Lehrjahre and Wanderjahre 117
makes Escape No. 2. Well, as I said, I was insensible, and when I knew where I was, I found myself under a large piece of wood which proved to be the outer side of the paddle box, with part of the top still attached, thus making an angle in which after some floundering I got stuck, and though I dived as well as I could, for I was nearly spent and had swallowed a great deal of water, I still on rising bumped against the wood. [Illustrative sketch of floating portion of paddle-wheel, showing submerged angle under which F. G. was caught.] I of course gave myself up, but determined to have a regular good push for life. I felt the wood round me and could see a little, and at last I made out the edge of the top part of the paddle-box, grasped tight hold of it, and pulled myself from underneath and cleared it. I then rose rapidly towards the surface, when I bumped against another piece of wood, which, however, I easily pushed aside and rose ; but I rose too high and consequently sank again, but I bad had a good breath of air and was a little refreshed. I did not sink I daresay a foot below the surface, but I got entangled in some long bits of wood, which as I was all but spent nearly drowned me, and when. I got to the surface they were too heavy to give me any real' support, so I looked round and saw the side of the paddle-box, which had before been so much in my way, floating down with the tide. I struck out and soon reached it-and I did feel happy. I climbed onto it and it was a perfect raft. (Escape No. 3.) On looking about me I found that the steamer was 300 yards or so in front and could not stir. I was quite 200 yards and nearly 300 from the bridge, the whole of which distance I had floated down head under water (only one other man went overboard and he merely got a ducking, swam to a bit of wreck and was quite safe). Well, I was in the midst of the river, plenty of boats and watermen were at the shore, those nice dear fellows who • when they see you struggling, look on, and never dream of rowing to you till yon are either safe or dead-yes, and if safe, they swear they saved your life, march off to the Royal Humane Society and get a gold medal for their pains, with a long paragraph in the Times about "unparalleled bravery," and so forth. Well, after waving my hat, for I don't know how long, off some half-dozen came in a body. I was pulled into a boat and felt very seedy, I was dizzy and very sick. However, to put the captain out of his fright, I took an oar, declared nothing was the matter with me and pulled mechanically.
I was so dizzy that I scarce knew what I did. On getting to the packet everybody looked horrified, one or two ladies held up their handkerchiefs before their eyes. I couldn't make out what at, but on getting ashore and to an inn, with a lookingglass I found my face, ears and whiskers, shirt, etc., all , covered with blood. One nail had hooked me by the side of the nose, another had "carved" out my face and I had as many cuts on my ear as a Christmas pig.. I got to bed, half dried clothes and walked to London. Now don't fancy I am ill. I took enough calomel and salts to do anything, and except a rather torn face and broken head, I really have nothing the matter with me. I have walked out to-day and am going to Lecture in half an hour. I have gained great glory by my splashes under water and it is a very good tale to tell-at least when the pain goes off. I now know something of what drowning is-I felt no pain, but rather dreamy-and I also know what my feeling will be when I am dying, as I firmly believed I was then.
Tell Dar that if he had not taught me to swim I should have been stiff by this