The boilers, notwithstanding the tremendous pressure to which they were subjected, still realized the expectations of the confident engineers, and refused to be the agents of an “awful calamity.” But all exertion was of no avail; the Flatfoot, No. 3, whose tall chimneys vomited forth a long trail of flame, showing that she, too, was hard pressed, was rapidly increasing her distance. Still the firemen plied the furnaces, and again the engineers added more weight to the lever of the safety-valve. The boilers were evidently pressed to their utmost, the, decks were hot, and her timbers creaked and snapped as though they would drop out of her.
Hatchie had placed his party in the hold, one of which was on the look-out at the hatchway. He saw the danger of the steamer; but all his friends were in the safest places the boat afforded. It was an anxious hour for him; but everybody was in peril, and there was no remedy.
Maxwell, whose excitement in the race was feigned, perceived that the boat was in imminent danger. He had not intended to carry the excitement quite so far. An explosion was not exactly the thing he desired. It would not be sufficiently discriminating in its choice of victims. But the firemen were too much excited to listen to reason; therefore he proceeded, with Vernon, towards the extreme after part of the boat. Passing round the gallery of the ladies’ cabin, they perceived that Henry had, at last, left his post. Such was indeed the case. Roused from his abstraction by the terrible anticipation of an explosion, he had gone forward to reason with the pilots on the recklessness of their course in allowing the boat to be so hard pressed.
“Now is our time,” said Maxwell, in a whisper.
“Here goes, then!” replied Vernon.
“Be careful that you do not injure her,—and bring her clothes.”
“Ay, ay! Have the boat ready quick, for, if I mistake not, the sooner we are out of this boat the better.”
The ruffian approached the door of Emily’s state-room, and was about to open it, when, with a noise louder than the crashing of the thunderbolt, the starboard boiler exploded, and the Chalmetta lay a shapeless wreck upon the waters!
“False world, thou ly’st;
thou canst not lend
The least delight;
Thy favors cannot gain a friend,
They are so slight.” FRANCIS QUARLES.
The traveller on the Mississippi observes with interest the innumerable islands which dot the river, and relieve the monotony of the scenery. These islands are, for the most part, covered with a luxurious growth of cotton-wood trees. They have generally been formed by what are technically called cut-offs, or new channels, from the main land. The mighty torrent, scorning its own well-beaten track, ploughs a way through the country, and returns to its channel miles below, opening at once a new path for the voyager