Boatmen of the Tagus--Dangers of the Stream--Aldea Gallega--The Hostelry--Robbers--Sabocha--Adventure of a Muleteer--Estalagem de Ladroes--Don Geronimo--Vendas Novas--Royal Residence--Swine of the Alemtejo--Monte Moro--Swayne Vonved--Singular Goatherd-- Children of the Fields--Infidels and Sadducees.
ON the afternoon of the 6th of December I set out for Evora, accompanied by my servant. I had been informed that the tide would serve for the regular passage-boats, or felouks, as they are called, at about four o'clock, but on reaching the side of the Tagus opposite to Aldea Gallega, between which place and Lisbon the boats ply, I found that tho tide would not permit them to start before eight o'clock. Had I waited for them I should have probably landed at Aldea Gallega about midnight, and I felt little inclination to make my entrée in the Alemtejo at that hour; therefore, as I saw small boats which can push off at any time lying near in abundance, I determined upon hiring one of them for the passage, though the expense would be thus considerably increased. I soon agreed with a wild-looking lad, who told me that he was in part owner of one of the boats, to take me over. I was not aware of the danger in crossing the Tagus at its broadest part, which is opposite Aldea Gallega, at any time, but especially at close of day in the winter season, or I should certainly not have ventured. The lad and his comrade, a miserable-looking object, whose only clothing, notwithstanding the season, was a tattered jerkin and trousers, rowed until we had advanced about half a mile from the land; they then set up a large sail, and the lad, who seemed to direct everything and to be the principal, took the helm and steered. The evening was now setting in; the sun was not far from its bourne in the horizon, the air was very cold, the wind was rising, and the waves of the noble Tagus began to be crested with foam. I told the boy that it was scarcely possible for the boat to carry so much sail without upsetting, upon which he laughed, and began to gabble in a most incoherent manner. He had the most harsh and rapid articulation that has ever come under my observation in any human being; it was the scream of the hyena blended with the bark of the terrier, though it was by no means an index of his disposition, which I soon found to be light, merry, and anything but malevolent, for when I, in order to show him that I cared little about him, began to hum "Eu que sou Contrabandista," he laughed heartily and said, clapping me on the shoulder, that he would not drown us if he could help it. The other poor fellow seemed by no means averse to go to the bottom; he sat at the fore part of the boat looking the image of famine, and only smiled when the waters broke over the weather side and soaked his scanty habiliments. In a little time I had made up my mind that our last hour was come; the wind was getting higher, the short dangerous waves were more foamy, the boat was frequently on
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Publication information: Book title: The Bible in Spain, Or, the Journeys, Adventures, and Imprisonments of an Englishman:In an Attempt to Circulate the Scriptures in the Peninsula. Edition: 4th. Contributors: George Borrow - Author. Publisher: Ward, Lock, and Co.. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1891. Page number: 9.
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