recovering some of our property, but in vain; so, carrying poor Christo, we made our way to the village of Phanare, not far away. The first thing was to send for a doctor from a neighbouring village to attend to the wounded beater. The doctor said he would die, so we then sent for a priest to administer the last rites. I may say here that the man eventually recovered.
We remained in the village two days and nights, endeavouring to procure horses to take us to Prevesa, a town situated forty miles to the southward; but the Albanians refused to assist us, as they wanted
to get all the money we had with us. Suspecting treachery, we kept a sharp look-out, being determined to defend our lives and property (which latter did not amount to much) at all costs. Finding it useless to wait any longer, we slipped off one morning before daylight, and reached Prevesa after a wary tramp. Mr Barker, the vice-consul, received us most hospitably, and did all he could for us during our stay, till the French consul very kindly lent us his small yacht, in which we returned to Corfu. From thence we went by a Greek steamer to Patras, where Mr Wood, our consul, was most kind, and kept us till we found a steamer to take us back to Malta.
This affair not only cost us the price of the yacht and our effects, but I also lost a very pleasant trip by it; for during our absence Lord Clarence went to Alexandria in the Psyche to attend the opening of the Suez Canal, a very grand function, in which I, as flag-lieutenant, would have been included. However, I never regretted the adventure - an experience of that sort does one good; and if nothing else came of it, it consolidated a friendship with two fine fellows which can never be broken.
The Victoria's turn on the station having expired, she returned to England in charge of Captain Codrington, and I was restored to my old billet as first lieutenant. On arrival at Spithead their Lordships appointed me flag-lieutenant to the Board of Admiralty at the Naval Review, and handed me my commander's commission at its conclusion.
H.M.S. Victoria - the Last of the Three-Deckers
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