By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: Life on the Mississippi, Part 9.
Author: Twain, Mark, 1835-1910
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Life on the Mississippi, Part 9." ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

                    LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI

                        BY MARK TWAIN

                           Part 9.

Chapter 41  The Metropolis of the South

THE approaches to New Orleans were familiar; general aspects were
unchanged. When one goes flying through London along a railway propped
in the air on tall arches, he may inspect miles of upper bedrooms
through the open windows, but the lower half of the houses is under his
level and out of sight. Similarly, in high-river stage, in the New
Orleans region, the water is up to the top of the enclosing levee-rim,
the flat country behind it lies low--representing the bottom of a dish--
and as the boat swims along, high on the flood, one looks down upon the
houses and into the upper windows. There is nothing but that frail
breastwork of earth between the people and destruction.

The old brick salt-warehouses clustered at the upper end of the city
looked as they had always looked; warehouses which had had a kind of
Aladdin's lamp experience, however, since I had seen them; for when the
war broke out the proprietor went to bed one night leaving them packed
with thousands of sacks of vulgar salt, worth a couple of dollars a
sack, and got up in the morning and found his mountain of salt turned
into a mountain of gold, so to speak, so suddenly and to so dizzy a
height had the war news sent up the price of the article.

The vast reach of plank wharves remained unchanged, and there were as
many ships as ever:  but the long array of steamboats had vanished; not
altogether, of course, but not much of it was left.

The city itself had not changed--to the eye.  It had greatly increased
in spread and population, but the look of the town was not altered. The
dust, waste-paper-littered, was still deep in the streets; the deep,
trough-like gutters alongside the curbstones were still half full of
reposeful water with a dusty surface; the sidewalks were still--in the
sugar and bacon region--encumbered by casks and barrels and hogsheads;
the great blocks of austerely plain commercial houses were as dusty-
looking as ever.

Canal Street was finer, and more attractive and stirring than formerly,
with its drifting crowds of people, its several processions of hurrying
street-cars, and--toward evening--its broad second-story verandas
crowded with gentlemen and ladies clothed according to the latest mode.

Not that there is any 'architecture' in Canal Street:  to speak in
broad, general terms, there is no architecture in New Orleans, except in
the cemeteries.  It seems a strange thing to say of a wealthy, far-
seeing, and energetic city of a quarter of a million inhabitants, but it
is true.  There is a huge granite U.S. Custom-house--costly enough,
genuine enough, but as a decoration it is inferior to a gasometer. It
looks like a state prison.  But it was built before the war.
Architecture in America may be said to have been born since the war. New
Orleans, I believe, has had the good luck--and in a sense the bad luck--
to have had no great fire in late years.  It must be so.  If the
opposite had been the case, I think one would be able to tell the 'burnt
district' by the radical improvement in its architecture over the old
forms. One can do this in Boston and Chicago.  The 'burnt district' of
Boston was commonplace before the fire; but now there is no commercial
district in any city in the world that can surpass it--or perhaps even
rival it--in beauty, elegance, and tastefulness.

However, New Orleans has begun--just this moment, as one may say. When
completed, the new Cotton Exchange will be a stately and beautiful
building; massive, substantial, full of architectural graces; no shams
or false pretenses or uglinesses about it anywhere. To the city, it will
be worth many times its cost, for it will breed its species.  What has
been lacking hitherto, was a model to build toward; something to educate
eye and taste; a SUGGESTER, so to speak.

The city is well outfitted with progressive men--thinking, sagacious,
long-headed men.  The contrast between the spirit of the city and the
city's architecture is like the contrast between waking and sleep.
Apparently there is a 'boom' in everything but that one dead feature.
The water in the gutters used to be stagnant and slimy, and a potent
disease-breeder; but the gutters are flushed now, two or three times a
day, by powerful machinery; in many of the gutters the water never
stands still, but has a steady current.  Other sanitary improvements
have been made; and with such effect that New Orleans claims to be
(during the long intervals between the occasional yellow-fever assaults)
one of the healthiest cities in the Union.  There's plenty of ice now
for everybody, manufactured in the town.  It is a driving place
commercially, and has a great river, ocean, and railway business.  At
the date of our visit, it was the best lighted city in the Union,
electrically speaking. The New Orleans electric lights were more
numerous than those of New York, and very much better.  One had this
modified noonday not only in Canal and some neighboring chief streets,
but all along a stretch of five miles of river frontage.  There are good
clubs in the city now--several of them but recently organized--and
inviting modern-style pleasure resorts at West End and Spanish Fort.
The telephone is everywhere. One of the most notable advances is in
journalism.  The newspapers, as I remember them, were not a striking
feature.  Now they are. Money is spent upon them with a free hand.  They
get the news, let it cost what it may.  The editorial work is not hack-
grinding, but literature. As an example of New Orleans journalistic
achievement, it may be mentioned that the 'Times-Democrat' of August 26,
1882, contained a report of the year's business of the towns of the
Mississippi Valley, from New Orleans all the way to St. Paul--two
thousand miles. That issue of the paper consisted of forty pages; seven
columns to the page; two hundred and eighty columns in all; fifteen
hundred words to the column; an aggregate of four hundred and twenty
thousand words.  That is to say, not much short of three times as many
words as there are in this book. One may with sorrow contrast this with
the architecture of New Orleans.

I have been speaking of public architecture only.  The domestic article
in New Orleans is reproachless, notwithstanding it remains as it always
was.  All the dwellings are of wood--in the American part of the town, I
mean--and all have a comfortable look.  Those in the wealthy quarter are
spacious; painted snow-white usually, and generally have wide verandas,
or double-verandas, supported by ornamental columns. These mansions
stand in the center of large grounds, and rise, garlanded with roses,
out of the midst of swelling masses of shining green foliage and many-
colored blossoms. No houses could well be in better harmony with their
surroundings, or more pleasing to the eye, or more home-like and

One even becomes reconciled to the cistern presently; this is a mighty
cask, painted green, and sometimes a couple of stories high, which is
propped against the house-corner on stilts.  There is a mansion-and-
brewery suggestion about the combination which seems very incongruous at
first. But the people cannot have wells, and so they take rain-water.
Neither can they conveniently have cellars, or graves,{footnote [The
Israelites are buried in graves--by permission, I take it, not
requirement; but none else, except the destitute, who are buried at
public expense. The graves are but three or four feet deep.]} the town
being built upon 'made' ground; so they do without both, and few of the
living complain, and none of the others.

Chapter 42 Hygiene and Sentiment

THEY bury their dead in vaults, above the ground.  These vaults have a
resemblance to houses--sometimes to temples; are built of marble,
generally; are architecturally graceful and shapely; they face the walks
and driveways of the cemetery; and when one moves through the midst of a
thousand or so of them and sees their white roofs and gables stretching
into the distance on every hand, the phrase 'city of the dead' has all
at once a meaning to him. Many of the cemeteries are beautiful, and are
kept in perfect order. When one goes from the levee or the business
streets near it, to a cemetery, he observes to himself that if those
people down there would live as neatly while they are alive as they do
after they are dead, they would find many advantages in it; and besides,
their quarter would be the wonder and admiration of the business world.
Fresh flowers, in vases of water, are to be seen at the portals of many
of the vaults: placed there by the pious hands of bereaved parents and
children, husbands and wives, and renewed daily.  A milder form of
sorrow finds its inexpensive and lasting remembrancer in the coarse and
ugly but indestructible 'immortelle'--which is a wreath or cross or some
such emblem, made of rosettes of black linen, with sometimes a yellow
rosette at the conjunction of the cross's bars--kind of sorrowful
breast-pin, so to say.  The immortelle requires no attention: you just
hang it up, and there you are; just leave it alone, it will take care of
your grief for you, and keep it in mind better than you can; stands
weather first-rate, and lasts like boiler-iron.

On sunny days, pretty little chameleons--gracefullest of legged
reptiles--creep along the marble fronts of the vaults, and catch flies.
Their changes of color--as to variety--are not up to the creature's
reputation. They change color when a person comes along and hangs up an
immortelle; but that is nothing:  any right-feeling reptile would do

I will gradually drop this subject of graveyards.  I have been trying
all I could to get down to the sentimental part of it, but I cannot
accomplish it.  I think there is no genuinely sentimental part to it.
It is all grotesque, ghastly, horrible. Graveyards may have been
justifiable in the bygone ages, when nobody knew that for every dead
body put into the ground, to glut the earth and the plant-roots, and the
air with disease-germs, five or fifty, or maybe a hundred persons must
die before their proper time; but they are hardly justifiable now, when
even the children know that a dead saint enters upon a century-long
career of assassination the moment the earth closes over his corpse.  It
is a grim sort of a thought. The relics of St. Anne, up in Canada, have
now, after nineteen hundred years, gone to curing the sick by the dozen.
But it is merest matter-of-course that these same relics, within a
generation after St. Anne's death and burial, MADE several thousand
people sick.  Therefore these miracle-performances are simply
compensation, nothing more. St. Anne is somewhat slow pay, for a Saint,
it is true; but better a debt paid after nineteen hundred years, and
outlawed by the statute of limitations, than not paid at all; and most
of the knights of the halo do not pay at all. Where you find one that
pays--like St. Anne--you find a hundred and fifty that take the benefit
of the statute. And none of them pay any more than the principal of what
they owe--they pay none of the interest either simple or compound. A
Saint can never QUITE return the principal, however; for his dead body
KILLS people, whereas his relics HEAL only--they never restore the dead
to life.  That part of the account is always left unsettled.

'Dr. F. Julius Le Moyne, after fifty years of medical practice, wrote:
"The inhumation of human bodies, dead from infectious diseases, results
in constantly loading the atmosphere, and polluting the waters, with not
only the germs that rise from simply putrefaction, but also with the
SPECIFIC germs of the diseases from which death resulted."

'The gases (from buried corpses) will rise to the surface through eight
or ten feet of gravel, just as coal-gas will do, and there is
practically no limit to their power of escape.

'During the epidemic in New Orleans in 1853, Dr. E. H. Barton reported
that in the Fourth District the mortality was four hundred and fifty-two
per thousand--more than double that of any other. In this district were
three large cemeteries, in which during the previous year more than
three thousand bodies had been buried. In other districts the proximity
of cemeteries seemed to aggravate the disease.

'In 1828 Professor Bianchi demonstrated how the fearful reappearance of
the plague at Modena was caused by excavations in ground where, THREE
HUNDRED YEARS PREVIOUSLY, the victims of the pestilence had been buried.
Mr. Cooper, in explaining the causes of some epidemics, remarks that the
opening of the plague burial-grounds at Eyam resulted in an immediate
outbreak of disease.'--NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, NO. 3, VOL.  135.

In an address before the Chicago Medical Society, in advocacy of
cremation, Dr. Charles W. Purdy made some striking comparisons to show
what a burden is laid upon society by the burial of the dead:--

'One and one-fourth times more money is expended annually in funerals in
the United States than the Government expends for public-school
purposes. Funerals cost this country in 1880 enough money to pay the
liabilities of all the commercial failures in the United States during
the same year, and give each bankrupt a capital of $8,630 with which to
resume business. Funerals cost annually more money than the value of the
combined gold and silver yield of the United States in the year 1880!
These figures do not include the sums invested in burial-grounds and
expended in tombs and monuments, nor the loss from depreciation of
property in the vicinity of cemeteries.'

For the rich, cremation would answer as well as burial; for the
ceremonies connected with it could be made as costly and ostentatious as
a Hindu suttee; while for the poor, cremation would be better than
burial, because so cheap {footnote [Four or five dollars is the minimum
cost.]}--so cheap until the poor got to imitating the rich, which they
would do by-and-bye. The adoption of cremation would relieve us of a
muck of threadbare burial-witticisms; but, on the other hand, it would
resurrect a lot of mildewed old cremation-jokes that have had a rest for
two thousand years.

I have a colored acquaintance who earns his living by odd jobs and heavy
manual labor.  He never earns above four hundred dollars in a year, and
as he has a wife and several young children, the closest scrimping is
necessary to get him through to the end of the twelve months debtless.
To such a man a funeral is a colossal financial disaster.  While I was
writing one of the preceding chapters, this man lost a little child. He
walked the town over with a friend, trying to find a coffin that was
within his means.  He bought the very cheapest one he could find, plain
wood, stained.  It cost him twenty-six dollars.  It would have cost less
than four, probably, if it had been built to put something useful into.
He and his family will feel that outlay a good many months.

Chapter 43 The Art of Inhumation

ABOUT the same time, I encountered a man in the street, whom I had not
seen for six or seven years; and something like this talk followed.  I

'But you used to look sad and oldish; you don't now. Where did you get
all this youth and bubbling cheerfulness? Give me the address.'

He chuckled blithely, took off his shining tile, pointed to a notched
pink circlet of paper pasted into its crown, with something lettered on
it, and went on chuckling while I read, 'J. B----, UNDERTAKER.' Then he
clapped his hat on, gave it an irreverent tilt to leeward, and cried

'That's what's the matter!  It used to be rough times with me when you
knew me--insurance-agency business, you know; mighty irregular. Big
fire, all right--brisk trade for ten days while people scared; after
that, dull policy-business till next fire.  Town like this don't have
fires often enough--a fellow strikes so many dull weeks in a row that he
gets discouraged.  But you bet you, this is the business! People don't
wait for examples to die.  No, sir, they drop off right along--there
ain't any dull spots in the undertaker line. I just started in with two
or three little old coffins and a hired hearse, and now look at the
thing!  I've worked up a business here that would satisfy any man, don't
care who he is. Five years ago, lodged in an attic; live in a swell
house now, with a mansard roof, and all the modern inconveniences.'

'Does a coffin pay so well.  Is there much profit on a coffin?'

'Go-way! How you talk!'  Then, with a confidential wink, a dropping of
the voice, and an impressive laying of his hand on my arm; 'Look here;
there's one thing in this world which isn't ever cheap. That's a coffin.
There's one thing in this world which a person don't ever try to jew you
down on.  That's a coffin.  There's one thing in this world which a
person don't say--"I'll look around a little, and if I find I can't do
better I'll come back and take it." That's a coffin.  There's one thing
in this world which a person won't take in pine if he can go walnut; and
won't take in walnut if he can go mahogany; and won't take in mahogany
if he can go an iron casket with silver door-plate and bronze handles.
That's a coffin. And there's one thing in this world which you don't
have to worry around after a person to get him to pay for.  And that's a
coffin. Undertaking?--why it's the dead-surest business in Christendom,
and the nobbiest.

'Why, just look at it.  A rich man won't have anything but your very
best; and you can just pile it on, too--pile it on and sock it to him--
he won't ever holler.  And you take in a poor man, and if you work him
right he'll bust himself on a single lay-out. Or especially a woman.
F'r instance: Mrs. O'Flaherty comes in--widow--wiping her eyes and kind
of moaning. Unhandkerchiefs one eye, bats it around tearfully over the
stock; says--

'"And fhat might ye ask for that wan?"

'"Thirty-nine dollars, madam," says I.

'"It 's a foine big price, sure, but Pat shall be buried like a
gintleman, as he was, if I have to work me fingers off for it. I'll have
that wan, sor."

'"Yes, madam," says I, "and it is a very good one, too; not costly, to
be sure, but in this life we must cut our garment to our clothes, as the
saying is."  And as she starts out, I heave in, kind of casually, "This
one with the white satin lining is a beauty, but I am afraid--well,
sixty-five dollars is a rather--rather--but no matter, I felt obliged to
say to Mrs. O'Shaughnessy--"

'"D'ye mane to soy that Bridget O'Shaughnessy bought the mate to that
joo-ul box to ship that dhrunken divil to Purgatory in?"

'"Yes, madam."

'"Then Pat shall go to heaven in the twin to it, if it takes the last
rap the O'Flaherties can raise; and moind you, stick on some extras,
too, and I'll give ye another dollar."

'And as I lay-in with the livery stables, of course I don't forget to
mention that Mrs. O'Shaughnessy hired fifty-four dollars' worth of hacks
and flung as much style into Dennis's funeral as if he had been a duke
or an assassin. And of course she sails in and goes the O'Shaughnessy
about four hacks and an omnibus better.  That used to be, but that's all
played now; that is, in this particular town.  The Irish got to piling
up hacks so, on their funerals, that a funeral left them ragged and
hungry for two years afterward; so the priest pitched in and broke it
all up. He don't allow them to have but two hacks now, and sometimes
only one.'

'Well,' said I, 'if you are so light-hearted and jolly in ordinary
times, what must you be in an epidemic?'

He shook his head.

'No, you're off, there.  We don't like to see an epidemic. An epidemic
don't pay.  Well, of course I don't mean that, exactly; but it don't pay
in proportion to the regular thing. Don't it occur to you, why?'



'I can't imagine.  What is it?'

'It's just two things.'

'Well, what are they?'

'One's Embamming.'

'And what's the other?'


'How is that?'

'Well, in ordinary times, a person dies, and we lay him up in ice; one
day two days, maybe three, to wait for friends to come. Takes a lot of
it--melts fast.  We charge jewelry rates for that ice, and war-prices
for attendance.  Well, don't you know, when there's an epidemic, they
rush 'em to the cemetery the minute the breath's out. No market for ice
in an epidemic.  Same with Embamming. You take a family that's able to
embam, and you've got a soft thing. You can mention sixteen different
ways to do it--though there AIN'T only one or two ways, when you come
down to the bottom facts of it--and they'll take the highest-priced way,
every time. It's human nature--human nature in grief.  It don't reason,
you see. Time being, it don't care a dam.  All it wants is physical
immortality for deceased, and they're willing to pay for it.  All you've
got to do is to just be ca'm and stack it up--they'll stand the racket.
Why, man, you can take a defunct that you couldn't GIVE away; and get
your embamming traps around you and go to work; and in a couple of hours
he is worth a cool six hundred--that's what HE'S worth.  There ain't
anything equal to it but trading rats for di'monds in time of famine.
Well, don't you see, when there's an epidemic, people don't wait to
embam. No, indeed they don't; and it hurts the business like hell-th, as
we say--hurts it like hell-th, HEALTH, see?--Our little joke in the
trade. Well, I must be going.  Give me a call whenever you need any--I
mean, when you're going by, sometime.'

In his joyful high spirits, he did the exaggerating himself, if any has
been done.  I have not enlarged on him.

With the above brief references to inhumation, let us leave the subject.
As for me, I hope to be cremated.  I made that remark to my pastor once,
who said, with what he seemed to think was an impressive manner--

'I wouldn't worry about that, if I had your chances.' Much he knew about
it--the family all so opposed to it.

Chapter 44 City Sights

THE old French part of New Orleans--anciently the Spanish part--bears no
resemblance to the American end of the city: the American end which lies
beyond the intervening brick business-center. The houses are massed in
blocks; are austerely plain and dignified; uniform of pattern, with here
and there a departure from it with pleasant effect; all are plastered on
the outside, and nearly all have long, iron-railed verandas running
along the several stories. Their chief beauty is the deep, warm,
varicolored stain with which time and the weather have enriched the
plaster. It harmonizes with all the surroundings, and has as natural a
look of belonging there as has the flush upon sunset clouds. This
charming decoration cannot be successfully imitated; neither is it to be
found elsewhere in America.

The iron railings are a specialty, also.  The pattern is often
exceedingly light and dainty, and airy and graceful--with a large cipher
or monogram in the center, a delicate cobweb of baffling, intricate
forms, wrought in steel.  The ancient railings are hand-made, and are
now comparatively rare and proportionately valuable. They are become

The party had the privilege of idling through this ancient quarter of
New Orleans with the South's finest literary genius, the author of 'the
Grandissimes.'  In him the South has found a masterly delineator of its
interior life and its history. In truth, I find by experience, that the
untrained eye and vacant mind can inspect it, and learn of it, and judge
of it, more clearly and profitably in his books than by personal contact
with it.

With Mr. Cable along to see for you, and describe and explain and
illuminate, a jog through that old quarter is a vivid pleasure.  And you
have a vivid sense as of unseen or dimly seen things--vivid, and yet
fitful and darkling; you glimpse salient features, but lose the fine
shades or catch them imperfectly through the vision of the imagination:
a case, as it were, of ignorant near-sighted stranger traversing the rim
of wide vague horizons of Alps with an inspired and enlightened long-
sighted native.

We visited the old St. Louis Hotel, now occupied by municipal offices.
There is nothing strikingly remarkable about it; but one can say of it
as of the Academy of Music in New York, that if a broom or a shovel has
ever been used in it there is no circumstantial evidence to back up the
fact. It is curious that cabbages and hay and things do not grow in the
Academy of Music; but no doubt it is on account of the interruption of
the light by the benches, and the impossibility of hoeing the crop
except in the aisles. The fact that the ushers grow their buttonhole-
bouquets on the premises shows what might be done if they had the right
kind of an agricultural head to the establishment.

We visited also the venerable Cathedral, and the pretty square in front
of it; the one dim with religious light, the other brilliant with the
worldly sort, and lovely with orange-trees and blossomy shrubs; then we
drove in the hot sun through the wilderness of houses and out on to the
wide dead level beyond, where the villas are, and the water wheels to
drain the town, and the commons populous with cows and children; passing
by an old cemetery where we were told lie the ashes of an early pirate;
but we took him on trust, and did not visit him.  He was a pirate with a
tremendous and sanguinary history; and as long as he preserved
unspotted, in retirement, the dignity of his name and the grandeur of
his ancient calling, homage and reverence were his from high and low;
but when at last he descended into politics and became a paltry
alderman, the public 'shook' him, and turned aside and wept. When he
died, they set up a monument over him; and little by little he has come
into respect again; but it is respect for the pirate, not the alderman.
To-day the loyal and generous remember only what he was, and charitably
forget what he became.

Thence, we drove a few miles across a swamp, along a raised shell road,
with a canal on one hand and a dense wood on the other; and here and
there, in the distance, a ragged and angular-limbed and moss-bearded
cypress, top standing out, clear cut against the sky, and as quaint of
form as the apple-trees in Japanese pictures--such was our course and
the surroundings of it.  There was an occasional alligator swimming
comfortably along in the canal, and an occasional picturesque colored
person on the bank, flinging his statue-rigid reflection upon the still
water and watching for a bite.

And by-and-bye we reached the West End, a collection of hotels of the
usual light summer-resort pattern, with broad verandas all around, and
the waves of the wide and blue Lake Pontchartrain lapping the
thresholds. We had dinner on a ground-veranda over the water--the chief
dish the renowned fish called the pompano, delicious as the less
criminal forms of sin.

Thousands of people come by rail and carriage to West End and to Spanish
Fort every evening, and dine, listen to the bands, take strolls in the
open air under the electric lights, go sailing on the lake, and
entertain themselves in various and sundry other ways.

We had opportunities on other days and in other places to test the
pompano. Notably, at an editorial dinner at one of the clubs in the
city. He was in his last possible perfection there, and justified his
fame. In his suite was a tall pyramid of scarlet cray-fish--large ones;
as large as one's thumb--delicate, palatable, appetizing.  Also deviled
whitebait; also shrimps of choice quality; and a platter of small soft-
shell crabs of a most superior breed.  The other dishes were what one
might get at Delmonico's, or Buckingham Palace; those I have spoken of
can be had in similar perfection in New Orleans only, I suppose.

In the West and South they have a new institution--the Broom Brigade. It
is composed of young ladies who dress in a uniform costume, and go
through the infantry drill, with broom in place of musket. It is a very
pretty sight, on private view.  When they perform on the stage of a
theater, in the blaze of colored fires, it must be a fine and
fascinating spectacle.  I saw them go through their complex manual with
grace, spirit, and admirable precision. I saw them do everything which a
human being can possibly do with a broom, except sweep.  I did not see
them sweep.  But I know they could learn. What they have already learned
proves that.  And if they ever should learn, and should go on the war-
path down Tchoupitoulas or some of those other streets around there,
those thoroughfares would bear a greatly improved aspect in a very few
minutes. But the girls themselves wouldn't; so nothing would be really
gained, after all.

The drill was in the Washington Artillery building. In this building we
saw many interesting relics of the war. Also a fine oil-painting
representing Stonewall Jackson's last interview with General Lee.  Both
men are on horseback. Jackson has just ridden up, and is accosting Lee.
The picture is very valuable, on account of the portraits, which are
authentic.  But, like many another historical picture, it means nothing
without its label.  And one label will fit it as well as another--

First Interview between Lee and Jackson.

Last Interview between Lee and Jackson.

Jackson Introducing Himself to Lee.

Jackson Accepting Lee's Invitation to Dinner.

Jackson Declining Lee's Invitation to Dinner--with Thanks.

Jackson Apologizing for a Heavy Defeat.

Jackson Reporting a Great Victory.

Jackson Asking Lee for a Match.

It tells ONE story, and a sufficient one; for it says quite plainly and
satisfactorily, 'Here are Lee and Jackson together.' The artist would
have made it tell that this is Lee and Jackson's last interview if he
could have done it.  But he couldn't, for there wasn't any way to do it.
A good legible label is usually worth, for information, a ton of
significant attitude and expression in a historical picture. In Rome,
people with fine sympathetic natures stand up and weep in front of the
celebrated 'Beatrice Cenci the Day before her Execution.' It shows what
a label can do.  If they did not know the picture, they would inspect it
unmoved, and say, 'Young girl with hay fever; young girl with her head
in a bag.'

I found the half-forgotten Southern intonations and elisions as pleasing
to my ear as they had formerly been. A Southerner talks music.  At least
it is music to me, but then I was born in the South.  The educated
Southerner has no use for an r, except at the beginning of a word. He
says 'honah,' and 'dinnah,' and 'Gove'nuh,' and 'befo' the waw,' and so
on.  The words may lack charm to the eye, in print, but they have it to
the ear.  When did the r disappear from Southern speech, and how did it
come to disappear? The custom of dropping it was not borrowed from the
North, nor inherited from England.  Many Southerners--most Southerners--
put a y into occasional words that begin with the k sound. For instance,
they say Mr. K'yahtah (Carter) and speak of playing k'yahds or of riding
in the k'yahs. And they have the pleasant custom--long ago fallen into
decay in the North--of frequently employing the respectful 'Sir.'
Instead of the curt Yes, and the abrupt No, they say 'Yes, Suh', 'No,

But there are some infelicities.  Such as 'like' for 'as,' and the
addition of an 'at' where it isn't needed. I heard an educated gentleman
say, 'Like the flag-officer did.' His cook or his butler would have
said, 'Like the flag-officer done.' You hear gentlemen say, 'Where have
you been at?'  And here is the aggravated form--heard a ragged street
Arab say it to a comrade: 'I was a-ask'n' Tom whah you was a-sett'n'
at.'  The very elect carelessly say 'will' when they mean 'shall'; and
many of them say, 'I didn't go to do it,' meaning 'I didn't mean to do
it.' The Northern word 'guess'--imported from England, where it used to
be common, and now regarded by satirical Englishmen as a Yankee
original--is but little used among Southerners. They say 'reckon.'  They
haven't any 'doesn't' in their language; they say 'don't' instead.  The
unpolished often use 'went' for 'gone.' It is nearly as bad as the
Northern 'hadn't ought.'  This reminds me that a remark of a very
peculiar nature was made here in my neighborhood (in the North) a few
days ago:  'He hadn't ought to have went.' How is that?  Isn't that a
good deal of a triumph? One knows the orders combined in this half-
breed's architecture without inquiring:  one parent Northern, the other
Southern. To-day I heard a schoolmistress ask, 'Where is John gone?'
This form is so common--so nearly universal, in fact--that if she had
used 'whither' instead of 'where,' I think it would have sounded like an

We picked up one excellent word--a word worth traveling to New Orleans
to get; a nice limber, expressive, handy word--'lagniappe.' They
pronounce it lanny-yap. It is Spanish--so they said. We discovered it at
the head of a column of odds and ends in the Picayune, the first day;
heard twenty people use it the second; inquired what it meant the third;
adopted it and got facility in swinging it the fourth.  It has a
restricted meaning, but I think the people spread it out a little when
they choose. It is the equivalent of the thirteenth roll in a 'baker's
dozen.' It is something thrown in, gratis, for good measure. The custom
originated in the Spanish quarter of the city. When a child or a servant
buys something in a shop--or even the mayor or the governor, for aught I
know--he finishes the operation by saying--

'Give me something for lagniappe.'

The shopman always responds; gives the child a bit of licorice-root,
gives the servant a cheap cigar or a spool of thread, gives the
governor--I don't know what he gives the governor; support, likely.

When you are invited to drink, and this does occur now and then in New
Orleans--and you say, 'What, again?--no, I've had enough;' the other
party says, 'But just this one time more--this is for lagniappe.' When
the beau perceives that he is stacking his compliments a trifle too
high, and sees by the young lady's countenance that the edifice would
have been better with the top compliment left off, he puts his 'I beg
pardon--no harm intended,' into the briefer form of 'Oh, that's for
lagniappe.' If the waiter in the restaurant stumbles and spills a gill
of coffee down the back of your neck, he says 'For lagniappe, sah,' and
gets you another cup without extra charge.

Chapter 45 Southern Sports

IN the North one hears the war mentioned, in social conversation, once a
month; sometimes as often as once a week; but as a distinct subject for
talk, it has long ago been relieved of duty.  There are sufficient
reasons for this.  Given a dinner company of six gentlemen to-day, it
can easily happen that four of them--and possibly five--were not in the
field at all.  So the chances are four to two, or five to one, that the
war will at no time during the evening become the topic of conversation;
and the chances are still greater that if it become the topic it will
remain so but a little while. If you add six ladies to the company, you
have added six people who saw so little of the dread realities of the
war that they ran out of talk concerning them years ago, and now would
soon weary of the war topic if you brought it up.

The case is very different in the South.  There, every man you meet was
in the war; and every lady you meet saw the war. The war is the great
chief topic of conversation.  The interest in it is vivid and constant;
the interest in other topics is fleeting. Mention of the war will wake
up a dull company and set their tongues going, when nearly any other
topic would fail. In the South, the war is what A.D. is elsewhere:  they
date from it. All day long you hear things 'placed' as having happened
since the waw; or du'in' the waw; or befo' the waw; or right aftah the
waw; or 'bout two yeahs or five yeahs or ten yeahs befo' the waw or
aftah the waw.  It shows how intimately every individual was visited, in
his own person, by that tremendous episode. It gives the inexperienced
stranger a better idea of what a vast and comprehensive calamity
invasion is than he can ever get by reading books at the fireside.

At a club one evening, a gentleman turned to me and said, in an aside--

'You notice, of course, that we are nearly always talking about the war.
It isn't because we haven't anything else to talk about, but because
nothing else has so strong an interest for us.  And there is another
reason: In the war, each of us, in his own person, seems to have sampled
all the different varieties of human experience; as a consequence, you
can't mention an outside matter of any sort but it will certainly remind
some listener of something that happened during the war--and out he
comes with it.  Of course that brings the talk back to the war. You may
try all you want to, to keep other subjects before the house, and we may
all join in and help, but there can be but one result: the most random
topic would load every man up with war reminiscences, and shut him up,
too; and talk would be likely to stop presently, because you can't talk
pale inconsequentialities when you've got a crimson fact or fancy in
your head that you are burning to fetch out.'

The poet was sitting some little distance away; and presently he began
to speak--about the moon.

The gentleman who had been talking to me remarked in an 'aside:' 'There,
the moon is far enough from the seat of war, but you will see that it
will suggest something to somebody about the war; in ten minutes from
now the moon, as a topic, will be shelved.'

The poet was saying he had noticed something which was a surprise to
him; had had the impression that down here, toward the equator, the
moonlight was much stronger and brighter than up North; had had the
impression that when he visited New Orleans, many years ago, the moon--

Interruption from the other end of the room--

'Let me explain that.  Reminds me of an anecdote. Everything is changed
since the war, for better or for worse; but you'll find people down here
born grumblers, who see no change except the change for the worse.
There was an old negro woman of this sort.  A young New-Yorker said in
her presence, "What a wonderful moon you have down here!"  She sighed
and said, "Ah, bless yo' heart, honey, you ought to seen dat moon befo'
de waw!"'

The new topic was dead already.  But the poet resurrected it, and gave
it a new start.

A brief dispute followed, as to whether the difference between Northern
and Southern moonlight really existed or was only imagined. Moonlight
talk drifted easily into talk about artificial methods of dispelling
darkness.  Then somebody remembered that when Farragut advanced upon
Port Hudson on a dark night--and did not wish to assist the aim of the
Confederate gunners--he carried no battle-lanterns, but painted the
decks of his ships white, and thus created a dim but valuable light,
which enabled his own men to grope their way around with considerable
facility. At this point the war got the floor again--the ten minutes not
quite up yet.

I was not sorry, for war talk by men who have been in a war is always
interesting; whereas moon talk by a poet who has not been in the moon is
likely to be dull.

We went to a cockpit in New Orleans on a Saturday afternoon. I had never
seen a cock-fight before.  There were men and boys there of all ages and
all colors, and of many languages and nationalities. But I noticed one
quite conspicuous and surprising absence: the traditional brutal faces.
There were no brutal faces. With no cock-fighting going on, you could
have played the gathering on a stranger for a prayer-meeting; and after
it began, for a revival--provided you blindfolded your stranger--for the
shouting was something prodigious.

A negro and a white man were in the ring; everybody else outside. The
cocks were brought in in sacks; and when time was called, they were
taken out by the two bottle-holders, stroked, caressed, poked toward
each other, and finally liberated. The big black cock plunged instantly
at the little gray one and struck him on the head with his spur.  The
gray responded with spirit. Then the Babel of many-tongued shoutings
broke out, and ceased not thenceforth.  When the cocks had been fighting
some little time, I was expecting them momently to drop dead, for both
were blind, red with blood, and so exhausted that they frequently fell
down. Yet they would not give up, neither would they die. The negro and
the white man would pick them up every few seconds, wipe them off, blow
cold water on them in a fine spray, and take their heads in their mouths
and hold them there a moment--to warm back the perishing life perhaps; I
do not know.  Then, being set down again, the dying creatures would
totter gropingly about, with dragging wings, find each other, strike a
guesswork blow or two, and fall exhausted once more.

I did not see the end of the battle.  I forced myself to endure it as
long as I could, but it was too pitiful a sight; so I made frank
confession to that effect, and we retired. We heard afterward that the
black cock died in the ring, and fighting to the last.

Evidently there is abundant fascination about this 'sport' for such as
have had a degree of familiarity with it.  I never saw people enjoy
anything more than this gathering enjoyed this fight. The case was the
same with old gray-heads and with boys of ten. They lost themselves in
frenzies of delight.  The 'cocking-main' is an inhuman sort of
entertainment, there is no question about that; still, it seems a much
more respectable and far less cruel sport than fox-hunting--for the
cocks like it; they experience, as well as confer enjoyment; which is
not the fox's case.

We assisted--in the French sense--at a mule race, one day. I believe I
enjoyed this contest more than any other mule there. I enjoyed it more
than I remember having enjoyed any other animal race I ever saw.  The
grand-stand was well filled with the beauty and the chivalry of New
Orleans.  That phrase is not original with me. It is the Southern
reporter's. He has used it for two generations. He uses it twenty times
a day, or twenty thousand times a day; or a million times a day--
according to the exigencies. He is obliged to use it a million times a
day, if he have occasion to speak of respectable men and women that
often; for he has no other phrase for such service except that single
one. He never tires of it; it always has a fine sound to him. There is a
kind of swell medieval bulliness and tinsel about it that pleases his
gaudy barbaric soul.  If he had been in Palestine in the early times, we
should have had no references to 'much people' out of him.  No, he would
have said 'the beauty and the chivalry of Galilee' assembled to hear the
Sermon on the Mount. It is likely that the men and women of the South
are sick enough of that phrase by this time, and would like a change,
but there is no immediate prospect of their getting it.

The New Orleans editor has a strong, compact, direct, unflowery style;
wastes no words, and does not gush.  Not so with his average
correspondent. In the Appendix I have quoted a good letter, penned by a
trained hand; but the average correspondent hurls a style which differs
from that. For instance--

The 'Times-Democrat' sent a relief-steamer up one of the bayous, last
April. This steamer landed at a village, up there somewhere, and the
Captain invited some of the ladies of the village to make a short trip
with him. They accepted and came aboard, and the steamboat shoved out up
the creek. That was all there was 'to it.'  And that is all that the
editor of the 'Times-Democrat' would have got out of it.  There was
nothing in the thing but statistics, and he would have got nothing else
out of it. He would probably have even tabulated them, partly to secure
perfect clearness of statement, and partly to save space. But his
special correspondent knows other methods of handling statistics. He
just throws off all restraint and wallows in them--

'On Saturday, early in the morning, the beauty of the place graced our
cabin, and proud of her fair freight the gallant little boat glided up
the bayou.'

Twenty-two words to say the ladies came aboard and the boat shoved out
up the creek, is a clean waste of ten good words, and is also
destructive of compactness of statement.

The trouble with the Southern reporter is--Women.  They unsettle him;
they throw him off his balance.  He is plain, and sensible, and
satisfactory, until a woman heaves in sight.  Then he goes all to
pieces; his mind totters, he becomes flowery and idiotic. From reading
the above extract, you would imagine that this student of Sir Walter
Scott is an apprentice, and knows next to nothing about handling a pen.
On the contrary, he furnishes plenty of proofs, in his long letter, that
he knows well enough how to handle it when the women are not around to
give him the artificial-flower complaint. For instance--

'At 4 o'clock ominous clouds began to gather in the south-east, and
presently from the Gulf there came a blow which increased in severity
every moment. It was not safe to leave the landing then, and there was a
delay. The oaks shook off long tresses of their mossy beards to the
tugging of the wind, and the bayou in its ambition put on miniature
waves in mocking of much larger bodies of water.  A lull permitted a
start, and homewards we steamed, an inky sky overhead and a heavy wind
blowing. As darkness crept on, there were few on board who did not wish
themselves nearer home.'

There is nothing the matter with that.  It is good description,
compactly put.  Yet there was great temptation, there, to drop into
lurid writing.

But let us return to the mule.  Since I left him, I have rummaged around
and found a full report of the race.  In it I find confirmation of the
theory which I broached just now--namely, that the trouble with the
Southern reporter is Women:  Women, supplemented by Walter Scott and his
knights and beauty and chivalry, and so on. This is an excellent report,
as long as the women stay out of it. But when they intrude, we have this
frantic result--

'It will be probably a long time before the ladies' stand presents such
a sea of foam-like loveliness as it did yesterday.  The New Orleans
women are always charming, but never so much so as at this time of the
year, when in their dainty spring costumes they bring with them a
breath of balmy freshness and an odor of sanctity unspeakable. The stand
was so crowded with them that, walking at their feet and seeing no
possibility of approach, many a man appreciated as he never did before
the Peri's feeling at the Gates of Paradise, and wondered what was the
priceless boon that would admit him to their sacred presence.  Sparkling
on their white-robed breasts or shoulders were the colors of their
favorite knights, and were it not for the fact that the doughty heroes
appeared on unromantic mules, it would have been easy to imagine one of
King Arthur's gala-days.'

There were thirteen mules in the first heat; all sorts of mules, they
were; all sorts of complexions, gaits, dispositions, aspects. Some were
handsome creatures, some were not; some were sleek, some hadn't had
their fur brushed lately; some were innocently gay and frisky; some were
full of malice and all unrighteousness; guessing from looks, some of
them thought the matter on hand was war, some thought it was a lark, the
rest took it for a religious occasion. And each mule acted according to
his convictions.  The result was an absence of harmony well compensated
by a conspicuous presence of variety--variety of a picturesque and
entertaining sort.

All the riders were young gentlemen in fashionable society. If the
reader has been wondering why it is that the ladies of New Orleans
attend so humble an orgy as a mule-race, the thing is explained now. It
is a fashion-freak; all connected with it are people of fashion.

It is great fun, and cordially liked.  The mule-race is one of the
marked occasions of the year.  It has brought some pretty fast mules to
the front. One of these had to be ruled out, because he was so fast that
he turned the thing into a one-mule contest, and robbed it of one of its
best features--variety.  But every now and then somebody disguises him
with a new name and a new complexion, and rings him in again.

The riders dress in full jockey costumes of bright-colored silks,
satins, and velvets.

The thirteen mules got away in a body, after a couple of false starts,
and scampered off with prodigious spirit. As each mule and each rider
had a distinct opinion of his own as to how the race ought to be run,
and which side of the track was best in certain circumstances, and how
often the track ought to be crossed, and when a collision ought to be
accomplished, and when it ought to be avoided, these twenty-six
conflicting opinions created a most fantastic and picturesque confusion,
and the resulting spectacle was killingly comical.

Mile heat; time 2:22. Eight of the thirteen mules distanced. I had a bet
on a mule which would have won if the procession had been reversed.  The
second heat was good fun; and so was the 'consolation race for beaten
mules,' which followed later; but the first heat was the best in that

I think that much the most enjoyable of all races is a steamboat race;
but, next to that, I prefer the gay and joyous mule-rush. Two red-hot
steamboats raging along, neck-and-neck, straining every nerve--that is
to say, every rivet in the boilers--quaking and shaking and groaning
from stem to stern, spouting white steam from the pipes, pouring black
smoke from the chimneys, raining down sparks, parting the river into
long breaks of hissing foam--this is sport that makes a body's very
liver curl with enjoyment. A horse-race is pretty tame and colorless in
comparison. Still, a horse-race might be well enough, in its way,
perhaps, if it were not for the tiresome false starts. But then, nobody
is ever killed.  At least, nobody was ever killed when I was at a
horse-race. They have been crippled, it is true; but this is little
to the purpose.


                    LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI

                        BY MARK TWAIN

                           Part 10.

Chapter 46 Enchantments and Enchanters

THE largest annual event in New Orleans is a something which we arrived
too late to sample--the Mardi-Gras festivities. I saw the procession of
the Mystic Crew of Comus there, twenty-four years ago--with knights and
nobles and so on, clothed in silken and golden Paris-made
gorgeousnesses, planned and bought for that single night's use; and in
their train all manner of giants, dwarfs, monstrosities, and other
diverting grotesquerie--a startling and wonderful sort of show, as it
filed solemnly and silently down the street in the light of its smoking
and flickering torches; but it is said that in these latter days the
spectacle is mightily augmented, as to cost, splendor, and variety.
There is a chief personage--'Rex;' and if I remember rightly, neither
this king nor any of his great following of subordinates is known to any
outsider. All these people are gentlemen of position and consequence;
and it is a proud thing to belong to the organization; so the mystery in
which they hide their personality is merely for romance's sake, and not
on account of the police.

Mardi-Gras is of course a relic of the French and Spanish occupation;
but I judge that the religious feature has been pretty well knocked out
of it now. Sir Walter has got the advantage of the gentlemen of the cowl
and rosary, and he will stay.  His medieval business, supplemented by
the monsters and the oddities, and the pleasant creatures from fairy-
land, is finer to look at than the poor fantastic inventions and
performances of the reveling rabble of the priest's day, and serves
quite as well, perhaps, to emphasize the day and admonish men that the
grace-line between the worldly season and the holy one is reached.

This Mardi-Gras pageant was the exclusive possession of New Orleans
until recently.  But now it has spread to Memphis and St. Louis and
Baltimore.  It has probably reached its limit. It is a thing which could
hardly exist in the practical North; would certainly last but a very
brief time; as brief a time as it would last in London.  For the soul of
it is the romantic, not the funny and the grotesque.  Take away the
romantic mysteries, the kings and knights and big-sounding titles, and
Mardi-Gras would die, down there in the South. The very feature that
keeps it alive in the South--girly-girly romance--would kill it in the
North or in London. Puck and Punch, and the press universal, would fall
upon it and make merciless fun of it, and its first exhibition would be
also its last.

Against the crimes of the French Revolution and of Bonaparte may be set
two compensating benefactions:  the Revolution broke the chains of the
ANCIEN REGIME and of the Church, and made of a nation of abject slaves a
nation of freemen; and Bonaparte instituted the setting of merit above
birth, and also so completely stripped the divinity from royalty, that
whereas crowned heads in Europe were gods before, they are only men,
since, and can never be gods again, but only figureheads, and answerable
for their acts like common clay. Such benefactions as these compensate
the temporary harm which Bonaparte and the Revolution did, and leave the
world in debt to them for these great and permanent services to liberty,
humanity, and progress.

Then comes Sir Walter Scott with his enchantments, and by his single
might checks this wave of progress, and even turns it back; sets the
world in love with dreams and phantoms; with decayed and swinish forms
of religion; with decayed and degraded systems of government; with the
sillinesses and emptinesses, sham grandeurs, sham gauds, and sham
chivalries of a brainless and worthless long-vanished society. He did
measureless harm; more real and lasting harm, perhaps, than any other
individual that ever wrote.  Most of the world has now outlived good
part of these harms, though by no means all of them; but in our South
they flourish pretty forcefully still.  Not so forcefully as half a
generation ago, perhaps, but still forcefully. There, the genuine and
wholesome civilization of the nineteenth century is curiously confused
and commingled with the Walter Scott Middle-Age sham civilization; and
so you have practical, common-sense, progressive ideas, and progressive
works; mixed up with the duel, the inflated speech, and the jejune
romanticism of an absurd past that is dead, and out of charity ought to
be buried. But for the Sir Walter disease, the character of the
Southerner--or Southron, according to Sir Walter's starchier way of
phrasing it--would be wholly modern, in place of modern and medieval
mixed, and the South would be fully a generation further advanced than
it is. It was Sir Walter that made every gentleman in the South a Major
or a Colonel, or a General or a Judge, before the war; and it was he,
also, that made these gentlemen value these bogus decorations. For it
was he that created rank and caste down there, and also reverence for
rank and caste, and pride and pleasure in them. Enough is laid on
slavery, without fathering upon it these creations and contributions of
Sir Walter.

Sir Walter had so large a hand in making Southern character, as it
existed before the war, that he is in great measure responsible for the
war. It seems a little harsh toward a dead man to say that we never
should have had any war but for Sir Walter; and yet something of a
plausible argument might, perhaps, be made in support of that wild
proposition.  The Southerner of the American Revolution owned slaves; so
did the Southerner of the Civil War: but the former resembles the latter
as an Englishman resembles a Frenchman. The change of character can be
traced rather more easily to Sir Walter's influence than to that of any
other thing or person.

One may observe, by one or two signs, how deeply that influence
penetrated, and how strongly it holds. If one take up a Northern or
Southern literary periodical of forty or fifty years ago, he will find
it filled with wordy, windy, flowery 'eloquence,' romanticism,
sentimentality--all imitated from Sir Walter, and sufficiently badly
done, too--innocent travesties of his style and methods, in fact. This
sort of literature being the fashion in both sections of the country,
there was opportunity for the fairest competition; and as a consequence,
the South was able to show as many well-known literary names,
proportioned to population, as the North could.

But a change has come, and there is no opportunity now for a fair
competition between North and South. For the North has thrown out that
old inflated style, whereas the Southern writer still clings to it--
clings to it and has a restricted market for his wares, as a
consequence. There is as much literary talent in the South, now, as ever
there was, of course; but its work can gain but slight currency under
present conditions; the authors write for the past, not the present;
they use obsolete forms, and a dead language. But when a Southerner of
genius writes modern English, his book goes upon crutches no longer, but
upon wings; and they carry it swiftly all about America and England, and
through the great English reprint publishing houses of Germany--as
witness the experience of Mr. Cable and Uncle Remus, two of the very few
Southern authors who do not write in the Southern style. Instead of
three or four widely-known literary names, the South ought to have a
dozen or two--and will have them when Sir Walter's time is out.

A curious exemplification of the power of a single book for good or harm
is shown in the effects wrought by 'Don Quixote' and those wrought by
'Ivanhoe.'  The first swept the world's admiration for the medieval
chivalry-silliness out of existence; and the other restored it.  As far
as our South is concerned, the good work done by Cervantes is pretty
nearly a dead letter, so effectually has Scott's pernicious work
undermined it.

Chapter 47 Uncle Remus and Mr. Cable

MR.  JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS ('Uncle Remus') was to arrive from Atlanta at
seven o'clock Sunday morning; so we got up and received him. We were
able to detect him among the crowd of arrivals at the hotel-counter by
his correspondence with a description of him which had been furnished us
from a trustworthy source. He was said to be undersized, red-haired, and
somewhat freckled. He was the only man in the party whose outside
tallied with this bill of particulars.  He was said to be very shy.  He
is a shy man. Of this there is no doubt.  It may not show on the
surface, but the shyness is there.  After days of intimacy one wonders
to see that it is still in about as strong force as ever. There is a
fine and beautiful nature hidden behind it, as all know who have read
the Uncle Remus book; and a fine genius, too, as all know by the same
sign.  I seem to be talking quite freely about this neighbor; but in
talking to the public I am but talking to his personal friends, and
these things are permissible among friends.

He deeply disappointed a number of children who had flocked eagerly to
Mr. Cable's house to get a glimpse of the illustrious sage and oracle of
the nation's nurseries.  They said--

'Why, he 's white!'

They were grieved about it.  So, to console them, the book was brought,
that they might hear Uncle Remus's Tar-Baby story from the lips of Uncle
Remus himself--or what, in their outraged eyes, was left of him. But it
turned out that he had never read aloud to people, and was too shy to
venture the attempt now.  Mr. Cable and I read from books of ours, to
show him what an easy trick it was; but his immortal shyness was proof
against even this sagacious strategy, so we had to read about Brer
Rabbit ourselves.

Mr. Harris ought to be able to read the negro dialect better than
anybody else, for in the matter of writing it he is the only master the
country has produced.  Mr. Cable is the only master in the writing of
French dialects that the country has produced; and he reads them in
perfection.  It was a great treat to hear him read about Jean-ah
Poquelin, and about Innerarity and his famous 'pigshoo' representing
'Louisihanna RIF-fusing to Hanter the Union,' along with passages of
nicely-shaded German dialect from a novel which was still in manuscript.

It came out in conversation, that in two different instances Mr. Cable
got into grotesque trouble by using, in his books, next-to-impossible
French names which nevertheless happened to be borne by living and
sensitive citizens of New Orleans. His names were either inventions or
were borrowed from the ancient and obsolete past, I do not now remember
which; but at any rate living bearers of them turned up, and were a good
deal hurt at having attention directed to themselves and their affairs
in so excessively public a manner.

Mr. Warner and I had an experience of the same sort when we wrote the
book called 'The Gilded Age.'  There is a character in it called
'Sellers.' I do not remember what his first name was, in the beginning;
but anyway, Mr. Warner did not like it, and wanted it improved. He asked
me if I was able to imagine a person named 'Eschol Sellers.' Of course I
said I could not, without stimulants.  He said that away out West, once,
he had met, and contemplated, and actually shaken hands with a man
bearing that impossible name--'Eschol Sellers.' He added--

'It was twenty years ago; his name has probably carried him off before
this; and if it hasn't, he will never see the book anyhow. We will
confiscate his name.  The name you are using is common, and therefore
dangerous; there are probably a thousand Sellerses bearing it, and the
whole horde will come after us; but Eschol Sellers is a safe name--it is
a rock.'

So we borrowed that name; and when the book had been out about a week,
one of the stateliest and handsomest and most aristocratic looking white
men that ever lived, called around, with the most formidable libel suit
in his pocket that ever--well, in brief, we got his permission to
suppress an edition of ten million {footnote [Figures taken from memory,
and probably incorrect.  Think it was more.]} copies of the book and
change that name to 'Mulberry Sellers' in future editions.

Chapter 48 Sugar and Postage

ONE day, on the street, I encountered the man whom, of all men, I most
wished to see--Horace Bixby; formerly pilot under me--or rather, over
me--now captain of the great steamer 'City of Baton Rouge,' the latest
and swiftest addition to the Anchor Line. The same slender figure, the
same tight curls, the same springy step, the same alertness, the same
decision of eye and answering decision of hand, the same erect military
bearing; not an inch gained or lost in girth, not an ounce gained or
lost in weight, not a hair turned. It is a curious thing, to leave a man
thirty-five years old, and come back at the end of twenty-one years and
find him still only thirty-five. I have not had an experience of this
kind before, I believe. There were some crow's-feet, but they counted
for next to nothing, since they were inconspicuous.

His boat was just in.  I had been waiting several days for her,
purposing to return to St. Louis in her.  The captain and I joined a
party of ladies and gentlemen, guests of Major Wood, and went down the
river fifty-four miles, in a swift tug, to ex-Governor Warmouth's sugar
plantation.  Strung along below the city, were a number of decayed, ram-
shackly, superannuated old steamboats, not one of which had I ever seen
before. They had all been built, and worn out, and thrown aside, since I
was here last.  This gives one a realizing sense of the frailness of a
Mississippi boat and the briefness of its life.

Six miles below town a fat and battered brick chimney, sticking above
the magnolias and live-oaks, was pointed out as the monument erected by
an appreciative nation to celebrate the battle of New Orleans--Jackson's
victory over the British, January 8, 1815.  The war had ended, the two
nations were at peace, but the news had not yet reached New Orleans. If
we had had the cable telegraph in those days, this blood would not have
been spilt, those lives would not have been wasted; and better still,
Jackson would probably never have been president. We have gotten over
the harms done us by the war of 1812, but not over some of those done us
by Jackson's presidency.

The Warmouth plantation covers a vast deal of ground, and the
hospitality of the Warmouth mansion is graduated to the same large
scale. We saw steam-plows at work, here, for the first time.  The
traction engine travels about on its own wheels, till it reaches the
required spot; then it stands still and by means of a wire rope pulls
the huge plow toward itself two or three hundred yards across the field,
between the rows of cane. The thing cuts down into the black mold a foot
and a half deep. The plow looks like a fore-and-aft brace of a Hudson
river steamer, inverted. When the negro steersman sits on one end of it,
that end tilts down near the ground, while the other sticks up high in
air.  This great see-saw goes rolling and pitching like a ship at sea,
and it is not every circus rider that could stay on it.

The plantation contains two thousand six hundred acres; six hundred and
fifty are in cane; and there is a fruitful orange grove of five thousand
trees.  The cane is cultivated after a modern and intricate scientific
fashion, too elaborate and complex for me to attempt to describe; but it
lost $40,000 last year.  I forget the other details. However, this
year's crop will reach ten or twelve hundred tons of sugar, consequently
last year's loss will not matter. These troublesome and expensive
scientific methods achieve a yield of a ton and a half and from that to
two tons, to the acre; which is three or four times what the yield of an
acre was in my time.

The drainage-ditches were everywhere alive with little crabs--
'fiddlers.'  One saw them scampering sidewise in every direction
whenever they heard a disturbing noise. Expensive pests, these crabs;
for they bore into the levees, and ruin them.

The great sugar-house was a wilderness of tubs and tanks and vats and
filters, pumps, pipes, and machinery. The process of making sugar is
exceedingly interesting. First, you heave your cane into the
centrifugals and grind out the juice; then run it through the
evaporating pan to extract the fiber; then through the bone-filter to
remove the alcohol; then through the clarifying tanks to discharge the
molasses; then through the granulating pipe to condense it; then through
the vacuum pan to extract the vacuum.  It is now ready for market. I
have jotted these particulars down from memory. The thing looks simple
and easy.  Do not deceive yourself. To make sugar is really one of the
most difficult things in the world.  And to make it right, is next to
impossible. If you will examine your own supply every now and then for a
term of years, and tabulate the result, you will find that not two men
in twenty can make sugar without getting sand into it.

We could have gone down to the mouth of the river and visited Captain
Eads' great work, the 'jetties,' where the river has been compressed
between walls, and thus deepened to twenty-six feet; but it was voted
useless to go, since at this stage of the water everything would be
covered up and invisible.

We could have visited that ancient and singular burg, 'Pilot-town,'
which stands on stilts in the water--so they say; where nearly all
communication is by skiff and canoe, even to the attending of weddings
and funerals; and where the littlest boys and girls are as handy with
the oar as unamphibious children are with the velocipede.

We could have done a number of other things; but on account of limited
time, we went back home.  The sail up the breezy and sparkling river was
a charming experience, and would have been satisfyingly sentimental and
romantic but for the interruptions of the tug's pet parrot, whose
tireless comments upon the scenery and the guests were always this-
worldly, and often profane.  He had also a superabundance of the
discordant, ear-splitting, metallic laugh common to his breed--a
machine-made laugh, a Frankenstein laugh, with the soul left out of it.
He applied it to every sentimental remark, and to every pathetic song.
He cackled it out with hideous energy after 'Home again, home again from
a foreign shore,' and said he 'wouldn't give a damn for a tug-load of
such rot.'  Romance and sentiment cannot long survive this sort of
discouragement; so the singing and talking presently ceased; which so
delighted the parrot that he cursed himself hoarse for joy.

Then the male members of the party moved to the forecastle, to smoke and
gossip.  There were several old steamboatmen along, and I learned from
them a great deal of what had been happening to my former river friends
during my long absence. I learned that a pilot whom I used to steer for
is become a spiritualist, and for more than fifteen years has been
receiving a letter every week from a deceased relative, through a New
York spiritualist medium named Manchester--postage graduated by
distance:  from the local post-office in Paradise to New York, five
dollars; from New York to St. Louis, three cents.  I remember Mr.
Manchester very well. I called on him once, ten years ago, with a couple
of friends, one of whom wished to inquire after a deceased uncle. This
uncle had lost his life in a peculiarly violent and unusual way, half a
dozen years before:  a cyclone blew him some three miles and knocked a
tree down with him which was four feet through at the butt and sixty-
five feet high. He did not survive this triumph.  At the seance just
referred to, my friend questioned his late uncle, through Mr.
Manchester, and the late uncle wrote down his replies, using Mr.
Manchester's hand and pencil for that purpose. The following is a fair
example of the questions asked, and also of the sloppy twaddle in the
way of answers, furnished by Manchester under the pretense that it came
from the specter. If this man is not the paltriest fraud that lives, I
owe him an apology--

QUESTION.  Where are you?

ANSWER.  In the spirit world.

Q. Are you happy?

A. Very happy.  Perfectly happy.

Q. How do you amuse yourself?

A. Conversation with friends, and other spirits.

Q. What else?

A. Nothing else.  Nothing else is necessary.

Q. What do you talk about?

A. About how happy we are; and about friends left behind in the earth,
and how to influence them for their good.

Q. When your friends in the earth all get to the spirit land, what shall
you have to talk about then?--nothing but about how happy you all are?

No reply.  It is explained that spirits will not answer frivolous

Q. How is it that spirits that are content to spend an eternity in
frivolous employments, and accept it as happiness, are so fastidious
about frivolous questions upon the subject?

No reply.

Q. Would you like to come back?

A. No.

Q. Would you say that under oath?

A. Yes.

Q. What do you eat there?

A. We do not eat.

Q. What do you drink?

A. We do not drink.

Q. What do you smoke?

A. We do not smoke.

Q. What do you read?

A. We do not read.

Q. Do all the good people go to your place?

A. Yes.

Q. You know my present way of life.  Can you suggest any additions to
it, in the way of crime, that will reasonably insure my going to some
other place.

A. No reply.

Q. When did you die?

A. I did not die, I passed away.

Q. Very well, then, when did you pass away?  How long have you been in
the spirit land?

A. We have no measurements of time here.

Q. Though you may be indifferent and uncertain as to dates and times in
your present condition and environment, this has nothing to do with your
former condition. You had dates then.  One of these is what I ask for.
You departed on a certain day in a certain year. Is not this true?

A. Yes.

Q. Then name the day of the month.

(Much fumbling with pencil, on the part of the medium, accompanied by
violent spasmodic jerkings of his head and body, for some little time.
Finally, explanation to the effect that spirits often forget dates, such
things being without importance to them.)

Q. Then this one has actually forgotten the date of its translation to
the spirit land?

This was granted to be the case.

Q. This is very curious.  Well, then, what year was it?

(More fumbling, jerking, idiotic spasms, on the part of the medium.
Finally, explanation to the effect that the spirit has forgotten the

Q. This is indeed stupendous.  Let me put one more question, one last
question, to you, before we part to meet no more;--for even if I fail to
avoid your asylum, a meeting there will go for nothing as a meeting,
since by that time you will easily have forgotten me and my name:  did
you die a natural death, or were you cut off by a catastrophe?

A. (After long hesitation and many throes and spasms.) NATURAL DEATH.

This ended the interview.  My friend told the medium that when his
relative was in this poor world, he was endowed with an extraordinary
intellect and an absolutely defectless memory, and it seemed a great
pity that he had not been allowed to keep some shred of these for his
amusement in the realms of everlasting contentment, and for the
amazement and admiration of the rest of the population there.

This man had plenty of clients--has plenty yet.  He receives letters
from spirits located in every part of the spirit world, and delivers
them all over this country through the United States mail. These letters
are filled with advice--advice from 'spirits' who don't know as much as
a tadpole--and this advice is religiously followed by the receivers.
One of these clients was a man whom the spirits (if one may thus
plurally describe the ingenious Manchester) were teaching how to
contrive an improved railway car-wheel. It is coarse employment for a
spirit, but it is higher and wholesomer activity than talking for ever
about 'how happy we are.'

Chapter 49 Episodes in Pilot Life

IN the course of the tug-boat gossip, it came out that out of every five
of my former friends who had quitted the river, four had chosen farming
as an occupation.  Of course this was not because they were peculiarly
gifted, agriculturally, and thus more likely to succeed as farmers than
in other industries: the reason for their choice must be traced to some
other source. Doubtless they chose farming because that life is private
and secluded from irruptions of undesirable strangers--like the pilot-
house hermitage.  And doubtless they also chose it because on a thousand
nights of black storm and danger they had noted the twinkling lights of
solitary farm-houses, as the boat swung by, and pictured to themselves
the serenity and security and coziness of such refuges at such times,
and so had by-and-bye come to dream of that retired and peaceful life as
the one desirable thing to long for, anticipate, earn, and at last

But I did not learn that any of these pilot-farmers had astonished
anybody with their successes.  Their farms do not support them:  they
support their farms.  The pilot-farmer disappears from the river
annually, about the breaking of spring, and is seen no more till next
frost. Then he appears again, in damaged homespun, combs the hayseed out
of his hair, and takes a pilot-house berth for the winter. In this way
he pays the debts which his farming has achieved during the agricultural
season.  So his river bondage is but half broken; he is still the
river's slave the hardest half of the year.

One of these men bought a farm, but did not retire to it. He knew a
trick worth two of that.  He did not propose to pauperize his farm by
applying his personal ignorance to working it. No, he put the farm into
the hands of an agricultural expert to be worked on shares--out of every
three loads of corn the expert to have two and the pilot the third. But
at the end of the season the pilot received no corn. The expert
explained that his share was not reached.  The farm produced only two

Some of the pilots whom I had known had had adventures--the outcome
fortunate, sometimes, but not in all cases. Captain Montgomery, whom I
had steered for when he was a pilot, commanded the Confederate fleet in
the great battle before Memphis; when his vessel went down, he swam
ashore, fought his way through a squad of soldiers, and made a gallant
and narrow escape. He was always a cool man; nothing could disturb his
serenity. Once when he was captain of the 'Crescent City,' I was
bringing the boat into port at New Orleans, and momently expecting
orders from the hurricane deck, but received none.  I had stopped the
wheels, and there my authority and responsibility ceased. It was
evening--dim twilight--the captain's hat was perched upon the big bell,
and I supposed the intellectual end of the captain was in it, but such
was not the case.  The captain was very strict; therefore I knew better
than to touch a bell without orders. My duty was to hold the boat
steadily on her calamitous course, and leave the consequences to take
care of themselves--which I did. So we went plowing past the sterns of
steamboats and getting closer and closer--the crash was bound to come
very soon--and still that hat never budged; for alas, the captain was
napping in the texas.... Things were becoming exceedingly nervous and
uncomfortable. It seemed to me that the captain was not going to appear
in time to see the entertainment.  But he did.  Just as we were walking
into the stern of a steamboat, he stepped out on deck, and said, with
heavenly serenity, 'Set her back on both'--which I did; but a trifle
late, however, for the next moment we went smashing through that other
boat's flimsy outer works with a most prodigious racket. The captain
never said a word to me about the matter afterwards, except to remark
that I had done right, and that he hoped I would not hesitate to act in
the same way again in like circumstances.

One of the pilots whom I had known when I was on the river had died a
very honorable death.  His boat caught fire, and he remained at the
wheel until he got her safe to land. Then he went out over the breast-
board with his clothing in flames, and was the last person to get
ashore. He died from his injuries in the course of two or three hours,
and his was the only life lost.

The history of Mississippi piloting affords six or seven instances of
this sort of martyrdom, and half a hundred instances of escapes from a
like fate which came within a second or two of being fatally too late;
DESTRUCTION. It is well worth while to set down this noble fact, and
well worth while to put it in italics, too.

The 'cub' pilot is early admonished to despise all perils connected with
a pilot's calling, and to prefer any sort of death to the deep dishonor
of deserting his post while there is any possibility of his being useful
in it. And so effectively are these admonitions inculcated, that even
young and but half-tried pilots can be depended upon to stick to the
wheel, and die there when occasion requires. In a Memphis graveyard is
buried a young fellow who perished at the wheel a great many years ago,
in White River, to save the lives of other men.  He said to the captain
that if the fire would give him time to reach a sand bar, some distance
away, all could be saved, but that to land against the bluff bank of the
river would be to insure the loss of many lives. He reached the bar and
grounded the boat in shallow water; but by that time the flames had
closed around him, and in escaping through them he was fatally burned.
He had been urged to fly sooner, but had replied as became a pilot to

'I will not go.  If I go, nobody will be saved; if I stay, no one will
be lost but me.  I will stay.'

There were two hundred persons on board, and no life was lost but the
pilot's. There used to be a monument to this young fellow, in that
Memphis graveyard. While we tarried in Memphis on our down trip, I
started out to look for it, but our time was so brief that I was obliged
to turn back before my object was accomplished.

The tug-boat gossip informed me that Dick Kennet was dead--blown up,
near Memphis, and killed; that several others whom I had known had
fallen in the war--one or two of them shot down at the wheel; that
another and very particular friend, whom I had steered many trips for,
had stepped out of his house in New Orleans, one night years ago, to
collect some money in a remote part of the city, and had never been seen
again--was murdered and thrown into the river, it was thought; that Ben
Thornburgh was dead long ago; also his wild 'cub' whom I used to quarrel
with, all through every daylight watch.  A heedless, reckless creature
he was, and always in hot water, always in mischief. An Arkansas
passenger brought an enormous bear aboard, one day, and chained him to a
life-boat on the hurricane deck. Thornburgh's 'cub' could not rest till
he had gone there and unchained the bear, to 'see what he would do.'  He
was promptly gratified. The bear chased him around and around the deck,
for miles and miles, with two hundred eager faces grinning through the
railings for audience, and finally snatched off the lad's coat-tail and
went into the texas to chew it.  The off-watch turned out with alacrity,
and left the bear in sole possession. He presently grew lonesome, and
started out for recreation. He ranged the whole boat--visited every part
of it, with an advance guard of fleeing people in front of him and a
voiceless vacancy behind him; and when his owner captured him at last,
those two were the only visible beings anywhere; everybody else was in
hiding, and the boat was a solitude.

I was told that one of my pilot friends fell dead at the wheel, from
heart disease, in 1869.  The captain was on the roof at the time. He saw
the boat breaking for the shore; shouted, and got no answer; ran up, and
found the pilot lying dead on the floor.

Mr. Bixby had been blown up, in Madrid bend; was not injured, but the
other pilot was lost.

George Ritchie had been blown up near Memphis--blown into the river from
the wheel, and disabled.  The water was very cold; he clung to a cotton
bale--mainly with his teeth--and floated until nearly exhausted, when he
was rescued by some deck hands who were on a piece of the wreck. They
tore open the bale and packed him in the cotton, and warmed the life
back into him, and got him safe to Memphis. He is one of Bixby's pilots
on the 'Baton Rouge' now.

Into the life of a steamboat clerk, now dead, had dropped a bit of
romance--somewhat grotesque romance, but romance nevertheless. When I
knew him he was a shiftless young spendthrift, boisterous, goodhearted,
full of careless generosities, and pretty conspicuously promising to
fool his possibilities away early, and come to nothing. In a Western
city lived a rich and childless old foreigner and his wife; and in their
family was a comely young girl--sort of friend, sort of servant. The
young clerk of whom I have been speaking--whose name was not George
Johnson, but who shall be called George Johnson for the purposes of this
narrative--got acquainted with this young girl, and they sinned; and the
old foreigner found them out, and rebuked them.  Being ashamed, they
lied, and said they were married; that they had been privately married.
Then the old foreigner's hurt was healed, and he forgave and blessed
them. After that, they were able to continue their sin without
concealment. By-and-bye the foreigner's wife died; and presently he
followed after her. Friends of the family assembled to mourn; and among
the mourners sat the two young sinners.  The will was opened and
solemnly read. It bequeathed every penny of that old man's great wealth

And there was no such person.  The young sinners fled forth then, and
did a very foolish thing:  married themselves before an obscure Justice
of the Peace, and got him to antedate the thing. That did no sort of
good.  The distant relatives flocked in and exposed the fraudful date
with extreme suddenness and surprising ease, and carried off the
fortune, leaving the Johnsons very legitimately, and legally, and
irrevocably chained together in honorable marriage, but with not so much
as a penny to bless themselves withal. Such are the actual facts; and
not all novels have for a base so telling a situation.

Chapter 50 The 'Original Jacobs'

WE had some talk about Captain Isaiah Sellers, now many years dead. He
was a fine man, a high-minded man, and greatly respected both ashore and
on the river.  He was very tall, well built, and handsome; and in his
old age--as I remember him--his hair was as black as an Indian's, and
his eye and hand were as strong and steady and his nerve and judgment as
firm and clear as anybody's, young or old, among the fraternity of
pilots. He was the patriarch of the craft; he had been a keelboat pilot
before the day of steamboats; and a steamboat pilot before any other
steamboat pilot, still surviving at the time I speak of, had ever turned
a wheel. Consequently his brethren held him in the sort of awe in which
illustrious survivors of a bygone age are always held by their
associates. He knew how he was regarded, and perhaps this fact added
some trifle of stiffening to his natural dignity, which had been
sufficiently stiff in its original state.

He left a diary behind him; but apparently it did not date back to his
first steamboat trip, which was said to be 1811, the year the first
steamboat disturbed the waters of the Mississippi. At the time of his
death a correspondent of the 'St. Louis Republican' culled the following
items from the diary--

'In February, 1825, he shipped on board the steamer "Rambler," at
Florence, Ala., and made during that year three trips to New Orleans and
back--this on the "Gen. Carrol," between Nashville and New Orleans.  It
was during his stay on this boat that Captain Sellers introduced the tap
of the bell as a signal to heave the lead, previous to which time it was
the custom for the pilot to speak to the men below when soundings were
wanted. The proximity of the forecastle to the pilot-house, no doubt,
rendered this an easy matter; but how different on one of our palaces of
the present day.

'In 1827 we find him on board the "President," a boat of two hundred and
eighty-five tons burden, and plying between Smithland and New Orleans.
Thence he joined the "Jubilee" in 1828, and on this boat he did his
first piloting in the St. Louis trade; his first watch extending from
Herculaneum to St. Genevieve. On May 26, 1836, he completed and left
Pittsburgh in charge of the steamer "Prairie," a boat of four hundred
tons, and the first steamer with a STATE-ROOM CABIN ever seen at St.
Louis. In 1857 he introduced the signal for meeting boats, and which
has, with some slight change, been the universal custom of this day; in
fact, is rendered obligatory by act of Congress.

'As general items of river history, we quote the following marginal
notes from his general log--

'In March, 1825, Gen. Lafayette left New Orleans for St. Louis on the
low-pressure steamer "Natchez."

'In January, 1828, twenty-one steamers left the New Orleans wharf to
celebrate the occasion of Gen. Jackson's visit to that city.

'In 1830 the "North American" made the run from New Orleans to Memphis
in six days--best time on record to that date. It has since been made in
two days and ten hours.

'In 1831 the Red River cut-off formed.

'In 1832 steamer "Hudson" made the run from White River to Helena, a
distance of seventy-five miles, in twelve hours. This was the source of
much talk and speculation among parties directly interested.

'In 1839 Great Horseshoe cut-off formed.

'Up to the present time, a term of thirty-five years, we ascertain, by
reference to the diary, he has made four hundred and sixty round trips
to New Orleans, which gives a distance of one million one hundred and
four thousand miles, or an average of eighty-six miles a day.'

Whenever Captain Sellers approached a body of gossiping pilots, a chill
fell there, and talking ceased.  For this reason: whenever six pilots
were gathered together, there would always be one or two newly fledged
ones in the lot, and the elder ones would be always 'showing off' before
these poor fellows; making them sorrowfully feel how callow they were,
how recent their nobility, and how humble their degree, by talking
largely and vaporously of old-time experiences on the river; always
making it a point to date everything back as far as they could, so as to
make the new men feel their newness to the sharpest degree possible, and
envy the old stagers in the like degree. And how these complacent
baldheads WOULD swell, and brag, and lie, and date back--ten, fifteen,
twenty years,--and how they did enjoy the effect produced upon the
marveling and envying youngsters!

And perhaps just at this happy stage of the proceedings, the stately
figure of Captain Isaiah Sellers, that real and only genuine Son of
Antiquity, would drift solemnly into the midst. Imagine the size of the
silence that would result on the instant. And imagine the feelings of
those bald-heads, and the exultation of their recent audience when the
ancient captain would begin to drop casual and indifferent remarks of a
reminiscent nature--about islands that had disappeared, and cutoffs that
had been made, a generation before the oldest bald-head in the company
had ever set his foot in a pilot-house!

Many and many a time did this ancient mariner appear on the scene in the
above fashion, and spread disaster and humiliation around him. If one
might believe the pilots, he always dated his islands back to the misty
dawn of river history; and he never used the same island twice; and
never did he employ an island that still existed, or give one a name
which anybody present was old enough to have heard of before. If you
might believe the pilots, he was always conscientiously particular about
little details; never spoke of 'the State of Mississippi,' for instance
--no, he would say, 'When the State of Mississippi was where Arkansas now
is,' and would never speak of Louisiana or Missouri in a general way,
and leave an incorrect impression on your mind--no, he would say, 'When
Louisiana was up the river farther,' or 'When Missouri was on the
Illinois side.'

The old gentleman was not of literary turn or capacity, but he used to
jot down brief paragraphs of plain practical information about the
river, and sign them 'MARK TWAIN,' and give them to the 'New Orleans
Picayune.' They related to the stage and condition of the river, and
were accurate and valuable; and thus far, they contained no poison. But
in speaking of the stage of the river to-day, at a given point, the
captain was pretty apt to drop in a little remark about this being the
first time he had seen the water so high or so low at that particular
point for forty-nine years; and now and then he would mention Island So-
and-so, and follow it, in parentheses, with some such observation as
'disappeared in 1807, if I remember rightly.' In these antique
interjections lay poison and bitterness for the other old pilots, and
they used to chaff the 'Mark Twain' paragraphs with unsparing mockery.

It so chanced that one of these paragraphs--{footnote [The original MS.
of it, in the captain's own hand, has been sent to me from New Orleans.
It reads as follows--

VICKSBURG May 4, 1859.

'My opinion for the benefit of the citizens of New Orleans: The water is
higher this far up than it has been since 8. My opinion is that the
water will be feet deep in Canal street before the first of next June.
Mrs. Turner's plantation at the head of Big Black Island is all under
water, and it has not been since 1815.

'I. Sellers.']}

became the text for my first newspaper article.  I burlesqued it
broadly, very broadly, stringing my fantastics out to the extent of
eight hundred or a thousand words.  I was a 'cub' at the time. I showed
my performance to some pilots, and they eagerly rushed it into print in
the 'New Orleans True Delta.'  It was a great pity; for it did nobody
any worthy service, and it sent a pang deep into a good man's heart.
There was no malice in my rubbish; but it laughed at the captain. It
laughed at a man to whom such a thing was new and strange and dreadful.
I did not know then, though I do now, that there is no suffering
comparable with that which a private person feels when he is for the
first time pilloried in print.

Captain Sellers did me the honor to profoundly detest me from that day
forth. When I say he did me the honor, I am not using empty words. It
was a very real honor to be in the thoughts of so great a man as Captain
Sellers, and I had wit enough to appreciate it and be proud of it. It
was distinction to be loved by such a man; but it was a much greater
distinction to be hated by him, because he loved scores of people; but
he didn't sit up nights to hate anybody but me.

He never printed another paragraph while he lived, and he never again
signed 'Mark Twain' to anything.  At the time that the telegraph brought
the news of his death, I was on the Pacific coast. I was a fresh new
journalist, and needed a nom de guerre; so I confiscated the ancient
mariner's discarded one, and have done my best to make it remain what it
was in his hands--a sign and symbol and warrant that whatever is found
in its company may be gambled on as being the petrified truth; how I
have succeeded, it would not be modest in me to say.

The captain had an honorable pride in his profession and an abiding love
for it.  He ordered his monument before he died, and kept it near him
until he did die. It stands over his grave now, in Bellefontaine
cemetery, St. Louis. It is his image, in marble, standing on duty at the
pilot wheel; and worthy to stand and confront criticism, for it
represents a man who in life would have stayed there till he burned to a
cinder, if duty required it.

The finest thing we saw on our whole Mississippi trip, we saw as we
approached New Orleans in the steam-tug. This was the curving frontage
of the crescent city lit up with the white glare of five miles of
electric lights. It was a wonderful sight, and very beautiful.


                    LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI

                        BY MARK TWAIN

                           Part 11.

Chapter 51 Reminiscences

WE left for St. Louis in the 'City of Baton Rouge,' on a delightfully
hot day, but with the main purpose of my visit but lamely accomplished.
I had hoped to hunt up and talk with a hundred steamboatmen, but got so
pleasantly involved in the social life of the town that I got nothing
more than mere five-minute talks with a couple of dozen of the craft.

I was on the bench of the pilot-house when we backed out and
'straightened up' for the start--the boat pausing for a 'good ready,' in
the old-fashioned way, and the black smoke piling out of the chimneys
equally in the old-fashioned way.  Then we began to gather momentum, and
presently were fairly under way and booming along. It was all as natural
and familiar--and so were the shoreward sights--as if there had been no
break in my river life.  There was a 'cub,' and I judged that he would
take the wheel now; and he did. Captain Bixby stepped into the pilot-
house. Presently the cub closed up on the rank of steamships.  He made
me nervous, for he allowed too much water to show between our boat and
the ships. I knew quite well what was going to happen, because I could
date back in my own life and inspect the record.  The captain looked on,
during a silent half-minute, then took the wheel himself, and crowded
the boat in, till she went scraping along within a hand-breadth of the
ships.  It was exactly the favor which he had done me, about a quarter
of a century before, in that same spot, the first time I ever steamed
out of the port of New Orleans. It was a very great and sincere pleasure
to me to see the thing repeated--with somebody else as victim.

We made Natchez (three hundred miles) in twenty-two hours and a half--
much the swiftest passage I have ever made over that piece of water.

The next morning I came on with the four o'clock watch, and saw Ritchie
successfully run half a dozen crossings in a fog, using for his guidance
the marked chart devised and patented by Bixby and himself. This
sufficiently evidenced the great value of the chart.

By and by, when the fog began to clear off, I noticed that the
reflection of a tree in the smooth water of an overflowed bank, six
hundred yards away, was stronger and blacker than the ghostly tree
itself. The faint spectral trees, dimly glimpsed through the shredding
fog, were very pretty things to see.

We had a heavy thunder-storm at Natchez, another at Vicksburg, and still
another about fifty miles below Memphis.  They had an old-fashioned
energy which had long been unfamiliar to me. This third storm was
accompanied by a raging wind.  We tied up to the bank when we saw the
tempest coming, and everybody left the pilot-house but me. The wind bent
the young trees down, exposing the pale underside of the leaves; and
gust after gust followed, in quick succession, thrashing the branches
violently up and down, and to this side and that, and creating swift
waves of alternating green and white according to the side of the leaf
that was exposed, and these waves raced after each other as do their
kind over a wind-tossed field of oats. No color that was visible
anywhere was quite natural--all tints were charged with a leaden tinge
from the solid cloud-bank overhead. The river was leaden; all distances
the same; and even the far-reaching ranks of combing white-caps were
dully shaded by the dark, rich atmosphere through which their swarming
legions marched. The thunder-peals were constant and deafening;
explosion followed explosion with but inconsequential intervals between,
and the reports grew steadily sharper and higher-keyed, and more trying
to the ear; the lightning was as diligent as the thunder, and produced
effects which enchanted the eye and sent electric ecstasies of mixed
delight and apprehension shivering along every nerve in the body in
unintermittent procession. The rain poured down in amazing volume; the
ear-splitting thunder-peals broke nearer and nearer; the wind increased
in fury and began to wrench off boughs and tree-tops and send them
sailing away through space; the pilot-house fell to rocking and
straining and cracking and surging, and I went down in the hold to see
what time it was.

People boast a good deal about Alpine thunderstorms; but the storms
which I have had the luck to see in the Alps were not the equals of some
which I have seen in the Mississippi Valley. I may not have seen the
Alps do their best, of course, and if they can beat the Mississippi, I
don't wish to.

On this up trip I saw a little towhead (infant island) half a mile long,
which had been formed during the past nineteen years. Since there was so
much time to spare that nineteen years of it could be devoted to the
construction of a mere towhead, where was the use, originally, in
rushing this whole globe through in six days?  It is likely that if more
time had been taken, in the first place, the world would have been made
right, and this ceaseless improving and repairing would not be necessary
now. But if you hurry a world or a house, you are nearly sure to find
out by and by that you have left out a towhead, or a broom-closet, or
some other little convenience, here and there, which has got to be
supplied, no matter how much expense and vexation it may cost.

We had a succession of black nights, going up the river, and it was
observable that whenever we landed, and suddenly inundated the trees
with the intense sunburst of the electric light, a certain curious
effect was always produced: hundreds of birds flocked instantly out from
the masses of shining green foliage, and went careering hither and
thither through the white rays, and often a song-bird tuned up and fell
to singing.  We judged that they mistook this superb artificial day for
the genuine article. We had a delightful trip in that thoroughly well-
ordered steamer, and regretted that it was accomplished so speedily.  By
means of diligence and activity, we managed to hunt out nearly all the
old friends. One was missing, however; he went to his reward, whatever
it was, two years ago.  But I found out all about him.  His case helped
me to realize how lasting can be the effect of a very trifling
occurrence. When he was an apprentice-blacksmith in our village, and I a
schoolboy, a couple of young Englishmen came to the town and sojourned a
while; and one day they got themselves up in cheap royal finery and did
the Richard III swordfight with maniac energy and prodigious powwow, in
the presence of the village boys.  This blacksmith cub was there, and
the histrionic poison entered his bones.  This vast, lumbering,
ignorant, dull-witted lout was stage-struck, and irrecoverably.  He
disappeared, and presently turned up in St. Louis.  I ran across him
there, by and by. He was standing musing on a street corner, with his
left hand on his hip, the thumb of his right supporting his chin, face
bowed and frowning, slouch hat pulled down over his forehead--imagining
himself to be Othello or some such character, and imagining that the
passing crowd marked his tragic bearing and were awestruck.

I joined him, and tried to get him down out of the clouds, but did not
succeed.  However, he casually informed me, presently, that he was a
member of the Walnut Street theater company--and he tried to say it with
indifference, but the indifference was thin, and a mighty exultation
showed through it. He said he was cast for a part in Julius Caesar, for
that night, and if I should come I would see him.  IF I should come! I
said I wouldn't miss it if I were dead.

I went away stupefied with astonishment, and saying to myself, 'How
strange it is!  WE always thought this fellow a fool; yet the moment he
comes to a great city, where intelligence and appreciation abound, the
talent concealed in this shabby napkin is at once discovered, and
promptly welcomed and honored.'

But I came away from the theater that night disappointed and offended;
for I had had no glimpse of my hero, and his name was not in the bills.
I met him on the street the next morning, and before I could speak, he

'Did you see me?'

'No, you weren't there.'

He looked surprised and disappointed.  He said--

'Yes, I was.  Indeed I was.  I was a Roman soldier.'

'Which one?'

'Why didn't you see them Roman soldiers that stood back there in a rank,
and sometimes marched in procession around the stage?'

'Do you mean the Roman army?--those six sandaled roustabouts in
nightshirts, with tin shields and helmets, that marched around treading
on each other's heels, in charge of a spider-legged consumptive dressed
like themselves?'

'That's it! that's it!  I was one of them Roman soldiers. I was the next
to the last one.  A half a year ago I used to always be the last one;
but I've been promoted.'

Well, they told me that that poor fellow remained a Roman soldier to the
last--a matter of thirty-four years.  Sometimes they cast him for a
'speaking part,' but not an elaborate one.  He could be trusted to go
and say, 'My lord, the carriage waits,' but if they ventured to add a
sentence or two to this, his memory felt the strain and he was likely to
miss fire.  Yet, poor devil, he had been patiently studying the part of
Hamlet for more than thirty years, and he lived and died in the belief
that some day he would be invited to play it!

And this is what came of that fleeting visit of those young Englishmen
to our village such ages and ages ago!  What noble horseshoes this man
might have made, but for those Englishmen; and what an inadequate Roman
soldier he DID make!

A day or two after we reached St. Louis, I was walking along Fourth
Street when a grizzly-headed man gave a sort of start as he passed me,
then stopped, came back, inspected me narrowly, with a clouding brow,
and finally said with deep asperity--


A maniac, I judged, at first.  But all in a flash I recognized him. I
made an effort to blush that strained every muscle in me, and answered
as sweetly and winningly as ever I knew how--

'Been a little slow, but am just this minute closing in on the place
where they keep it.  Come in and help.'

He softened, and said make it a bottle of champagne and he was
agreeable. He said he had seen my name in the papers, and had put all
his affairs aside and turned out, resolved to find me or die; and make
me answer that question satisfactorily, or kill me; though the most of
his late asperity had been rather counterfeit than otherwise.

This meeting brought back to me the St. Louis riots of about thirty
years ago.  I spent a week there, at that time, in a boarding-house, and
had this young fellow for a neighbor across the hall.  We saw some of
the fightings and killings; and by and by we went one night to an armory
where two hundred young men had met, upon call, to be armed and go forth
against the rioters, under command of a military man. We drilled till
about ten o'clock at night; then news came that the mob were in great
force in the lower end of the town, and were sweeping everything before
them.  Our column moved at once. It was a very hot night, and my musket
was very heavy. We marched and marched; and the nearer we approached the
seat of war, the hotter I grew and the thirstier I got.  I was behind my
friend; so, finally, I asked him to hold my musket while I dropped out
and got a drink.  Then I branched off and went home. I was not feeling
any solicitude about him of course, because I knew he was so well armed,
now, that he could take care of himself without any trouble.  If I had
had any doubts about that, I would have borrowed another musket for him.
I left the city pretty early the next morning, and if this grizzled man
had not happened to encounter my name in the papers the other day in St.
Louis, and felt moved to seek me out, I should have carried to my grave
a heart-torturing uncertainty as to whether he ever got out of the riots
all right or not. I ought to have inquired, thirty years ago; I know
that. And I would have inquired, if I had had the muskets; but, in the
circumstances, he seemed better fixed to conduct the investigations than
I was.

One Monday, near the time of our visit to St. Louis, the 'Globe-
Democrat' came out with a couple of pages of Sunday statistics, whereby
it appeared that 119,448 St. Louis people attended the morning and
evening church services the day before, and 23,102 children attended
Sunday-school. Thus 142,550 persons, out of the city's total of 400,000
population, respected the day religious-wise. I found these statistics,
in a condensed form, in a telegram of the Associated Press, and
preserved them. They made it apparent that St. Louis was in a higher
state of grace than she could have claimed to be in my time. But now
that I canvass the figures narrowly, I suspect that the telegraph
mutilated them.  It cannot be that there are more than 150,000 Catholics
in the town; the other 250,000 must be classified as Protestants.  Out
of these 250,000, according to this questionable telegram, only 26,362
attended church and Sunday-school, while out of the 150,000 Catholics,
116,188 went to church and Sunday-school.

Chapter 52 A Burning Brand

ALL at once the thought came into my mind, 'I have not sought out Mr.

Upon that text I desire to depart from the direct line of my subject,
and make a little excursion.  I wish to reveal a secret which I have
carried with me nine years, and which has become burdensome.

Upon a certain occasion, nine years ago, I had said, with strong
feeling, 'If ever I see St. Louis again, I will seek out Mr. Brown, the
great grain merchant, and ask of him the privilege of shaking him by the

The occasion and the circumstances were as follows. A friend of mine, a
clergyman, came one evening and said--

'I have a most remarkable letter here, which I want to read to you,
if I can do it without breaking down.  I must preface it with some
explanations, however.  The letter is written by an ex-thief and
ex-vagabond of the lowest origin and basest rearing, a man all stained with
crime and steeped in ignorance; but, thank God, with a mine of pure gold
hidden away in him, as you shall see. His letter is written to a burglar
named Williams, who is serving a nine-year term in a certain State
prison, for burglary. Williams was a particularly daring burglar, and
plied that trade during a number of years; but he was caught at last and
jailed, to await trial in a town where he had broken into a house at
night, pistol in hand, and forced the owner to hand over to him $8,000
in government bonds. Williams was not a common sort of person, by any
means; he was a graduate of Harvard College, and came of good New
England stock. His father was a clergyman.  While lying in jail, his
health began to fail, and he was threatened with consumption. This fact,
together with the opportunity for reflection afforded by solitary
confinement, had its effect--its natural effect. He fell into serious
thought; his early training asserted itself with power, and wrought with
strong influence upon his mind and heart. He put his old life behind
him, and became an earnest Christian. Some ladies in the town heard of
this, visited him, and by their encouraging words supported him in his
good resolutions and strengthened him to continue in his new life. The
trial ended in his conviction and sentence to the State prison for the
term of nine years, as I have before said. In the prison he became
acquainted with the poor wretch referred to in the beginning of my talk,
Jack Hunt, the writer of the letter which I am going to read. You will
see that the acquaintanceship bore fruit for Hunt. When Hunt's time was
out, he wandered to St. Louis; and from that place he wrote his letter
to Williams. The letter got no further than the office of the prison
warden, of course; prisoners are not often allowed to receive letters
from outside.  The prison authorities read this letter, but did not
destroy it.  They had not the heart to do it. They read it to several
persons, and eventually it fell into the hands of those ladies of whom I
spoke a while ago. The other day I came across an old friend of mine--a
clergyman--who had seen this letter, and was full of it. The mere
remembrance of it so moved him that he could not talk of it without his
voice breaking.  He promised to get a copy of it for me; and here it is
--an exact copy, with all the imperfections of the original preserved. It
has many slang expressions in it--thieves' argot--but their meaning has
been interlined, in parentheses, by the prison authorities'--

St. Louis, June 9th 1872.

Mr. W---- friend Charlie if i may call you so:  i no you are surprised
to get a letter from me, but i hope you won't be mad at my writing to
you. i want to tell you my thanks for the way you talked to me when i
was in prison--it has led me to try and be a better man; i guess you
thought i did not cair for what you said, & at the first go off I
didn't, but i noed you was a man who had don big work with good men &
want no sucker, nor want gasing & all the boys knod it.

I used to think at nite what you said, & for it i nocked off swearing
months before my time was up, for i saw it want no good, nohow--the day
my time was up you told me if i would shake the cross (QUIT STEALING) &
live on the square for months, it would be the best job i ever done in
my life. The state agent give me a ticket to here, & on the car i
thought more of what you said to me, but didn't make up my mind.  When
we got to Chicago on the cars from there to here, I pulled off an old
woman's leather; (ROBBED HER OF HER POCKETBOOK) i hadn't no more than
got it off when i wished i hadn't done it, for awhile before that i made
up my mind to be a square bloke, for months on your word, but forgot it
when i saw the leather was a grip (EASY TO GET)--but i kept clos to her
& when she got out of the cars at a way place i said, marm have you lost
anything. & she tumbled (DISCOVERED) her leather was off (GONE)--is this
it says i, giving it to her--well if you aint honest, says she, but i
hadn't got cheak enough to stand that sort of talk, so i left her in a
hurry. When i got here i had $1 and 25 cents left & i didn't get no work
for 3 days as i aint strong enough for roust about on a steam bote (FOR
A DECK HAND)--The afternoon of the 3rd day I spent my last 10 cts for
moons (LARGE, ROUND SEA-BISCUIT) & cheese & i felt pretty rough & was
thinking i would have to go on the dipe (PICKING POCKETS) again, when i
thought of what you once said about a fellows calling on the Lord when
he was in hard luck, & i thought i would try it once anyhow, but when i
tryed it i got stuck on the start, & all i could get off wos, Lord give
a poor fellow a chance to square it for 3 months for Christ's sake,
amen; & i kept a thinking, of it over and over as i went along--about an
hour after that i was in 4th St. & this is what happened & is the cause
of my being where i am now & about which i will tell you before i get
done writing. As i was walking along herd a big noise & saw a horse
running away with a carriage with 2 children in it, & I grabed up a
peace of box cover from the side walk & run in the middle of the street,
& when the horse came up i smashed him over the head as hard as i could
drive--the bord split to peces & the horse checked up a little & I
grabbed the reigns & pulled his head down until he stopped--the
gentleman what owned him came running up & soon as he saw the children
were all rite, he shook hands with me and gave me a $50 green back, & my
asking the Lord to help me come into my head, & i was so thunderstruck i
couldn't drop the reigns nor say nothing--he saw something was up, &
coming back to me said, my boy are you hurt? & the thought come into my
head just then to ask him for work; & i asked him to take back the bill
and give me a job--says he, jump in here & lets talk about it, but keep
the money--he asked me if i could take care of horses & i said yes, for
i used to hang round livery stables & often would help clean & drive
horses, he told me he wanted a man for that work, & would give me $16 a
month & bord me.  You bet i took that chance at once. that nite in my
little room over the stable i sat a long time thinking over my past life
& of what had just happened & i just got down on my nees & thanked the
Lord for the job & to help me to square it, & to bless you for putting
me up to it, & the next morning i done it again & got me some new togs
(CLOTHES) & a bible for i made up my mind after what the Lord had done
for me i would read the bible every nite and morning, & ask him to keep
an eye on me.  When I had been there about a week Mr. Brown (that's his
name) came in my room one nite and saw me reading the bible--he asked me
if i was a Christian & i told him no--he asked me how it was i read the
bible instead of papers & books--Well Charlie i thought i had better
give him a square deal in the start, so i told him all about my being in
prison & about you, & how i had almost done give up looking for work &
how the Lord got me the job when I asked him; & the only way i had to
pay him back was to read the bible & square it, & i asked him to give me
a chance for 3 months--he talked to me like a father for a long time, &
told me i could stay & then i felt better than ever i had done in my
life, for i had given Mr. Brown a fair start with me & now i didn't fear
no one giving me a back cap (EXPOSING HIS PAST LIFE) & running me off
the job--the next morning he called me into the library & gave me
another square talk, & advised me to study some every day, & he would
help me one or 2 hours every nite, & he gave me a Arithmetic, a spelling
book, a Geography & a writing book, & he hers me every nite--he lets me
come into the house to prayers every morning, & got me put in a bible
class in the Sunday School which i likes very much for it helps me to
understand my bible better.

Now, Charlie the 3 months on the square are up 2 months ago, & as you
said, it is the best job i ever did in my life, & i commenced another of
the same sort right away, only it is to God helping me to last a
lifetime Charlie--i wrote this letter to tell you I do think God has
forgiven my sins & herd your prayers, for you told me you should pray
for me--i no i love to read his word & tell him all my troubles & he
helps me i know for i have plenty of chances to steal but i don't feel
to as i once did & now i take more pleasure in going to church than to
the theater & that wasnt so once--our minister and others often talk
with me & a month ago they wanted me to join the church, but I said no,
not now, i may be mistaken in my feelings, i will wait awhile, but now i
feel that God has called me & on the first Sunday in July i will join
the church--dear friend i wish i could write to you as i feel, but i
cant do it yet--you no i learned to read and write while prisons & i
aint got well enough along to write as i would talk; i no i aint spelled
all the words rite in this & lots of other mistakes but you will excuse
it i no, for you no i was brought up in a poor house until i run away, &
that i never new who my father and mother was & i dont no my right name,
& i hope you wont be mad at me, but i have as much rite to one name as
another & i have taken your name, for you wont use it when you get out i
no, & you are the man i think most of in the world; so i hope you wont
be mad--I am doing well, i put $10 a month in bank with $25 of the $50--
if you ever want any or all of it let me know, & it is yours. i wish you
would let me send you some now.  I send you with this a receipt for a
year of Littles Living Age, i didn't know what you would like & i told
Mr. Brown & he said he thought you would like it--i wish i was nere you
so i could send you chuck (REFRESHMENTS) on holidays; it would spoil
this weather from here, but i will send you a box next thanksgiving any
way--next week Mr. Brown takes me into his store as lite porter & will
advance me as soon as i know a little more--he keeps a big granary
store, wholesale--i forgot to tell you of my mission school, sunday
school class--the school is in the sunday afternoon, i went out two
sunday afternoons, and picked up seven kids (LITTLE BOYS) & got them to
come in. two of them new as much as i did & i had them put in a class
where they could learn something.  i dont no much myself, but as these
kids cant read i get on nicely with them. i make sure of them by going
after them every Sunday hour before school time, I also got 4 girls to
come. tell Mack and Harry about me, if they will come out here when
their time is up i will get them jobs at once. i hope you will excuse
this long letter & all mistakes, i wish i could see you for i cant write
as i would talk--i hope the warm weather is doing your lungs good--i was
afraid when you was bleeding you would die--give my respects to all the
boys and tell them how i am doing--i am doing well and every one here
treats me as kind as they can--Mr. Brown is going to write to you
sometime--i hope some day you will write to me, this letter is from your
very true friend

C---- W----

who you know as Jack Hunt.

I send you Mr. Brown's card.  Send my letter to him.

Here was true eloquence; irresistible eloquence; and without a single
grace or ornament to help it out. I have seldom been so deeply stirred
by any piece of writing. The reader of it halted, all the way through,
on a lame and broken voice; yet he had tried to fortify his feelings by
several private readings of the letter before venturing into company
with it. He was practising upon me to see if there was any hope of his
being able to read the document to his prayer-meeting with anything like
a decent command over his feelings.  The result was not promising.
However, he determined to risk it; and did. He got through tolerably
well; but his audience broke down early, and stayed in that condition to
the end.

The fame of the letter spread through the town.  A brother minister came
and borrowed the manuscript, put it bodily into a sermon, preached the
sermon to twelve hundred people on a Sunday morning, and the letter
drowned them in their own tears. Then my friend put it into a sermon and
went before his Sunday morning congregation with it.  It scored another
triumph. The house wept as one individual.

My friend went on summer vacation up into the fishing regions of our
northern British neighbors, and carried this sermon with him, since he
might possibly chance to need a sermon. He was asked to preach, one day.
The little church was full. Among the people present were the late Dr.
J. G. Holland, the late Mr. Seymour of the 'New York Times,' Mr. Page,
the philanthropist and temperance advocate, and, I think, Senator Frye,
of Maine.  The marvelous letter did its wonted work; all the people were
moved, all the people wept; the tears flowed in a steady stream down Dr.
Holland's cheeks, and nearly the same can be said with regard to all who
were there. Mr. Page was so full of enthusiasm over the letter that he
said he would not rest until he made pilgrimage to that prison, and had
speech with the man who had been able to inspire a fellow-unfortunate to
write so priceless a tract.

Ah, that unlucky Page!--and another man.  If they had only been in
Jericho, that letter would have rung through the world and stirred all
the hearts of all the nations for a thousand years to come, and nobody
might ever have found out that it was the confoundedest, brazenest,
ingeniousest piece of fraud and humbuggery that was ever concocted to
fool poor confiding mortals with!

The letter was a pure swindle, and that is the truth. And take it by and
large, it was without a compeer among swindles. It was perfect, it was
rounded, symmetrical, complete, colossal!

The reader learns it at this point; but we didn't learn it till some
miles and weeks beyond this stage of the affair. My friend came back
from the woods, and he and other clergymen and lay missionaries began
once more to inundate audiences with their tears and the tears of said
audiences; I begged hard for permission to print the letter in a
magazine and tell the watery story of its triumphs; numbers of people
got copies of the letter, with permission to circulate them in writing,
but not in print; copies were sent to the Sandwich Islands and other far

Charles Dudley Warner was at church, one day, when the worn letter was
read and wept over.  At the church door, afterward, he dropped a
peculiarly cold iceberg down the clergyman's back with the question--

'Do you know that letter to be genuine?'

It was the first suspicion that had ever been voiced; but it had that
sickening effect which first-uttered suspicions against one's idol
always have.  Some talk followed--

'Why--what should make you suspect that it isn't genuine?'

'Nothing that I know of, except that it is too neat, and compact, and
fluent, and nicely put together for an ignorant person, an unpractised
hand. I think it was done by an educated man.'

The literary artist had detected the literary machinery. If you will
look at the letter now, you will detect it yourself--it is observable in
every line.

Straightway the clergyman went off, with this seed of suspicion
sprouting in him, and wrote to a minister residing in that town where
Williams had been jailed and converted; asked for light; and also asked
if a person in the literary line (meaning me) might be allowed to print
the letter and tell its history. He presently received this answer--

Rev. ---- ----

MY DEAR FRIEND,--In regard to that 'convict's letter' there can be no
doubt as to its genuineness.  'Williams,' to whom it was written, lay in
our jail and professed to have been converted, and Rev. Mr. ----, the
chaplain, had great faith in the genuineness of the change--as much as
one can have in any such case.

The letter was sent to one of our ladies, who is a Sunday-school
teacher,--sent either by Williams himself, or the chaplain of the
State's prison, probably.  She has been greatly annoyed in having so
much publicity, lest it might seem a breach of confidence, or be an
injury to Williams. In regard to its publication, I can give no
permission; though if the names and places were omitted, and especially
if sent out of the country, I think you might take the responsibility
and do it.

It is a wonderful letter, which no Christian genius, much less one
unsanctified, could ever have written.  As showing the work of grace in
a human heart, and in a very degraded and wicked one, it proves its own
origin and reproves our weak faith in its power to cope with any form of

'Mr. Brown' of St. Louis, some one said, was a Hartford man. Do all whom
you send from Hartford serve their Master as well?

P.S.--Williams is still in the State's prison, serving out a long
sentence--of nine years, I think.  He has been sick and threatened with
consumption, but I have not inquired after him lately. This lady that I
speak of corresponds with him, I presume, and will be quite sure to look
after him.

This letter arrived a few days after it was written--and up went Mr.
Williams's stock again.  Mr. Warner's low-down suspicion was laid in the
cold, cold grave, where it apparently belonged. It was a suspicion based
upon mere internal evidence, anyway; and when you come to internal
evidence, it's a big field and a game that two can play at:  as witness
this other internal evidence, discovered by the writer of the note above
quoted, that 'it is a wonderful letter--which no Christian genius, much
less one unsanctified, could ever have written.'

I had permission now to print--provided I suppressed names and places
and sent my narrative out of the country. So I chose an Australian
magazine for vehicle, as being far enough out of the country, and set
myself to work on my article. And the ministers set the pumps going
again, with the letter to work the handles.

But meantime Brother Page had been agitating. He had not visited the
penitentiary, but he had sent a copy of the illustrious letter to the
chaplain of that institution, and accompanied it with--apparently
inquiries.  He got an answer, dated four days later than that other
Brother's reassuring epistle; and before my article was complete, it
wandered into my hands. The original is before me, now, and I here
append it. It is pretty well loaded with internal evidence of the most
solid description--


DEAR BRO.  PAGE,--Herewith please find the letter kindly loaned me. I am
afraid its genuineness cannot be established. It purports to be
addressed to some prisoner here.  No such letter ever came to a prisoner
here.  All letters received are carefully read by officers of the prison
before they go into the hands of the convicts, and any such letter could
not be forgotten. Again, Charles Williams is not a Christian man, but a
dissolute, cunning prodigal, whose father is a minister of the gospel.
His name is an assumed one.  I am glad to have made your acquaintance. I
am preparing a lecture upon life seen through prison bars, and should
like to deliver the same in your vicinity.

And so ended that little drama.  My poor article went into the fire; for
whereas the materials for it were now more abundant and infinitely
richer than they had previously been, there were parties all around me,
who, although longing for the publication before, were a unit for
suppression at this stage and complexion of the game. They said:  'Wait
--the wound is too fresh, yet.'  All the copies of the famous letter
except mine disappeared suddenly; and from that time onward, the
aforetime same old drought set in in the churches. As a rule, the town
was on a spacious grin for a while, but there were places in it where
the grin did not appear, and where it was dangerous to refer to the
ex-convict's letter.

A word of explanation.  'Jack Hunt,' the professed writer of the letter,
was an imaginary person.  The burglar Williams--Harvard graduate, son of
a minister--wrote the letter himself, to himself:  got it smuggled out
of the prison; got it conveyed to persons who had supported and
encouraged him in his conversion--where he knew two things would happen:
the genuineness of the letter would not be doubted or inquired into; and
the nub of it would be noticed, and would have valuable effect--the
effect, indeed, of starting a movement to get Mr. Williams pardoned out
of prison.

That 'nub' is so ingeniously, so casually, flung in, and immediately
left there in the tail of the letter, undwelt upon, that an indifferent
reader would never suspect that it was the heart and core of the
epistle, if he even took note of it at all, This is the 'nub'--

'i hope the warm weather is doing your lungs good--I WAS AFRAID WHEN YOU
WAS BLEEDING YOU WOULD DIE--give my respects,' etc.

That is all there is of it--simply touch and go--no dwelling upon it.
Nevertheless it was intended for an eye that would be swift to see it;
and it was meant to move a kind heart to try to effect the liberation of
a poor reformed and purified fellow lying in the fell grip of

When I for the first time heard that letter read, nine years ago, I felt
that it was the most remarkable one I had ever encountered. And it so
warmed me toward Mr. Brown of St. Louis that I said that if ever I
visited that city again, I would seek out that excellent man and kiss
the hem of his garment if it was a new one.  Well, I visited St. Louis,
but I did not hunt for Mr. Brown; for, alas! the investigations of long
ago had proved that the benevolent Brown, like 'Jack Hunt,' was not a
real person, but a sheer invention of that gifted rascal, Williams--
burglar, Harvard graduate, son of a clergyman.

Chapter 53 My Boyhood's Home

WE took passage in one of the fast boats of the St. Louis and St. Paul
Packet Company, and started up the river.

When I, as a boy, first saw the mouth of the Missouri River, it was
twenty-two or twenty-three miles above St. Louis, according to the
estimate of pilots; the wear and tear of the banks have moved it down
eight miles since then; and the pilots say that within five years the
river will cut through and move the mouth down five miles more, which
will bring it within ten miles of St. Louis.

About nightfall we passed the large and flourishing town of Alton,
Illinois; and before daylight next morning the town of Louisiana,
Missouri, a sleepy village in my day, but a brisk railway center now;
however, all the towns out there are railway centers now.  I could not
clearly recognize the place. This seemed odd to me, for when I retired
from the rebel army in '61 I retired upon Louisiana in good order; at
least in good enough order for a person who had not yet learned how to
retreat according to the rules of war, and had to trust to native
genius. It seemed to me that for a first attempt at a retreat it was not
badly done.  I had done no advancing in all that campaign that was at
all equal to it.

There was a railway bridge across the river here well sprinkled with
glowing lights, and a very beautiful sight it was.

At seven in the morning we reached Hannibal, Missouri, where my boyhood
was spent.  I had had a glimpse of it fifteen years ago, and another
glimpse six years earlier, but both were so brief that they hardly
counted. The only notion of the town that remained in my mind was the
memory of it as I had known it when I first quitted it twenty-nine years
ago. That picture of it was still as clear and vivid to me as a
photograph. I stepped ashore with the feeling of one who returns out of
a dead-and-gone generation.  I had a sort of realizing sense of what the
Bastille prisoners must have felt when they used to come out and look
upon Paris after years of captivity, and note how curiously the familiar
and the strange were mixed together before them. I saw the new houses--
saw them plainly enough--but they did not affect the older picture in my
mind, for through their solid bricks and mortar I saw the vanished
houses, which had formerly stood there, with perfect distinctness.

It was Sunday morning, and everybody was abed yet.  So I passed through
the vacant streets, still seeing the town as it was, and not as it is,
and recognizing and metaphorically shaking hands with a hundred familiar
objects which no longer exist; and finally climbed Holiday's Hill to get
a comprehensive view. The whole town lay spread out below me then, and I
could mark and fix every locality, every detail.  Naturally, I was a
good deal moved. I said, 'Many of the people I once knew in this
tranquil refuge of my childhood are now in heaven; some, I trust, are in
the other place.' The things about me and before me made me feel like a
boy again--convinced me that I was a boy again, and that I had simply
been dreaming an unusually long dream; but my reflections spoiled all
that; for they forced me to say, 'I see fifty old houses down yonder,
into each of which I could enter and find either a man or a woman who
was a baby or unborn when I noticed those houses last, or a grandmother
who was a plump young bride at that time.'

From this vantage ground the extensive view up and down the river, and
wide over the wooded expanses of Illinois, is very beautiful--one of the
most beautiful on the Mississippi, I think; which is a hazardous remark
to make, for the eight hundred miles of river between St. Louis and St.
Paul afford an unbroken succession of lovely pictures.  It may be that
my affection for the one in question biases my judgment in its favor; I
cannot say as to that. No matter, it was satisfyingly beautiful to me,
and it had this advantage over all the other friends whom I was about to
greet again: it had suffered no change; it was as young and fresh and
comely and gracious as ever it had been; whereas, the faces of the
others would be old, and scarred with the campaigns of life, and marked
with their griefs and defeats, and would give me no upliftings of

An old gentleman, out on an early morning walk, came along, and we
discussed the weather, and then drifted into other matters.  I could not
remember his face.  He said he had been living here twenty-eight years.
So he had come after my time, and I had never seen him before. I asked
him various questions; first about a mate of mine in Sunday school--what
became of him?

'He graduated with honor in an Eastern college, wandered off into the
world somewhere, succeeded at nothing, passed out of knowledge and
memory years ago, and is supposed to have gone to the dogs.'

'He was bright, and promised well when he was a boy.'

'Yes, but the thing that happened is what became of it all.'

I asked after another lad, altogether the brightest in our village
school when I was a boy.

'He, too, was graduated with honors, from an Eastern college; but life
whipped him in every battle, straight along, and he died in one of the
Territories, years ago, a defeated man.'

I asked after another of the bright boys.

'He is a success, always has been, always will be, I think.'

I inquired after a young fellow who came to the town to study for one of
the professions when I was a boy.

'He went at something else before he got through--went from medicine to
law, or from law to medicine--then to some other new thing; went away
for a year, came back with a young wife; fell to drinking, then to
gambling behind the door; finally took his wife and two young children
to her father's, and went off to Mexico; went from bad to worse, and
finally died there, without a cent to buy a shroud, and without a friend
to attend the funeral.'

'Pity, for he was the best-natured, and most cheery and hopeful young
fellow that ever was.'

I named another boy.

'Oh, he is all right.  Lives here yet; has a wife and children, and is

Same verdict concerning other boys.

I named three school-girls.

'The first two live here, are married and have children; the other is
long ago dead--never married.'

I named, with emotion, one of my early sweethearts.

'She is all right.  Been married three times; buried two husbands,
divorced from the third, and I hear she is getting ready to marry an old
fellow out in Colorado somewhere.  She's got children scattered around
here and there, most everywheres.'

The answer to several other inquiries was brief and simple--

'Killed in the war.'

I named another boy.

'Well, now, his case is curious!  There wasn't a human being in this
town but knew that that boy was a perfect chucklehead; perfect dummy;
just a stupid ass, as you may say. Everybody knew it, and everybody said
it.  Well, if that very boy isn't the first lawyer in the State of
Missouri to-day, I'm a Democrat!'

'Is that so?'

'It's actually so.  I'm telling you the truth.'

'How do you account for it?'

'Account for it?  There ain't any accounting for it, except that if you
send a damned fool to St. Louis, and you don't tell them he's a damned
fool they'll never find it out. There's one thing sure--if I had a
damned fool I should know what to do with him:  ship him to St. Louis--
it's the noblest market in the world for that kind of property.  Well,
when you come to look at it all around, and chew at it and think it
over, don't it just bang anything you ever heard of?'

'Well, yes, it does seem to.  But don't you think maybe it was the
Hannibal people who were mistaken about the boy, and not the St. Louis

'Oh, nonsense!  The people here have known him from the very cradle--
they knew him a hundred times better than the St. Louis idiots could
have known him.  No, if you have got any damned fools that you want to
realize on, take my advice--send them to St. Louis.'

I mentioned a great number of people whom I had formerly known. Some
were dead, some were gone away, some had prospered, some had come to
naught; but as regarded a dozen or so of the lot, the answer was

'Prosperous--live here yet--town littered with their children.'

I asked about Miss ----.

Died in the insane asylum three or four years ago--never was out of it
from the time she went in; and was always suffering, too; never got a
shred of her mind back.'

If he spoke the truth, here was a heavy tragedy, indeed. Thirty-six
years in a madhouse, that some young fools might have some fun! I was a
small boy, at the time; and I saw those giddy young ladies come
tiptoeing into the room where Miss ---- sat reading at midnight by a
lamp. The girl at the head of the file wore a shroud and a doughface,
she crept behind the victim, touched her on the shoulder, and she looked
up and screamed, and then fell into convulsions. She did not recover
from the fright, but went mad.  In these days it seems incredible that
people believed in ghosts so short a time ago. But they did.

After asking after such other folk as I could call to mind, I finally
inquired about MYSELF:

'Oh, he succeeded well enough--another case of damned fool. If they'd
sent him to St. Louis, he'd have succeeded sooner.'

It was with much satisfaction that I recognized the wisdom of having
told this candid gentleman, in the beginning, that my name was Smith.

Chapter 54 Past and Present

Being left to myself, up there, I went on picking out old houses in the
distant town, and calling back their former inmates out of the moldy
past. Among them I presently recognized the house of the father of Lem
Hackett (fictitious name). It carried me back more than a generation in
a moment, and landed me in the midst of a time when the happenings of
life were not the natural and logical results of great general laws, but
of special orders, and were freighted with very precise and distinct
purposes--partly punitive in intent, partly admonitory; and usually
local in application.

When I was a small boy, Lem Hackett was drowned--on a Sunday. He fell
out of an empty flat-boat, where he was playing. Being loaded with sin,
he went to the bottom like an anvil. He was the only boy in the village
who slept that night. We others all lay awake, repenting.  We had not
needed the information, delivered from the pulpit that evening, that
Lem's was a case of special judgment--we knew that, already.  There was
a ferocious thunder-storm, that night, and it raged continuously until
near dawn. The winds blew, the windows rattled, the rain swept along the
roof in pelting sheets, and at the briefest of intervals the inky
blackness of the night vanished, the houses over the way glared out
white and blinding for a quivering instant, then the solid darkness shut
down again and a splitting peal of thunder followed, which seemed to
rend everything in the neighborhood to shreds and splinters. I sat up in
bed quaking and shuddering, waiting for the destruction of the world,
and expecting it.  To me there was nothing strange or incongruous in
heaven's making such an uproar about Lem Hackett. Apparently it was the
right and proper thing to do. Not a doubt entered my mind that all the
angels were grouped together, discussing this boy's case and observing
the awful bombardment of our beggarly little village with satisfaction
and approval. There was one thing which disturbed me in the most serious
way; that was the thought that this centering of the celestial interest
on our village could not fail to attract the attention of the observers
to people among us who might otherwise have escaped notice for years. I
felt that I was not only one of those people, but the very one most
likely to be discovered.  That discovery could have but one result: I
should be in the fire with Lem before the chill of the river had been
fairly warmed out of him.  I knew that this would be only just and fair.
I was increasing the chances against myself all the time, by feeling a
secret bitterness against Lem for having attracted this fatal attention
to me, but I could not help it--this sinful thought persisted in
infesting my breast in spite of me. Every time the lightning glared I
caught my breath, and judged I was gone. In my terror and misery, I
meanly began to suggest other boys, and mention acts of theirs which
were wickeder than mine, and peculiarly needed punishment--and I tried
to pretend to myself that I was simply doing this in a casual way, and
without intent to divert the heavenly attention to them for the purpose
of getting rid of it myself. With deep sagacity I put these mentions
into the form of sorrowing recollections and left-handed sham-
supplications that the sins of those boys might be allowed to pass
unnoticed--'Possibly they may repent.' 'It is true that Jim Smith broke
a window and lied about it--but maybe he did not mean any harm.  And
although Tom Holmes says more bad words than any other boy in the
village, he probably intends to repent--though he has never said he
would. And whilst it is a fact that John Jones did fish a little on
Sunday, once, he didn't really catch anything but only just one small
useless mud-cat; and maybe that wouldn't have been so awful if he had
thrown it back--as he says he did, but he didn't. Pity but they would
repent of these dreadful things--and maybe they will yet.'

But while I was shamefully trying to draw attention to these poor chaps
--who were doubtless directing the celestial attention to me at the same
moment, though I never once suspected that--I had heedlessly left my
candle burning. It was not a time to neglect even trifling precautions.
There was no occasion to add anything to the facilities for attracting
notice to me--so I put the light out.

It was a long night to me, and perhaps the most distressful one I ever
spent. I endured agonies of remorse for sins which I knew I had
committed, and for others which I was not certain about, yet was sure
that they had been set down against me in a book by an angel who was
wiser than I and did not trust such important matters to memory.  It
struck me, by and by, that I had been making a most foolish and
calamitous mistake, in one respect: doubtless I had not only made my own
destruction sure by directing attention to those other boys, but had
already accomplished theirs!--Doubtless the lightning had stretched them
all dead in their beds by this time! The anguish and the fright which
this thought gave me made my previous sufferings seem trifling by

Things had become truly serious.  I resolved to turn over a new leaf
instantly; I also resolved to connect myself with the church the next
day, if I survived to see its sun appear.  I resolved to cease from sin
in all its forms, and to lead a high and blameless life for ever after.
I would be punctual at church and Sunday-school; visit the sick; carry
baskets of victuals to the poor (simply to fulfil the regulation
conditions, although I knew we had none among us so poor but they would
smash the basket over my head for my pains); I would instruct other boys
in right ways, and take the resulting trouncings meekly; I would subsist
entirely on tracts; I would invade the rum shop and warn the drunkard--
and finally, if I escaped the fate of those who early become too good to
live, I would go for a missionary.

The storm subsided toward daybreak, and I dozed gradually to sleep with
a sense of obligation to Lem Hackett for going to eternal suffering in
that abrupt way, and thus preventing a far more dreadful disaster--my
own loss.

But when I rose refreshed, by and by, and found that those other boys
were still alive, I had a dim sense that perhaps the whole thing was a
false alarm; that the entire turmoil had been on Lem's account and
nobody's else.  The world looked so bright and safe that there did not
seem to be any real occasion to turn over a new leaf. I was a little
subdued, during that day, and perhaps the next; after that, my purpose
of reforming slowly dropped out of my mind, and I had a peaceful,
comfortable time again, until the next storm.

That storm came about three weeks later; and it was the most
unaccountable one, to me, that I had ever experienced; for on the
afternoon of that day, 'Dutchy' was drowned. Dutchy belonged to our
Sunday-school. He was a German lad who did not know enough to come in
out of the rain; but he was exasperatingly good, and had a prodigious
memory. One Sunday he made himself the envy of all the youth and the
talk of all the admiring village, by reciting three thousand verses of
Scripture without missing a word; then he went off the very next day and
got drowned.

Circumstances gave to his death a peculiar impressiveness. We were all
bathing in a muddy creek which had a deep hole in it, and in this hole
the coopers had sunk a pile of green hickory hoop poles to soak, some
twelve feet under water. We were diving and 'seeing who could stay under
longest.' We managed to remain down by holding on to the hoop poles.
Dutchy made such a poor success of it that he was hailed with laughter
and derision every time his head appeared above water. At last he seemed
hurt with the taunts, and begged us to stand still on the bank and be
fair with him and give him an honest count--'be friendly and kind just
this once, and not miscount for the sake of having the fun of laughing
at him.' Treacherous winks were exchanged, and all said 'All right,
Dutchy--go ahead, we'll play fair.'

Dutchy plunged in, but the boys, instead of beginning to count, followed
the lead of one of their number and scampered to a range of blackberry
bushes close by and hid behind it. They imagined Dutchy's humiliation,
when he should rise after a superhuman effort and find the place silent
and vacant, nobody there to applaud.  They were 'so full of laugh' with
the idea, that they were continually exploding into muffled cackles.
Time swept on, and presently one who was peeping through the briers,
said, with surprise--

'Why, he hasn't come up, yet!'

The laughing stopped.

'Boys, it 's a splendid dive,' said one.

'Never mind that,' said another, 'the joke on him is all the better for

There was a remark or two more, and then a pause. Talking ceased, and
all began to peer through the vines. Before long, the boys' faces began
to look uneasy, then anxious, then terrified.  Still there was no
movement of the placid water. Hearts began to beat fast, and faces to
turn pale. We all glided out, silently, and stood on the bank, our
horrified eyes wandering back and forth from each other's countenances
to the water.

'Somebody must go down and see!'

Yes, that was plain; but nobody wanted that grisly task.

'Draw straws!'

So we did--with hands which shook so, that we hardly knew what we were
about.  The lot fell to me, and I went down. The water was so muddy I
could not see anything, but I felt around among the hoop poles, and
presently grasped a limp wrist which gave me no response--and if it had
I should not have known it, I let it go with such a frightened

The boy had been caught among the hoop poles and entangled there,
helplessly.  I fled to the surface and told the awful news. Some of us
knew that if the boy were dragged out at once he might possibly be
resuscitated, but we never thought of that.  We did not think of
anything; we did not know what to do, so we did nothing--except that the
smaller lads cried, piteously, and we all struggled frantically into our
clothes, putting on anybody's that came handy, and getting them wrong-
side-out and upside-down, as a rule. Then we scurried away and gave the
alarm, but none of us went back to see the end of the tragedy.  We had a
more important thing to attend to: we all flew home, and lost not a
moment in getting ready to lead a better life.

The night presently closed down.  Then came on that tremendous and
utterly unaccountable storm.  I was perfectly dazed; I could not
understand it.  It seemed to me that there must be some mistake. The
elements were turned loose, and they rattled and banged and blazed away
in the most blind and frantic manner.  All heart and hope went out of
me, and the dismal thought kept floating through my brain, 'If a boy who
knows three thousand verses by heart is not satisfactory, what chance is
there for anybody else?'

Of course I never questioned for a moment that the storm was on Dutchy's
account, or that he or any other inconsequential animal was worthy of
such a majestic demonstration from on high; the lesson of it was the
only thing that troubled me; for it convinced me that if Dutchy, with
all his perfections, was not a delight, it would be vain for me to turn
over a new leaf, for I must infallibly fall hopelessly short of that
boy, no matter how hard I might try.  Nevertheless I did turn it over--a
highly educated fear compelled me to do that--but succeeding days of
cheerfulness and sunshine came bothering around, and within a month I
had so drifted backward that again I was as lost and comfortable as

Breakfast time approached while I mused these musings and called these
ancient happenings back to mind; so I got me back into the present and
went down the hill.

On my way through town to the hotel, I saw the house which was my home
when I was a boy.  At present rates, the people who now occupy it are of
no more value than I am; but in my time they would have been worth not
less than five hundred dollars apiece. They are colored folk.

After breakfast, I went out alone again, intending to hunt up some of
the Sunday-schools and see how this generation of pupils might compare
with their progenitors who had sat with me in those places and had
probably taken me as a model--though I do not remember as to that now.
By the public square there had been in my day a shabby little brick
church called the 'Old Ship of Zion,' which I had attended as a Sunday-
school scholar; and I found the locality easily enough, but not the old
church; it was gone, and a trig and rather hilarious new edifice was in
its place. The pupils were better dressed and better looking than were
those of my time; consequently they did not resemble their ancestors;
and consequently there was nothing familiar to me in their faces. Still,
I contemplated them with a deep interest and a yearning wistfulness, and
if I had been a girl I would have cried; for they were the offspring,
and represented, and occupied the places, of boys and girls some of whom
I had loved to love, and some of whom I had loved to hate, but all of
whom were dear to me for the one reason or the other, so many years gone
by--and, Lord, where be they now!

I was mightily stirred, and would have been grateful to be allowed to
remain unmolested and look my fill; but a bald-summited superintendent
who had been a tow-headed Sunday-school mate of mine on that spot in the
early ages, recognized me, and I talked a flutter of wild nonsense to
those children to hide the thoughts which were in me, and which could
not have been spoken without a betrayal of feeling that would have been
recognized as out of character with me.

Making speeches without preparation is no gift of mine; and I was
resolved to shirk any new opportunity, but in the next and larger
Sunday-school I found myself in the rear of the assemblage; so I was
very willing to go on the platform a moment for the sake of getting a
good look at the scholars. On the spur of the moment I could not recall
any of the old idiotic talks which visitors used to insult me with when
I was a pupil there; and I was sorry for this, since it would have given
me time and excuse to dawdle there and take a long and satisfying look
at what I feel at liberty to say was an array of fresh young comeliness
not matchable in another Sunday-school of the same size. As I talked
merely to get a chance to inspect; and as I strung out the random
rubbish solely to prolong the inspection, I judged it but decent to
confess these low motives, and I did so.

If the Model Boy was in either of these Sunday-schools, I did not see
him. The Model Boy of my time--we never had but the one--was perfect:
perfect in manners, perfect in dress, perfect in conduct, perfect in
filial piety, perfect in exterior godliness; but at bottom he was a
prig; and as for the contents of his skull, they could have changed
place with the contents of a pie and nobody would have been the worse
off for it but the pie.  This fellow's reproachlessness was a standing
reproach to every lad in the village. He was the admiration of all the
mothers, and the detestation of all their sons. I was told what became
of him, but as it was a disappointment to me, I will not enter into
details. He succeeded in life.

Chapter 55 A Vendetta and Other Things

DURING my three days' stay in the town, I woke up every morning with the
impression that I was a boy--for in my dreams the faces were all young
again, and looked as they had looked in the old times--but I went to bed
a hundred years old, every night--for meantime I had been seeing those
faces as they are now.

Of course I suffered some surprises, along at first, before I had become
adjusted to the changed state of things. I met young ladies who did not
seem to have changed at all; but they turned out to be the daughters of
the young ladies I had in mind--sometimes their grand-daughters. When
you are told that a stranger of fifty is a grandmother, there is nothing
surprising about it; but if, on the contrary, she is a person whom you
knew as a little girl, it seems impossible. You say to yourself, 'How
can a little girl be a grandmother.' It takes some little time to accept
and realize the fact that while you have been growing old, your friends
have not been standing still, in that matter.

I noticed that the greatest changes observable were with the women, not
the men.  I saw men whom thirty years had changed but slightly; but
their wives had grown old.  These were good women; it is very wearing to
be good.

There was a saddler whom I wished to see; but he was gone. Dead, these
many years, they said.  Once or twice a day, the saddler used to go
tearing down the street, putting on his coat as he went; and then
everybody knew a steamboat was coming. Everybody knew, also, that John
Stavely was not expecting anybody by the boat--or any freight, either;
and Stavely must have known that everybody knew this, still it made no
difference to him; he liked to seem to himself to be expecting a hundred
thousand tons of saddles by this boat, and so he went on all his life,
enjoying being faithfully on hand to receive and receipt for those
saddles, in case by any miracle they should come. A malicious Quincy
paper used always to refer to this town, in derision as 'Stavely's
Landing.'  Stavely was one of my earliest admirations; I envied him his
rush of imaginary business, and the display he was able to make of it,
before strangers, as he went flying down the street struggling with his
fluttering coat.

But there was a carpenter who was my chiefest hero.  He was a mighty
liar, but I did not know that; I believed everything he said.  He was a
romantic, sentimental, melodramatic fraud, and his bearing impressed me
with awe. I vividly remember the first time he took me into his
confidence.  He was planing a board, and every now and then he would
pause and heave a deep sigh; and occasionally mutter broken sentences--
confused and not intelligible--but out of their midst an ejaculation
sometimes escaped which made me shiver and did me good:  one was, 'O
God, it is his blood!'  I sat on the tool-chest and humbly and
shudderingly admired him; for I judged he was full of crime. At last he
said in a low voice--

'My little friend, can you keep a secret?'

I eagerly said I could.

'A dark and dreadful one?'

I satisfied him on that point.

'Then I will tell you some passages in my history; for oh, I MUST
relieve my burdened soul, or I shall die!'

He cautioned me once more to be 'as silent as the grave;' then he told
me he was a 'red-handed murderer.' He put down his plane, held his hands
out before him, contemplated them sadly, and said--

'Look--with these hands I have taken the lives of thirty human beings!'

The effect which this had upon me was an inspiration to him, and he
turned himself loose upon his subject with interest and energy. He left
generalizing, and went into details,--began with his first murder;
described it, told what measures he had taken to avert suspicion; then
passed to his second homicide, his third, his fourth, and so on. He had
always done his murders with a bowie-knife, and he made all my hairs
rise by suddenly snatching it out and showing it to me.

At the end of this first seance I went home with six of his fearful
secrets among my freightage, and found them a great help to my dreams,
which had been sluggish for a while back. I sought him again and again,
on my Saturday holidays; in fact I spent the summer with him--all of it
which was valuable to me. His fascinations never diminished, for he
threw something fresh and stirring, in the way of horror, into each
successive murder. He always gave names, dates, places--everything.
This by and by enabled me to note two things:  that he had killed his
victims in every quarter of the globe, and that these victims were
always named Lynch. The destruction of the Lynches went serenely on,
Saturday after Saturday, until the original thirty had multiplied to
sixty--and more to be heard from yet; then my curiosity got the better
of my timidity, and I asked how it happened that these justly punished
persons all bore the same name.

My hero said he had never divulged that dark secret to any living being;
but felt that he could trust me, and therefore he would lay bare before
me the story of his sad and blighted life. He had loved one 'too fair
for earth,' and she had reciprocated 'with all the sweet affection of
her pure and noble nature.' But he had a rival, a 'base hireling' named
Archibald Lynch, who said the girl should be his, or he would 'dye his
hands in her heart's best blood.'  The carpenter, 'innocent and happy in
love's young dream,' gave no weight to the threat, but led his 'golden-
haired darling to the altar,' and there, the two were made one; there
also, just as the minister's hands were stretched in blessing over their
heads, the fell deed was done--with a knife--and the bride fell a corpse
at her husband's feet. And what did the husband do?  He plucked forth
that knife, and kneeling by the body of his lost one, swore to
'consecrate his life to the extermination of all the human scum that
bear the hated name of Lynch.'

That was it.  He had been hunting down the Lynches and slaughtering
them, from that day to this--twenty years.  He had always used that same
consecrated knife; with it he had murdered his long array of Lynches,
and with it he had left upon the forehead of each victim a peculiar
mark--a cross, deeply incised.  Said he--

'The cross of the Mysterious Avenger is known in Europe, in America, in
China, in Siam, in the Tropics, in the Polar Seas, in the deserts of
Asia, in all the earth.  Wherever in the uttermost parts of the globe, a
Lynch has penetrated, there has the Mysterious Cross been seen, and
those who have seen it have shuddered and said, "It is his mark, he has
been here." You have heard of the Mysterious Avenger--look upon him, for
before you stands no less a person!  But beware--breathe not a word to
any soul. Be silent, and wait.  Some morning this town will flock aghast
to view a gory corpse; on its brow will be seen the awful sign, and men
will tremble and whisper, "He has been here--it is the Mysterious
Avenger's mark!" You will come here, but I shall have vanished; you will
see me no more.'

This ass had been reading the 'Jibbenainosay,' no doubt, and had had his
poor romantic head turned by it; but as I had not yet seen the book
then, I took his inventions for truth, and did not suspect that he was a

However, we had a Lynch living in the town; and the more I reflected
upon his impending doom, the more I could not sleep. It seemed my plain
duty to save him, and a still plainer and more important duty to get
some sleep for myself, so at last I ventured to go to Mr. Lynch and tell
him what was about to happen to him--under strict secrecy. I advised him
to 'fly,' and certainly expected him to do it. But he laughed at me; and
he did not stop there; he led me down to the carpenter's shop, gave the
carpenter a jeering and scornful lecture upon his silly pretensions,
slapped his face, made him get down on his knees and beg--then went off
and left me to contemplate the cheap and pitiful ruin of what, in my
eyes, had so lately been a majestic and incomparable hero. The carpenter
blustered, flourished his knife, and doomed this Lynch in his usual
volcanic style, the size of his fateful words undiminished; but it was
all wasted upon me; he was a hero to me no longer, but only a poor,
foolish, exposed humbug. I was ashamed of him, and ashamed of myself; I
took no further interest in him, and never went to his shop any more.
He was a heavy loss to me, for he was the greatest hero I had ever
known. The fellow must have had some talent; for some of his imaginary
murders were so vividly and dramatically described that I remember all
their details yet.

The people of Hannibal are not more changed than is the town. It is no
longer a village; it is a city, with a mayor, and a council, and water-
works, and probably a debt.  It has fifteen thousand people, is a
thriving and energetic place, and is paved like the rest of the west and
south--where a well-paved street and a good sidewalk are things so
seldom seen, that one doubts them when he does see them. The customary
half-dozen railways center in Hannibal now, and there is a new depot
which cost a hundred thousand dollars. In my time the town had no
specialty, and no commercial grandeur; the daily packet usually landed a
passenger and bought a catfish, and took away another passenger and a
hatful of freight; but now a huge commerce in lumber has grown up and a
large miscellaneous commerce is one of the results.  A deal of money
changes hands there now.

Bear Creek--so called, perhaps, because it was always so particularly
bare of bears--is hidden out of sight now, under islands and continents
of piled lumber, and nobody but an expert can find it. I used to get
drowned in it every summer regularly, and be drained out, and inflated
and set going again by some chance enemy; but not enough of it is
unoccupied now to drown a person in. It was a famous breeder of chills
and fever in its day. I remember one summer when everybody in town had
this disease at once.  Many chimneys were shaken down, and all the
houses were so racked that the town had to be rebuilt. The chasm or
gorge between Lover's Leap and the hill west of it is supposed by
scientists to have been caused by glacial action. This is a mistake.

There is an interesting cave a mile or two below Hannibal, among the
bluffs. I would have liked to revisit it, but had not time.  In my time
the person who then owned it turned it into a mausoleum for his
daughter, aged fourteen. The body of this poor child was put into a
copper cylinder filled with alcohol, and this was suspended in one of
the dismal avenues of the cave. The top of the cylinder was removable;
and it was said to be a common thing for the baser order of tourists to
drag the dead face into view and examine it and comment upon it.


                    LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI

                        BY MARK TWAIN

                           Part 12.

Chapter 56 A Question of Law

THE slaughter-house is gone from the mouth of Bear Creek and so is the
small jail (or 'calaboose') which once stood in its neighborhood. A
citizen asked, 'Do you remember when Jimmy Finn, the town drunkard, was
burned to death in the calaboose?'

Observe, now, how history becomes defiled, through lapse of time and the
help of the bad memories of men.  Jimmy Finn was not burned in the
calaboose, but died a natural death in a tan vat, of a combination of
delirium tremens and spontaneous combustion. When I say natural death, I
mean it was a natural death for Jimmy Finn to die.  The calaboose victim
was not a citizen; he was a poor stranger, a harmless whiskey-sodden
tramp. I know more about his case than anybody else; I knew too much of
it, in that bygone day, to relish speaking of it.  That tramp was
wandering about the streets one chilly evening, with a pipe in his
mouth, and begging for a match; he got neither matches nor courtesy; on
the contrary, a troop of bad little boys followed him around and amused
themselves with nagging and annoying him. I assisted; but at last, some
appeal which the wayfarer made for forbearance, accompanying it with a
pathetic reference to his forlorn and friendless condition, touched such
sense of shame and remnant of right feeling as were left in me, and I
went away and got him some matches, and then hied me home and to bed,
heavily weighted as to conscience, and unbuoyant in spirit. An hour or
two afterward, the man was arrested and locked up in the calaboose by
the marshal--large name for a constable, but that was his title.  At two
in the morning, the church bells rang for fire, and everybody turned
out, of course--I with the rest. The tramp had used his matches
disastrously:  he had set his straw bed on fire, and the oaken sheathing
of the room had caught. When I reached the ground, two hundred men,
women, and children stood massed together, transfixed with horror, and
staring at the grated windows of the jail.  Behind the iron bars, and
tugging frantically at them, and screaming for help, stood the tramp; he
seemed like a black object set against a sun, so white and intense was
the light at his back. That marshal could not be found, and he had the
only key. A battering-ram was quickly improvised, and the thunder of its
blows upon the door had so encouraging a sound that the spectators broke
into wild cheering, and believed the merciful battle won. But it was not
so.  The timbers were too strong; they did not yield. It was said that
the man's death-grip still held fast to the bars after he was dead; and
that in this position the fires wrapped him about and consumed him.  As
to this, I do not know.  What was seen after I recognized the face that
was pleading through the bars was seen by others, not by me.

I saw that face, so situated, every night for a long time afterward; and
I believed myself as guilty of the man's death as if I had given him the
matches purposely that he might burn himself up with them. I had not a
doubt that I should be hanged if my connection with this tragedy were
found out.  The happenings and the impressions of that time are burnt
into my memory, and the study of them entertains me as much now as they
themselves distressed me then. If anybody spoke of that grisly matter, I
was all ears in a moment, and alert to hear what might be said, for I
was always dreading and expecting to find out that I was suspected; and
so fine and so delicate was the perception of my guilty conscience, that
it often detected suspicion in the most purposeless remarks, and in
looks, gestures, glances of the eye which had no significance, but which
sent me shivering away in a panic of fright, just the same. And how sick
it made me when somebody dropped, howsoever carelessly and barren of
intent, the remark that 'murder will out!' For a boy of ten years, I was
carrying a pretty weighty cargo.

All this time I was blessedly forgetting one thing--the fact that I was
an inveterate talker in my sleep. But one night I awoke and found my
bed-mate--my younger brother--sitting up in bed and contemplating me by
the light of the moon. I said--

'What is the matter?'

'You talk so much I can't sleep.'

I came to a sitting posture in an instant, with my kidneys in my throat
and my hair on end.

'What did I say.  Quick--out with it--what did I say?'

'Nothing much.'

'It's a lie--you know everything.'

'Everything about what?'

'You know well enough.  About THAT.'

'About WHAT?--I don't know what you are talking about. I think you are
sick or crazy or something.  But anyway, you're awake, and I'll get to
sleep while I've got a chance.'

He fell asleep and I lay there in a cold sweat, turning this new terror
over in the whirling chaos which did duty as my mind. The burden of my
thought was, How much did I divulge? How much does he know?--what a
distress is this uncertainty! But by and by I evolved an idea--I would
wake my brother and probe him with a supposititious case.  I shook him
up, and said--

'Suppose a man should come to you drunk--'

'This is foolish--I never get drunk.'

'I don't mean you, idiot--I mean the man.  Suppose a MAN should come to
you drunk, and borrow a knife, or a tomahawk, or a pistol, and you
forgot to tell him it was loaded, and--'

'How could you load a tomahawk?'

'I don't mean the tomahawk, and I didn't say the tomahawk; I said the
pistol. Now don't you keep breaking in that way, because this is
serious. There's been a man killed.'

'What! in this town?'

'Yes, in this town.'

'Well, go on--I won't say a single word.'

'Well, then, suppose you forgot to tell him to be careful with it,
because it was loaded, and he went off and shot himself with that
pistol--fooling with it, you know, and probably doing it by accident,
being drunk. Well, would it be murder?'


'No, no.  I don't mean HIS act, I mean yours:  would you be a murderer
for letting him have that pistol?'

After deep thought came this answer--

'Well, I should think I was guilty of something--maybe murder--yes,
probably murder, but I don't quite know.'

This made me very uncomfortable.  However, it was not a decisive
verdict. I should have to set out the real case--there seemed to be no
other way. But I would do it cautiously, and keep a watch out for
suspicious effects. I said--

'I was supposing a case, but I am coming to the real one now. Do you
know how the man came to be burned up in the calaboose?'


'Haven't you the least idea?'

'Not the least.'

'Wish you may die in your tracks if you have?'

'Yes, wish I may die in my tracks.'

'Well, the way of it was this.  The man wanted some matches to light his
pipe.  A boy got him some.  The man set fire to the calaboose with those
very matches, and burnt himself up.'

'Is that so?'

'Yes, it is.  Now, is that boy a murderer, do you think?'

'Let me see.  The man was drunk?'

'Yes, he was drunk.'

'Very drunk?'


'And the boy knew it?'

'Yes, he knew it.'

There was a long pause.  Then came this heavy verdict--

'If the man was drunk, and the boy knew it, the boy murdered that man.
This is certain.'

Faint, sickening sensations crept along all the fibers of my body, and I
seemed to know how a person feels who hears his death sentence
pronounced from the bench.  I waited to hear what my brother would say
next. I believed I knew what it would be, and I was right.  He said--

'I know the boy.'

I had nothing to say; so I said nothing.  I simply shuddered. Then he

'Yes, before you got half through telling about the thing, I knew
perfectly well who the boy was; it was Ben Coontz!'

I came out of my collapse as one who rises from the dead. I said, with

'Why, how in the world did you ever guess it?'

'You told it in your sleep.'

I said to myself, 'How splendid that is!  This is a habit which must be

My brother rattled innocently on--

'When you were talking in your sleep, you kept mumbling something about
"matches," which I couldn't make anything out of; but just now, when you
began to tell me about the man and the calaboose and the matches, I
remembered that in your sleep you mentioned Ben Coontz two or three
times; so I put this and that together, you see, and right away I knew
it was Ben that burnt that man up.'

I praised his sagacity effusively.  Presently he asked--

'Are you going to give him up to the law?'

'No,' I said; 'I believe that this will be a lesson to him. I shall keep
an eye on him, of course, for that is but right; but if he stops where
he is and reforms, it shall never be said that I betrayed him.'

'How good you are!'

'Well, I try to be.  It is all a person can do in a world like this.'

And now, my burden being shifted to other shoulders, my terrors soon
faded away.

The day before we left Hannibal, a curious thing fell under my notice--
the surprising spread which longitudinal time undergoes there. I learned
it from one of the most unostentatious of men--the colored coachman of a
friend of mine, who lives three miles from town. He was to call for me
at the Park Hotel at 7.30 P.M., and drive me out. But he missed it
considerably--did not arrive till ten.  He excused himself by saying--

'De time is mos' an hour en a half slower in de country en what it is in
de town; you'll be in plenty time, boss. Sometimes we shoves out early
for church, Sunday, en fetches up dah right plum in de middle er de
sermon.  Diffunce in de time. A body can't make no calculations 'bout

I had lost two hours and a half; but I had learned a fact worth four.

Chapter 57 An Archangel

FROM St. Louis northward there are all the enlivening signs of the
presence of active, energetic, intelligent, prosperous, practical
nineteenth-century populations.  The people don't dream, they work. The
happy result is manifest all around in the substantial outside aspect of
things, and the suggestions of wholesome life and comfort that
everywhere appear.

Quincy is a notable example--a brisk, handsome, well-ordered city; and
now, as formerly, interested in art, letters, and other high things.

But Marion City is an exception.  Marion City has gone backwards in a
most unaccountable way.  This metropolis promised so well that the
projectors tacked 'city' to its name in the very beginning, with full
confidence; but it was bad prophecy. When I first saw Marion City,
thirty-five years ago, it contained one street, and nearly or quite six
houses. It contains but one house now, and this one, in a state of ruin,
is getting ready to follow the former five into the river. Doubtless
Marion City was too near to Quincy.  It had another disadvantage:  it
was situated in a flat mud bottom, below high-water mark, whereas Quincy
stands high up on the slope of a hill.

In the beginning Quincy had the aspect and ways of a model New England
town: and these she has yet:  broad, clean streets, trim, neat dwellings
and lawns, fine mansions, stately blocks of commercial buildings. And
there are ample fair-grounds, a well kept park, and many attractive
drives; library, reading-rooms, a couple of colleges, some handsome and
costly churches, and a grand court-house, with grounds which occupy a
square.  The population of the city is thirty thousand. There are some
large factories here, and manufacturing, of many sorts, is done on a
great scale.

La Grange and Canton are growing towns, but I missed Alexandria; was
told it was under water, but would come up to blow in the summer.

Keokuk was easily recognizable.  I lived there in 1857--an extraordinary
year there in real-estate matters.  The 'boom' was something wonderful.
Everybody bought, everybody sold--except widows and preachers; they
always hold on; and when the tide ebbs, they get left. Anything in the
semblance of a town lot, no matter how situated, was salable, and at a
figure which would still have been high if the ground had been sodded
with greenbacks.

The town has a population of fifteen thousand now, and is progressing
with a healthy growth.  It was night, and we could not see details, for
which we were sorry, for Keokuk has the reputation of being a beautiful
city. It was a pleasant one to live in long ago, and doubtless has
advanced, not retrograded, in that respect.

A mighty work which was in progress there in my day is finished now.
This is the canal over the Rapids.  It is eight miles long, three
hundred feet wide, and is in no place less than six feet deep. Its
masonry is of the majestic kind which the War Department usually deals
in, and will endure like a Roman aqueduct. The work cost four or five

After an hour or two spent with former friends, we started up the river
again.  Keokuk, a long time ago, was an occasional loafing-place of that
erratic genius, Henry Clay Dean. I believe I never saw him but once; but
he was much talked of when I lived there.  This is what was said of him--

He began life poor and without education.  But he educated himself--on
the curbstones of Keokuk.  He would sit down on a curbstone with his
book, careless or unconscious of the clatter of commerce and the tramp
of the passing crowds, and bury himself in his studies by the hour,
never changing his position except to draw in his knees now and then to
let a dray pass unobstructed; and when his book was finished, its
contents, however abstruse, had been burnt into his memory, and were his
permanent possession. In this way he acquired a vast hoard of all sorts
of learning, and had it pigeon-holed in his head where he could put his
intellectual hand on it whenever it was wanted.

His clothes differed in no respect from a 'wharf-rat's,' except that
they were raggeder, more ill-assorted and inharmonious (and therefore
more extravagantly picturesque), and several layers dirtier. Nobody
could infer the master-mind in the top of that edifice from the edifice

He was an orator--by nature in the first place, and later by the
training of experience and practice.  When he was out on a canvass, his
name was a lodestone which drew the farmers to his stump from fifty
miles around. His theme was always politics.  He used no notes, for a
volcano does not need notes.  In 1862, a son of Keokuk's late
distinguished citizen, Mr. Claggett, gave me this incident concerning

The war feeling was running high in Keokuk (in '61), and a great mass
meeting was to be held on a certain day in the new Athenaeum. A
distinguished stranger was to address the house. After the building had
been packed to its utmost capacity with sweltering folk of both sexes,
the stage still remained vacant--the distinguished stranger had failed
to connect. The crowd grew impatient, and by and by indignant and
rebellious. About this time a distressed manager discovered Dean on a
curb-stone, explained the dilemma to him, took his book away from him,
rushed him into the building the back way, and told him to make for the
stage and save his country.

Presently a sudden silence fell upon the grumbling audience, and
everybody's eyes sought a single point--the wide, empty, carpetless
stage.  A figure appeared there whose aspect was familiar to hardly a
dozen persons present. It was the scarecrow Dean--in foxy shoes, down at
the heels; socks of odd colors, also 'down;' damaged trousers, relics of
antiquity, and a world too short, exposing some inches of naked ankle;
an unbuttoned vest, also too short, and exposing a zone of soiled and
wrinkled linen between it and the waistband; shirt bosom open; long
black handkerchief, wound round and round the neck like a bandage; bob-
tailed blue coat, reaching down to the small of the back, with sleeves
which left four inches of forearm unprotected; small, stiff-brimmed
soldier-cap hung on a corner of the bump of--whichever bump it was.
This figure moved gravely out upon the stage and, with sedate and
measured step, down to the front, where it paused, and dreamily
inspected the house, saying no word. The silence of surprise held its
own for a moment, then was broken by a just audible ripple of merriment
which swept the sea of faces like the wash of a wave.  The figure
remained as before, thoughtfully inspecting. Another wave started--
laughter, this time.  It was followed by another, then a third--this
last one boisterous.

And now the stranger stepped back one pace, took off his soldier-cap,
tossed it into the wing, and began to speak, with deliberation, nobody
listening, everybody laughing and whispering. The speaker talked on
unembarrassed, and presently delivered a shot which went home, and
silence and attention resulted. He followed it quick and fast, with
other telling things; warmed to his work and began to pour his words
out, instead of dripping them; grew hotter and hotter, and fell to
discharging lightnings and thunder--and now the house began to break
into applause, to which the speaker gave no heed, but went hammering
straight on; unwound his black bandage and cast it away, still
thundering; presently discarded the bob tailed coat and flung it aside,
firing up higher and higher all the time; finally flung the vest after
the coat; and then for an untimed period stood there, like another
Vesuvius, spouting smoke and flame, lava and ashes, raining pumice-stone
and cinders, shaking the moral earth with intellectual crash upon crash,
explosion upon explosion, while the mad multitude stood upon their feet
in a solid body, answering back with a ceaseless hurricane of cheers,
through a thrashing snowstorm of waving handkerchiefs.

'When Dean came,' said Claggett, 'the people thought he was an escaped
lunatic; but when he went, they thought he was an escaped archangel.'

Burlington, home of the sparkling Burdette, is another hill city; and
also a beautiful one; unquestionably so; a fine and flourishing city,
with a population of twenty-five thousand, and belted with busy
factories of nearly every imaginable description.  It was a very sober
city, too--for the moment--for a most sobering bill was pending; a bill
to forbid the manufacture, exportation, importation, purchase, sale,
borrowing, lending, stealing, drinking, smelling, or possession, by
conquest, inheritance, intent, accident, or otherwise, in the State of
Iowa, of each and every deleterious beverage known to the human race,
except water. This measure was approved by all the rational people in
the State; but not by the bench of Judges.

Burlington has the progressive modern city's full equipment of devices
for right and intelligent government; including a paid fire department,
a thing which the great city of New Orleans is without, but still
employs that relic of antiquity, the independent system.

In Burlington, as in all these Upper-River towns, one breathes a
go-ahead atmosphere which tastes good in the nostrils. An opera-house has
lately been built there which is in strong contrast with the shabby dens
which usually do duty as theaters in cities of Burlington's size.

We had not time to go ashore in Muscatine, but had a daylight view of it
from the boat.  I lived there awhile, many years ago, but the place,
now, had a rather unfamiliar look; so I suppose it has clear outgrown
the town which I used to know. In fact, I know it has; for I remember it
as a small place--which it isn't now.  But I remember it best for a
lunatic who caught me out in the fields, one Sunday, and extracted a
butcher-knife from his boot and proposed to carve me up with it, unless
I acknowledged him to be the only son of the Devil. I tried to
compromise on an acknowledgment that he was the only member of the
family I had met; but that did not satisfy him; he wouldn't have any
half-measures; I must say he was the sole and only son of the Devil--he
whetted his knife on his boot. It did not seem worth while to make
trouble about a little thing like that; so I swung round to his view of
the matter and saved my skin whole.  Shortly afterward, he went to visit
his father; and as he has not turned up since, I trust he is there yet.

And I remember Muscatine--still more pleasantly--for its summer sunsets.
I have never seen any, on either side of the ocean, that equaled them.
They used the broad smooth river as a canvas, and painted on it every
imaginable dream of color, from the mottled daintinesses and delicacies
of the opal, all the way up, through cumulative intensities, to blinding
purple and crimson conflagrations which were enchanting to the eye, but
sharply tried it at the same time.  All the Upper Mississippi region has
these extraordinary sunsets as a familiar spectacle. It is the true
Sunset Land:  I am sure no other country can show so good a right to the
name.  The sunrises are also said to be exceedingly fine. I do not know.

Chapter 58 On the Upper River

THE big towns drop in, thick and fast, now:  and between stretch
processions of thrifty farms, not desolate solitude.  Hour by hour, the
boat plows deeper and deeper into the great and populous North-west; and
with each successive section of it which is revealed, one's surprise and
respect gather emphasis and increase. Such a people, and such
achievements as theirs, compel homage. This is an independent race who
think for themselves, and who are competent to do it, because they are
educated and enlightened; they read, they keep abreast of the best and
newest thought, they fortify every weak place in their land with a
school, a college, a library, and a newspaper; and they live under law.
Solicitude for the future of a race like this is not in order.

This region is new; so new that it may be said to be still in its
babyhood. By what it has accomplished while still teething, one may
forecast what marvels it will do in the strength of its maturity.  It is
so new that the foreign tourist has not heard of it yet; and has not
visited it. For sixty years, the foreign tourist has steamed up and down
the river between St. Louis and New Orleans, and then gone home and
written his book, believing he had seen all of the river that was worth
seeing or that had anything to see.  In not six of all these books is
there mention of these Upper River towns--for the reason that the five
or six tourists who penetrated this region did it before these towns
were projected. The latest tourist of them all (1878) made the same old
regulation trip--he had not heard that there was anything north of St.

Yet there was.  There was this amazing region, bristling with great
towns, projected day before yesterday, so to speak, and built next
morning. A score of them number from fifteen hundred to five thousand
people. Then we have Muscatine, ten thousand; Winona, ten thousand;
Moline, ten thousand; Rock Island, twelve thousand; La Crosse, twelve
thousand; Burlington, twenty-five thousand; Dubuque, twenty-five
thousand; Davenport, thirty thousand; St. Paul, fifty-eight thousand,
Minneapolis, sixty thousand and upward.

The foreign tourist has never heard of these; there is no note of them
in his books.  They have sprung up in the night, while he slept. So new
is this region, that I, who am comparatively young, am yet older than it
is.  When I was born, St. Paul had a population of three persons,
Minneapolis had just a third as many. The then population of Minneapolis
died two years ago; and when he died he had seen himself undergo an
increase, in forty years, of fifty-nine thousand nine hundred and
ninety-nine persons. He had a frog's fertility.

I must explain that the figures set down above, as the population of St.
Paul and Minneapolis, are several months old.  These towns are far
larger now. In fact, I have just seen a newspaper estimate which gives
the former seventy-one thousand, and the latter seventy-eight thousand.
This book will not reach the public for six or seven months yet; none of
the figures will be worth much then.

We had a glimpse of Davenport, which is another beautiful city, crowning
a hill--a phrase which applies to all these towns; for they are all
comely, all well built, clean, orderly, pleasant to the eye, and
cheering to the spirit; and they are all situated upon hills. Therefore
we will give that phrase a rest.  The Indians have a tradition that
Marquette and Joliet camped where Davenport now stands, in 1673. The
next white man who camped there, did it about a hundred and seventy
years later--in 1834.  Davenport has gathered its thirty thousand people
within the past thirty years.  She sends more children to her schools
now, than her whole population numbered twenty-three years ago. She has
the usual Upper River quota of factories, newspapers, and institutions
of learning; she has telephones, local telegraphs, an electric alarm,
and an admirable paid fire department, consisting of six hook and ladder
companies, four steam fire engines, and thirty churches.  Davenport is
the official residence of two bishops--Episcopal and Catholic.

Opposite Davenport is the flourishing town of Rock Island, which lies at
the foot of the Upper Rapids.  A great railroad bridge connects the two
towns--one of the thirteen which fret the Mississippi and the pilots,
between St. Louis and St. Paul.

The charming island of Rock Island, three miles long and half a mile
wide, belongs to the United States, and the Government has turned it
into a wonderful park, enhancing its natural attractions by art, and
threading its fine forests with many miles of drives. Near the center of
the island one catches glimpses, through the trees, of ten vast stone
four-story buildings, each of which covers an acre of ground.  These are
the Government workshops; for the Rock Island establishment is a
national armory and arsenal.

We move up the river--always through enchanting scenery, there being no
other kind on the Upper Mississippi--and pass Moline, a center of vast
manufacturing industries; and Clinton and Lyons, great lumber centers;
and presently reach Dubuque, which is situated in a rich mineral region.
The lead mines are very productive, and of wide extent. Dubuque has a
great number of manufacturing establishments; among them a plow factory
which has for customers all Christendom in general. At least so I was
told by an agent of the concern who was on the boat.  He said--

'You show me any country under the sun where they really know how to
plow, and if I don't show you our mark on the plow they use, I'll eat
that plow; and I won't ask for any Woostershyre sauce to flavor it up
with, either.'

All this part of the river is rich in Indian history and traditions.
Black Hawk's was once a puissant name hereabouts; as was Keokuk's,
further down.  A few miles below Dubuque is the Tete de Mort--Death's-
head rock, or bluff--to the top of which the French drove a band of
Indians, in early times, and cooped them up there, with death for a
certainty, and only the manner of it matter of choice--to starve, or
jump off and kill themselves. Black Hawk adopted the ways of the white
people, toward the end of his life; and when he died he was buried, near
Des Moines, in Christian fashion, modified by Indian custom; that is to
say, clothed in a Christian military uniform, and with a Christian cane
in his hand, but deposited in the grave in a sitting posture. Formerly,
a horse had always been buried with a chief. The substitution of the
cane shows that Black Hawk's haughty nature was really humbled, and he
expected to walk when he got over.

We noticed that above Dubuque the water of the Mississippi was olive-
green--rich and beautiful and semi-transparent, with the sun on it. Of
course the water was nowhere as clear or of as fine a complexion as it
is in some other seasons of the year; for now it was at flood stage, and
therefore dimmed and blurred by the mud manufactured from caving banks.

The majestic bluffs that overlook the river, along through this region,
charm one with the grace and variety of their forms, and the soft beauty
of their adornment.  The steep verdant slope, whose base is at the
water's edge is topped by a lofty rampart of broken, turreted rocks,
which are exquisitely rich and mellow in color--mainly dark browns and
dull greens, but splashed with other tints. And then you have the
shining river, winding here and there and yonder, its sweep interrupted
at intervals by clusters of wooded islands threaded by silver channels;
and you have glimpses of distant villages, asleep upon capes; and of
stealthy rafts slipping along in the shade of the forest walls; and of
white steamers vanishing around remote points. And it is all as tranquil
and reposeful as dreamland, and has nothing this-worldly about it--
nothing to hang a fret or a worry upon.

Until the unholy train comes tearing along--which it presently does,
ripping the sacred solitude to rags and tatters with its devil's
warwhoop and the roar and thunder of its rushing wheels--and straightway
you are back in this world, and with one of its frets ready to hand for
your entertainment:  for you remember that this is the very road whose
stock always goes down after you buy it, and always goes up again as
soon as you sell it.  It makes me shudder to this day, to remember that
I once came near not getting rid of my stock at all. It must be an awful
thing to have a railroad left on your hands.

The locomotive is in sight from the deck of the steamboat almost the
whole way from St. Louis to St. Paul--eight hundred miles. These
railroads have made havoc with the steamboat commerce. The clerk of our
boat was a steamboat clerk before these roads were built.  In that day
the influx of population was so great, and the freight business so
heavy, that the boats were not able to keep up with the demands made
upon their carrying capacity; consequently the captains were very
independent and airy--pretty 'biggity,' as Uncle Remus would say.  The
clerk nut-shelled the contrast between the former time and the present,

'Boat used to land--captain on hurricane roof--mighty stiff and
straight--iron ramrod for a spine--kid gloves, plug tile, hair parted
behind--man on shore takes off hat and says--

'"Got twenty-eight tons of wheat, cap'n--be great favor if you can take

'Captain says--

'"'ll take two of them"--and don't even condescend to look at him.

'But nowadays the captain takes off his old slouch, and smiles all the
way around to the back of his ears, and gets off a bow which he hasn't
got any ramrod to interfere with, and says--

'"Glad to see you, Smith, glad to see you--you're looking well--haven't
seen you looking so well for years--what you got for us?"

'"Nuth'n", says Smith; and keeps his hat on, and just turns his back and
goes to talking with somebody else.

'Oh, yes, eight years ago, the captain was on top; but it's Smith's turn
now. Eight years ago a boat used to go up the river with every stateroom
full, and people piled five and six deep on the cabin floor; and a solid
deck-load of immigrants and harvesters down below, into the bargain. To
get a first-class stateroom, you'd got to prove sixteen quarterings of
nobility and four hundred years of descent, or be personally acquainted
with the nigger that blacked the captain's boots. But it's all changed
now; plenty staterooms above, no harvesters below--there's a patent
self-binder now, and they don't have harvesters any more; they've gone
where the woodbine twineth--and they didn't go by steamboat, either;
went by the train.'

Up in this region we met massed acres of lumber rafts coming down--but
not floating leisurely along, in the old-fashioned way, manned with
joyous and reckless crews of fiddling, song-singing, whiskey-drinking,
breakdown-dancing rapscallions; no, the whole thing was shoved swiftly
along by a powerful stern-wheeler, modern fashion, and the small crews
were quiet, orderly men, of a sedate business aspect, with not a
suggestion of romance about them anywhere.

Along here, somewhere, on a black night, we ran some exceedingly narrow
and intricate island-chutes by aid of the electric light. Behind was
solid blackness--a crackless bank of it; ahead, a narrow elbow of water,
curving between dense walls of foliage that almost touched our bows on
both sides; and here every individual leaf, and every individual ripple
stood out in its natural color, and flooded with a glare as of noonday
intensified. The effect was strange, and fine, and very striking.

We passed Prairie du Chien, another of Father Marquette's camping-
places; and after some hours of progress through varied and beautiful
scenery, reached La Crosse.  Here is a town of twelve or thirteen
thousand population, with electric lighted streets, and with blocks of
buildings which are stately enough, and also architecturally fine
enough, to command respect in any city. It is a choice town, and we made
satisfactory use of the hour allowed us, in roaming it over, though the
weather was rainier than necessary.

Chapter 59 Legends and Scenery

WE added several passengers to our list, at La Crosse; among others an
old gentleman who had come to this north-western region with the early
settlers, and was familiar with every part of it. Pardonably proud of
it, too.  He said--

'You'll find scenery between here and St. Paul that can give the Hudson
points.  You'll have the Queen's Bluff--seven hundred feet high, and
just as imposing a spectacle as you can find anywheres; and Trempeleau
Island, which isn't like any other island in America, I believe, for it
is a gigantic mountain, with precipitous sides, and is full of Indian
traditions, and used to be full of rattlesnakes; if you catch the sun
just right there, you will have a picture that will stay with you.  And
above Winona you'll have lovely prairies; and then come the Thousand
Islands, too beautiful for anything; green? why you never saw foliage so
green, nor packed so thick; it's like a thousand plush cushions afloat
on a looking-glass--when the water 's still; and then the monstrous
bluffs on both sides of the river--ragged, rugged, dark-complected--just
the frame that's wanted; you always want a strong frame, you know, to
throw up the nice points of a delicate picture and make them stand out.'

The old gentleman also told us a touching Indian legend or two--but not
very powerful ones.

After this excursion into history, he came back to the scenery, and
described it, detail by detail, from the Thousand Islands to St. Paul;
naming its names with such facility, tripping along his theme with such
nimble and confident ease, slamming in a three-ton word, here and there,
with such a complacent air of 't isn't-anything,-I-can-do-it-any-time-I-
want-to, and letting off fine surprises of lurid eloquence at such
judicious intervals, that I presently began to suspect--

But no matter what I began to suspect.  Hear him--

'Ten miles above Winona we come to Fountain City, nestling sweetly at
the feet of cliffs that lift their awful fronts, Jovelike, toward the
blue depths of heaven, bathing them in virgin atmospheres that have
known no other contact save that of angels' wings.

'And next we glide through silver waters, amid lovely and stupendous
aspects of nature that attune our hearts to adoring admiration, about
twelve miles, and strike Mount Vernon, six hundred feet high, with
romantic ruins of a once first-class hotel perched far among the cloud
shadows that mottle its dizzy heights--sole remnant of once-flourishing
Mount Vernon, town of early days, now desolate and utterly deserted.

'And so we move on.  Past Chimney Rock we fly--noble shaft of six
hundred feet; then just before landing at Minnieska our attention is
attracted by a most striking promontory rising over five hundred feet--
the ideal mountain pyramid.  Its conic shape--thickly-wooded surface
girding its sides, and its apex like that of a cone, cause the spectator
to wonder at nature's workings.  From its dizzy heights superb views of
the forests, streams, bluffs, hills and dales below and beyond for miles
are brought within its focus.  What grander river scenery can be
conceived, as we gaze upon this enchanting landscape, from the uppermost
point of these bluffs upon the valleys below? The primeval wildness and
awful loneliness of these sublime creations of nature and nature's God,
excite feelings of unbounded admiration, and the recollection of which
can never be effaced from the memory, as we view them in any direction.

'Next we have the Lion's Head and the Lioness's Head, carved by nature's
hand, to adorn and dominate the beauteous stream; and then anon the
river widens, and a most charming and magnificent view of the valley
before us suddenly bursts upon our vision; rugged hills, clad with
verdant forests from summit to base, level prairie lands, holding in
their lap the beautiful Wabasha, City of the Healing Waters, puissant
foe of Bright's disease, and that grandest conception of nature's works,
incomparable Lake Pepin--these constitute a picture whereon the
tourist's eye may gaze uncounted hours, with rapture unappeased and

'And so we glide along; in due time encountering those majestic domes,
the mighty Sugar Loaf, and the sublime Maiden's Rock--which latter,
romantic superstition has invested with a voice; and oft-times as the
birch canoe glides near, at twilight, the dusky paddler fancies he hears
the soft sweet music of the long-departed Winona, darling of Indian song
and story.

'Then Frontenac looms upon our vision, delightful resort of jaded summer
tourists; then progressive Red Wing; and Diamond Bluff, impressive and
preponderous in its lone sublimity; then Prescott and the St. Croix; and
anon we see bursting upon us the domes and steeples of St. Paul, giant
young chief of the North, marching with seven-league stride in the van
of progress, banner-bearer of the highest and newest civilization,
carving his beneficent way with the tomahawk of commercial enterprise,
sounding the warwhoop of Christian culture, tearing off the reeking
scalp of sloth and superstition to plant there the steam-plow and the
school-house--ever in his front stretch arid lawlessness, ignorance,
crime, despair; ever in his wake bloom the jail, the gallows, and the
pulpit; and ever--'

'Have you ever traveled with a panorama?'

'I have formerly served in that capacity.'

My suspicion was confirmed.

'Do you still travel with it?'

'No, she is laid up till the fall season opens.  I am helping now to
work up the materials for a Tourist's Guide which the St. Louis and St.
Paul Packet Company are going to issue this summer for the benefit of
travelers who go by that line.'

'When you were talking of Maiden's Rock, you spoke of the long-departed
Winona, darling of Indian song and story. Is she the maiden of the
rock?--and are the two connected by legend?'

'Yes, and a very tragic and painful one.  Perhaps the most celebrated,
as well as the most pathetic, of all the legends of the Mississippi.'

We asked him to tell it.  He dropped out of his conversational vein and
back into his lecture-gait without an effort, and rolled on as follows--

'A little distance above Lake City is a famous point known as Maiden's
Rock, which is not only a picturesque spot, but is full of romantic
interest from the event which gave it its name, Not many years ago this
locality was a favorite resort for the Sioux Indians on account of the
fine fishing and hunting to be had there, and large numbers of them were
always to be found in this locality. Among the families which used to
resort here, was one belonging to the tribe of Wabasha.  We-no-na
(first-born) was the name of a maiden who had plighted her troth to a
lover belonging to the same band.  But her stern parents had promised
her hand to another, a famous warrior, and insisted on her wedding him.
The day was fixed by her parents, to her great grief. She appeared to
accede to the proposal and accompany them to the rock, for the purpose
of gathering flowers for the feast. On reaching the rock, We-no-na ran
to its summit and standing on its edge upbraided her parents who were
below, for their cruelty, and then singing a death-dirge, threw herself
from the precipice and dashed them in pieces on the rock below.'

'Dashed who in pieces--her parents?'


'Well, it certainly was a tragic business, as you say. And moreover,
there is a startling kind of dramatic surprise about it which I was not
looking for.  It is a distinct improvement upon the threadbare form of
Indian legend. There are fifty Lover's Leaps along the Mississippi from
whose summit disappointed Indian girls have jumped, but this is the only
jump in the lot hat turned out in the right and satisfactory way. What
became of Winona?'

'She was a good deal jarred up and jolted:  but she got herself together
and disappeared before the coroner reached the fatal spot; and 'tis said
she sought and married her true love, and wandered with him to some
distant clime, where she lived happy ever after, her gentle spirit
mellowed and chastened by the romantic incident which had so early
deprived her of the sweet guidance of a mother's love and a father's
protecting arm, and thrown her, all unfriended, upon the cold charity of
a censorious world.'

I was glad to hear the lecturer's description of the scenery, for it
assisted my appreciation of what I saw of it, and enabled me to imagine
such of it as we lost by the intrusion of night.

As the lecturer remarked, this whole region is blanketed with Indian
tales and traditions.  But I reminded him that people usually merely
mention this fact--doing it in a way to make a body's mouth water--and
judiciously stopped there.  Why?  Because the impression left, was that
these tales were full of incident and imagination--a pleasant impression
which would be promptly dissipated if the tales were told. I showed him
a lot of this sort of literature which I had been collecting, and he
confessed that it was poor stuff, exceedingly sorry rubbish; and I
ventured to add that the legends which he had himself told us were of
this character, with the single exception of the admirable story of
Winona.  He granted these facts, but said that if I would hunt up Mr.
Schoolcraft's book, published near fifty years ago, and now doubtless
out of print, I would find some Indian inventions in it that were very
far from being barren of incident and imagination; that the tales in
Hiawatha were of this sort, and they came from Schoolcraft's book; and
that there were others in the same book which Mr. Longfellow could have
turned into verse with good effect. For instance, there was the legend
of 'The Undying Head.' He could not tell it, for many of the details had
grown dim in his memory; but he would recommend me to find it and
enlarge my respect for the Indian imagination.  He said that this tale,
and most of the others in the book, were current among the Indians along
this part of the Mississippi when he first came here; and that the
contributors to Schoolcraft's book had got them directly from Indian
lips, and had written them down with strict exactness, and without
embellishments of their own.

I have found the book.  The lecturer was right.  There are several
legends in it which confirm what he said.  I will offer two of them--
'The Undying Head,' and 'Peboan and Seegwun, an Allegory of the
Seasons.' The latter is used in Hiawatha; but it is worth reading in the
original form, if only that one may see how effective a genuine poem can
be without the helps and graces of poetic measure and rhythm--


An old man was sitting alone in his lodge, by the side of a frozen
stream.  It was the close of winter, and his fire was almost out, He
appeared very old and very desolate. His locks were white with age, and
he trembled in every joint. Day after day passed in solitude, and he
heard nothing but the sound of the tempest, sweeping before it the new-
fallen snow.

One day, as his fire was just dying, a handsome young man approached and
entered his dwelling.  His cheeks were red with the blood of youth, his
eyes sparkled with animation, and a smile played upon his lips. He
walked with a light and quick step.  His forehead was bound with a
wreath of sweet grass, in place of a warrior's frontlet, and he carried
a bunch of flowers in his hand.

'Ah, my son,' said the old man, 'I am happy to see you. Come in.  Come
and tell me of your adventures, and what strange lands you have been to
see.  Let us pass the night together. I will tell you of my prowess and
exploits, and what I can perform. You shall do the same, and we will
amuse ourselves.'

He then drew from his sack a curiously wrought antique pipe, and having
filled it with tobacco, rendered mild by a mixture of certain leaves,
handed it to his guest.  When this ceremony was concluded they began to

'I blow my breath,' said the old man, 'and the stream stands still. The
water becomes stiff and hard as clear stone.'

'I breathe,' said the young man, 'and flowers spring up over the plain.'

'I shake my locks,' retorted the old man, 'and snow covers the land. The
leaves fall from the trees at my command, and my breath blows them away.
The birds get up from the water, and fly to a distant land. The animals
hide themselves from my breath, and the very ground becomes as hard as

'I shake my ringlets,' rejoined the young man, 'and warm showers of soft
rain fall upon the earth.  The plants lift up their heads out of the
earth, like the eyes of children glistening with delight. My voice
recalls the birds.  The warmth of my breath unlocks the streams. Music
fills the groves wherever I walk, and all nature rejoices.'

At length the sun began to rise.  A gentle warmth came over the place.
The tongue of the old man became silent. The robin and bluebird began to
sing on the top of the lodge. The stream began to murmur by the door,
and the fragrance of growing herbs and flowers came softly on the vernal

Daylight fully revealed to the young man the character of his
entertainer. When he looked upon him, he had the icy visage of
Peboan.{footnote [Winter.]} Streams began to flow from his eyes.  As the
sun increased, he grew less and less in stature, and anon had melted
completely away. Nothing remained on the place of his lodge-fire but the
miskodeed,{footnote [The trailing arbutus.]} a small white flower, with
a pink border, which is one of the earliest species of northern plants.

'The Undying Head' is a rather long tale, but it makes up in weird
conceits, fairy-tale prodigies, variety of incident, and energy of
movement, for what it lacks in brevity.{footnote [See appendix D.]}

Chapter 60 Speculations and Conclusions

WE reached St. Paul, at the head of navigation of the Mississippi, and
there our voyage of two thousand miles from New Orleans ended.  It is
about a ten-day trip by steamer.  It can probably be done quicker by
rail. I judge so because I know that one may go by rail from St. Louis
to Hannibal--a distance of at least a hundred and twenty miles--in seven
hours. This is better than walking; unless one is in a hurry.

The season being far advanced when we were in New Orleans, the roses and
magnolia blossoms were falling; but here in St. Paul it was the snow, In
New Orleans we had caught an occasional withering breath from over a
crater, apparently; here in St. Paul we caught a frequent benumbing one
from over a glacier, apparently.

But I wander from my theme.  St. Paul is a wonderful town. It is put
together in solid blocks of honest brick and stone, and has the air of
intending to stay.  Its post-office was established thirty-six years
ago; and by and by, when the postmaster received a letter, he carried it
to Washington, horseback, to inquire what was to be done with it.  Such
is the legend.  Two frame houses were built that year, and several
persons were added to the population. A recent number of the leading St.
Paul paper, the 'Pioneer Press,' gives some statistics which furnish a
vivid contrast to that old state of things, to wit:  Population, autumn
of the present year (1882), 71,000; number of letters handled, first
half of the year, 1,209,387; number of houses built during three-
quarters of the year, 989; their cost, $3,186,000. The increase of
letters over the corresponding six months of last year was fifty per
cent. Last year the new buildings added to the city cost above
$4,500,000. St. Paul's strength lies in her commerce--I mean his
commerce. He is a manufacturing city, of course--all the cities of that
region are--but he is peculiarly strong in the matter of commerce. Last
year his jobbing trade amounted to upwards of $52,000,000.

He has a custom-house, and is building a costly capitol to replace the
one recently burned--for he is the capital of the State. He has churches
without end; and not the cheap poor kind, but the kind that the rich
Protestant puts up, the kind that the poor Irish 'hired-girl' delights
to erect.  What a passion for building majestic churches the Irish
hired-girl has. It is a fine thing for our architecture but too often we
enjoy her stately fanes without giving her a grateful thought. In fact,
instead of reflecting that 'every brick and every stone in this
beautiful edifice represents an ache or a pain, and a handful of sweat,
and hours of heavy fatigue, contributed by the back and forehead and
bones of poverty,' it is our habit to forget these things entirely, and
merely glorify the mighty temple itself, without vouchsafing one
praiseful thought to its humble builder, whose rich heart and withered
purse it symbolizes.

This is a land of libraries and schools.  St. Paul has three public
libraries, and they contain, in the aggregate, some forty thousand
books. He has one hundred and sixteen school-houses, and pays out more
than seventy thousand dollars a year in teachers' salaries.

There is an unusually fine railway station; so large is it, in fact,
that it seemed somewhat overdone, in the matter of size, at first; but
at the end of a few months it was perceived that the mistake was
distinctly the other way. The error is to be corrected.

The town stands on high ground; it is about seven hundred feet above the
sea level.  It is so high that a wide view of river and lowland is
offered from its streets.

It is a very wonderful town indeed, and is not finished yet. All the
streets are obstructed with building material, and this is being
compacted into houses as fast as possible, to make room for more--for
other people are anxious to build, as soon as they can get the use of
the streets to pile up their bricks and stuff in.

How solemn and beautiful is the thought, that the earliest pioneer of
civilization, the van-leader of civilization, is never the steamboat,
never the railroad, never the newspaper, never the Sabbath-school, never
the missionary--but always whiskey!  Such is the case. Look history
over; you will see.  The missionary comes after the whiskey--I mean he
arrives after the whiskey has arrived; next comes the poor immigrant,
with ax and hoe and rifle; next, the trader; next, the miscellaneous
rush; next, the gambler, the desperado, the highwayman, and all their
kindred in sin of both sexes; and next, the smart chap who has bought up
an old grant that covers all the land; this brings the lawyer tribe; the
vigilance committee brings the undertaker. All these interests bring the
newspaper; the newspaper starts up politics and a railroad; all hands
turn to and build a church and a jail--and behold, civilization is
established for ever in the land. But whiskey, you see, was the van-
leader in this beneficent work. It always is.  It was like a foreigner--
and excusable in a foreigner--to be ignorant of this great truth, and
wander off into astronomy to borrow a symbol.  But if he had been
conversant with the facts, he would have said--

Westward the Jug of Empire takes its way.

This great van-leader arrived upon the ground which St. Paul now
occupies, in June 1837.  Yes, at that date, Pierre Parrant, a Canadian,
built the first cabin, uncorked his jug, and began to sell whiskey to
the Indians. The result is before us.

All that I have said of the newness, briskness, swift progress, wealth,
intelligence, fine and substantial architecture, and general slash and
go, and energy of St. Paul, will apply to his near neighbor,
Minneapolis--with the addition that the latter is the bigger of the two

These extraordinary towns were ten miles apart, a few months ago, but
were growing so fast that they may possibly be joined now, and getting
along under a single mayor.  At any rate, within five years from now
there will be at least such a substantial ligament of buildings
stretching between them and uniting them that a stranger will not be
able to tell where the one Siamese twin leaves off and the other begins.
Combined, they will then number a population of two hundred and fifty
thousand, if they continue to grow as they are now growing. Thus, this
center of population at the head of Mississippi navigation, will then
begin a rivalry as to numbers, with that center of population at the
foot of it--New Orleans.

Minneapolis is situated at the falls of St. Anthony, which stretch
across the river, fifteen hundred feet, and have a fall of eighty-two
feet--a waterpower which, by art, has been made of inestimable value,
business-wise, though somewhat to the damage of the Falls as a
spectacle, or as a background against which to get your photograph

Thirty flouring-mills turn out two million barrels of the very choicest
of flour every year; twenty sawmills produce two hundred million feet of
lumber annually; then there are woolen mills, cotton mills, paper and
oil mills; and sash, nail, furniture, barrel, and other factories,
without number, so to speak. The great flouring-mills here and at St.
Paul use the 'new process' and mash the wheat by rolling, instead of
grinding it.

Sixteen railroads meet in Minneapolis, and sixty-five passenger trains
arrive and depart daily.  In this place, as in St. Paul, journalism
thrives. Here there are three great dailies, ten weeklies, and three

There is a university, with four hundred students--and, better still,
its good efforts are not confined to enlightening the one sex. There are
sixteen public schools, with buildings which cost $500,000; there are
six thousand pupils and one hundred and twenty-eight teachers. There are
also seventy churches existing, and a lot more projected. The banks
aggregate a capital of $3,000,000, and the wholesale jobbing trade of
the town amounts to $50,000,000 a year.

Near St. Paul and Minneapolis are several points of interest--Fort
Snelling, a fortress occupying a river-bluff a hundred feet high; the
falls of Minnehaha, White-bear Lake, and so forth. The beautiful falls
of Minnehaha are sufficiently celebrated--they do not need a lift from
me, in that direction. The White-bear Lake is less known.  It is a
lovely sheet of water, and is being utilized as a summer resort by the
wealth and fashion of the State.  It has its club-house, and its hotel,
with the modern improvements and conveniences; its fine summer
residences; and plenty of fishing, hunting, and pleasant drives. There
are a dozen minor summer resorts around about St. Paul and Minneapolis,
but the White-bear Lake is the resort. Connected with White-bear Lake is
a most idiotic Indian legend. I would resist the temptation to print it
here, if I could, but the task is beyond my strength.  The guide-book
names the preserver of the legend, and compliments his 'facile pen.'
Without further comment or delay then, let us turn the said facile pen
loose upon the reader--


Every spring, for perhaps a century, or as long as there has been a
nation of red men, an island in the middle of White-bear Lake has been
visited by a band of Indians for the purpose of making maple sugar.

Tradition says that many springs ago, while upon this island, a young
warrior loved and wooed the daughter of his chief, and it is said, also,
the maiden loved the warrior. He had again and again been refused her
hand by her parents, the old chief alleging that he was no brave, and
his old consort called him a woman!

The sun had again set upon the 'sugar-bush,' and the bright moon rose
high in the bright blue heavens, when the young warrior took down his
flute and went out alone, once more to sing the story of his love, the
mild breeze gently moved the two gay feathers in his head-dress, and as
he mounted on the trunk of a leaning tree, the damp snow fell from his
feet heavily.  As he raised his flute to his lips, his blanket slipped
from his well-formed shoulders, and lay partly on the snow beneath. He
began his weird, wild love-song, but soon felt that he was cold, and as
he reached back for his blanket, some unseen hand laid it gently on his
shoulders; it was the hand of his love, his guardian angel. She took her
place beside him, and for the present they were happy; for the Indian
has a heart to love, and in this pride he is as noble as in his own
freedom, which makes him the child of the forest. As the legend runs, a
large white-bear, thinking, perhaps, that polar snows and dismal winter
weather extended everywhere, took up his journey southward. He at length
approached the northern shore of the lake which now bears his name,
walked down the bank and made his way noiselessly through the deep heavy
snow toward the island.  It was the same spring ensuing that the lovers
met.  They had left their first retreat, and were now seated among the
branches of a large elm which hung far over the lake. (The same tree is
still standing, and excites universal curiosity and interest.) For fear
of being detected, they talked almost in a whisper, and now, that they
might get back to camp in good time and thereby avoid suspicion, they
were just rising to return, when the maiden uttered a shriek which was
heard at the camp, and bounding toward the young brave, she caught his
blanket, but missed the direction of her foot and fell, bearing the
blanket with her into the great arms of the ferocious monster. Instantly
every man, woman, and child of the band were upon the bank, but all
unarmed.  Cries and wailings went up from every mouth. What was to be
done'? In the meantime this white and savage beast held the breathless
maiden in his huge grasp, and fondled with his precious prey as if he
were used to scenes like this.  One deafening yell from the lover
warrior is heard above the cries of hundreds of his tribe, and dashing
away to his wigwam he grasps his faithful knife, returns almost at a
single bound to the scene of fear and fright, rushes out along the
leaning tree to the spot where his treasure fell, and springing with the
fury of a mad panther, pounced upon his prey. The animal turned, and
with one stroke of his huge paw brought the lovers heart to heart, but
the next moment the warrior, with one plunge of the blade of his knife,
opened the crimson sluices of death, and the dying bear relaxed his

That night there was no more sleep for the band or the lovers, and as
the young and the old danced about the carcass of the dead monster, the
gallant warrior was presented with another plume, and ere another moon
had set he had a living treasure added to his heart. Their children for
many years played upon the skin of the white-bear--from which the lake
derives its name--and the maiden and the brave remembered long the
fearful scene and rescue that made them one, for Kis-se-me-pa and Ka-go-
ka could never forget their fearful encounter with the huge monster that
came so near sending them to the happy hunting-ground.

It is a perplexing business.  First, she fell down out of the tree--she
and the blanket; and the bear caught her and fondled her--her and the
blanket; then she fell up into the tree again--leaving the blanket;
meantime the lover goes war-whooping home and comes back 'heeled,'
climbs the tree, jumps down on the bear, the girl jumps down after him--
apparently, for she was up the tree--resumes her place in the bear's
arms along with the blanket, the lover rams his knife into the bear, and
saves--whom, the blanket?  No--nothing of the sort. You get yourself all
worked up and excited about that blanket, and then all of a sudden, just
when a happy climax seems imminent you are let down flat--nothing saved
but the girl. Whereas, one is not interested in the girl; she is not the
prominent feature of the legend.  Nevertheless, there you are left, and
there you must remain; for if you live a thousand years you will never
know who got the blanket. A dead man could get up a better legend than
this one. I don't mean a fresh dead man either; I mean a man that's been
dead weeks and weeks.

We struck the home-trail now, and in a few hours were in that
astonishing Chicago--a city where they are always rubbing the lamp, and
fetching up the genii, and contriving and achieving new impossibilities.
It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with
Chicago--she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them. She
is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you
passed through the last time.  The Pennsylvania road rushed us to New
York without missing schedule time ten minutes anywhere on the route;
and there ended one of the most enjoyable five-thousand-mile journeys I
have ever had the good fortune to make.




IT was nine o'clock Thursday morning when the 'Susie' left the
Mississippi and entered Old River, or what is now called the mouth of
the Red.  Ascending on the left, a flood was pouring in through and over
the levees on the Chandler plantation, the most northern point in Pointe
Coupee parish.  The water completely covered the place, although the
levees had given way but a short time before. The stock had been
gathered in a large flat-boat, where, without food, as we passed, the
animals were huddled together, waiting for a boat to tow them off.  On
the right-hand side of the river is Turnbull's Island, and on it is a
large plantation which formerly was pronounced one of the most fertile
in the State. The water has hitherto allowed it to go scot-free in usual
floods, but now broad sheets of water told only where fields were. The
top of the protecting levee could be seen here and there, but nearly all
of it was submerged.

The trees have put on a greener foliage since the water has poured in,
and the woods look bright and fresh, but this pleasant aspect to the eye
is neutralized by the interminable waste of water.  We pass mile after
mile, and it is nothing but trees standing up to their branches in
water. A water-turkey now and again rises and flies ahead into the long
avenue of silence.  A pirogue sometimes flits from the bushes and
crosses the Red River on its way out to the Mississippi, but the sad-
faced paddlers never turn their heads to look at our boat.  The puffing
of the boat is music in this gloom, which affects one most curiously. It
is not the gloom of deep forests or dark caverns, but a peculiar kind of
solemn silence and impressive awe that holds one perforce to its
recognition. We passed two negro families on a raft tied up in the
willows this morning. They were evidently of the well-to-do class, as
they had a supply of meal and three or four hogs with them.  Their rafts
were about twenty feet square, and in front of an improvised shelter
earth had been placed, on which they built their fire.

The current running down the Atchafalaya was very swift, the Mississippi
showing a predilection in that direction, which needs only to be seen to
enforce the opinion of that river's desperate endeavors to find a short
way to the Gulf. Small boats, skiffs, pirogues, etc., are in great
demand, and many have been stolen by piratical negroes, who take them
where they will bring the greatest price. From what was told me by Mr.
C. P. Ferguson, a planter near Red River Landing, whose place has just
gone under, there is much suffering in the rear of that place. The
negroes had given up all thoughts of a crevasse there, as the upper
levee had stood so long, and when it did come they were at its mercy.
On Thursday a number were taken out of trees and off of cabin roofs and
brought in, many yet remaining.

One does not appreciate the sight of earth until he has traveled through
a flood.  At sea one does not expect or look for it, but here, with
fluttering leaves, shadowy forest aisles, house-tops barely visible, it
is expected.  In fact a grave-yard, if the mounds were above water,
would be appreciated.  The river here is known only because there is an
opening in the trees, and that is all. It is in width, from Fort Adams
on the left bank of the Mississippi to the bank of Rapides Parish, a
distance of about sixty miles. A large portion of this was under
cultivation, particularly along the Mississippi and back of the Red.
When Red River proper was entered, a strong current was running directly
across it, pursuing the same direction as that of the Mississippi.

After a run of some hours, Black River was reached. Hardly was it
entered before signs of suffering became visible. All the willows along
the banks were stripped of their leaves. One man, whom your
correspondent spoke to, said that he had had one hundred and fifty head
of cattle and one hundred head of hogs. At the first appearance of water
he had started to drive them to the high lands of Avoyelles, thirty-five
miles off, but he lost fifty head of the beef cattle and sixty hogs.
Black River is quite picturesque, even if its shores are under water. A
dense growth of ash, oak, gum, and hickory make the shores almost
impenetrable, and where one can get a view down some avenue in the
trees, only the dim outlines of distant trunks can be barely
distinguished in the gloom.

A few miles up this river, the depth of water on the banks was fully
eight feet, and on all sides could be seen, still holding against the
strong current, the tops of cabins. Here and there one overturned was
surrounded by drift-wood, forming the nucleus of possibly some future

In order to save coal, as it was impossible to get that fuel at any
point to be touched during the expedition, a look-out was kept for a
wood-pile. On rounding a point a pirogue, skilfully paddled by a youth,
shot out, and in its bow was a girl of fifteen, of fair face, beautiful
black eyes, and demure manners.  The boy asked for a paper, which was
thrown to him, and the couple pushed their tiny craft out into the swell
of the boat.

Presently a little girl, not certainly over twelve years, paddled out in
the smallest little canoe and handled it with all the deftness of an old
voyageur.  The little one looked more like an Indian than a white child,
and laughed when asked if she were afraid. She had been raised in a
pirogue and could go anywhere. She was bound out to pick willow leaves
for the stock, and she pointed to a house near by with water three
inches deep on the floors. At its back door was moored a raft about
thirty feet square, with a sort of fence built upon it, and inside of
this some sixteen cows and twenty hogs were standing.  The family did
not complain, except on account of losing their stock, and promptly
brought a supply of wood in a flat.

From this point to the Mississippi River, fifteen miles, there is not a
spot of earth above water, and to the westward for thirty-five miles
there is nothing but the river's flood.  Black River had risen during
Thursday, the 23rd, 1{three-quarters} inches, and was going up at night
still. As we progress up the river habitations become more frequent, but
are yet still miles apart.  Nearly all of them are deserted, and the
out-houses floated off.  To add to the gloom, almost every living thing
seems to have departed, and not a whistle of a bird nor the bark of the
squirrel can be heard in this solitude. Sometimes a morose gar will
throw his tail aloft and disappear in the river, but beyond this
everything is quiet--the quiet of dissolution. Down the river floats now
a neatly whitewashed hen-house, then a cluster of neatly split fence-
rails, or a door and a bloated carcass, solemnly guarded by a pair of
buzzards, the only bird to be seen, which feast on the carcass as it
bears them along.  A picture-frame in which there was a cheap lithograph
of a soldier on horseback, as it floated on told of some hearth invaded
by the water and despoiled of this ornament.

At dark, as it was not prudent to run, a place alongside the woods was
hunted and to a tall gum-tree the boat was made fast for the night.

A pretty quarter of the moon threw a pleasant light over forest and
river, making a picture that would be a delightful piece of landscape
study, could an artist only hold it down to his canvas.  The motion of
the engines had ceased, the puffing of the escaping steam was stilled,
and the enveloping silence closed upon us, and such silence it was!
Usually in a forest at night one can hear the piping of frogs, the hum
of insects, or the dropping of limbs; but here nature was dumb. The dark
recesses, those aisles into this cathedral, gave forth no sound, and
even the ripplings of the current die away.

At daylight Friday morning all hands were up, and up the Black we
started. The morning was a beautiful one, and the river, which is
remarkably straight, put on its loveliest garb.  The blossoms of the haw
perfumed the air deliciously, and a few birds whistled blithely along
the banks. The trees were larger, and the forest seemed of older growth
than below. More fields were passed than nearer the mouth, but the same
scene presented itself--smoke-houses drifting out in the pastures, negro
quarters anchored in confusion against some oak, and the modest
residence just showing its eaves above water.  The sun came up in a
glory of carmine, and the trees were brilliant in their varied shades of
green. Not a foot of soil is to be seen anywhere, and the water is
apparently growing deeper and deeper, for it reaches up to the branches
of the largest trees. All along, the bordering willows have been denuded
of leaves, showing how long the people have been at work gathering this
fodder for their animals.  An old man in a pirogue was asked how the
willow leaves agreed with his cattle. He stopped in his work, and with
an ominous shake of his head replied: 'Well, sir, it 's enough to keep
warmth in their bodies and that's all we expect, but it's hard on the
hogs, particularly the small ones. They is dropping off powerful fast.
But what can you do?  It 's all we've got.'

At thirty miles above the mouth of Black River the water extends from
Natchez on the Mississippi across to the pine hills of Louisiana, a
distance of seventy-three miles, and there is hardly a spot that is not
ten feet under it. The tendency of the current up the Black is toward
the west. In fact, so much is this the case, the waters of Red River
have been driven down from toward the Calcasieu country, and the waters
of the Black enter the Red some fifteen miles above the mouth of the
former, a thing never before seen by even the oldest steamboatmen.  The
water now in sight of us is entirely from the Mississippi.

Up to Trinity, or rather Troy, which is but a short distance below, the
people have nearly all moved out, those remaining having enough for
their present personal needs. Their cattle, though, are suffering and
dying off quite fast, as the confinement on rafts and the food they get
breeds disease.

After a short stop we started, and soon came to a section where there
were many open fields and cabins thickly scattered about. Here were seen
more pictures of distress.  On the inside of the houses the inmates had
built on boxes a scaffold on which they placed the furniture.  The bed-
posts were sawed off on top, as the ceiling was not more than four feet
from the improvised floor.  The buildings looked very insecure, and
threatened every moment to float off. Near the houses were cattle
standing breast high in the water, perfectly impassive.  They did not
move in their places, but stood patiently waiting for help to come.  The
sight was a distressing one, and the poor creatures will be sure to die
unless speedily rescued. Cattle differ from horses in this peculiar
quality.  A horse, after finding no relief comes, will swim off in
search of food, whereas a beef will stand in its tracks until with
exhaustion it drops in the water and drowns.

At half-past twelve o'clock a hail was given from a flat-boat inside the
line of the bank.  Rounding to we ran alongside, and General York
stepped aboard.  He was just then engaged in getting off stock, and
welcomed the 'Times-Democrat' boat heartily, as he said there was much
need for her. He said that the distress was not exaggerated in the
least. People were in a condition it was difficult even for one to
imagine. The water was so high there was great danger of their houses
being swept away.  It had already risen so high that it was approaching
the eaves, and when it reaches this point there is always imminent risk
of their being swept away.  If this occurs, there will be great loss of
life.  The General spoke of the gallant work of many of the people in
their attempts to save their stock, but thought that fully twenty-five
per cent.  had perished. Already twenty-five hundred people had received
rations from Troy, on Black River, and he had towed out a great many
cattle, but a very great quantity remained and were in dire need. The
water was now eighteen inches higher than in 1874, and there was no land
between Vidalia and the hills of Catahoula.

At two o'clock the 'Susie' reached Troy, sixty-five miles above the
mouth of Black River.  Here on the left comes in Little River; just
beyond that the Ouachita, and on the right the Tensas. These three
rivers form the Black River.  Troy, or a portion of it, is situated on
and around three large Indian mounds, circular in shape, which rise
above the present water about twelve feet.  They are about one hundred
and fifty feet in diameter, and are about two hundred yards apart. The
houses are all built between these mounds, and hence are all flooded to
a depth of eighteen inches on their floors.

These elevations, built by the aborigines, hundreds of years ago, are
the only points of refuge for miles.  When we arrived we found them
crowded with stock, all of which was thin and hardly able to stand up.
They were mixed together, sheep, hogs, horses, mules, and cattle. One of
these mounds has been used for many years as the grave-yard, and to-day
we saw attenuated cows lying against the marble tomb-stones, chewing
their cud in contentment, after a meal of corn furnished by General
York.  Here, as below, the remarkable skill of the women and girls in
the management of the smaller pirogues was noticed. Children were
paddling about in these most ticklish crafts with all the nonchalance of

General York has put into operation a perfect system in regard to
furnishing relief.  He makes a personal inspection of the place where it
is asked, sees what is necessary to be done, and then, having two boats
chartered, with flats, sends them promptly to the place, when the cattle
are loaded and towed to the pine hills and uplands of Catahoula.  He has
made Troy his headquarters, and to this point boats come for their
supply of feed for cattle. On the opposite side of Little River, which
branches to the left out of Black, and between it and the Ouachita, is
situated the town of Trinity, which is hourly threatened with
destruction. It is much lower than Troy, and the water is eight and nine
feet deep in the houses.  A strong current sweeps through it, and it is
remarkable that all of its houses have not gone before. The residents of
both Troy and Trinity have been cared for, yet some of their stock have
to be furnished with food.

As soon as the 'Susie' reached Troy, she was turned over to General
York, and placed at his disposition to carry out the work of relief more
rapidly. Nearly all her supplies were landed on one of the mounds to
lighten her, and she was headed down stream to relieve those below.  At
Tom Hooper's place, a few miles from Troy, a large flat, with about
fifty head of stock on board, was taken in tow.  The animals were fed,
and soon regained some strength. To-day we go on Little River, where the
suffering is greatest.


Saturday Evening, March 25.

We started down Black River quite early, under the direction of General
York, to bring out what stock could be reached.  Going down river a flat
in tow was left in a central locality, and from there men poled her back
in the rear of plantations, picking up the animals wherever found. In
the loft of a gin-house there were seventeen head found, and after a
gangway was built they were led down into the flat without difficulty.
Taking a skiff with the General, your reporter was pulled up to a little
house of two rooms, in which the water was standing two feet on the
floors. In one of the large rooms were huddled the horses and cows of
the place, while in the other the Widow Taylor and her son were seated
on a scaffold raised on the floor.  One or two dug-outs were drifting
about in the roam ready to be put in service at any time.  When the flat
was brought up, the side of the house was cut away as the only means of
getting the animals out, and the cattle were driven on board the boat.
General York, in this as in every case, inquired if the family desired
to leave, informing them that Major Burke, of 'The Times-Democrat,' has
sent the 'Susie' up for that purpose.  Mrs. Taylor said she thanked
Major Burke, but she would try and hold out.  The remarkable tenacity of
the people here to their homes is beyond all comprehension.  Just below,
at a point sixteen miles from Troy, information was received that the
house of Mr. Tom Ellis was in danger, and his family were all in it.  We
steamed there immediately, and a sad picture was presented.  Looking out
of the half of the window left above water, was Mrs. Ellis, who is in
feeble health, whilst at the door were her seven children, the oldest
not fourteen years. One side of the house was given up to the work
animals, some twelve head, besides hogs.  In the next room the family
lived, the water coming within two inches of the bed-rail. The stove was
below water, and the cooking was done on a fire on top of it.  The house
threatened to give way at any moment: one end of it was sinking, and, in
fact, the building looked a mere shell. As the boat rounded to, Mr.
Ellis came out in a dug-out, and General York told him that he had come
to his relief; that 'The Times-Democrat' boat was at his service, and
would remove his family at once to the hills, and on Monday a flat would
take out his stock, as, until that time, they would be busy.
Notwithstanding the deplorable situation himself and family were in, Mr.
Ellis did not want to leave.  He said he thought he would wait until
Monday, and take the risk of his house falling. The children around the
door looked perfectly contented, seeming to care little for the danger
they were in.  These are but two instances of the many. After weeks of
privation and suffering, people still cling to their houses and leave
only when there is not room between the water and the ceiling to build a
scaffold on which to stand.  It seemed to be incomprehensible, yet the
love for the old place was stronger than that for safety.

After leaving the Ellis place, the next spot touched at was the Oswald
place.  Here the flat was towed alongside the gin-house where there were
fifteen head standing in water; and yet, as they stood on scaffolds,
their heads were above the top of the entrance.  It was found impossible
to get them out without cutting away a portion of the front; and so axes
were brought into requisition and a gap made. After much labor the
horses and mules were securely placed on the flat.

At each place we stop there are always three, four, or more dug-outs
arriving, bringing information of stock in other places in need.
Notwithstanding the fact that a great many had driven a part of their
stock to the hills some time ago, there yet remains a large quantity,
which General York, who is working with indomitable energy, will get
landed in the pine hills by Tuesday.

All along Black River the 'Susie' has been visited by scores of
planters, whose tales are the repetition of those already heard of
suffering and loss.  An old planter, who has lived on the river since
1844, said there never was such a rise, and he was satisfied more than
one quarter of the stock has been lost. Luckily the people cared first
for their work stock, and when they could find it horses and mules were
housed in a place of safety. The rise which still continues, and was two
inches last night, compels them to get them out to the hills; hence it
is that the work of General York is of such a great value. From daylight
to late at night he is going this way and that, cheering by his kindly
words and directing with calm judgment what is to be done.  One
unpleasant story, of a certain merchant in New Orleans, is told all
along the river. It appears for some years past the planters have been
dealing with this individual, and many of them had balances in his
hands. When the overflow came they wrote for coffee, for meal, and, in
fact, for such little necessities as were required. No response to these
letters came, and others were written, and yet these old customers, with
plantations under water, were refused even what was necessary to sustain
life.  It is needless to say he is not popular now on Back River.

The hills spoken of as the place of refuge for the people and stock on
Black River are in Catahoula parish, twenty-four miles from Black River.

After filling the flat with cattle we took on board the family of T. S.
Hooper, seven in number, who could not longer remain in their dwelling,
and we are now taking them up Little River to the hills.


Troy: March 27, 1882, noon.

The flood here is rising about three and a half inches every twenty-four
hours, and rains have set in which will increase this. General York
feels now that our efforts ought to be directed towards saving life, as
the increase of the water has jeopardized many houses. We intend to go
up the Tensas in a few minutes, and then we will return and go down
Black River to take off families. There is a lack of steam
transportation here to meet the emergency. The General has three boats
chartered, with flats in tow, but the demand for these to tow out stock
is greater than they can meet with promptness.  All are working night
and day, and the 'Susie' hardly stops for more than an hour anywhere.
The rise has placed Trinity in a dangerous plight, and momentarily it is
expected that some of the houses will float off. Troy is a little
higher, yet all are in the water. Reports have come in that a woman and
child have been washed away below here, and two cabins floated off.
Their occupants are the same who refused to come off day before
yesterday.  One would not believe the utter passiveness of the people.

As yet no news has been received of the steamer 'Delia,' which is
supposed to be the one sunk in yesterday's storm on Lake Catahoula. She
is due here now, but has not arrived.  Even the mail here is most
uncertain, and this I send by skiff to Natchez to get it to you. It is
impossible to get accurate data as to past crops, etc., as those who
know much about the matter have gone, and those who remain are not well
versed in the production of this section.

General York desires me to say that the amount of rations formerly sent
should be duplicated and sent at once. It is impossible to make any
estimate, for the people are fleeing to the hills, so rapid is the rise.
The residents here are in a state of commotion that can only be
appreciated when seen, and complete demoralization has set in,

If rations are drawn for any particular section hereabouts, they would
not be certain to be distributed, so everything should be sent to Troy
as a center, and the General will have it properly disposed of. He has
sent for one hundred tents, and, if all go to the hills who are in
motion now, two hundred will be required.



THE condition of this rich valley of the Lower Mississippi, immediately
after and since the war, constituted one of the disastrous effects of
war most to be deplored. Fictitious property in slaves was not only
righteously destroyed, but very much of the work which had depended upon
the slave labor was also destroyed or greatly impaired, especially the
levee system.

It might have been expected by those who have not investigated the
subject, that such important improvements as the construction and
maintenance of the levees would have been assumed at once by the several
States. But what can the State do where the people are under subjection
to rates of interest ranging from 18 to 30 per cent., and are also under
the necessity of pledging their crops in advance even of planting, at
these rates, for the privilege of purchasing all of their supplies at
100 per cent.  profit?

It has needed but little attention to make it perfectly obvious that the
control of the Mississippi River, if undertaken at all, must be
undertaken by the national government, and cannot be compassed by
States.  The river must be treated as a unit; its control cannot be
compassed under a divided or separate system of administration.

Neither are the States especially interested competent to combine among
themselves for the necessary operations. The work must begin far up the
river; at least as far as Cairo, if not beyond; and must be conducted
upon a consistent general plan throughout the course of the river.

It does not need technical or scientific knowledge to comprehend the
elements of the case if one will give a little time and attention to the
subject, and when a Mississippi River commission has been constituted,
as the existing commission is, of thoroughly able men of different walks
in life, may it not be suggested that their verdict in the case should
be accepted as conclusive, so far as any a priori theory of construction
or control can be considered conclusive?

It should be remembered that upon this board are General Gilmore,
General Comstock, and General Suter, of the United States Engineers;
Professor Henry Mitchell (the most competent authority on the question
of hydrography), of the United States Coast Survey; B. B. Harrod, the
State Engineer of Louisiana; Jas.  B. Eads, whose success with the
jetties at New Orleans is a warrant of his competency, and Judge Taylor,
of Indiana.

It would be presumption on the part of any single man, however skilled,
to contest the judgment of such a board as this.

The method of improvement proposed by the commission is at once in
accord with the results of engineering experience and with observations
of nature where meeting our wants. As in nature the growth of trees and
their proneness where undermined to fall across the slope and support
the bank secures at some points a fair depth of channel and some degree
of permanence, so in the project of the engineer the use of timber and
brush and the encouragement of forest growth are the main features. It
is proposed to reduce the width where excessive by brushwood dykes, at
first low, but raised higher and higher as the mud of the river settles
under their shelter, and finally slope them back at the angle upon which
willows will grow freely.  In this work there are many details connected
with the forms of these shelter dykes, their arrangements so as to
present a series of settling basins, etc., a description of which would
only complicate the conception. Through the larger part of the river
works of contraction will not be required, but nearly all the banks on
the concave side of the beds must be held against the wear of the
stream, and much of the opposite banks defended at critical points. The
works having in view this conservative object may be generally
designated works of revetment; and these also will be largely of
brushwood, woven in continuous carpets, or twined into wire-netting.
This veneering process has been successfully employed on the Missouri
River; and in some cases they have so covered themselves with sediments,
and have become so overgrown with willows, that they may be regarded as
permanent. In securing these mats rubble-stone is to be used in small
quantities, and in some instances the dressed slope between high and low
river will have to be more or less paved with stone.

Any one who has been on the Rhine will have observed operations not
unlike those to which we have just referred; and, indeed, most of the
rivers of Europe flowing among their own alluvia have required similar
treatment in the interest of navigation and agriculture.

The levee is the crowning work of bank revetment, although not
necessarily in immediate connection.  It may be set back a short
distance from the revetted bank; but it is, in effect, the requisite
parapet. The flood river and the low river cannot be brought into
register, and compelled to unite in the excavation of a single permanent
channel, without a complete control of all the stages; and even the
abnormal rise must be provided against, because this would endanger the
levee, and once in force behind the works of revetment would tear them
also away.

Under the general principle that the local slope of a river is the
result and measure of the resistance of its bed, it is evident that a
narrow and deep stream should have less slope, because it has less
frictional surface in proportion to capacity; i.e., less perimeter in
proportion to area of cross section. The ultimate effect of levees and
revetments confining the floods and bringing all the stages of the river
into register is to deepen the channel and let down the slope. The first
effect of the levees is to raise the surface; but this, by inducing
greater velocity of flow, inevitably causes an enlargement of section,
and if this enlargement is prevented from being made at the expense of
the banks, the bottom must give way and the form of the waterway be so
improved as to admit this flow with less rise. The actual experience
with levees upon the Mississippi River, with no attempt to hold the
banks, has been favorable, and no one can doubt, upon the evidence
furnished in the reports of the commission, that if the earliest levees
had been accompanied by revetment of banks, and made complete, we should
have to-day a river navigable at low water, and an adjacent country safe
from inundation.

Of course it would be illogical to conclude that the constrained river
can ever lower its flood slope so as to make levees unnecessary, but it
is believed that, by this lateral constraint, the river as a conduit may
be so improved in form that even those rare floods which result from the
coincident rising of many tributaries will find vent without destroying
levees of ordinary height. That the actual capacity of a channel through
alluvium depends upon its service during floods has been often shown,
but this capacity does not include anomalous, but recurrent, floods.

It is hardly worth while to consider the projects for relieving the
Mississippi River floods by creating new outlets, since these
sensational propositions have commended themselves only to unthinking
minds, and have no support among engineers. Were the river bed cast-
iron, a resort to openings for surplus waters might be a necessity; but
as the bottom is yielding, and the best form of outlet is a single deep
channel, as realizing the least ratio of perimeter to area of cross
section, there could not well be a more unphilosophical method of
treatment than the multiplication of avenues of escape.

In the foregoing statement the attempt has been made to condense in as
limited a space as the importance of the subject would permit, the
general elements of the problem, and the general features of the
proposed method of improvement which has been adopted by the Mississippi
River Commission.

The writer cannot help feeling that it is somewhat presumptuous on his
part to attempt to present the facts relating to an enterprise which
calls for the highest scientific skill; but it is a matter which
interests every citizen of the United States, and is one of the methods
of reconstruction which ought to be approved. It is a war claim which
implies no private gain, and no compensation except for one of the cases
of destruction incident to war, which may well be repaired by the people
of the whole country.


Boston:  April 14, 1882.



HAVING now arrived nearly at the end of our travels, I am induced, ere I
conclude, again to mention what I consider as one of the most remarkable
traits in the national character of the Americans; namely, their
exquisite sensitiveness and soreness respecting everything said or
written concerning them. Of this, perhaps, the most remarkable example I
can give is the effect produced on nearly every class of readers by the
appearance of Captain Basil Hall's 'Travels in North America.' In fact,
it was a sort of moral earthquake, and the vibration it occasioned
through the nerves of the republic, from one corner of the Union to the
other, was by no means over when I left the country in July 1831, a
couple of years after the shock.

I was in Cincinnati when these volumes came out, but it was not till
July 1830, that I procured a copy of them. One bookseller to whom I
applied told me that he had had a few copies before he understood the
nature of the work, but that, after becoming acquainted with it, nothing
should induce him to sell another.  Other persons of his profession
must, however, have been less scrupulous; for the book was read in city,
town, village, and hamlet, steamboat, and stage-coach, and a sort of
war-whoop was sent forth perfectly unprecedented in my recollection upon
any occasion whatever.

An ardent desire for approbation, and a delicate sensitiveness under
censure, have always, I believe, been considered as amiable traits of
character; but the condition into which the appearance of Captain Hall's
work threw the republic shows plainly that these feelings, if carried to
excess, produce a weakness which amounts to imbecility.

It was perfectly astonishing to hear men who, on other subjects, were of
some judgment, utter their opinions upon this. I never heard of any
instance in which the commonsense generally found in national criticism
was so overthrown by passion. I do not speak of the want of justice, and
of fair and liberal interpretation:  these, perhaps, were hardly to be
expected. Other nations have been called thin-skinned, but the citizens
of the Union have, apparently, no skins at all; they wince if a breeze
blows over them, unless it be tempered with adulation. It was not,
therefore, very surprising that the acute and forcible observations of a
traveler they knew would be listened to should be received testily.  The
extraordinary features of the business were, first, the excess of the
rage into which they lashed themselves; and, secondly, the puerility of
the inventions by which they attempted to account for the severity with
which they fancied they had been treated.

Not content with declaring that the volumes contained no word of truth,
from beginning to end (which is an assertion I heard made very nearly as
often as they were mentioned), the whole country set to work to discover
the causes why Captain Hall had visited the United States, and why he
had published his book.

I have heard it said with as much precision and gravity as if the
statement had been conveyed by an official report, that Captain Hall had
been sent out by the British Government expressly for the purpose of
checking the growing admiration of England for the Government of the
United States,--that it was by a commission from the treasury he had
come, and that it was only in obedience to orders that he had found
anything to object to.

I do not give this as the gossip of a coterie; I am persuaded that it is
the belief of a very considerable portion of the country. So deep is the
conviction of this singular people that they cannot be seen without
being admired, that they will not admit the possibility that any one
should honestly and sincerely find aught to disapprove in them or their

The American Reviews are, many of them, I believe, well known in
England; I need not, therefore, quote them here, but I sometimes
wondered that they, none of them, ever thought of translating Obadiah's
curse into classic American; if they had done so, on placing (he, Basil
Hall) between brackets, instead of (he, Obadiah) it would have saved
them a world of trouble.

I can hardly describe the curiosity with which I sat down at length to
peruse these tremendous volumes; still less can I do justice to my
surprise at their contents.  To say that I found not one exaggerated
statement throughout the work is by no means saying enough. It is
impossible for any one who knows the country not to see that Captain
Hall earnestly sought out things to admire and commend. When he praises,
it is with evident pleasure; and when he finds fault, it is with evident
reluctance and restraint, excepting where motives purely patriotic urge
him to state roundly what it is for the benefit of his country should be

In fact, Captain Hall saw the country to the greatest possible
advantage. Furnished, of course, with letters of introduction to the
most distinguished individuals, and with the still more influential
recommendation of his own reputation, he was received in full drawing-
room style and state from one end of the Union to the other. He saw the
country in full dress, and had little or no opportunity of judging of it
unhouselled, unanointed, unannealed, with all its imperfections on its
head, as I and my family too often had.

Captain Hall had certainly excellent opportunities of making himself
acquainted with the form of the government and the laws; and of
receiving, moreover, the best oral commentary upon them, in conversation
with the most distinguished citizens. Of these opportunities he made
excellent use; nothing important met his eye which did not receive that
sort of analytical attention which an experienced and philosophical
traveler alone can give. This has made his volumes highly interesting
and valuable; but I am deeply persuaded, that were a man of equal
penetration to visit the United States with no other means of becoming
acquainted with the national character than the ordinary working-day
intercourse of life, he would conceive an infinitely lower idea of the
moral atmosphere of the country than Captain Hall appears to have done;
and the internal conviction on my mind is strong, that if Captain Hall
had not placed a firm restraint on himself, he must have given
expression to far deeper indignation than any he has uttered against
many points in the American character, with which he shows from other
circumstances that he was well acquainted. His rule appears to have been
to state just so much of the truth as would leave on the mind of his
readers a correct impression, at the least cost of pain to the sensitive
folks he was writing about. He states his own opinions and feelings, and
leaves it to be inferred that he has good grounds for adopting them; but
he spares the Americans the bitterness which a detail of the
circumstances would have produced.

If any one chooses to say that some wicked antipathy to twelve millions
of strangers is the origin of my opinion, I must bear it; and were the
question one of mere idle speculation, I certainly would not court the
abuse I must meet for stating it. But it is not so.

. . . . . . .

The candor which he expresses, and evidently feels, they mistake for
irony, or totally distrust; his unwillingness to give pain to persons
from whom he has received kindness, they scornfully reject as
affectation, and although they must know right well, in their own secret
hearts, how infinitely more they lay at his mercy than he has chosen to
betray; they pretend, even to themselves, that he has exaggerated the
bad points of their character and institutions; whereas, the truth is,
that he has let them off with a degree of tenderness which may be quite
suitable for him to exercise, however little merited; while, at the same
time, he has most industriously magnified their merits, whenever he
could possibly find anything favorable.



IN a remote part of the North lived a man and his sister, who had never
seen a human being.  Seldom, if ever, had the man any cause to go from
home; for, as his wants demanded food, he had only to go a little
distance from the lodge, and there, in some particular spot, place his
arrows, with their barbs in the ground.  Telling his sister where they
had been placed, every morning she would go in search, and never fail of
finding each stuck through the heart of a deer.  She had then only to
drag them into the lodge and prepare their food. Thus she lived till she
attained womanhood, when one day her brother, whose name was Iamo, said
to her:  'Sister, the time is at hand when you will be ill.  Listen to
my advice. If you do not, it will probably be the cause of my death.
Take the implements with which we kindle our fires. Go some distance
from our lodge and build a separate fire. When you are in want of food,
I will tell you where to find it. You must cook for yourself, and I will
for myself. When you are ill, do not attempt to come near the lodge, or
bring any of the utensils you use.  Be sure always to fasten to your
belt the implements you need, for you do not know when the time will
come.  As for myself, I must do the best I can.'  His sister promised to
obey him in all he had said.

Shortly after, her brother had cause to go from home. She was alone in
her lodge, combing her hair.  She had just untied the belt to which the
implements were fastened, when suddenly the event, to which her brother
had alluded, occurred. She ran out of the lodge, but in her haste forgot
the belt. Afraid to return, she stood for some time thinking. Finally,
she decided to enter the lodge and get it. For, thought she, my brother
is not at home, and I will stay but a moment to catch hold of it.  She
went back. Running in suddenly, she caught hold of it, and was coming
out when her brother came in sight.  He knew what was the matter. 'Oh,'
he said, 'did I not tell you to take care. But now you have killed me.'
She was going on her way, but her brother said to her, 'What can you do
there now. The accident has happened.  Go in, and stay where you have
always stayed.  And what will become of you? You have killed me.'

He then laid aside his hunting-dress and accoutrements, and soon after
both his feet began to turn black, so that he could not move. Still he
directed his sister where to place the arrows, that she might always
have food.  The inflammation continued to increase, and had now reached
his first rib; and he said: 'Sister, my end is near.  You must do as I
tell you. You see my medicine-sack, and my war-club tied to it.  It
contains all my medicines, and my war-plumes, and my paints of all
colors. As soon as the inflammation reaches my breast, you will take my
war-club. It has a sharp point, and you will cut off my head. When it is
free from my body, take it, place its neck in the sack, which you must
open at one end.  Then hang it up in its former place. Do not forget my
bow and arrows.  One of the last you will take to procure food.  The
remainder, tie in my sack, and then hang it up, so that I can look
towards the door. Now and then I will speak to you, but not often.'  His
sister again promised to obey.

In a little time his breast was affected.  'Now,' said he, 'take the
club and strike off my head.'  She was afraid, but he told her to muster
courage.  'Strike,' said he, and a smile was on his face. Mustering all
her courage, she gave the blow and cut off the head. 'Now,' said the
head, 'place me where I told you.' And fearfully she obeyed it in all
its commands. Retaining its animation, it looked around the lodge as
usual, and it would command its sister to go in such places as it
thought would procure for her the flesh of different animals she needed.
One day the head said:  'The time is not distant when I shall be freed
from this situation, and I shall have to undergo many sore evils. So the
superior manito decrees, and I must bear all patiently.' In this
situation we must leave the head.

In a certain part of the country was a village inhabited by a numerous
and warlike band of Indians.  In this village was a family of ten young
men--brothers.  It was in the spring of the year that the youngest of
these blackened his face and fasted. His dreams were propitious.  Having
ended his fast, he went secretly for his brothers at night, so that none
in the village could overhear or find out the direction they intended to
go. Though their drum was heard, yet that was a common occurrence.
Having ended the usual formalities, he told how favorable his dreams
were, and that he had called them together to know if they would
accompany him in a war excursion. They all answered they would.  The
third brother from the eldest, noted for his oddities, coming up with
his war-club when his brother had ceased speaking, jumped up.  'Yes,'
said he, 'I will go, and this will be the way I will treat those I am
going to fight;' and he struck the post in the center of the lodge, and
gave a yell. The others spoke to him, saying:  'Slow, slow, Mudjikewis,
when you are in other people's lodges.'  So he sat down.  Then, in turn,
they took the drum, and sang their songs, and closed with a feast. The
youngest told them not to whisper their intention to their wives, but
secretly to prepare for their journey. They all promised obedience, and
Mudjikewis was the first to say so.

The time for their departure drew near.  Word was given to assemble on a
certain night, when they would depart immediately. Mudjikewis was loud
in his demands for his moccasins. Several times his wife asked him the
reason.  'Besides,' said she, 'you have a good pair on.'  'Quick,
quick,' said he, 'since you must know, we are going on a war excursion;
so be quick.' He thus revealed the secret.  That night they met and
started. The snow was on the ground, and they traveled all night, lest
others should follow them.  When it was daylight, the leader took snow
and made a ball of it, then tossing it into the air, he said: 'It was in
this way I saw snow fall in a dream, so that I could not be tracked.'
And he told them to keep close to each other for fear of losing
themselves, as the snow began to fall in very large flakes. Near as they
walked, it was with difficulty they could see each other. The snow
continued falling all that day and the following night, so it was
impossible to track them.

They had now walked for several days, and Mudjikewis was always in the
rear.  One day, running suddenly forward, he gave the SAW-SAW-
QUAN,{footnote [War-whoop.]} and struck a tree with his war-club, and it
broke into pieces as if struck with lightning.  'Brothers,' said he,
'this will be the way I will serve those we are going to fight.'  The
leader answered, 'Slow, slow, Mudjikewis, the one I lead you to is not
to be thought of so lightly.'  Again he fell back and thought to
himself: 'What! what! who can this be he is leading us to?' He felt
fearful and was silent.  Day after day they traveled on, till they came
to an extensive plain, on the borders of which human bones were
bleaching in the sun.  The leader spoke: 'They are the bones of those
who have gone before us. None has ever yet returned to tell the sad tale
of their fate.' Again Mudjikewis became restless, and, running forward,
gave the accustomed yell.  Advancing to a large rock which stood above
the ground, he struck it, and it fell to pieces. 'See, brothers,' said
he, 'thus will I treat those whom we are going to fight.'  'Still,
still,' once more said the leader; 'he to whom I am leading you is not
to be compared to the rock.'

Mudjikewis fell back thoughtful, saying to himself:  'I wonder who this
can be that he is going to attack;' and he was afraid. Still they
continued to see the remains of former warriors, who had been to the
place where they were now going, some of whom had retreated as far back
as the place where they first saw the bones, beyond which no one had
ever escaped. At last they came to a piece of rising ground, from which
they plainly distinguished, sleeping on a distant mountain, a mammoth

The distance between them was very great, but the size of the animal
caused him to be plainly seen.  'There,' said the leader, 'it is he to
whom I am leading you; here our troubles will commence, for he is a
mishemokwa and a manito.  It is he who has that we prize so dearly (i.e.
wampum), to obtain which, the warriors whose bones we saw, sacrificed
their lives.  You must not be fearful: be manly.  We shall find him
asleep.'  Then the leader went forward and touched the belt around the
animal's neck. 'This,' said he, 'is what we must get.  It contains the
wampum.' Then they requested the eldest to try and slip the belt over
the bear's head, who appeared to be fast asleep, as he was not in the
least disturbed by the attempt to obtain the belt. All their efforts
were in vain, till it came to the one next the youngest.  He tried, and
the belt moved nearly over the monster's head, but he could get it no
farther. Then the youngest one, and the leader, made his attempt, and
succeeded. Placing it on the back of the oldest, he said, 'Now we must
run,' and off they started.  When one became fatigued with its weight,
another would relieve him.  Thus they ran till they had passed the bones
of all former warriors, and were some distance beyond, when looking
back, they saw the monster slowly rising. He stood some time before he
missed his wampum.  Soon they heard his tremendous howl, like distant
thunder, slowly filling all the sky; and then they heard him speak and
say, 'Who can it be that has dared to steal my wampum? earth is not so
large but that I can find them;' and he descended from the hill in
pursuit. As if convulsed, the earth shook with every jump he made. Very
soon he approached the party.  They, however, kept the belt, exchanging
it from one to another, and encouraging each other; but he gained on
them fast.  'Brothers,' said the leader, 'has never any one of you, when
fasting, dreamed of some friendly spirit who would aid you as a
guardian?'  A dead silence followed. 'Well,' said he, 'fasting, I
dreamed of being in danger of instant death, when I saw a small lodge,
with smoke curling from its top.  An old man lived in it, and I dreamed
he helped me; and may it be verified soon,' he said, running forward and
giving the peculiar yell, and a howl as if the sounds came from the
depths of his stomach, and what is called CHECAUDUM. Getting upon a
piece of rising ground, behold! a lodge, with smoke curling from its
top, appeared.  This gave them all new strength, and they ran forward
and entered it.  The leader spoke to the old man who sat in the lodge,
saying, 'Nemesho, help us; we claim your protection, for the great bear
will kill us.' 'Sit down and eat, my grandchildren,' said the old man.
'Who is a great manito?' said he.  'There is none but me; but let me
look,' and he opened the door of the lodge, when, lo! at a little
distance he saw the enraged animal coming on, with slow but powerful
leaps.  He closed the door. 'Yes,' said he, 'he is indeed a great
manito:  my grandchildren, you will be the cause of my losing my life;
you asked my protection, and I granted it; so now, come what may, I will
protect you. When the bear arrives at the door, you must run out of the
other door of the lodge.'  Then putting his hand to the side of the
lodge where he sat, he brought out a bag which he opened. Taking out two
small black dogs, he placed them before him. 'These are the ones I use
when I fight,' said he; and he commenced patting with both hands the
sides of one of them, and he began to swell out, so that he soon filled
the lodge by his bulk; and he had great strong teeth.  When he attained
his full size he growled, and from that moment, as from instinct, he
jumped out at the door and met the bear, who in another leap would have
reached the lodge.  A terrible combat ensued. The skies rang with the
howls of the fierce monsters. The remaining dog soon took the field.
The brothers, at the onset, took the advice of the old man, and escaped
through the opposite side of the lodge.  They had not proceeded far
before they heard the dying cry of one of the dogs, and soon after of
the other. 'Well,' said the leader, 'the old man will share their fate:
so run; he will soon be after us.'  They started with fresh vigor, for
they had received food from the old man:  but very soon the bear came in
sight, and again was fast gaining upon them.  Again the leader asked the
brothers if they could do nothing for their safety. All were silent.
The leader, running forward, did as before. 'I dreamed,' he cried,
'that, being in great trouble, an old man helped me who was a manito; we
shall soon see his lodge.' Taking courage, they still went on.  After
going a short distance they saw the lodge of the old manito.  They
entered immediately and claimed his protection, telling him a manito was
after them. The old man, setting meat before them, said:  'Eat! who is a
manito? there is no manito but me; there is none whom I fear;' and the
earth trembled as the monster advanced.  The old man opened the door and
saw him coming.  He shut it slowly, and said: 'Yes, my grandchildren,
you have brought trouble upon me.' Procuring his medicine-sack, he took
out his small war-clubs of black stone, and told the young men to run
through the other side of the lodge.  As he handled the clubs, they
became very large, and the old man stepped out just as the bear reached
the door. Then striking him with one of the clubs, it broke in pieces;
the bear stumbled.  Renewing the attempt with the other war-club, that
also was broken, but the bear fell senseless. Each blow the old man gave
him sounded like a clap of thunder, and the howls of the bear ran along
till they filled the heavens.

The young men had now run some distance, when they looked back. They
could see that the bear was recovering from the blows. First he moved
his paws, and soon they saw him rise on his feet.  The old man shared
the fate of the first, for they now heard his cries as he was torn in
pieces. Again the monster was in pursuit, and fast overtaking them. Not
yet discouraged, the young men kept on their way; but the bear was now
so close, that the leader once more applied to his brothers, but they
could do nothing.  'Well,' said he, 'my dreams will soon be exhausted;
after this I have but one more.' He advanced, invoking his guardian
spirit to aid him. 'Once,' said he, 'I dreamed that, being sorely
pressed, I came to a large lake, on the shore of which was a canoe,
partly out of water, having ten paddles all in readiness.  Do not fear,'
he cried, 'we shall soon get it.'  And so it was, even as he had said.
Coming to the lake, they saw the canoe with ten paddles, and immediately
they embarked.  Scarcely had they reached the center of the lake, when
they saw the bear arrive at its borders. Lifting himself on his hind
legs, he looked all around. Then he waded into the water; then losing
his footing he turned back, and commenced making the circuit of the
lake.  Meantime the party remained stationary in the center to watch his
movements. He traveled all around, till at last he came to the place
from whence he started.  Then he commenced drinking up the water, and
they saw the current fast setting in towards his open mouth. The leader
encouraged them to paddle hard for the opposite shore. When only a short
distance from land, the current had increased so much, that they were
drawn back by it, and all their efforts to reach it were in vain.

Then the leader again spoke, telling them to meet their fates manfully.
'Now is the time, Mudjikewis,' said he, 'to show your prowess. Take
courage and sit at the bow of the canoe; and when it approaches his
mouth, try what effect your club will have on his head.' He obeyed, and
stood ready to give the blow; while the leader, who steered, directed
the canoe for the open mouth of the monster.

Rapidly advancing, they were just about to enter his mouth, when
Mudjikewis struck him a tremendous blow on the head, and gave the SAW-
SAW-QUAN. The bear's limbs doubled under him, and he fell, stunned by
the blow. But before Mudjikewis could renew it, the monster disgorged
all the water he had drank, with a force which sent the canoe with great
velocity to the opposite shore.  Instantly leaving the canoe, again they
fled, and on they went till they were completely exhausted. The earth
again shook, and soon they saw the monster hard after them.  Their
spirits drooped, and they felt discouraged. The leader exerted himself,
by actions and words, to cheer them up; and once more he asked them if
they thought of nothing, or could do nothing for their rescue; and, as
before, all were silent. 'Then,' he said, 'this is the last time I can
apply to my guardian spirit. Now, if we do not succeed, our fates are
decided.'  He ran forward, invoking his spirit with great earnestness,
and gave the yell. 'We shall soon arrive,' said he to his brothers, 'at
the place where my last guardian spirit dwells.  In him I place great
confidence. Do not, do not be afraid, or your limbs will be fear-bound.
We shall soon reach his lodge.  Run, run,' he cried.

Returning now to Iamo, he had passed all the time in the same condition
we had left him, the head directing his sister, in order to procure
food, where to place the magic arrows, and speaking at long intervals.
One day the sister saw the eyes of the head brighten, as if with
pleasure.  At last it spoke. 'Oh, sister,' it said, 'in what a pitiful
situation you have been the cause of placing me!  Soon, very soon, a
party of young men will arrive and apply to me for aid; but alas! How
can I give what I would have done with so much pleasure? Nevertheless,
take two arrows, and place them where you have been in the habit of
placing the others, and have meat prepared and cooked before they
arrive.  When you hear them coming and calling on my name, go out and
say, "Alas! it is long ago that an accident befell him.  I was the cause
of it." If they still come near, ask them in, and set meat before them.
And now you must follow my directions strictly.  When the bear is near,
go out and meet him.  You will take my medicine-sack, bows and arrows,
and my head.  You must then untie the sack, and spread out before you my
paints of all colors, my war-eagle feathers, my tufts of dried hair, and
whatever else it contains. As the bear approaches, you will take all
these articles, one by one, and say to him, "This is my deceased
brother's paint," and so on with all the other articles, throwing each
of them as far as you can.  The virtues contained in them will cause him
to totter; and, to complete his destruction, you will take my head, and
that too you will cast as far off as you can, crying aloud, "See, this
is my deceased brother's head." He will then fall senseless.  By this
time the young men will have eaten, and you will call them to your
assistance. You must then cut the carcass into pieces, yes, into small
pieces, and scatter them to the four winds; for, unless you do this, he
will again revive.'  She promised that all should be done as he said.
She had only time to prepare the meat, when the voice of the leader was
heard calling upon Iamo for aid. The woman went out and said as her
brother had directed. But the war party being closely pursued, came up
to the lodge. She invited them in, and placed the meat before them.
While they were eating, they heard the bear approaching. Untying the
medicine-sack and taking the head, she had all in readiness for his
approach.  When he came up she did as she had been told; and, before she
had expended the paints and feathers, the bear began to totter, but,
still advancing, came close to the woman.  Saying as she was commanded,
she then took the head, and cast it as far from her as she could. As it
rolled along the ground, the blood, excited by the feelings of the head
in this terrible scene, gushed from the nose and mouth. The bear,
tottering, soon fell with a tremendous noise. Then she cried for help,
and the young men came rushing out, having partially regained their
strength and spirits.

Mudjikewis, stepping up, gave a yell and struck him a blow upon the
head.  This he repeated, till it seemed like a mass of brains, while the
others, as quick as possible, cut him into very small pieces, which they
then scattered in every direction.  While thus employed, happening to
look around where they had thrown the meat, wonderful to behold, they
saw starting up and turning off in every direction small black bears,
such as are seen at the present day. The country was soon overspread
with these black animals. And it was from this monster that the present
race of bears derived their origin.

Having thus overcome their pursuer, they returned to the lodge. In the
meantime, the woman, gathering the implements she had used, and the
head, placed them again in the sack.  But the head did not speak again,
probably from its great exertion to overcome the monster.

Having spent so much time and traversed so vast a country in their
flight, the young men gave up the idea of ever returning to their own
country, and game being plenty, they determined to remain where they now
were. One day they moved off some distance from the lodge for the
purpose of hunting, having left the wampum with the woman. They were
very successful, and amused themselves, as all young men do when alone,
by talking and jesting with each other. One of them spoke and said, 'We
have all this sport to ourselves; let us go and ask our sister if she
will not let us bring the head to this place, as it is still alive.  It
may be pleased to hear us talk, and be in our company.  In the meantime
take food to our sister.' They went and requested the head.  She told
them to take it, and they took it to their hunting-grounds, and tried to
amuse it, but only at times did they see its eyes beam with pleasure.
One day, while busy in their encampment, they were unexpectedly attacked
by unknown Indians.  The skirmish was long contested and bloody; many of
their foes were slain, but still they were thirty to one. The young men
fought desperately till they were all killed. The attacking party then
retreated to a height of ground, to muster their men, and to count the
number of missing and slain. One of their young men had stayed away,
and, in endeavoring to overtake them, came to the place where the head
was hung up. Seeing that alone retain animation, he eyed it for some
time with fear and surprise.  However, he took it down and opened the
sack, and was much pleased to see the beautiful feathers, one of which
he placed on his head.

Starting off, it waved gracefully over him till he reached his party,
when he threw down the head and sack, and told them how he had found it,
and that the sack was full of paints and feathers. They all looked at
the head and made sport of it. Numbers of the young men took the paint
and painted themselves, and one of the party took the head by the hair
and said--

'Look, you ugly thing, and see your paints on the faces of warriors.'

But the feathers were so beautiful, that numbers of them also placed
them on their heads.  Then again they used all kinds of indignity to the
head, for which they were in turn repaid by the death of those who had
used the feathers. Then the chief commanded them to throw away all
except the head. 'We will see,' said he, 'when we get home, what we can
do with it. We will try to make it shut its eyes.'

When they reached their homes they took it to the council-lodge, and
hung it up before the fire, fastening it with raw hide soaked, which
would shrink and become tightened by the action of the fire. 'We will
then see,' they said, 'if we cannot make it shut its eyes.'

Meantime, for several days, the sister had been waiting for the young
men to bring back the head; till, at last, getting impatient, she went
in search of it.  The young men she found lying within short distances
of each other, dead, and covered with wounds. Various other bodies lay
scattered in different directions around them. She searched for the head
and sack, but they were nowhere to be found. She raised her voice and
wept, and blackened her face.  Then she walked in different directions,
till she came to the place from whence the head had been taken.  Then
she found the magic bow and arrows, where the young men, ignorant of
their qualities, had left them. She thought to herself that she would
find her brother's head, and came to a piece of rising ground, and there
saw some of his paints and feathers. These she carefully put up, and
hung upon the branch of a tree till her return.

At dusk she arrived at the first lodge of a very extensive village. Here
she used a charm, common among Indians when they wish to meet with a
kind reception.  On applying to the old man and woman of the lodge, she
was kindly received.  She made known her errand. The old man promised to
aid her, and told her the head was hung up before the council-fire, and
that the chiefs of the village, with their young men, kept watch over it
continually.  The former are considered as manitoes. She said she only
wished to see it, and would be satisfied if she could only get to the
door of the lodge.  She knew she had not sufficient power to take it by
force.  'Come with me,' said the Indian, 'I will take you there.' They
went, and they took their seats near the door.  The council-lodge was
filled with warriors, amusing themselves with games, and constantly
keeping up a fire to smoke the head, as they said, to make dry meat.
They saw the head move, and not knowing what to make of it, one spoke
and said:  'Ha! ha!  It is beginning to feel the effects of the smoke.'
The sister looked up from the door, and her eyes met those of her
brother, and tears rolled down the cheeks of the head.  'Well,' said the
chief, 'I thought we would make you do something at last.  Look! look at
it--shedding tears,' said he to those around him; and they all laughed
and passed their jokes upon it.  The chief, looking around, and
observing the woman, after some time said to the man who came with her:
'Who have you got there? I have never seen that woman before in our
village.'  'Yes,' replied the man, 'you have seen her; she is a relation
of mine, and seldom goes out.  She stays at my lodge, and asked me to
allow her to come with me to this place.' In the center of the lodge sat
one of those young men who are always forward, and fond of boasting and
displaying themselves before others. 'Why,' said he, 'I have seen her
often, and it is to this lodge I go almost every night to court her.'
All the others laughed and continued their games. The young man did not
know he was telling a lie to the woman's advantage, who by that means

She returned to the man's lodge, and immediately set out for her own
country.  Coming to the spot where the bodies of her adopted brothers
lay, she placed them together, their feet toward the east. Then taking
an ax which she had, she cast it up into the air, crying out, 'Brothers,
get up from under it, or it will fall on you.' This she repeated three
times, and the third time the brothers all arose and stood on their

Mudjikewis commenced rubbing his eyes and stretching himself. 'Why,'
said he, 'I have overslept myself.'  'No, indeed,' said one of the
others, 'do you not know we were all killed, and that it is our sister
who has brought us to life?' The young men took the bodies of their
enemies and burned them. Soon after, the woman went to procure wives for
them, in a distant country, they knew not where; but she returned with
ten young women, which she gave to the ten young men, beginning with the
eldest.  Mudjikewis stepped to and fro, uneasy lest he should not get
the one he liked. But he was not disappointed, for she fell to his lot.
And they were well matched, for she was a female magician. They then all
moved into a very large lodge, and their sister told them that the women
must now take turns in going to her brother's head every night, trying
to untie it. They all said they would do so with pleasure.  The eldest
made the first attempt, and with a rushing noise she fled through the

Toward daylight she returned.  She had been unsuccessful, as she
succeeded in untying only one of the knots.  All took their turns
regularly, and each one succeeded in untying only one knot each time.
But when the youngest went, she commenced the work as soon as she
reached the lodge; although it had always been occupied, still the
Indians never could see any one.  For ten nights now, the smoke had not
ascended, but filled the lodge and drove them out. This last night they
were all driven out, and the young woman carried off the head.

The young people and the sister heard the young woman coming high
through the air, and they heard her saying: 'Prepare the body of our
brother.'  And as soon as they heard it, they went to a small lodge
where the black body of Iamo lay. His sister commenced cutting the neck
part, from which the neck had been severed.  She cut so deep as to cause
it to bleed; and the others who were present, by rubbing the body and
applying medicines, expelled the blackness.  In the meantime, the one
who brought it, by cutting the neck of the head, caused that also to

As soon as she arrived, they placed that close to the body, and, by aid
of medicines and various other means, succeeded in restoring Iamo to all
his former beauty and manliness. All rejoiced in the happy termination
of their troubles, and they had spent some time joyfully together, when
Iamo said: 'Now I will divide the wampum,' and getting the belt which
contained it, he commenced with the eldest, giving it in equal portions.
But the youngest got the most splendid and beautiful, as the bottom of
the belt held the richest and rarest.

They were told that, since they had all once died, and were restored to
life, they were no longer mortal, but spirits, and they were assigned
different stations in the invisible world. Only Mudjikewis's place was,
however, named.  He was to direct the west wind, hence generally called
Kebeyun, there to remain for ever. They were commanded, as they had it
in their power, to do good to the inhabitants of the earth, and,
forgetting their sufferings in procuring the wampum, to give all things
with a liberal hand. And they were also commanded that it should also be
held by them sacred; those grains or shells of the pale hue to be
emblematic of peace, while those of the darker hue would lead to evil
and war.

The spirits then, amid songs and shouts, took their flight to their
respective abodes on high; while Iamo, with his sister Iamoqua,
descended into the depths below.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Life on the Mississippi, Part 9." ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.