The "Rawdon's" Luck

Article Title
The "Rawdon's" Luck
Charles G. D. Roberts
Page Number
Article Type
Article Contents
THE "RAWDON’S" LUCK BY CHARLES G. D. ROBERTS. CHAPTER 1. In the region round the head of the Bay of Fundy those skilful dyke-builders, the Acadian French, found innumerable obstacles to their work of reclamation. The land is cleft in all directions by water-courses, which come down from the upland mere brooks; but on entering the wide levels of the marsh these acquire deep estuaries, capable of floating, at high water, ships of many hundred tons burden. Up these channels the tremendous Fundy tides, rising sixty or even seventy feet, would carry rain to the inland pastures and meadows, had not the Acadians spanned each crook with an "abateaux," which refuses admission to the Bay water inexorably while yielding the creek free exit at low tide. Thus while we have on the inland aide but a brook or quiet pool, beyond the abateaux, not ten paces distant, is the wide and enpricious channel of a tidal river, now a brimming turbid flood, and anon a yawning; golly with glistening banks of ooze. As those abateaux are very numerous, and their French title an abomination to the ears of the present inhabitants, they are known the country round as “bitos." The most important bito in these parts is that spanning the creek with which our story is concerned. This creek, though perhaps not half a dozen miles long from source to mouth, immediately that it passes the bito becomes a consequential river, nearly two miles in length, with several ship-yards on its banks. From these yards have been launched vessels of a thousand tons and over. They are launched of course at high tide, and straightway make for anchorage in the bay, traversing the last half mile of the Tantramar River, into which the creek flows out. Should a ship by any mischance fail to escape with the ebb, she would soon be loft toppled over at the bottom of an abyss of red mud, with a shallow rivulet dancing past her black bottom and naked keel. The point where the Sackville road bonds round to cross the bito is open to the winds from all four corners of heaven; and the Fundy country is seldom without a capful of wind from some quarter. Therefore the tall old pine tree on the road-side, opposite Hutchinson's just before you turn the corner, has no idle time of it. On this particular night, as the Rector drove homeward from Friday evening service in Sackvllle, the old pine's branches were tossing wildly, its dark plumes sighing and complaining beyond their wont. The tide was out; the wet flats and the slippery chasm of the channel were gloaming under the fitful white moonlight that broke through the driving clouds; and the long-pent waters of the creek came piling white and wrathful through the tide gates. A sudden consciousness of their steady roar, over-topping the noise of the wind and the soughing of the pine-branches, roused the Rector from his revery. He touched up the horse to a brisk trot along the raised roadway, over the bito proper, between the confined waters of the creek on one side and the narrow escaping stream in the depths of the channel on the other; then reined in again to a walk up the steep hill past Babcock's. These reveries of his, induced by the deliberative jog of his best parochial assistant, Old Jerry, not unfrequently occupied the Rector all through his long night drives; so that many a time, returning from a visit to one of the outlying settlements, he has found Jerry thrusting his head over the white gate of the Rectory, when he had fancied himself still miles from home, in the heart of the Dorchester woods. But now he was very wide awake, and noticed particularly how the apple trees in Babcock’s steep and narrow garden were leaning over the bank. Another high tide or two and the gravelly foundation of the hill would be yet more washed away, and another strip of the garden, with the apple trees would slide down into the insatiable mud, where already many a birch and hackmatack had fallen and been swallowed root and branch to be the fossil pride, perhaps, in the dim future of some greater Smithsonian Institute. (Continued on fourth page.)