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Henry Murray
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 564 pages of information about Lands of the Slave and the Free.

CHAPTER XXI.

A Cataract and a Celebration.

The convulsive efforts of the truant steam, echoing across the harbour, told me I had little time to lose:  so, bidding farewell to friends, I hurried down to the quay, and was soon bowling over a lake as smooth and polished as the bald head of age.  The pat of every float in the wheel, as it struck in the water, echoed with individual distinctness, and the hubbub created thereby, in the otherwise unruffled lake, left its trace visible on the mirrory surface for so great a distance as to justify a disputatious man in questioning whether the term “trackless way” was applicable to the course a vessel had passed over.  Here we are, steaming away merrily for Niagara.

There is nothing interesting in scenery until you come to the entrance of the river, on the opposite sides of which stand Lewistown and Queenstown, and above the latter the ruthlessly mutilated remains of the monument to the gallant Brock.  The miscreant who perpetrated the vile act in 1841, has since fallen into the clutches of the law, and has done—­and, for aught I know, is now doing—­penance in the New York State Prison at Auburn.  I believe the Government are at last repairing it;—­better late than never.  The precipitous banks on either side clearly indicate they are the silent and persevering work of the ever-rolling stream, and leave no doubt upon any reflecting mind that they must lead to some fall or cataract, though no reflection can fully realize the giant cataract of Niagara.

There are several country places on the banks, and the whole appearance bespeaks comfort and civilization.  Far away in the distance is to be seen the suspension-bridge, high in mid-air, and straight as the arrow’s flight.  On either bank rival railroads are in progress; that on the Canada side is protected from the yawning abyss by a wall calculated to defy the power of steam.  The boat touches at Queenstown, and thence proceeds to Lewistown, where a stage is waiting for Niagara City.  No botherations of custom-house—­what a blessing!  The distance to ride is seven miles, and the time one hour; but in the United States, you are aware, every chap will “do as he best pleases;” consequently, there is a little information to be obtained from the fresh arrival, a cock-tail with a friend or two, a quiet piling on of luggage, &c.; all this takes a long half-hour, and away we go with four tough little nags.  A tremendous long hill warms their hides and cools their mettle, though by no means expending it.  On we go, merrily; Jehu, a free-and-easy, well-informed companion, guessing at certainties and calculating on facts.

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