The next morning the semi-weekly steamboat from Sydney came into the bay, and drew all the male inhabitants of Baddeck down to the wharf; and the two travelers, reluctant to leave the hospitable inn, and the peaceful jail, and the double-barreled church, and all the loveliness of this reposeful place, prepared to depart. The most conspicuous person on the steamboat was a thin man, whose extraordinary height was made more striking by his very long-waisted black coat and his very short pantaloons. He was so tall that he had a little difficulty in keeping his balance, and his hat was set upon the back of his head to preserve his equilibrium. He had arrived at that stage when people affected as he was are oratorical, and overflowing with information and good-nature. With what might in strict art be called an excess of expletives, he explained that he was a civil engineer, that he had lost his rubber coat, that he was a great traveler in the Provinces, and he seemed to find a humorous satisfaction in reiterating the fact of his familiarity with Painsec junction. It evidently hovered in the misty horizon of his mind as a joke, and he contrived to present it to his audience in that light. From the deck of the steamboat he addressed the town, and then, to the relief of the passengers, he decided to go ashore. When the boat drew away on her voyage we left him swaying perilously near the edge of the wharf, good-naturedly resenting the grasp of his coat-tail by a friend, addressing us upon the topics of the day, and wishing us prosperity and the Fourth of July. His was the only effort in the nature of a public lecture that we heard in the Provinces, and we could not judge of his ability without hearing a “course.”
Perhaps it needed this slight disturbance, and the contrast of this hazy mind with the serene clarity of the day, to put us into the most complete enjoyment of our voyage. Certainly, as we glided out upon the summer waters and began to get the graceful outlines of the widening shores, it seemed as if we had taken passage to the Fortunate Islands.
“One town, one country, is very like another; ...... there are indeed minute discriminations both of places and manners, which, perhaps, are not wanting of curiosity, but which a traveller seldom stays long enough to investigate and compare.”—Dr. Johnson.
There was no prospect of any excitement or of any adventure on the steamboat from Baddeck to West Bay, the southern point of the Bras d’Or. Judging from the appearance of the boat, the dinner might have been an experiment, but we ran no risks. It was enough to sit on deck forward of the wheel-house, and absorb, by all the senses, the delicious day. With such weather perpetual and such scenery always present, sin in this world would soon become an impossibility. Even towards the passengers from Sydney, with their imitation English ways and little insular gossip, one could have only charity and the most kindly feeling.