Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Tale for the Dead of Winter

The following story appeared in the Hudson Evening Register for February 28, 1871.


Thrilling Adventure on Lake Champlain
--Breaking through the Ice Two Miles
from Shore--Heroism of a Young Lady
--How She Saved her Lover's Life.

[Correspondence of the Sun.]
An incident, romantic and unusual, and with a denouement so pleasing, occurred near Plattsburgh, one day recently. Lake Champlain, on which this place is situated, is one of the most beautiful sheets of water probably to America, and Cumberland Bay, where one of the most brilliant naval engagements of the war of 1814 was fought and won by Commodore McDonough of the American fleet against the British under commodore Downie, furnishes one of the grandest skating parks or ponds one could wish to see. It is the favorite resort of the young ladies and gentlemen of this vicinity on moonlight evenings. One evening a short time since a young lady and gentleman of this village, who had frequently been skating on the bay before, went out upon the bay, but believing in the old axiom that "Two is company," went to an unfrequented part, where they could enjoy the skating and each other's society unmolested.

After skating for some little time near the shore, the gentleman proposed that they should go further out where the ice is smoother, to which she consented, and they accordingly ventured out about two miles. Here they found the ice in beautiful condition, and the gentleman was proceeding to do the grapevine, forward and backward roll, together with many other fancy figures only known to accomplished skaters, when suddenly the ice gave way beneath him, and in a moment he found himself struggling in the water and unable to extricate himself, the ice breaking as fast as he attempted to raise himself on its edge. The young lady, true to her womanly instincts, began to scream at the top of her voice, but the privacy they had sought had taken them beyond the hearing of all who could have been of service to them. He besought her to go to the shore and endeavor to procure assistance, but she well knew he must perish before she could get back, even if she found no difficulty in procuring assistance. Then as idea came into her head, and she immediately put it in execution.

She first took of her jacket and dress, and tying them together undertook to reach him with one end; but it was too short, as the yielding ice warned her when she moved towards him and endeavored to throw him one end. What more could she do? She hesitated a moment; then slipping off her gaiters, both stockings were soon tied to the end of the dress and jacket, and yet it was too short. Meantime, the young man was rapidly becoming exhausted, and, if she was to save him, no time was to be lost. For a moment her hands disappeared in the drapery about her waist, and then something fell on the ice about her feet--it was her hoop skirt. This was quickly severed into half-a-dozen pieces, and added to the jacket, dress, and stockings, and, to her great delight, this made the line long enough to reach. Bravely she tugged at one end of it, while he clutched the other end with the grip of a man who knew that that was all which stood between him and eternity. In a few minutes she landed him safely on the solid ice, and then the red jacket and dress were wrapped about her as best they could be, and the two started for home, where they arrived without being noticed by any one. Few were the words spoken on the journey home; but they must have been to the purpose, as the wedding suits are ordered, and before the ice shall disappear from our beautiful lake this spring they will be married.

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