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The Floating Wonder Or Female Spectre






The bridge over the river Usk, near Caerleon, in Wales, is formed of
wood, and very curiously constructed, the tide rising occasionally to
the almost incredible height of fifty or sixty feet. The boards which
compose the flooring of this bridge being designedly loose, in order to
float with the tide, when it exceeds a certain height, are prevented
from escaping only by little pegs at the end of them; which mode of
fastening does not afford a very safe footing for the traveller, and
some awkward accidents have been known to arise from this cause. The
following singular adventure occurred about twenty years since to a
female of the neighbourhood, as she was passing it at night.

The heroine in question was a Mrs. Williams, who had been to spend a
cheerful evening at a neighbour's house on the eastern side of the
river, and was returning home at a decent hour. The night being
extremely dark, she had provided herself with a lanthorn and candle, by
the assistance of which she found her way to the bridge, and had already
passed part of the dangerous structure, when she unfortunately trod on a
plank that had by some accident lost the tenons originally fixed to the
ends of it, and had slipped from its proper situation; the faithless
board yielded to the weight of the good lady, who was rather corpulent,
and carried her through the flooring, with her candle and lanthorn, into
the river. Fortunately, at the moment of falling, she was standing in
such a position, as gave her a seat on the plank similar to that of a
horseman on his nag. It may be easily imagined, that Mrs. Williams must
have been dreadfully alarmed at this change of situation, as well as the
difference of element. Blessed, however, with great presence of mind,
and a patient endurance of evil, the good lady was not overwhelmed by
her fall, but steadily maintained her seat on the board; taking care, at
the same time, to preserve her candle lighted, rightly supposing it
would serve as a guide to any one who might be able or willing to assist
her. Thus bestriding the plank, our heroine was hurried down the river
towards Newport, the bridge of which, she trusted, would stop her
progress, or that she might alarm the inhabitants with her cries. In
both her hopes, however, she was disappointed: the rapidity of a spring
tide sent her through the arch with the velocity of an arrow discharged
from a bow, and the good people of the town had long been wrapped in
slumber. Thus situated, her prospect became each moment more desperate;
her candle was nearly extinguished! and every limb so benumbed with
cold, that she had the greatest difficulty in keeping her saddle.
Already she had reached the mouth of the Usk, and was on the point of
encountering the turbulent waves of the British Channel, when the master
of a fishing-boat, who was returning from his nightly toils, discovered
the gleaming of her taper, and bearing her calls for assistance, though
he at first thought her a witch, yet ventured to approach this floating
wonder, and happily succeeded in rescuing Mrs. Williams from a watery
grave, and bringing her in safety to the shore in his boat.

Thus was the life of a fellow-creature preserved by a poor fisherman's
courage, in not being daunted by what he at first conceived a mysterious
light proceeding from some sprite or hobgoblin; but, from duly examining
into causes, proved himself both a hero and friend.





Next: Poor Mary The Maid Of The Inn

Previous: The Vigil Of Saint Mark Or Fatal Superstition



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