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Title: Audubon and his Journals, Vol. 2
Author: Audubon, Maria R.
Language: English
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AUDUBON

AND

HIS JOURNALS



  [Illustration: EMBERIZA TOWNSENDII, TOWNSEND'S BUNTING.
   (Now Spiza townsendii.)
   FROM AN UNFINISHED DRAWING BY J. J. AUDUBON OF THE ONLY SPECIMEN
   EVER KNOWN, SHOT MAY 11, 1833. IN CHESTER CO., PA., BY J. K.
   TOWNSEND.]



      AUDUBON AND HIS
      JOURNALS

      BY
      MARIA R. AUDUBON

      WITH ZOÖLOGICAL AND OTHER NOTES
      BY
      ELLIOTT COUES

      _ILLUSTRATED_

      VOLUME II.

      NEW YORK
      CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
      1897



      _Copyright, 1897_,
      BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS.

      University Press:
      JOHN WILSON AND SON CAMBRIDGE, U.S.A.



CONTENTS

    VOLUME II


                                                                  PAGE

      THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS (_continued_)                      1

      EPISODES:

      LOUISVILLE IN KENTUCKY                                       199

      THE OHIO                                                     203

      FISHING IN THE OHIO                                          208

      A WILD HORSE                                                 215

      BREAKING UP OF THE ICE                                       222

      THE PRAIRIE                                                  225

      THE REGULATORS                                               231

      THE EARTHQUAKE                                               234

      THE HURRICANE                                                237

      COLONEL BOONE                                                241

      NATCHEZ IN 1820                                              246

      THE LOST PORTFOLIO                                           250

      THE ORIGINAL PAINTER                                         254

      THE COUGAR                                                   260

      THE RUNAWAY                                                  267

      A TOUGH WALK FOR A YOUTH                                     274

      HOSPITALITY IN THE WOODS                                     280

      NIAGARA                                                      286

      MEADVILLE                                                    289

      THE BURNING OF THE FORESTS                                   294

      A LONG CALM AT SEA                                           301

      STILL BECALMED                                               306

      GREAT EGG HARBOR                                             310

      THE GREAT PINE SWAMP                                         314

      THE LOST ONE                                                 321

      THE LIVE-OAKERS                                              327

      SPRING GARDEN                                                333

      DEATH OF A PIRATE                                            339

      THE WRECKERS OF FLORIDA                                      345

      ST. JOHN'S RIVER IN FLORIDA                                  352

      THE FLORIDA KEYS. I                                          358

      THE FLORIDA KEYS. II                                         365

      THE TURTLERS                                                 371

      THE FORCE OF THE WATERS                                      380

      JOURNEY IN NEW BRUNSWICK AND MAINE                           387

      A MOOSE HUNT                                                 393

      LABRADOR                                                     401

      THE EGGERS OF LABRADOR                                       406

      THE SQUATTERS OF LABRADOR                                    411

      COD FISHING                                                  418

      A BALL IN NEWFOUNDLAND                                       426

      THE BAY OF FUNDY                                             431

      A FLOOD                                                      437

      THE SQUATTERS OF THE MISSISSIPPI                             443

      IMPROVEMENTS IN THE NAVIGATION OF THE MISSISSIPPI            449

      KENTUCKY SPORTS                                              455

      THE TRAVELLER AND THE POLE-CAT                               462

      DEER HUNTING                                                 466

      THE ECCENTRIC NATURALIST                                     473

      SCIPIO AND THE BEAR                                          481

      A KENTUCKY BARBECUE                                          486

      A RACCOON HUNT IN KENTUCKY                                   490

      PITTING OF WOLVES                                            497

      THE OPOSSUM                                                  501

      A MAPLE-SUGAR CAMP                                           506

      THE WHITE PERCH AND ITS FAVORITE BAIT                        509

      THE AMERICAN SUN PERCH                                       515

      MY STYLE OF DRAWING BIRDS                                    522


      INDEX                                                        529



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

VOL. II.


                                                                  PAGE

      EMBERIZA TOWNSENDII (NOW SPIZA TOWNSENDII),
      TOWNSEND'S BUNTING                                _Frontispiece_
        From an unfinished drawing by J. J. Audubon of the only
        specimen ever known. Shot May 11, 1833, in Chester
        County, Pa., by J. K. Townsend.

      AUDUBON                                                       84
        From the pencil sketch by Isaac Sprague, 1842. In the
        possession of the Sprague family, Wellesley Hills, Mass.

      CAMP AT THE THREE MAMELLES                                   118
        From a drawing by Audubon, hitherto unpublished.

      CAMP ON THE MISSOURI                                         160
        From a drawing by Isaac Sprague.

      MRS. AUDUBON. 1854                                           176
        From a daguerreotype.

      AUDUBON. 1839                                                234
        Painted in Edinburgh by J. W. Audubon.

      VICTOR GIFFORD AUDUBON                                       274
        Painted by Audubon about 1823.

      JOHN WOODHOUSE AUDUBON                                       310
        Painted by Audubon about 1823.

      TRINGA ALPINA (NOW PELIDNA ALPINA PACIFICA), RED-BACKED
      SANDPIPER                                                    352
        From the unpublished drawing by J. J. Audubon, November
        24, 1831.

      AUDUBON. 1850                                                406
        From a daguerreotype. Owned by Mrs. Elizabeth Berthoud
        Grimshaw.

      VICTOR GIFFORD AUDUBON. 1853                                 456

      JOHN WOODHOUSE AUDUBON. 1853                                 486

      OLD MILL AND MILLER'S COTTAGE AT MILL GROVE ON THE
      PERKIOMEN CREEK                                              524
        From a photograph from W. H. Wetherill, Esq.

      AUDUBON                                                      526
        From a pencil sketch after death by John Woodhouse Audubon,
        January 28, 1851.

      BOWIE KNIFE                                                  527
        Presented by Henry Carleton.

      FACSIMILES OF DIPLOMAS                        _At end of volume_
        La Société Linnéenne de Paris. 6 Novembre, 1823.
        Lyceum of Natural History, New York. January 13, 1824.
        Société d'Histoire Naturelle de Paris. 5 Decembre, 1828.
        American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Massachusetts.
          November 10, 1830.
        Royal Society of Edinburgh. March 5, 1831.
        Royal Jennerian Society, London. July 15, 1836.
        Literary and Historical Society of Quebec. November 19,
          1836.
        Western Academy of Natural Sciences, St. Louis, Mo.
          April 17, 1843.
        Natural History Society of Montreal. March 29, 1847.



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS

1843

(_Continued_)


_June 4, Sunday._ We have run pretty well, though the wind has been
tolerably high; the country we have passed this day is somewhat better
than what we saw yesterday, which, as I said, was the poorest we have
seen. No occurrence of interest has taken place. We passed this morning
the old Riccaree[1] Village, where General Ashley[2] was so completely
beaten as to lose eighteen of his men, with the very weapons and
ammunition that he had trafficked with the Indians of that village,
against all the remonstrances of his friends and interpreters; yet he
said that it proved fortunate for him, as he turned his steps towards
some other spot, where he procured one hundred packs of Beaver skins for
a mere song. We stopped to cut wood at an old house put up for winter
quarters, and the wood being ash, and quite dry, was excellent. We are
now fast for the night at an abandoned post, or fort, of the Company,
where, luckily for us, a good deal of wood was found cut. We saw only
one Wolf, and a few small gangs of Buffaloes. Bell shot a Bunting which
resembles Henslow's, but we have no means of comparing it at present. We
have collected a few plants during our landing. The steam is blowing
off, and therefore our day's run is ended. When I went to bed last night
it was raining smartly, and Alexis did not go off, as he did wish. By
the way, I forgot to say that along with the three Prairie Marmots, he
brought also four Spoon-billed Ducks, which we ate at dinner to-day, and
found delicious. Bell saw many Lazuli Finches this morning.
Notwithstanding the tremendous shaking of our boat, Sprague managed to
draw four figures of the legs and feet of the Wolf shot by Bell
yesterday, and my own pencil was not idle.

_June 5, Monday._ Alexis went off in the night sometime, and came on
board about three o'clock this morning; he had seen nothing whatever,
except the traces of Beavers and of Otters, on Beaver Creek, which, by
the way, he had to cross on a raft. Speaking of rafts, I am told that
one of these, made of two bundles of rushes, about the size of a man's
body, and fastened together by a few sticks, is quite sufficient to take
two men and two packs of Buffalo robes across this muddy river. In the
course of the morning we passed Cannon Ball River,[3] and the very
remarkable bluffs about it, of which we cannot well speak until we have
stopped there and examined their nature. We saw two Swans alighting on
the prairie at a considerable distance. We stopped to take wood at
Bowie's settlement, at which place his wife was killed by some of the
Riccaree Indians, after some Gros Ventres had assured him that such
would be the case if he suffered his wife to go out of the house. She
went out, however, on the second day, and was shot with three
rifle-balls. The Indians took parts of her hair and went off. She was
duly buried; but the Gros Ventres returned some time afterwards, took up
the body, and carried off the balance of her hair. They, however,
reburied her; and it was not until several months had elapsed that the
story came to the ears of Mr. Bowie. We have also passed Apple Creek,[4]
but the chief part is yet to be added. At one place where the bluffs
were high, we saw five Buffaloes landing a few hundred yards above us on
the western side; one of them cantered off immediately, and by some
means did reach the top of the hills, and went out of our sight; the
four others ran, waded, and swam at different places, always above us,
trying to make their escape. At one spot they attempted to climb the
bluff, having unconsciously passed the place where their leader had made
good his way, and in their attempts to scramble up, tumbled down, and at
last became so much affrighted that they took to the river for good,
with the intention to swim to the shore they had left. Unfortunately for
them, we had been gaining upon them; we had all been anxiously watching
them, and the moment they began to swim we were all about the boat with
guns and rifles, awaiting the instant when they would be close under our
bows. The moment came; I was on the lower deck among several of the
people with guns, and the firing was soon heavy; but not one of the
Buffaloes was stopped, although every one must have been severely hit
and wounded. Bell shot a load of buckshot at the head of one, which
disappeared entirely under the water for perhaps a minute. I sent a ball
through the neck of the last of the four, but all ineffectually, and off
they went, swimming to the opposite shore; one lagged behind the rest,
but, having found footing on a sand-bar, it rested awhile, and again
swam off to rejoin its companions. They all reached the shore, but were
quite as badly off on that side as they had been on the other, and their
difficulties must have been great indeed; however, in a short time we
had passed them. Mr. Charles Primeau,[5] who is a good shot, and who
killed the young Buffalo bull the other day, assured me that it was his
opinion the whole of these would die before sundown, but that Buffaloes
swimming were a hundred times more difficult to kill than those on
shore. I have been told also, that a Buffalo shot by an Indian, in the
presence of several whites, exhibited some marks on the inside of the
skin that looked like old wounds, and that on close examination they
found no less than six balls in its paunch. Sometimes they will run a
mile after having been struck through the heart; whilst at other times
they will fall dead without such desperate shot. Alexis told me that
once he shot one through the thigh, and that it fell dead on the spot.
We passed this afternoon a very curious conical mound of earth, about
which Harris and I had some curiosity, by which I lost two pounds of
snuff, as he was right, and I was wrong. We have seen Geese and
Goslings, Ravens, Blue Herons, Bluebirds, Thrushes, Red-headed
Woodpeckers and Red-shafted ditto, Martins, an immense number of
Rough-winged Swallows about their holes, and Barn Swallows. We heard
Killdeers last evening. Small Crested Flycatchers, Summer Yellow-birds,
Maryland Yellow-throats, House Wrens are seen as we pass along our
route; while the Spotted Sandpiper accompanies us all along the river.
Sparrow Hawks, Turkey Buzzards, Arctic Towhee Buntings, Cat-birds,
Mallards, Coots, Gadwalls, King-birds, Yellow-breasted Chats, Red
Thrushes, all are noted as we pass. We have had a good day's run; it is
now half-past ten. The wind has been cold, and this evening we have had
a dash of rain. We have seen only one Wolf. We have heard some wonderful
stories about Indians and white men, none of which I can well depend
upon. We have stopped for the night a few miles above where the
"Assiniboin"[6] steamer was burnt with all her cargo uninsured, in the
year 1835. I heard that after she had run ashore, the men started to
build a scow to unload the cargo; but that through some accident the
vessel was set on fire, and that a man and a woman who alone had been
left on board, walked off to the island, where they remained some days
unable to reach shore.

_June 6, Tuesday._ This morning was quite cold, and we had a thick white
frost on our upper deck. It was also extremely cloudy, the wind from the
east, and all about us looked dismal enough. The hands on board seemed
to have been busy the whole of the night, for I scarcely slept for the
noise they made. We soon came to a very difficult part of the river, and
had to stop full three hours. Meanwhile the yawl went off to seek and
sound for a channel, whilst the wood-cutters and the carriers--who, by
the way, are called "charrettes"[7]--followed their work, and we
gathered a good quantity of drift-wood, which burns like straw. Our
hopes of reaching the Mandan Village were abandoned, but we at last
proceeded on our way and passed the bar; it was nearly dinner-time.
Harris and Bell had their guns, and brought two Arctic Towhee Buntings
and a Black-billed Cuckoo. They saw two large flocks of Geese making
their way westward. The place where we landed showed many signs of Deer,
Elk, and Buffaloes. I saw trees where the latter had rubbed their heavy
bodies against the bark, till they had completely robbed the tree of its
garment. We saw several Red-shafted Woodpeckers, and other birds named
before. The Buffalo, when hunted on horseback, does _not_ carry its tail
erect, as has been represented in books, but close between the legs; but
when you see a Buffalo bull work its tail sideways in a twisted rolling
fashion, _then_ take care of him, as it is a sure sign of his intention
to rush against his pursuer's horse, which is very dangerous, both to
hunter and steed. As we proceeded I saw two fine White-headed Eagles
alighting on their nest, where perhaps they had young--and how
remarkably late in the season this species does breed here! We also saw
a young Sandhill Crane, and on an open prairie four Antelopes a few
hundred yards off. Alexis tells me that at this season this is a rare
occurrence, as the females are generally in the brushwood now; but in
this instance the male and three females were on open prairie. We have
passed what is called the Heart[8] River, and the Square Hills, which,
of course, are by no means square, but simply more level than the
generality of those we have passed for upwards of three weeks. We now
saw four barges belonging to our company, and came to, above them, as
usual. A Mr. Kipp, one of the partners, came on board; and Harris,
Squires, and myself had time to write each a short letter to our friends
at home. Mr. Kipp had a peculiar looking crew who appeared not much
better than a set of bandits among the Pyrenees or the Alps; yet they
seem to be the very best sort of men for trappers and boatmen. We
exchanged four of our men for four of his, as the latter are wanted at
the Yellowstone. The country appears to Harris and to myself as if we
had outrun the progress of vegetation, as from the boat we observed oaks
scarcely in leaflets, whilst two hundred miles below, and indeed at a
much less distance, we saw the same timber in nearly full leaf; flowers
are also scarce. A single Wolf was seen by some one on deck. Nothing can
be possibly keener than the senses of hearing and sight, as well as of
smell, in the Antelope. Not one was ever known to jump up close to a
hunter; and the very motion of the grasses, as these are wafted by the
wind, will keep them awake and on the alert. Immediately upon the
breaking up of the ice about the Mandan Village, three Buffaloes were
seen floating down on a large cake; they were seen by Mr. Primeau from
his post, and again from Fort Pierre. How much further the poor beasts
travelled, no one can tell. It happens not infrequently, when the river
is entirely closed in with ice, that some hundreds of Buffaloes attempt
to cross; their aggregate enormous weight forces the ice to break, and
the whole of the gang are drowned, as it is impossible for these animals
to climb over the surrounding sharp edges of the ice. We have seen not
less than three nests of White-headed Eagles this day. We are fast
ashore about sixteen miles below the Mandan Villages, and will, in all
probability, reach there to-morrow morning at an early hour. It is
raining yet, and the day has been a most unpleasant one.

_June 7, Wednesday._ We had a vile night of rain, and wind from the
northeast, which is still going on, and likely to continue the whole of
this blessed day. Yesterday, when we had a white frost, ice was found in
the kettles of Mr. Kipp's barges. We reached Fort Clark[9] and the
Mandan Villages at half-past seven this morning. Great guns were fired
from the fort and from the "Omega," as our captain took the guns from
the "Trapper" at Fort Pierre. The site of this fort appears a good one,
though it is placed considerably below the Mandan Village. We saw some
small spots cultivated, where corn, pumpkins, and beans are grown. The
fort and village are situated on the high bank, rising somewhat to the
elevation of a hill. The Mandan mud huts are very far from looking
poetical, although Mr. Catlin has tried to render them so by placing
them in regular rows, and all of the same size and form, which is by no
means the case. But different travellers have different eyes! We saw
more Indians than at any previous time since leaving St. Louis; and it
is possible that there are a hundred huts, made of mud, all looking like
so many potato winter-houses in the Eastern States. As soon as we were
near the shore, every article that could conveniently be carried off was
placed under lock and key, and our division door was made fast, as well
as those of our own rooms. Even the axes and poles were put by. Our
captain told us that last year they stole his cap and his shot-pouch and
horn, and that it was through the interference of the first chief that
he recovered his cap and horn; but that a squaw had his leather belt,
and would not give it up. The appearance of these poor, miserable
devils, as we approached the shore, was wretched enough. There they
stood in the pelting rain and keen wind, covered with Buffalo robes, red
blankets, and the like, some partially and most curiously besmeared with
mud; and as they came on board, and we shook hands with each of them, I
felt a clamminess that rendered the ceremony most repulsive. Their legs
and naked feet were covered with mud. They looked at me with apparent
curiosity, perhaps on account of my beard, which produced the same
effect at Fort Pierre. They all looked very poor; and our captain says
they are the _ne plus ultra_ of thieves. It is said there are nearly
three thousand men, women, and children that, during winter, cram
themselves into these miserable hovels. Harris and I walked to the fort
about nine o'clock. The walking was rascally, passing through mud and
water the whole way. The yard of the fort itself was as bad. We entered
Mr. Chardon's own room, crawled up a crazy ladder, and in a low garret I
had the great pleasure of seeing alive the Swift or Kit Fox which he has
given to me. It ran swiftly from one corner to another, and, when
approached, growled somewhat in the manner of a common Fox. Mr. Chardon
told me that good care would be taken of it until our return, that it
would be chained to render it more gentle, and that I would find it an
easy matter to take it along. I sincerely hope so. Seeing a remarkably
fine skin of a large Cross Fox[10] which I wished to buy, it was handed
over to me. After this, Mr. Chardon asked one of the Indians to take us
into the village, and particularly to show us the "Medicine Lodge." We
followed our guide through mud and mire, even into the Lodge. We found
this to be, in general terms, like all the other lodges, only larger,
measuring twenty-three yards in diameter, with a large squarish aperture
in the centre of the roof, some six or seven feet long by about four
wide. We had entered this curiosity shop by pushing aside a wet Elk skin
stretched on four sticks. Looking around, I saw a number of calabashes,
eight or ten Otter skulls, two very large Buffalo skulls with the horns
on, evidently of great age, and some sticks and other magical implements
with which none but a "Great Medicine Man" is acquainted. During my
survey there sat, crouched down on his haunches, an Indian wrapped in a
dirty blanket, with only his filthy head peeping out. Our guide spoke to
him; but he stirred not. Again, at the foot of one of the posts that
support the central portion of this great room, lay a parcel that I took
for a bundle of Buffalo robes; but it moved presently, and from beneath
it half arose the emaciated body of a poor blind Indian, whose skin was
quite shrivelled; and our guide made us signs that he was about to die.
We all shook both hands with him; and he pressed our hands closely and
with evident satisfaction. He had his pipe and tobacco pouch by him, and
soon lay down again. We left this abode of mysteries, as I was anxious
to see the interior of one of the common huts around; and again our
guide led us through mud and mire to his own lodge, which we entered in
the same way as we had done the other. All these lodges have a sort of
portico that leads to the door, and on the tops of most of them I
observed Buffalo skulls. This lodge contained the whole family of our
guide--several women and children, and another man, perhaps a son-in-law
or a brother. All these, except the man, were on the outer edge of the
lodge, crouching on the ground, some suckling children; and at nearly
equal distances apart were placed berths, raised about two feet above
the ground, made of leather, and with square apertures for the sleepers
or occupants to enter. The man of whom I have spoken was lying down in
one of these, which was all open in front. I walked up to him, and,
after disturbing his happy slumbers, shook hands with him; he made signs
for me to sit down; and after Harris and I had done so, he rose,
squatted himself near us, and, getting out a large spoon made of boiled
Buffalo horn, handed it to a young girl, who brought a great rounded
wooden bowl filled with pemmican, mixed with corn and some other stuff.
I ate a mouthful or so of it, and found it quite palatable; and Harris
and the rest then ate of it also. Bell was absent; we had seen nothing
of him since we left the boat. This lodge, as well as the other, was
dirty with water and mud; but I am told that in dry weather they are
kept cleaner, and much cleaning do they need, most truly. A round,
shallow hole was dug in the centre for the fire; and from the roof
descended over this a chain, by the aid of which they do their cooking,
the utensil being attached to the chain when wanted. As we returned
towards the fort, I gave our guide a piece of tobacco, and he appeared
well pleased. He followed us on board, and as he peeped in my room, and
saw the dried and stuffed specimens we have, he evinced a slight degree
of curiosity. Our captain, Mr. Chardon, and our men have been busily
engaged in putting ashore that portion of the cargo designed for this
fort, which in general appearance might be called a poor miniature
representation of Fort Pierre. The whole country around was overgrown
with "Lamb's quarters" (_Chenopòdium album_), which I have no doubt, if
boiled, would take the place of spinach in this wild and, to my eyes,
miserable country, the poetry of which lies in the imagination of those
writers who have described the "velvety prairies" and "enchanted
castles" (of mud), so common where we now are. We observed a
considerable difference in the color of these Indians, who, by the way,
are almost all Riccarees; many appeared, and in fact are, redder than
others; they are lank, rather tall, and very alert, but, as I have said
before, all look poor and dirty. After dinner we went up the muddy bank
again to look at the corn-fields, as the small patches that are meanly
cultivated are called. We found poor, sickly looking corn about two
inches high, that had been represented to us this morning as full six
inches high. We followed the prairie, a very extensive one, to the
hills, and there found a deep ravine, sufficiently impregnated with
saline matter to answer the purpose of salt water for the Indians to
boil their corn and pemmican, clear and clean; but they, as well as the
whites at the fort, resort to the muddy Missouri for their drinking
water, the only fresh water at hand. Not a drop of spirituous liquor has
been brought to this place for the last two years; and there can be no
doubt that on this account the Indians have become more peaceable than
heretofore, though now and then a white man is murdered, and many horses
are stolen. As we walked over the plain, we saw heaps of earth thrown up
to cover the poor Mandans who died of the small-pox. These mounds in
many instances appear to contain the remains of several bodies and,
perched on the top, lies, pretty generally, the rotting skull of a
Buffalo. Indeed, the skulls of the Buffaloes seem as if a kind of
relation to these most absurdly superstitious and ignorant beings. I
could not hear a word of the young Grizzly Bear of which Mr. Chardon had
spoken to me. He gave me his Buffalo head-dress and other trifles--as
he was pleased to call them; all of which will prove more or less
interesting and curious to you when they reach Minniesland. He presented
Squires with a good hunting shirt and a few other things, and to all of
us, presented moccasins. We collected a few round cacti;[11] and I saw
several birds that looked much the worse for the cold and wet weather we
have had these last few days. Our boat has been thronged with Indians
ever since we have tied to the shore; and it is with considerable
difficulty and care that we can stop them from intruding into our rooms
when we are there. We found many portions of skulls lying on the ground,
which, perhaps, did at one period form the circles of them spoken of by
Catlin. All around the village is filthy beyond description. Our captain
tells us that no matter what weather we may have to-morrow, he will
start at daylight, even if he can only go across the river, to get rid
of these wolfish-looking vagabonds of Indians. I sincerely hope that we
may have a fair day and a long run, so that the air around us may once
more be pure and fresh from the hand of Nature. After the Riccarees had
taken possession of this Mandan Village, the remains of that once
powerful tribe removed about three miles up the river, and there have
now fifteen or twenty huts, containing, of course, only that number of
families. During the worst periods of the epidemic which swept over this
village with such fury, many became maniacs, rushed to the Missouri,
leaped into its turbid waters, and were seen no more. Mr. Primeau, wife,
and children, as well as another half-breed, have gone to the fort, and
are to remain there till further orders. The fort is in a poor
condition, roofs leaking, etc. Whilst at the fort this afternoon, I was
greatly surprised to see a tall, athletic Indian thrashing the dirty
rascals about Mr. Chardon's door most severely; but I found on inquiry
that he was called "the soldier,"[12] and that he had authority to do so
whenever the Indians intruded or congregated in the manner this
_canaille_ had done. After a while the same tall fellow came on board
with his long stick, and immediately began belaboring the fellows on the
lower guards; the latter ran off over the planks, and scrambled up the
muddy banks as if so many affrighted Buffaloes. Since then we have been
comparatively quiet; but I hope they will all go off, as the captain is
going to put the boat from the shore, to the full length of our spars.
The wind has shifted to the northward, and the atmosphere has been so
chilled that a House Swallow was caught, benumbed with cold, and brought
to me by our captain. Harris, Bell, and I saw a Cliff Swallow take
refuge on board; but this was not caught. We have seen Say's Flycatcher,
the Ground Finch, Cow Buntings, and a few other birds. One of the agents
arrived this afternoon from the Gros Ventre, or Minnetaree Village,
about twelve miles above us. He is represented as a remarkably brave
man, and he relates some strange adventures of his prowess. Several
_great warriors_ have condescended to shake me by the hand; their very
touch is disgusting--it will indeed be a deliverance to get rid of all
this "Indian poetry." We are, nevertheless, to take a few to the
Yellowstone. Alexis has his wife, who is, in fact, a good-looking young
woman; an old patroon, Provost, takes one of his daughters along; and we
have, besides, several red-skinned single gentlemen. We were assured
that the northern parts of the hills, that form a complete curtain to
the vast prairie on which we have walked this afternoon, are still
adorned with patches of snow that fell there during last winter. It is
now nine o'clock, but before I go to rest I cannot resist giving you a
description of the curious exhibition that we have had on board, from a
numerous lot of Indians of the first class, say some forty or fifty.
They ranged themselves along the sides of the large cabin, squatting on
the floor. Coffee had been prepared for the whole party, and hard
sea-biscuit likewise. The coffee was first given to each of them, and
afterwards the biscuits, and I had the honor of handing the latter to
the row on one side of the boat; a box of tobacco was opened and laid on
the table. The man who came from the Gros Ventres this afternoon proved
to be an excellent interpreter; and after the captain had delivered his
speech to him, he spoke loudly to the group, and explained the purport
of the captain's speech. They grunted their approbation frequently, and
were, no doubt, pleased. Two individuals (Indians) made their appearance
highly decorated, with epaulets on the shoulders, red clay on blue
uniforms, three cocks' plumes in their head-dress, rich moccasins,
leggings, etc. These are men who, though in the employ of the Opposition
company, act truly as friends; but who, meantime, being called "Braves,"
never grunted, bowed, or shook hands with any of us. Supper over and the
tobacco distributed, the whole body arose simultaneously, and each and
every one of these dirty wretches we had all to shake by the hand. The
two braves sat still until all the rest had gone ashore, and then
retired as majestically as they had entered, not even shaking hands with
our good-humored captain. I am told that this performance takes place
once every year, on the passing of the Company's boats. I need not say
that the coffee and the two biscuits apiece were gobbled down in less
than no time. The tobacco, which averaged about two pounds to each man,
was hid in their robes or blankets for future use. Two of the Indians,
who must have been of the highest order, and who distributed the "rank
weed," were nearly naked; one had on only a breech-clout and one
legging, the other was in no better case. They are now all ashore
except one or more who are going with us to the Yellowstone; and I will
now go to my rest. Though I have said "Good-night," I have arisen almost
immediately, and I must write on, for we have other scenes going on both
among the trappers below and some of the people above. Many Indians,
squaws as well as men, are bartering and trading, and keep up such a
babble that Harris and I find sleep impossible; needless to say, the
squaws who are on board are of the lowest grade of morality.

_June 8, Thursday._ This morning was fair and cold, as you see by the
range of the thermometer, 37° to 56°. We started at a very early hour,
and breakfasted before five, on account of the village of Gros Ventres,
where our captain had to stop. We passed a few lodges belonging to the
tribe of the poor Mandans, about all that remained. I only counted
eight, but am told there are twelve. The village of the Gros Ventres
(Minnetarees) has been cut off from the bank of the river by an enormous
sand-bar, now overgrown with willows and brush, and we could only see
the American flag flying in the cool breeze. Two miles above this,
however, we saw an increasing body of Indians, for the prairie was
sprinkled with small parties, on horse and on foot. The first who
arrived fired a salute of small guns, and we responded with our big gun.
They had an abundance of dogs harnessed to take wood back to the
village, and their yells and fighting were severe upon our ears. Some
forty or more of the distinguished blackguards came on board; and we had
to close our doors as we did yesterday. After a short period they were
feasted as last evening; and speeches, coffee, and tobacco, as well as
some gunpowder, were given them, which they took away in packs, to be
divided afterward. We took one more passenger, and lost our interpreter,
who is a trader with the Minnetarees. The latter are by no means as
fine-looking a set of men as those we have seen before, and I observed
none of that whiteness of skin among them. There were numbers of men,
women, and children. We saw a crippled and evidently tame Wolf, and two
Indians, following us on the top of the hills. We saw two Swans on a
bar, and a female Elk, with her young fawn, for a few minutes. I wished
that we had been ashore, as I know full well that the mother would not
leave her young; and the mother killed, the young one would have been
easily caught alive. We are now stopping for the night, and our men are
cutting wood. We have done this, I believe, four times to-day, and have
run upward of sixty miles. At the last wood-cutting place, a young
leveret was started by the men, and after a short race, the poor thing
squatted, and was killed by the stroke of a stick. It proved to be the
young of _Lepus townsendii_ [_L. campestris_], large enough to have left
the mother, and weighing rather more than a pound. It is a very
beautiful specimen. The eyes are very large, and the iris pure amber
color. Its hair is tightly, but beautifully curled. Its measurements are
as follows [_omitted_]. Bell will make a fine skin of it to-morrow
morning. We have had all sorts of stories related to us; but Mr. Kipp,
who has been in the country for twenty-two years, is evidently a person
of truth, and I expect a good deal of information from him. Our captain
told us that on a previous voyage some Indians asked him if, "when the
great Medicine" (meaning the steamer) "was tired, he gave it whiskey."
Mr. Sire laughed, and told them he did. "How much?" was the query. "A
barrelful, to be sure!" The poor wretches at first actually believed
him, and went off contented, but were naturally angry at being
undeceived on a later occasion. I have now some hope of finding a young
of the Antelope alive at Fort Union, as Mr. Kipp left one there about
ten days ago. I am now going to bed, though our axemen and "charettes"
are still going; and I hope I may not be called up to-morrow morning,
to be ready for breakfast at half-past four. Harris and Bell went off
with Alexis. Bell fired at a bird, and a large Wolf immediately made its
appearance. This is always the case in this country; when you shoot an
animal and hide yourself, you may see, in less than half an hour, from
ten to thirty of these hungry rascals around the carcass, and have fine
fun shooting at them. We have had a windy day, but a good run on the
whole. I hope to-morrow may prove propitious, and that we shall reach
Fort Union in five more days.

_June 9, Friday._ Thermometer 42°, 75°, 66°. We had a heavy white frost
last night, but we have had a fine, pleasant day on the whole, and to me
a most interesting one. We passed the Little Missouri[13] (the real one)
about ten this morning. It is a handsome stream, that runs all the way
from the Black Hills, one of the main spurs of the mighty Rocky
Mountains. We saw three Elks swimming across it, and the number of this
fine species of Deer that are about us now is almost inconceivable. We
have heard of burning springs, which we intend to examine on our way
down. We started a Goose from the shore that had evidently young ones;
she swam off, beating the water with wings half extended, until nearly
one hundred yards off. A shot from a rifle was fired at her, and
happily missed the poor thing; she afterwards lowered her neck, sank her
body, and with the tip of the bill only above water, kept swimming away
from us till out of sight. Afterwards one of the trappers shot at two
Geese with two young ones. We landed at four o'clock, and Harris and
Bell shot some Bay-winged Buntings and _Emberiza pallida_, whilst
Sprague and I went up to the top of the hills, bounding the beautiful
prairie, by which we had stopped to repair something about the engine.
We gathered some handsome lupines, of two different species, and many
other curious plants. From this elevated spot we could see the
wilderness to an immense distance; the Missouri looked as if only a
brook, and our steamer a very small one indeed. At this juncture we saw
two men running along the shore upwards, and I supposed they had seen an
Elk or something else, of which they were in pursuit. Meantime, gazing
around, we saw a large lake, where we are told that Ducks, Geese, and
Swans breed in great numbers; this we intend also to visit when we come
down. At this moment I heard the report of a gun from the point where
the men had been seen, and when we reached the steamboat, we were told
that a Buffalo had been killed. From the deck I saw a man swimming round
the animal; he got on its side, and floated down the stream with it. The
captain sent a parcel of men with a rope; the swimmer fastened this
round the neck of the Buffalo, and with his assistance, for he now swam
all the way, the poor beast was brought alongside; and as the tackle had
been previously fixed, it was hauled up on the fore deck. Sprague took
its measurements with me, which are as follows: length from nose to root
of tail, 8 feet; height of fore shoulder to hoof, 4 ft. 9½ in.; height
at the rump to hoof, 4 ft. 2 in. The head was cut off, as well as one
fore and one hind foot. The head is so full of symmetry, and so
beautiful, that I shall have a drawing of it to-morrow, as well as
careful ones of the feet. Whilst the butchers were at work, I was highly
interested to see one of our Indians cutting out the milk-bag of the cow
and eating it, quite fresh and raw, in pieces somewhat larger than a
hen's egg. One of the stomachs was partially washed in a bucket of
water, and an Indian swallowed a large portion of this. Mr. Chardon
brought the remainder on the upper deck and ate it uncleaned. I had a
piece well cleaned and tasted it; to my utter astonishment, it was very
good, but the idea was repulsive to me; besides which, I am not a
meat-eater, as you know, except when other provisions fail. The animal
was in good condition; and the whole carcass was cut up and dispersed
among the men below, reserving the nicer portions for the cabin. This
was accomplished with great rapidity; the blood was washed away in a
trice, and half an hour afterwards no one would have known that a
Buffalo had been dressed on deck. We now met with a somewhat
disagreeable accident; in starting and backing off the boat, our yawl
was run beneath the boat; this strained it, and sprung one of the planks
so much that, when we landed on the opposite side of the river, we had
to haul it on shore, and turn it over for examination; it was afterwards
taken to the forecastle to undergo repairs to-morrow, as it is often
needed. Whilst cutting wood was going on, we went ashore. Bell shot at
two Buffaloes out of eight, and killed both; he would also have shot a
Wolf, had he had more bullets. Harris saw, and shot at, an Elk; but he
knows little about still hunting, and thereby lost a good chance. A
negro fire-tender went off with his rifle and shot two of Townsend's
Hares. One was cut in two by his ball, and he left it on the ground; the
other was shot near the rump, and I have it now hanging before me; and,
let me tell you, that I never before saw so beautiful an animal of the
same family. My drawing will be a good one; it is a fine specimen, an
old male. I have been hearing much of the prevalence of scurvy, from
living so constantly on dried flesh, also about the small-pox, which
destroyed such numbers of the Indians. Among the Mandans, Riccarées, and
Gros Ventres, hundreds died in 1837, only a few surviving; and the
Assiniboins were nearly exterminated. Indeed it is said that in the
various attacks of this scourge 52,000 Indians have perished. This last
visitation of the dread disease has never before been related by a
traveller,[14] and I will write more of it when at Fort Union. It is now
twenty minutes to midnight; and, with walking and excitement of one kind
or another, I am ready for bed. Alexis and another hunter will be off in
an hour on a hunt.

_June 10, Saturday._ I rose at half-past three this morning. It was
clear and balmy; our men were cutting wood, and we went off shooting. We
saw a female Elk that was loath to leave the neighborhood; and Bell shot
a Sharp-tailed Grouse, which we ate at our supper and found pretty good,
though sadly out of season. As we were returning to the boat, Alexis and
his companion went off after Buffaloes that we saw grazing peaceably on
the bank near the river. Whilst they were shooting at the Buffaloes, and
almost simultaneously, the fawn of the female Elk was seen lying asleep
under the bank. It rose as we approached, and Bell shot at it, but
missed; and with its dam it went briskly off. It was quite small,
looking almost red, and was beautifully spotted with light marks of the
color of the Virginia Deer's fawn. I would have given five dollars for
it, as I saw it skipping over the prairie. At this moment Alexis came
running, and told the captain they had killed two Buffaloes; and almost
all the men went off at once with ropes, to bring the poor animals on
board, according to custom. One, however, had been already dressed. The
other had its head cut off, and the men were tugging at the rope,
hauling the beast along over the grass. Mr. Chardon was seated on it;
until, when near the boat, the rope gave way, and the bull rolled over
into a shallow ravine. It was soon on board, however, and quickly
skinned and cut up. The two hunters had been absent three-quarters of an
hour. At the report of the guns, two Wolves made their appearance, and
no doubt fed at leisure on the offal left from the first Buffalo. Harris
saw a gang of Elks, consisting of between thirty and forty. We have
passed a good number of Wild Geese with goslings; the Geese were shot
at, notwithstanding my remonstrances on account of the young, but
fortunately all escaped. We passed some beautiful scenery when about the
middle of the "Bend," and almost opposite had the pleasure of seeing
five Mountain Rams, or Bighorns, on the summit of a hill. I looked at
them through the telescope; they stood perfectly still for some minutes,
then went out of sight, and then again were in view. One of them had
very large horns; the rest appeared somewhat smaller. Our captain told
us that he had seen them at, or very near by, the same place last
season, on his way up. We saw many very curious cliffs, but not one
answering the drawings engraved for Catlin's work. We passed Knife
River,[15] _Rivière aux Couteaux_, and stopped for a short time to take
in wood. Harris killed a Sparrow Hawk, and saw several Red-shafted
Woodpeckers. Bell was then engaged in saving the head of the Buffalo
cow, of which I made a drawing, and Sprague an outline, notwithstanding
the horrible motion of our boat. We passed safely a dangerous chain of
rocks extending across the river; we also passed White River;[16] both
the streams I have mentioned are insignificant. The weather was warm,
and became cloudy, and it is now raining smartly. We have, however, a
good quantity of excellent wood, and have made a good run, say sixty
miles. We saw what we supposed to be three Grizzly Bears, but could not
be sure. We saw on the prairie ahead of us some Indians, and as we
neared them, found them to be Assiniboins. There were about ten
altogether, men, squaws, and children. The boat was stopped, and a
smart-looking, though small-statured man came on board. He had eight
plugs of tobacco given him, and was asked to go off; but he talked a
vast deal, and wanted powder and ball. He was finally got rid of. During
his visit, our Gros Ventre chief and our Sioux were both in my own
cabin. The first having killed three of that tribe and scalped them, and
the Sioux having a similar record, they had no wish to meet. A few miles
above this we stopped to cut wood. Bell and Harris went on shore; and we
got a White Wolf, so old and so poor that we threw it overboard.
Meantime a fawn Elk was observed crossing the river, coming toward our
shore; it was shot at twice, but missed; it swam to the shore, but under
such a steep bank that it could not get up. Alexis, who was told of
this, ran down the river bank, reached it, and fastened his suspenders
around its neck, but could not get it up the bank. Bell had returned,
and went to his assistance, but all in vain; the little thing was very
strong, and floundered and struggled till it broke the tie, and swam
swiftly with the current down the river, and was lost. A slight rope
would have secured it to us. This was almost the same spot where the
captain caught one alive last season with the yawl; and we could have
performed the same feat easily, had not the yawl been on deck
undergoing repairs. We pushed off, and very soon saw more Indians on the
shore, also Assiniboins. They had crossed the "Bend" below us, and had
brought some trifles to trade with us; but our captain passed on, and
the poor wretches sat and looked at the "Great Medicine" in
astonishment. Shortly after this, we saw a Wolf attempting to climb a
very steep bank of clay; he fell down thrice, but at last reached the
top and disappeared at once. On the opposite shore another Wolf was
lying down on a sand-bar, like a dog, and might readily have been taken
for one. We have stopped for the night at nine o'clock; and I now have
done my day's putting-up of memoranda and sketches, intending to enlarge
upon much after I return home. I forgot to say that last evening we saw
a large herd of Buffaloes, with many calves among them; they were
grazing quietly on a fine bit of prairie, and we were actually opposite
to them and within two hundred yards before they appeared to notice us.
They stared, and then started at a handsome canter, suddenly wheeled
round, stopped, closed up their ranks, and then passed over a slight
knoll, producing a beautiful picturesque view. Another thing I forgot to
speak of is a place not far below the Little Missouri, where Mr. Kipp
assured us we should find the remains of a petrified forest, which we
hope to see later.

_June 11, Sunday._ This day has been tolerably fine, though windy. We
have seen an abundance of game, a great number of Elks, common Virginian
Deer, Mountain Rams in two places, and a fine flock of Sharp-tailed
Grouse, that, when they flew off from the ground near us, looked very
much like large Meadow Larks. They were on a prairie bordering a large
patch of Artemisia, which in the distance presents the appearance of
acres of cabbages. We have seen many Wolves and some Buffaloes. One
young bull stood on the brink of a bluff, looking at the boat
steadfastly for full five minutes; and as we neared the spot, he waved
his tail, and moved off briskly. On another occasion, a young bull that
had just landed at the foot of a very steep bluff was slaughtered
without difficulty; two shots were fired at it, and the poor thing was
killed by a rifle bullet. I was sorry, for we did not stop for it, and
its happy life was needlessly ended. I saw near that spot a large Hawk,
and also a very small Tamias, or Ground Squirrel. Harris saw a
Spermophile, of what species none of us could tell. We have seen many
Elks swimming the river, and they look almost the size of a well-grown
mule. They stared at us, were fired at, at an enormous distance, it is
true, and yet stood still. These animals are abundant beyond belief
hereabouts. We have seen much remarkably handsome scenery, but nothing
at all comparing with Catlin's descriptions; his book must, after all,
be altogether a humbug. Poor devil! I pity him from the bottom of my
soul; had he studied, and kept up to the old French proverb that says,
"Bon renommé vaut mieux que ceinture doré," he might have become an
"honest man"--the quintessence of God's works. We did hope to have
reached L'Eau Bourbeux (the Muddy River[17]) this evening, but we are
now fast ashore, about six miles below it, about the same distance that
we have been told we were ever since shortly after dinner. We have had
one event: our boat caught fire, and burned for a few moments near the
stern, the effects of the large, hot cinders coming from the chimney;
but it was almost immediately put out, thank God! Any inattention, with
about 10,000 lbs. of powder on board, might have resulted in a sad
accident. We have decided to write a short letter of thanks to our truly
gentlemanly captain, and to present him with a handsome six-barrelled
pistol, the only thing we have that may prove of service to him,
although I hope he may never need it. Sprague drew four figures of the
Buffalo's foot; and Bell and I have packed the whole of our skins. We
ran to-day all round the compass, touching every point. The following is
a copy of the letter to Captain Sire, signed by all of us.

       FORT UNION, MOUTH OF YELLOWSTONE, UPPER MISSOURI,
       _June 11th, 1843_.

DEAR SIR,--We cannot part with you previous to your return to St.
Louis, without offering to you our best wishes, and our thanks for
your great courtesy, assuring you how highly we appreciate, and feel
grateful for, your uniform kindness and gentlemanly deportment to each
and all of us. We are most happy to add that our passage to the
Yellowstone River has been devoid of any material accident, which we
can only attribute to the great regularity and constant care with
which you have discharged your arduous duties in the difficult
navigation of the river.

We regret that it is not in our power, at this moment, to offer you a
suitable token of our esteem, but hope you will confer on us the favor
of accepting at our hands a six-barrelled, silver-mounted pistol,
which we sincerely hope and trust you may never have occasion to use
in defence of your person. We beg you to consider us,

Your well-wishers and friends, etc.,

_Fort Union, June 12, Monday._ We had a cloudy and showery day, and a
high wind besides. We saw many Wild Geese and Ducks with their young. We
took in wood at two places, but shot nothing. I saw a Wolf giving chase,
or driving away four Ravens from a sand-bar; but the finest sight of all
took place shortly before we came to the mouth of the Yellowstone, and
that was no less than twenty-two Mountain Rams and Ewes mixed, and amid
them one young one only. We came in sight of the fort at five o'clock,
and reached it at seven. We passed the Opposition fort three miles below
this; their flags were hoisted, and ours also. We were saluted from
Fort Union, and we fired guns in return, six in number. The moment we
had arrived, the gentlemen of the fort came down on horseback, and
appeared quite a cavalcade. I was introduced to Mr. Culbertson and
others, and, of course, the introduction went the rounds. We walked to
the fort and drank some first-rate port wine, and returned to the boat
at half-past nine o'clock. Our captain was pleased with the letter and
the pistol. Our trip to this place has been the quickest on record,
though our boat is the slowest that ever undertook to reach the
Yellowstone. Including all stoppages and detentions, we have made the
trip in forty-eight days and seven hours from St. Louis. We left St.
Louis April 25th, at noon; reaching Fort Union June 12th, at seven in
the evening.

_June 13, Tuesday._ We had a remarkably busy day on board and on shore,
but spent much of our time writing letters. I wrote home at great length
to John Bachman, N. Berthoud, and Gideon B. Smith. We walked to the fort
once and back again, and dined on board with our captain and the
gentlemen of the fort. We took a ride also in an old wagon, somewhat at
the risk of our necks, for we travelled too fast for the nature of what
I was told was the road. We slept on board the "Omega," probably for the
last time.

We have been in a complete state of excitement unloading the boat,
reloading her with a new cargo, and we were all packing and arranging
our effects, as well as writing letters. After dinner our belongings
were taken to the landing of the fort in a large keel-boat, with the
last of the cargo. The room which we are to occupy during our stay at
this place is rather small and low, with only one window, on the west
side. However, we shall manage well enough, I dare say, for the few
weeks we are to be here. This afternoon I had a good deal of
conversation with Mr. Culbertson, and found him well disposed to do all
he can for us; and no one can ask for more politeness than is shown us.
Our captain having invited us to remain with him to-night, we have done
so, and will breakfast with him to-morrow morning. It is his intention
to leave as early as he can settle his business here. All the trappers
are gone to the fort, and in a few weeks will be dispersed over
different and distant parts of the wilderness. The filth they had left
below has been scraped and washed off, as well indeed as the whole boat,
of which there was need enough. I have copied this journal and send it
to St. Louis by our good captain; also one box of skins, one pair Elk
horns, and one bundle of Wolf and other skins.

_June 14, Wednesday._ At six this morning all hands rose early; the
residue of the cargo for St. Louis was placed on board. Our captain told
us time was up, and we all started for the fort on foot, quite a short
distance. Having deposited our guns there, Bell, Squires, and I walked
off to the wooding-place, where our captain was to remain a good while,
and it was there we should bid him adieu. We found this walk one of the
worst, the very worst, upon which we ever trod; full of wild
rose-bushes, tangled and matted with vines, burs, and thorns of all
sorts, and encumbered by thousands of pieces of driftwood, some decayed,
some sunk in the earth, while others were entangled with the innumerable
roots exposed by floods and rains. We saw nothing but a few Ravens. When
nearly half way, we heard the trampling of galloping horses, and loud
hallooings, which we found to proceed from the wagon of which we have
spoken, which, loaded with men, passed us at a speed one would have
thought impossible over such ground. Soon after we had a heavy shower of
rain, but reached the boat in good order. Harris and Sprague, who had
followed us, came afterwards. I was pretty hot, and rather tired. The
boat took on wood for half an hour after we arrived; then the captain
shook us all by the hand most heartily, and we bade him God speed. I
parted from him really with sorrow, for I have found him all I could
wish during the whole passage; and his position is no sinecure, to say
naught of the rabble under his control. All the wood-cutters who
remained walked off by the road; and we went back in the wagon over a
bad piece of ground--much easier, however, than returning on foot. As we
reached the prairies, we travelled faster, and passed by the late garden
of the fort, which had been abandoned on account of the thieving of the
men attached to the Opposition Company, at Fort Mortimer. Harris caught
a handsome snake, now in spirits. We saw Lazuli Finches and several
other sorts of small birds. Upon reaching the fort, from which many
great guns were fired as salutes to the steamer, which were loudly
returned, I was amused at the terror the firing occasioned to the squaws
and their children, who had arrived in great numbers the previous
evening; they howled, fell down on the earth, or ran in every direction.
All the dogs started off, equally frightened, and made for the distant
hills. Dinner not being ready, three of us took a walk, and saw a good
number of Tamias holes, many cacti of two sorts, and some plants
hitherto uncollected by us. We saw a few Arctic Ground Finches and two
Wolves. After dinner Mr. Culbertson told us that if a Wolf made its
appearance on the prairie near the fort, he would give it chase on
horseback, and bring it to us, alive or dead; and he was as good as his
word. It was so handsomely executed, that I will relate the whole
affair. When I saw the Wolf (a white one), it was about a quarter of a
mile off, alternately standing and trotting; the horses were about
one-half the distance off. A man was started to drive these in; and I
thought the coursers never would reach the fort, much less become
equipped so as to overhaul the Wolf. We were all standing on the
platform of the fort, with our heads only above the palisades; and I
was so fidgety that I ran down twice to tell the hunters that the Wolf
was making off. Mr. Culbertson, however, told me he would see it did not
make off; and in a few moments he rode out of the fort, gun in hand,
dressed only in shirt and breeches. He threw his cap off within a few
yards, and suddenly went off with the swiftness of a jockey bent on
winning a race. The Wolf trotted on, and ever and anon stopped to gaze
at the rider and the horse; till, finding out the meaning (too late,
alas! for him), he galloped off with all his might; but the horse was
too swift for the poor cur, as we saw the rider gaining ground rapidly.
Mr. Culbertson fired his gun off as a signal, I was told, that the Wolf
would be brought in; and the horse, one would think, must have been of
the same opinion, for although the Wolf had now reached the hills, and
turned into a small ravine, the moment it had entered it, the horse
dashed after, the sound of the gun came on the ear, the Wolf was picked
up by Mr. Culbertson without dismounting, hardly slackening his pace,
and thrown across the saddle. The rider returned as swiftly as he had
gone, wet through with a smart shower that had fallen meantime; and the
poor Wolf was placed at my disposal. The time taken from the start to
the return in the yard did not exceed twenty minutes, possibly something
less. Two other men who had started at the same time rode very swiftly
also, and skirted the hills to prevent the Wolf's escape; and one of
them brought in Mr. C.'s gun, which he had thrown on the ground as he
picked up the Wolf to place it on the saddle. The beast was not quite
dead when it arrived, and its jaws told of its dying agonies; it
scratched one of Mr. C.'s fingers sorely; but we are assured that such
things so often occur that nothing is thought of it.

And now a kind of sham Buffalo hunt was proposed, accompanied by a bet
of a suit of clothes, to be given to the rider who would load and fire
the greatest number of shots in a given distance. The horses were
mounted as another Wolf was seen trotting off towards the hills, and Mr.
Culbertson again told us he would bring it in. This time, however, he
was mistaken; the Wolf was too far off to be overtaken, and it reached
the hill-tops, made its way through a deep ravine full of large rocks,
and was then given up. Mr. Culbertson was seen coming down without his
quarry. He joined the riders, started with his gun empty, loaded in a
trice, and fired the first shot; then the three riders came on at full
speed, loading and firing first on one side, then on the other of the
horse, as if after Buffaloes. Mr. C. fired eleven times before he
reached the fort, and within less than half a mile's run; the others
fired once less, each. We were all delighted to see these feats. No one
was thrown off, though the bridles hung loose, and the horses were under
full gallop all the time. Mr. Culbertson's mare, which is of the full
Blackfoot Indian breed, is about five years old, and could not be bought
for four hundred dollars. I should like to see some of the best English
hunting gentlemen hunt in the like manner. We are assured that after
dusk, or as soon as the gates of the fort are shut, the Wolves come near
enough to be killed from the platform, as these beasts oftentimes come
to the trough where the hogs are fed daily. We have seen no less than
eight this day from the fort, moving as leisurely as if a hundred miles
off. A heavy shower put off running a race; but we are to have a regular
Buffalo hunt, where I must act only as a spectator; for, alas! I am now
too near seventy to run and load whilst going at full gallop. Two
gentlemen arrived this evening from the Crow Indian Nation; they crossed
to our side of the river, and were introduced at once. One is Mr.
Chouteau, son of Auguste Chouteau, and the other a Scotchman, Mr. James
Murray, at whose father's farm, on the Tweed, we all stopped on our
return from the Highlands of Scotland. They told us that the snow and
ice was yet three feet deep near the mountains, and an abundance over
the whole of the mountains themselves. They say they have made a good
collection of robes, but that Beavers are very scarce. This day has been
spent altogether in talking, sight-seeing, and enjoyment. Our room was
small, dark, and dirty, and crammed with our effects. Mr. Culbertson saw
this, and told me that to-morrow he would remove us to a larger,
quieter, and better one. I was glad to hear this, as it would have been
very difficult to draw, write, or work in; and yet it is the very room
where the Prince de Neuwied resided for two months, with his secretary
and bird-preserver. The evening was cloudy and cold; we had had several
showers of rain since our bath in the bushes this morning, and I felt
somewhat fatigued. Harris and I made our beds up; Squires fixed some
Buffalo robes, of which nine had been given us, on a long old bedstead,
never knowing it had been the couch of a foreign prince;[18] Bell and
Sprague settled themselves opposite to us on more Buffalo skins, and
night closed in. But although we had lain down, it was impossible for us
to sleep; for above us was a drunken man affected with a _goître_, and
not only was his voice rough and loud, but his words were continuous.
His oaths, both in French and English, were better fitted for the Five
Points in New York, or St. Giles of London, than anywhere among
Christians. He roared, laughed like a maniac, and damned himself and the
whole creation. I thought that time would quiet him, but, no! for now
clarionets, fiddles, and a drum were heard in the dining-room, where
indeed they had been playing at different times during the afternoon,
and our friend above began swearing at this as if quite fresh. We had
retired for the night; but an invitation was sent us to join the party
in the dining-room. Squires was up in a moment, and returned to say that
a ball was on foot, and that "all the beauty and fashion" would be
skipping about in less than no time. There was no alternative; we all
got up, and in a short time were amid the _beau monde_ of these parts.
Several squaws, attired in their best, were present, with all the
guests, _engagés_, clerks, etc. Mr. Culbertson played the fiddle very
fairly; Mr. Guèpe the clarionet, and Mr. Chouteau the drum, as if
brought up in the army of the great Napoleon. Cotillions and reels were
danced with much energy and apparent enjoyment, and the company
dispersed about one o'clock. We retired for the second time, and now
occurred a dispute between the drunkard and another man; but,
notwithstanding this, I was so wearied that I fell asleep.

_June 15, Thursday._ We all rose late, as one might expect; the weather
was quite cool for the season, and it was cloudy besides. We did nothing
else than move our effects to an upstairs room. The Mackinaw boats
arrived at the fort about noon, and were unloaded in a precious short
time; and all hands being called forth, the empty boats themselves were
dragged to a ravine, turned over, and prepared for calking previous to
their next voyage up or down, as the case might be. The gentlemen from
these boats gave me a fine pair of Deer's horns; and to Mr. Culbertson a
young Gray Wolf, and also a young Badger, which they had brought in. It
snarled and snapped, and sometimes grunted not unlike a small pig, but
did not bite. It moved somewhat slowly, and its body looked flattish all
the time; the head has all the markings of an adult, though it is a
young of the present spring. Bell and Harris hunted a good while, but
procured only a Lazuli Finch and a few other birds. Bell skinned the
Wolf, and we put its hide in the barrel with the head of the Buffalo
cow, etc. I showed the plates of the quadrupeds to many persons, and I
hope with success, as they were pleased and promised me much. To-morrow
morning a man called Black Harris is to go off after Antelopes for me;
and the hunters for the men of the fort and themselves; and perhaps some
of the young men may go with one or both parties. I heard many stories
about Wolves; particularly I was interested in one told by Mr. Kipp, who
assured us he had caught upwards of one hundred with baited fish-hooks.
Many other tales were told us; but I shall not forget them, so will not
write them down here, but wait till hereafter. After shooting at a mark
with a bow made of Elk horn, Mr. Kipp presented it to me. We saw several
Wolves, but none close to the fort. Both the common Crow and Raven are
found here; Bell killed one of the former.

_June 16, Friday._ The weather was cool this morning, with the wind due
east. I drew the young Gray Wolf, and Sprague made an outline of it.
Bell, Provost, Alexis, and Black Harris went over the river to try to
procure Antelopes; Bell and Alexis returned to dinner without any game,
although they had seen dozens of the animals wanted, and also some
Common Deer. The two others, who travelled much farther, returned at
dusk with empty stomachs and a young fawn of the Common Deer. Harris and
I took a long walk after my drawing was well towards completion, and
shot a few birds. The Buffalo, old and young, are fond of rolling on the
ground in the manner of horses, and turn quite over; this is done not
only to clean themselves, but also to rub off the loose old coat of hair
and wool that hangs about their body like so many large, dirty rags.
Those about the fort are gentle, but will not allow a person to touch
their bodies, not even the young calves of the last spring. Our young
Badger is quite fond of lying on his back, and then sleeps. His general
appearance and gait remind me of certain species of Armadillo. There was
a good deal of talking and jarring about the fort; some five or six men
came from the Opposition Company, and would have been roughly handled
had they not cleared off at the beginning of trouble. Arrangements were
made for loading the Mackinaw barges, and it is intended that they shall
depart for St. Louis, leaving on Sunday morning. We shall all be glad
when these boats with their men are gone, as we are now full to the
brim. Harris has a new batch of patients, and enjoys the work of
physician.

_June 17, Saturday._ Warm and fair, with the river rising fast. The
young fawn was hung up, and I drew it. By dinner-time Sprague had well
prepared the Gray Wolf, and I put him to work at the fawn. Bell went
shooting, and brought five or six good birds. The song of the Lazuli
Finch so much resembles that of the Indigo Bird that it would be
difficult to distinguish them by the note alone. They keep indifferently
among the low bushes and high trees. He also brought a few specimens of
_Spermophilus hoodii_ of Richardson,[19] of which the measurements were
taken. Wolves often retreat into holes made by the sinking of the earth
near ravines, burrowing in different directions at the bottoms of these.
I sent Provost early this morning to the Opposition fort, to inquire
whether Mr. Cutting had written letters about us, and also to see a fine
Kit Fox, brought in one of their boats from the Yellowstone. Much has
been done in the way of loading the Mackinaw boats. Bell has skinned the
young Wolf, and Sprague will perhaps finish preparing the fawn. The
hunters who went out yesterday morning have returned, and brought back a
quantity of fresh Buffalo meat. Squires brought many fragments of a
petrified tree. No Antelopes were shot, and I feel uneasy on this score.
Provost returned and told me Mr. Cutting's men with the letters had not
arrived, but that they were expected hourly. The Kit Fox had been
suffocated to death by some dozens of bundles of Buffalo robes falling
on it, while attached to a ladder, and had been thrown out and eaten by
the Wolves or the dogs. This evening, quite late, I shot a fine large
Gray Wolf. I sincerely hope to see some Antelopes to-morrow, as well as
other animals.

_June 18, Sunday._ This day has been a beautiful, as well as a
prosperous one to us. At daylight Provost and Alexis went off hunting
across the river. Immediately after an early breakfast, Mr. Murray and
three Mackinaw boats started for St. Louis. After the boats were fairly
out of sight, and the six-pounders had been twice fired, and the great
flag floated in the stiff southwesterly breeze, four other hunters went
off over the river, and Squires was one of them. I took a walk with Mr.
Culbertson and Mr. Chardon, to look at some old, decaying, and simply
constructed coffins, placed on trees about ten feet above ground, for
the purpose of finding out in what manner, and when it would be best for
us to take away the skulls, some six or seven in number, all Assiniboin
Indians. It was decided that we would do so at dusk, or nearly at dark.
My two companions assured me that they never had walked so far from the
fort unarmed as on this occasion, and said that even a _single_ Indian
with a gun and a bow might have attacked us; but if several were
together, they would pay no attention to us, as that might be construed
to mean war. This is a good lesson, however, and one I shall not forget.
About ten o'clock Alexis came to me and said that he had killed two male
Antelopes, and Provost one Deer, and that he must have a cart to bring
the whole in. This was arranged in a few minutes; and Harris and I went
across the river on a ferry flat, taking with us a cart and a most
excellent mule. Alexis' wife went across also to gather gooseberries.
The cart being made ready, we mounted it, I sitting down, and Harris
standing up. We took an old abandoned road, filled with fallen timber
and bushes innumerable; but Alexis proved to be an excellent driver, and
the mule the most active and the strongest I ever saw. We jogged on
through thick and thin for about two miles, when we reached a prairie
covered with large bushes of Artemisia (called here "Herbe Sainte"), and
presently, cutting down a slope, came to where lay our Antelope, a young
male, and the skin of the Deer, while its carcass hung on a tree. These
were placed in the cart, and we proceeded across the prairie for the
other Antelope, which had been tied by the horns to a large bush of
Artemisia, being alive when Alexis left it; but it was now dead and
stiff. I looked at its eyes at once. This was a fine old male with its
coat half shed. I was sorry enough it was dead. We placed it by its
relation in the cart, jumped in, and off we went at a good round trot,
not returning to the road, but across the prairie and immediately under
the clay hills where the Antelope go after they have fed in the prairie
below from early dawn until about eight o'clock; there are of course
exceptions to the contrary. Part of the way we travelled between ponds
made by the melting of the snows, and having on them a few Ducks and a
Black Tern, all of which no doubt breed here. After we had passed the
last pond, we saw three Antelopes several hundred yards to the lee of
us; the moment they perceived us Alexis said they would be off; and so
they were, scampering towards the hills until out of sight. We now
entered the woods, and almost immediately Harris saw the head of a Deer
about fifty yards distant. Alexis, who had only a rifle, would have shot
him from the cart, had the mule stood still; but as this was not the
case, Alexis jumped down, took a long, deliberate aim, the gun went off,
and the Deer fell dead in its tracks. It proved to be a doe with very
large milk-bags, and doubtless her fawn or fawns were in the vicinity;
but Alexis could not find them in the dense bush. He and Harris dragged
her to the cart, where I stood holding the mule. We reached the ferry,
where the boat had awaited our return, placed the cart on board without
touching the game; and, on landing at the fort, the good mule pulled it
up the steep bank into the yard. We now had two Antelopes and two Deer
that had been killed before noon. Immediately after dinner, the head of
the old male was cut off, and I went to work outlining it; first small,
with the camera, and then by squares. Bell was engaged in skinning both
the bodies; but I felt vexed that he had carelessly suffered the Gray
Wolf to be thrown into the river. I spoke to him on the subject of never
losing a specimen till we were quite sure it would not be needed; and I
feel well assured he is so honest a man and so good a worker that what I
said will last for all time. While looking at the Deer shot this day,
Harris and I thought that their tails were very long, and that the
animals themselves were very much larger than those we have to the
eastward; and we all concluded to have more killed, and examine and
measure closely, as this one may be an exception. It was unfortunate we
did not speak of this an hour sooner, as two Deer had been killed on
this side the river by a hunter belonging to the fort; but Mr.
Culbertson assured me that we should have enough of them in a few days.
I am told that the Rocky Mountain Rams lost most of their young during
the hard frosts of the early spring; for, like those of the common
sheep, the lambs are born as early as the 1st of March, and hence their
comparative scarcity. Harris and Bell have shot a handsome White Wolf, a
female, from the ramparts; having both fired together, it is not known
which shot was the fatal one. Bell wounded another in the leg, as there
were several marauders about; but the rascal made off.

_June 19, Monday._ It began raining early this morning; by "early," I
mean fully two hours before daylight. The first news I heard was from
Mr. Chardon, who told me he had left a Wolf feeding out of the pig's
trough, which is immediately under the side of the fort. The next was
from Mr. Larpenteur,[20] who opens the gates when the bell rings at
sunrise, who told us he saw seven Wolves within thirty yards, or less,
of the fort. I have told him since, with Mr. Chardon's permission, to
call upon us before he opens these mighty portals, whenever he espies
Wolves from the gallery above, and I hope that to-morrow morning we may
shoot one or more of these bold marauders. Sprague has been drawing all
day, and I a good part of it; and it has been so chilly and cold that we
have had fires in several parts of the fort. Bell and Harris have gone
shooting this afternoon, and have not yet returned. Bell cleaned the
Wolf shot last night, and the two Antelopes; old Provost boiled brine,
and the whole of them are now in pickle. There are some notions that two
kinds of Deer are found hereabouts, one quite small, the other quite
large; but of this I have no proof at present. The weather was too bad
for Alexis to go hunting. Young Mr. McKenzie and a companion went across
the river, but returned soon afterwards, having seen nothing but one
Grizzly Bear. The water is either at a stand, or falling a
little.--_Later_. Harris and Bell have returned, and, to my delight and
utter astonishment, have brought two new birds: one a Lark,[21] small
and beautiful; the other like our common Golden-winged Woodpecker, but
with a red mark instead of a black one along the lower mandible running
backward.[22] I am quite amazed at the differences of opinion
respecting the shedding--or not shedding--of the horns of the
Antelope;[23] and this must be looked to with the greatest severity, for
if these animals _do_ shed their horns, they are no longer _Antelopes_.
We are about having quite a ball in honor of Mr. Chardon, who leaves
shortly for the Blackfoot Fort.

_June 20, Tuesday._ It rained nearly all night; and though the ball was
given, I saw nothing of it, and heard but little, for I went to bed and
to sleep. Sprague finished the drawing of the old male Antelope, and I
mine, taking besides the measurements, etc., which I give here.... Bell
has skinned the head and put it in pickle. The weather was bad, yet old
Provost, Alexis, and Mr. Bonaventure, a good hunter and a first-rate
shot, went over the river to hunt. They returned, however, without
anything, though they saw three or four Deer, and a Wolf almost black,
with very long hair, which Provost followed for more than a mile, but
uselessly, as the rascal outwitted him after all. Harris and Bell are
gone too, and I hope they will bring some more specimens of Sprague's
Lark and the new Golden-winged Woodpecker.

To fill the time on this dreary day, I asked Mr. Chardon to come up to
our room and give us an account of the small-pox among the Indians,
especially among the Mandans and Riccarees, and he related as follows:
Early in the month of July, 1837, the steamer "Assiniboin" arrived at
Fort Clark with many cases of small-pox on board. Mr. Chardon, having a
young son on the boat, went thirty miles to meet her, and took his son
away. The pestilence, however, had many victims on the steamboat, and
seemed destined to find many more among the helpless tribes of the
wilderness. An Indian stole the blanket of one of the steamboat's
watchmen (who lay at the point of death, if not already dead), wrapped
himself in it, and carried it off, unaware of the disease that was to
cost him his life, and that of many of his tribe--thousands, indeed. Mr.
Chardon offered a reward immediately for the return of the blanket, as
well as a new one in its stead, and promised that no punishment should
be inflicted. But the robber was a great chief; through shame, or some
other motive, he never came forward, and, before many days, was a
corpse. Most of the Riccarees and Mandans were some eighty miles in the
prairies, hunting Buffaloes and saving meat for the winter. Mr. Chardon
despatched an express to acquaint them all of the awful calamity,
enjoining them to keep far off, for that death would await them in their
villages. They sent word in return, that their corn was suffering for
want of work, that they were not afraid, and would return; the danger to
them, poor things, seemed fabulous, and doubtless they thought other
reasons existed, for which this was an excuse. Mr. Chardon sent the man
back again, and told them their crop of corn was nothing compared to
their lives; but Indians are Indians, and, in spite of all entreaties,
they moved _en masse_, to confront the awful catastrophe that was about
to follow. When they reached the villages, they thought the whites had
saved the Riccarees, and put the plague on them alone (they were
Mandans). Moreover, they thought, and said, that the whites had a
preventive medicine, which the whites would not give them. Again and
again it was explained to them that this was not the case, but all to no
purpose; the small-pox had taken such a hold upon the poor Indians, and
in such malignant form, that they died oftentimes within the rising and
setting of a day's sun. They died by hundreds daily; their bodies were
thrown down beneath the high bluff, and soon produced a stench beyond
description. Men shot their wives and children, and afterwards, driving
several balls in their guns, would place the muzzle in their mouths,
and, touching the trigger with their feet, blow their brains out. About
this time Mr. Chardon was informed that one of the young Mandan chiefs
was bent on shooting him, believing he had brought the pestilence upon
the Indians. One of Mr. Chardon's clerks heard of this plot, and begged
him to remain in the store; at first Mr. Chardon did not place any faith
in the tale, but later was compelled to do so, and followed his clerk's
advice. The young chief, a short time afterwards, fell a victim to this
fearful malady; but probably others would have taken his life had it not
been for one of those strange incidents which come, we know not why, nor
can we explain them. A number of the chiefs came that day to confer with
Mr. Chardon, and while they were talking angrily with him, he sitting
with his arms on a table between them, a Dove, being pursued by a Hawk,
flew in through the open door, and sat panting and worn out on Mr.
Chardon's arm for more than a minute, when it flew off. The Indians, who
were quite numerous, clustered about him, and asked him what the bird
came to him for? After a moment's thought, he told them that the bird
had been sent by the white men, his friends, to see if it was true that
the Mandans had killed him, and that it must return with the answer as
soon as possible; he added he had told the Dove to say that the Mandans
were his friends, and would never kill him, but would do all they could
for him. The superstitious redmen believed this story implicitly;
thenceforth they looked on Mr. Chardon as one of the Great Spirit's
sons, and believed he alone could help them. Little, however, could be
done; the small-pox continued its fearful ravages, and the Indians grew
fewer and fewer day by day. For a long time the Riccarees did not
suffer; the Mandans became more and more astounded at this, and became
exasperated against both whites and Indians. The disease was of the most
virulent type, so that within a few hours after death the bodies were a
mass of rottenness. Men killed themselves, to die a nobler death than
that brought by the dreaded plague. One young warrior sent his wife to
dig his grave; and she went, of course, for no Indian woman dares
disobey her lord. The grave was dug, and the warrior, dressed in his
most superb apparel, with lance and shield in hand, walked towards it
singing his own death song, and, finding the grave finished, threw down
all his garments and arms, and leaped into it, drawing his knife as he
did so, and cutting his body almost asunder. This done, the earth was
thrown over him, the grave filled up, and the woman returned to her
lodge to live with her children, perhaps only another day. A great
chief, who had been a constant friend to the whites, having caught the
pest, and being almost at the last extremity, dressed himself in his
fineries, mounted his war-steed, and, fevered and in agony, rode among
the villages, speaking against the whites, urging the young warriors to
charge upon them and destroy them all. The harangue over, he went home,
and died not many hours afterward. The exposure and exertion brought on
great pains, and one of the men from the fort went to him with something
that gave him temporary relief; before he died, he acknowledged his
error in trying to create trouble between the whites and Indians, and it
was his wish to be buried in front of the gate of the fort, with all his
trophies around and above his body; the promise was given him that this
should be done, and he died in the belief that the white man, as he trod
on his grave, would see that he was humbled before him, and would
forgive him. Two young men, just sickening with the disease, began to
talk of the dreadful death that awaited them, and resolved not to wait
for the natural close of the malady, the effects of which they had seen
among their friends and relatives. One said the knife was the surest and
swiftest weapon to carry into effect their proposed self-destruction;
the other contended that placing an arrow in the throat and forcing it
into the lungs was preferable. After a long debate they calmly rose, and
each adopted his own method; in an instant the knife was driven into the
heart of one, the arrow into the throat of the other, and they fell dead
almost at the same instant. Another story was of an extremely handsome
and powerful Indian who lost an only son, a beautiful boy, upon whom all
his hopes and affections were placed. The loss proved too much for him;
he called his wife, and, after telling her what a faithful husband he
had been, said to her, "Why should we live? all we cared for is taken
from us, and why not at once join our child in the land of the Great
Spirit?" She consented; in an instant he shot her dead on the spot,
reloaded his gun, put the muzzle in his mouth, touched the trigger, and
fell back dead. On the same day another curious incident occurred; a
young man, covered with the eruption, and apparently on the eve of
death, managed to get to a deep puddle of mire or mud, threw himself in
it, and rolled over and over as a Buffalo is wont to do. The sun was
scorching hot, and the poor fellow got out of the mire covered with a
coating of clay fully half an inch thick and laid himself down; the
sun's heat soon dried the clay, so as to render it like unburnt bricks,
and as he walked or crawled along towards the village, the mud drying
and falling from him, taking the skin with it, and leaving the flesh raw
and bleeding, he was in agony, and besought those who passed to kill
him; but, strange to say, after enduring tortures, the fever left him,
he recovered, and is still living, though badly scarred. Many ran to the
river, in the delirium of the burning fever, plunged in the stream, and
rose no more. The whites in the fort, as well as the Riccarees, took the
disease after all. The Indians, with few exceptions, died, and three of
the whites. The latter had no food in the way of bread, flour, sugar, or
coffee, and they had to go stealthily by night to steal small pumpkins,
about the size of a man's fist, to subsist upon--and this amid a large
number of wild, raving, mad Indians, who swore revenge against them all
the while. This is a mere sketch of the terrible scourge which virtually
annihilated two powerful tribes of Indians, and of the trials of the
traders attached to the Fur Companies on these wild prairies, and I can
tell you of many more equally strange. The mortality, as taken down by
Major Mitchell, was estimated by that gentleman at 150,000 Indians,
including those from the tribes of the Riccarees, Mandans, Sioux, and
Blackfeet. The small-pox was in the very fort from which I am now
writing this account, and its ravages here were as awful as elsewhere.
Mr. Chardon had the disease, and was left for dead; but one of his
clerks saw signs of life, and forced him to drink a quantity of hot
whiskey mixed with water and nutmeg; he fell into a sound sleep, and his
recovery began from that hour. He says that with him the pains began in
the small of the back, and on the back part of his head, and were
intense. He concluded by assuring us all that the small-pox had never
been known in the civilized world, as it had been among the poor Mandans
and other Indians. Only _twenty-seven_ Mandans were left to tell the
tale; they have now augmented to ten or twelve lodges in the six years
that have nearly elapsed since the pestilence.[24]

Harris and Bell came back bringing several small birds, among which
three or four proved to be a Blackbird[25] nearly allied to the Rusty
Grakle, but with evidently a much shorter and straighter bill. Its
measurements will be given, of course. The weather is still lowering and
cold, and it rains at intervals. We are now out of specimens of
quadrupeds to draw from. Our gentlemen seem to remember the ball of last
night, and I doubt not will go early to bed, as I shall.

_June 21, Wednesday._ Cloudy and lowering weather; however, Provost went
off over the river, before daylight, and shot a Deer, of what kind we do
not know; he returned about noon, very hungry. The mud was dreadful in
the bottoms. Bell and young McKenzie went off after breakfast, but
brought nothing but a Sharp-tailed Grouse, though McKenzie shot two
Wolves. The one Harris shot last night proved to be an old female not
worth keeping; her companions had seamed her jaws, for in this part of
the world Wolves feed upon Wolves, and no mistake. This evening I hauled
the beast under the ramparts, cut her body open, and had a stake driven
quite fast through it, to hold it as a bait. Harris and Bell are this
moment on the lookout for the rascals. Wolves here not only eat their
own kind, but are the most mischievous animals in the country; they eat
the young Buffalo calves, the young Antelopes, and the young of the
Bighorn on all occasions, besides Hares of different sorts, etc.
Buffaloes never scrape the snow with their feet, but with their noses,
notwithstanding all that has been said to the contrary, even by Mr.
Catlin. Bell brought home the hind parts, the head, and one forefoot of
a new species of small Hare.[26]

We are told these Hares are very plentiful, and yet this is the first
specimen we have seen, and sorry am I that it amounts to no specimen at
all. Harris and I walked several miles, but killed nothing; we found the
nest of a Sparrow-hawk, and Harris, assisted by my shoulders, reached
the nest, and drew out two eggs. Sprague went across the hills eastward,
and was fortunate enough to shoot a superb specimen of the Arctic
Bluebird. This evening, Mr. Culbertson having told me the Rabbits, such
as Bell had brought, were plentiful on the road to the steamboat
landing, Harris, Bell, and I walked there; but although we were very
cautious, we saw none, and only procured a Black-headed Grosbeak, which
was shot whilst singing delightfully. To-morrow morning Mr. Chardon
leaves us in the keel-boat for the Blackfoot Fort, and Mr. Kipp will
leave for the Crows early next week.

_June 22, Thursday._ We rose very late this morning, with the exception
of Provost, who went out shooting quite early; but he saw nothing fit
for his rifle. All was bustle after breakfast, as Mr. Chardon's boat was
loading, the rigging being put in order, the men moving their effects,
etc., and a number of squaws, the wives of the men, were moving to and
fro for hours before the ultimate departure of the boat, which is called
the "Bee." The cargo being arranged, thirty men went on board, including
the commander, friend Chardon, thirteen squaws, and a number of
children, all more or less half-breeds. The flag of Fort Union was
hoisted, the four-pounder run out of the front gate, and by eleven
o'clock all was ready. The keel-boat had a brass swivel on her bows, and
fired first, then off went the larger gun, and many an Antelope and Deer
were doubtless frightened at the report that echoed through the hills
far and near. We bid adieu to our good friend Chardon; and his numerous
and willing crew, taking the cordelle to their shoulders, moved the boat
against a strong current in good style. Harris and Bell had gone
shooting and returned with several birds, among which was a female
Red-patched Woodpecker,[27] and a Lazuli Finch. Dinner over, I went off
with young McKenzie after Hares; found none, but started a Grizzly Bear
from her lair. Owen McKenzie followed the Bear and I continued after
Hares; he saw no more of Bruin, and I not a Hare, and we both returned
to the fort after a tramp of three hours. As I was walking over the
prairie, I found an Indian's skull (an Assiniboin) and put it in my game
pouch. Provost made a whistle to imitate the noise made by the fawns at
this season, which is used to great advantage to decoy the female Deer;
shortly afterward Mr. Bonaventure returned, and a cart was sent off at
once to bring in a doe which he had killed below. This species of Deer
is much larger than the one we have in Virginia, but perhaps no more so
than those in Maine; and as yet we cannot tell whether it may, or may
not, prove a distinct species. We took all its measurements, and Bell
and Provost are now skinning it. Its gross weight is 140 lbs., which I
think is heavier than any doe I have seen before. The animal is very
poor and evidently has fawns in the woods. The little new Lark that I
have named after Sprague has almost all the habits of the Skylark of
Europe. Whilst looking anxiously after it, on the ground where we
supposed it to be singing, we discovered it was high over our heads, and
that sometimes it went too high for us to see it at all. We have not yet
been able to discover its nest. Bell is of opinion that the Red-collared
Ground Finch[28] has its nest in the deserted holes of the Ground
Squirrel, and we intend to investigate this. He also believes that
Say's Flycatcher builds in rocky caverns or fissures, as he found the
nest of a bird in some such place, after having wounded one of this
species, which retired into the fissures of the rock, which he examined
in pursuit of the wounded bird. The nest had no eggs; we are going to
pay it a visit. Bell was busy most of the day skinning birds, and
Sprague drew a beautiful plant. I found a number of wild roses in bloom,
quite sweet-scented, though single, and of a very pale rose-color.

_June 23, Friday._ We have had a fine, warm day. The hunters of
Buffaloes started before daylight, and Squires accompanied them; they
are not expected back till sometime to-morrow. Provost went across the
river with them, and with the assistance of his bleating whistle,
brought several does round him, and a good many Wolves. He killed two
does, drew them to a tree, and hung his coat near them while he returned
for help to bring them to the fort. The hunters have a belief that a
garment hung near game freshly killed will keep the Wolves at bay for a
time; but there are exceptions to all rules, as when he returned with
the cart, a dozen hungry rascals of Wolves had completely devoured one
doe and all but one ham of the other; this he brought to the fort. The
does at this season, on hearing the "bleat," run to the spot, supposing,
no doubt, that the Wolves have attacked their fawns, and in rushing to
the rescue, run towards the hunter, who despatches them without much
trouble, unless the woods are thickly overgrown with bushes and brush,
when more difficulty is experienced in seeing them, although one may
hear them close by; but it is a cruel, deceitful, and unsportsmanlike
method, of which I can never avail myself, and which I try to
discountenance. Bell was busy all day with skins, and Sprague with
flowers, which he delineates finely. Mr. Kipp presented me with a
complete dress of a Blackfoot warrior, ornamented with many tufts of
Indian hair from scalps, and also with a saddle. After dinner, Harris,
who felt poorly all morning, was better, and we went to pay a visit at
the Opposition fort. We started in a wagon with an old horse called
Peter, which stands fire like a stump. In going, we found we could
approach the birds with comparative ease, and we had the good fortune to
shoot three of the new Larks. I killed two, and Harris one. When this
species starts from the ground, they fly in a succession of undulations,
which renders aim at them quite difficult; after this, and in the same
manner, they elevate themselves to some considerable height, as if about
to sing, and presently pitch towards the ground, where they run
prettily, and at times stand still and quite erect for a few minutes; we
hope to discover their nests soon. Young Meadow Larks, Red-shafted
Woodpeckers, and the Red-cheeked ditto,[29] are abundant. We reached
Fort Mortimer in due time; passed first between several sulky,
half-starved looking Indians, and came to the gate, where we were
received by the "bourgeois,"[30] a young man by the name of Collins,
from Hopkinsville, Ky. We found the place in a most miserable condition,
and about to be carried away by the falling in of the banks on account
of the great rise of water in the Yellowstone, that has actually dammed
the Missouri. The current ran directly across, and the banks gave way at
such a rate that the men had been obliged already to tear up the front
of the fort and remove it to the rear. To-morrow they are to remove the
houses themselves, should they stand the coming night, which appeared to
me somewhat dubious. We saw a large athletic man who has crossed the
mountains twice to the Pacific; he is a Philadelphian, named Wallis, who
had been a cook at Fort Union four years, but who had finally deserted,
lived for a time with the Crows, and then joined the Opposition. These
persons were very polite to us, and invited us to remain and take supper
with them; but as I knew they were short of provisions, I would not
impose myself upon them, and so, with thanks for their hospitality, we
excused ourselves and returned to Fort Union. As we were in search of
birds, we saw a small, whitish-colored Wolf trotting across the prairie,
which hereabouts is very extensive and looks well, though the soil is
poor. We put Peter to a trot and gained on the Wolf, which did not see
us until we were about one hundred yards off; he stopped suddenly, and
then went off at a canter. Harris gave the whip to Peter, and off we
went, evidently gaining rapidly on the beast, when it saw an Indian in
its road; taking fright, it dashed to one side, and was soon lost in a
ravine. We congratulated ourselves, on reaching the fort, that we had
such good fortune as to be able to sup and sleep here, instead of at
Fort Mortimer. Bell had taken a walk and brought in a few birds. The
prairie is covered with cacti, and Harris and I suffered by them; my
feet were badly pricked by the thorns, which penetrated my boots at the
junction of the soles with the upper leathers. I have to-day heard
several strange stories about Grizzly Bears, all of which I must have
corroborated before I fully accept them. The Otters and Musk-rats of
this part of the country are smaller than in the States; the first is
the worst enemy that the Beaver has.

_June 24, Saturday._ Bell killed a small Wolf last night, and Harris
wounded another. This morning Provost started at daylight, and Bell
followed him; but they returned without game. After breakfast Harris
went off on horseback, and brought in a Sharp-tailed Grouse. He saw only
one Deer, species not identified. Sprague and I went off last, but
brought in nothing new. This afternoon I thought would be a fair
opportunity to examine the manners of Sprague's Lark on the wing. Bell
drove Peter for me, and I killed four Larks; we then watched the flight
of several. The male rises by constant undulations to a great height,
say one hundred yards or more; and whilst singing its sweet-sounding
notes, beats its wings, poised in the air like a Hawk, without rising at
this time; after which, and after each burst of singing, it sails in
divers directions, forming three quarters of a circle or thereabouts,
then rises again, and again sings; the intervals between the singing are
longer than those which the song occupies, and at times the bird remains
so long in the air as to render it quite fatiguing to follow it with the
eye. Sprague thought one he watched yesterday remained in the air about
one hour. Bell and Harris watched one for more than half an hour, and
this afternoon I gazed upon one, whilst Bell timed it, for thirty-six
minutes. We continued on to Fort Mortimer to see its condition, were
received as kindly as yesterday, and saw the same persons. It was four
o'clock, and the men were all at dinner, having been obliged to wait
until this time because they had no meat in the fort, and their hunters
had returned only one hour and a half before. We found that the river
had fallen about fourteen inches since last evening, and the men would
not remove for the present. On our way homeward Bell shot a fifth Lark,
and when we reached the ravine I cut out of a tree-stump the nest of an
Arctic Bluebird, with six eggs in it, of almost the same size and color
as those of the common Bluebird. Sprague had brought a female of his
Lark, and her nest containing five eggs; the measurements of these two
species I will write out to-morrow. Our Buffalo hunters are not yet
returned, and I think that Squires will feel pretty well fatigued when
he reaches the fort. Mr. Culbertson presented me with a pair of
stirrups, and a most splendid Blackfoot crupper for my saddle. The day
has been warm and clear. We caught seven catfish at the river near the
fort, and most excellent eating they are, though quite small when
compared with the monsters of this species on the Missouri below.

_June 25, Sunday._ This day has been warm and the wind high, at first
from the south, but this afternoon from the north. Little or nothing has
been done in the way of procuring birds or game, except that Harris and
Mr. Denig brought in several Arkansas Flycatchers. Not a word from the
hunters, and therefore they must have gone far before they met
Buffaloes. A few more catfish have been caught, and they are truly
excellent.

_June 26, Monday._ The hunters returned this afternoon about three
o'clock; _i. e._, Squires and McKenzie; but the carts did not reach the
fort till after I had gone to bed. They have killed three Antelopes,
three bull Buffaloes, and one Townsend's Hare, but the last was lost
through carelessness, and I am sorry for it. The men had eaten one of
the Antelopes, and the two others are fine males; Bell skinned one, and
saved the head and the fore-legs of the other. One of them had the tips
of the horns as much crooked inwardly (backwards) as the horns of the
European Chamois usually are. This afternoon early Provost brought in a
Deer of the large kind, and this also was skinned. After this Harris and
Bell went off and brought in several Lazuli Finches, and a black Prairie
Lark Finch of the species brought from the Columbia by Townsend and
Nuttall. We caught several catfish and a very curious sturgeon, of which
Sprague took an outline with the camera, and I here give the
measurements.... It had run on the shore, and was caught by one of the
men. I made a bargain this morning with the hunter Bonaventure Le Brun
to procure me ten Bighorns, at $10.00 apiece, or the same price for any
number he may get. Mr. Culbertson lent him old Peter, the horse, and I
wrote a _petit billet_ to Mr. John Collins, to ask him to have them
ferried across the river, as our boat was away on a wood-cutting
expedition. As Le Brun did not return, of course he was taken across,
and may, perhaps, come back this evening, or early to-morrow morning,
with something worth having. At this moment Bell has shot a Wolf from
the ramparts, and sadly crippled another, but it made off somehow.

_June 27, Tuesday._ This morning was quite cool, and the wind from the
north. After breakfast Bell and Owen McKenzie went off on horseback on
this side of the river, to see how far off the Buffaloes are, and they
may probably bring home some game. Sprague and I have been drawing all
day yesterday and most of to-day. Provost has been making whistles to
call the Deer; later he, Harris, and I, walked to the hills to procure
the black root plant which is said to be the best antidote for the bite
of the rattlesnake. We found the root and dug one up, but the plant is
not yet in bloom. The leaves are long and narrow, and the flowers are
said to resemble the dwarf sunflower. Harris shot two of what he calls
the Small Shore Lark, male and female; but beyond the size being a
little smaller than those found at Labrador, I cannot discover any
specific difference. From the top of the hills we saw a grand panorama
of a most extensive wilderness, with Fort Union beneath us and far away,
as well as the Yellowstone River, and the lake across the river. The
hills across the Missouri appeared quite low, and we could see the high
prairie beyond, forming the background. Bell and McKenzie returned,
having shot a Wolf in a curious manner. On reaching the top of a hill
they found themselves close to the Wolf. Bell's horse ran quite past it,
but young McKenzie shot and broke one fore-leg, and it fell. Bell then
gave his horse to McKenzie, jumped off, ran to the Wolf, and took hold
of it by the tail, pulling it towards the horses; but it got up and ran
rapidly. Bell fired two shots in its back with a pistol without stopping
it, then he ran as fast as he could, shot it in the side, and it fell.
Bell says its tail was longer than usual, but it was not measured, and
the Wolf was left on the prairie, as they had no means of bringing it
in. They saw an Antelope, some Magpies, and a Swift Fox, but no
Buffaloes, though they were fifteen miles from the fort. They ran a
Long-tailed Deer, and describe its movements precisely as do Lewis and
Clark.[31] Between every three or four short leaps came the long leap of
fully twenty-five feet, if not more. The Kit or Swift Fox which they saw
stood by a bunch of wormwood, and whilst looking at the hunters, was
seen to brush off the flies with his paws.

I am now going to take this book to Lewis Squires and ask him to write
in it his account of the Buffalo hunt.

(The following is in Mr. Squires' handwriting:)

"By Mr. Audubon's desire I will relate the adventures that befell me in
my first Buffalo hunt, and I am in hopes that among the rubbish a
trifle, at least, may be obtained which may be of use or interest to
him. On the morning of Friday, the 23d, before daylight, I was up, and
in a short time young McKenzie made his appearance. A few minutes
sufficed to saddle our horses, and be in readiness for our contemplated
hunt. We were accompanied by Mr. Bonaventure the younger, one of the
hunters of the fort, and two carts to bring in whatever kind of meat
might be procured. We were ferried across the river in a flatboat, and
thence took our departure for the Buffalo country. We passed through a
wooded bottom for about one mile, and then over a level prairie for
about one mile and a half, when we commenced the ascent of the bluffs
that bound the western side of the Missouri valley; our course then lay
over an undulating prairie, quite rough, and steep hills with small
ravines between, and over dry beds of streams that are made by the
spring and fall freshets. Occasionally we were favored with a level
prairie never exceeding two miles in extent. When the carts overtook us,
we exchanged our horses for them, and sat on Buffalo robes on the
bottom, our horses following on behind us. As we neared the place where
the Buffaloes had been killed on the previous hunt, Bonaventure rode
alone to the top of a hill to discover, if possible, their whereabouts;
but to our disappointment nothing living was to be seen. We continued on
our way watching closely, ahead, right and left. Three o'clock came and
as yet nothing had been killed; as none of us had eaten anything since
the night before, our appetites admonished us that it was time to pay
attention to them. McKenzie and Bonaventure began to look about for
Antelopes; but before any were 'comeatable,' I fell asleep, and was
awakened by the report of a gun. Before we, in the carts, arrived at the
spot from whence this report proceeded, the hunters had killed, skinned,
and nearly cleaned the game, which was a fine male Antelope. I regretted
exceedingly I was not awake when it was killed, as I might have saved
the skin for Mr. Audubon, as well as the head, but I was too late. It
was now about five o'clock, and one may well imagine I was _somewhat_
hungry. Owen McKenzie commenced eating the raw liver, and offered me a
piece. What others can eat, I felt assured I could at least taste. I
accordingly took it and ate quite a piece of it; to my utter
astonishment, I found it not only palatable but very good; this
experience goes far to convince me that our prejudices make things
appear more disgusting than fact proves them to be. Our Antelope cut up
and in the cart, we proceeded on our 'winding way,' and scarcely had we
left the spot where the entrails of the animal remained, before the
Wolves and Ravens commenced coming from all quarters, and from places
where a minute before there was not a sign of one. We had not proceeded
three hundred yards at the utmost, before eight Wolves were about the
spot, and others approaching. On our way, both going and returning, we
saw a cactus of a conical shape, having a light straw-colored, double
flower, differing materially from the flower of the flat cactus, which
is quite common; had I had any means of bringing one in, I would most
gladly have done so, but I could not depend on the carts, and as they
are rather unpleasant companions, I preferred awaiting another
opportunity, which I hope may come in a few days. We shot a young of
Townsend's Hare, about seven or eight steps from us, with about a dozen
shot; I took good care of it until I left the cart on my return to the
fort, but when the carts arrived it had carelessly been lost. This I
regretted very much, as Mr. Audubon wanted it. It was nearly sunset when
Bonaventure discovered a Buffalo bull, so we concluded to encamp for the
night, and run the Buffaloes in the morning. We accordingly selected a
spot near a pond of water, which in spring and fall is quite a large
lake, and near which there was abundance of good pasture; our horses
were soon unsaddled and hoppled, a good fire blazing, and some of the
Antelope meat roasting on sticks before it. As soon as a bit was done,
we commenced operations, and it was soon gone 'the way of all flesh.' I
never before ate meat without salt or pepper, and until then never fully
appreciated these two _luxuries_, as they now seemed, nor can any one,
until deprived of them, and seated on a prairie as we were, or in some
similar situation. On the opposite side of the lake we saw a Grizzly
Bear, but he was unapproachable. After smoking our pipes we rolled
ourselves in our robes, with our saddles for pillows, and were soon lost
in a sound, sweet sleep. During the night I was awakened by a crunching
sound; the fire had died down, and I sat up and looking about perceived
a Wolf quietly feeding on the remains of our supper. One of the men
awoke at the same time and fired at the Wolf, but without effect, and
the fellow fled; we neither saw nor heard more of him during the night.
By daylight we were all up, and as our horses had not wandered far, it
was the work of a few minutes to catch and saddle them. We rode three or
four miles before we discovered anything, but at last saw a group of
three Buffaloes some miles from us. We pushed on, and soon neared them;
before arriving at their feeding-ground, we saw, scattered about,
immense quantities of pumice-stone, in detached pieces of all sizes;
several of the hills appeared to be composed wholly of it. As we
approached within two hundred yards of the Buffaloes they started, and
away went the hunters after them. My first intention of being merely a
looker-on continued up to this moment, but it was impossible to resist
following; almost unconsciously I commenced urging my horse after them,
and was soon rushing up hills and through ravines; but my horse gave
out, and disappointment and anger followed, as McKenzie and Bonaventure
succeeded in killing two, and wounding a third, which escaped. As soon
as they had finished them, they commenced skinning and cutting up one,
which was soon in the cart, the offal and useless meat being left on the
ground. Again the Wolves made their appearance as we were leaving; they
seemed shy, but Owen McKenzie succeeded in killing one, which was old
and useless. The other Buffalo was soon skinned and in the cart. In the
meantime McKenzie and I started on horseback for water. The man who had
charge of the keg had let it all run out, and most fortunately none of
us had wanted water until now. We rode to a pond, the water of which was
very salt and warm, but we had to drink this or none; we did so, filled
our flasks for the rest of the party, and a few minutes afterward
rejoined them. We started again for more meat to complete our load. I
observed, as we approached the Buffaloes, that they stood gazing at us
with their heads erect, lashing their sides with their tails; as soon as
they discovered what we were at, with the quickness of thought they
wheeled, and with the most surprising speed, for an animal apparently so
clumsy and awkward, flew before us. I could hardly imagine that these
enormous animals could move so quickly, or realize that their speed was
as great as it proved to be; and I doubt if in this country one horse in
ten can be found that will keep up with them. We rode five or six miles
before we discovered any more. At last we saw a single bull, and while
approaching him we started two others; slowly we wended our way towards
them until within a hundred yards, when away they went. I had now begun
to enter into the spirit of the chase, and off I started, full speed,
down a rough hill in swift pursuit; at the bottom of the hill was a
ditch about eight feet wide; the horse cleared this safely. I continued,
leading the others by some distance, and rapidly approaching the
Buffaloes. At this prospect of success my feelings can better be
imagined than described. I kept the lead of the others till within
thirty or forty yards of the Buffaloes, when I began making preparations
to fire as soon as I was sufficiently near; imagine, if possible, my
disappointment when I discovered that now, when all my hopes of success
were raised to the highest pitch, I was fated to meet a reverse as
mortifying as success would have been gratifying. My horse failed, and
slackened his pace, despite every effort of mine to urge him on; the
other hunters rushed by me at full speed, and my horse stopped
altogether. I saw the others fire; the animal swerved a little, but
still kept on. After breathing my horse a while, I succeeded in starting
him up again, followed after them, and came up in time to fire one shot
ere the animal was brought down. I think that I never saw an eye so
ferocious in expression as that of the wounded Buffalo; rolling wildly
in its socket, inflamed as the eye was, it had the most frightful
appearance that can be imagined; and in fact, the picture presented by
the Buffalo as a whole is quite beyond my powers of description. The
fierce eyes, blood streaming from his sides, mouth, and nostrils, he was
the wildest, most unearthly-looking thing it ever fell to my lot to gaze
upon. His sufferings were short; he was soon cut up and placed in the
cart, and we retraced our steps homeward. Whilst proceeding towards our
camping-ground for the night, two Antelopes were killed, and placed on
our carts. Whenever we approached these animals they were very curious
to see what we were; they would run, first to the right, and then to the
left, then suddenly run straight towards us until within gun-shot, or
nearly so. The horse attracted their attention more than the rider, and
if a slight elevation or bush was between us, they were easily killed.
As soon as their curiosity was gratified they would turn and run, but it
was not difficult to shoot before this occurred. When they turned they
would fly over the prairie for about a mile, when they would again stop
and look at us. During the day we suffered very much for want of water,
and drank anything that had the appearance of it, and most of the water,
in fact all of it, was either impregnated with salt, sulphur, or
magnesia--most disgusting stuff at any other time, but drinkable now.
The worst of all was some rain-water that we were obliged to drink,
first placing our handkerchiefs over the cup to strain it, and keep the
worms out of our mouths. I drank it, and right glad was I to get even
this. We rode about five miles to where we encamped for the night, near
a little pond of water. In a few minutes we had a good fire of Buffalo
dung to drive away mosquitoes that were in clouds about us. The water
had taken away our appetites completely, and we went to bed without
eating any supper. Our horses and beds were arranged as on the previous
evening. McKenzie and I intended starting for the fort early in the
morning. We saw a great many Magpies, Curlews, Plovers, Doves, and
numbers of Antelopes. About daylight I awoke and roused McKenzie; a man
had gone for the horses, but after a search of two hours returned
without finding them; all the party now went off except one man and
myself, and all returned without success except Bonaventure, who found
an old horse that had been lost since April last. He was despatched on
this to the fort to get other horses, as we had concluded that ours were
either lost or stolen. As soon as he had gone, one of the men started
again in search of the runaways, and in a short time returned with them.
McKenzie and I soon rode off. We saw two Grizzly Bears at the lake
again. Our homeward road we made much shorter by cutting off several
turns; we overtook Bonaventure about four miles from our encampment, and
passed him. We rode forty miles to the fort in a trifle over six hours.
We had travelled in all about one hundred and twenty miles. Bonaventure
arrived two hours after we did, and the carts came in the evening."

_Wednesday, June 28._ This is an account of Squires' Buffalo hunt, his
first one, which he has kindly written in my journal and which I hope
some day to publish. This morning was very cloudy, and we had some rain,
but from ten o'clock until this moment the weather has been beautiful.
Harris shot a handsome though rather small Wolf; I have made a large
drawing, and Sprague a fine diminished one, of the rascal. The first
news we had this morning was that the ferry flat had been stolen last
night, probably by the deserters from the fort who have had the wish to
return to St. Louis. Some person outside of the fort threw a large stone
at an Indian woman, and her husband fired in the dark, but no one could
be found on searching. There is much trouble and discomfort to the
managers of such an establishment as this. Provost went shooting, but
saw nothing. Young McKenzie and another man were sent to find the scow,
but in vain. On their return they said a hunter from Fort Mortimer had
brought a Bighorn, and skinned it, and that he would let me have it if I
wished. I sent Bell and Squires, and they brought the skin in. It proves
to be that of an old female in the act of shedding her winter coat, and
I found that she was covered with abundance of downy wool like the
Antelopes under similar circumstances. Mr. Larpenteur caught five small
catfish, which we ate at breakfast. After dinner Le Brun returned home,
but brought only the skin of a young female of the White-tailed Deer,
and I was surprised to see that it had the germ of a horn about one inch
long; the skin was quite red, and it is saved. A young Elk was brought
in good condition, as the hunters here know how to save skins properly;
it was too young, however, to take measurements. The horns were in
velvet about six inches long. When one sees the powerful bones and
muscles of this young animal, one cannot fail to think of the great
strength of the creature when mature, and its ability to bear with ease
the enormous antlers with which its head is surmounted. The flesh of the
Antelope is not comparable with that of the Deer, being dry and usually
tough. It is very rarely indeed that a fat Antelope is killed. Bell has
been very busy in skinning small birds and animals. We procured a young
Red-shafted Woodpecker, killed by an Indian boy with a bow and arrow.
Mr. Kipp's "Mackinaw" was launched this evening, and sent across the
river with men to relieve the charcoal-burners; she returned immediately
and we expect that Mr. Kipp's crew will go off to-morrow about twelve. I
was told a curious anecdote connected with a Grizzly Bear, that I will
write down; it is as follows: One of the _engagés_ of the Company was
forced to run away, having killed an Indian woman, and made his way to
the Crow Fort, three hundred miles up the Yellowstone River. When he
arrived there he was in sad plight, having his own squaw and one or two
children along, who had all suffered greatly with hunger, thirst, and
exposure. They were received at the fort, but in a short time, less than
a week afterwards, he again ran off with his family, and on foot. The
discovery was soon made, and two men were sent after him; but he eluded
their vigilance by keeping close in ravines, etc. The men returned, and
two others with an Indian were despatched on a second search, and after
much travel saw the man and his family on an island, where he had taken
refuge from his pursuers. The Buffalo-hide canoe in which he had
attempted to cross the river was upset, and it was with difficulty that
he saved his wife and children. They were now unable to escape, and when
talking as to the best way to secure their return to the fort, the
soldiers saw him walk to the body of a dead Buffalo lying on the shore
of the island, with the evident intention of procuring some of it for
food. As he stooped to cut off a portion, to his utter horror he saw a
small Grizzly Bear crawl out from the carcass. It attacked him fiercely,
and so suddenly that he was unable to defend himself; the Bear lacerated
his face, arms, and the upper part of his body in a frightful manner,
and would have killed him, had not the Indian raised his gun and fired
at the Bear, wounding him severely, while a second shot killed him. The
_engagé_ was too much hurt to make further effort to escape, and one of
the Company's boats passing soon after, he and his family were taken
back to the fort, where he was kept to await his trial.

_June 29, Thursday._ It rained hard during the night, but at dawn
Provost went shooting and returned to dinner, having shot a doe, which
was skinned and the meat saved. He saw a Grouse within a few feet of
him, but did not shoot, as he had only a rifle. Bell and I took a long
walk, and shot several birds. We both were surprised to find a flock of
Cliff Swallows endeavoring to build nests beneath the ledges of a clay
bank. Watching the moment when several had alighted against the bank, I
fired, and killed three. Previous to this, as I was walking along a
ravine, a White Wolf ran past within fifteen or twenty paces of me, but
I had only very small shot, and did not care to wound where I could not
kill. The fellow went off at a limping gallop, and Bell after it,
squatting whenever the Wolf stopped to look at him; but at last the
rascal lost himself in a deep ravine, and a few minutes after we saw him
emerge from the shrubs some distance off, and go across the prairie
towards the river. Bell saw two others afterwards, and if ever there was
a country where Wolves are surpassingly abundant, it is the one we now
are in. Wolves are in the habit of often lying down on the prairies,
where they form quite a bed, working at bones the while. We found a nest
of the Prairie Lark, with four eggs. We saw Arctic Bluebirds, Say's
Flycatcher and Lazuli Finches. Say's Flycatcher has a note almost like
the common Pewee. They fly over the prairies like Hawks, looking for
grasshoppers, upon which they pounce, and if they lose sight of them,
they try again at another place. We returned home to dinner, and after
this a discussion arose connected with the Red-shafted Woodpecker. We
determined to go and procure one of the young, and finding that these
have pale-yellow shafts, instead of deep orange-red, such as the old
birds have, the matter was tested and settled according to my statement.
Harris and I went off after the doe killed this morning, and killed
another, but as I have now skins enough, the measurements only were
taken, and the head cut off, which I intend drawing to-morrow. Harris
shot also a Grouse, and a Woodpecker that will prove a _Canadensis_; he
killed the male also, but could not find it, and we found seven young
Red-shafted Woodpeckers in one nest. I killed a female Meadow Lark, the
first seen in this country by us. Provost told me (and he is a
respectable man) that, during the breeding season of the Mountain Ram,
the battering of the horns is often heard as far as a mile away, and
that at such times they are approached with comparative ease; and there
is no doubt that it is during such encounters that the horns are broken
and twisted as I have seen them, and not by leaping from high places and
falling on their horns, as poetical travellers have asserted. The fact
is that when these animals leap from any height they alight firmly on
all their four feet. At this season the young are always very difficult
to catch, and I have not yet seen one of them. Harris, Bell, and young
McKenzie are going Bighorn hunting to-morrow, and I hope they will be
successful; I, alas! am no longer young and alert enough for the
expedition. We find the mosquitoes very troublesome, and very numerous.

_June 30, Friday._ The weather was dark, with the wind at the northwest,
and looked so like rain that the hunters did not start as they had
proposed. Sprague, Harris, and Bell went out, however, after small game.
I began drawing at five this morning, and worked almost without
cessation till after three, when, becoming fatigued for want of
practice, I took a short walk, regretting I could no longer draw twelve
or fourteen hours without a pause or thought of weariness. It is now
raining quite hard. Mr. Larpenteur went after a large tree to make a
ferry-boat, and the new skiff was begun this morning. I sent Provost to
Fort Mortimer to see if any one had arrived from below; he found a man
had done so last evening and brought letters to Mr. Collins, requesting
him to do all he can for us. He also reported that a party of Sioux had
had a battle with the Gros Ventres, and had killed three of the latter
and a white man who lived with them as a blacksmith. The Gros Ventres,
on the other hand, had killed eight of the Sioux and put them to flight.
The blacksmith killed two Sioux, and the enemies cut off one leg and one
arm, scalped him, and left the mangled body behind them. It is said
there is now no person living who can recollect the manner in which the
bitter enmity of these two nations originated. The Yellowstone River is
again rising fast, and Mr. Kipp will have tough times before he reaches
Fort Alexander, which was built by Mr. Alexander Culbertson, our present
host, and the Company had it honored by his name. When a herd of
Buffaloes is chased, although the bulls themselves run very swiftly off,
their speed is not to be compared to that of the cows and yearlings; for
these latter are seen in a few minutes to leave the bulls behind them,
and as cows and young Buffaloes are preferable to the old males, when
the hunters are well mounted they pursue the cows and young ones
invariably. Last winter Buffaloes were extremely abundant close to this
fort, so much so that while the people were engaged in bringing hay in
carts, the Buffaloes during the night came close in, and picked up every
wisp that was dropped. An attempt to secure them alive was made by
strewing hay in such a manner as to render the bait more and more
plentiful near the old fort, which is distant about two hundred yards,
and which was once the property of Mr. Sublette and Co.; but as the hogs
and common cattle belonging to the fort are put up there regularly at
sunset, the Buffaloes ate the hay to the very gates, but would not enter
the enclosure, probably on account of the different smells issuing
therefrom. At this period large herds slept in front of the fort, but
just before dawn would remove across the hills about one mile distant,
and return towards night. An attempt was made to shoot them with a
cannon--a four-pounder; three were killed and several wounded. Still the
Buffaloes came to their sleeping ground at evening, and many were killed
during the season. I saw the head of one Mr. Culbertson shot, and the
animal must have been of unusual size.

_July 1, Saturday._ It was still raining when I got up, but a few
minutes later the sun was shining through one of our windows, and the
wind being at northwest we anticipated a fine day. The ground was
extremely wet and muddy, but Harris and Bell went off on horseback, and
returned a few minutes after noon. They brought some birds and had
killed a rascally Wolf. Bell found the nest of the Arkansas Flycatcher.
The nest and eggs, as well as the manners, of this bird resemble in many
ways those of our King-bird. The nest was in an elm, twenty or
twenty-five feet above the ground, and he saw another in a similar
situation. Mr. Culbertson and I walked to the Pilot Knob with a
spy-glass, to look at the present condition of Fort Mortimer. This
afternoon Squires, Provost, and I walked there, and were kindly received
as usual. We found all the people encamped two hundred yards from the
river, as they had been obliged to move from the tumbling fort during
the rain of last night. Whilst we were there a trapper came in with a
horse and told us the following: This man and four others left that fort
on the 1st of April last on an expedition after Beavers. They were
captured by a party of about four hundred Sioux, who took them prisoners
and kept him one day and a half, after which he was released, but his
companions were kept prisoners. He crossed the river and found a horse
belonging to the Indians, stole it, and reached the fort at last. He
looked miserable indeed, almost without a rag of clothing, long hair,
filthy beyond description, and having only one very keen, bright eye,
which looked as if he was both proud and brave. He had subsisted for the
last eleven days on pomme blanche and the thick leaves of the cactus,
which he roasted to get rid of the thorns or spines, and thus had fared
most miserably; for, previous to the capture of himself and his
companions, he had upset his bull canoe and lost his rifle, which to a
trapper is, next to life, his dependence. When he was asked if he would
have some dinner, he said that he had forgotten the word, but would try
the taste of meat again. Mr. Collins was very polite to me, and promised
me a hunter for the whole of next week, expressly to shoot Bighorns. I
hope this promise may be better kept than that of Mr. Chardon, who told
me that should he have one killed within forty miles he would send
Alexis back with it at once. We heard some had been killed, but this may
not be true; at any rate, men are men all over the world, and a broken
promise is not unheard-of. This evening Mr. Culbertson presented me with
a splendid dress, as well as one to Harris and one to Bell, and promised
one to Sprague, which I have no doubt he will have. Harris and Sprague
went off to procure Woodpeckers' nests, and brought the most curious set
of five birds that I ever saw, and which I think will puzzle all the
naturalists in the world. The first was found near the nest, of which
Sprague shot the female, a light-colored Red-shafted Woodpecker. It
proved to be of the same color, but had the rudiments of black stripes
on the cheeks. Next, Sprague shot an adult yellow-winged male, with the
markings principally such as are found in the Eastern States. Harris
then shot a young Red-shafted, just fledged, with a black stripe on the
cheek. His next shot was a light-colored Red-shafted male, with black
cheeks, and another still, a yellow Red-shafted with a red cheek.[32]
After all this Mr. Culbertson proposed to run a sham Buffalo hunt again.
He, Harris, and Squires started on good horses, went about a mile, and
returned full tilt, firing and cracking. Squires fired four times and
missed once. Harris did not shoot at all; but Mr. Culbertson fired
eleven times, starting at the onset with an empty gun, snapped three
times, and reached the fort with his gun loaded. A more wonderful rider
I never saw.

_July 2, Sunday._ The weather was cool and pleasant this morning, with
no mosquitoes, which indeed--plentiful and troublesome as they
are--Provost tells me are more scarce this season than he ever knew
them thus far up the Missouri. Sprague finished his drawing of the doe's
head about dinner-time, and it looks well. After dinner he went after
the puzzling Woodpeckers, and brought three, all different from each
other. Mr. Culbertson, his squaw wife, and I rode to Fort Mortimer,
accompanied by young McKenzie, and found Mr. Collins quite ill. We saw
the hunters of that fort, and they promised to supply me with Bighorns,
at ten dollars apiece in the flesh, and also some Black-tailed Deer, and
perhaps a Grizzly Bear. This evening they came to the fort for old Peter
and a mule, to bring in their game; and may success attend them! When we
returned, Harris started off with Mr. Culbertson and his wife to see the
condition of Mr. Collins, to whom he administered some remedies. Harris
had an accident that was near being of a serious nature; as he was
getting into the wagon, thinking that a man had hold of the reins, which
was not the case, his foot was caught between the axle-tree and the
wagon, he was thrown down on his arm and side, and hurt to some extent;
fortunately he escaped without serious injury, and does not complain
much this evening, as he has gone on the ramparts to shoot a Wolf.
Sprague saw a Wolf in a hole a few yards from the fort, but said not a
word of it till after dinner, when Bell and Harris went there and shot
it through the head. It was a poor, miserable, crippled old beast, that
could not get out of the hole, which is not more than three or four feet
deep. After breakfast we had a hunt after Hares or Rabbits, and Harris
saw two of them, but was so near he did not care to shoot at them.
Whilst Harris and Mr. Culbertson went off to see Mr. Collins, Mr. Denig
and I walked off with a bag and instruments, to take off the head of a
three-years-dead Indian chief, called the White Cow. Mr. Denig got upon
my shoulders and into the branches near the coffin, which stood about
ten feet above ground. The coffin was lowered, or rather tumbled, down,
and the cover was soon hammered off; to my surprise, the feet were
placed on the pillow, instead of the head, which lay at the foot of the
coffin--if a long box may so be called. Worms innumerable were all about
it; the feet were naked, shrunk, and dried up. The head had still the
hair on, but was twisted off in a moment, under jaw and all. The body
had been first wrapped up in a Buffalo skin without hair, and then in
another robe with the hair on, as usual; after this the dead man had
been enveloped in an American flag, and over this a superb scarlet
blanket. We left all on the ground but the head. Squires, Mr. Denig and
young Owen McKenzie went afterwards to try to replace the coffin and
contents in the tree, but in vain; the whole affair fell to the ground,
and there it lies; but I intend to-morrow to have it covered with earth.
The history of this man is short, and I had it from Mr. Larpenteur, who
was in the fort at the time of his decease, or self-committed death. He
was a good friend to the whites, and knew how to procure many Buffalo
robes for them; he was also a famous orator, and never failed to
harangue his people on all occasions. He was, however, consumptive, and
finding himself about to die, he sent his squaw for water, took an arrow
from his quiver, and thrusting it into his heart, expired, and was found
dead when his squaw returned to the lodge. He was "buried" in the
above-mentioned tree by the orders of Mr. McKenzie, who then commanded
this fort. Mr. Culbertson drove me so fast, and Harris so much faster,
over this rough ground, that I feel quite stiff. I must not forget to
say that we had another sham Buffalo chase over the prairie in front of
the fort, the riders being Squires, young McKenzie, and Mr. Culbertson;
and I was glad and proud to see that Squires, though so inexperienced a
hunter, managed to shoot five shots within the mile, McKenzie eleven,
and Mr. Culbertson eight. Harris killed an old Wolf, which he thought
was larger and fatter than any killed previously. It was very large, but
on examination it was found to be poor and without teeth in the upper
jaw.

_July 3, Monday._ We have had a warm night and day; after breakfast we
all six crossed the river in the newly built skiff, and went off in
divers directions. Provost and I looked thoroughly through the
brushwood, and walked fully six miles from the fort; we saw three Deer,
but so far were they that it was useless to shoot. Deer-shooting on the
prairies is all hazard; sometimes the animals come tripping along within
ten yards of you, and at other times not nearer can you get than one
hundred and fifty yards, which was the case this day. The others killed
nothing of note, and crossed the river back to the fort two hours at
least before us; and we shot and bawled out for nearly an hour, before
the skiff was sent for us. I took a swim, found the water very pleasant,
and was refreshed by my bath. The Bighorn hunters returned this
afternoon with a Bighorn, a female, and also a female Black-tailed Deer.
I paid them $15 for the two, and they are to start again to-morrow
evening, or the next day.

_July 4, Tuesday._ Although we had some fireworks going on last evening,
after I had laid myself down for the night, the anniversary of the
Independence of the United States has been almost the quietest I have
ever spent, as far as my recollection goes. I was drawing the whole day,
and Sprague was engaged in the same manner, painting a likeness of Mr.
Culbertson. Harris and Bell went off to try and procure a buck of the
Long White-tailed Deer, and returned after dinner much fatigued and
hungry enough. Bell had shot at a Deer and wounded it very severely; the
poor thing ran on, but soon lay down, for the blood and froth were
gushing out of its mouth. Bell saw the buck lying down, and not being an
experienced hunter, thought it was dead, and instead of shooting it
again, went back to call Harris; when they returned, the Deer was gone,
and although they saw it again and again, the Deer outwitted them, and,
as I have said, they returned weary, with no Deer. After dinner I spoke
to Mr. Culbertson on the subject, and he told me that the Deer could
probably be found, but that most likely the Wolves would devour it. He
prepared to send young McKenzie with both my friends; the horses were
soon saddled, and the three were off at a gallop. The poor buck's
carcass was found, but several Wolves and Turkey Buzzards had fared well
upon it; the vertebræ only were left, with a few bits of skin and
portions of the horns in velvet. These trophies were all that they
brought home. It was a superb and very large animal, and I am very sorry
for the loss of it, as I am anxious to draw the head of one of such a
size as they represent this to have been. They ran after a Wolf, which
gave them leg bail. Meanwhile Squires and Provost started with the skiff
in a cart to go up the river two miles, cross, and camp on the opposite
shore. The weather became very gloomy and chill. In talking with Mr.
Culbertson he told me that no wise man would ever follow a Buffalo bull
immediately in his track, even in a hunt, and that no one well initiated
would ever run after Buffaloes between the herd and another hunter, as
the latter bears on the former ever and anon, and places him in imminent
danger. Buffalo cows rarely, if ever, turn on the assailant, but bulls
oftentimes will, and are so dangerous that many a fine hunter has been
gored and killed, as well as his horse.

_July 5, Wednesday._ It rained the whole of last night and the weather
has been bad all day. I am at the Bighorn's head, and Sprague at Mr.
Culbertson. Provost and Squires returned drenched and hungry, before
dinner. They had seen several Deer, and fresh tracks of a large Grizzly
Bear. They had waded through mud and water enough for one day, and were
well fatigued. Harris and Bell both shot at Wolves from the ramparts,
and as these things are of such common occurrence I will say no more
about them, unless we are in want of one of these beasts. Harris and I
went over to see Mr. Collins, who is much better; his hunters had not
returned. We found the men there mostly engaged in playing cards and
backgammon. The large patches of rose bushes are now in full bloom, and
they are so full of sweet fragrance that the air is perfumed by them.
The weather looks clear towards the north, and I expect a fine
to-morrow. Old Provost has been telling me much of interest about the
Beavers, once so plentiful, but now very scarce. It takes about seventy
Beaver skins to make a pack of a hundred pounds; in a good market this
pack is worth five hundred dollars, and in fortunate seasons a trapper
sometimes made the large sum of four thousand dollars. Formerly, when
Beavers were abundant, companies were sent with as many as thirty and
forty men, each with from eight to a dozen traps, and two horses. When
at a propitious spot, they erected a camp, and every man sought his own
game; the skins alone were brought to the camp, where a certain number
of men always remained to stretch and dry them.

_July 6, Thursday._ The weather has been pleasant, with the wind at
northwest, and the prairies will dry a good deal. After breakfast
Harris, Bell, and McKenzie went off on horseback. They saw a Red Fox of
the country,[33] which is different from those of the States; they
chased it, and though it ran slowly at first, the moment it saw the
hunters at full gallop, it ran swiftly from them. McKenzie shot with a
rifle and missed it. They saw fresh tracks of the small Hare, but not
any of the animals themselves. After dinner I worked at Mr.
Culbertson's head and dress, and by evening had the portrait nearly
finished. At four o'clock Harris, Bell, and Sprague went across the
river in the skiff; Sprague to take a view of the fort, the others to
hunt. Harris and Bell shot twice at a buck, and killed it, though only
one buckshot entered the thigh. Whilst we were sitting at the back gate
of the fort, we saw a parcel of Indians coming towards the place,
yelling and singing what Mr. Culbertson told me was the song of the
scalp dance; we saw through the telescope that they were fourteen in
number, with their faces painted black, and that it was a detachment of
a war party. When within a hundred yards they all stopped, as if
awaiting an invitation; we did not hurry as to this, and they seated
themselves on the ground and looked at us, while Mr. Culbertson sent Mr.
Denig to ask them to come in by the front gate of the fort, and put them
in the Indian house, a sort of camp for the fellows. They all looked
miserably poor, filthy beyond description, and their black faces and
foully smelling Buffalo robes made them appear to me like so many
devils. The leader, who was well known to be a famous rascal, and was
painted red, was a tall, well-formed man. The party had only three poor
guns, and a few had coarse, common lances; every man had a knife, and
the leader was armed with a stick in which were inserted three blades of
butcher's-knives; a blow from this weapon would doubtless kill a man.
Some of the squaws of the fort, having found that they were Assiniboins,
went to meet them; they took one of these, and painted her face black,
as a sign of friendship. Most of these mighty warriors had a lump of
fresh Buffalo meat slung on his back, which was all traded for by Mr.
Larpenteur, who gave them in exchange some dried meat, not worth the
notice of Harris's dog, and some tobacco. The report of their expedition
is as follows: Their party at first consisted of nearly fifty; they
travelled several hundred miles in search of Blackfeet, and having
discovered a small troop of them, they hid till the next morning, when
at daylight (this is always the time they prefer for an attack) they
rushed upon the enemy, surprised them, killed one at the onset, and the
rest took to flight, leaving guns, horses, shields, lances, etc., on the
ground. The Assiniboins took several guns and seven horses, and the
scalp of the dead Indian. It happened that the man they killed had some
time ago killed the father of their chief, and he was full of joy. After
eating and resting awhile, they followed the trail of the Blackfeet,
hoping to again surprise them; but not seeing them, they separated into
small parties, and it is one of these parties that is now with us. The
chief, to show his pride and delight at killing his enemy, has borrowed
a drum; and the company have nearly ever since been yelling, singing,
and beating that beastly tambour. Boucherville came to me, and told me
that if the swamp over the river was sufficiently dried by to-morrow
morning, he would come early with a companion for two horses, and would
go after Bighorns. He returned this afternoon from a Buffalo hunt and
had killed six. These six animals, all bulls, will suffice for Fort
Mortimer only three days. A rascally Indian had stolen his gun and
Bighorn bow; the gun he said he could easily replace, but the loss of
the bow he regretted exceedingly.

_July 7, Friday._ This morning the dirty Indians, who could have washed
had they so minded, were beating the tambour and singing their miserable
scalp song, until Mr. Culbertson ordered the drum taken away, and gave
them more tobacco and some vermilion to bedaub their faces. They were
permitted to remain about the fort the remainder of the day, and the
night coming they will again be sheltered; but they must depart
to-morrow morning. After breakfast Sprague worked on the view of the
fort. I went on with the portrait of Mr. Culbertson, who is about as bad
a sitter as his wife, whose portrait is very successful,
notwithstanding her extreme restlessness. After dinner Harris, Bell, and
I started on foot, and walked about four miles from the fort; the day
was hot, and horseflies and mosquitoes pretty abundant, but we trudged
on, though we saw nothing; we had gone after Rabbits, the tracks of
which had been seen previously. We walked immediately near the foot of
the clay hills which run from about a mile from and above the fort to
the Lord knows where. We first passed one ravine where we saw some very
curious sandstone formations, coming straight out horizontally from the
clay banks between which we were passing; others lay loose and detached;
they had fallen down, or had been washed out some time or other. All
were compressed in such a manner that the usual form was an oval
somewhat depressed in the centre; but, to give you some idea of these
formations, I will send you a rough sketch. Those in the banks extended
from five to seven feet, and the largest one on the ground measured a
little less than ten feet. Bell thought they would make good
sharpening-stones, but I considered them too soft. They were all smooth,
and the grain was alike in all. We passed two much depressed and very
broken ravines, and at last reached the Rabbit ground. Whilst looking at
the wild scenery around, and the clay hills on the other side of the
Missouri opposite the fort, I thought that if all these were granite,
the formation and general appearance would resemble the country of
Labrador, though the grandeur and sublimity of the latter far surpass
anything that I have seen since I left them forever. I must not forget
to say that on our way we passed through some grasses with bearded
shafts, so sharp that they penetrated our moccasins and entered our feet
and ankles, and in the shade of a stumpy ash-tree we took off our
moccasins and drew the spines out. The Lazuli Finches and Arctic
Bluebirds sang in our view; but though we beat all the clumps of low
bushes where the Rabbits must go in, whether during night or day, we did
not start one. We saw a Wolf which ran close by, reached the brow of the
hill, and kept where he could watch our every motion; this they do on
all possible occasions. We were all very warm, so we rested awhile, and
ate some service-berries, which I found good; the gooseberries were
small and green, and almost choked Harris with their sharp acidity. On
our return, as we were descending the first deep ravine, a Raven flew
off close by; it was so near Bell that he had no time to shoot. I
followed it and although loaded with No. 6 shot, I drew my trigger and
the bird fell dead; only one shot had touched it, but that had passed
through the lungs. After we reached the prairie I shot a Meadow Lark,
but lost it, as we had unfortunately not taken Bragg (Harris's dog). We
saw a patch of wood called in these regions a "Point;" we walked towards
it for the purpose of shooting Deer. I was sent to the lower end, Bell
took one side, and Harris the other, and the hound we had with us was
sent in; no Deer there, however, and we made for the fort, which we
reached hot and thirsty enough after our long walk. As soon as I was
cooled I took a good swim. I think the Indians hereabouts poor swimmers;
they beat the water with their arms, attempting to "nage à la brasse;"
but, alas! it is too bad to mention. I am told, however, that there are
no good specimens to judge from at the fort, so this is not much of an
opinion. It is strange how very scarce snakes of every description are,
as well as insects, except mosquitoes and horseflies. Young McKenzie had
been sent to seek for the lost ferry-boat, but returned without success;
the new one is expected to be put in the water to-morrow evening.
Squires and Provost had the skiff carried overland three miles, and they
crossed the river in it with the intention to remain hunting until
Sunday night.

_July 8, Saturday._ Mr. Culbertson told me this morning that last
spring early, during a snow-storm, he and Mr. Larpenteur were out in an
Indian lodge close by the fort, when they heard the mares which had
young colts making much noise; and that on going out they saw a single
Wolf that had thrown down one of the colts, and was about doing the same
with another. They both made towards the spot with their pistols; and,
fearing that the Wolf might kill both the colts, fired before reaching
the spot, when too far off to take aim. Master Wolf ran off, but both
colts bear evidence of his teeth to this day. When I came down this
morning early, I was delighted to see the dirty and rascally Indians
walking off to their lodge on the other side of the hills, and before
many days they will be at their camp enjoying their merriment (rough and
senseless as it seems to me), yelling out their scalp song, and dancing.
Now this dance, to commemorate the death of an enemy, is a mere bending
and slackening of the body, and patting of the ground with both feet at
once, in very tolerable time with their music. Our squaws yesterday
joined them in this exemplary ceremony; one was blackened, and all the
others painted with vermilion. The art of painting in any color is to
mix the color desired with grease of one sort or another; and when well
done, it will stick on for a day or two, if not longer. Indians are not
equal to the whites in the art of dyeing Porcupine quills; their
ingredients are altogether too simple and natural to equal the knowledge
of chemicals. Mr. Denig dyed a good quantity to-day for Mrs. Culbertson;
he boiled water in a tin kettle with the quills put in when the water
boiled, to remove the oil attached naturally to them; next they were
thoroughly washed, and fresh water boiled, wherein he placed the color
wanted, and boiled the whole for a few minutes, when he looked at them
to judge of the color, and so continued until all were dyed. Red,
yellow, green, and black quills were the result of his labors. A good
deal of vegetable acid is necessary for this purpose, as minerals, so
they say here, will not answer. I drew at Mr. Culbertson's portrait till
he was tired enough; his wife--a pure Indian--is much interested in my
work. Bell and Sprague, after some long talk with Harris about
geological matters, of which valuable science he knows a good deal, went
off to seek a Wolf's hole that Sprague had seen some days before, but of
which, with his usual reticence, he had not spoken. Sprague returned
with a specimen of rattle-snake root, which he has already drawn. Bell
saw a Wolf munching a bone, approached it and shot at it. The Wolf had
been wounded before and ran off slowly, and Bell after it. Mr.
Culbertson and I saw the race; Bell gained on the Wolf until within
thirty steps when he fired again; the Wolf ran some distance further,
and then fell; but Bell was now exhausted by the heat, which was
intense, and left the animal where it lay without attempting to skin it.
Squires and Provost returned this afternoon about three o'clock, but the
first alone had killed a doe. It was the first one he had ever shot, and
he placed seven buckshot in her body. Owen went off one way, and Harris
and Bell another, but brought in nothing. Provost went off to the
Opposition camp, and when he returned told me that a Porcupine was
there, and would be kept until I saw it; so Harris drove me over, at the
usual breakneck pace, and I bought the animal. Mr. Collins is yet
poorly, their hunters have not returned, and they are destitute of
everything, not having even a medicine chest. We told him to send a man
back with us, which he did, and we sent him some medicine, rice, and two
bottles of claret. The weather has been much cooler and pleasanter than
yesterday.

_July 9, Sunday._ I drew at a Wolf's head, and Sprague worked at a view
of the fort for Mr. Culbertson. I also worked on Mr. Culbertson's
portrait about an hour. I then worked at the Porcupine, which is an
animal such as I never saw or Bell either. Its measurements are: from
nose to anterior canthus of the eye, 1-5/8 in., posterior ditto, 2-1/8;
conch of ear, 3-1/2; distances from eyes posteriorly, 2-1/4; fore feet
stretched beyond nose, 3-1/2; length of head around, 4-1/8; nose to root
of tail, 18-1/2; length of tail vertebræ, 6-3/8; to end of hair, 7-3/4;
hind claws when stretched equal to end of tail; greatest breadth of
palm, 1-1/4; of sole, 1-3/8; outward width of tail at base, 3-5/8; depth
of ditto, 3-1/8; length of palm, 1-1/2; ditto of sole, 1-7/8; height at
shoulder, 11; at rump, 10-1/4; longest hair on the back, 8-7/8; breadth
between ears, 2-1/4; from nostril to split of upper lip, 3/4; upper
incisors, 5/8; lower ditto, 3/4; tongue quite smooth; weight 11 lbs. The
habits of this animal are somewhat different from those of the Canadian
Porcupine. The one of this country often goes in crevices or holes, and
young McKenzie caught one in a Wolf's den, along with the old Wolf and
seven young; they climb trees, however.

Provost tells me that Wolves are oftentimes destroyed by wild horses,
which he has seen run at the Wolves head down, and when at a proper
distance take them by the middle of the back with their teeth, and throw
them several feet in the air, after which they stamp upon their bodies
with the fore feet until quite dead. I have a bad blister on the heel of
my right foot, and cannot walk without considerable pain.

_July 10, Monday._ Squires, Owen, McKenzie, and Provost, with a mule, a
cart, and Peter the horse, went off at seven this morning for Antelopes.
Bell did not feel well enough to go with them, and was unable to eat his
usual meal, but I made him some good gruel, and he is better now. This
afternoon Harris went off on horseback after Rabbits, and he will, I
hope, have success. The day has been fine, and cool compared with
others. I took a walk, and made a drawing of the beautiful sugar-loaf
cactus; it does not open its blossoms until after the middle of the day,
and closes immediately on being placed in the shade.

_July 11, Tuesday._ Harris returned about ten o'clock last night, but
saw no Hares; how we are to procure any is more than I can tell. Mr.
Culbertson says that it was dangerous for Harris to go so far as he did
alone up the country, and he must not try it again. The hunters returned
this afternoon, but brought only one buck, which is, however, beautiful,
and the horns in velvet so remarkable that I can hardly wait for
daylight to begin drawing it. I have taken all the measurements of this
perfect animal; it was shot by old Provost. Mr. Culbertson--whose
portrait is nearly finished--his wife, and I took a ride to look at some
grass for hay, and found it beautiful and plentiful. We saw two Wolves,
a common one and a prairie one. Bell is better. Sprague has drawn
another cactus; Provost and I have now skinned the buck, and it hangs in
the ice-house; the head, however, is untouched.

_July 12, Wednesday._ I rose before three, and began at once to draw the
buck's head. Bell assisted me to place it in the position I wanted, and
as he felt somewhat better, while I drew, he finished the skin of the
Porcupine; so that is saved. Sprague continued his painting of the fort.
Just after dinner a Wolf was seen leisurely walking within one hundred
yards of the fort. Bell took the repeating rifle, went on the ramparts,
fired, and missed it. Mr. Culbertson sent word to young Owen McKenzie to
get a horse and give it chase. All was ready in a few minutes, and off
went the young fellow after the beast. I left my drawing long enough to
see the pursuit, and was surprised to see that the Wolf did not start
off on a gallop till his pursuer was within one hundred yards or so of
him, and who then gained rapidly. Suddenly the old sinner turned, and
the horse went past him some little distance. As soon as he could be
turned about McKenzie closed upon him, his gun flashed twice; but now he
was almost _à bon touchant_, the gun went off--the Wolf was dead. I
walked out to meet Owen with the beast; it was very poor, very old, and
good for nothing as a specimen. Harris, who had shot at one last
night in the late twilight, had killed it, but was not aware of it till
I found the villain this morning. It had evidently been dragged at by
its brothers, who, however, had not torn it. Provost went over to the
other fort to find out where the Buffaloes are most abundant, and did
not return till late, so did no hunting. A young dog of this country's
breed ate up all the berries collected by Mrs. Culbertson, and her lord
had it killed for our supper this evening. The poor thing was stuck with
a knife in the throat, after which it was placed over a hot fire outside
of the fort, singed, and the hair scraped off, as I myself have treated
Raccoons and Opossums. Then the animal was boiled, and I intend to taste
one mouthful of it, for I cannot say that just now I should relish an
entire meal from such peculiar fare. There are men, however, who much
prefer the flesh to Buffalo meat, or even venison. An ox was broken to
work this day, and worked far better than I expected. I finished at last
Mr. Culbertson's portrait, and it now hangs in a frame. He and his wife
are much pleased with it, and I am heartily glad they are, for in
conscience I am not; however, it is all I could do, especially with a
man who is never in the same position for one whole minute; so no more
can be expected. The dog was duly cooked and brought into Mr.
Culbertson's room; he served it out to Squires, Mr. Denig, and myself,
and I was astonished when I tasted it. With great care and some
repugnance I put a very small piece in my mouth; but no sooner had the
taste touched my palate than I changed my dislike to liking, and found
this victim of the canine order most excellent, and made a good meal,
finding it fully equal to any meat I ever tasted. Old Provost had told
me he preferred it to any meat, and his subsequent actions proved the
truth of his words. We are having some music this evening, and Harris
alone is absent, being at his favorite evening occupation, namely,
shooting at Wolves from the ramparts.

  [Illustration: AUDUBON.
    From the pencil sketch by Isaac Sprague, 1842. In the possession
    of the Sprague family, Wellesley Hills, Mass.]

_July 13, Thursday._ This has been a cloudy and a sultry day. Sprague
finished his drawing and I mine. After dinner Mr. Culbertson, Squires,
and myself went off nine miles over the prairies to look at the
"meadows," as they are called, where Mr. Culbertson has heretofore cut
his winter crop of hay, but we found it indifferent compared with that
above the fort. We saw Sharp-tailed Grouse, and what we thought a new
species of Lark, which we shot at no less than ten times before it was
killed by Mr. Culbertson, but not found. I caught one of its young, but
it proved to be only the Shore Lark. Before we reached the meadows we
saw a flock of fifteen or twenty Bob-o-link, _Emberiza orizivora_, and
on our return shot one of them (a male) on the wing. It is the first
seen since we left St. Louis. We reached the meadows at last, and tied
our nag to a tree, with the privilege of feeding. Mr. Culbertson and
Squires went in the "meadows," and I walked round the so-called patch. I
shot seven Arkansas Flycatchers on the wing. After an hour's walking, my
companions returned, but had seen nothing except the fresh tracks of a
Grizzly Bear. I shot at one of the White-rumped Hawks, of which I have
several times spoken, but although it dropped its quarry and flew very
wildly afterwards, it went out of my sight. We found the beds of Elks
and their fresh dung, but saw none of these animals. I have forgotten to
say that immediately after breakfast this morning I drove with Squires
to Fort Mortimer, and asked Mr. Collins to let me have his hunter,
Boucherville, to go after Mountain Rams for me, which he promised to do.
In the afternoon he sent a man over to ask for some flour, which Mr.
Culbertson sent him. They are there in the utmost state of destitution,
almost of starvation, awaiting the arrival of the hunters like so many
famished Wolves. Harris and Bell went across the river and shot a Wolf
under the river bank, and afterwards a Duck, but saw nothing else. But
during their absence we have had a fine opportunity of witnessing the
agility and extreme strength of a year-old Buffalo bull belonging to the
fort. Our cook, who is an old Spaniard, threw his lasso over the
Buffalo's horns, and all the men in the fort at the time, hauled and
pulled the beast about, trying to get him close to a post. He kicked,
pulled, leaped sideways, and up and down, snorting and pawing until he
broke loose, and ran, as if quite wild, about the enclosure. He was tied
again and again, without any success, and at last got out of the fort,
but was soon retaken, the rope being thrown round his horns, and he was
brought to the main post of the Buffalo-robe press. There he was brought
to a standstill, at the risk of breaking his neck, and the last remnant
of his winter coat was removed by main strength, which was the object
for which the poor animal had undergone all this trouble. After Harris
returned to the fort he saw six Sharp-tailed Grouse. At this season this
species have no particular spot where you may rely upon finding them,
and at times they fly through the woods, and for a great distance, too,
where they alight on trees; when, unless you accidentally see them, you
pass by without their moving. After we passed Fort Mortimer on our
return we saw coming from the banks of the river no less than eighteen
Wolves, which altogether did not cover a space of more than three or
four yards, they were so crowded. Among them were two Prairie Wolves.
Had we had a good running horse some could have been shot; but old Peter
is long past his running days. The Wolves had evidently been feeding on
some carcass along the banks, and all moved very slowly. Mr. Culbertson
gave me a grand pair of leather breeches and a very handsome knife-case,
all manufactured by the Blackfeet Indians.

_July 14, Friday._ Thermometer 70°-95°. Young McKenzie went off after
Antelopes across the river alone, but saw only one, which he could not
get near. After breakfast Harris, Squires, and I started after birds of
all sorts, with the wagon, and proceeded about six miles on the road we
had travelled yesterday. We met the hunter from Fort Mortimer going for
Bighorns for me, and Mr. Culbertson lent him a horse and a mule. We
caught two young of the Shore Lark, killed seven of Sprague's Lark, but
by bad management lost two, either from the wagon, my hat, or Harris's
pockets. The weather was exceedingly hot. We hunted for Grouse in the
wormwood bushes, and after despairing of finding any, we started up
three from the plain, and they flew not many yards to the river. We got
out of the wagon and pushed for them; one rose, and Harris shot it,
though it flew some yards before he picked it up. He started another,
and just as he was about to fire, his gunlock caught on his coat, and
off went Mr. Grouse, over and through the woods until out of sight, and
we returned slowly home. We saw ten Wolves this morning. After dinner we
had a curious sight. Squires put on my Indian dress. McKenzie put on one
of Mr. Culbertson's, Mrs. Culbertson put on her own _superb_ dress, and
the cook's wife put on the one Mrs. Culbertson had given me. Squires and
Owen were painted in an awful manner by Mrs. Culbertson, the _Ladies_
had their hair loose, and flying in the breeze, and then all mounted on
horses with Indian saddles and trappings. Mrs. Culbertson and her maid
rode astride like men, and all rode a furious race, under whip the whole
way, for more than one mile on the prairie; and how amazed would have
been any European lady, or some of our modern belles who boast their
equestrian skill, at seeing the magnificent riding of this Indian
princess--for that is Mrs. Culbertson's rank--and her servant. Mr.
Culbertson rode with them, the horses running as if wild, with these
extraordinary Indian riders, Mrs. Culbertson's magnificent black hair
floating like a banner behind her. As to the men (for two others had
joined Squires and McKenzie), I cannot compare them to anything in the
whole creation. They ran like wild creatures of unearthly compound.
Hither and thither they dashed, and when the whole party had crossed the
ravine below, they saw a fine Wolf and gave the whip to their horses,
and though the Wolf cut to right and left Owen shot at him with an arrow
and missed, but Mr. Culbertson gave it chase, overtook it, his gun
flashed, and the Wolf lay dead. They then ascended the hills and away
they went, with our princess and her faithful attendant in the van, and
by and by the group returned to the camp, running full speed till they
entered the fort, and all this in the intense heat of this July
afternoon. Mrs. Culbertson, herself a wonderful rider, possessed of both
strength and grace in a marked degree, assured me that Squires was equal
to any man in the country as a rider, and I saw for myself that he
managed his horse as well as any of the party, and I was pleased to see
him in his dress, ornaments, etc., looking, however, I must confess,
after Mrs. Culbertson's painting his face, like a being from the
infernal regions. Mr. Culbertson presented Harris with a superb dress of
the Blackfoot Indians, and also with a Buffalo bull's head, for which
Harris had in turn presented him with a gun-barrel of the short kind,
and well fitted to shoot Buffaloes. Harris shot a very young one of
Townsend's Hare, Mr. Denig gave Bell a Mouse, which, although it
resembles _Mus leucopus_ greatly, is much larger, and has a short,
thick, round tail, somewhat blunted.

_July 15, Saturday._ We were all up pretty early, for we propose going
up the Yellowstone with a wagon, and the skiff on a cart, should we wish
to cross. After breakfast all of us except Sprague, who did not wish to
go, were ready, and along with two extra men, the wagon, and the cart,
we crossed the Missouri at the fort, and at nine were fairly under
way--Harris, Bell, Mr. Culbertson, and myself in the wagon, Squires,
Provost, and Owen on horseback. We travelled rather slowly, until we had
crossed the point, and headed the ponds on the prairie that run at the
foot of the hills opposite. We saw one Grouse, but it could not be
started, though Harris searched for it. We ran the wagon into a rut, but
got out unhurt; however, I decided to walk for a while, and did so for
about two miles, to the turning point of the hills. The wheels of our
vehicle were very shackling, and had to be somewhat repaired, and though
I expected they would fall to pieces, in some manner or other we
proceeded on. We saw several Antelopes, some on the prairie which we now
travelled on, and many more on the tops of the hills, bounding westward.
We stopped to water the horses at a saline spring, where I saw that
Buffaloes, Antelopes, and other animals come to allay their thirst, and
repose on the grassy margin. The water was too hot for us to drink, and
we awaited the arrival of the cart, when we all took a good drink of the
river water we had brought with us. After waiting for nearly an hour to
allow the horses to bait and cool themselves, for it was very warm, we
proceeded on, until we came to another watering-place, a river, in fact,
which during spring overflows its banks, but now has only pools of water
here and there. We soaked our wheels again, and again drank ourselves.
Squires, Provost, and Owen had left sometime before us, but were not out
of our sight, when we started, and as we had been, and were yet,
travelling a good track, we soon caught up with them. We shot a common
Red-winged Starling, and heard the notes of what was supposed to be a
new bird by my companions, but which to my ears was nothing more than
the Short-billed Marsh Wren of Nuttall. We reached our camping-place,
say perhaps twenty miles' distance, by four o'clock, and all things were
unloaded, the horses put to grass, and two or three of the party went in
"the point" above, to shoot something for supper. I was hungry myself,
and taking the Red-wing and the fishing-line, I went to the river close
by, and had the good fortune to catch four fine catfish, when, my bait
giving out, I was obliged to desist, as I found that these catfish will
not take parts of their own kind as food. Provost had taken a bath, and
rowed the skiff (which we had brought this whole distance on the cart,
dragged by a mule) along with two men, across the river to seek for game
on the point opposite our encampment. They returned, however, without
having shot anything, and my four catfish were all the fresh provisions
that we had, and ten of us partook of them with biscuit, coffee, and
claret. Dusk coming on, the tent was pitched, and preparations to rest
made. Some chose one spot and some another, and after a while we were
settled. Mr. Culbertson and I lay together on the outside of the tent,
and all the party were more or less drowsy. About this time we saw a
large black cloud rising in the west; it was heavy and lowering, and
about ten o'clock, when most of us were pretty nearly sound asleep, the
distant thunder was heard, the wind rose to a gale, and the rain began
falling in torrents. All were on foot in a few moments, and considerable
confusion ensued. Our guns, all loaded with balls, were hurriedly placed
under the tent, our beds also, and we all crawled in, in the space of a
very few minutes. The wind blew so hard that Harris was obliged to hold
the flappers of the tent with both hands, and sat in the water a
considerable time to do this. Old Provost alone did not come in, he sat
under the shelving bank of the river, and kept dry. After the gale was
over, he calmly lay down in front of the tent on the saturated ground,
and was soon asleep. During the gale, our fire, which we had built to
keep off the myriads of mosquitoes, blew in every direction, and we had
to watch the embers to keep them from burning the tent. After all was
over, we snugged ourselves the best way we could in our small tent and
under the wagon, and slept soundly till daylight. Mr. Culbertson had
fixed himself pretty well, but on arising at daylight to smoke his pipe,
Squires immediately crept into his comfortable corner, and snored there
till the day was well begun. Mr. Culbertson had my knees for a pillow,
and also my hat, I believe, for in the morning, although the first were
not hurt, the latter was sadly out of shape in all parts. We had nothing
for our breakfast except some vile coffee, and about three quarters of a
sea-biscuit, which was soon settled among us. The men, poor fellows, had
nothing at all. Provost had seen two Deer, but had had no shot, so of
course we were in a quandary, but it is now--

_July 16, Sunday._ The weather pleasant with a fine breeze from the
westward, and all eyes were bent upon the hills and prairie, which is
here of great breadth, to spy if possible some object that might be
killed and eaten. Presently a Wolf was seen, and Owen went after it, and
it was not until he had disappeared below the first low range of hills,
and Owen also, that the latter came within shot of the rascal, which
dodged in all sorts of manners; but Owen would not give up, and after
shooting more than once, he killed the beast. A man had followed him to
help bring in the Wolf, and when near the river he saw a Buffalo, about
two miles off, grazing peaceably, as he perhaps thought, safe in his own
dominions; but, alas! white hunters had fixed their eyes upon him, and
from that moment his doom was pronounced. Mr. Culbertson threw down his
hat, bound his head with a handkerchief, his saddle was on his mare, he
was mounted and off and away at a swift gallop, more quickly than I can
describe, not towards the Buffalo, but towards the place where Owen had
killed the Wolf. The man brought the Wolf on old Peter, and Owen, who
was returning to the camp, heard the signal gun fired by Mr. Culbertson,
and at once altered his course; his mare was evidently a little heated
and blown by the Wolf chase, but both hunters went after the Buffalo,
slowly at first, to rest Owen's steed, but soon, when getting within
running distance, they gave whip, overhauled the Bison, and shot at it
twice with balls; this halted the animal; the hunters had no more
balls, and now loaded with pebbles, with which the poor beast was
finally killed. The wagon had been sent from the camp. Harris, Bell, and
Squires mounted on horseback, and travelled to the scene of action. They
met Mr. Culbertson returning to camp, and he told Bell the Buffalo was a
superb one, and had better be skinned. A man was sent to assist in the
skinning who had been preparing the Wolf which was now cooking, as we
had expected to dine upon its flesh; but when Mr. Culbertson returned,
covered with blood and looking like a wild Indian, it was decided to
throw it away; so I cut out the liver, and old Provost and I went
fishing and caught eighteen catfish. I hooked two tortoises, but put
them back in the river. I took a good swim, which refreshed me much, and
I came to dinner with a fine appetite. This meal consisted wholly of
fish, and we were all fairly satisfied. Before long the flesh of the
Buffalo reached the camp, as well as the hide. The animal was very fat,
and we have meat for some days. It was now decided that Squires,
Provost, and Basil (one of the men) should proceed down the river to the
Charbonneau, and there try their luck at Otters and Beavers, and the
rest of us, with the cart, would make our way back to the fort. All was
arranged, and at half-past three this afternoon we were travelling
towards Fort Union. But hours previous to this, and before our scanty
dinner, Owen had seen another bull, and Harris and Bell joined us in the
hunt. The bull was shot at by McKenzie, who stopped its career, but as
friend Harris pursued it with two of the hunters and finished it I was
about to return, and thought sport over for the day. However, at this
stage of the proceedings Owen discovered another bull making his way
slowly over the prairie towards us. I was the only one who had balls,
and would gladly have claimed the privilege of running him, but fearing
I might make out badly on my slower steed, and so lose meat which we
really needed, I handed my gun and balls to Owen McKenzie, and Bell and
I went to an eminence to view the chase. Owen approached the bull, which
continued to advance, and was now less than a quarter of a mile distant;
either it did not see, or did not heed him, and they came directly
towards each other, until they were about seventy or eighty yards apart,
when the Buffalo started at a good run, and Owen's mare, which had
already had two hard runs this morning, had great difficulty in
preserving her distance. Owen, perceiving this, breathed her a minute,
and then applying the whip was soon within shooting distance, and fired
a shot which visibly checked the progress of the bull, and enabled Owen
to soon be alongside of him, when the contents of the second barrel were
discharged into the lungs, passing through the shoulder blade. This
brought him to a stand. Bell and I now started at full speed, and as
soon as we were within speaking distance, called to Owen not to shoot
again. The bull did not appear to be much exhausted, but he was so
stiffened by the shot on the shoulder that he could not turn quickly,
and taking advantage of this we approached him; as we came near he
worked himself slowly round to face us, and then made a lunge at us; we
then stopped on one side and commenced discharging our pistols with
little or no effect, except to increase his fury with every shot. His
appearance was now one to inspire terror had we not felt satisfied of
our ability to avoid him. However, even so, I came very near being
overtaken by him. Through my own imprudence, I placed myself directly in
front of him, and as he advanced I fired at his head, and then ran
_ahead_ of him, instead of veering to one side, not supposing that he
was able to overtake me; but turning my head over my shoulder, I saw to
my horror, Mr. Bull within three feet of me, prepared to give me a taste
of his horns. The next instant I turned sharply off, and the Buffalo
being unable to turn quickly enough to follow me, Bell took the gun
from Owen and shot him directly behind the shoulder blade. He tottered
for a moment, with an increased jet of blood from the mouth and
nostrils, fell forward on his horns, then rolled over on his side, and
was dead. He was a very old animal, in poor case, and only part of him
was worth taking to the fort. Provost, Squires, and Basil were left at
the camp preparing for their departure after Otter and Beaver as
decided. We left them eight or nine catfish and a quantity of meat, of
which they took care to secure the best, namely the boss or hump. On our
homeward way we saw several Antelopes, some quite in the prairie, others
far away on the hills, but all of them on the alert. Owen tried
unsuccessfully to approach several of them at different times. At one
place where two were seen he dismounted, and went round a small hill
(for these animals when startled or suddenly alarmed always make to
these places), and we hoped would have had a shot; but alas! no! One of
the Antelopes ran off to the top of another hill, and the other stood
looking at him, and us perhaps, till Owen (who had been re-mounted)
galloped off towards us. My surprise was great when I saw the other
Antelope following him at a good pace (but not by bounds or leaps, as I
had been told by a former traveller they sometimes did), until it either
smelt him, or found out he was no friend, and turning round galloped
speedily off to join the one on the lookout. We saw seven or eight
Grouse, and Bell killed one on the ground. We saw a Sand-hill Crane
about two years old, looking quite majestic in a grassy bottom, but it
flew away before we were near enough to get a shot. We passed a fine
pond or small lake, but no bird was there. We saw several parcels of
Ducks in sundry places, all of which no doubt had young near. When we
turned the corner of the great prairie we found Owen's mare close by us.
She had run away while he was after Antelopes. We tied her to a log to
be ready for him when he should reach the spot. He had to walk about
three miles before he did this. However, to one as young and alert as
Owen, such things are nothing. Once they were not to me. We saw more
Antelope at a distance, here called "Cabris," and after a while we
reached the wood near the river, and finding abundance of
service-berries, we all got out to break branches of these plants, Mr.
Culbertson alone remaining in the wagon; he pushed on for the landing.
We walked after him munching our berries, which we found very good, and
reached the landing as the sun was going down behind the hills. Young
McKenzie was already there, having cut across the point. We decided on
crossing the river ourselves, and leaving all behind us except our guns.
We took to the ferry-boat, cordelled it up the river for a while, then
took to the nearest sand-bar, and leaping into the mud and water, hauled
the heavy boat, Bell and Harris steering and poling the while. I had
pulled off my shoes and socks, and when we reached the shore walked up
to the fort barefooted, and made my feet quite sore again; but we have
had a rest and a good supper, and I am writing in Mr. Culbertson's room,
thinking over all God's blessings on this delightful day.

_July 17, Monday._ A beautiful day, with a west wind. Sprague, who is
very industrious at all times, drew some flowers, and I have been busy
both writing and drawing. In the afternoon Bell went after Rabbits, but
saw one only, which he could not get, and Sprague walked to the hills
about two miles off, but could not see any portion of the Yellowstone
River, which Mr. Catlin has given in his view, as if he had been in a
balloon some thousands of feet above the earth. Two men arrived last
evening by land from Fort Pierre, and brought a letter, but no news of
any importance; one is a cook as well as a hunter, the other named
Wolff, a German, and a tinsmith by trade, though now a trapper.

_July 18, Tuesday._ When I went to bed last night the mosquitoes were
so numerous downstairs that I took my bed under my arm and went to a
room above, where I slept well. On going down this morning, I found two
other persons from Fort Pierre, and Mr. Culbertson very busy reading and
writing letters. Immediately after breakfast young McKenzie and another
man were despatched on mules, with a letter for Mr. Kipp, and Owen
expects to overtake the boat in three or four days. An Indian arrived
with a stolen squaw, both Assiniboins; and I am told such things are of
frequent occurrence among these sons of nature. Mr. Culbertson proposed
that we should take a ride to see the mowers, and Harris and I joined
him. We found the men at work, among them one called Bernard Adams, of
Charleston, S.C., who knew the Bachmans quite well, and who had read the
whole of the "Biographies of Birds." Leaving the men, we entered a
ravine in search of plants, etc., and having started an Owl, which I
took for the barred one, I left my horse and went in search of it, but
could not see it, and hearing a new note soon saw a bird not to be
mistaken, and killed it, when it proved, as I expected, to be the Rock
Wren; then I shot another sitting by the mouth of a hole. The bird did
not fly off; Mr. Culbertson watched it closely, but when the hole was
demolished no bird was to be found. Harris saw a Shrike, but of what
species he could not tell, and he also found some Rock Wrens in another
ravine. We returned to the fort and promised to visit the place this
afternoon, which we have done, and procured three more Wrens, and killed
the Owl, which proves to be precisely the resemblance of the Northern
specimen of the Great Horned Owl, which we published under another name.
The Rock Wren, which might as well be called the Ground Wren, builds its
nest in holes, and now the young are well able to fly, and we procured
one in the act. In two instances we saw these birds enter a hole here,
and an investigation showed a passage or communication, and on my
pointing out a hole to Bell where one had entered, he pushed his arm in
and touched the little fellow, but it escaped by running up his arm and
away it flew. Black clouds now arose in the west, and we moved
homewards. Harris and Bell went to the mowers to get a drink of water,
and we reached home without getting wet, though it rained violently for
some time, and the weather is much cooler. Not a word yet from Provost
and Squires.

_July 19, Wednesday._ Squires and Provost returned early this morning,
and again I give the former my journal that I may have the account of
the hunt in his own words. "As Mr. Audubon has said, he left Provost,
Basil, and myself making ready for our voyage down the Yellowstone. The
party for the fort were far in the blue distance ere we bid adieu to our
camping-ground. We had wished the return party a pleasant ride and safe
arrival at the fort as they left us, looking forward to a good supper,
and what I _now_ call a comfortable bed. We seated ourselves around some
boiled Buffalo hump, which, as has been before said, we took good care
to appropriate to ourselves according to the established rule of this
country, which is, 'When you can, take the best,' and we had done so in
this case, more to our satisfaction than to that of the hunters. Our
meal finished, we packed everything we had in the skiff, and were soon
on our way down the Yellowstone, happy as could be; Provost acting
pilot, Basil oarsman, and your humble servant seated on a Buffalo robe,
quietly smoking, and looking on the things around. We found the general
appearance of the Yellowstone much like the Missouri, but with a
stronger current, and the water more muddy. After a voyage of two hours
Charbonneau River made its appearance, issuing from a clump of willows;
the mouth of this river we found to be about ten feet wide, and so
shallow that we were obliged to push our boat over the slippery mud for
about forty feet. This passed, we entered a pond formed by the
contraction of the mouth and the collection of mud and sticks
thereabouts, the pond so formed being six or eight feet deep, and about
fifty feet wide, extending about a mile up the river, which is very
crooked indeed. For about half a mile from the Yellowstone the shore is
lined with willows, beyond which is a level prairie, and on the shores
of the stream just beyond the willows are a few scattered trees. About a
quarter of a mile from the mouth of the river, we discovered what we
were in search of, the Beaver lodge. To measure it was impossible, as it
was not perfect, in the first place, in the next it was so muddy that we
could not get ashore, but as well as I can I will describe it. The lodge
is what is called the summer lodge; it was comprised wholly of brush,
willow chiefly, with a single hole for the entrance and exit of the
Beaver. The pile resembled, as much as anything to which I can compare
it, a brush heap about six feet high, and about ten or fifteen feet
base, and standing seven or eight feet from the water. There were a few
Beaver tracks about, which gave us some encouragement. We proceeded to
our camping-ground on the edge of the prairie; here we landed all our
baggage; while Basil made a fire, Provost and I started to set our
traps--the two extremes of hunters, the skilful old one, and the
ignorant pupil; but I was soon initiated in the art of setting Beaver
traps, and to the uninitiated let me say, '_First_, find your game,
_then_ catch it,' if you can. The first we did, the latter we tried to
do. We proceeded to the place where the greatest number of tracks were
seen, and commenced operations. At the place where the path enters the
water, and about four inches beneath the surface, a level place is made
in the mud, upon which the trap is placed, the chain is then fastened to
a stake which is firmly driven in the ground under water. The end of a
willow twig is then chewed and dipped in the 'Medicine Horn,' which
contains the bait; this consists of castoreum mixed with spices; a
quantity is collected on the chewed end of the twig, the stick is then
placed or stuck in the mud on the edge of the water, leaving the part
with the bait about two inches above the surface and in front of the
trap; on each side the bait and about six inches from it, two dried
twigs are placed in the ground; this done, all's done, and we are ready
for the visit of Monsieur Castor. We set two traps, and returned to our
camp, where we had supper, then pitched our tent and soon were sound
asleep, but before we were asleep we heard a Beaver dive, and slap his
tail, which sounded like the falling of a round stone in the water; here
was encouragement again. In the morning (Monday) we examined our traps
and found--nothing. We did not therefore disturb the traps, but examined
farther up the river, where we discovered other tracks and resolved to
set our traps there, as Provost concluded that there was but one Beaver,
and that a male. We returned to camp and made a good breakfast on
Buffalo meat and coffee, _sans_ salt, _sans_ pepper, _sans_ sugar,
_sans_ anything else of any kind. After breakfast Provost shot a doe. In
the afternoon we removed one trap, Basil and I gathered some
wild-gooseberries which I stewed for supper, and made a sauce, which,
though _rather acid_, was very good with our meat. The next morning,
after again examining our traps and finding nothing, we decided to raise
camp, which was accordingly done; everything was packed in the skiff,
and we proceeded to the mouth of the river. The water had fallen so much
since we had entered, as to oblige us to strip, jump in the mud, and
haul the skiff over; rich and rare was the job; the mud was about half
thigh deep, and a kind of greasy, sticky, black stuff, with a something
about it so very peculiar as to be _rather_ unpleasant; however, we did
not mind much, and at last got into the Yellowstone, scraped and washed
the mud off, and encamped on a prairie about one hundred yards below
the Charbonneau. It was near sunset; Provost commenced fishing; we
joined him, and in half an hour we caught sixteen catfish, quite large
ones. During the day Provost started to the Mauvaises Terres to hunt
Bighorns, but returned unsuccessful. He baited his traps for the last
time. During his absence thunder clouds were observed rising all around
us; we stretched our tent, removed everything inside it, ate our supper
of meat and coffee, and then went to bed. It rained some part of the
night, but not enough to wet through the tent. The next morning
(Tuesday) at daylight, Provost started to examine his traps, while we at
the camp put everything in the boat, and sat down to await his return,
when we proceeded on our voyage down the Yellowstone to Fort Mortimer,
and from thence by land to Fort Union. Nothing of any interest occurred
except that we saw two does, one young and one buck of the Bighorns; I
fired at the buck which was on a high cliff about a hundred and fifty
yards from us; I fired above it to allow for the falling of the ball,
but the gun shot so well as to carry where I aimed. The animal was a
very large buck; Provost says one of the largest he had seen. As soon as
I fired he started and ran along the side of the hill which looked
almost perpendicular, and I was much astonished, not only at the feat,
but at the surprising quickness with which he moved along, with no
apparent foothold. We reached Fort Mortimer about seven o'clock; I left
Basil and Provost with the skiff, and I started for Fort Union on foot
to send a cart for them. On my way I met Mr. Audubon about to pay a
visit to Fort Mortimer; I found all well, despatched the cart, changed
my clothes, and feel none the worse for my five days' camping, and quite
ready for a dance I hear we are to have to-night."

This morning as I walked to Fort Mortimer, meeting Squires as he has
said, well and happy as a Lark, I was surprised to see a good number of
horses saddled, and packed in different ways, and I hastened on to find
what might be the matter. When I entered the miserable house in which
Mr. Collins sleeps and spends his time when not occupied out of doors,
he told me thirteen men and seven squaws were about to start for the
lakes, thirty-five miles off, to kill Buffaloes and dry their meat, as
the last his hunters brought in was already putrid. I saw the cavalcade
depart in an E.N.E. direction, remained a while, and then walked back.
Mr. Collins promised me half a dozen balls from young animals. Provost
was discomfited and crestfallen at the failure of the Beaver hunt; he
brought half a doe and about a dozen fine catfish. Mr. Culbertson and I
are going to see the mowers, and to-morrow we start on a grand Buffalo
hunt, and hope for Antelopes, Wolves, and Foxes.

_July 20, Thursday._ We were up early, and had our breakfast shortly
after four o'clock, and before eight had left the landing of the fort,
and were fairly under way for the prairies. Our equipment was much the
same as before, except that we had two carts this time. Mr. C. drove
Harris, Bell, and myself, and the others rode on the carts and led the
hunting horses, or runners, as they are called here. I observed a Rabbit
running across the road, and saw some flowers different from any I had
ever seen. After we had crossed a bottom prairie, we ascended between
the high and rough ravines until we were on the rolling grounds of the
plains. The fort showed well from this point, and we also saw a good
number of Antelopes, and some young ones. These small things run even
faster than the old ones. As we neared the Fox River some one espied
four Buffaloes, and Mr. C., taking the telescope, showed them to me,
lying on the ground. Our heads and carts were soon turned towards them,
and we travelled within half a mile of them, concealed by a ridge or
hill which separated them from us. The wind was favorable, and we moved
on slowly round the hill, the hunters being now mounted. Harris and Bell
had their hats on, but Owen and Mr. Culbertson had their heads bound
with handkerchiefs. With the rest of the party I crawled on the ridge,
and saw the bulls running away, but in a direction favorable for us to
see the chase. On the word of command the horses were let loose, and
away went the hunters, who soon were seen to gain on the game; two bulls
ran together and Mr. C. and Bell followed after them, and presently one
after another of the hunters followed them. Mr. C. shot first, and his
bull stopped at the fire, walked towards where I was, and halted about
sixty yards from me. His nose was within a few inches of the ground; the
blood poured from his mouth, nose, and side, his tail hung down, but his
legs looked as firm as ever, but in less than two minutes the poor beast
fell on his side, and lay quite dead. Bell and Mr. Culbertson went after
the second. Harris took the third, and Squires the fourth. Bell's shot
took effect in the buttock, and Mr. Culbertson shot, placing his ball a
few inches above or below Bell's; after this Mr. Culbertson ran no more.
At this moment Squires's horse threw him over his head, fully ten feet;
he fell on his powder-horn and was severely bruised; he cried to Harris
to catch his horse, and was on his legs at once, but felt sick for a few
minutes. Harris, who was as cool as a cucumber, neared his bull, shot it
through the lungs, and it fell dead on the spot. Bell was now seen in
full pursuit of his game, and Harris joined Squires, and followed the
fourth, which, however, was soon out of my sight. I saw Bell shooting
two or three times, and I heard the firing of Squires and perhaps
Harris, but the weather was hot, and being afraid of injuring their
horses, they let the fourth bull make his escape. Bell's bull fell on
his knees, got up again, and rushed on Bell, and was shot again. The
animal stood a minute with his tail partially elevated, and then fell
dead; through some mishap Bell had no knife with him, so did not bring
the tongue, as is customary. Mr. Culbertson walked towards the first
bull and I joined him. It was a fine animal about seven years old;
Harris's and Bell's were younger. The first was fat, and was soon
skinned and cut up for meat. Mr. Culbertson insisted on calling it my
bull, so I cut off the brush of the tail and placed it in my hat-band.
We then walked towards Harris, who was seated on his bull, and the same
ceremony took place, and while they were cutting the animal up for meat,
Bell, who said he thought his bull was about three quarters of a mile
distant, went off with me to see it; we walked at least a mile and a
half, and at last came to it. It was a poor one, and the tongue and tail
were all we took away, and we rejoined the party, who had already
started the cart with Mr. Pike, who was told to fall to the rear, and
reach the fort before sundown; this he could do readily, as we were not
more than six miles distant. Mr. Culbertson broke open the head of "my"
bull, and ate part of the brains raw, and yet warm, and so did many of
the others, even Squires. The very sight of this turned my stomach, but
I am told that were I to hunt Buffalo one year, I should like it "even
better than dog meat." Mr. Pike did not reach the fort till the next
morning about ten, I will say _en passant_. We continued our route,
passing over the same road on which we had come, and about midway
between the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers. We saw more Antelopes, but
not one Wolf; these rascals are never abundant where game is scarce, but
where game is, there too are the Wolves. When we had travelled about ten
miles further we saw seven Buffaloes grazing on a hill, but as the sun
was about one hour high, we drove to one side of the road where there
was a pond of water, and there stopped for the night; while the hunters
were soon mounted, and with Squires they went off, leaving the men to
arrange the camp. I crossed the pond, and having ascended the opposite
bank, saw the bulls grazing as leisurely as usual. The hunters near
them, they started down the hill, and the chase immediately began. One
broke from the rest and was followed by Mr. C. who shot it, and then
abandoned the hunt, his horse being much fatigued. I now counted ten
shots, but all was out of my sight, and I seated myself near a Fox hole,
longing for him. The hunters returned in time; Bell and Harris had
killed one, but Squires had no luck, owing to his being unable to
continue the chase on account of the injury he had received from his
fall. We had a good supper, having brought abundance of eatables and
drinkables. The tent was pitched; I put up my mosquito-bar under the
wagon, and there slept very soundly till sunrise. Harris and Bell wedged
together under another bar, Mr. C. went into the tent, and Squires, who
is tough and likes to rough it with the hunters, slept on a Buffalo hide
somewhere with Moncrévier, one of the most skilful of the hunters. The
horses were all hoppled and turned to grass; they, however, went off too
far, and had to be sent after, but I heard nothing of all this. As there
is no wood on the prairies proper, our fire was made of Buffalo dung,
which is so abundant that one meets these deposits at every few feet and
in all directions.

_July 21, Friday._ We were up at sunrise, and had our coffee, after
which Lafleur a mulatto, Harris, and Bell went off after Antelopes, for
we cared no more about bulls; where the cows are, we cannot tell. Cows
run faster than bulls, yearlings faster than cows, and calves faster
than any of these. Squires felt sore, and his side was very black, so we
took our guns and went after Black-breasted Lark Buntings, of which we
saw many, but could not near them. I found a nest of them, however, with
five eggs. The nest is planted in the ground, deep enough to sink the
edges of it. It is formed of dried fine grasses and roots, without any
lining of hair or wool. By and by we saw Harris sitting on a high hill
about one mile off, and joined him; he said the bulls they had killed
last evening were close by, and I offered to go and see the bones, for I
expected that the Wolves had devoured it during the night. We travelled
on, and Squires returned to the camp. After about two miles of walking
against a delightful strong breeze, we reached the animals; Ravens or
Buzzards had worked at the eyes, but only one Wolf, apparently, had been
there. They were bloated, and smelt quite unpleasant. We returned to the
camp and saw a Wolf cross our path, and an Antelope looking at us. We
determined to stop and try to bring him to us; I lay on my back and
threw my legs up, kicking first one and then the other foot, and sure
enough the Antelope walked towards us, slowly and carefully, however. In
about twenty minutes he had come two or three hundred yards; he was a
superb male, and I looked at him for some minutes; when about sixty
yards off I could see his eyes, and being loaded with buck-shot pulled
the trigger without rising from my awkward position. Off he went; Harris
fired, but he only ran the faster for some hundred yards, when he
turned, looked at us again, and was off. When we reached camp we found
Bell there; he had shot three times at Antelopes without killing;
Lafleur had also returned, and had broken the foreleg of one, but an
Antelope can run fast enough with three legs, and he saw no more of it.
We now broke camp, arranged the horses and turned our heads towards the
Missouri, and in four and three-quarter hours reached the landing. On
entering the wood we again broke branches of service-berries, and
carried a great quantity over the river. I much enjoyed the trip; we had
our supper, and soon to bed in our hot room, where Sprague says the
thermometer has been at 99° most of the day. I noticed it was warm when
walking. I must not forget to notice some things which happened on our
return. First, as we came near Fox River, we thought of the horns of
our bulls, and Mr. Culbertson, who knows the country like a book, drove
us first to Bell's, who knocked the horns off, then to Harris's, which
was served in the same manner; this bull had been eaten entirely except
the head, and a good portion of mine had been devoured also; it lay
immediately under "Audubon's Bluff" (the name Mr. Culbertson gave the
ridge on which I stood to see the chase), and we could see it when
nearly a mile distant. Bell's horns were the handsomest and largest,
mine next best, and Harris's the smallest, but we are all contented. Mr.
Culbertson tells me that Harris and Bell have done wonders, for persons
who have never shot at Buffaloes from on horseback. Harris had a fall
too, during his second chase, and was bruised in the manner of Squires,
but not so badly. I have but little doubt that Squires killed his bull,
as he says he shot it three times, and Mr. Culbertson's must have died
also. What a terrible destruction of life, as it were for nothing, or
next to it, as the tongues only were brought in, and the flesh of these
fine animals was left to beasts and birds of prey, or to rot on the
spots where they fell. The prairies are literally _covered_ with the
skulls of the victims, and the roads the Buffalo make in crossing the
prairies have all the appearance of heavy wagon tracks. We saw young
Golden Eagles, Ravens, and Buzzards. I found the Short-billed Marsh Wren
quite abundant, and in such localities as it is found eastward. The
Black-breasted Prairie-bunting flies much like a Lark, hovering while
singing, and sweeping round and round, over and above its female while
she sits on the eggs on the prairie below. I saw only one Gadwall Duck;
these birds are found in abundance on the plains where water and rushes
are to be found. Alas! alas! eighteen Assiniboins have reached the fort
this evening in two groups; they are better-looking than those
previously seen by us.

_July 22, Saturday._ Thermometer 99°-102°. This day has been the hottest
of the season, and we all felt the influence of this densely oppressive
atmosphere, not a breath of air stirring. Immediately after breakfast
Provost and Lafleur went across the river in search of Antelopes, and we
remained looking at the Indians, all Assiniboins, and very dirty. When
and where Mr. Catlin saw these Indians as he has represented them,
dressed in magnificent attire, with all sorts of extravagant
accoutrements, is more than I can divine, or Mr. Culbertson tell me. The
evening was so hot and sultry that Mr. C. and I went into the river,
which is now very low, and remained in the water over an hour. A dozen
catfish were caught in the main channel, and we have had a good supper
from part of them. Finding the weather so warm I have had my bed brought
out on the gallery below, and so has Squires. The Indians are, as usual,
shut _out_ of the fort, all the horses, young Buffaloes, etc., shut
_in_; and much refreshed by my bath, I say God bless you, and
good-night.

_July 23, Sunday._ Thermometer 84°. I had a very pleasant night, and no
mosquitoes, as the breeze rose a little before I lay down; and I
anticipated a heavy thunder storm, but we had only a few drops of rain.
About one o'clock Harris was called to see one of the Indians, who was
bleeding at the nose profusely, and I too went to see the poor devil. He
had bled quite enough, and Harris stopped his nostrils with cotton, put
cold water on his neck and head--God knows when they had felt it
before--and the bleeding stopped. These dirty fellows had made a large
fire between the walls of the fort, but outside the inner gates, and it
was a wonder that the whole establishment was not destroyed by fire.
Before sunrise they were pounding at the gate to be allowed to enter,
but, of course, this was not permitted. When the sun had fairly risen,
some one came and told me the hill-tops were covered with Indians,
probably Blackfeet. I walked to the back gate, and the number had
dwindled, or the account been greatly exaggerated, for there seemed only
fifty or sixty, and when, later, they were counted, there were found to
be exactly seventy. They remained a long time on the hill, and sent a
youth to ask for whiskey. But whiskey there is none for them, and very
little for any one. By and by they came down the hill leading four
horses, and armed principally with bows and arrows, spears, tomahawks,
and a few guns. They have proved to be a party of Crees from the British
dominions on the Saskatchewan River, and have been fifteen days in
travelling here. They had seen few Buffaloes, and were hungry and
thirsty enough. They assured Mr. Culbertson that the Hudson's Bay
Company supplied them all with abundance of spirituous liquors, and as
the white traders on the Missouri had none for them, they would
hereafter travel with the English. Now ought not this subject to be
brought before the press in our country and forwarded to England? If our
Congress will not allow our traders to sell whiskey or rum to the
Indians, why should not the British follow the same rule? Surely the
British, who are so anxious about the emancipation of the blacks, might
as well take care of the souls and bodies of the redskins. After a long
talk and smoking of pipes, tobacco, flints, powder, gun-screws and
vermilion were placed before their great chief (who is tattooed and has
a most rascally look), who examined everything minutely, counting over
the packets of vermilion; more tobacco was added, a file, and a piece of
white cotton with which to adorn his head; then he walked off, followed
by his son, and the whole posse left the fort. They passed by the
garden, pulled up a few squash vines and some turnips, and tore down a
few of the pickets on their way elsewhere. We all turned to, and picked
a quantity of peas, which with a fine roast pig, made us a capital
dinner. After this, seeing the Assiniboins loitering about the fort, we
had some tobacco put up as a target, and many arrows were sent to enter
the prize, but I never saw Indians--usually so skilful with their
bows--shoot worse in my life. Presently some one cried there were
Buffaloes on the hill, and going to see we found that four bulls were on
the highest ridge standing still. The horses being got in the yard, the
guns were gathered, saddles placed, and the riders mounted, Mr. C.,
Harris, and Bell; Squires declined going, not having recovered from his
fall, Mr. C. led his followers round the hills by the ravines, and
approached the bulls quite near, when the affrighted cattle ran down the
hills and over the broken grounds, out of our sight, followed by the
hunters. When I see game chased by Mr. Culbertson, I feel confident of
its being killed, and in less than one hour he had killed two bulls,
Harris and Bell each one. Thus these poor animals which two hours before
were tranquilly feeding are now dead; short work this. Harris and Bell
remained on the hills to watch the Wolves, and carts being ordered, Mr.
C. and I went off on horseback to the second one he had killed. We found
it entire, and I began to operate upon it at once; after making what
measurements and investigations I desired, I saved the head, the tail,
and a large piece of the silky skin from the rump. The meat of three of
the bulls was brought to the fort, the fourth was left to rot on the
ground. Mr. C. cut his finger severely, but paid no attention to that;
I, however, tore a strip off my shirt and bound it up for him. It is so
hot I am going to sleep on the gallery again; the thermometer this
evening is 89°.

_July 24, Monday._ I had a fine sleep last night, and this morning early
a slight sprinkling of rain somewhat refreshed the earth. After
breakfast we talked of going to see if Mr. Culbertson's bull had been
injured by the Wolves. Mr. C., Harris, and I went off to the spot by a
roundabout way, and when we reached the animal it was somewhat swollen,
but untouched, but we made up our minds to have it weighed, _coute qui
coute_. Harris proposed to remain and watch it, looking for Hares
meantime, but saw none. The Wolves must be migratory at this season, or
so starved out that they have gone elsewhere, as we now see but few. We
returned first to the fort, and mustered three men and Bell, for Sprague
would not go, being busy drawing a plant, and finding the heat almost
insupportable. We carried all the necessary implements, and found Harris
quite ready to drink some claret and water which we took for him. To cut
up so large a bull, and one now with so dreadful an odor, was no joke;
but with the will follows the success, and in about one hour the poor
beast had been measured and weighed, and we were once more _en route_
for the fort. This bull measured as follows: from end of nose to root of
tail, 131 inches; height at shoulder, 67 inches; at rump, 57 inches;
tail vertebræ, 15½ inches, hair in length beyond it 11 inches. We
weighed the whole animal by cutting it in parts and then by addition
found that this Buffalo, which was an old bull, weighed 1777 lbs.
avoirdupois. The flesh was all tainted, and was therefore left for the
beasts of prey. Our road was over high hills, and presented to our
searching eyes a great extent of broken ground, and here and there
groups of Buffaloes grazing. This afternoon we are going to bring in the
skeleton of Mr. Culbertson's second bull. I lost the head of my first
bull because I forgot to tell Mrs. Culbertson that I wished to save it,
and the princess had its skull broken open to enjoy its brains.
Handsome, and really courteous and refined in many ways, I cannot
reconcile to myself the fact that she partakes of raw animal food with
such evident relish. Before our departure, in came six half-breeds,
belonging, or attached to Fort Mortimer; and understanding that they
were first-rate hunters, I offered them ten dollars in goods for each
Bighorn up to eight or ten in number. They have promised to go
to-morrow, but, alas! the half-breeds are so uncertain I cannot tell
whether they will move a step or not. Mrs. Culbertson, who has great
pride in her pure Indian blood, told me with scorn that "all such
no-color fellows are lazy." We were delayed in starting by a very heavy
gale of wind and hard rain, which cooled the weather considerably; but
we finally got off in the wagon, the cart with three mules following, to
bring in the skeleton of the Buffalo which Mr. Culbertson had killed;
but we were defeated, for some Wolves had been to it, dragged it about
twenty-five feet, and gnawed the ends of the ribs and the backbone. The
head of Harris's bull was brought in, but it was smaller; the horns
alone were pretty good, and they were given to Sprague. On our return
Mrs. Culbertson was good enough to give me six young Mallards, which she
had caught by swimming after them in the Missouri; she is a most expert
and graceful swimmer, besides being capable of remaining under water a
long time; all the Blackfoot Indians excel in swimming and take great
pride in the accomplishment. We found three of the Assiniboins had
remained, one of whom wanted to carry off a squaw, and probably a couple
of horses too. He strutted about the fort in such a manner that we
watched him pretty closely. Mr. Culbertson took his gun, and a
six-barrelled pistol in his pocket; I, my double-barrelled gun, and we
stood at the back gate. The fellow had a spear made of a cut-and-thrust
sword, planted in a good stick covered with red cloth, and this he never
put down at any time; but no more, indeed, do any Indians, who carry all
their goods and chattels forever about their persons. The three
gentlemen, however, went off about dusk, and took the road to Fort
Mortimer, where six half-breeds from the Northeast brought to Fort
Mortimer eleven head of cattle, and came to pay a visit to their friends
here. All these men know Provost, and have inquired for him. I feel
somewhat uneasy about Provost and La Fleur, who have now been gone four
full days. The prairie is wet and damp, so I must sleep indoors. The
bull we cut up was not a fat one; I think in good condition it would
have weighed 2000 lbs.

_July 25, Tuesday._ We were all rather lazy this morning, but about
dinner-time Owen and his man arrived, and told us they had reached Mr.
Kipp and his boat at the crossings within about half a mile of Fort
Alexander; that his men were all broken down with drawing the cordelle
through mud and water, and that they had lost a white horse, which,
however, Owen saw on his way, and on the morning of his start from this
fort. About the same time he shot a large Porcupine, and killed four
bulls and one cow to feed upon, as well as three rattlesnakes. They saw
a large number of Buffalo cows, and we are going after them to-morrow
morning bright and early. About two hours later Provost and La Fleur,
about whom I had felt some uneasiness, came to the landing, and brought
the heads and skins attached to two female Antelopes. Both had been
killed by one shot from La Fleur, and his ball broke the leg of a third.
Provost was made quite sick by the salt water he had drunk; he killed
one doe, on which they fed as well as on the flesh of the "Cabris."
Whilst following the Mauvaises Terres (broken lands), they saw about
twenty Bighorns, and had not the horse on which Provost rode been
frightened at the sight of a monstrous buck of these animals, he would
have shot it down within twenty yards. They saw from fifteen to twenty
Buffalo cows, and we hope some of the hunters will come up with them
to-morrow. I have been drawing the head of one of these beautiful female
Antelopes; but their horns puzzle me, and all of us; they seem to me as
if they were _new_ horns, soft and short; time, however, will prove
whether they shed them or not. Our preparations are already made for
preserving the skins of the Antelopes, and Sprague is making an outline
which I hope will be finished before the muscles of the head begin to
soften. Not a word from the six hunters who promised to go after
Bighorns on the Yellowstone.

_July 26, Wednesday._ We were all on foot before daybreak and had our
breakfast by an early hour, and left on our trip for Buffalo cows. The
wagon was sent across by hauling it through the east channel, which is
now quite low, and across the sand-bars, which now reach seven-eighths
of the distance across the river. We crossed in the skiff, and walked to
the ferry-boat--I barefooted, as well as Mr. Culbertson; others wore
boots or moccasins, but my feet have been tender of late, and this is
the best cure. Whilst looking about for sticks to support our mosquito
bars, I saw a Rabbit standing before me, within a few steps, but I was
loaded with balls, and should have torn the poor thing so badly that it
would have been useless as a specimen, so let it live. We left the ferry
before six, and went on as usual. We saw two Antelopes on entering the
bottom prairie, but they had the wind of us, and scampered off to the
hills. We saw two Grouse, one of which Bell killed, and we found it very
good this evening for our supper. Twelve bulls were seen, but we paid no
attention to them. We saw a fine large Hawk, apparently the size of a
Red-tailed Hawk, but with the whole head white. It had alighted on a
clay hill or bank, but, on being approached, flew off to another, was
pursued and again flew away, so that we could not procure it, but I have
no doubt that it is a species not yet described. We now crossed
Blackfoot River, and saw great numbers of Antelopes. Their play and
tricks are curious; I watched many of the groups a long time, and will
not soon forget them. At last, seeing we should have no meat for supper,
and being a party of nine, it was determined that the first animal seen
should be run down and killed. We soon saw a bull, and all agreed to
give every chance possible to Squires. Mr. C., Owen, and Squires
started, and Harris followed without a gun, to see the chase. The bull
was wounded twice by Squires, but no blood came from the mouth, and now
all three shot at it, but the bull was not apparently hurt seriously; he
became more and more furious, and began charging upon them.
Unfortunately, Squires ran between the bull and a ravine quite close to
the animal, and it suddenly turned on him; his horse became frightened
and jumped into the ravine, the bull followed, and now Squires lost his
balance; however, he threw his gun down, and fortunately clung to the
mane of his horse and recovered his seat. The horse got away and saved
his life, for, from what Mr. C. told me, had he fallen, the bull would
have killed him in a few minutes, and no assistance could be afforded
him, as Mr. C. and Owen had, at that moment, empty guns. Squires told us
all; he had never been so bewildered and terrified before. The bull kept
on running, and was shot at perhaps twenty times, for when he fell he
had _twelve balls_ in his side, and had been shot twice in the head.
Another bull was now seen close by us, and Owen killed it after four
shots. Whilst we were cutting up this one, La Fleur and some one else
went to the other, which was found to be very poor, and, at this season
smelling very rank and disagreeable. A few of the best pieces were cut
away, and, as usual, the hunters ate the liver and fat quite raw, like
Wolves, and we were now on the move again. Presently we saw seven
animals coming towards us, and with the glass discovered there were six
bulls and one cow. The hunters mounted in quick time, and away after the
cow, which Owen killed very soon. To my surprise the bulls did not leave
her, but stood about one hundred yards from the hunters, who were
cutting her in pieces; the best parts were taken for dried meat. Had we
not been so many, the bulls would, in all probability, have charged upon
the butchers, but after a time they went off at a slow canter. At this
moment Harris and I were going towards the party thus engaged, when a
Swift Fox started from a hole under the feet of Harris' horse. I was
loaded with balls, and he also; he gave chase and gained upon the
beautiful animal with remarkable quickness. Bell saw this, and joined
Harris, whilst I walked towards the butchering party. The Fox was
overtaken by Harris, who took aim at it several times, but could not get
sight on him, and the little fellow doubled and cut about in such a
manner that it escaped into a ravine, and was seen no more. Now who will
tell me that no animal can compete with this Fox in speed, when Harris,
mounted on an Indian horse, overtook it in a few minutes? We were now in
sight of a large band of cows and bulls, but the sun was low, and we
left them to make our way to the camping-place, which we reached just
before the setting of the sun. We found plenty of water, and a
delightful spot, where we were all soon at work unsaddling our horses
and mules, bringing wood for fires, and picking service-berries, which
we found in great quantities and very good. We were thirty miles from
Fort Union, close to the three Mamelles, but must have travelled near
fifty, searching for and running down the game. All slept well, some
outside and others inside the tent, after our good supper. We had a
clear, bright day, with the wind from the westward.

_July 27, Thursday._ This morning was beautiful, the birds singing all
around us, and after our early breakfast, Harris, with La Fleur and Mr.
Culbertson, walked to the top of the highest of the three Mamelles; Bell
went to skinning the birds shot yesterday,[34] among which was a large
Titmouse of the Eastern States, while I walked off a short distance, and
made a sketch of the camp and the three Mamelles. I hope to see a fair
picture from this, painted by Victor, this next winter, God willing.
During the night the bulls were heard bellowing, and the Wolves howling,
all around us. Bell had seen evidences of Grizzly Bears close by, but we
saw none of the animals. An Antelope was heard snorting early this
morning, and seen for a while, but La Fleur could not get it. The
snorting of the Antelope is more like a whistling, sneezing sound, than
like the long, clear snorting of our common Deer, and it is also very
frequently repeated, say every few minutes, when in sight of an object
of which the animal does not yet know the nature; for the moment it is
assured of danger, it bounds three or four times like a sheep, and then
either trots off or gallops like a horse. On the return of the gentlemen
from the eminence, from which they had seen nothing but a Hawk, and
heard the notes of the Rock Wren, the horses were gathered, and
preparations made to go in search of cows. I took my gun and walked off
ahead, and on ascending the first hill saw an Antelope, which, at first
sight, I thought was an Indian. It stood still, gazing at me about five
hundred yards off; I never stirred, and presently it walked towards me;
I lay down and lowered my rifle; the animal could not now see my body; I
showed it my feet a few times, at intervals. Presently I saw it coming
full trot towards me; I cocked my gun, loaded with buck-shot in one
barrel and ball in the other. He came within thirty yards of me and
stopped suddenly, then turned broadside towards me. I could see his very
eyes, his beautiful form, and his fine horns, for it was a buck. I
pulled one trigger--it snapped, the animal moved not; I pulled the
other, snapped again, and away the Antelope bounded, and ran swiftly
from me. I put on fresh caps, and saw it stop after going a few hundred
yards, and presently it came towards me again, but not within one
hundred and fifty yards, when seeing that it would not come nearer I
pulled the trigger with the ball; off it went, and so did the Antelope,
which this time went quite out of my sight. I returned to camp and found
all ready for a move. Owen went up a hill to reconnoitre for Antelopes
and cows; seeing one of the former he crept after it. Bell followed, and
at this moment a Hare leaped from the path before us, and stopped within
twenty paces. Harris was not loaded with shot, and I only with
buck-shot; however, I fired and killed it; it proved to be a large
female, and after measuring, we skinned it, and I put on a label
"Townsend's Hare, killed a few miles from the three Mamelles, July 27,
1843." After travelling for a good while, Owen, who kept ahead of us,
made signs from the top of a high hill that Buffaloes were in sight.
This signal is made by walking the rider's horse backwards and forwards
several times. We hurried on towards him, and when we reached the place,
he pointed to the spot where he had seen them, and said they were
travelling fast, being a band of both cows and bulls. The hunters were
mounted at once, and on account of Squires' soreness I begged him not to
run; so he drove me in the wagon as fast as possible over hills, through
plains and ravines of all descriptions, at a pace beyond belief. From
time to time we saw the hunters, and once or twice the Buffaloes, which
were going towards the fort. At last we reached an eminence from which
we saw both the game and the hunters approaching the cattle,
preparatory to beginning the chase. It seems there is no etiquette among
Buffalo hunters, and this proved a great disappointment to friend
Harris, who was as anxious to kill a cow, as he had been to kill a bull.
Off went the whole group, but the country was not as advantageous to the
pursuers, as to the pursued. The cows separated from the bulls, the
latter making their way towards us, and six of them passed within one
hundred yards of where I stood; we let them pass, knowing well how
savage they are at these times, and turned our eyes again to the
hunters. I saw Mr. C. pursuing one cow, Owen another, and Bell a third.
Owen shot one and mortally wounded it; it walked up on a hill and stood
there for some minutes before falling. Owen killed a second close by the
one Mr. C. had now killed, Bell's dropped dead in quite another
direction, nearly one mile off. Two bulls we saw coming directly towards
us, so La Fleur and I went under cover of the hill to await their
approach, and they came within sixty yards of us. I gave La Fleur the
choice of shooting first, as he had a rifle; he shot and missed; they
turned and ran in an opposite direction, so that I, who had gone some
little distance beyond La Fleur, had no chance, and I was sorry enough
for my politeness. Owen had shot a third cow, which went part way up a
hill, fell, and kicked violently; she, however, rose and again fell, and
kept kicking with all her legs in the air. Squires now drove to her, and
I walked, followed by Moncrévier, a hunter; seeing Mr. C. and Harris on
the bottom below we made signs for them to come up, and they fortunately
did, and by galloping to Squires probably saved that young man from more
danger; for though I cried to him at the top of my voice, the wind
prevented him from hearing me; he now stopped, however, not far from a
badly broken piece of ground over which had he driven at his usual
speed, which I doubt not he would have attempted, some accident must
have befallen him. Harris and Mr. C. rode up to the cow, which expired
at that moment. The cow Mr. C. had killed was much the largest, and we
left a cart and two men to cut up this, and the first two Owen had
killed, and went to the place where the first lay, to have it skinned
for me. Bell joined us soon, bringing a tongue with him, and he
immediately began operations on the cow, which proved a fine one, and I
have the measurements as follows: "Buffalo Cow, killed by Mr. Alexander
Culbertson, July 27, 1843. Nose to root of tail, 96 inches. Height at
shoulder, 60; at rump, 55-1/2. Length of tail vertebræ, 13; to end of
hair, 25; from brisket to bottom of feet, 21-1/2; nose to anterior
canthus, 10-1/2; between horns at root, 11-3/8; between tops of ditto,
17-1/8; between nostrils, 2-1/4; length of ditto, 2-1/2; height of nose,
3-1/8; nose to opening of ear, 20; ear from opening to tip, 5; longest
hair on head, 14 inches; from angle of mouth to end of under lip,
3-1/2." Whilst we were at this, Owen and Pike were hacking at their cow.
After awhile all was ready for departure, and we made for the "coupe" at
two o'clock, and expected to have found water to enable us to water our
horses, for we had yet some gallons of the Missouri water for our own
use. We found the road to the "coupe," which was seen for many, many
miles. The same general appearance of country shows throughout the whole
of these dreary prairies; up one hill and down on the other side, then
across a plain with ravines of more or less depth. About two miles west
of the "coupe," Owen and others went in search of water, but in vain;
and we have had to cross the "coupe" and travel fully two miles east of
it, when we came to a mere puddle, sufficient however, for the night,
and we stopped. The carts with the meat, and our effects, arrived after
a while; the meat was spread on the grass, the horses and mules hoppled
and let go, to drink and feed. All hands collected Buffalo dung for
fuel, for not a bush was in sight, and we soon had a large fire. In the
winter season this prairie fuel is too wet to burn, and oftentimes the
hunters have to eat their meat raw, or go without their supper. Ours was
cooked however; I made mine chiefly from the liver, as did Harris;
others ate boiled or roasted meat as they preferred. The tent was
pitched, and I made a bed for Mr. C. and myself, and guns, etc., were
all under cover; the evening was cool, the wind fresh, and no
mosquitoes. We had seen plenty of Antelopes; I shot at one twenty yards
from the wagon with small shot. Harris killed a Wolf, but we have seen
very few, and now I will wish you all good-night; God bless you!

  [Illustration: CAMP AT THE THREE MAMELLES.
    FROM A DRAWING BY AUDUBON, HITHERTO UNPUBLISHED.]

_July 28, Friday._ This morning was cold enough for a frost, but we all
slept soundly until daylight, and about half-past three we were called
for breakfast. The horses had all gone but four, and, as usual, Owen was
despatched for them. The horses were brought back, our coffee swallowed,
and we were off, Mr. C. and I, in the wagon. We saw few Antelopes, no
Buffalo, and reached the ferry opposite the fort at half-past seven. We
found all well, and about eleven Assiniboins, all young men, headed by
the son of a great chief called "Le mangeur d'hommes" (the man-eater).
The poor wretched Indian whom Harris had worked over, died yesterday
morning, and was buried at once. I had actually felt chilly riding in
the wagon, and much enjoyed a breakfast Mrs. Culbertson had kindly
provided for me. We had passed over some very rough roads, and at
breakneck speed, but I did not feel stiff as I expected, though somewhat
sore, and a good night's rest is all I need. This afternoon the cow's
skin and head, and the Hare arrived, and have been preserved. A
half-breed well known to Provost has been here to make a bargain with me
about Bighorns, Grizzly Bear, etc., and will see what he and his two
sons can do; but I have little or no confidence in these gentry. I was
told this afternoon that at Mouse River, about two hundred miles north
of this, there are eight hundred carts in one gang, and four hundred in
another, with an adequate number of half-breeds and Indians, killing
Buffalo and drying their meat for winter provisions, and that the
animals are there in millions. When Buffalo bulls are shot from a
distance of sixty or seventy yards, they rarely charge on the hunter,
and Mr. Culbertson has killed as many as nine bulls from the same spot,
when unseen by these terrible beasts. Beavers, when shot swimming, and
killed, sink at once to the bottom, but their bodies rise again in from
twenty to thirty minutes. Hunters, who frequently shoot and kill them by
moonlight, return in the morning from their camping-places, and find
them on the margins of the shores where they had shot. Otters do the
same, but remain under water for an hour or more.

_July 29, Saturday._ Cool and pleasant. About one hour after daylight
Harris, Bell, and two others, crossed the river, and went in search of
Rabbits, but all returned without success. Harris, after breakfast, went
off on this side, saw none, but killed a young Raven. During the course
of the forenoon he and Bell went off again, and brought home an old and
young of the Sharp-tailed Grouse. This afternoon they brought in a
Loggerhead Shrike and two Rock Wrens. Bell skinned all these. Sprague
made a handsome sketch of the five young Buffaloes belonging to the
fort. This evening Moncrévier and Owen went on the other side of the
river, but saw nothing. We collected berries of the dwarf cherries of
this part, and I bottled some service-berries to carry home.

_July 30, Sunday._ Weather cool and pleasant. After breakfast we
despatched La Fleur and Provost after Antelopes and Bighorns. We then
went off and had a battue for Rabbits, and although we were nine in
number, and all beat the rose bushes and willows for several hundred
yards, not one did we see, although their traces were apparent in
several places. We saw tracks of a young Grizzly Bear near the river
shore. After a good dinner of Buffalo meat, green peas, and a pudding,
Mr. C., Owen, Mr. Pike, and I went off to Fort Mortimer. We had an
arrival of five squaws, half-breeds, and a gentleman of the same order,
who came to see our fort and our ladies. The princess went out to meet
them covered with a fine shawl, and the visitors followed her to her own
room. These ladies spoke both the French and Cree languages. At Fort
Mortimer we found the hunters from the north, who had returned last
evening and told me they had seen nothing. I fear that all my former
opinions of the half-breeds are likely to be realized, and that they are
all more _au fait_ at telling lies, than anything else; and I expect now
that we shall have to make a regular turn-out ourselves, to kill both
Grizzly Bears and Bighorns. As we were riding along not far from this
fort, Mr. Culbertson fired off the gun given him by Harris, and it blew
off the stock, lock, and breech, and it was a wonder it did not kill
him, or me, as I was sitting by his side. After we had been at home
about one hour, we were all called out of a sudden by the news that the
_Horse Guards_ were coming, full gallop, driving the whole of their
charge before them. We saw the horses, and the cloud of dust that they
raised on the prairies, and presently, when the Guards reached the
gates, they told us that they had seen a party of Indians, which
occasioned their hurried return. It is now more than one hour since I
wrote this, and the Indians are now in sight, and we think they were
frightened by three or four squaws who had left the fort in search of
"pommes blanches." Sprague has collected a few seeds, but I intend to
have some time devoted to this purpose before we leave on our passage
downwards. This evening five Indians arrived, among whom is the brother
of the man who died a few days ago; he brought a horse, and an Elk skin,
which I bought, and he now considers himself a rich man. He reported
Buffaloes very near, and to-morrow morning the hunters will be after
them. When Buffaloes are about to lie down, they draw all their four
feet together slowly, and balancing the body for a moment, bend their
fore legs, and fall on their knees first, and the hind ones follow. In
young animals, some of which we have here, the effect produced on their
tender skin is directly seen, as callous round patches without hair are
found; after the animal is about one year old, these are seen no more. I
am told that Wolves have not been known to attack men and horses in
these parts, but they do attack mules and colts, always making choice of
the fattest. We scarcely see one now-a-days about the fort, and yet two
miles from here, at Fort Mortimer, Mr. Collins tells me it is impossible
to sleep, on account of their howlings at night. When Assiniboin Indians
lose a relative by death, they go and cry under the box which contains
the body, which is placed in a tree, cut their legs and different parts
of the body, and moan miserably for hours at a time. This performance
has been gone through with by the brother of the Indian who died here.

_July 31, Monday._ Weather rather warmer. Mr. Larpenteur went after
Rabbits, saw none, but found a horse, which was brought home this
afternoon. Mr. C., Harris, Bell, and Owen went after Buffaloes over the
hills, saw none, so that all this day has been disappointment to us.
Owen caught a _Spermophilus hoodii_. The brother of the dead Indian, who
gashed his legs fearfully this morning, went off with his wife and
children and six others, who had come here to beg. One of them had for
_a letter of recommendation_ one of the advertisements of the steamer
"Trapper," which will be kept by his chief for time immemorial to serve
as a pass for begging. He received from us ammunition and tobacco.
Sprague collected seeds this morning, and this afternoon copied my
sketch of the three Mamelles. Towards sunset I intend to go myself after
Rabbits, along the margins of the bushes and the shore. We have
returned from my search after Rabbits; Harris and I each shot one. We
saw five Wild Geese. Harris lost his snuff-box, which he valued, and
which I fear will never be found. Squires to-day proposed to me to let
him remain here this winter to procure birds and quadrupeds, and I would
have said "yes" at once, did he understand either or both these
subjects, or could draw; but as he does not, it would be useless.

_August 1, Tuesday._ The weather fine, and warmer than yesterday. We
sent off four Indians after Rabbits, but as we foolishly gave them
powder and shot, they returned without any very soon, having, of course,
hidden the ammunition. After breakfast Mr. C. had a horse put in the
cart, and three squaws went off after "pommes blanches," and Sprague and
I followed in the wagon, driven by Owen. These women carried sticks
pointed at one end, and blunt at the other, and I was perfectly
astonished at the dexterity and rapidity with which they worked. They
place the pointed end within six inches of the plant, where the stem
enters the earth, and bear down upon the other end with all their weight
and move about to the right and left of the plant until the point of the
stick is thrust in the ground to the depth of about seven inches, when
acting upon it in the manner of a lever, the plant is fairly thrown out,
and the root procured. Sprague and I, who had taken with us an
instrument resembling a very narrow hoe, and a spade, having rather
despised the simple instruments of the squaws, soon found out that these
damsels could dig six or seven, and in some cases a dozen, to our _one_.
We collected some seeds of these plants as well as those of some others,
and walked fully six miles, which has rendered my feet quite tender
again. Owen told me that he had seen, on his late journey up the
Yellowstone, Grouse, both old and young, with a black breast and with a
broad tail; they were usually near the margin of a wood. What they are I
cannot tell, but he and Bell are going after them to-morrow morning.
Just after dinner Provost and La Fleur returned with two male Antelopes,
skinned, one of them a remarkably large buck, the other less in size,
both skins in capital order. We have taken the measurements of the head
of the larger. The timber for our boat has been hauling across the
sand-bar ever since daylight, and of course the work will proceed pretty
fast. The weather is delightful, and at night, indeed, quite cool
enough. I spoke to Sprague last night about remaining here next winter,
as he had mentioned his wish to do so to Bell some time ago, but he was
very undecided. My regrets that I promised you all so faithfully that I
would return this fall are beyond description. I am, as years go, an old
man, but I do not feel old, and there is so much of interest here that I
forget oftentimes that I am not as young as Owen.

_August 2, Wednesday._ Bell and Owen started on their tour up the
Yellowstone[35] after Cocks of the Plain [Sage Grouse, _Centrocercus
urophasianus_]. Provost and Moncrévier went in the timber below after
Deer, but saw none. We had an arrival of six Chippeway Indians, and
afterwards about a dozen Assiniboins. Both these parties were better
dressed, and looked better off than any previous groups that we have
seen at this fort. They brought some few robes to barter, and the
traffic was carried on by Mr. Larpenteur in his little shop, through a
wicket. On the arrival of the Assiniboins, who were headed by an old
man, one of the Chippeways discovered a horse, which he at once not only
claimed, but tied; he threw down his new blanket on the ground, and was
leading off the horse, when the other Indian caught hold of it, and said
that he had fairly bought it, etc. The Chippeway now gave him his gun,
powder, and ball, as well as his _looking-glass_, the most prized of all
his possessions, and the Assiniboin, now apparently satisfied, gave up
the horse, which was led away by the new (or old) owner. We thought the
matter was ended, but Mr. Culbertson told us that either the horse or
the Chippeway would be caught and brought back. The latter had mounted a
fine horse which he had brought with him, and was leading the other
away, when presently a gun was heard out of the fort, and Mr. C. ran to
tell us that the horse of the Chippeway had been shot, and that the
rider was running as fast as he could to Fort Mortimer. Upon going out
we found the horse standing still, and the man running; we went to the
poor animal, and found that the ball had passed through the thigh, and
entered the belly. The poor horse was trembling like an aspen; he at
last moved, walked about, and went to the river, where he died. Now it
is curious that it was not the same Assiniboin who had sold the horse
that had shot, but another of their party; and we understand that it was
on account of an old grudge against the Chippeway, who, by the way, was
a surly-looking rascal. The Assiniboins brought eight or ten horses and
colts, and a number of dogs. One of the colts had a necklace of "pommes
blanches," at the end of which hung a handful of Buffalo calves' hoofs,
not more than 3/4 inch long, and taken from the calves before birth,
when the mothers had been killed. Harris and I took a ride in the wagon
over the Mauvaises Terres above the fort, in search of petrified wood,
but though we found many specimens, they were of such indifferent
quality that we brought home but one. On returning we followed a Wolf
path, of which there are hundreds through the surrounding hills, all
leading to the fort. It is curious to see how well they understand the
best and shortest roads. From what had happened, we anticipated a row
among the Indians, but all seemed quiet. Mr. C. gave us a good account
of Fort McKenzie. I have been examining the fawn of the Long-tailed Deer
of this country, belonging to old Baptiste; the man feeds it regularly,
and the fawn follows him everywhere. It will race backwards and
forwards over the prairie back of the fort, for a mile or more, running
at the very top of its speed; suddenly it will make for the gate, rush
through and overwhelm Baptiste with caresses, as if it had actually lost
him for some time. If Baptiste lies on the ground pretending to sleep,
the fawn pushes with its nose, and licks his face as a dog would, till
he awakens.

_August 3, Thursday._ We observed yesterday that the atmosphere was
thick, and indicated the first appearance of the close of summer, which
here is brief. The nights and mornings have already become cool, and
summer clothes will not be needed much longer, except occasionally.
Harris and Sprague went to the hills so much encrusted with shells. We
have had some talk about going to meet Bell and Owen, but the distance
is too great, and Mr. C. told me he was not acquainted with the road
beyond the first twenty-five or thirty miles. We have had a slight
shower, and Mr. C. and I walked across the bar to see the progress of
the boat. The horse that died near the river was hauled across to the
sand-bar, and will make good catfish bate for our fishers. This morning
we had another visitation of Indians, seven in number; they were very
dirty, wrapped in disgusting Buffalo robes, and were not allowed inside
the inner gate, on account of their filthy condition.

_August 4, Friday._ We were all under way this morning at half-past
five, on a Buffalo hunt, that is to say, the residue of us, Harris and
I, for Bell was away with Owen, and Squires with Provost after Bighorns,
and Sprague at Fort Mortimer. Tobacco and matches had been forgotten,
and that detained us for half an hour; but at last we started in good
order, with only one cart following us, which carried Pike and
Moncrévier. We saw, after we had travelled ten miles, some Buffalo
bulls; some alone, others in groups of four or five, a few Antelopes,
but more shy than ever before. I was surprised to see how careless the
bulls were of us, as some actually gave us chances to approach them
within a hundred yards, looking steadfastly, as if not caring a bit for
us. At last we saw one lying down immediately in our road, and
determined to give him a chance for his life. Mr. C. had a white horse,
a runaway, in which he placed a good deal of confidence; he mounted it,
and we looked after him. The bull did not start till Mr. C. was within a
hundred yards, and then at a gentle and slow gallop. The horse galloped
too, but only at the same rate. Mr. C. thrashed him until his hands were
sore, for he had no whip, the bull went off without even a shot being
fired, and the horse is now looked upon as forever disgraced. About two
miles farther another bull was observed lying down in our way, and it
was concluded to run him with the white horse, accompanied, however, by
Harris. The chase took place, and the bull was killed by Harris, but the
white horse is now scorned by every one. A few pieces of meat, the
tongue, tail, and head, were all that was taken from this very large
bull. We soon saw that the weather was becoming cloudy, and we were
anxious to reach a camping-place; but we continued to cross ranges of
hills, and hoped to see a large herd of Buffaloes. The weather was hot
"out of mind," and we continued till, reaching a fine hill, we saw in a
beautiful valley below us seventy to eighty head, feeding peacefully in
groups and singly, as might happen. The bulls were mixed in with the
cows, and we saw one or two calves. Many bulls were at various distances
from the main group, but as we advanced towards them they galloped off
and joined the others. When the chase began it was curious to see how
much swifter the cows were than the bulls, and how soon they divided
themselves into parties of seven or eight, exerting themselves to escape
from their murderous pursuers. All in vain, however; off went the guns
and down went the cows, or stood bleeding through the nose, mouth, or
bullet holes. Mr. C. killed three, and Harris one in about half an
hour. We had quite enough, and the slaughter was ended. We had driven up
to the nearest fallen cow, and approached close to her, and found that
she was not dead, but trying to rise to her feet. I cannot bear to see
an animal suffer unnecessarily, so begged one of the men to take my
knife and stab her to the heart, which was done. The animals were cut up
and skinned, with considerable fatigue. To skin bulls and cows and cut
up their bodies is no joke, even to such as are constantly in the habit
of doing it. Whilst Mr. Culbertson and the rest had gone to cut up
another at some distance, I remained on guard to save the meat from the
Wolves, but none came before my companions returned. We found the last
cow quite dead. As we were busy about her the rain fell in torrents, and
I found my blanket _capote_ of great service. It was now nearly sundown,
and we made up our minds to camp close by, although there was no water
for our horses, neither any wood. Harris and I began collecting
Buffalo-dung from all around, whilst the others attended to various
other affairs. The meat was all unloaded and spread on the ground, the
horses made fast, the fire burned freely, pieces of liver were soon
cooked and devoured, coffee drunk in abundance, and we went to rest.

_August 5, Saturday_. It rained in the night; but this morning the
weather was cool, wind at northwest, and cloudy, but not menacing rain.
We made through the road we had come yesterday, and on our way Harris
shot a young of the Swift Fox, which we could have caught alive had we
not been afraid of running into some hole. We saw only a few bulls and
Antelopes, and some Wolves. The white horse, which had gone out as a
_hunter_, returned as a _pack-horse_, loaded with the entire flesh of a
Buffalo cow; and our two mules drew three more and the heads of all
four. This morning at daylight, when we were called to drink our coffee,
there was a Buffalo feeding within twenty steps of our tent, and it
moved slowly towards the hills as we busied ourselves making
preparations for our departure. We reached the fort at noon; Squires,
Provost, and La Fleur had returned; they had wounded a Bighorn, but had
lost it. Owen and Bell returned this afternoon; they had seen no Cocks
of the plains, but brought the skin of a female Elk, a Porcupine, and a
young White-headed Eagle. Provost tells me that Buffaloes become so very
poor during hard winters, when the snows cover the ground to the depth
of two or three feet, that they lose their hair, become covered with
scabs, on which the Magpies feed, and the poor beasts die by hundreds.
One can hardly conceive how it happens, notwithstanding these many
deaths and the immense numbers that are murdered almost daily on these
boundless wastes called prairies, besides the hosts that are drowned in
the freshets, and the hundreds of young calves who die in early spring,
so many are yet to be found. Daily we see so many that we hardly notice
them more than the cattle in our pastures about our homes. But this
cannot last; even now there is a perceptible difference in the size of
the herds, and before many years the Buffalo, like the Great Auk, will
have disappeared; surely this should not be permitted. Bell has been
relating his adventures, our boat is going on, and I wish I had a couple
of Bighorns. God bless you all.

_August 6, Sunday._ I very nearly lost the skin of the Swift Fox, for
Harris supposed the animal rotten with the great heat, which caused it
to have an odor almost insupportable, and threw it on the roof of the
gallery. Bell was so tired he did not look at it, so I took it down,
skinned it, and with the assistance of Squires put the coat into pickle,
where I daresay it will keep well enough. The weather is thick, and
looks like a thunderstorm. Bell, having awaked refreshed by his night's
rest, has given me the measurements of the Elk and the Porcupine.
Provost has put the skin of the former in pickle, and has gone to Fort
Mortimer to see Boucherville and others, to try if they would go after
Bighorn to-morrow morning. This afternoon we had an arrival of Indians,
the same who were here about two weeks ago. They had been to Fort Clark,
and report that a battle had taken place between the Crees and Gros
Ventres, and that the latter had lost. Antelopes often die from the
severity of the winter weather, and are found dead and shockingly poor,
even in the immediate vicinity of the forts. These animals are caught in
pens in the manner of Buffaloes, and are despatched with clubs,
principally by the squaws. In 1840, during the winter, and when the snow
was deep on the prairies and in the ravines by having drifted there, Mr.
Laidlow, then at Fort Union, caught four Antelopes by following them on
horseback and forcing them into these drifts, which were in places ten
or twelve feet deep. They were brought home on a sleigh, and let loose
about the rooms. They were so very gentle that they permitted the
children to handle them, although being loose they could have kept from
them. They were removed to the carpenter's shop, and there one broke its
neck by leaping over a turning-lathe. The others were all killed in some
such way, for they became very wild, and jumped, kicked, etc., till all
were dead. Very young Buffaloes have been caught in the same way, by the
same gentleman, assisted by Le Brun and four Indians, and thirteen of
these he took down the river, when they became somewhat tamed. The
Antelopes cannot be tamed except when caught young, and then they can
rarely be raised. Mr. Wm. Sublette, of St. Louis, had one however, a
female, which grew to maturity, and was so gentle that it would go all
over his house, mounting and descending steps, and even going on the
roof of the house. It was alive when I first reached St. Louis, but I
was not aware of it, and before I left, it was killed by an Elk
belonging to the same gentleman. Provost returned, and said that
Boucherville would go with him and La Fleur to-morrow morning early,
_but I doubt it_.

_August 7, Monday._ Provost, Bell, and La Fleur started after breakfast,
having waited nearly four hours for Boucherville. They left at seven,
and the Indians were curious to know where they were bound, and looked
at them with more interest than we all liked. At about nine, we saw
Boucherville, accompanied by five men, all mounted, and they were
surprised that Provost had not waited for them, or rather that he had
left so early. I gave them a bottle of whiskey, and they started under
the whip, and must have overtaken the first party in about two hours.
To-day has been warmer than any day we have had for two weeks. Sprague
has been collecting seeds, and Harris and I searching for stones with
impressions of leaves and fern; we found several. Mr. Denig says the
Assiniboins killed a Black Bear on White Earth River, about sixty miles
from the mouth; they are occasionally killed there, but it is a rare
occurrence. Mr. Denig saw the skin of a Bear at their camp last winter,
and a Raccoon was also killed on the Cheyenne River by the Sioux, who
knew not what to make of it. Mr. Culbertson has given me the following
account of a skirmish which took place at Fort McKenzie in the Blackfoot
country, which I copy from his manuscript.

"_August 28, 1834._ At the break of day we were aroused from our beds by
the report of an enemy being in sight. This unexpected news created
naturally a confusion among us all; never was a set of unfortunate
beings so surprised as we were. By the time that the alarm had spread
through the fort, we were surrounded by the enemy, who proved to be
Assiniboins, headed by the chief Gauché (the Antelope). The number, as
near as we could judge, was about four hundred. Their first attack was
upon a few lodges of Piegans, who were encamped at the fort. They also,
being taken by surprise, could not escape. We exerted ourselves,
however, to save as many as we could, by getting them into the fort. But
the foolish squaws, when they started from their lodges, each took a
load of old saddles and skins, which they threw in the door, and stopped
it so completely that they could not get in, and here the enemy
massacred several. In the mean time our men were firing with muskets and
shot-guns. Unfortunately for us, we could not use our cannon, as there
were a great many Piegans standing between us and the enemy; this
prevented us from firing a telling shot on them at once. The engagement
continued nearly an hour, when the enemy, finding their men drop very
fast, retreated to the bluffs, half a mile distant; there they stood
making signs for us to come on, and give them an equal chance on the
prairie. Although our force was much weaker than theirs, we determined
to give them a trial. At the same time we despatched an expert runner to
an encampment of Piegans for a reinforcement. We mounted our horses, and
proceeded to the field of battle, which was a perfect level, where there
was no chance to get behind a tree, or anything else, to keep off a
ball. We commenced our fire at two hundred yards, but soon lessened the
distance to one hundred. Here we kept up a constant fire for two hours,
when, our horses getting fatigued, we concluded to await the arrival of
our reinforcements. As yet none of us were killed or badly wounded, and
nothing lost but one horse, which was shot under one of our men named
Bourbon. Of the enemy we cannot tell how many were killed, for as fast
as they fell they were carried off the field. After the arrival of our
reinforcements, which consisted of one hundred and fifty mounted
Piegans, we charged and fought again for another two hours, and drove
them across the Maria River, where they took another stand; and here Mr.
Mitchell's horse was shot under him and he was wounded. In this
engagement the enemy had a decided advantage over us, as they were
concealed in the bushes, while we were in the open prairie. However, we
succeeded in making them retreat from this place back on to a high
prairie, but they suddenly rushed upon us and compelled us to retreat
across the Maria. Then they had us in their power; but for some reason,
either lack of courage or knowledge, they did not avail themselves of
their opportunity. They could have killed a great many of us when we
rushed into the water, which was almost deep enough to swim our horses;
they were close upon us, but we succeeded in crossing before they fired.
This foolish move came near being attended with fatal consequences,
which we were aware of, but our efforts to stop it were unsuccessful.
We, however, did not retreat far before we turned upon them again, with
the determination of driving them to the mountains, in which we
succeeded. By this time it was so dark that we could see no more, and we
concluded to return. During the day we lost seven killed, and twenty
wounded. Two of our dead the enemy had scalped. It is impossible to tell
how many of the enemy were killed, but their loss must have been much
greater than ours, as they had little ammunition, and at the last none.
Our Indians took two bodies and burned them, after scalping them. The
Indians who were with us in this skirmish deserve but little credit for
their bravery, for in every close engagement the whites, who were
comparatively few, always were in advance of them. This, however, had
one good effect, for it removed the idea they had of our being cowards,
and made them believe we were unusually brave. Had it not been for the
assistance we gave the Piegans they would have been cut off, for I never
saw Indians behave more bravely than the enemy this day; and had they
been well supplied with powder and ball they would have done much more
execution. But necessity compelled them to spare their ammunition, as
they had come a long way, and they must save enough to enable them to
return home. And on our side had we been positive they were enemies,
even after they had surprised us in the manner they did, we could have
killed many of them at first, but thinking that they were a band of
Indians coming with this ceremony to trade (which is not uncommon) we
did not fire upon them till the balls and arrows came whistling about
our heads; then only was the word given, 'Fire!' Had they been bold
enough at the onset to have rushed into the fort, we could have done
nothing but suffer death under their tomahawks."

Mr. Denig gave me the following "Bear Story," as he heard it from the
parties concerned: "In the year 1835 two men set out from a trading-post
at the head of the Cheyenne, and in the neighborhood of the Black Hills,
to trap Beaver; their names were Michel Carrière and Bernard Le Brun.
Carrière was a man about seventy years old, and had passed most of his
life in the Indian country, in this dangerous occupation of trapping.
One evening as they were setting their traps along the banks of a stream
tributary to the Cheyenne, somewhat wooded by bushes and cottonwood
trees, their ears were suddenly saluted by a growl, and in a moment a
large she Bear rushed upon them. Le Brun, being a young and active man,
immediately picked up his gun, and shot the Bear through the bowels.
Carrière also fired, but missed. The Bear then pursued them, but as they
ran for their lives, their legs did them good service; they escaped
through the bushes, and the Bear lost sight of them. They had concluded
the Bear had given up the chase, and were again engaged in setting their
traps, when Carrière, who was a short distance from Le Brun, went
through a small thicket with a trap and came directly in front of the
huge, wounded beast, which, with one spring, bounded upon him and tore
him in an awful manner. With one stroke of the paw on his face and
forehead he cut his nose in two, and one of the claws reached inward
nearly to the brain at the root of the nose; the same stroke tore out
his right eye and most of the flesh from that side of his face. His arm
and side were _literally torn to pieces_, and the Bear, after handling
him in this gentle manner for two or three minutes, threw him upwards
about six feet, when he lodged, to all appearance dead, in the fork of a
tree. Le Brun, hearing the noise, ran to his assistance, and again shot
the Bear and killed it. He then brought what he at first thought was the
dead body of his friend to the ground. Little appearance of a human
being was left to the poor man, but Le Brun found life was not wholly
extinct. He made a _travaille_ and carried him by short stages to the
nearest trading-post, where the wounded man slowly recovered, but was,
of course, the most mutilated-looking being imaginable. Carrière, in
telling the story, says that he fully believes it to have been the Holy
Virgin that lifted him up and placed him in the fork of the tree, and
thus preserved his life. The Bear is stated to have been as large as a
common ox, and must have weighed, therefore, not far from 1500 lbs." Mr.
Denig adds that he saw the man about a year after the accident, and some
of the wounds were, even then, not healed. Carrière fully recovered,
however, lived a few years, and was killed by the Blackfeet near Fort
Union.

When Bell was fixing his traps on his horse this morning, I was amused
to see Provost and La Fleur laughing outright at him, as he first put on
a Buffalo robe under his saddle, a blanket over it, and over that his
mosquito bar and his rain protector. These old hunters could not
understand why he needed all these things to be comfortable; then,
besides, he took a sack of ship-biscuit. Provost took only an old
blanket, a few pounds of dried meat, and his tin cup, and rode off in
his shirt and dirty breeches. La Fleur was worse off still, for he took
no blanket, and said he could borrow Provost's tin cup; but he, being a
most temperate man, carried the bottle of whiskey to mix with the
brackish water found in the Mauvaises Terres, among which they have to
travel till their return. Harris and I contemplated going to a quarry
from which the stones of the powder magazine were brought, but it
became too late for us to start in time to see much, and the wrong
horses were brought us, being both _runners_; we went, however, across
the river after Rabbits. Harris killed a Red-cheeked Woodpecker and shot
at a Rabbit, which he missed. We had a sort of show by Moncrévier which
was funny, and well performed; he has much versatility, great powers of
mimicry, and is a far better actor than many who have made names for
themselves in that line. Jean Baptiste told me the following: "About
twelve years ago when Mr. McKenzie was the superintendent of this fort,
at the season when green peas were plenty and good, Baptiste was sent to
the garden about half a mile off, to gather a quantity. He was occupied
doing this, when, at the end of a row, to his astonishment, he saw a
very large Bear gathering peas also. Baptiste dropped his tin bucket,
ran back to the fort as fast as possible, and told Mr. McKenzie, who
immediately summoned several other men with guns; they mounted their
horses, rode off, and killed the Bear; but, alas! Mr. Bruin had emptied
the bucket of peas."

_August 8, Tuesday._ Another sultry day. Immediately after breakfast Mr.
Larpenteur drove Harris and myself in search of geological specimens,
but we found none worth having. We killed a _Spermophilus hoodii_,
which, although fatally wounded, entered its hole, and Harris had to
draw it out by the hind legs. We saw a family of Rock Wrens, and killed
four of them. I killed two at one shot; one of the others must have gone
in a hole, for though we saw it fall we could not find it. Another,
after being shot, found its way under a flat stone, and was there picked
up, quite dead, Mr. Larpenteur accidentally turning the stone up. We saw
signs of Antelopes and of Hares (Townsend), and rolled a large rock from
the top of a high hill. The notes of the Rock Wren are a prolonged
cree-è-è-è. On our return home we heard that Boucherville and his five
hunters had returned with nothing for me, and they had not met Bell and
his companions. We were told also that a few minutes after our departure
the roarings and bellowings of Buffalo were heard across the river, and
that Owen and two men had been despatched with a cart to kill three fat
cows but _no more_; so my remonstrances about useless slaughter have not
been wholly unheeded. Harris was sorry he had missed going, and so was
I, as both of us could have done so. The milk of the Buffalo cow is
truly good and finely tasted, but the bag is never large as in our
common cattle, and this is probably a provision of nature to render the
cows more capable to run off, and escape from their pursuers. Bell,
Provost, and La Fleur returned just before dinner; they had seen no
Bighorns, and only brought the flesh of two Deer killed by La Fleur, and
a young Magpie. This afternoon Provost skinned a calf that was found by
one of the cows that Owen killed; it was _very_ young, only a few hours
old, but large, and I have taken its measurements. It is looked upon as
a phenomenon, as no Buffalo cow calves at this season. The calving time
is from about the 1st of February to the last of May. Owen went six
miles from the fort before he saw the cattle; there were more than three
hundred in number, and Harris and I regretted the more we had not gone,
but had been fruitlessly hunting for stones. It is curious that while
Harris was searching for Rabbits early this morning, he heard the
bellowing of the bulls, and thought first it was the growling of a
Grizzly Bear, and then that it was the fort bulls, so he mentioned it to
no one. To-morrow evening La Fleur and two men will go after Bighorns
again, and they are not to return before they have killed one male, at
least. This evening we went a-fishing across the river, and caught ten
good catfish of the upper Missouri species, the sweetest and best fish
of the sort that I have eaten in any part of the country. Our boat is
going on well, and looks pretty to boot. Her name will be the "Union,"
in consequence of the united exertions of my companions to do all that
could be done, on this costly expedition. The young Buffaloes now about
the fort have begun shedding their red coats, the latter-colored hair
dropping off in patches about the size of the palm of my hand, and the
new hair is dark brownish black.

_August 9, Wednesday._ The weather is cool and we are looking for rain.
Squires, Provost, and La Fleur went off this morning after an early
breakfast, across the river for Bighorns with orders not to return
without some of these wild animals, which reside in the most
inaccessible portions of the broken and lofty clay hills and stones that
exist in this region of the country; they never resort to the low lands
except when moving from one spot to another; they swim rivers well, as
do Antelopes. I have scarcely done anything but write this day, and my
memorandum books are now crowded with sketches, measurements, and
descriptions. We have nine Indians, all Assiniboins, among whom _five_
are chiefs. These nine Indians fed for three days on the flesh of only a
single Swan; they saw no Buffaloes, though they report large herds about
their village, fully two hundred miles from here. This evening I caught
about one dozen catfish, and shot a _Spermophilus hoodii_, an old
female, which had her pouches distended and filled with the seeds of the
wild sunflower of this region. I am going to follow one of their holes
and describe the same.

_August 10, Thursday._ Bell and I took a walk after Rabbits, but saw
none. The nine Indians, having received their presents, went off with
apparent reluctance, for when you begin to give them, the more they seem
to demand. The horseguards brought in another _Spermophilus hoodii_;
after dinner we are going to examine one of their burrows. We have been,
and have returned; the three burrows which we dug were as follows:
straight downward for three or four inches, and gradually becoming
deeper in an oblique slant, to the depth of eight or nine inches, but
not more, and none of these holes extended more than six or seven feet
beyond this. I was disappointed at not finding nests, or rooms for
stores. Although I have said much about Buffalo running, and butchering
in general, I have not given the particular manner in which the latter
is performed by the hunters of this country,--I mean the white
hunters,--and I will now try to do so. The moment that the Buffalo is
dead, three or four hunters, their faces and hands often covered with
gunpowder, and with pipes lighted, place the animal on its belly, and by
drawing out each fore and hind leg, fix the body so that it cannot fall
down again; an incision is made near the root of the tail, immediately
above the root in fact, and the skin cut to the neck, and taken off in
the roughest manner imaginable, downwards and on both sides at the same
time. The knives are going in all directions, and many wounds occur to
the hands and fingers, but are rarely attended to at this time. The pipe
of one man has perhaps given out, and with his bloody hands he takes the
one of his nearest companion, who has his own hands equally bloody. Now
one breaks in the skull of the bull, and with bloody fingers draws out
the hot brains and swallows them with peculiar zest; another has now
reached the liver, and is gobbling down enormous pieces of it; whilst,
perhaps, a third, who has come to the paunch, is feeding luxuriously on
some--to me--disgusting-looking offal. But the main business proceeds.
The flesh is taken off from the sides of the boss, or hump bones, from
where these bones begin to the very neck, and the hump itself is thus
destroyed. The hunters give the name of "hump" to the mere bones when
slightly covered by flesh; and it is cooked, and very good when fat,
young, and well broiled. The pieces of flesh taken from the sides of
these bones are called _filets_, and are the best portion of the animal
when properly cooked. The fore-quarters, or shoulders, are taken off, as
well as the hind ones, and the sides, covered by a thin portion of
flesh called the _depouille_, are taken out. Then the ribs are broken
off at the vertebræ, as well as the boss bones. The marrow-bones, which
are those of the fore and hind legs only, are cut out last. The feet
usually remain attached to these; the paunch is stripped of its covering
of layers of fat, the head and the backbone are left to the Wolves, the
pipes are all emptied, the hands, faces, and clothes all bloody, and now
a glass of grog is often enjoyed, as the stripping off the skins and
flesh of three or four animals is truly very hard work. In some cases
when no water was near, our supper was cooked without our being washed,
and it was not until we had travelled several miles the next morning
that we had any opportunity of cleaning ourselves; and yet, despite
everything, we are all hungry, eat heartily, and sleep soundly. When the
wind is high and the Buffaloes run towards it, the hunter's guns very
often snap, and it is during their exertions to replenish their pans,
that the powder flies and sticks to the moisture every moment
accumulating on their faces; but nothing stops these daring and usually
powerful men, who the moment the chase is ended, leap from their horses,
let them graze, and begin their butcher-like work.

_August 11, Friday._ The weather has been cold and windy, and the day
has passed in comparative idleness with me. Squires returned this
afternoon alone, having left Provost and La Fleur behind. They have seen
only two Bighorns, a female and her young. It was concluded that, if our
boat was finished by Tuesday next, we would leave on Wednesday morning,
but I am by no means assured of this, and Harris was quite startled at
the very idea. Our boat, though forty feet long, is, I fear, too small.
_Nous verrons!_ Some few preparations for packing have been made, but
Owen, Harris, and Bell are going out early to-morrow morning to hunt
Buffaloes, and when they return we will talk matters over. The activity
of Buffaloes is almost beyond belief; they can climb the steep defiles
of the Mauvaises Terres in hundreds of places where men cannot follow
them, and it is a fine sight to see a large gang of them proceeding
along these defiles four or five hundred feet above the level of the
bottoms, and from which pathway if one of the number makes a mis-step or
accidentally slips, he goes down rolling over and over, and breaks his
neck ere the level ground is reached. Bell and Owen saw a bull about
three years old that leaped a ravine filled with mud and water, at least
twenty feet wide; it reached the middle at the first bound, and at the
second was mounted on the opposite bank, from which it kept on bounding,
till it gained the top of quite a high hill. Mr. Culbertson tells me
that these animals can endure hunger in a most extraordinary manner. He
says that a large bull was seen on a spot half way down a precipice,
where it had slid, and from which it could not climb upwards, and either
could not or would not descend; at any rate, it did not leave the
position in which it found itself. The party who saw it returned to the
fort, and, on their way back on the _twenty-fifth_ day after, they
passed the hill, and saw the bull standing there. The thing that
troubles them most is crossing rivers on the ice; their hoofs slip from
side to side, they become frightened, and stretch their four legs apart
to support the body, and in such situations the Indians and white
hunters easily approach, and stab them to the heart, or cut the
hamstrings, when they become an easy prey. When in large gangs those in
the centre are supported by those on the outposts, and if the stream is
not large, reach the shore and readily escape. Indians of different
tribes hunt the Buffalo in different ways; some hunt on horseback, and
use arrows altogether; they are rarely expert in reloading the gun in
the close race. Others hunt on foot, using guns, arrows, or both. Others
follow with patient perseverance, and kill them also. But I will give
you the manner pursued by the Mandans. Twenty to fifty men start, as
the occasion suits, each provided with two horses, one of which is a
pack-horse, the other fit for the chase. They have quivers with from
twenty to fifty arrows, according to the wealth of the hunter. They ride
the pack horse bareback, and travel on, till they see the game, when
they leave the pack-horse, and leap on the hunter, and start at full
speed and soon find themselves amid the Buffaloes, on the flanks of the
herd, and on both sides. When within a few yards the arrow is sent, they
shoot at a Buffalo somewhat ahead of them, and send the arrow in an
oblique manner, so as to pass through the lights. If the blood rushes
out of the nose and mouth the animal is fatally wounded, and they shoot
at it no more; if not, a second, and perhaps a third arrow, is sent
before this happens. The Buffaloes on starting carry the tail close in
between the legs, but when wounded they switch it about, especially if
they wish to fight, and then the hunter's horse shies off and lets the
mad animal breathe awhile. If shot through the heart, they occasionally
fall dead on the instant; sometimes, if not hit in the right place, a
dozen arrows will not stop them. When wounded and mad they turn suddenly
round upon the hunter, and rush upon him in such a quick and furious
manner that if horse and rider are not both on the alert, the former is
overtaken, hooked and overthrown, the hunter pitched off, trampled and
gored to death. Although the Buffalo is such a large animal, and to all
appearance a clumsy one, it can turn with the quickness of thought, and
when once enraged, will rarely give up the chase until avenged for the
wound it has received. If, however, the hunter is expert, and the horse
fleet, they outrun the bull, and it returns to the herd. Usually the
greater number of the gang is killed, but it very rarely happens that
some of them do not escape. This however is not the case when the animal
is pounded, especially by the Gros Ventres, Black Feet, and
Assiniboins. These pounds are called "parks," and the Buffaloes are made
to enter them in the following manner: The park is sometimes round and
sometimes square, this depending much on the ground where it is put up;
at the end of the park is what is called a _precipice_ of some fifteen
feet or less, as may be found. It is approached by a funnel-shaped
passage, which like the park itself is strongly built of logs,
brushwood, and pickets, and when all is ready a young man, very swift of
foot, starts at daylight covered over with a Buffalo robe and wearing a
Buffalo head-dress. The moment he sees the herd to be taken, he bellows
like a young calf, and makes his way slowly towards the contracted part
of the funnel, imitating the cry of the calf, at frequent intervals. The
Buffaloes advance after the decoy; about a dozen mounted hunters are
yelling and galloping behind them, and along both flanks of the herd,
forcing them by these means to enter the mouth of the funnel. Women and
children are placed behind the fences of the funnel to frighten the
cattle, and as soon as the young man who acts as decoy feels assured
that the game is in a fair way to follow to the bank or "precipice," he
runs or leaps down the bank, over the barricade, and either rests, or
joins in the fray. The poor Buffaloes, usually headed by a large bull,
proceed, leap down the bank in haste and confusion, the Indians all
yelling and pursuing till every bull, cow, and calf is impounded.
Although this is done at all seasons, it is more general in October or
November, when the hides are good and salable. Now the warriors are all
assembled by the pen, calumets are lighted, and the chief smokes to the
Great Spirit, the four points of the compass, and lastly to the
Buffaloes. The pipe is passed from mouth to mouth in succession, and as
soon as this ceremony is ended, the destruction commences. Guns shoot,
arrows fly in all directions, and the hunters being on the outside of
the enclosure, destroy the whole gang, before they jump over to clean
and skin the murdered herd. Even the children shoot small, short arrows
to assist in the destruction. It happens sometimes however, that the
leader of the herd will be restless at the sight of the precipices, and
if the fence is weak will break through it, and all his fellows follow
him, and escape. The same thing sometimes takes place in the pen, for so
full does this become occasionally that the animals touch each other,
and as they cannot move, the very weight against the fence of the pen is
quite enough to break it through; the smallest aperture is sufficient,
for in a few minutes it becomes wide, and all the beasts are seen
scampering over the prairies, leaving the poor Indians starving and
discomfited. Mr. Kipp told me that while travelling from Lake Travers to
the Mandans, in the month of August, he rode in a heavily laden cart for
six successive days through masses of Buffaloes, which divided for the
cart, allowing it to pass without opposition. He has seen the immense
prairie back of Fort Clark look black to the tops of the hills, though
the ground was covered with snow, so crowded was it with these animals;
and the masses probably extended much further. In fact it is _impossible
to describe or even conceive_ the vast multitudes of these animals that
exist even now, and feed on these ocean-like prairies.

_August 12, Saturday._ Harris, Bell, and Owen went after Buffaloes;
killed six cows and brought them home. Weather cloudy, and rainy at
times. Provost returned with La Fleur this afternoon, had nothing, but
had seen a Grizzly Bear. The "Union" was launched this evening and
packing, etc., is going on. I gave a memorandum to Jean Baptiste
Moncrévier of the animals I wish him to procure for me.

_August 13, Sunday._ A most beautiful day. About dinner time I had a
young Badger brought to me dead; I bought it, and gave in payment two
pounds of sugar. The body of these animals is broader than high, the
neck is powerfully strong, as well as the fore-arms, and strongly clawed
fore-feet. It weighed 8½ lbs. Its measurements were all taken. When the
pursuer gets between a Badger and its hole, the animal's hair rises, and
it at once shows fight. A half-breed hunter told Provost, who has just
returned from Fort Mortimer, that he was anxious to go down the river
with me, but I know the man and hardly care to have him. If I decide to
take him Mr. Culbertson, to whom I spoke of the matter, told me my only
plan was to pay him by the piece for what he killed and brought on
board, and that in case he did not turn out well between this place and
Fort Clark, to leave him there; so I have sent word to him to this
effect by Provost this afternoon. Bell is skinning the Badger, Sprague
finishing the map of the river made by Squires, and the latter is
writing. The half-breed has been here, and the following is our
agreement: "It is understood that François Détaillé will go with me,
John J. Audubon, and to secure for me the following quadrupeds--if
possible--for which he will receive the prices here mentioned, payable
at Fort Union, Fort Clark, or Fort Pierre, as may best suit him.

      For each Bighorn male                     $10.00
      For a large Grizzly Bear                   20.00
      For a large male Elk                        6.00
      For a Black-tailed Deer, male or female     6.00
      For Red Foxes                               3.00
      For small Gray Foxes                        3.00
      For Badgers                                 2.00
      For large Porcupine                         2.00

Independent of which I agree to furnish him with his passage and food,
he to work as a hand on board. Whatever he kills for food will be
settled when he leaves us, or, as he says, when he meets the Opposition
boat coming up to Fort Mortimer." He will also accompany us in our hunt
after Bighorns, which I shall undertake, notwithstanding Mr. Culbertson
and Squires, who have been to the Mauvaises Terres, both try to dissuade
me from what they fear will prove over-fatiguing; but though my strength
is not what it was twenty years ago, I am yet equal to much, and my
eyesight far keener than that of many a younger man, though that too
tells me I am no longer a youth....

The only idea I can give in _writing_ of what are called the "Mauvaises
Terres" would be to place some thousands of loaves of sugar of different
sizes, from quite small and low, to large and high, all irregularly
truncated at top, and placed somewhat apart from each other. No one who
has not seen these places can form any idea of these resorts of the
Rocky Mountain Rams, or the difficulty of approaching them, putting
aside their extreme wildness and their marvellous activity. They form
paths around these broken-headed cones (that are from three to fifteen
hundred feet high), and run round them at full speed on a track that, to
the eye of the hunter, does not appear to be more than a few inches
wide, but which is, in fact, from a foot to eighteen inches in width. In
some places there are piles of earth from eight to ten feet high, or
even more, the tops of which form platforms of a hard and shelly rocky
substance, where the Bighorn is often seen looking on the hunter far
below, and standing immovable, as if a statue. No one can imagine how
they reach these places, and that too with their young, even when the
latter are quite small. Hunters say that the young are usually born in
such places, the mothers going there to save the helpless little one
from the Wolves, which, after men, seem to be their greatest destroyers.
The Mauvaises Terres are mostly formed of grayish white clay, very
sparsely covered with small patches of thin grass, on which the Bighorns
feed, but which, to all appearance, is a very scanty supply, and there,
and there only, they feed, as not one has ever been seen on the bottom
or prairie land further than the foot of these most extraordinary hills.
In wet weather, no man can climb any of them, and at such times they are
greasy, muddy, sliding grounds. Oftentimes when a Bighorn is seen on a
hill-top, the hunter has to ramble about for three or four miles before
he can approach within gunshot of the game, and if the Bighorn ever sees
his enemy, pursuit is useless. The tops of some of these hills, and in
some cases whole hills about thirty feet high, are composed of a
conglomerated mass of stones, sand, and clay, with earth of various
sorts, fused together, and having a brick-like appearance. In this mass
pumice-stone of various shapes and sizes is to be found. The whole is
evidently the effect of volcanic action. The bases of some of these
hills cover an area of twenty acres or more, and the hills rise to the
height of three or four hundred feet, sometimes even to eight hundred or
a thousand; so high can the hunter ascend that the surrounding country
is far, far beneath him. The strata are of different colored clays,
coal, etc., and an earth impregnated with a salt which appears to have
been formed by internal fire or heat, the earth or stones of which I
have first spoken in this account, lava, sulphur, salts of various
kinds, oxides and sulphates of iron; and in the sand at the tops of some
of the highest hills I have found marine shells, but so soft and
crumbling as to fall apart the instant they were exposed to the air. I
spent some time over various lumps of sand, hoping to find some perfect
ones that would be hard enough to carry back to St. Louis; but 't was
"love's labor lost," and I regretted exceedingly that only a few
fragments could be gathered. I found globular and oval shaped stones,
very heavy, apparently composed mostly of iron, weighing from fifteen to
twenty pounds; numbers of petrified stumps from one to three feet in
diameter; the Mauvaises Terres abound with them; they are to be found
in all parts from the valleys to the tops of the hills, and appear to be
principally of cedar. On the sides of the hills, at various heights, are
shelves of rock or stone projecting out from two to six, eight, or even
ten feet, and generally square, or nearly so; these are the favorite
resorts of the Bighorns during the heat of the day, and either here or
on the tops of the highest hills they are to be found. Between the hills
there is generally quite a growth of cedar, but mostly stunted and
crowded close together, with very large stumps, and between the stumps
quite a good display of grass; on the summits, in some _few_ places,
there are table-lands, varying from an area of one to ten or fifteen
acres; these are covered with a short, dry, wiry grass, and immense
quantities of flat leaved cactus, the spines of which often warn the
hunter of their proximity, and the hostility existing between them and
his feet. These plains are not more easily travelled than the hillsides,
as every step may lead the hunter into a bed of these pests of the
prairies. In the valleys between the hills are ravines, some of which
are not more than ten or fifteen feet wide, while their depth is beyond
the reach of the eye. Others vary in depth from ten to fifty feet, while
some make one giddy to look in; they are also of various widths, the
widest perhaps a hundred feet. The edges, at times, are lined with
bushes, mostly wild cherry; occasionally Buffaloes make paths across
them, but this is rare. The only safe way to pass is to follow the
ravine to the head, which is usually at the foot of some hill, and go
round. These ravines are mostly between every two hills, although like
every general rule there are variations and occasionally places where
three or more hills make only one ravine. These small ravines all
connect with some larger one, the size of which is in proportion to its
tributaries. The large one runs to the river, or the water is carried
off by a subterranean channel. In these valleys, and sometimes on the
tops of the hills, are holes, called "sink holes;" these are formed by
the water running in a small hole and working away the earth beneath the
surface, leaving a crust incapable of supporting the weight of a man;
and if an unfortunate steps on this crust, he soon finds himself in
rather an unpleasant predicament. This is one of the dangers that attend
the hunter in these lands; these holes eventually form a ravine such as
I have before spoken of. Through these hills it is almost impossible to
travel with a horse, though it is sometimes done by careful management,
and a correct knowledge of the country. The sides of the hills are very
steep, covered with the earth and stones of which I have spoken, all of
which are quite loose on the surface; occasionally a bunch of wormwood
here and there seems to assist the daring hunter; for it is no light
task to follow the Bighorns through these lands, and the pursuit is
attended with much danger, as the least slip at times would send one
headlong into the ravines below. On the sides of these high hills the
water has washed away the earth, leaving caves of various sizes; and, in
fact, in some places all manner of fantastic forms are made by the same
process. Occasionally in the valleys are found isolated cones or domes,
destitute of vegetation, naked and barren. Throughout the Mauvaises
Terres there are springs of water impregnated with salt, sulphur,
magnesia, and many other salts of all kinds. Such is the water the
hunter is compelled to drink, and were it not that it is as cold as ice
it would be almost impossible to swallow it. As it is, many of these
waters operate as cathartics or emetics; this is one of the most
disagreeable attendants of hunting in these lands. Moreover, venomous
snakes of many kinds are also found here. I saw myself only one
copperhead, and a common garter-snake. Notwithstanding the rough nature
of the country, the Buffaloes have paths running in all directions, and
leading from the prairies to the river. The hunter sometimes, after
toiling for an hour or two up the side of one of these hills, trying to
reach the top in hopes that when there he will have for a short distance
at least, either a level place or good path to walk on, finds to his
disappointment that he has secured a point that only affords a place
scarcely large enough to stand on, and he has the trouble of descending,
perhaps to renew his disappointment in the same way, again and again,
such is the deceptive character of the country. I was thus deceived time
and again, while in search of Bighorns. If the hill does not terminate
in a point it is connected with another hill, by a ridge so narrow that
nothing but a Bighorn can walk on it. This is the country that the
Mountain Ram inhabits, and if, from this imperfect description, any
information can be derived, I shall be more than repaid for the trouble
I have had in these tiresome hills. Whether my theory be correct or
incorrect, it is this: These hills were at first composed of the clays
that I have mentioned, mingled with an immense quantity of combustible
material, such as coal, sulphur, bitumen, etc.; these have been
destroyed by fire, or (at least the greater part) by volcanic action, as
to this day, on the Black Hills and in the hills near where I have been,
fire still exists; and from the immense quantities of pumice-stone and
melted ores found among the hills, even were there no fire now to be
seen, no one could doubt that it had, at some date or other, been there;
as soon as this process had ceased, the rains washed out the loose
material, and carried it to the rivers, leaving the more solid parts as
we now find them; the action of water to this day continues. As I have
said, the Bighorns are very fond of resorting to the shelves, or ledges,
on the sides of the hills, during the heat of the day, when these places
are shaded; here they lie, but are aroused instantly upon the least
appearance of danger, and, as soon as they have discovered the cause of
alarm, away they go, over hill and ravine, occasionally stopping to look
round, and when ascending the steepest hill, there is no apparent
diminution of their speed. They will ascend and descend places, when
thus alarmed, so inaccessible that it is almost impossible to conceive
how, and where, they find a foothold. When observed before they see the
hunter, or while they are looking about when first alarmed, are the only
opportunities the hunter has to shoot them; for, as soon as they start
there is no hope, as to follow and find them is a task not easily
accomplished, for where or how far they go when thus on the alert,
heaven only knows, as but few hunters have ever attempted a chase. At
all times they have to be approached with the greatest caution, as the
least thing renders them on the qui vive. When not found on these
shelves, they are seen on the tops of the most inaccessible and highest
hills, looking down on the hunters, apparently conscious of their
security, or else lying down tranquilly in some sunny spot quite out of
reach. As I have observed before, the only times that these animals can
be shot are when on these ledges, or when moving from one point to
another. Sometimes they move only a few hundred yards, but it will take
the hunter several hours to approach near enough for a shot, so long are
the _détours_ he is compelled to make. I have been thus baffled two or
three times. The less difficult hills are found cut up by paths made by
these animals; these are generally about eighteen inches wide. These
animals appear to be quite as agile as the European Chamois, leaping
down precipices, across ravines, and running up and down almost
perpendicular hills. The only places I could find that seemed to afford
food for them, was between the cedars, as I have before mentioned; but
the places where they are most frequently found are barren, and without
the least vestige of vegetation. From the character of the lands where
these animals are found, their own shyness, watchfulness, and agility,
it is readily seen what the hunter must endure, and what difficulties he
must undergo to near these "Wild Goats." It is one constant time of
toil, anxiety, fatigue, and danger. Such the country! Such the animal!
Such the hunting!

_August 16._ Started from Fort Union at 12 M. in the Mackinaw barge
"Union." Shot five young Ducks. Camped at the foot of a high bluff. Good
supper of Chickens and Ducks.

_Thursday, 17th._ Started early. Saw three Bighorns, some Antelopes, and
many Deer, fully twenty; one Wolf, twenty-two Swans, many Ducks. Stopped
a short time on a bar. Mr. Culbertson shot a female Elk, and I killed
two bulls. Camped at Buffalo Bluff, where we found Bear tracks.

_Friday, 18th._ Fine. Bell shot a superb male Elk. The two bulls
untouched since killed. Stopped to make an oar, when I caught four
catfish. "Kayac" is the French Missourian's name for Buffalo Bluffs,
original French for Moose; in Assiniboin "Tah-Tah," in Blackfoot
"Sick-e-chi-choo," in Sioux "Tah-Tah." Fifteen to twenty female Elks
drinking, tried to approach them, but they broke and ran off to the
willows and disappeared. We landed and pursued them. Bell shot at one,
but did not find it, though it was badly wounded. These animals are at
times unwary, but at others vigilant, suspicious, and well aware of the
coming of their enemies.

_Saturday, 19th._ Wolves howling, and bulls roaring, just like the long
continued roll of a hundred drums. Saw large gangs of Buffaloes walking
along the river. Headed Knife River one and a half miles. Fresh signs of
Indians, burning wood embers, etc. I knocked a cow down with two balls,
and Mr. Culbertson killed her. Abundance of Bear tracks. Saw a great
number of bushes bearing the berries of which Mrs. Culbertson has given
me a necklace. Herds of Buffaloes on the prairies. Mr. Culbertson
killed another cow, and in going to see it I had a severe fall over a
partially sunken log. Bell killed a doe and wounded the fawn.

_Sunday, 20th._ _Tamias quadrivittatus_ runs up trees; abundance of them
in the ravine, and Harris killed one. Bell wounded an Antelope.
Thousands upon thousands of Buffaloes; the roaring of these animals
resembles the grunting of hogs, with a rolling sound from the throat.
Mr. C. killed two cows, Sprague killed one bull, and I made two sketches
of it after death. The men killed a cow, and the bull would not leave
her although shot four times. Stopped by the high winds all this day.
Suffered much from my fall.

_Monday, 21st._ Buffaloes all over the bars and prairies, and many
swimming; the roaring can be heard for miles. The wind stopped us again
at eight o'clock; breakfasted near the tracks of Bears surrounded by
hundreds of Buffaloes. We left our safe anchorage and good
hunting-grounds too soon; the wind blew high, and we were obliged to
land again on the opposite shore, where the gale has proved very
annoying. Bear tracks led us to search for those animals, but in vain.
Collected seeds. Shot at a Rabbit, but have done nothing. Saw many young
and old Ducks,--Black Mallards and Gadwalls. I shot a bull and broke his
thigh, and then shot at him thirteen times before killing. Camped at the
same place.

_Tuesday, 22d._ Left early and travelled about twelve miles. Went
hunting Elks. Mr. Culbertson killed a Deer, and he and Squires brought
the meat in on their backs. I saw nothing, but heard shots which I
thought were from Harris. I ran for upwards of a mile to look for him,
hallooing the whole distance, but saw nothing of him. Sent three men who
hallooed also, but came back without further intelligence. Bell shot a
female Elk and brought in part of the meat. We walked to the Little
Missouri and shot the fourth bull this trip. We saw many Ducks. In the
afternoon we started again, and went below the Little Missouri, returned
to the bull and took his horns, etc. Coming back to the boat Sprague saw
a Bear; we went towards the spot; the fellow had turned under the high
bank and was killed in a few seconds. Mr. Culbertson shot it first
through the neck, Bell and I in the body.

_Wednesday, 23d._ Provost skinned the Bear. No Prairie-Dogs caught. The
wind high and cold. Later two Prairie-Dogs were shot; their notes
resemble precisely those of the Arkansas Flycatcher. Left this afternoon
and travelled about ten miles. Saw another Bear and closely observed its
movements. We saw several drowned Buffaloes, and were passed by Wolves
and Passenger Pigeons. Camped in a bad place under a sky with every
appearance of rain.

_Thursday, 24th._ A bad night of wind, very cloudy; left early, as the
wind lulled and it became calm. Passed "L'Ours qui danse," travelled
about twenty miles, when we were again stopped by the wind. Hunted, but
found nothing. The fat of our Bear gave us seven bottles of oil. We
heard what some thought to be guns, but I believed it to be the falling
of the banks. Then the Wolves howled so curiously that it was supposed
they were Indian dogs. We went to bed all prepared for action in case of
an attack; pistols, knives, etc., but I slept very well, though rather
cold.

_Friday, 25th._ Fair, but foggy, so we did not start early. I found some
curious stones with impressions of shells. It was quite calm, and we
passed the two Riccaree winter villages. Many Eagles and Peregrine
Falcons. Shot another bull. Passed the Gros Ventre village at noon; no
game about the place. "La Main Gauche," an Assiniboin chief of great
renown, left seventy warriors killed and thirty wounded on the prairie
opposite, the year following the small-pox. The Gros Ventres are a
courageous tribe. Reached the Mandan village; hundreds of Indians swam
to us with handkerchiefs tied on their heads like turbans. Our old
friend "Four Bears" met us on the shore; I gave him eight pounds of
tobacco. He came on board and went down with us to Fort Clark, which we
reached at four o'clock. Mr. Culbertson and Squires rode out to the Gros
Ventre village with "Four Bears" after dark, and returned about eleven;
they met with another chief who curiously enough was called "The Iron
Bear."

_Saturday, 26th._ Fine, but a cold, penetrating wind. Started early and
landed to breakfast. A canoe passed us with two men from the Opposition.
We were stopped by the wind for four hours, but started again at three;
passed the Butte Quarré at a quarter past five, followed now by the
canoe, as the two fellows are afraid of Indians, and want to come on
board our boat; we have not room for them, but will let them travel with
us. Landed for the night, and walked to the top of one of the buttes
from which we had a fine and very extensive view. Saw a herd of
Buffaloes, which we approached, but by accident did not kill a cow.
Harris, whom we thought far off, shot too soon and Moncrévier and the
rest of us lost our chances. We heard Elks whistling, and saw many
Swans. The canoe men camped close to us.

_Sunday, 27th._ Started early in company with the canoe. Saw four Wolves
and six bulls, the latter to our sorrow in a compact group and therefore
difficult to attack. They are poor at this season, and the meat very
rank, but yet are fresh meat. The wind continued high, but we landed in
the weeds assisted by the canoe men, as we saw a gang of cows. We lost
them almost immediately though we saw their _wet tracks_ and followed
them for over a mile, but then gave up the chase. On returning to the
river we missed the boat, as she had been removed to a better landing
below; so we had quite a search for her. Mrs. Culbertson worked at the
_parflèche_ with Golden Eagle feathers; she had killed the bird herself.
Stopped by the wind at noon. Walked off and saw Buffaloes, but the wind
was adverse. Bell and Harris, however, killed a cow, a single one, that
had been wounded, whether by shot or by an arrow no one can tell. We saw
a bull on a sand-bar; the poor fool took to the water and swam so as to
meet us. We shot at him about a dozen times, I shot him through one eye,
Bell, Harris, and Sprague about the head, and yet the animal made for
our boat and came so close that Mr. Culbertson touched him with a pole,
when he turned off and swam across the river, but acted as if wild or
crazy; he ran on a sand-bar, and at last swam again to the opposite
shore, in my opinion to die, but Mr. Culbertson says he may live for a
month. We landed in a good harbor on the east side about an hour before
sundown. Moncrévier caught a catfish that weighed sixteen pounds, a fine
fish, though the smaller ones are better eating.

_Monday, 28th._ A gale all night and this morning also. We are in a good
place for hunting, and I hope to have more to say anon. The men returned
and told us of many Bear tracks, and four of us started off. Such a walk
I do not remember; it was awful--mire, willows, vines, holes, fallen
logs; we returned much fatigued and having seen nothing. The wind
blowing fiercely.

_Tuesday, 29th._ Heavy wind all night. Bad dreams about my own Lucy.
Walked some distance along the shores and caught many catfish. Two Deer
on the other shore. Cut a cotton-tree to fasten to the boat to break the
force of the waves. The weather has become sultry. Beavers during the
winter oftentimes come down amid the ice, but enter any small stream
they meet with at once. Apple River, or Creek, was formerly a good place
for them, as well as Cannon Ball River. Saw a Musk-rat this morning
swimming by our barge. Slept on a muddy bar with abundance of
mosquitoes.

_Wednesday, 30th._ Started at daylight. Mr. Culbertson and I went off to
the prairies over the most infernal ground I ever saw, but we reached
the high prairies by dint of industry, through swamps and mire. We saw
two bulls, two calves, and one cow; we killed the cow and the larger
calf, a beautiful young bull; returned to the boat through the most
abominable swamp I ever travelled through, and reached the boat at one
o'clock, thirsty and hungry enough. Bell and all the men went after the
meat and the skin of the young bull. I shot the cow, but missed the calf
by shooting above it. We started later and made about ten miles before
sunset.

_Thursday, 31st._ Started early; fine and calm. Saw large flocks of
Ducks, Geese, and Swans; also four Wolves. Passed Mr. Primeau's winter
trading-house; reached Cannon Ball River at half-past twelve. No game;
water good-tasted, but warm. Dinner on shore. Saw a Rock Wren on the
bluffs here. Saw the prairie on fire, and signs of Indians on both
sides. Weather cloudy and hot. Reached Beaver Creek. Provost went after
Beavers, but found none. Caught fourteen catfish. Saw a wonderful
example of the power of the Buffalo in working through the heavy, miry
bottom lands.

_Friday, September 1._ Hard rain most of the night, and uncomfortably
hot. Left our encampment at eight o'clock. Saw Buffaloes and landed, but
on approaching them found only bulls; so returned empty-handed to the
boat, and started anew. We landed for the night on a large sand-bar
connected with the mainland, and saw a large gang of Buffaloes, and Mr.
Culbertson and a man went off; they shot at two cows and killed one, but
lost her, as she fell in the river and floated down stream, and it was
dusk. A heavy cloud arose in the west, thunder was heard, yet the moon
and stars shone brightly. After midnight rain came on. The mosquitoes
are far too abundant for comfort.

_Saturday, September 2._ Fine but windy. Went about ten miles and
stopped, for the gale was so severe. No fresh meat on board. Saw eight
Wolves, four white ones. Walked six miles on the prairies, but saw only
three bulls. The wind has risen to a gale. Saw abundance of
Black-breasted Prairie Larks, and a pond with Black Ducks. Returned to
the pond after dinner and killed four Ducks.

_Sunday, 3d._ Beautiful, calm, and cold. Left early and at noon put
ashore to kill a bull, having no fresh meat on board. He took the wind
and ran off. Touched on a bar, and I went overboard to assist in pushing
off and found the water very pleasant, for our cold morning had turned
into a hot day. Harris shot a Prairie Wolf. At half-past four saw ten or
twelve Buffaloes. Mr. Culbertson, Bell, a canoe man, and I, went after
them; the cattle took to the river, and we went in pursuit; the other
canoe man landed, and ran along the shore, but could not head them. He
shot, however, and as the cattle reached the bank we gave them a volley,
but uselessly, and are again under way. Bell and Mr. C. were well mired
and greatly exhausted in consequence. No meat for another day. Stopped
for the night at the mouth of the Moreau River. Wild Pigeons,
Sandpipers, but no fish.

_Monday, 4th._ Cool night. Wind rose early, but a fine morning. Stopped
by the wind at eleven. Mr. Culbertson, Bell, and Moncrévier gone
shooting. Many signs of Elk, etc., and flocks of Wild Pigeons. A bad
place for hunting, but good for safety. Found Beaver tracks, and small
trees cut down by them. Provost followed the bank and found their lodge,
which he says is an old one. It is at present a mass of sticks of
different sizes matted together, and fresh tracks are all around it. To
dig them out would have proved impossible, and we hope to catch them in
traps to-night. Beavers often feed on berries when they can reach them,
especially Buffalo berries [_Shepherdia argentea_]. Mr. Culbertson
killed a buck, and we have sent men to bring it entire. The Beavers in
this lodge are not residents, but vagrant Beavers. The buck was brought
in; it is of the same kind as at Fort Union, having a longer tail, we
think, than the kind found East. Its horns were very small, but it is
skinned and in brine. We removed our camp about a hundred yards lower
down, but the place as regards wood is very bad. Provost and I went to
set traps for Beaver; he first cut two dry sticks eight or nine feet
long; we reached the river by passing through the tangled woods; he then
pulled off his breeches and waded about with a pole to find the depth of
the water, and having found a fit spot he dug away the mud in the shape
of a half circle, placed a bit of willow branch at the bottom and put
the trap on that. He had two small willow sticks in his mouth; he split
an end of one, dipped it in his horn of castoreum, or "medicine," as he
calls his stuff, and left on the end of it a good mass of it, which was
placed in front of the jaws of the trap next the shore; he then made the
chain of the trap secure, stuck in a few untrimmed branches on each
side, and there the business ended. The second one was arranged in the
same way, except that there was no bit of willow under it. Beavers when
caught in shallow water are often attacked by the Otter, and in doing
this the latter sometimes lose their own lives, as they are very
frequently caught in the other trap placed close by. Mr. Culbertson and
Bell returned without having shot, although we heard one report whilst
setting the traps. Elks are very numerous here, but the bushes crack and
make so much noise that they hear the hunters and fly before them. Bell
shot five Pigeons at once. Harris and Squires are both poorly, having
eaten too indulgently of Buffalo brains. We are going to move six or
seven hundred yards lower down, to spend the night in a more sheltered
place. I hope I may have a large Beaver to-morrow.

  [Illustration: CAMP ON THE MISSOURI.
    FROM A DRAWING BY ISAAC SPRAGUE.]

_Tuesday, 5th._ At daylight, after some discussion about Beaver lodges,
Harris, Bell, Provost, and I, with two men, went to the traps--nothing
caught. We now had the lodge demolished outwardly, namely, all the
sticks removed, under which was found a hole about two and a half feet
in diameter, through which Harris, Bell, and Moncrévier (who had
followed us) entered, but found nothing within, as the Beaver had gone
to the river. Harris saw it, and also the people at the boat. I secured
some large specimens of the cuttings used to build the lodge, and a
pocketful of the chips. Before Beavers fell the tree they long for, they
cut down all the small twigs and saplings around. The chips are cut
above and below, and then split off by the animal; the felled trees lay
about us in every direction. We left our camp at half-past five; I again
examined the lodge, which was not finished, though about six feet in
diameter. We saw a Pigeon Hawk giving chase to a Spotted Sandpiper on
the wing. When the Hawk was about to seize the little fellow it dove
under water and escaped. This was repeated five or six times; to my
great surprise and pleasure, the Hawk was obliged to relinquish the
prey. As the wind blew high, we landed to take breakfast, on a fine
beach, portions of which appeared as if paved by the hand of man. The
canoe men killed a very poor cow, which had been wounded, and so left
alone. The wind fell suddenly, and we proceeded on our route till noon,
when it rose, and we stopped again. Mr. Culbertson went hunting, and
returned having killed a young buck Elk. Dined, and walked after the
meat and skin, and took the measurements. Returning, saw two Elks driven
to the hills by Mr. Culbertson and Bell. Met Harris, and started a
monstrous buck Elk from its couch in a bunch of willows; shot at it
while running about eighty yards off, but it was not touched. Meantime
Provost had heard us from our dinner camp; loading his rifle he came
within ten paces, when his gun snapped. We yet hope to get this fine
animal. Harris found a Dove's nest with one young one, and an egg just
cracked by the bird inside; the nest was on the ground. Curious all this
at this late late season, and in a woody part of the country. Saw a
Bat.

_Wednesday, 6th._ Wind blowing harder. Ransacked the point and banks
both below and above, but saw only two Wolves; one a dark gray, the
largest I have yet seen. Harris shot a young of the Sharp-tailed Grouse;
Bell, three Pigeons; Provost went off to the second point below, about
four miles, after Elks; Sprague found another nest of Doves on the
ground, with very small young. The common Bluebird was seen, also a
Whip-poor-will and a Night-Hawk. Wind high and from the south.

_Thursday, 7th._ About eleven o'clock last night the wind shifted
_suddenly_ to northwest, and blew so violently that we all left the boat
in a hurry. Mrs. Culbertson, with her child in her arms, made for the
willows, and had a shelter for her babe in a few minutes. Our guns and
ammunition were brought on shore, as we were afraid of our boat sinking.
We returned on board after a while; but I could not sleep, the motion
making me very sea-sick; I went back to the shore and lay down after
mending our fire. It rained hard for about two hours; the sky then
became clear, and the wind wholly subsided, so I went again to the boat
and slept till eight o'clock. A second gale now arose; the sky grew
dark; we removed our boat to a more secure position, but I fear we are
here for another day. Bell shot a _Caprimulgus_,[36] so small that I
have no doubt it is the one found on the Rocky Mountains by Nuttall,
after whom I have named it. These birds are now travelling south. Mr.
Culbertson and I walked up the highest hills of the prairie, but saw
nothing. The river has suddenly risen two feet, the water rises now at
the rate of eight inches in two and a half hours, and the wind has
somewhat moderated. The little Whip-poor-will proves an old male, but it
is now in moult. Left our camp at five, and went down rapidly to an
island four miles below. Mr. Culbertson, Bell, Harris, and Provost went
off to look for Elks, but I fear fruitlessly, as I see no tracks, nor
do I find any of their beds. About ten o'clock Harris called me to hear
the notes of the new Whip-poor-will; we heard two at once, and the sound
was thus: "Oh-will, oh-will," repeated often and quickly, as in our
common species. The night was beautiful, but cold.

_Friday, 8th._ Cloudy and remarkably cold; the river has risen 6½ feet
since yesterday, and the water is muddy and thick. Started early. The
effect of sudden rises in this river is wonderful upon the sand-bars,
which are no sooner covered by a foot or so of water than they at once
break up, causing very high waves to run, through which no small boat
could pass without imminent danger. The swells are felt for many feet as
if small waves at sea. Appearances of rain. The current very strong; but
we reached Fort Pierre at half-past five, and found all well.

_Saturday, 9th._ Rain all night. Breakfasted at the fort. Exchanged our
boat for a larger one. Orders found here obliged Mr. Culbertson to leave
us and go to the Platte River establishment, much to my regret.

_Sunday, 10th._ Very cloudy. Mr. Culbertson gave me a _parflèche_[37]
which had been presented to him by "L'Ours de Fer," the Sioux chief. It
is very curiously painted, and is a record of a victory of the Sioux
over their enemies, the Gros Ventres. Two rows of horses with Indians
dressed in full war rig are rushing onwards; small black marks
everywhere represent the horse tracks; round green marks are shields
thrown away by the enemy in their flight, and red spots on the horses,
like wafers, denote wounds.

_Monday, 11th._ Cloudy; the men at work fitting up our new boat. Rained
nearly all day, and the wind shifted to every point of the compass.
Nothing done.

_Tuesday, 12th._ Partially clear this morning early, but rained by ten
o'clock. Nothing done.

_Wednesday, 13th._ Rainy again. Many birds were seen moving southwest.
Our boat is getting into travelling shape. I did several drawings of
objects in and about the fort.

_Thursday, 14th._ Cloudy and threatening. Mr. Laidlow making ready to
leave for Fort Union, and ourselves for our trip down the river. Mr.
Laidlow left at half-past eleven, and we started at two this afternoon;
landed at the farm belonging to the fort, and procured a few potatoes,
some corn, and a pig.

_Friday, 15th._ A foggy morning. Reached Fort George. Mr. Illingsworth
left at half-past ten. Wind ahead, and we were obliged to stop on this
account at two. Fresh signs of both Indians and Buffaloes, but nothing
killed.

_Saturday, 16th._ Windy till near daylight. Started early; passed
Ebbett's new island. Bell heard Parrakeets. The day was perfectly calm.
Found _Arvicola pennsylvanica_. Landed at the Great Bend for
Black-tailed Deer and wood. Have seen nothing worthy our attention.
Squires put up a board at our old camp the "Six Trees," which I hope to
see again. The Deer are lying down, and we shall not go out to hunt
again till near sunset. The note of the Meadow Lark here is now unheard.
I saw fully two hundred flying due south. Collected a good deal of the
Yucca plant.

_Sunday, 17th._ We had a hard gale last night with rain for about an
hour. This morning was beautiful; we started early, but only ran for two
hours, when we were forced to stop by the wind, which blew a gale.
Provost saw fresh signs of Indians, and we were told that there were a
few lodges at the bottom of the Bend, about two miles below us. The wind
is north and quite cold, and the contrast between to-day and yesterday
is great. Went shooting, and killed three Sharp-tailed Grouse. Left our
camp about three o'clock as the wind abated. Saw ten or twelve
Antelopes on the prairie where the Grouse were. We camped about a mile
from the spot where we landed in May last, at the end of the Great Bend.
The evening calm and beautiful.

_Monday, 18th._ The weather cloudy and somewhat windy. Started early;
saw a Fish Hawk, two Gulls, two White-headed Eagles and abundance of
Golden Plovers. The Sharp-tailed Grouse feeds on rose-berries and the
seeds of the wild sunflower and grasshoppers. Stopped at twenty minutes
past nine, the wind was so high, and warmed some coffee. Many dead
Buffaloes are in the ravines and on the prairies. Harris, Bell, and
Sprague went hunting, but had no show with such a wind. Sprague outlined
a curious hill. The wind finally shifted, and then lulled down. Saw
Say's Flycatcher, with a Grosbeak. Saw two of the common Titlark. Left
again at two, with a better prospect. Landed at sunset on the west side.
Signs of Indians. Wolves howling, and found one dead on the shore, but
too far gone to be skinned; I was sorry, as it was a beautiful gray one.
These animals feed on wild plums in great quantities. Tried to shoot
some Doves for my Fox and Badger, but without success. Pea-vines very
scarce.

_Tuesday, 19th._ Dark and drizzly. Did not start until six. Reached
Cedar Island, and landed for wood to use on the boat. Bell went off
hunting. Wind north. Found no fit trees and left. Passed the burning
cliffs and got on a bar. The weather fine, and wind behind us. Wolves
will even eat the frogs found along the shores of this river. Saw five,
all gray. At three o'clock we were obliged to stop on account of the
wind, under a poor point. No game.

_Wednesday, 20th._ Wind very high. Tracks of Wild Cats along the shore.
The motion of the boat is so great it makes me sea-sick. Sprague saw a
Sharp-tailed Grouse. We left at half-past twelve. Saw immense numbers
of Pin-tailed Ducks, but could not get near them. Stopped on an island
to procure pea-vines for my young Deer, and found plenty. Our camp of
last night was only two miles and a half below White River. Ran on a bar
and were delayed nearly half an hour. Shot two Blue-winged Teal. Camped
opposite Bijou's Hill.

_Thursday, 21st._ Wind and rain most of the night. Started early.
Weather cloudy and cold. Landed to examine Burnt Hills, and again on an
island for pea-vines. Fresh signs of Indians. Saw many Antelopes and
Mule Deer. At twelve saw a bull on one side of the river, and in a few
moments after a herd of ten cattle on the other side. Landed, and
Squires, Harris, Bell, and Provost have gone to try to procure fresh
meat; these are the first Buffaloes seen since we left Fort Pierre. The
hunters only killed one bull; no cows among eleven bulls, and this is
strange at this season. Saw three more bulls in a ravine. Stopped to
camp at the lower end of great Cedar Island at five o'clock. Fresh signs
of Buffaloes and Deer. We cut some timber for oars. Rain set in early in
the evening, and it rained hard all night.

_Friday, 22d._ Raining; left at a quarter past eight, with the wind
ahead. Distant thunder. Everything wet and dirty after a very
uncomfortable night. We went down the river about a mile, when we were
forced to come to on the opposite side by the wind and the rain. Played
cards for a couple of hours. No chance to cook or get hot coffee, on
account of the heavy storm. We dropped down a few miles and finally
camped till next day in the mud, but managed to make a roaring fire.
Wolves in numbers howling all about us, and Owls hooting also. Still
raining heavily. We played cards till nine o'clock to kill time. Our
boat a quagmire.

_Saturday, 23d._ A cloudy morning; we left at six o'clock. Five Wolves
were on a sand-bar very near us. Saw Red-shafted Woodpeckers, and two
House Swallows. Have made a good run of about sixty miles. At four this
afternoon we took in three men of the steamer "New Haven" belonging to
the Opposition, which was fast on the bar, eight miles below. We reached
Ponca Island and landed for the night. At dusk the steamer came up, and
landed above us, and we found Messrs. Cutting and Taylor, and I had the
gratification of a letter from Victor and Johnny, of July 22d.

_Sunday, 24th._ Cloudy, windy, and cold. Both the steamer and ourselves
left as soon as we could see. Saw a Wolf on a bar, and a large flock of
White Pelicans, which we took at first for a keel-boat. Passed the
Poncas, L'Eau qui Court, Manuel, and Basil rivers by ten o'clock.[38]
Landed just below Basil River, stopped by wind. Hunted and shot one
Raven, one Turkey Buzzard, and four Wood-ducks. Ripe plums abound, and
there are garfish in the creek. Found feathers of the Wild Turkey. Signs
of Indians, Elks, and Deer. Provost and the men made four new oars. Went
to bed early.

_Monday, 25th._ Blowing hard all night, and began raining before day.
Cold, wet, and misty. Started at a quarter past ten, passed Bonhomme
Island at four, and landed for the night at five, fifteen miles below.

_Tuesday, 26th._ Cold and cloudy; started early. Shot a Pelican. Passed
Jack's River at eleven. Abundance of Wild Geese. Bell killed a young
White Pelican. Weather fairer but coldish. Sprague killed a Goose, but
it was lost. Camped a few miles above the Vermilion River. Harris saw
Raccoon tracks on Basil River.

_Wednesday, 27th._ Cloudy but calm. Many Wood-ducks, and saw Raccoon
tracks again this morning. Passed the Vermilion River at half-past
seven. My Badger got out of his cage last night, and we had to light a
candle to secure it. We reached the Fort of Vermilion at twelve, and
met with a kind reception from Mr. Pascal. Previous to this we met a
barge going up, owned and commanded by Mr. Tybell, and found our good
hunter Michaux. He asked me to take him down, and I promised him $20 per
month to St. Louis. We bought two barrels of superb potatoes, two of
corn, and a good fat cow. For the corn and potatoes I paid no less than
$16.00.

_Thursday, 28th._ A beautiful morning, and we left at eight. The young
man who brought me the calf at Fort George has married a squaw, a
handsome girl, and she is here with him. Antelopes are found about
twenty-five miles from this fort, but not frequently. Landed fifteen
miles below on Elk Point. Cut up and salted the cow. Provost and I went
hunting, and saw three female Elks, but the order was to shoot only
bucks; a large one started below us, jumped into the river, and swam
across, carrying his horns flat down and spread on each side of his
back; the neck looked to me about the size of a flour-barrel. Harris
killed a hen Turkey, and Bell and the others saw plenty but did not
shoot, as Elks were the order of the day. I cannot eat beef after being
fed on Buffaloes. I am getting an old man, for this evening I missed my
footing on getting into the boat, and bruised my knee and my elbow, but
at seventy and over I cannot have the spring of seventeen.

_Friday, 29th._ Rained most of the night, and it is raining and blowing
at present. Crossed the river and have encamped at the mouth of the Iowa
River,[39] the boundary line of the Sioux and Omahas. Harris shot a
Wolf. My knee too sore to allow me to walk. Stormy all day.

_Saturday, 30th._ Hard rain all night, the water rose four inches.
Found a new species of large bean in the Wild Turkey. Mosquitoes rather
troublesome. The sun shining by eight o'clock, and we hope for a good
dry day. Whip-poor-wills heard last night, and Night-hawks seen flying.
Saw a Long-tailed Squirrel that ran on the shore at the cry of our
Badger. Michaux had the boat landed to bring on a superb set of
Elk-horns that he secured last week. Abundance of Geese and Ducks.
Weather clouding over again, and at two we were struck by a heavy gale
of wind, and were obliged to land on the weather shore; the wind
continued heavy, and the motion of the boat was too much for me, so I
slipped on shore and with Michaux made a good camp, where we rolled
ourselves in our blankets and slept soundly.

_Sunday, October 1._ The wind changed, and lulled before morning, so we
left at a quarter past six. The skies looked rather better, nevertheless
we had several showers. Passed the [Big] Sioux River at twenty minutes
past eleven. Heard a Pileated Woodpecker, and saw Fish Crows. Geese very
abundant. Landed below the Sioux River to shoot Turkeys, having seen a
large male on the bluffs. Bell killed a hen, and Harris two young birds;
these will keep us going some days. Stopped again by the wind opposite
Floyd's grave; started again and ran about four miles, when we were
obliged to land in a rascally place at twelve o'clock. Had hail and rain
at intervals. Camped at the mouth of the Omaha River, six miles from the
village. The wild Geese are innumerable. The wind has ceased and stars
are shining.

_Monday, 2d._ Beautiful but _cold_. The water has risen nine inches, and
we travel well. Started early. Stopped at eight by the wind at a vile
place, but plenty of Jerusalem artichokes, which we tried and found very
good. Started again at three, and made a good run till sundown, when we
found a fair camping-place and made our supper from excellent young
Geese.

_Tuesday, 3d._ A beautiful, calm morning; we started early. Saw three
Deer on the bank. A Prairie Wolf travelled on the shore beside us for a
long time before he found a place to get up on the prairie. Plenty of
Sandhill Cranes were seen as we passed the Little Sioux River. Saw three
more Deer, another Wolf, two Swans, several Pelicans, and abundance of
Geese and Ducks. Passed Soldier River at two o'clock. We were caught by
a snag that scraped and tore us a little. Had we been two feet nearer,
it would have ruined our barge. We passed through a very swift cut-off,
most difficult of entrance. We have run eighty-two miles and encamped at
the mouth of the cut-off, near the old bluffs. Killed two Mallards; the
Geese and Ducks are abundant beyond description. Brag, Harris' dog,
stole and hid all the meat that had been cooked for our supper.

_Wednesday, 4th._ Cloudy and coldish. Left early and can't find my
pocket knife, which I fear I have lost. We were stopped by the wind at
Cabané Bluffs, about twenty miles above Fort Croghan; we all hunted,
with only fair results. Saw some hazel bushes, and some black walnuts.
Wind-bound till night, and nothing done.

_Thursday, 5th._ Blew hard all night, but a clear and beautiful sunrise.
Started early, but stopped by the wind at eight. Bell, Harris, and
Squires have started off for Fort Croghan. As there was every appearance
of rain we left at three and reached the fort about half-past four.
Found all well, and were most kindly received. We were presented with
some green corn, and had a quantity of bread made, also bought thirteen
eggs from an Indian for twenty-five cents. Honey bees are found here,
and do well, but none are seen above this place. I had an unexpected
slide on the bank, as it had rained this afternoon; and Squires had also
one at twelve in the night, when he and Harris with Sprague came to the
boat after having played whist up to that hour.

_Friday, 6th._ Some rain and thunder last night. A tolerable day.
Breakfast at the camp, and left at half-past eight. Our man Michaux was
passed over to the officer's boat, to steer them down to Fort
Leavenworth, where they are ordered, but we are to keep in company, and
he is to cook for us at night. The whole station here is broken up, and
Captain Burgwin[40] leaves in a few hours by land with the dragoons,
horses, etc. Stopped at Belle Vue at nine, and had a kind reception;
bought 6 lbs. coffee, 13 eggs, 2 lbs. butter, and some black pepper.
Abundance of Indians, of four different nations. Major Miller, the
agent, is a good man for this place. Left again at eleven. A fine day.
Passed the Platte and its hundreds of snags, at a quarter past one, and
stopped for the men to dine. The stream quite full, and we saw some
squaws on the bar, the village was in sight. Killed two Pelicans, but
only got one. Encamped about thirty miles below Fort Croghan. Lieutenant
Carleton supped with us, and we had a rubber of whist.

_Saturday, 7th._ Fine night, and fine morning. Started too early, while
yet dark, and got on a bar. Passed McPherson's, the first house in the
State of Missouri, at eight o'clock. Bell skinned the young of
_Fringilla harrisi_. Lieutenant Carleton came on board to breakfast with
us--a fine companion and a perfect gentleman. Indian war-whoops were
heard by him and his men whilst embarking this morning after we left. We
encamped at the mouth of Nishnebottana, a fine, clear stream. Went to
the house of Mr. Beaumont, who has a pretty wife. We made a fine run of
sixty or seventy miles.

_Sunday, 8th._ Cloudy, started early, and had rain by eight o'clock.
Stopped twice by the storm, and played cards to relieve the dulness.
Started at noon, and ran till half-past four. The wind blowing hard we
stopped at a good place for our encampment. Presented a plate of the
quadrupeds to Lieut. James Henry Carleton,[41] and he gave me a fine
Black Bear skin, and has promised me a set of Elk horns. Stopped on the
east side of the river in the evening. Saw a remarkably large flock of
Geese passing southward.

_Monday, 9th._ Beautiful and calm; started early. Bell shot a Gray
Squirrel, which was divided and given to my Fox and my Badger. Squires,
Carleton, Harris, Bell, and Sprague walked across the Bend to the Black
Snake Hills, and killed six Gray Squirrels, four Parrakeets, and two
Partridges. Bought butter, eggs, and some whiskey for the men; exchanged
knives with the lieutenant. Started and ran twelve miles to a good camp
on the Indian side.

_Tuesday, 10th._ Beautiful morning, rather windy; started early. Great
flocks of Geese and Pelicans; killed two of the latter. Reached Fort
Leavenworth at four, and, as usual everywhere, received most kindly
treatment and reception from Major Morton. Lieutenant Carleton gave me
the Elk horns. Wrote to John Bachman, Gideon B. Smith, and a long letter
home.

_Wednesday, 11th._ Received a most welcome present of melons, chickens,
bread, and butter from the generous major. Lieutenant Carleton came to
see me off, and we parted reluctantly. Left at half-past six; weather
calm and beautiful. Game scarce, paw-paws plentiful. Stopped at Madame
Chouteau's, where I bought three pumpkins. Stopped at Liberty Landing
and delivered the letters of Laidlow to Black Harris. Reached
Independence Landing at sundown; have run sixty miles. Found no letters.
Steamer "Lebanon" passed upwards at half-past eight.

_Thursday, 12th._ Beautiful and calm; stopped and bought eggs, etc., at
a Mr. Shivers', from Kentucky. Ran well to Lexington, where we again
stopped for provisions; ran sixty miles to-day.

_Friday, 13th._ Heavy white frost, and very foggy. Started early and ran
well. Tried to buy butter at several places, but in vain. At Greenville
bought coffee. Abundance of Geese and White Pelicans; many Sandhill
Cranes. Harris killed a Wood-duck. Passed Grand River; stopped at New
Brunswick, where we bought excellent beef at 2½ cents a pound, but very
inferior to Buffalo. Camped at a deserted wood yard, after running
between sixty and seventy miles.

_Saturday, 14th._ A windy night, and after eight days' good run, I fear
we shall be delayed to-day. Stopped by a high wind at twelve o'clock. We
ran ashore, and I undertook to push the boat afloat, and undressing for
the purpose got so deep in the mud that I had to spend a much longer
time than I desired in very cold water. Visited two farm houses, and
bought chickens, eggs, and butter; very little of this last. At one
place we procured corn bread. The squatter visited our boat, and we
camped near him. He seemed a good man; was from North Carolina, and had
a fine family. Michaux killed two Hutchins' Geese,[42] the first I ever
saw in the flesh. Ran about twenty miles; steamer "Lebanon" passed us
going downwards, one hour before sunset. Turkeys and Long-tailed
Squirrels very abundant.

_Sunday, 15th._ Cold, foggy, and cloudy; started early. Passed Chariton
River and village, and Glasgow; bought bread, and oats for my Deer.
Abundance of Geese and Ducks. Passed Arrow Rock at eleven. Passed
Boonesville, the finest country on this river; Rocheport, with high,
rocky cliffs; six miles below which we encamped, having run sixty miles.

_Monday, 16th._ Beautiful autumnal morning, a heavy white frost and no
wind. Started early, before six. The current very strong. Passed
Nashville, Marion, and steamer "Lexington" going up. Jefferson City at
twelve. Passed the Osage River and saw twenty-four Deer opposite Smith
Landing; camped at sundown, and found Giraud, the "strong man." Ran
sixty-one miles. Met the steamer "Satan," badly steered. Abundance of
Geese and Ducks everywhere.

_Tuesday, 17th._ Calm and very foggy. Started early and floated a good
deal with the strong current. Saw two Deer. The fog cleared off by nine
o'clock. Passed the Gasconade River at half-past nine. Landed at
Pinckney to buy bread, etc. Buffaloes have been seen mired, and unable
to defend themselves, and the Wolves actually eating their noses while
they struggled, but were eventually killed by the Wolves. Passed
Washington and encamped below it at sundown; a good run.

_Wednesday, 18th._ Fine and calm; started very early. Passed Mount
Pleasant. Landed at St. Charles to purchase bread, etc. Provost became
extremely drunk, and went off by land to St. Louis. Passed the
Charbonnière River, and encamped about one mile below. The steamer
"Tobacco Plant" landed on the shore opposite. Bell and Harris killed a
number of Gray Squirrels.

_Thursday, 19th._ A heavy white frost, foggy, but calm. We started
early, the steamer after us. Forced by the fog to stop on a bar, but
reached St. Louis at three in the afternoon. Unloaded and sent all the
things to Nicholas Berthoud's warehouse. Wrote home.

Left St. Louis October 22, in steamer "Nautilus" for Cincinnati.

Reached home at 3 P.M., November 6th, 1843, and thank God, found all my
family quite well.[43]

       [COPIED FROM BELL'S JOURNAL.[44]]

"_August 2._ Started at half-past seven this morning; saw several
Yellow-legs (Godwits), and some young Blue-winged Teal in the pond in
the first prairie. Shot two Curlews; saw two very fine male Elks; they
were lying down quite near us, under a bank where they got the wind of
us. The Sharp-tailed Grouse are first-rate eating now, as they feed
entirely on grasshoppers, and berries of different kinds. Owen climbed
a tree to a White-headed Eagle's nest, and drove a young one out,
which fell to the ground and was caught alive, and brought to the
fort. Is it not very remarkable that Eagles of this species should
have their young in the nest at this late season, when in the Floridas
I have shot them of the same size in February? Shot at a Wolf, which
being wounded, went off about one hundred yards, and yelled like a
dog; a very remarkable instance, as all we have killed or wounded, and
they have been many, rarely make any sound, and if they do it is
simply a snapping at their pursuer. As we went up the Missouri on the
7th instant, I found numbers of Cliff Swallow's nests, with the old
ones feeding their young. This is also very late and uncommon at this
season. Saw a Peregrine Falcon feeding its young. La Fleur shot two
bucks of the White-tailed Deer with two shots, and the meat, which
we brought home, proved fat and good. Saw Beaver tracks, and young
Green-winged Teals. We saw hills impregnated with sulphur and coal,
some of them on fire, and now and then portions of them gave way, by
hundreds of tons at a time. In one place I saw a vein of coal on fire;
we were following a path close to the foot of a high hill, and at a
turn as we looked ahead, we found the way suddenly blocked by the
earth falling down from above us, and looking up saw a line of coal,
or other dark substance; it was about two feet thick, and about
seventy-five feet from the bottom and forty from the top. It was
burning very slowly, and in several places, for about fifty yards,
emitting whitish smoke, something like sulphur when burning, and
turning the earth or rock above, quite red, or of a brick color. It
would undermine the earth above, which then fell in large masses, and
this was the cause of the obstruction in the path before us. It must
have been burning for a long time, as it had already burned some
distance along the hill, and hundreds of tons of earth had fallen. In
some places I saw banks of clay twenty feet high, quite red, hard in
some parts, and in others very scaly and soft, even crumbling to
pieces. Where the fire was burning, the clay was red, varying from one
to three feet in thickness; no appearance of coal presented itself
where the fire had passed along and was extinguished, but very
distinct above the fire, and I have no doubt there is a small quantity
of sulphur mixed with this coal, or whatever the substance may be. In
another place a short distance from these hills, and in a ravine, I
also saw some red stones which looked very much as if the corners of a
house which had once been there still remained, with the remnants of
two sides yet straight. These stones varied from six to twenty inches
in thickness, and many of them were square and about eighteen or
twenty feet high; we had not time to remain and examine and measure as
carefully as I should have liked to do."

  [Illustration: MRS. AUDUBON, 1854.
    FROM A DAGUERREOTYPE.]


EXTRACTS from Mr. Culbertson's Journal, kept at Fort McKenzie, Blackfeet
Indian Country in 1834.[45]

"_Friday, June 13._ Blood Indians started this morning to go to war
against the Crows. They had not left long, when the 'Old Bull's
Backfat's' son, with his sister, brother, and brother-in-law, returned
to the fort, saying they must go back to the camp. After I had given
them tobacco and ammunition they all started, but did not get more than
two miles from the fort before they were all killed by the Crows, except
one, who by some means leaped on one of the Crow horses and fled to the
fort. The squaw no doubt was taken prisoner, as in the evening I went
out and found the bodies of her husband and brother, but she was not
there. On Saturday, the 14th, I went out and brought in the bodies, and
had them decently interred. The young man who had escaped was only
slightly wounded, and started again for the camp with three Gros
Ventres.

"_Tuesday, 24th._ We were all surprised this evening at the arrival of
the squaw who had been taken prisoner, and who had been carried to the
Crow village where she was kept tied every night until the one in which
she made her escape. During the previous day having it in contemplation
to escape, she took the precaution of hiding a knife under her garment
of skins, but most unfortunately she went out with one of the Crow
squaws, and in stooping, the knife fell out; this was reported, and as a
punishment she was stripped of every particle of clothing, and when
night came was not tied, as it was not imagined she would leave the
cover of the tent. However, she decided nothing should keep her from
availing herself of the only opportunity she might ever have; she
started with _absolutely no covering of any kind_, and in this plight
she travelled across the prairies, almost without stopping to rest, and
with little food, for _four days and three nights_; unfortunately the
weather was unusually cold for the season, as well as wet. She arrived
at the fort in a most wretched and pitiable condition, but greatly to
the joy and consolation of her relations and friends. She said that
after her arrival at the Crow village, they made her dance with the
scalps of her brother and husband tied to her hair, and clothed in the
bloody shirt of the latter. On Wednesday, 25th, a band of four hundred
Crows arrived with the intention of taking the fort by stratagem if they
could get the opportunity; but they failed in this, as I would not allow
one of them inside the fort, or to come within firing distance of their
arms. They used every artifice in their power to persuade me to let in a
few of them to smoke the pipe of peace, assuring me that their
intentions were good, and that they loved the white people. Finding all
this of no avail, they brought their best horses to give to me, for
which they did not wish to receive anything more than the privilege of
letting some of them come in; but all this was in vain, as I was well
aware of their treacherous intentions. I divided my men in the two
bastions, with orders to fire upon the first one that might approach
during the night, and warned them of my having given such orders,
telling them that I did not wish to strike the first blow, but that if
they commenced they would go off with small numbers, and sore hearts.
There was an American with them who now told me of their intentions, and
that they were determined to take the fort. I sent them word by him that
we were ready for them if they thought themselves able to do so, and to
come and try; but when they saw our cannon pointed towards them, they
were not so anxious to make a rush. On the 26th the Crows made another
attempt to get in, but after a long and persuasive talk they found that
it would not do. They then crossed the river and came on the high bank
opposite to the fort, and fired upon us, and while some of them were yet
crossing the river I let loose a cannon ball among them, which, if it
did no harm, made them move at a quick pace, and after a while they all
went off, leaving us without food of any sort; but fortunately on Monday
the 30th, a party of Blood Indians came in from the Crows with fifteen
horses and considerable meat. The Crows had taken all our horses shortly
before, and promised to return them in a few days if I would let them
in. I was also informed that they had even brought pack-horses to carry
off the goods from the fort after having accomplished the destruction of
the building and the massacre of ourselves."

From these extracts the nature of the Indians of these regions may be
exemplified a thousand times better, _because true_, than by all the
trashy stuff written and published by Mr. Catlin.


DESCRIPTION OF FORT UNION

BY EDWIN T. DENIG. JULY 30, 1843

"Fort Union, the principal and handsomest trading-post on the Missouri
River, is situated on the north side, about six and a half miles above
the mouth of the Yellowstone River; the country around it is beautiful,
and well chosen for an establishment of the kind. The front of the fort
is but a few steps, say twenty-five, from the bank of the Missouri.
Behind the fort is a prairie with an agreeable ascent to the
commencement of the bluffs, about one and a half miles in width, and two
in length, surrounded at the borders with high hills, or bluffs. Above
and below, at the distance of two hundred yards commence the points, or
bottoms, of the Missouri, which contain great quantities of cottonwood,
ash, and elm, supplying the fort with fuel, boat and building timber.
The fort itself was begun in the fall of 1829, under the superintendence
of Kenneth McKenzie, Esq., an enterprising and enlightened Scotchman,
and now a well known and successful merchant in St. Louis. As the
immense deal of work about such an undertaking had but few men to
accomplish it, it was not wholly completed till after the expiration of
_four years_, and indeed since then has been greatly improved by the
other gentlemen who subsequently took charge of the fort. The plan of
the fort is laid nearly due north and south, fronting 220 feet and
running back 240 feet. This space is enclosed by pickets or palisades of
twenty feet high, made of large hewn cottonwood, and founded upon stone.
The pickets are fitted into an open framework in the inside, of
sufficient strength to counterbalance their weight, and sustained by
braces in the form of an X, which reaches in the inside from the pickets
to the frame, so as to make the whole completely solid and secure, from
either storm or attack. On the southwest and northeast corners, are
bastions, built entirely out of stone, and measuring 24 feet square,
over 30 feet high, and the wall three feet thick; this is whitewashed.
Around the tops of the second stories are balconies with railings, which
serve for observatories, and from the tops of the roofs are two
flag-staffs 25 feet high, on which wave the proud Eagle of America. Two
weathercocks, one a Buffalo bull, the other an Eagle, complete the
outsides. In the interior of the northeast bastion are placed opposite
their port-holes one three-pounder iron cannon and one brass swivel,
both mounted, and usually kept loaded, together with a dozen muskets in
case of a sudden attack from the Indians. Balls, cartridges, and other
ammunition are always in readiness for the use of the same. The
contents of the southeast bastion are similar to those of the other,
with the exception of the cannon, having but one small swivel. These and
other preparations render the place impregnable to any force without,
not furnished with artillery. The principal building in the
establishment, and that of the gentleman in charge, or Bourgeois, is now
occupied by Mr. Culbertson, one of the partners of the Company. It is 78
feet front by 24 feet depth, and a story and a half high. The front has
a very imposing appearance, being neatly weather-boarded, and painted
white, and with green window-shutters; it is roofed with shingle,
painted red to preserve the wood. In the roof in front are four dormer
windows, which serve to give light to the attic. The piazza in front
adds much to the comfort and appearance, the posts are all turned, and
painted white. It serves as a pleasant retreat from the heat of the day,
and is a refreshing place to sleep at night when mosquitoes are plenty.
Mr. Audubon, the naturalist, now here upon scientific researches,
together with his secretary, Mr. Squires, prefer this hard bed to the
more luxurious comforts of feathers and sheets. The interior of this
building is handsomely papered and ornamented with portraits and
pictures, and portioned off in the following manner. Mr. Culbertson has
the principal room, which is large, commodious, and well-furnished; from
it he has a view of all that passes within the fort. Next to this is the
office, which is devoted exclusively to the business of the Company,
which is immense. This department is now under my supervision (viz., E.
T. Denig). These two rooms occupy about one-half the building. In the
middle is a hall, eight feet wide, which separates these rooms from the
other part. In this is the mess-room, which is nearly equal in size to
that of Mr. Culbertson. Here the Bourgeois, taking his seat at the head
of the table, attends to its honors, and serves out the _luxuries_ this
wilderness produces to his visitors and clerks, who are seated in their
proper order and rank. The mechanics of the fort eat at the second
table. Adjoining this room is the residence of Mr. Denig. In the upper
story are at present located Mr. Audubon and his suite. Here from the
pencils of Mr. Audubon and Mr. Sprague emanate the splendid paintings
and drawings of animals and plants, which are the admiration of all; and
the Indians regard them as marvellous, and almost to be worshipped. In
the room next to this is always kept a selection of saddlery and
harness, in readiness for rides of pleasure, or for those rendered
necessary for the protection of the horses which are kept on the
prairie, and which suffer from frequent depredations on the part of the
Indians, which it is the duty of the men at the fort to ward off as far
as possible. The next apartment is the tailor's shop, so placed as to be
out of the way of the Indian visitors as much as possible, who, were it
at all easy of access, would steal some of the goods which it is
necessary to have always on hand. So much for the principal house. On
the east side of the fort, extending north and south, is a building, on
range, all under one roof, 127 ft. long by 25 ft. deep, and used for the
following purposes. A small room at the north end for stores and
luggage; then the retail store, in which is kept a fair supply of
merchandise, and where all white persons buy or sell. The prices of all
goods are fixed by a tariff or stationary value, so that no bargaining
or cheating is allowed; this department is now in charge of Mr.
Larpenteur. Adjoining this is the wholesale warehouse, in which is kept
the principal stock of goods intended for the extensive trade; this room
is 57 ft. in length. Next is a small room for the storage of meat and
other supplies. At the end is the press room, where all robes, furs, and
peltries are stored. The dimensions extend to the top of the roof
inside, which roof is perfectly waterproof. It will contain from 2800 to
3000 packs of Buffalo robes. All this range is very strongly put
together, weather-boarded outside, and lined with plank within. It has
also cellar and garret. Opposite this, on the other side of the fort
enclosure, is a similar range of buildings 119 ft. long by 21 ft. wide,
perhaps not quite so strongly built, but sufficiently so to suit all
purposes. The height of the building is in proportion to that of the
pickets; it is one large story high, and shingle-roofed. This is
partitioned off into six different apartments of nearly equal size. The
first two are appropriated to the use of the clerks who may be stationed
at the post. The next is the residence of the hunters, and the remaining
three the dwellings of the men in the employ of the Company. An
ice-house 24 by 21 ft. is detached from this range, and is well filled
with ice during the winter, which supply generally lasts till fall. Here
is put all fresh meat in the hot weather, and the fort in the summer
season is usually provisioned for ten days. The kitchen is behind the
Bourgeois' house on the north side, and about two steps from the end of
the hall,--so situated for convenience in carrying in the cooked
victuals to the mess-room. Two or three cooks are usually employed
therein, at busy times more. The inside frame-work of the fort, which
sustains the pickets, forms all around a space about eight feet wide
described by the braces or =X=, and about fifteen feet high. A balcony
is built on the top of this, having the summit of the =X= for its basis,
and is formed of sawed plank nailed to cross beams from one brace to
another. This balcony affords a pleasant walk all round the inside of
the fort, within five feet of the top of the pickets; from here also is
a good view of the surrounding neighborhood, and it is well calculated
for a place of defence. It is a favorite place from which to shoot
Wolves after nightfall, and for standing guard in time of danger. The
openings that would necessarily follow from such a construction, under
the gallery, are fitted in some places with small huts or houses.
Behind the kitchen there are five of such houses, leaving at the same
time plenty of space between them and the other buildings. The first of
these is a stable for Buffalo calves, which are annually raised here,
being caught during the severe storms of winter; the second a hen-house,
well lined, plastered, and filled with chickens; third, a very pleasant
room intended as an artist's work-room, fourth, a cooper's shop, and
then the milk house and dairy. Several houses of the same kind and
construction are also built on the west and south sides; one contains
coal for the blacksmith, and ten stables, in all 117 ft. long, and 10
ft. wide, with space enough to quarter fifty horses. These are very
useful, as the Company have always a number of horses and cattle here.
These buildings, it will be understood, do not interfere with the Area
or Parade of the fort, and are hardly noticed by a casual observer, but
occupy the space under the balcony that would otherwise be useless and
void. Fifty more of the same kind could be put up without intruding upon
any portion of the fort used for other purposes. On the front side, and
west of the gate, is a house 50 by 21 feet, which, being divided into
two parts, one half opening into the fort, is used as a blacksmith's,
gunsmith's, and tinner's shop; the other part is used as a
reception-room for Indians, and opens into the passage, which is made by
the double gate. There are two large outside gates to the fort, one each
in the middle of the front and rear, and upon the top of the front one
is a painting of a treaty of peace between the Indians and whites
executed by J. B. Moncrévier, Esq. These gates are 12 ft. wide, and 14
ft. high. At the front there is an inside gate of the same size at the
inner end of the Indian reception room, which shuts a passage from the
outside gate of 32 ft. in length, and the same width as the gate; the
passage is formed of pickets. The outside gate can be left open, and the
inside one closed, which permits the Indians to enter the reception
room without their having any communication with the fort. Into this
room are brought all trading and war parties, until such time as their
business is ascertained; there is also behind this room a trade shop,
and leading into it a window through which the Indians usually trade,
being secure from rain or accident; there is also another window through
the pickets to the outside of the fort, which is used in trading when
the Indians are troublesome, or too numerous. The Powder Magazine is
perhaps the best piece of work, as regards strength and security, that
could be devised for a fort like this. The dimensions are 25 by 18 ft.;
it is built out of stone, which is a variety of limestone with a
considerable quantity of sand in its composition. The walls are 4 ft.
thick at the base, and increasing with the curve of the arch become
gradually thicker as they rise, so that near the top they are about 6
ft. in thickness. The inside presents a complete semicircular arch,
which is covered on the top with stones and gravel to the depth of 18
inches. The whole is covered with a shingle roof through which fire may
burn yet with no danger to the powder within. There are two doors, one
on the outside, the other a few feet within; the outer one is covered
with tin. There are several other small buildings under the balcony,
which are used for harness, tool-houses, meat, etc. The space behind the
warehouse between that and the pickets, being free from buildings,
affords a good horse yard, and some shelter to the horses in bad
weather. The area of the fort within the fronts of the houses is 189 ft.
long, and 141 ft. wide. In the centre of this arises a flag-staff 63 ft.
high. This is surrounded at the base by a railing and panel work in an
octagonal form, enclosing a portion of ground 12 ft. in diameter, in
which are planted lettuce, radishes, and cress, and which presents at
the same time a useful and handsome appearance. By the side of this
stands a mounted four-pounder iron cannon. This flag-staff is the glory
of the fort, for on high, seen from far and wide, floats the Star
Spangled Banner, an immense flag which once belonged to the United
States Navy, and gives the certainty of security from dangers, rest to
the weary traveller, peace and plenty to the fatigued and hungry, whose
eyes are gladdened by the sight of it on arriving from the long and
perilous voyages usual in this far western wild. It is customary on the
arrivals and departures of the Bourgeois, or of the boats of gentlemen
of note, to raise the flag, and by the firing of the cannon show them a
welcome, or wish them a safe arrival at their point of destination. When
interest and affection are as circumscribed as here, they must
necessarily be more intense, and partings are more regretted, being
accompanied by dangers to the departing friends, and meetings more
cordial, those dangers having been surmounted. The casualties of the
country are common to all, and felt the more by the handful, who, far
from civilization, friends, or kindred, are associated in those risks
and excitements which accrue from a life among savages. About two
hundred feet east of Fort Union is an enclosure about 150 ft. square,
which is used for hay and other purposes. Two hundred and fifty good
cart-loads of hay are procured during the summer and stacked up in this
place for winter use of horses and cattle, the winter being so severe
and long, and snow so deep that little food is to be found for them on
the prairies at that season. There are, at present, in this place thirty
head of cattle, forty horses, besides colts, and a goodly number of
hogs. A garden on a small scale is attached to the 'old fort' as it is
called, which supplies the table with peas, turnips, radishes, lettuce,
beets, onions, etc. The large garden, half a mile off and below the
fort, contains one and a half acres, and produces most plentiful and
excellent crops of potatoes, corn, and every kind of vegetable, but has
not been worked this year. In the summer of 1838, Mr. Culbertson had
from it 520 bushels of potatoes, and as many other vegetables as he
required for the use of the fort. Rainy seasons prove most favorable in
this climate for vegetation, but they rarely occur. It is indeed
pleasant to know that the enterprising men who commenced, and have
continued with untiring perseverance, the enlargement of the Indian
trade, and labored hard for the subordination, if not civilization, of
the Indians, should occasionally sit down under their own vine and
fig-tree, and enjoy at least the semblance of living like their more
quiet, though not more useful brothers in the United States."


FORT McKENZIE

BY ALEXANDER CULBERTSON, ESQ. AUGUST 7, 1843

"The American Fur Company, whose untiring perseverance and enterprise
have excited the wonder and admiration of many people, both in this and
other countries, and who have already acquired a well-earned fame for
their labors among the aborigines of this wilderness, and who are now an
example of the energy of the American people, had, until the year 1832,
no stations among the Blackfeet, Piegans, Blood Indians, or Gros Ventres
de Prairie, these tribes being so hostile and bloodthirsty as to make
the trading, or the erecting of a fort among them too dangerous to be
attempted. At last, however, these dangers and difficulties were
undertaken, commenced, and surmounted, and Fort McKenzie was erected in
the very heart of these tribes. The fort was begun in 1832, under the
superintendence of David D. Mitchell, then one of the clerks of the
Company, now U.S. Superintendent of Indian Affairs. The fort was
completed by me, Alexander Culbertson, then a clerk of the Company, now
one of the partners. During the first year, owing to the exigencies of
the occasion, a temporary, though substantial fort was erected, which,
however, served to protect the daring few who undertook and accomplished
the perilous task. To those who are quietly sitting by their firesides
in the heart of civilized life, enjoying all its luxuries, pleasures,
and comforts, and who are far removed from the prairie land and the red
men, the situation of this party can hardly be pictured. They were
surrounded by dangers of all kinds, but more especially from the tribes
of Indians before mentioned. Two thousand lodges of Blackfeet were near
them, waiting only until an opportunity should offer to satisfy their
thirst for blood, to fall upon and kill them. Apart from this tribe the
others were loitering around them for the same purpose; add to this,
privations, fatigues, hardships, and personal ills which have to be
encountered in a country like this. All, however, was met courageously;
undaunted by appearances, unintimidated by threats, not unmanned by
hardships and fatigues, they pushed ahead, completed the fort, and at
last accomplished their object of establishing a trade with the tribes
above mentioned; and they now enjoy a comparative peace, and are living
upon fairly friendly terms with their late most violent enemies. During
the following year another fort was commenced and completed, and
retained its former name of Fort McKenzie, being named after Kenneth
McKenzie, Esq., one of the partners of the Company. The fort is situated
on the north side of the Missouri, about six miles above the mouth of
the Maria, and about forty miles below the 'Great Falls' of the
Missouri, on a beautiful prairie, about fifteen feet above the
highest-water mark, and about 225 feet from the river. The prairie rises
gradually from the water's edge to the hills in the rear, about half a
mile from the river. It is about a mile long, terminating at a 'côte qui
trompe de l'eau' on the lower end, and in a point at the upper end,
formerly heavily covered with timber, but now entirely destitute.
Opposite the fort is a high perpendicular bank of black clay, rising
from the river to the height of 150 feet; from this all that takes place
within the walls of the fort can be seen, which would seem to have
rendered the placing of the fort in such a position extremely
injudicious. But not through carelessness was this done; it is simply
the _sole place_ in this section of country, near the river, where a
fort can be built, as the land is so rough and uneven as to render the
erection of a fort at any other spot _impossible_. From this bank little
or no danger is apprehended, as the river is about one hundred yards
wide, and a ball fired by the Indians from this height, and at this
distance, with the weapons that they have, would be incapable of doing
any execution. Timber in this country has become very scarce; points
which a few years ago were covered with heavy forests of the different
kinds of wood of the district have by some law of nature become entirely
destitute, especially a point below the island called by the voyageurs
the 'Grand Isle' (which is situated at the commencement of the Mauvaises
Terres), where it has dwindled to a few scattering cottonwoods and box
elders; and this is the only wood now to be found in this section of the
country between 'Grand Isle' and the 'Great Falls' of the Missouri. It
is with the greatest difficulty and economy that from the little wood to
be found the fort is supplied with the necessary fuel; this is dealt out
as a ration, allowing a certain quantity to each room, sufficient,
however, to do the cooking, and warm the inmates. _At all times,_ except
when serving the ration, the wood is kept closely locked. This is one of
the privations of the country, and, indeed the country affords very
little which adds to the comfort of the trader who makes these wilds his
home, except such as can be procured from the wild animals. Three sides
of the fort are built of pickets of hewn cottonwood, squared, placed
close together, eighteen feet long, planted three feet deep in the
earth, leaving fifteen feet above ground. The pickets are connected at
the top by a strong piece pinned to them. The fourth side, facing the
northeast, is built of pickets framed in wooden sills lying in the
ground, similar to those at Fort Union. The fort is two hundred feet
square, ranging north and south and facing south. On the northeast and
southwest corners are bastions built of cottonwood timber, ball proof,
rising about eight feet above the pickets, twenty feet square and
divided into two stories. In each bastion is a cannon, loaded muskets,
cartridges, balls, and every requisite necessary to prevent and repel
any attack that may take place, and which is hourly expected, from the
surrounding tribes of Indians. In each bastion are port and loop holes
for the cannon and muskets, and these command the four sides of pickets,
and an extensive range over the prairie. Along the rear line of pickets,
and about twenty-five feet from them, is the principal range of
buildings in the fort. These are occupied by the Bourgeois, clerks, and
interpreters. It is divided into three apartments; the principal room,
with every comfort that this dreary place affords, belongs to the
Bourgeois and is twenty feet square; and here, to partially remove the
_ennui_ of dull times, is a library of such books as time and
opportunity have permitted the dwellers in the fort to collect; this is
at the command of those who choose to 'drive dull care away,' and
contains a little of everything, science, history, poetry, and fiction.
Adjoining this room is a hall or passage eight feet wide, running from
front to rear of the building, with a door opening into the Bourgeois's
room, another opening into the clerk's room; the clerk's room is also
used as a mess-room and is the same size as that of the Bourgeois.
Adjoining the clerk's room is the one belonging to the interpreters; it
is twenty-four by twenty feet and is also used as a council room, and
reception room for the chiefs that may arrive at the fort. _The chiefs
only_ are admitted within the walls; not that any danger is apprehended
now from them, but to prevent any trouble that might possibly occur were
numbers permitted to enter. The house is of cottonwood logs, with a
plank roof covered with earth, chimneys of mud, two windows and doors in
the Bourgeois's room, one each in the other rooms. The interior is
ceiled and walled with plank. In the Bourgeois's room are two doors made
of pine plank which was sawed in the Rocky Mountains. The house is 75 by
20 ft. Most of the buildings in the fort are made in a similar manner.
Above the three rooms described is a garret extending the whole length
of the building. About three feet back of this edifice is the kitchen, a
neat building twenty feet square, in which everything belonging to this
most important and useful apartment is to be found, always in good
order, clean and bright, as it is the imperative duty of the cook, or
person in charge, to have all connected with this department in perfect
order. From this room _all_ persons are excluded, unless duty or
business requires them to be there. Adjoining this, on the same line
north, is a house of the same dimensions as the kitchen, which is used
for salting and preserving tongues, one of the delicacies of the
civilized world; when not thus used it answers the purpose of a
wash-house. In these buildings are bedrooms occupied by the persons
having charge of these departments. Extending along the west line of
pickets, and about three feet from them, leaving a space between the
range and the Bourgeois's house is a line of buildings divided in four
apartments; one used for a blacksmith's and tinner's shop, another for a
carpenter's shop, one for the tailor, and the other for the men. In the
square formed by the pickets and ends of the Bourgeois's and men's
houses, is a yard for sawing timber, a quantity of which is necessarily
required about the fort. A house running from the south bastion to the
passage, twenty-four feet square, is used as a reception room for war
and trading parties; a door leads from this to the passage formed by the
double gates, thereby cutting off all communication with the interior of
the fort. In this room all parties are received by the interpreter, who
is always ready to smoke and talk with the Indians. Next to this room is
a passage formed by the double gates, and two parallel lines of pickets
extending inwards, making the passage about thirty feet long and twelve
wide; at the ends are two large gates, about twelve feet wide and the
same height. Opposite the room last described is a similar one 20 by 15
ft., in which the Indians bring their robes to trade. Next this is a
trade store, where are kept goods, trinkets, etc., to be traded with the
Indians. The trading is done through a window or wicket two feet square,
and a foot thick, strongly hinged to the picket; this opening is at the
command of the trader, who can open or close it, as the Indians may
appear friendly or otherwise, thereby completely cutting off, if
necessary, all communication between the Indians and the trade store;
and it is through this opening _only_ that trade is carried on. Next
this is a room twenty-four feet square, where all goods obtained from
the Indians are placed as soon as the trade is finished; and adjoining
the trade shop is a room, between it and the pickets, about ten feet
square, with a window and door opening into the trade shop, with a
chimney, fireplace, and stove used only for warming the trader when off
duty, or when awaiting the arrival of Indians. Along the east line of
pickets, and about forty feet from them, is another range of buildings,
about a hundred feet long and twenty deep, divided into five apartments.
The first three are for storing packs of robes, furs, peltries, etc.,
and will hold eighteen hundred packs of robes; the fourth room is a
retail store, 15 by 20 ft., in which is always a good assortment of
stores, the prices fixed by a regular tariff, so no cheating is
possible. All whites buy and sell here. Fifth, is the wholesale
warehouse, in which are boxes, bales, and all goods kept in quantity
till required. Within a few feet of this, and northeast, is the meat
house, twenty-four feet square, in which all meat traded from the
Indians is kept till needed for use. Near the meat house south is a
powder magazine, a hole dug in the ground ten feet square, walled with
timber to the surface, covered with a timber roof four feet above the
surface in the centre, and this is covered to the depth of three feet
with earth; in the roof is an outer door three feet square, opening upon
another of the same size; this is so arranged that in case of fire the
whole can be covered in a few minutes, and rendered fire-proof. In the
southeast corner is a large barn, 60 by 50 ft., capable of containing
sufficient hay for all the cattle and horses during the long, cold,
tedious winters of this country. Adjoining is a range of large and warm
stables for the horses of the fort, and some extra ones if required,
providing them with a good shelter from the piercing cold and severe
storms. Extending from the stables is a range of small buildings used
for keeping saddlery, harness, boat-rigging, tools, etc., thereby
providing 'a place for everything,' and it is required that everything
shall be in its place. Over this is a gallery extending along this line
of pickets, answering the purposes of a promenade, observatory, guard
station, and place of defence. In the southeast corner in front of the
barn is a yard 30 by 60 ft., used for receiving carts, wagons, wood, and
so forth. At the end of the yard in the rear of the dry-goods warehouse
is an ice house, that will contain nearly forty loads of ice; meat
placed here will keep several days in the heat of summer, and thus save
the hunter from a daily ride over the burning prairies. The stock
belonging to the fort consists of thirty to forty horses, ten or twelve
cattle, and a number of hogs. Fort McKenzie boasts of one of the most
splendid Durham bulls that can be found in the United States or
Territories. The area in front of the buildings is about a hundred feet
square; from the centre rises a flag-staff fifty feet high; from this
wave the glorious folds of the starry banner of our native land, made
more beautiful by its situation in the dreary wilderness around it. The
wanderer, as he sees the bright folds from afar, hails them with
gladness, as it means for him a place of safety. No sight is more
welcome to the voyageur, the hunter, or the trapper. That flag cheers
all who claim it as theirs, and it protects all, white men or red. Here
in the wilderness all fly to it for refuge, and depend on it for
security. Upon the arrival or departure of the Bourgeois, men of note,
or arrival and departure of the boats, the flag is raised, and salutes
fired. Here, where but few are gathered together, undying attachments
are formed, a unanimity of feeling exists, to be found perhaps only in
similar situations. When the hour of parting comes it is with regret,
for amid the common dangers, so well known, none know when the meeting
again will be, and when the hour of meeting comes, the joy is honest and
unfeigned that the dangers are safely surmounted. Such is Fort McKenzie,
such are its inmates. Removed as they are from civilization and its
pleasures, home and friends, they find in each other friends and
brothers: friends that forsake not in the hour of danger, but cling
through all changes; brothers in feeling and action, and 'though there
be many, in heart they are one.'"

FOOTNOTES:

[1] "We halted for dinner at a village which we suppose to have belonged
to the Ricaras. It is situated in a low plain on the river, and consists
of about eighty lodges of an octagon form, neatly covered with earth,
placed as close to each other as possible, and picketed round." ("Lewis
and Clark," ed. 1893.)

"The village of the Rikaras, Arickaras, or Rikarees, for the name is
variously written, is between the 46th and 47th parallels of north
latitude, and 1,430 miles above the mouth of the Missouri.... It was
divided into two portions, about eighty yards apart, being inhabited by
two distinct bands. The whole extended about three quarters of a mile
along the river bank, and was composed of conical lodges, that looked
like so many small hillocks, being wooden frames intertwined with osier,
and covered with earth." ("Astoria," W. Irving.)

"From the hills we had a fine prospect over the bend of the river, on
which the villages of the Arikkaras are situated. The two villages of
this tribe are on the west bank, very near each other, but separated by
a small stream. They consist of a great number of clay huts, round at
top, with a square entrance in front, and the whole surrounded with a
fence of stakes, which were much decayed and in many places thrown
down." ("Travels in North America," p. 166, Maximilian, Prince of Wied.)

[2] "General Ashley of Missouri, a man whose courage and achievements in
the prosecution of his enterprises had rendered him famous in the Far
West in conjunction with Mr. [Andrew?] Henry, of the Missouri Trading
Co., established a post on the banks of the Yellowstone River in 1822."
("Capt. Bonneville," W. Irving.)

[3] "We reached the mouth of Le Boulet, or Cannon Ball River. This
stream rises in the Black Mts. and falls into the Missouri; its channel
is about 140 feet wide, though the water is now confined within 40; its
name is derived from the numbers of perfectly round stones on the shore
and in the bluffs just above." ("Lewis and Clark," ed. 1893.)

"We came to an aperture in the chain of hills, from which this river,
which was very high, issues. On the north side of the mouth there was a
steep, yellow clay wall; and on the southern, a flat, covered with
poplars and willows. This river has its name from the singular regular
sandstone balls which are found in its banks, and in those of the
Missouri in its vicinity. They are of various sizes, from that of a
musket ball to that of a large bomb, and lie irregularly on the bank, or
in the strata, from which they often project to half their thickness;
when the river has washed away the earth they then fall down, and are
found in great numbers on the bank. Many of them are rather elliptical,
others are more flattened, others flat on one side and convex on the
other. Of the _perfectly spherical_ balls, I observed some two feet in
diameter. A mile above the mouth of Cannon Ball River I saw no more of
them." ("Travels in North America," p. 167, Maximilian, Prince of Wied.)

[4] Present name of the stream which falls into the Missouri from the
east, about five miles below Fort Rice; Chewah or Fish River of Lewis
and Clark; Shewash River of Maximilian. Audubon is now approaching
Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota.--E. C.

[5] Charles Primeau was born at St. Louis, Mo., entered the American Fur
Company as clerk, and continued in that service many years. Later he
helped to form an opposition company under the name of Harvey, Primeau,
& Co., which did business for a few years, until, like most of the
smaller concerns, it was absorbed by the American Fur Co. He then went
back to his former employers, and afterward was engaged by the U.S.
Government as Indian interpreter, long holding this position. In 1896 he
was living in the vicinity of Fort Yates.--E. C.

[6] The "Assiniboin" was the steamer on which Maximilian, Prince of
Wied, travelled down the Missouri in 1833.

[7] This is an interesting note of the early French name on the Missouri
of the persons about a boat whom we should call "stevedores," or
"roustabouts." The French word _charette_, or _charrette_, occurs also
as a personal name, and it will be remembered that there was a town of
La Charette on the Lower Missouri.--E. C.

[8] Heart River, the stream which falls into the Missouri near the town
of Mandan, about opposite Bismarck, N. Dak. Here the river is now
bridged by the Northern Pacific Railroad, which crosses the Missouri
from Bismarck, and follows up Heart River for some distance.--E. C.

[9] "Fort Clark came in sight, with a background of the blue prairie
hills, and with the gay American banner waving from the flag-staff....
The fort is built on a smaller scale, on a plan similar to that of all
the other trading posts or forts of the company. Immediately behind the
fort there were, in the prairie, seventy leather tents of the Crows."
(Prince of Wied, p. 171.)

Fort Clark stood on the right bank of the Missouri, and thus across the
river from the original Fort Mandan built by Lewis and Clark in the fall
of 1804. Maximilian has much to say of it and of Mr. Kipp.

[10] This Fox was probably the cross variety of the Long-tailed Prairie
Fox, _Vulpes macrourus_ of Baird, Stansbury's Exped. Great Salt Lake,
June, 1852, p. 309; _Vulpes utah_ of Aud. and Bach. Quad. N. Am. iii.,
1853, p. 255, pl. 151 (originally published by them in Proc. Acad.
Philad., July, 1852, p. 114).--E. C.

[11] No doubt the _Mammillaria vivipara_, a small globose species, quite
different from the common _Opuntia_ or prickly pear of the Missouri
region.--E. C.

[12] The individual so designated was an important functionary in these
villages, whose authority corresponded with that of our "chief of
police," and was seldom if ever disputed.--E. C.

[13] "It rises to the west of the Black Mts., across the northern
extremity of which it finds a narrow, rapid passage along high
perpendicular banks, then seeks the Missouri in a northeasterly
direction, through a broken country with highlands bare of timber, and
the low grounds particularly supplied with cottonwood, elm, small ash,
box, alder, and an undergrowth of willow, red-wood, red-berry, and
choke-cherry.... It enters the Missouri with a bold current, and is 134
yards wide, but its greatest depth is two feet and a half, which, joined
to its rapidity and its sand-bars, makes the navigation difficult except
for canoes." ("Lewis and Clark," ed. 1893, pp. 267, 268.)

"We came to a green spot at the mouth of the Little Missouri, which is
reckoned to be 1670 miles from the mouth of the great Missouri. The
chain of blue hills, with the same singular forms as we had seen before,
appeared on the other side of this river." ("Travels in North America,"
Prince of Wied, p. 182.)

[14] At this time the account of the Prince of Wied had not been
published in English; that translation appeared December, 1843, two
years after the German edition.

[15] This is the Little Knife, or Upper Knife River, to be carefully
distinguished from that Knife River at the mouth of which were the
Minnetaree villages. It falls into the Missouri from the north, in
Mountraille Co., 55 miles above the mouth of the Little Missouri. This
is probably the stream named Goat-pen Creek by Lewis and Clark: see p.
274 of the edition of 1893.--E. C.

[16] Or White Earth River of some maps, a comparatively small stream,
eighteen and one half miles above the mouth of Little Knife River.--E.
C.

[17] Present name of the stream which flows into the Missouri from the
north, in Buford Co. This is the last considerable affluent below the
mouth of the Yellowstone, and the one which Lewis and Clark called White
Earth River, by mistake. See last note.--E. C.

[18] Maximilian, Prince of Wied.

[19] This is a synonym of _Spermophilus tridecem-lineatus_, the
Thirteen-lined, or Federation Sphermophile, the variety that is found
about Fort Union being _S. t. pallidus_.--E. C.

[20] Charles Larpenteur, whose MS. autobiography I possess.--E. C.

[21] This is the first intimation we have of the discovery of the
Missouri Titlark, which Audubon dedicated to Mr. Sprague under the name
of _Alauda spragueii_, B. of Am. vii., 1844, p. 334, pl. 486. It is now
well known as _Anthus (Neocorys) spraguei_.--E. C.

[22] Here is the original indication of the curious Flicker of the Upper
Missouri region, which Audubon named _Picus ayresii_, B. of Am. vii.,
1844, p. 348, pl. 494, after W. O. Ayres. It is the _Colaptes hybridus_
of Baird, and the _C. aurato-mexicanus_ of Hartlaub; in which the
specific characters of the Golden-winged and Red-shafted Flickers are
mixed and obscured in every conceivable degree. We presently find
Audubon puzzled by the curious birds, whose peculiarities have never
been satisfactorily explained.--E. C.

[23] The fact that the _Antilocapra americana_ does shed its horns was
not satisfactorily established till several years after 1843. It was
first brought to the notice of naturalists by Dr. C. A. Canfield of
California, April 10, 1858, and soon afterward became generally known.
(See Proc. Zoöl. Soc. Lond. 1865, p. 718, and 1866, p. 105.) Thereupon
it became evident that, as Audubon says, these animals are not true
Antelopes, and the family _Antilocapridæ_ was established for their
reception. On the whole subject see article in Encycl. Amer. i., 1883,
pp. 237-242, figs. 1-5.--E. C.

[24] That the account given by Audubon is not exaggerated may be seen
from the two accounts following; the first from Lewis and Clark, the
second from the Prince of Wied:--

"The ancient Maha village had once consisted of 300 cabins, but was
burnt about four years ago (1800), soon after the small-pox had
destroyed four hundred men, and a proportion of women and children....
The accounts we have had of the effects of the small-pox are most
distressing; ... when these warriors saw their strength wasting before a
malady which they could not resist, their frenzy was extreme; they burnt
their village, and many of them put to death their wives and children,
to save them from so cruel an affliction, and that they might go
together to some better country."

"New Orleans, June 6, 1838. We have from the trading posts on the
western frontier of Missouri the most frightful accounts of the ravages
of small-pox among the Indians.... The number of victims within a few
months is estimated at 30,000, and the pestilence is still spreading....
The small-pox was communicated to the Indians by a person who was on
board the steamboat which went last summer to the mouth of the
Yellowstone, to convey both the government presents for the Indians, and
the goods for the barter trade of the fur-dealers.... The officers gave
notice of it to the Indians, and exerted themselves to the utmost to
prevent any intercourse between them and the vessel; but this was a vain
attempt.... The disease first broke out about the 15th of June, 1837, in
the village of the Mandans, from which it spread in all directions with
unexampled fury.... Among the remotest tribes of the Assiniboins from
fifty to one hundred died daily.... The ravages of the disorder were
most frightful among the Mandans. That once powerful tribe was
exterminated, with the exception of thirty persons. Their neighbors, the
Gros Ventres and the Riccarees, were out on a hunting excursion at the
time the disorder broke out, so that it did not reach them till a month
later; yet half the tribe were destroyed by October 1. Very few of those
who were attacked recovered.... Many put an end to their lives with
knives or muskets, or by precipitating themselves from the summit of the
rock near the settlement. The prairie all around is a vast field of
death, covered with unburied corpses. The Gros Ventres and the
Riccarees, lately amounting to 4,000 souls, were reduced to less than
one half. The Assiniboins, 9,000 in number, are nearly exterminated.
They, as well as the Crows and Blackfeet, endeavored to fly in all
directions; but the disease pursued them.... The accounts of the
Blackfeet are awful. The inmates of above 1,000 of their tents are
already swept away. No language can picture the scene of desolation
which the country presents. The above does not complete the terrible
intelligence which we receive.... According to the most recent accounts,
the number of Indians who have been swept away by the small-pox, on the
Western frontier of the United States, amounts to more than 60,000."

[25] _Quiscalus brewerii_ of Audubon, B. of Am. vii., 1844, p. 345, pl.
492, now known as _Scolecophagus cyanocephalus_. It was new to our fauna
when thus dedicated by Audubon to his friend Dr. Thomas M. Brewer of
Boston, but had already been described by Wagler from Mexico as
_Psarocolius cyanocephalus_. It is an abundant bird in the West, where
it replaces its near ally, _Scolecophagus carolinus_.--E. C.

[26] This is no doubt the _Lepus artemisia_ of Bachman, Journ. Philad.
Acad. viii., 1839, p. 94, later described and figured by Aud. and Bach.,
Quad. N. Am. ii., 1851, p. 272, pl. 88. It is now generally rated as a
subspecies of the common Cottontail, _L. sylvaticus_. Compare also _L.
nuttalli_, Aud. and Bach. ii., 1851, p. 300, pl. 94.--E. C.

[27] This is the same hybrid Woodpecker which has been already noted on
p. 14.--E. C.

[28] That is, the Chestnut-collared Longspur, _Calcarius ornatus_, which
Mr. Bell was mistaken in supposing to breed in holes of the Ground
Squirrels, or Spermophiles, as it nests on the open ground, like
Sprague's Lark, McCown's Longspur, and most other small birds of the
Western plains. But the surmise regarding the nesting of Say's
Flycatcher is correct. This is a near relative of the common Pewit
Flycatcher, _S. phoebe_, and its nesting places are similar.--E. C.

[29] This passage shows that Audubon observed individuals of the hybrid
Woodpecker which he considered identical with _Colaptes cafer_, and also
others which he regarded as belonging to the supposed new species--his
_C. ayresii_.--E. C.

[30] The usual title or designation of the chief trader or person in
charge of any establishment of a fur company.--E. C.

[31] "The black-tailed deer never runs at full speed, but bounds with
every foot from the ground at the same time, like the mule-deer."
("Lewis and Clark," ed. 1893.)

[32] The above is a very good example of the way these Woodpeckers vary
in color, presenting a case which, as Audubon justly observes, is a
"puzzle to all the naturalists in the world." See note, p. 14.--E. C.

[33] _Vulpes utah_ of Aud. and Bach., Quad. N. Am. iii., 1853, p. 255,
pl. 151, or _V. macrourus_ of Baird, as already noted. This is the
Western variety of the common Red Fox, now usually called _Vulpes fulvus
macrourus_.--E. C.

[34] Among the "birds shot yesterday," July 26, when Audubon was too
full of his Buffalo hunt to notice them in his Journal, were two, a male
and a female, killed by Mr. Bell, which turned out to be new to science.
For these were no other than Baird's Bunting, _Emberiza bairdii_ of
Audubon, B. Amer, vii., 1844, p. 359, pl. 500. Audubon there says it was
"during one of our Buffalo hunts, on the 26th July, 1843," and adds: "I
have named this species after my young friend Spencer F. Baird, of
Carlisle, Pennsylvania." Special interest attaches to this case; for the
bird was not only the first one ever dedicated to Baird, but the last
one ever named, described, and figured by Audubon; and the plate of it
completes the series of exactly 500 plates which the octavo edition of
the "Birds of America" contains. This bird became the _Centronyx
bairdii_ of Baird, the _Passerculus bairdi_ of Coues, and the
_Ammodramus bairdi_ of some other ornithologists. See "Birds of the
Colorado Valley," i., 1878, p. 630. One of Audubon's specimens shot this
day is catalogued in Baird's Birds of N. Am., 1858, p. 441.--E. C.

[35] See Bell's account of the trip, page 176.

[36] Nuttall's Poor-will, now known as _Phalænoptilus nuttalli_, which
has a two-syllabled note, rendered "oh-will" in the text beyond.--E. C.

[37] A _parflèche_ is a hide, usually a Buffalo bull's, denuded of hair,
dressed and stretched to the desired shape. All articles made from this
hide are also called parflèche, such as wallets, pouches, etc.

[38] Niobrara River; for which, and for others here named, see the
previous note, date of May 20.

[39] On the south side of the Missouri, in present Nebraska, a short
distance above the mouth of the Big Sioux. This small stream is Roloje
Creek of Lewis and Clark, Ayoway River of Nicollet, appearing by error
as "Norway" and "Nioway" Creek on General Land Office maps.--E. C.

[40] J. H. K. Burgwin. See a previous note, date of May 10.

[41] Of Maine; in 1843 a second lieutenant of the First Dragoons. He
rose during the Civil War to be lieutenant-colonel of the Fourth
Cavalry, and Brevet Major-General of Volunteers; died Jan. 7, 1873.

[42] _Branta hutchinsi._

[43] Audubon's daughter-in-law, Mrs. V. G. Audubon, writes: "He returned
on the 6th of November, 1843. It was a bright day, and the whole family,
with his old friend Captain Cummings, were on the piazza waiting for the
carriage to come from Harlem [then the only way of reaching New York by
rail] There were two roads, and hearing wheels, some ran one way and
some another, each hoping to be the first to see him; but he had left
the carriage at the top of the hill, and came on foot straight down the
steepest part, so that those who remained on the piazza had his first
kiss. He kissed his sons as well as the ladies of the party. He had on a
green blanket coat with fur collar and cuffs; his hair and beard were
very long, and he made a fine and striking appearance. In this dress his
son John painted his portrait."

[44] See page 126.

[45] These extracts, as well as the descriptions by Mr. Denig and Mr.
Culbertson, of Forts Union and McKenzie, which follow, are in Audubon's
writing, at the end of one of the Missouri River journals, and are given
as descriptions of the life and habitations of those early western
pioneers and fur-traders.



EPISODES[46]


These Episodes were introduced in the letterpress of the first three
volumes of the "Ornithological Biographies," but are not in the octavo
edition of the "Birds of America," and I believe no entire reprint of
them has been made before. So far as possible they have been arranged
chronologically.

      Louisville, in Kentucky. 1808.
      The Ohio. 1810.
      Fishing in the Ohio. 1810.
      A Wild Horse. 1811.
      Breaking up of the Ice. 1811.
      The Prairie. 1812.
      The Regulators.
      The Earthquake. 1812.
      The Hurricane. 1814.
      Colonel Boone. 1815.
      Natchez in 1820.
      The Lost Portfolio. 1820.
      The Original Painter. 1821.
      The Cougar. 1821.
      The Runaway. 1821.
      A Tough Walk for a Youth. 1822.
      Hospitality in the Woods. 1822.
      Niagara. 1824.
      Meadville. 1824.
      The Burning of the Forests. 1824.
      A Long Calm at Sea. 1826.
      Still Becalmed. 1826.
      Great Egg Harbor. 1829.
      The Great Pine Swamp. 1829.
      The Lost One. 1832.
      The Live-Oakers. 1832.
      Spring Garden. 1832.
      Death of a Pirate. 1832.
      Wreckers of Florida. 1832.
      St. John's River, in Florida. 1832.
      The Florida Keys, No. 1. 1832.
      The Florida Keys, No. 2. 1832.
      The Turtlers. 1832.
      The Form of the Waters. 1833.
      Journey in New Brunswick and Maine. 1833.
      A Moose Hunt. 1833.
      Labrador. 1833.
      The Eggers of Labrador. 1833.
      The Squatters of Labrador. 1833.
      Cod-Fishing. 1833.
      A Ball in Newfoundland. 1833.
      The Bay of Fundy. 1833.
      A Flood.
      The Squatters of the Mississippi.
      Improvements in the Navigation of the Mississippi.
      Kentucky Sports.
      The Traveller and the Pole-cat.
      Deer-Hunting.
      The Eccentric Naturalist.
      Scipio and the Bear.
      A Kentucky Barbecue.
      A Raccoon Hunt in Kentucky.
      The Pitting of Wolves.
      The Opossum.
      A Maple-Sugar Camp.
      The White Perch.
      The American Sun-Perch.
      My Style of drawing Birds.

FOOTNOTE:

[46] One episode has been added,--"My Style of drawing Birds,"--and
three have been omitted, that on Bewick being in the "Journal of England
and France," and the others not of general interest.



EPISODES


LOUISVILLE IN KENTUCKY

Louisville in Kentucky has always been a favorite place of mine. The
beauty of its situation on the banks of _La Belle Rivière_, just at the
commencement of the famed rapids, commonly called the Falls of the Ohio,
had attracted my notice, and when I removed to it, immediately after my
marriage, I found it more agreeable than ever. The prospect from the
town is such that it would please even the eye of a Swiss. It extends
along the river for seven or eight miles, and is bounded on the opposite
side by a fine range of low mountains, known by the name of the Silver
Hills. The rumbling sound of the waters as they tumble over the
rock-paved bed of the rapids is at all times soothing to the ear. Fish
and game are abundant. But, above all, the generous hospitality of the
inhabitants, and the urbanity of their manners, had induced me to fix
upon it as a place of residence; and I did so with the more pleasure
when I found that my wife was as much gratified as myself by the kind
attentions which were shown to us, utter strangers as we were, on our
arrival.

No sooner had we landed, and made known our intention of remaining, than
we were introduced to the principal inhabitants of the place and its
vicinity, although we had not brought a single letter of introduction,
and could not but see, from their unremitting kindness, that the
Virginian spirit of hospitality displayed itself in all the words and
actions of our newly formed friends. I wish here to name those persons
who so unexpectedly came forward to render our stay among them
agreeable, but feel at a loss with whom to begin, so equally deserving
are they of our gratitude. The Croghans, the Clarks (our great traveller
included), the Berthouds, the Galts, the Maupins, the Tarascons, the
Beals, and the Booths, form but a small portion of the long list which I
could give. The matrons acted like mothers to my wife, the daughters
proved agreeable associates, and the husbands and sons were friends and
companions to me. If I absented myself on business, or otherwise, for
any length of time, my wife was removed to the hospitable abode of some
friend in the neighborhood until my return, and then, kind reader, I was
several times obliged to spend a week or more with these good people
before they could be prevailed upon to let us return to our own
residence. We lived for two years at Louisville, where we enjoyed many
of the best pleasures which this life can afford; and whenever we have
since chanced to pass that way, we have found the kindness of our former
friends unimpaired.

During my residence at Louisville, much of my time was employed in my
ever favorite pursuits. I drew and noted the habits of everything which
I procured, and my collection was daily augmenting, as every individual
who carried a gun always sent me such birds or quadrupeds as he thought
might prove useful to me. My portfolios already contained upwards of two
hundred drawings. Dr. W. C. Galt being a botanist, was often consulted
by me, as well as his friend, Dr. Ferguson. Mr. Gilly drew beautifully,
and was fond of my pursuits. So was my friend, and now relative, N.
Berthoud. As I have already said, our time was spent in the most
agreeable manner, through the hospitable friendship of our acquaintance.

One fair morning I was surprised by the sudden entrance into our
counting-room of Mr. Alexander Wilson, the celebrated author of the
"American Ornithology," of whose existence I had never until that moment
been apprised. This happened in March, 1810. How well do I remember him,
as he walked up to me! His long, rather hooked nose, the keenness of his
eyes, and his prominent cheek bones, stamped his countenance with a
peculiar character. His dress, too, was of a kind not usually seen in
that part of the country,--a short coat, trousers, and a waistcoat of
gray cloth. His stature was not above the middle size. He had two
volumes under his arm, and as he approached the table at which I was
working, I thought I discovered something like astonishment in his
countenance. He, however, immediately proceeded to disclose the object
of his visit, which was to procure subscriptions for his work. He opened
his books, explained the nature of his occupations, and requested my
patronage.

I felt surprised and gratified at the sight of his volumes, turned over
a few of the plates, and had already taken a pen to write my name in his
favor, when my partner, rather abruptly, said to me in French, "My dear
Audubon, what induces you to subscribe to this work? Your drawings are
certainly far better, and again, you must know as much of the habits of
American birds as this gentlemen." Whether Mr. Wilson understood French
or not, or if the suddenness with which I paused disappointed him, I
cannot tell; but I clearly perceived he was not pleased. Vanity and the
encomiums of my friend prevented me from subscribing. Mr. Wilson asked
me if I had many drawings of birds. I rose, took down a large portfolio,
laid it on the table, and showed him, as I would show you, kind reader,
or any other person fond of such subjects, the whole of the contents,
with the same patience with which he had shown me his own engravings.

His surprise appeared great, as he told me he never had the most distant
idea that any other individual than himself had been engaged in forming
such a collection. He asked me if it was my intention to publish, and
when I answered in the negative, his surprise seemed to increase. And,
truly, such was not my intention; for until long after, when I meet the
Prince of Musignano in Philadelphia, I had not the least idea of
presenting the fruits of my labors to the world. Mr. Wilson now examined
my drawings with care, asked if I should have any objections to lending
him a few during his stay, to which I replied that I had none; he then
bade me good-morning, not, however, until I had made an arrangement to
explore the woods in the vicinity with him, and had promised to procure
for him some birds of which I had drawings in my collection, but which
he had never seen.

It happened that he lodged in the same house with us, but his retired
habits, I thought, exhibited either a strong feeling of discontent or a
decided melancholy. The Scotch airs which he played sweetly on his flute
made me melancholy too, and I felt for him. I presented him to my wife
and friends, and seeing that he was all enthusiasm, exerted myself as
much as was in my power to procure for him the specimens which he
wanted. We hunted together, and obtained birds which he had never before
seen; but, reader, I did not subscribe to his work, for, even at that
time, my collection was greater than his. Thinking that perhaps he might
be pleased to publish the results of my researches, I offered them to
him, merely on condition that what I had drawn, or might afterwards draw
and send to him, should be mentioned in his work as coming from my
pencil. I, at the same time, offered to open a correspondence with him,
which I thought might prove beneficial to us both. He made no reply to
either proposal, and before many days had elapsed, left Louisville, on
his way to New Orleans, little knowing how much his talents were
appreciated in our little town, at least by myself and my friends.

Some time elapsed, during which I never heard of him, or of his work.
At length, having occasion to go to Philadelphia, I, immediately after
my arrival there, inquired for him, and paid him a visit. He was then
drawing a White-headed Eagle. He received me with civility, and took me
to the exhibition rooms of Rembrandt Peale, the artist, who had then
portrayed Napoleon crossing the Alps. Mr. Wilson spoke not of birds nor
drawings. Feeling, as I was forced to do, that my company was not
agreeable, I parted from him; and after that I never saw him again. But
judge of my astonishment sometime after, when, on reading the
thirty-ninth page of the ninth volume of "American Ornithology," I found
in it the following paragraph:--

"_March 23, 1810._ I bade adieu to Louisville, to which place I had four
letters of recommendation, and was taught to expect much of everything
there; but neither received one act of civility from those to whom I was
recommended, one subscriber nor one new bird; though I delivered my
letters, ransacked the woods repeatedly, and visited all the characters
likely to subscribe. Science or literature has not one friend in this
place."


THE OHIO

When my wife, my eldest son (then an infant), and myself were returning
from Pennsylvania to Kentucky, we found it expedient, the waters being
unusually low, to provide ourselves with a _skiff_, to enable us to
proceed to our abode at Henderson. I purchased a large, commodious, and
light boat of that denomination. We procured a mattress, and our friends
furnished us with ready prepared viands. We had two stout negro rowers,
and in this trim we left the village of Shippingport, in expectation of
reaching the place of our destination in a very few days.

It was in the month of October. The autumnal tints already decorated the
shores of that queen of rivers, the Ohio. Every tree was hung with long
and flowing festoons of different species of vines, many loaded with
clustered fruits of varied brilliancy, their rich bronzed carmine
mingling beautifully with the yellow foliage, which now predominated
over the yet green leaves, reflecting more lively tints from the clear
stream than ever landscape painter portrayed, or poet imagined.

The days were yet warm. The sun had assumed the rich and glowing hue
which at that season produces the singular phenomenon called there the
"Indian Summer." The moon had rather passed the meridian of her
grandeur. We glided down the river, meeting no other ripple of the water
than that formed by the propulsion of our boat. Leisurely we moved
along, gazing all day on the grandeur and beauty of the wild scenery
around us.

Now and then a large catfish rose to the surface of the water, in
pursuit of a shoal of fry, which, starting simultaneously from the
liquid element like so many silver arrows, produced a shower of light,
while the pursuer with open jaws seized the stragglers, and, with a
splash of his tail, disappeared from our view. Other fishes we heard,
uttering beneath our bark a rumbling noise, the strange sound of which
we discovered to proceed from the white perch, for on casting our net
from the bow, we caught several of that species, when the noise ceased
for a time.

Nature, in her varied arrangements, seems to have felt a partiality
towards this portion of our country. As the traveller ascends or
descends the Ohio, he cannot help remarking that alternately, nearly the
whole length of the river, the margin, on one side, is bounded by lofty
hills and a rolling surface, while on the other, extensive plains of the
richest alluvial land are seen as far as the eye can command the view.
Islands of varied size and form rise here and there from the bosom of
the water, and the winding course of the stream frequently brings you to
places where the idea of being on a river of great length changes to
that of floating on a lake of moderate extent. Some of these islands are
of considerable size and value; while others, small and insignificant,
seem as if intended for contrast, and as serving to enhance the general
interest of the scenery. These little islands are frequently overflowed
during great freshets or floods, and receive at their heads prodigious
heaps of drifted timber. We foresaw with great concern the alterations
that cultivation would soon produce along those delightful banks.

As night came, sinking in darkness the broader portions of the river,
our minds became affected by strong emotions, and wandered far beyond
the present moments. The tinkling of bells told us that the cattle which
bore them were gently roving from valley to valley in search of food, or
returning to their distant homes. The hooting of the Great Owl, or the
muffled noise of its wings, as it sailed smoothly over the stream, were
matters of interest to us; so was the sound of the boatman's horn, as it
came winding more and more softly from afar. When daylight returned,
many songsters burst forth with echoing notes, more and more mellow to
the listening ear. Here and there the lonely cabin of a squatter struck
the eye, giving note of commencing civilization. The crossing of the
stream by a Deer foretold how soon the hills would be covered with snow.

Many sluggish flatboats we overtook and passed; some laden with produce
from the different head-waters of the small rivers that pour their
tributary streams into the Ohio; others, of less dimensions, crowded
with emigrants from distant parts, in search of a new home. Purer
pleasures I never felt; nor have you, reader, I ween, unless indeed you
have felt the like, and in such company.

The margins of the shores and of the river were, at this season, amply
supplied with game. A Wild Turkey, a Grouse, or a Blue-winged Teal,
could be procured in a few moments; and we fared well, for, whenever we
pleased we landed, struck up a fire, and provided as we were with the
necessary utensils, procured a good repast.

Several of these happy days passed, and we neared our home, when, one
evening, not far from Pigeon Creek (a small stream which runs into the
Ohio from the State of Indiana), a loud and strange noise was heard, so
like the yells of Indian warfare, that we pulled at our oars, and made
for the opposite side as fast and as quietly a possible. The sounds
increased, we imagined we heard cries of "murder;" and as we knew that
some depredations had lately been committed in the country by
dissatisfied parties of aborigines, we felt for a while extremely
uncomfortable. Ere long, however, our minds became more calmed, and we
plainly discovered that the singular uproar was produced by an
enthusiastic set of Methodists, who had wandered thus far out of the
common way for the purpose of holding one of their annual camp-meetings,
under the shade of a beech forest. Without meeting with any other
interruption, we reached Henderson, distant from Shippingport, by water,
about two hundred miles.

When I think of these times,[47] and call back to my mind the grandeur
and beauty of those almost uninhabited shores; when I picture to myself
the dense and lofty summits of the forests, that everywhere spread along
the hills and overhung the margins of the stream, unmolested by the axe
of the settler; when I know how dearly purchased the safe navigation of
that river has been, by the blood of many worthy Virginians; when I see
that no longer any aborigines are to be found there, and that the vast
herds of Elk, Deer, and Buffaloes which once pastured on these hills,
and in these valleys, making for themselves great roads to the several
salt-springs, have ceased to exist; when I reflect that all this grand
portion of our Union, instead of being in a state of nature, is now more
or less covered with villages, farms, and towns, where the din of
hammers and machinery is constantly heard; that the woods are fast
disappearing under the axe by day, and the fire by night; that hundreds
of steamboats are gliding to and fro, over the whole length of the
majestic river, forcing commerce to take root and to prosper at every
spot; when I see the surplus population of Europe coming to assist in
the destruction of the forest, and transplanting civilization into its
darkest recesses; when I remember that these extraordinary changes have
all taken place in the short period of twenty years, I pause, wonder,
and although I know all to be fact, can scarcely believe its reality.

Whether these changes are for the better or for the worse, I shall not
pretend to say; but in whatever way my conclusions may incline, I feel
with regret that there are on record no satisfactory accounts of the
state of that portion of the country, from the time when our people
first settled in it. This has not been because no one in America is able
to accomplish such an undertaking. Our Irvings and our Coopers have
proved themselves fully competent for the task. It has more probably
been because the changes have succeeded each other with such rapidity as
almost to rival the movements of their pens. However, it is not too late
yet; and I sincerely hope that either or both of them will ere long
furnish the generations to come with those delightful descriptions which
they are so well qualified to give, of the original state of a country
that has been so rapidly forced to change her form and attire under the
influence of increasing population. Yes, I hope to read, ere I close my
earthly career, accounts from those delightful writers of the progress
of civilization in our Western Country. They will speak of the Clarks,
the Croghans, the Boones, and many other men of great and daring
enterprise. They will analyze, as it were, into each component part, the
country as it once existed, and will render the picture, as it ought to
be, immortal.


FISHING IN THE OHIO

It is with mingled feelings of pleasure and regret that I recall to my
mind the many pleasant days I have spent on the shores of the Ohio. The
visions of former years crowd on my view, as I picture to myself the
fertile soil and genial atmosphere of our great western garden,
Kentucky, and view the placid waters of the fair stream that flows along
its western boundary. Methinks I am now on the banks of the noble river.
Twenty years of my life have returned to me; my sinews are strong, and
the "bowspring of my spirit is not slack;" bright visions of the future
float before me, as I sit on a grassy bank, gazing on the glittering
waters. Around me are dense forests of lofty trees and thickly tangled
undergrowth, amid which are heard the songs of feathered choristers, and
from whose boughs hang clusters of glowing fruits and beautiful flowers.
Reader, I am very happy. But now the dream has vanished, and here I am
in the British Athens, penning an episode for my Ornithological
Biography, and having before me sundry well-thumbed and weather-beaten
folios, from which I expect to be able to extract some interesting
particulars respecting the methods employed in those days in catching
catfish.

But before entering on my subject I will present you with a brief
description of the place of my residence on the banks of the Ohio. When
I first landed at Henderson in Kentucky, my family, like the village,
was quite small. The latter consisted of six or eight houses, the former
of my wife, myself, and a young child. Few as the houses were, we
fortunately found one empty. It was a log _cabin_, not a log _house_;
but as better could not be had, we were pleased. Well, then, we were
located. The country around was thinly peopled, and all purchasable
provisions rather scarce; but our neighbors were friendly, and we had
brought with us flour and bacon-hams. Our pleasures were those of young
people not long married, and full of life and merriment; a single smile
from our infant was, I assure you, more valued by us than all the
treasure of a modern Croesus would have been. The woods were amply
stocked with game, the river with fish; and now and then the hoarded
sweets of the industrious bees were brought from some hollow tree to our
little table. Our child's cradle was our richest piece of furniture, our
guns and fishing-lines our most serviceable implements, for although we
began to cultivate a garden, the rankness of the soil kept the seeds we
planted far beneath the tall weeds that sprung up the first year. I had
then a partner, a "man of business," and there was also with me a
Kentucky youth, who much preferred the sports of the forest and river to
either day-book or ledger. He was naturally, as I may say, a good
woodsman, hunter, and angler, and, like me, thought chiefly of procuring
supplies of fish and fowl. To the task accordingly we directed all our
energies.

Quantity as well as quality was an object with us, and although we well
knew that three species of catfish existed in the Ohio, and that all
were sufficiently good, we were not sure as to the best method of
securing them. We determined, however, to work on a large scale, and
immediately commenced making a famous "trot-line." Now, reader, as you
may probably know nothing about this engine, I shall describe it to you.

A trot-line is one of considerable length and thickness, both qualities,
however, varying according to the extent of water, and the size of the
fish you expect to catch. As the Ohio, at Henderson, is rather more
than half a mile in breadth, and as catfishes weigh from one to an
hundred pounds, we manufactured a line which measured about two hundred
yards in length, as thick as the little finger of some fair one yet in
her teens, and as white as the damsel's finger well could be, for it was
wholly of Kentucky cotton, just, let me tell you, because that substance
stands the water better than either hemp or flax. The main line
finished, we made a hundred smaller ones, about five feet in length, to
each of which we fastened a capital hook of Kirby and Co.'s manufacture.
Now for the bait!

It was the month of May. Nature had brought abroad myriads of living
beings; they covered the earth, glided through the water, and swarmed in
the air. The catfish is a voracious creature, not at all nice in
feeding, but one who, like the Vulture, contents himself with carrion
when nothing better can be had. A few experiments proved to us that, of
the dainties with which we tried to allure them to our hooks, they gave
a decided preference, at that season, to _live toads_. These animals
were very abundant about Henderson. They ramble or feed, whether by
instinct or reason, during early or late twilight more than at any other
time, especially after a shower, and are unable to bear the heat of the
sun's rays for several hours before and after noon. We have a good
number of these crawling things in America, particularly in the western
and southern parts of the Union, and are very well supplied with frogs,
snakes, lizards, and even crocodiles, which we call alligators; but
there is enough of food for them all, and we generally suffer them to
creep about, to leap or to flounder as they please, or in accordance
with the habits which have been given them by the great Conductor of
all.

During the month of May, and indeed until autumn, we found an abundant
supply of toads. Many "fine ladies," no doubt, would have swooned, or
at least screamed and gone into hysterics, had they seen one of our
baskets filled with these animals, all alive and plump. Fortunately we
had no tragedy queen or sentimental spinster at Henderson. Our Kentucky
ladies mind their own affairs, and seldom meddle with those of others
farther than to do all they can for their comfort. The toads, collected
one by one, and brought home in baskets, were deposited in a barrel for
use. And now that night is over, and as it is the first trial we are
going to give our trot-line, just watch our movements from that high
bank beside the stream. There sit down under the large cotton-wood tree.
You are in no danger of catching cold at this season.

My assistant follows me with a gaff hook, while I carry the paddle of
our canoe; a boy bears on his back a hundred toads as good as ever
hopped. Our line--oh, I forgot to inform you that we had set it last
night, but without the small ones you now see on my arm. Fastening one
end to yon sycamore, we paddled our canoe, with the rest nicely coiled
in the stern, and soon reached its extremity, when I threw over the side
the heavy stone fastened to it as a sinker. All this was done that it
might be thoroughly soaked, and without kinks or snarls in the morning.
Now, you observe, we launch our light bark, the toads in the basket are
placed next to my feet in the bow; I have the small lines across my
knees already looped at the end. Nat, with the paddle, and assisted by
the current, keeps the stern of our boat directly down stream; and David
fixes by the skin of the back and hind parts, the living bait to the
hook. I hold the main line all the while, and now, having fixed one
linelet to it, over goes the latter. Can you see the poor toad kicking
and flouncing in the water? "No?"--well, I do. You observe at length
that all the lines, one after another, have been fixed, baited, and
dropped. We now return swiftly to the shore.

"What a delightful thing is fishing!" have I more than once heard some
knowing angler exclaim, who, with "the patience of Job," stands or
slowly moves along some rivulet twenty feet wide, and three or four feet
deep, with a sham fly to allure a trout, which, when at length caught,
weighs half a pound. Reader, I never had such patience. Although I have
waited ten years, and yet see only three-fourths of the "Birds of
America" engraved, although some of the drawings of that work were
patiently made so long ago as 1805, and although I have to wait with
patience two years more before I see the end of it, I never could hold a
line or a rod for many minutes, unless I had--not a "nibble" but a
hearty bite, and could throw the fish at once over my head on the
ground. No, no--if I fish for trout, I must soon give up, or catch as I
have done in Pennsylvania's Lehigh, or the streams of Maine, fifty or
more in a couple of hours. But the trot-line is in the river, and there
_it_ may patiently wait, until I visit it towards night. Now I take up
my gun and note-book, and accompanied by my dog, intend to ramble
through the woods until breakfast. Who knows but I may shoot a turkey or
a deer? It is barely four o'clock, and see what delightful mornings we
have at this season in Kentucky!

Evening has returned. The heavens have already opened their twinkling
eyes, although the orb of day has yet scarcely withdrawn itself from our
view. How calm is the air! The nocturnal insects and quadrupeds are
abroad; the Bear is moving through the dark cane-brake, the land Crows
are flying towards their roosts, their aquatic brethren towards the
interior of the forests, the Squirrel is barking his adieu, and the
Barred Owl glides silently and swiftly from his retreat to seize upon
the gay and noisy animal. The boat is pushed off from the shore; the
main line is in my hands; now it shakes, surely some fish have been
hooked. Hand over hand I proceed to the first hook. Nothing there! but
now I feel several jerks, stronger and more frequent than before.
Several hooks I pass; but see, what a fine catfish is twisting round and
round the little line to which he is fast! Nat, look to your gaff--hook
him close to the tail. Keep it up, my dear fellow!--there now, we have
him. More are on, and we proceed. When we have reached the end many
goodly fishes are lying in the bottom of our skiff. New bait has been
put on, and, as we return, I congratulate myself and my companions on
the success of our efforts; for there lies fish enough for ourselves and
our neighbors.

A trot-line at this period was perfectly safe at Henderson, should I
have allowed it to remain for weeks at a time. The navigation was mostly
performed by flat-bottomed boats, which during calm nights floated in
the middle current of the river, so that the people on board could not
observe the fish that had been hooked. Not a single steamer had as yet
ever gone down the Ohio; now and then, it is true, a barge or a
keel-boat was propelled by poles and oars, but the nature of the river
is such at that place, that these boats when ascending were obliged to
keep near the Indiana shore, until above the landing of the village
(below which I always fixed my lines), when they pulled across the
stream.

Several species or varieties of catfish are found in the Ohio, namely,
the Blue, the White, and the Mud Cats, which differ considerably in
their form and color, as well as in their habits. The Mud Cat is the
best, although it seldom attains so great a size as the rest. The Blue
Cat is the coarsest, but when not exceeding from four to six pounds it
affords tolerable eating. The White Cat is preferable to the last, but
not so common; and the Yellow Mud Cat is the best and rarest. Of the
Blue kind some have been caught that weighed a hundred pounds. Such
fish, however, are looked upon as monsters.

The form in all the varieties inclines to the conical, the head being
disproportionately large, while the body tapers away to the root of the
tail. The eyes, which are small, are placed far apart, and situated as
it were on the top of the forehead, but laterally. Their mouth is wide
and armed with numerous small and very sharp teeth, while it is defended
by single-sided spines, which, when the fish is in the agonies of death,
stand out at right angles, and are so firmly fixed as sometimes to break
before you can loosen them. The catfish has also feelers of
proportionate length, apparently intended to guide its motions over the
bottom, whilst its eyes are watching the objects passing above.

Trot-lines cannot be used with much success unless during the middle
stages of the water. When very low, it is too clear, and the fish,
although extremely voracious, will rarely risk its life for a toad. When
the waters are rising rapidly, your trot-lines are likely to be carried
away by one of the numerous trees that float in the stream. A "happy
medium" is therefore best.

When the waters are rising fast and have become muddy, a single line is
used for catching catfish. It is fastened to the elastic branch of some
willow several feet above the water, and must be twenty or thirty feet
in length. The entrails of a Wild Turkey, or a piece of fresh venison
furnish good bait; and if, when you visit your line the next morning
after you have set it, the water has not risen too much, the swinging of
the willow indicates that a fish has been hooked, and you have only to
haul the prize ashore.

One evening I saw that the river was rising at a great rate, although it
was still within its banks. I knew that the white perch were running,
that is, ascending the river from the sea, and, anxious to have a
tasting of that fine fish, I baited a line with a crayfish, and fastened
it to the bough of a tree. Next morning as I pulled in the line, it
felt as if fast at the bottom, yet on drawing it slowly I found that it
came. Presently I felt a strong pull, the line slipped through my
fingers, and next instant a large catfish leaped out of the water. I
played it for a while until it became exhausted, when I drew it ashore.
It had swallowed the hook, and I cut off the line close to its head.
Then passing a stick through one of the gills, I and a servant tugged
the fish home. On cutting it open, we, to our surprise, found in its
stomach a fine white perch, dead, but not in the least injured. The
perch had been lightly hooked, and the catfish, after swallowing it, had
been hooked in the stomach, so that, although the instrument was small,
the torture caused by it no doubt tended to disable the catfish. The
perch we ate, and the cat, which was fine, we divided into four parts,
and distributed among our neighbors. My most worthy friend and relative,
Nicholas Berthoud, Esq., who formerly resided at Shippingport in
Kentucky, but now in New York, a better fisher than whom I never knew,
once placed a trot-line in the basin below "Tarascon's Mills," at the
foot of the Rapids of the Ohio. I cannot recollect the bait which was
used; but on taking up the line we obtained a remarkably fine catfish,
in which was found the greater part of a sucking pig.

I may here add that I have introduced a figure of the catfish in Plate
XXXI. of the first volume of my illustrations, in which I have
represented the White-headed Eagle.


A WILD HORSE

While residing at Henderson in Kentucky, I became acquainted with a
gentleman who had just returned from the country in the neighborhood of
the head-waters of the Arkansas River, where he had purchased a newly
caught "Wild Horse," a descendant of some of the horses originally
brought from Spain, and set at liberty in the vast prairies of the
Mexican lands. The animal was by no means handsome; he had a large head,
with a considerable prominence in its frontal region, his thick and
unkempt mane hung along his neck to the breast, and his tail, too scanty
to be called flowing, almost reached the ground. But his chest was
broad, his legs clean and sinewy, and his eyes and nostrils indicated
spirit, vigor, and endurance. He had never been shod, and although he
had been ridden hard, and had performed a long journey, his black hoofs
had suffered no damage. His color inclined to bay, the legs of a deeper
tint, and gradually darkening below until they became nearly black. I
inquired what might be the value of such an animal among the Osage
Indians, and was answered that, the horse being only four years old, he
had given for him, with the tree and the buffalo-tug fastened to his
head, articles equivalent to about thirty-five dollars. The gentleman
added that he had never mounted a better horse, and had very little
doubt that, if well fed, he could carry a man of ordinary weight from
thirty-five to forty miles a day for a month, as he had travelled at
that rate upon him, without giving him any other food than the grass of
the prairies, or the canes of the bottom lands, until he had crossed the
Mississippi at Natchez, when he fed him with corn. Having no farther use
for him, now that he had ended his journey, he said he was anxious to
sell him, and thought he might prove a good hunting-horse for me, as his
gaits were easy, and he stood fire as well as any charger he had seen.
Having some need of a horse possessed of qualities similar to those
represented as belonging to the one in question, I asked if I might be
allowed to try him. "Try him, sir, and welcome; nay, if you will agree
to feed him and take care of him, you may keep him for a month if you
choose." So I had the horse taken to the stable and fed.

About two hours afterwards, I took my gun, mounted the prairie nag, and
went to the woods. I was not long in finding him very sensible to the
spur, and as I observed that he moved with great ease, both to himself
and his rider, I thought of leaping over a log several feet in diameter,
to judge how far he might prove serviceable in deer-driving or
bear-hunting. So I gave him the reins, and pressed my legs to his belly
without using the spur, on which, as if aware that I wished to try his
mettle, he bounded off, and cleared the log as lightly as an elk. I
turned him, and made him leap the same log several times, which he did
with equal ease, so that I was satisfied of his ability to clear any
impediment in the woods. I next determined to try his strength, for
which purpose I took him to a swamp, which I knew was muddy and tough.
He entered it with his nose close to the water, as if to judge of its
depth, at which I was well pleased, as he thus evinced due caution. I
then rode through the swamp in different directions, and found him
prompt, decided, and unflinching. Can he swim well? thought I,--for
there are horses, which, although excellent, cannot swim at all, but
will now and then lie on their side, as if contented to float with the
current, when the rider must either swim and drag them to the shore, or
abandon them. To the Ohio then I went, and rode into the water. He made
off obliquely against the current, his head well raised above the
surface, his nostrils expanded, his breathing free, and without any of
the grunting noise emitted by many horses on such occasions. I turned
him down the stream, then directly against it, and finding him quite to
my mind, I returned to the shore, on reaching which he stopped of his
own accord, spread his legs, and almost shook me off my seat. After
this, I put him to a gallop, and returning home through the woods, shot
from the saddle a Turkey-cock, which he afterwards approached as if he
had been trained to the sport, and enabled me to take it up without
dismounting.

As soon as I reached the house of Dr. Rankin, where I then resided, I
sent word to the owner of the horse that I should be glad to see him.
When he came, I asked him what price he would take; he said, fifty
dollars in silver was the lowest. So I paid the money, took a bill of
sale, and became master of the horse. The doctor, who was an excellent
judge, said smiling to me, "Mr. Audubon, when you are tired of him, I
will refund you the fifty dollars, for depend upon it he is a capital
horse." The mane was trimmed, but the tail left untouched; the doctor
had him shod "all round," and for several weeks he was ridden by my
wife, who was highly pleased with him.

Business requiring that I should go to Philadelphia, Barro (he was so
named after his former owner) was put up for ten days, and well tended.
The time of my departure having arrived, I mounted him, and set off at
the rate of four miles an hour--but here I must give you the line of my
journey, that you may, if you please, follow my course on some such map
as that of Tanner's. From Henderson through Russellville, Nashville, and
Knoxville, Abingdon in Virginia, the Natural Bridge, Harrisonburg,
Winchester, and Harper's Ferry, Frederick, and Lancaster, to
Philadelphia. There I remained four days, after which I returned by way
of Pittsburgh, Wheeling, Zanesville, Chillicothe, Lexington, and
Louisville, to Henderson. But the nature of my business was such as to
make me deviate considerably from the main roads, and I computed the
whole distance at nearly two thousand miles, the post roads being rather
more than sixteen hundred. I travelled not less than forty miles a day,
and it was allowed by the doctor that my horse was in as good condition
on my return as when I set out. Such a journey on a single horse may
seem somewhat marvellous in the eyes of a European; but in these days
almost every merchant had to perform the like, some from all parts of
the western country, even from St. Louis on the Missouri, although the
travellers not unfrequently, on their return, sold their horses at
Baltimore, Philadelphia, or Pittsburg, at which latter place they took
boat. My wife rode on a single horse from Henderson to Philadelphia,
travelling at the same rate. The country was then comparatively new; few
coaches travelled, and in fact the roads were scarcely fit for
carriages. About twenty days were considered necessary for performing a
journey on horseback from Louisville to Philadelphia, whereas now the
same distance may be travelled in six or seven days,[48] or even
sometimes less, this depending on the height of the water in the Ohio.

It may not be uninteresting to you to know the treatment which the horse
received on those journeys. I rose every morning before day, cleaned my
horse, pressed his back with my hand, to see if it had been galled, and
placed on it a small blanket folded double, in such a manner that when
the saddle was put on, half of the cloth was turned over it. The
surcingle, beneath which the saddlebags were placed, confined the
blanket to the seat, and to the pad behind was fastened the great coat
or cloak, tightly rolled up. The bridle had a snaffle bit; a
breast-plate was buckled in front to each skirt, to render the seat
secure during an ascent; but my horse required no crupper, his shoulders
being high and well-formed. On starting he trotted off at the rate of
four miles an hour, which he continued. I usually travelled from fifteen
to twenty miles before breakfast, and after the first hour allowed my
horse to drink as much as he would. When I halted for breakfast, I
generally stopped two hours, cleaned the horse, and gave him as much
corn-blades as he could eat. I then rode on until within half an hour of
sunset, when I watered him well, poured a bucket of cold water over his
back, had his skin well rubbed, his feet examined and cleaned. The rack
was filled with blades, the trough with corn, a good-sized pumpkin or
some hen's-eggs, whenever they could be procured, were thrown in, and if
oats were to be had, half a bushel of them was given in preference to
corn, which is apt to heat some horses. In the morning, the nearly empty
trough and rack afforded sufficient evidence of the state of his health.

I had not ridden him many days before he became so attached to me that
on coming to some limpid stream in which I had a mind to bathe, I could
leave him at liberty to graze, and he would not drink if told not to do
so. He was ever sure-footed, and in such continual good spirits that now
and then, when a Turkey happened to rise from a dusting-place before me,
the mere inclination of my body forward was enough to bring him to a
smart canter, which he would continue until the bird left the road for
the woods, when he never failed to resume his usual trot. On my way
homeward I met at the crossings of the Juniata River a gentleman from
New Orleans, whose name is Vincent Nolte.[49] He was mounted on a superb
horse, for which he had paid three hundred dollars, and a servant on
horseback led another as a change. I was then an utter stranger to him,
and as I approached and praised his horse, he not very courteously
observed that he wished I had as good a one. Finding that he was going
to Bedford to spend the night, I asked him at what hour he would get
there. "Just soon enough to have some trout ready for our supper,
provided you will join when you get there." I almost imagined that Barro
understood our conversation; he pricked up his ears, and lengthened his
pace, on which Mr. Nolte caracoled his horse, and then put him to a
quick trot; but all in vain, for I reached the hotel nearly a quarter of
an hour before him, ordered the trout, saw to the putting away of my
good horse, and stood at the door ready to welcome my companion. From
that day Vincent Nolte has been a friend to me. It was from him I
received letters of introduction to the Rathbones of Liverpool, for
which I shall ever be grateful to him. We rode together as far as
Shippingport, where my worthy friend Nicholas Berthoud, Esq., resided,
and on parting with me he repeated what he had many times said before,
that he never had seen so serviceable a creature as Barro.

If I recollect rightly, I gave a short verbal account of this journey,
and of the good qualities of my horse, to my learned friend J. Skinner,
Esq., of Baltimore, who, I believe, has noticed them in his excellent
Sporting Magazine. We agreed that the importation of horses of this kind
from the Western prairies might improve our breeds generally; and
judging from those which I have seen, I am inclined to think that some
of them may prove fit for the course. A few days after reaching
Henderson, I parted with Barro, not without regret, for a hundred and
twenty dollars.


BREAKING UP OF THE ICE

While proceeding up the Mississippi above its junction with the
Ohio,[50] I found to my great mortification that its navigation was
obstructed by ice. The chief conductor of my bark, who was a French
Canadian, was therefore desired to take us to a place suitable for
winter quarters, which he accordingly did, bringing us into a great bend
of the river called Tawapatee Bottom. The waters were unusually low, the
thermometer indicated excessive cold, the earth all around was covered
with snow, dark clouds were spread over the heavens, and as all
appearances were unfavorable to the hope of a speedy prosecution of our
voyage, we quietly set to work. Our bark, which was a large keel-boat,
was moored close to the shore, the cargo was conveyed to the woods,
large trees were felled over the water, and were so disposed as to keep
off the pressure of the floating masses of ice. In less than two days,
our stores, baggage, and ammunition were deposited in a great heap under
one of the magnificent trees of which the forest was here composed, our
sails were spread over all, and a complete camp was formed in the
wilderness. Everything around us seemed dreary and dismal, and had we
not been endowed with the faculty of deriving pleasure from the
examination of nature, we should have made up our minds to pass the time
in a state similar to that of Bears during their time of hibernation. We
soon found employment, however, for the woods were full of game; and
Deer, Turkeys, Raccoons, and Opossums might be seen even around our
camp; while on the ice that now covered the broad stream rested flocks
of Swans, to surprise which the hungry Wolves were at times seen to
make energetic but unsuccessful efforts. It was curious to see the
snow-white birds all lying flat on the ice, but keenly intent on
watching the motions of their insidious enemies, until the latter
advanced within the distance of a few hundred yards, when the Swans,
sounding their trumpet-notes of alarm, would all rise, spread out their
broad wings, and after running some yards and battering the ice until
the noise was echoed like thunder through the woods, rose exultingly
into the air, leaving their pursuers to devise other schemes for
gratifying their craving appetites.

The nights being extremely cold, we constantly kept up a large fire,
formed of the best wood. Fine trees of ash and hickory were felled, cut
up into logs of convenient size, and rolled into a pile, on the top of
which, with the aid of twigs, a fire was kindled. There were about
fifteen of us, some hunters, others trappers, and all more or less
accustomed to living in the woods. At night, when all had returned from
their hunting grounds, some successful and others empty-handed, they
presented a picture in the strong glare of the huge fire that
illuminated the forest, which it might prove interesting to you to see,
were it copied by a bold hand on canvas. Over a space of thirty yards or
more, the snow was scraped away, and piled up into a circular wall,
which protected us from the cold blast. Our cooking utensils formed no
mean display, and before a week had elapsed, Venison, Turkeys, and
Raccoons hung on the branches in profusion. Fish, too, and that of
excellent quality, often graced our board, having been obtained by
breaking holes in the ice of the lakes. It was observed that the
Opossums issued at night from holes in the banks of the river, to which
they returned about daybreak; and having thus discovered their retreat,
we captured many of them by means of snares.

At the end of a fortnight our bread failed, and two of the party were
directed to proceed across the bend, towards a village on the western
bank of the Mississippi, in quest of that commodity; for although we had
a kind of substitute for it in the dry white flesh of the breast of the
wild Turkey, bread is bread after all, and more indispensable to
civilized man than any other article of food. The expedition left the
camp early one morning; one of the party boasted much of his knowledge
of woods, while the other said nothing, but followed. They walked on all
day, and returned next morning to the camp with empty wallets. The next
attempt, however, succeeded, and they brought on a sledge a barrel of
flour, and some potatoes. After a while we were joined by many Indians,
the observation of whose manners afforded us much amusement.

Six weeks were spent in Tawapatee Bottom. The waters had kept
continually sinking, and our boat lay on her side high and dry. On both
sides of the stream, the ice had broken into heaps, forming huge walls.
Our pilot visited the river daily, to see what prospect there might be
of a change. One night, while, excepting himself, all were sound asleep,
he suddenly roused us with loud cries of "The ice is breaking! Get up,
get up! Down to the boat, lads! Bring out your axes! Hurry on, or we may
lose her! Here, let us have a torch!" Starting up as if we had been
attacked by a band of savages, we ran pell-mell to the bank. The ice was
indeed breaking up; it split with reports like those of heavy artillery,
and as the water had suddenly risen from an overflow of the Ohio, the
two streams seemed to rush against each other with violence; in
consequence of which the congealed mass was broken into large fragments,
some of which rose nearly erect here and there, and again fell with
thundering crash, as the wounded whale, when in the agonies of death,
springs up with furious force and again plunges into the foaming waters.
To our surprise the weather, which in the evening had been calm and
frosty, had become wet and blowy. The water gushed from the fissures
formed in the ice, and the prospect was extremely dismal. When day
dawned, a spectacle strange and fearful presented itself: the whole mass
of water was violently agitated, its covering was broken into small
fragments, and although not a foot of space was without ice, not a step
could the most daring have ventured to make upon it. Our boat was in
imminent danger, for the trees which had been placed to guard it from
the ice were cut or broken into pieces, and were thrust against her. It
was impossible to move her; but our pilot ordered every man to bring
down great bunches of cane, which were lashed along her sides; and
before these were destroyed by the ice, she was afloat and riding above
it. While we were gazing on the scene a tremendous crash was heard,
which seemed to have taken place about a mile below, when suddenly the
great dam of ice gave way. The current of the Mississippi had forced its
way against that of the Ohio, and in less than four hours we witnessed
the complete breaking up of the ice.

During that winter the ice was so thick on the Mississippi that,
opposite St. Louis, horses and heavy wagons crossed the river. Many
boats had been detained in the same manner as our own, so that
provisions and other necessary articles had become very scarce, and sold
at a high price. This was the winter of 1810-11.


THE PRAIRIE

On my return from the Upper Mississippi I found myself obliged to cross
one of the wide prairies which, in that portion of the United States,
vary the appearance of the country. The weather was fine; all around me
was as fresh and blooming as if it had just issued from the bosom of
Nature. My knapsack, my gun, and my dog were all I had for baggage and
company. But, although well moccasined, I moved slowly along, attracted
by the brilliancy of the flowers, and the gambols of the fawns around
their dams, to all appearance as thoughtless of danger as I felt myself.

My march was of long duration; I saw the sun sinking below the horizon
long before I could perceive any appearance of woodland, and nothing in
the shape of man had I met with that day. The track which I followed was
only an old Indian trace, and as darkness overshadowed the prairie I
felt some desire to reach at least a copse, in which I might lie down to
rest. The Night Hawks were skimming over and around me, attracted by the
buzzing wings of the beetles which form their food, and the distant
howling of wolves gave me some hope that I should soon arrive at the
skirts of some woodlands.

I did so, and almost at the same instant, a firelight attracting my eye,
I moved towards it, full of confidence that it proceeded from the camp
of some wandering Indians. I was mistaken: I discovered by its glare
that it was from the hearth of a small log cabin, and that a tall figure
passed and repassed between it and me, as if busily engaged in household
arrangements.

I reached the spot, and presenting myself at the door, asked the tall
figure, which proved to be a woman, if I might take shelter under her
roof for the night. Her voice was gruff, and her attire negligently
thrown about her. She answered in the affirmative. I walked in, took a
wooden stool, and quietly seated myself by the fire. The next object
that attracted my notice was a finely formed young Indian, resting his
head between his hands, with his elbows on his knees. A long bow rested
against the log wall near him, while a quantity of arrows and two or
three Raccoon skins lay at his feet. He moved not; he apparently
breathed not. Accustomed to the habits of Indians, and knowing that they
pay little attention to the approach of civilized strangers (a
circumstance which in some countries is considered as evincing the
apathy of their character), I addressed him in French, a language not
infrequently partially known to the people in that neighborhood. He
raised his head, pointed to one of his eyes with his finger, and gave me
a significant glance with the other. His face was covered with blood.
The fact was that an hour before this, as he was in the act of
discharging an arrow at a Raccoon in the top of a tree, the arrow had
split upon the cord, and sprung back with such violence into his right
eye as to destroy it forever.

Feeling hungry, I inquired what sort of fare I might expect. Such a
thing as a bed was not to be seen, but many large untanned Bear and
Buffalo hides lay piled in a corner. I drew a fine time-piece from my
breast, and told the woman that it was late, and that I was fatigued.
She had espied my watch, the richness of which seemed to operate upon
her feelings with electric quickness. She told me there was plenty of
venison and jerked buffalo meat, and that on removing the ashes I should
find a cake. But my watch had struck her fancy, and her curiosity had to
be gratified by an immediate sight of it. I took off the gold chain that
secured it, from around my neck, and presented it to her; she was all
ecstasy, spoke of its beauty, asked me its value, and put the chain
round her brawny neck, saying how happy the possession of such a watch
would make her. Thoughtless, and as I fancied myself in so retired a
spot secure, I paid little attention to her talk or her movements. I
helped my dog to a good supper of venison, and was not long in
satisfying the demands of my own appetite.

The Indian rose from his seat, as if in extreme suffering. He passed and
repassed me several times, and once pinched me on the side so violently
that the pain nearly brought forth an exclamation of anger. I looked at
him. His eye met mine, but his look was so forbidding that it struck a
chill into the more nervous part of my system. He again seated himself,
drew his butcher-knife from its greasy scabbard, examined its edge, as I
would do that of a razor suspected dull, replaced it, and again taking
his tomahawk from his back, filled the pipe of it with tobacco, and sent
me expressive glances, whenever our hostess chanced to have her back
towards us.

Never until that moment had my senses been awakened to the danger which
I now suspected to be about me. I returned glance for glance to my
companion, and rested well assured that, whatever enemies I might have,
he was not of their number.

I asked the woman for my watch, wound it up, and under pretence of
wishing to see how the weather might probably be on the morrow, took up
my gun, and walked out of the cabin. I slipped a ball into each barrel,
scraped the edges of my flints, renewed the primings, and returning to
the hut gave a favorable report of my observations. I took a few Bear
skins, made a pallet of them, and calling my faithful dog to my side,
lay down, with my gun close to my body, and in a few minutes was, to all
appearance, fast asleep.

A short time had elapsed when some voices were heard, and from the
corner of my eye I saw two athletic youths making their entrance,
bearing a dead stag on a pole. They disposed of their burden, and asking
for whiskey, helped themselves freely to it. Observing me and the
wounded Indian, they asked who I was, and why the devil that rascal
(meaning the Indian, who, they knew, understood not a word of English)
was in the house. The mother--for so she proved to be--bade them speak
less loudly, made mention of my watch, and took them to a corner, where
a conversation took place, the purport of which it required little
shrewdness in me to guess. I tapped my dog gently. He moved his tail,
and with indescribable pleasure I saw his fine eyes alternately fixed
on me, and raised towards the trio in the corner. I felt that he
perceived danger in my situation. The Indian exchanged a last glance
with me.

The lads had eaten and drunk themselves into such a condition that I
already looked upon them as _hors de combat_; and the frequent visits of
the whiskey bottle to the ugly mouth of their dam, I hoped would soon
reduce her to a like state. Judge of my astonishment, reader, when I saw
this incarnate fiend take a large carving-knife, and go to the
grindstone to whet its edge; I saw her pour the water on the turning
machine, and watched her working away with the dangerous instrument,
until the cold sweat covered every part of my body, in despite of my
determination to defend myself to the last. Her task finished, she
walked to her reeling sons, and said: "There, that'll soon settle him!
Boys, kill yon ---- ----, and then for the watch."

I turned, cocked my gun-locks silently, touched my faithful companion,
and lay ready to start up and shoot the first who might attempt my life.
The moment was fast approaching, and that night might have been my last
in this world, had not Providence made preparations for my rescue. All
was ready. The infernal hag was advancing slowly, probably contemplating
the best way of despatching me, whilst her sons should be engaged with
the Indian. I was several times on the eve of rising and shooting her on
the spot; but she was not to be punished thus. The door was suddenly
opened, and there entered two stout travellers, each with a long rifle
on his shoulder. I bounced up on my feet, and making them most heartily
welcome, told them how well it was for me that they should have arrived
at that moment. The tale was told in a minute. The drunken sons were
secured, and the woman, in spite of her defence and vociferations,
shared the same fate. The Indian fairly danced with joy, and gave us to
understand that, as he could not sleep for pain, he would watch over
us. You may suppose we slept much less than we talked. The two strangers
gave me an account of their once having been themselves in a somewhat
similar situation. Day came, fair and rosy, and with it the punishment
of our captives.

They were now quite sobered. Their feet were unbound, but their arms
were still securely tied. We marched them into the woods off the road,
and having used them as Regulators were wont to use such delinquents, we
set fire to the cabin, gave all the skins and implements to the young
Indian warrior, and proceeded, well pleased, towards the settlements.

During upwards of twenty-five years, when my wanderings extended to all
parts of our country, this was the only time at which my life was in
danger from my fellow-creatures. Indeed, so little risk do travellers
run in the United States that no one born there ever dreams of any to be
encountered on the road; and I can only account for this occurrence by
supposing that the inhabitants of the cabin were not Americans.

Will you believe, good-natured reader, that not many miles from the
place where this adventure happened, and where fifteen years ago, no
habitation belonging to civilized man was expected, and very few ever
seen, large roads are now laid out, cultivation has converted the woods
into fertile fields, taverns have been erected, and much of what we
Americans call comfort is to be met with? So fast does improvement
proceed in our abundant and free country.[51]


THE REGULATORS

The population of many parts of America is derived from the refuse of
every other country. I hope I shall elsewhere prove to you, kind reader,
that even in this we have reason to feel a certain degree of pride, as
we often see our worst denizens becoming gradually freed from error, and
at length changing to useful and respectable citizens. The most depraved
of these emigrants are forced to retreat farther and farther from the
society of the virtuous, the restraints imposed by whom they find
incompatible with their habits and the gratification of their unbridled
passions. On the extreme verge of civilization, however, their evil
propensities find more free scope, and the dread of punishments for
their deeds, or the infliction of that punishment, are the only means
that prove effectual in reforming them.

In those remote parts, no sooner is it discovered that an individual has
conducted himself in a notoriously vicious manner, or has committed some
outrage upon society, than a conclave of the honest citizens takes
place, for the purpose of investigating the case, with a rigor without
which no good result could be expected. These honest citizens, selected
from among the most respectable persons in the district, and vested with
power suited to the necessity of preserving order on the frontiers, are
named Regulators. The accused person is arrested, his conduct laid open,
and if he is found guilty of a first crime, he is warned to leave the
country, and go farther from society, within an appointed time. Should
the individual prove so callous as to disregard the sentence, and remain
in the same neighborhood, to commit new crimes, then woe be to him; for
the Regulators, after proving him guilty a second time, pass and execute
a sentence which, if not enough to make him perish under the infliction,
is at least forever impressed upon his memory. The punishment inflicted
is usually a severe castigation, and the destruction by fire of his
cabin. Sometimes, in cases of reiterated theft or murder, death is
considered necessary; and, in some instances, delinquents of the worst
species have been shot, after which their heads have been stuck on
poles, to deter others from following their example. I shall give you an
account of one of these desperadoes, as I received it from a person who
had been instrumental in bringing him to punishment.

The name of Mason is still familiar to many of the navigators of the
Lower Ohio and Mississippi. By dint of industry in bad deeds, he became
a notorious horse-stealer, formed a line of worthless associates from
the eastern part of Virginia (a State greatly celebrated for its fine
breed of horses) to New Orleans, and had a settlement on Wolf Island,
not far from the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi, from which he
issued to stop the flatboats, and rifle them of such provisions and
other articles as he and his party needed. His depredations became the
talk of the whole Western country; and to pass Wolf Island was not less
to be dreaded than to anchor under the walls of Algiers. The horses, the
negroes, and the cargoes, his gang carried off and sold. At last, a body
of Regulators undertook, at great peril, and for the sake of the
country, to bring the villain to punishment.

Mason was as cunning and watchful as he was active and daring. Many of
his haunts were successively found out and searched, but the numerous
spies in his employ enabled him to escape in time. One day, however, as
he was riding a beautiful horse in the woods he was met by one of the
Regulators, who immediately recognized him, but passed him as if an
utter stranger. Mason, not dreaming of danger, pursued his way
leisurely, as if he had met no one. But he was dogged by the Regulator,
and in such a manner as proved fatal to him. At dusk, Mason, having
reached the lowest part of a ravine, no doubt well known to him, hoppled
(tied together the fore-legs of) his stolen horse, to enable it to feed
during the night without chance of straying far, and concealed himself
in a hollow log to spend the night. The plan was good, but proved his
ruin.

The Regulator, who knew every hill and hollow of the woods, marked the
place and the log with the eye of an experienced hunter, and as he
remarked that Mason was most efficiently armed, he galloped off to the
nearest house where he knew he should find assistance. This was easily
procured, and the party proceeded to the spot. Mason, on being attacked,
defended himself with desperate valor; and as it proved impossible to
secure him alive he was brought to the ground with a rifle ball. His
head was cut off, and stuck on the end of a broken branch of a tree, by
the nearest road to the place where the affray happened. The gang soon
dispersed, in consequence of the loss of their leader, and this
infliction of merited punishment proved beneficial in deterring others
from following a similar predatory life.

The punishment by castigation is performed in the following manner. The
individual convicted of an offence is led to some remote part of the
woods, under the escort of some forty or fifty Regulators. When arrived
at the chosen spot, the criminal is made fast to a tree, and a few of
the Regulators remain with him, while the rest scour the forest to
assure themselves that no strangers are within reach, after which they
form an extensive ring, arranging themselves on their horses, well armed
with rifles and pistols, at equal distances and in each other's sight.
At a given signal that "all's ready," those about the culprit, having
provided themselves with young twigs of hickory, administer the number
of lashes prescribed by the sentence, untie the sufferer, and order him
to leave the country immediately.

One of these castigations, which took place more within my personal
knowledge, was performed on a fellow who was neither a thief nor a
murderer, but who had misbehaved otherwise sufficiently to bring himself
under the sentence with mitigation. He was taken to a place where
nettles were known to grow in great luxuriance, completely stripped and
so lashed with them that, although not materially hurt, he took it as a
hint not to be neglected, left the country, and was never again heard of
by any of the party concerned.

Probably at the moment when I am copying these notes respecting the
early laws of our frontier people, few or no Regulating Parties exist,
the terrible examples that were made having impressed upon the new
settlers a salutary dread, which restrains them from the commission of
flagrant crimes.


THE EARTHQUAKE

Travelling through the Barrens of Kentucky (of which I shall give you an
account elsewhere) in the month of November, I was jogging on one
afternoon, when I remarked a sudden and strange darkness rising from the
western horizon. Accustomed to our heavy storms of thunder and rain I
took no more notice of it, as I thought the speed of my horse might
enable me to get under shelter of the roof of an acquaintance, who lived
not far distant, before it should come up. I had proceeded about a mile,
when I heard what I imagined to be the distant rumbling of a violent
tornado, on which I spurred my steed, with a wish to gallop as fast as
possible to a place of shelter; but it would not do, the animal knew
better than I what was forthcoming, and instead of going faster, so
nearly stopped that I remarked he placed one foot after another on the
ground, with as much precaution as if walking on a smooth sheet of
ice. I thought he had suddenly foundered, and, speaking to him, was on
the point of dismounting and leading him, when he all of a sudden fell
a-groaning piteously, hung his head, spread out his four legs, as if to
save himself from falling, and stood stock still, continuing to groan. I
thought my horse was about to die, and would have sprung from his back
had a minute more elapsed, but at that instant all the shrubs and trees
began to move from their very roots, the ground rose and fell in
successive furrows, like the ruffled waters of a lake, and I became
bewildered in my ideas, as I too plainly discovered that all this awful
commotion in nature was the result of an earthquake.

  [Illustration: AUDUBON, 1839.
    PAINTED IN EDINBURGH BY J. W. AUDUBON.]

I had never witnessed anything of the kind before, although, like every
other person, I knew of earthquakes by description. But what is
description compared with the reality? Who can tell of the sensations
which I experienced when I found myself rocking as it were on my horse,
and with him moved to and fro like a child in a cradle, with the most
imminent danger around, and expecting the ground every moment to open
and present to my eye such an abyss as might engulf myself and all
around me? The fearful convulsion, however, lasted only a few minutes,
and the heavens again brightened as quickly as they had become obscured;
my horse brought his feet to their natural position, raised his head,
and galloped off as if loose and frolicking without a rider.

I was not, however, without great apprehension respecting my family,
from which I was yet many miles distant, fearful that where they were
the shock might have caused greater havoc than I had witnessed. I gave
the bridle to my steed, and was glad to see him appear as anxious to get
home as myself. The pace at which he galloped accomplished this sooner
than I had expected, and I found with much pleasure that hardly any
greater harm had taken place than the apprehension excited for my own
safety.

Shock succeeded shock almost every day or night for several weeks,
diminishing, however, so gradually as to dwindle away into mere
vibrations of the earth. Strange to say, I for one became so accustomed
to the feeling as rather to enjoy the fears manifested by others. I
never can forget the effects of one of the slighter shocks which took
place when I was at a friend's house, where I had gone to enjoy the
merriment that, in our Western country, attends a wedding. The ceremony
being performed, supper over, and the fiddles tuned, dancing became the
order of the moment. This was merrily followed up to a late hour, when
the party retired to rest. We were in what is called, with great
propriety, a _log-house_, one of large dimensions, and solidly
constructed. The owner was a physician, and in one corner were not only
his lancets, tourniquets, amputating knives, and other sanguinary
apparatus, but all the drugs which he employed for the relief of his
patients, arranged in jars and phials of different sizes. These had some
days before had a narrow escape from destruction, but had been
fortunately preserved by closing the doors of the cases in which they
were contained.

As I have said, we had all retired to rest, some to dream of sighs or
smiles, some to sink into oblivion. Morning was fast approaching, when
the rumbling noise that precedes the earthquake, began so loudly as to
waken and alarm the whole party, and drive them out of bed in the
greatest consternation. The scene which ensued it is impossible for me
to describe, and it would require the humorous pencil of Cruikshank to
do justice to it. Fear knows no restraint. Every person, young and old,
filled with alarm at the creaking of the log-house, and apprehending
instant destruction, rushed wildly out to the grass enclosure fronting
the building. The full moon was slowly descending from her throne,
covered at times by clouds that rolled heavily along, as if to conceal
from her view the scenes of terror which prevailed on the earth below.
On the grass-plat we all met, in such condition as rendered it next to
impossible to discriminate any of the party, all huddled together in a
state of great dishabille. The earth waved like a field of corn before
the breeze; the birds left their perches, and flew about, not knowing
whither; and the doctor, recollecting the danger of his gallipots, ran
to his shop room, to prevent their dancing off the shelves to the floor.
Never for a moment did he think of closing the doors, but, spreading his
arms, jumped about the front of the cases, pushing back here and there
the falling jars; with so little success, however, that before the shock
was over he had lost nearly all he possessed.

The shock at length ceased, and the frightened women now sensible of
their undress, fled to their several apartments. The earthquake produced
more serious consequences in other places. Near New Madrid and for some
distance on the Mississippi, the earth was rent asunder in several
places, one or two islands sunk forever, and the inhabitants fled in
dismay towards the eastern shore.


THE HURRICANE

Various portions of our country have at different periods suffered
severely from the influence of violent storms of wind, some of which
have been known to traverse nearly the whole extent of the United
States, and to leave such deep impressions in their wake as will not
easily be forgotten. Having witnessed one of these awful phenomena, in
all its grandeur, I shall attempt to describe it for your sake, kind
reader, and for your sake only; the recollection of that astonishing
revolution of the ethereal element even now bringing with it so
disagreeable a sensation that I feel as if about to be affected by a
sudden stoppage of the circulation of my blood.

I had left the village of Shawanee, situated on the banks of the Ohio,
on my return from Henderson, which is also situated on the banks of the
same beautiful stream. The weather was pleasant, and I thought not
warmer than usual at that season. My horse was jogging quietly along,
and my thoughts were, for once at least in the course of my life,
entirely engaged in commercial speculations. I had forded Highland
Creek, and was on the eve of entering a tract of bottom land or valley
that lay between it and Canoe Creek, when on a sudden I remarked a great
difference in the aspect of the heavens. A hazy thickness had overspread
the country, and I for some time expected an earthquake; but my horse
exhibited no propensity to stop and prepare for such an occurrence. I
had nearly arrived at the verge of the valley, when I thought fit to
stop near a brook, and dismounted to quench the thirst which had come
upon me.

I was leaning on my knees, with my lips about to touch the water, when,
from my proximity to the earth, I heard a distant murmuring sound of an
extraordinary nature. I drank, however, and as I rose on my feet, looked
towards the southwest, where I observed a yellowish oval spot, the
appearance of which was quite new to me. Little time was left me for
consideration, as the next moment a smart breeze began to agitate the
taller trees. It increased to an unexpected height, and already the
smaller branches and twigs were seen falling in a slanting direction
towards the ground. Two minutes had scarcely elapsed, when the whole
forest before me was in fearful motion. Here and there, where one tree
pressed against another, a creaking noise was produced, similar to that
occasioned by the violent gusts which sometimes sweep over the country.
Turning instinctively towards the direction from which the wind blew, I
saw to my great astonishment that the noblest trees of the forest bent
their lofty heads for a while, and, unable to stand against the blast,
were falling into pieces. First the branches were broken off with a
crackling noise; then went the upper parts of the massy trunks; and in
many places whole trees of gigantic size were falling entire to the
ground. So rapid was the progress of the storm that before I could think
of taking measures to insure my safety the hurricane was passing
opposite the place where I stood. Never can I forget the scene which at
that moment presented itself. The tops of the trees were seen moving in
the strangest manner, in the central current of the tempest, which
carried along with it a mingled mass of twigs and foliage that
completely obscured the view. Some of the largest trees were seen
bending and writhing under the gale; others suddenly snapped across; and
many, after a momentary resistance, fell uprooted to the earth. The mass
of branches, twigs, foliage, and dust that moved through the air was
whirled onwards like a cloud of feathers, and on passing disclosed a
wide space filled with fallen trees, naked stumps, and heaps of
shapeless ruins which marked the path of the tempest. This space was
about a fourth of a mile in breadth, and to my imagination resembled the
dried up bed of the Mississippi, with its thousands of planters and
sawyers strewed in the sand and inclined in various degrees. The
horrible noise resembled that of the great cataracts of Niagara, and, as
it howled along in the track of the desolating tempest, produced a
feeling in my mind which it were impossible to describe.

The principal force of the hurricane was now over, although millions of
twigs and small branches that had been brought from a great distance
were seen following the blast, as if drawn onwards by some mysterious
power. They even floated in the air for some hours after, as if
supported by the thick mass of dust that rose high above the ground. The
sky had now a greenish lurid hue, and an extremely disagreeable
sulphurous odor was diffused in the atmosphere. I waited in amazement,
having sustained no material injury, until nature at length resumed her
wonted aspect. For some moments I felt undetermined whether I should
return to Morgantown, or attempt to force my way through the wrecks of
the tempest. My business, however, being of an urgent nature, I ventured
into the path of the storm, and after encountering innumerable
difficulties, succeeded in crossing it. I was obliged to lead my horse
by the bridle, to enable him to leap over the fallen trees, whilst I
scrambled over or under them in the best way I could, at times so hemmed
in by the broken tops and tangled branches as almost to become
desperate. On arriving at my house, I gave an account of what I had
seen, when, to my astonishment, I was told there had been very little
wind in the neighborhood, although in the streets and gardens many
branches and twigs had fallen in a manner which excited great surprise.

Many wondrous accounts of the devastating effects of this hurricane were
circulated in the country after its occurrence. Some log houses, we were
told, had been overturned and their inmates destroyed. One person
informed me that a wire sifter had been conveyed by the gust to a
distance of many miles. Another had found a cow lodged in the fork of a
large half-broken tree. But, as I am disposed to relate only what I have
myself seen, I shall not lead you into the region of romance, but shall
content myself with saying that much damage was done by this awful
visitation. The valley is yet a desolate place, overgrown with briers
and bushes, thickly entangled amidst the tops and trunks of the fallen
trees, and is the resort of ravenous animals, to which they betake
themselves when pursued by man, or after they have committed their
depredations on the farms of the surrounding district. I have crossed
the path of the storm at a distance of a hundred miles from the spot
where I witnessed its fury, and again, four hundred miles farther off,
in the State of Ohio. Lastly, I observed traces of its ravages on the
summits of the mountains connected with the Great Pine Forest of
Pennsylvania, three hundred miles beyond the place last mentioned. In
all these different parts it appeared to me not to have exceeded a
quarter of a mile in breadth.


COLONEL BOONE

Daniel Boone, or, as he was usually called in the Western country,
Colonel Boone, happened to spend a night with me under the same roof,
more than twenty years ago. We had returned from a shooting excursion,
in the course of which his extraordinary skill in the management of the
rifle had been fully displayed. On retiring to the room appropriated to
that remarkable individual and myself for the night, I felt anxious to
know more of his exploits and adventures than I did, and accordingly
took the liberty of proposing numerous questions to him. The stature and
general appearance of this wanderer of the western forests approached
the gigantic. His chest was broad and prominent; his muscular powers
displayed themselves in every limb; his countenance gave indication of
his great courage, enterprise, and perseverance; and when he spoke, the
very motion of his lips brought the impression that whatever he uttered
could not be otherwise than strictly true. I undressed, whilst he merely
took off his hunting shirt, and arranged a few folds of blankets on the
floor, choosing rather to lie there, as he observed, than on the softest
bed. When we had both disposed of ourselves, each after his own fashion,
he related to me the following account of his powers of memory, which I
lay before you, kind reader, in his own words, hoping that the
simplicity of his style may prove interesting to you.

"I was once," said he, "on a hunting expedition on the banks of the
Green River, when the lower parts of this State (Kentucky) were still in
the hands of nature, and none but the sons of the soil were looked upon
as its lawful proprietors. We Virginians had for some time been waging a
war of intrusion upon them, and I, amongst the rest, rambled through the
woods in pursuit of their race as I now would follow the tracks of any
ravenous animal. The Indians outwitted me one dark night, and I was as
unexpectedly as suddenly made a prisoner by them. The trick had been
managed with great skill; for no sooner had I extinguished the fire of
my camp, and laid me down to rest, in full security as I thought, than I
felt myself seized by an indistinguishable number of hands, and was
immediately pinioned, as if about to be led to the scaffold for
execution. To have attempted to be refractory would have proved useless
and dangerous to my life; and I suffered myself to be removed from my
camp to theirs, a few miles distant, without uttering even a word of
complaint. You are aware, I dare say, that to act in this manner was the
best policy, as you understand that, by so doing, I proved to the
Indians at once that I was born and bred as fearless of death as any of
themselves.

"When we reached the camp, great rejoicings were exhibited. Two squaws
and a few pappooses appeared particularly delighted at the sight of me,
and I was assured, by very unequivocal gestures and words, that, on the
morrow, the mortal enemy of the Red-skins would cease to live. I never
opened my lips, but was busy contriving some scheme which might enable
me to give the rascals the slip before dawn. The women immediately fell
a-searching about my hunting-shirt for whatever they might think
valuable, and, fortunately for me, soon found my flask filled with
_monongahela_ (that is, reader, strong whiskey). A terrific grin was
exhibited on their murderous countenances, while my heart throbbed with
joy at the anticipation of their intoxication. The crew immediately
began to beat their bellies and sing, as they passed the bottle from
mouth to mouth. How often did I wish the flask ten times its size, and
filled with aqua-fortis! I observed that the squaws drank more freely
than the warriors, and again my spirits were about to be depressed, when
the report of a gun was heard at a distance. The Indians all jumped on
their feet. The singing and drinking were both brought to a stand, and I
saw, with inexpressible joy, the men walk off to some distance and talk
to the squaws. I knew that they were consulting about me, and I foresaw
that in a few moments the warriors would go to discover the cause of the
gun having been fired so near their camp. I expected that the squaws
would be left to guard me. Well, sir, it was just so. They returned; the
men took up their guns and walked away. The squaws sat down again, and
in less than five minutes had my bottle up to their dirty mouths,
gurgling down their throats the remains of the whiskey.

"With what pleasure did I see them becoming more and more drunk, until
the liquor took such hold of them that it was quite impossible for these
women to be of any service. They tumbled down, rolled about, and began
to snore: when I, having no other chance of freeing myself from the
cords that fastened me, rolled over and over towards the fire, and,
after a short time, burned them asunder. I rose on my feet, stretched my
stiffened sinews, snatched up my rifle, and, for once in my life, spared
that of Indians. I now recollect how desirous I once or twice felt to
lay open the skulls of the wretches with my tomahawk; but when I again
thought upon killing beings unprepared and unable to defend themselves,
it looked like murder without need, and I gave up the idea.

"But, sir, I felt determined to mark the spot, and walking to a thrifty
ash sapling, I cut out of it three large chips, and ran off. I soon
reached the river, soon crossed it, and threw myself deep into the
cane-brakes, imitating the tracks of an Indian with my feet, so that no
chance might be left for those from whom I had escaped to overtake me.

"It is now nearly twenty years since this happened, and more than five
since I left the Whites' settlements, which I might probably never have
visited again had I not been called on as a witness in a law-suit that
was pending in Kentucky, and which I really believe would never have
been settled had I not come forward and established the beginning of a
certain boundary line. This is the story, sir.

"Mr. ---- moved from Old Virginia into Kentucky, and having a large
tract granted to him in the new State, laid claim to a certain parcel of
land adjoining Green River, and, as chance would have it, took for one
of his corners the very ash-tree on which I had made my mark, and
finished his survey of some thousands of acres, beginning, as it is
expressed in the deed, 'at an Ash marked by three distinct notches of
the tomahawk of a white man.'

"The tree had grown much, and the bark had covered the marks; but,
somehow or other, Mr. ---- heard from some one all that I have already
said to you, and thinking that I might remember the spot alluded to in
the deed, but which was no longer discoverable, wrote for me to come and
try at least to find the place or the tree. His letter mentioned that
all my expenses should be paid, and not caring much about once more
going back to Kentucky, I started and met Mr. ----. After some
conversation, the affair with the Indians came to my recollection. I
considered for a while, and began to think that after all I could find
the very spot, as well as the tree, if it was yet standing.

"Mr. ---- and I mounted our horses, and off we went to the Green River
Bottoms. After some difficulties, for you must be aware, sir, that great
changes have taken place in those woods, I found at last the spot where
I had crossed the river, and, waiting for the moon to rise, made for
the course in which I thought the ash-tree grew. On approaching the
place, I felt as if the Indians were there still, and as if I was still
a prisoner among them. Mr. ---- and I camped near what I conceived the
spot, and waited until the return of day.

"At the rising of the sun I was on foot, and, after a good deal of
musing, thought that an ash-tree then in sight must be the very one on
which I had made my mark. I felt as if there could be no doubt of it,
and mentioned my thought to Mr. ----. 'Well, Colonel Boone,' said he,
'if you think so, I hope it may prove true, but we must have some
witnesses; do you stay here about, and I will go and bring some of the
settlers whom I know.' I agreed. Mr. ---- trotted off, and I, to pass
the time, rambled about to see if a Deer was still living in the land.
But ah! sir, what a wonderful difference thirty years makes in the
country! Why, at the time when I was caught by the Indians, you would
not have walked out in any direction for more than a mile without
shooting a buck or a Bear. There were then thousands of Buffaloes on the
hills in Kentucky; the land looked as if it never would become poor; and
to hunt in those days was a pleasure indeed. But when I was left to
myself on the banks of Green River, I dare say for the last time in my
life, a few _signs_ only of Deer were to be seen, and as to a Deer
itself, I saw none.

"Mr. ---- returned, accompanied by three gentlemen. They looked upon me
as if I had been Washington himself, and walked to the ash-tree, which I
now called my own, as if in quest of a long-lost treasure. I took an axe
from one of them, and cut a few chips off the bark. Still no signs were
to be seen. So I cut again until I thought it was time to be cautious,
and I scraped and worked away with my butcher knife until I _did_ come
to where my tomahawk had left an impression in the wood. We now went
regularly to work, and scraped at the tree with care, until three hacks
as plain as any three notches ever were, could be seen. Mr. ---- and the
other gentlemen were astonished, and, I must allow, I was as much
surprised as pleased myself. I made affidavit of this remarkable
occurrence in presence of these gentlemen. Mr. ---- gained his cause. I
left Green River forever, and came to where we now are; and, sir, I wish
you a good night."

I trust, kind reader, that when I again make my appearance with another
volume of Ornithological Biography, I shall not have to search in vain
for the impression which I have made, but shall have the satisfaction of
finding its traces still unobliterated. I now withdraw, and, in the
words of the noted wanderer of the Western wilds, "wish you a good
night."


NATCHEZ IN 1820

One clear, frosty morning in December I approached in my flatboat the
city of Natchez. The shores were crowded with boats of various kinds,
laden with the produce of the Western country; and there was a bustle
about them such as you might see at a general fair, each person being
intent on securing the advantage of a good market. Yet the scene was far
from being altogether pleasing, for I was yet "under the hill;" but on
removing from the Lower Town I beheld the cliffs on which the city,
properly so called, has been built. Vultures unnumbered flew close along
the ground on expanded pinions, searching for food; large pines and
superb magnolias here and there raised their evergreen tops towards the
skies; while on the opposite shores of the Mississippi vast alluvial
beds stretched along, and the view terminated with the dense forest.
Steamers moved rapidly on the broad waters of the great stream; the
sunbeams fell with a peculiarly pleasant effect on the distant objects;
and as I watched the motions of the White-headed Eagle while pursuing
the Fishing Hawk, I thought of the wonderful ways of that Power to whom
I too owe my existence.

Before reaching the land I had observed that several saw-mills were
placed on ditches or narrow canals, along which the water rushed from
the inner swamps towards the river, and by which the timber is conveyed
to the shore; and, on inquiring afterwards, I found that one of those
temporary establishments had produced a net profit of upwards of six
thousand dollars in a single season.

There is much romantic scenery about Natchez. The Lower Town forms a
most remarkable contrast with the Upper; for in the former the houses
were not regularly built, being generally dwellings formed of the
abandoned flatboats, placed in rows, as if with the view of forming a
long street. The inhabitants formed a medley which it is beyond my power
to describe; hundreds of laden carts and other vehicles jogged along the
declivity between the two towns; but when, by a very rude causeway, I
gained the summit, I was relieved by the sight of an avenue of those
beautiful trees called here the Pride of China. In the Upper Town I
found the streets all laid off at right angles to each other, and
tolerably well lined with buildings constructed with painted bricks or
boards.

The agricultural richness of the surrounding country was shown by the
heaps of cotton bales and other produce that encumbered the streets. The
churches, however, did not please me; but as if to make up for this, I
found myself unexpectedly accosted by my relative, Mr. Berthoud, who
presented me with letters from my wife and sons. These circumstances put
me in high spirits, and we proceeded towards the best hotel in the
place, that of Mr. Garnier. The house, which was built on the Spanish
plan, and of great size, was surrounded by large verandas over-looking a
fine garden, and stood at a considerable distance from any other. At
this period the city of Natchez had a population not exceeding three
thousand individuals. I have not visited it often since, but I have no
doubt that, like all the other towns in the western district of our
country, it has greatly increased. It possessed a bank, and the mail
arrived there thrice in the week from all parts of the Union.

The first circumstance that strikes a stranger is the mildness of the
temperature. Several vegetables as pleasing to the eye as agreeable to
the palate, and which are seldom seen in our Eastern markets before May,
were here already in perfection. The Pewee Fly-catcher had chosen the
neighborhood of the city for its winter quarters, and our deservedly
famed Mocking-bird sang and danced gratis to every passer by. I was
surprised to see the immense number of Vultures that strode along the
streets or slumbered on the roofs. The country for many miles inland is
gently undulated. Cotton is produced abundantly, and wealth and
happiness have taken up their abode under most of the planters' roofs,
beneath which the wearied traveller or the poor wanderer in search of a
resting-place is sure to meet with comfort and relief. Game is abundant,
and the free Indians were wont in those days to furnish the markets with
ample supplies of venison and Wild Turkey. The Mississippi, which bathes
the foot of the hill some hundred feet below the town, supplies the
inhabitants with fish of various kinds. The greatest deficiency is that
of water, which for common purposes is dragged on sledges or wheels from
the river, while that used for drinking is collected in tanks from the
roofs, and becomes very scarce during protracted droughts. Until of late
years the orange-tree bore fruit in the open air; but, owing to the
great change that has taken place in the temperature, severe though
transient frosts occasionally occur, which now prevent this plant from
coming to perfection in the open air.

The remains of an old Spanish fort are still to be seen at a short
distance from the city. If I am correctly informed, about two years
previous to this visit of mine a large portion of the hill near it gave
way, sank about a hundred feet, and carried many of the houses of the
Lower Town into the river. This, it would appear, was occasioned by the
quicksand running springs that flow beneath the strata of mixed pebbles
and clay of which the hill is composed. The part that has subsided
presents the appearance of a basin or bowl, and is used as a depot for
the refuse of the town, on which the Vultures feed when they can get
nothing better. There it was that I saw a White-headed Eagle chase one
of those filthy birds, knock it down, and feast on the entrails of a
horse which the Carrion Crow had partly swallowed.

I did not meet at Natchez many individuals fond of ornithological
pursuits, but the hospitality with which I was received was such as I am
not likely to forget. Mr. Gamier subsequently proved an excellent friend
to me, as you may find elsewhere recorded. Of another individual, whose
kindness to me is indelibly impressed on my heart, I would say a few
words, although he was such a man as Fénelon alone could describe.
Charles Carré was of French origin, the son of a nobleman of the old
régime. His acquirements and the benevolence of his disposition were
such that when I first met him I could not help looking upon him as
another Mentor. Although his few remaining locks were gray, his
countenance still expressed the gayety and buoyant feelings of youth. He
had the best religious principles; for his heart and his purse were ever
open to the poor. Under his guidance it was that I visited the whole
neighborhood of Natchez; for he was acquainted with all its history,
from the period at which it had first come under the power of the
Spaniards to that of their expulsion from the country, its possession by
the French, and subsequently by ourselves. He was also well versed in
the Indian languages, spoke French with the greatest purity, and was a
religious poet. Many a pleasant hour have I spent in his company; but
alas! he has gone the way of all the earth!


THE LOST PORTFOLIO

While I was at Natchez, on the 31st of December, 1820, my kind friend,
Nicholas Berthoud, Esq., proposed to me to accompany him in his
keel-boat to New Orleans. At one o'clock the steam-boat "Columbus"
hauled off from the landing and took our bark in tow. The steamer was
soon ploughing along at full speed, and little else engaged our minds
than the thought of our soon arriving at the emporium of the commerce of
the Mississippi. Towards evening, however, several inquiries were made
respecting particular portions of the luggage, among which ought to have
been one of my portfolios, containing a number of drawings made by me
while gliding down the Ohio and Mississippi from Cincinnati to Natchez,
and of which some were to me peculiarly valuable, being of birds
previously unfigured, and perhaps undescribed. The portfolio was nowhere
to be found, and I recollected that I had brought it under my arm to the
margin of the stream, and there left it to the care of one of my
friend's servants, who, in the hurry of our departure, had neglected to
take it on board. Besides the drawings of birds, there was in this
collection a sketch in black chalk to which I always felt greatly
attached while from home. It is true the features which it represented
were indelibly engraved in my heart; but the portrait of her to whom I
owe so much of the happiness that I have enjoyed was not the less dear
to me. When I thought during the following night of the loss I had
sustained in consequence of my own negligence, imagined the possible
fate of the collection, and saw it in the hands of one of the numerous
boatmen lounging along the shores, who might paste the drawings to the
walls of his cabin, nail them to the steering-oars of his flatboat, or
distribute them among his fellows, I felt little less vexed than I did
some years before when the rats, as you know, devoured a much larger
collection.

It was useless to fret myself, and so I began to devise a scheme for
recovering the drawings. I wrote to Mr. Garnier and my venerable friend
Charles Carré. Mr. Berthoud also wrote to a mercantile acquaintance. The
letters were forwarded to Natchez from the first landing-place at which
we stopped, and in the course of time we reached the great eddy running
by the levee, or artificial embankment, at New Orleans. But before I
present you with the answers to the letters sent to our acquaintances at
Natchez, allow me to offer a statement of our adventures upon the
Mississippi.

After leaving the eddy at Natchez, we passed a long file of exquisitely
beautiful bluffs. At the end of twenty hours we reached Bayou Sara,
where we found two brigs at anchor, several steamers, and a number of
flatboats, the place being of considerable mercantile importance. Here
the "Columbus" left us to shift for ourselves, her commander being
anxious to get to Baton Rouge by a certain hour, in order to secure a
good cargo of cotton. We now proceeded along the great stream, sometimes
floating and sometimes rowing. The shores gradually became lower and
flatter, orange-trees began to make their appearance around the
dwellings of the wealthy planters, and the verdure along the banks
assumed a brighter tint. The thermometer stood at 68° in the shade at
noon; Butterflies fluttered among the flowers, of which many were in
full blow; and we expected to have seen Alligators half awake floating
on the numberless logs that accompanied us in our slow progress. The
eddies were covered with Ducks of various kinds, more especially with
the beautiful species that breeds by preference on the great sycamores
that every now and then present themselves along our southern waters.
Baton Rouge is a very handsome place, but at present I have no time to
describe it. Levees now began to stretch along the river, and wherever
there was a sharp point on the shore, negroes were there amusing
themselves by raising shrimps, and now and then a catfish, with
scooping-nets.

The river increased in breadth and depth, and the sawyers and planters,
logs so called, diminished in number the nearer we drew towards the
famed city. At every bend we found the plantations increased, and now
the whole country on both sides became so level and destitute of trees
along the water's edge that we could see over the points before us, and
observe the great stream stretching along for miles. Within the levees
the land is much lower than the surface of the river when the water is
high; but at this time we could see over the levee from the deck of our
boat only the upper windows of the planters' houses, or the tops of the
trees about them, and the melancholy-looking cypresses covered with
Spanish moss forming the background. Persons rode along the levees at
full speed; Pelicans, Gulls, Vultures, and Carrion Crows sailed over the
stream, and at times there came from the shore a breeze laden with the
delicious perfume of the orange-trees, which were covered with blossoms
and golden fruits.

Having passed Bayou Lafourche, our boat was brought to on account of the
wind, which blew with violence. We landed, and presently made our way to
the swamps, where we shot a number of those beautiful birds called
Boat-tailed Grakles. The Mocking-birds on the fence stakes saluted us
with so much courtesy and with such delightful strains that we could not
think of injuring them; but we thought it no harm to shoot a whole
covey of Partridges. In the swamps we met with warblers of various
kinds, lively and beautiful, waiting in these their winter retreats for
the moment when Boreas should retire to his icy home, and the gentle
gales of the South should waft them toward their breeding-places in the
North. Thousands of Swallows flew about us, the Cat-birds mewed in
answer to their chatterings, the Cardinal Grosbeak elevated his glowing
crest as he stood perched on the magnolia branch, the soft notes of the
Doves echoed among the woods, nature smiled upon us, and we were happy.

On the fourth of January we stopped at Bonnet Carré, where I entered a
house to ask some questions about birds. I was received by a venerable
French gentleman, whom I found in charge of about a dozen children of
both sexes, and who was delighted to hear that I was a student of
nature. He was well acquainted with my old friend Charles Carré, and
must, I thought, be a good man, for he said he never suffered any of his
pupils to rob a bird of her eggs or young, although, said he with a
smile, "they are welcome to peep at them and love them." The boys at
once surrounded me, and from them I received satisfactory answers to
most of my queries respecting birds.

The 6th of January was so cold that the thermometer fell to 30°, and we
had seen ice on the running-boards of our keel-boat. This was quite
unlooked for, and we felt uncomfortable; but before the middle of the
day, all nature was again in full play. Several beautiful steamers
passed us. The vegetation seemed not to have suffered from the frost;
green peas, artichokes, and other vegetables were in prime condition.
This reminds me that on one of my late journeys I ate green peas in
December in the Floridas, and had them once a week at least in my course
over the whole of the Union, until I found myself and my family feeding
on the same vegetable more than a hundred miles to the north of the St.
John's River in New Brunswick.

Early on the 7th, thousands of tall spars, called masts by the mariners,
came in sight; and as we drew nearer, we saw the port filled with ships
of many nations, each bearing the flag of its country. At length we
reached the levee, and found ourselves once more at New Orleans. In a
short time my companions dispersed, and I commenced a search for
something that might tend to compensate me for the loss of my drawings.

On the 16th of March following, I had the gratification of receiving a
letter from Mr. A. P. Bodley, of Natchez, informing me that my portfolio
had been found and deposited at the office of the "Mississippi
Republican," whence an order from me would liberate it. Through the
kindness of Mr. Garnier, I received it on the 5th of April. So very
generous had been the finder of it, that when I carefully examined the
drawings in succession, I found them all present and uninjured, save
one, which had probably been kept by way of commission.


THE ORIGINAL PAINTER

As I was lounging one fair and very warm morning on the levee at New
Orleans, I chanced to observe a gentleman whose dress and other
accompaniments greatly attracted my attention. I wheeled about, and
followed him for a short space, when, judging by everything about him
that he was a true original, I accosted him.

But here, kind reader, let me give you some idea of his exterior. His
head was covered by a straw hat, the brim of which might cope with those
worn by the fair sex in 1830; his neck was exposed to the weather; the
broad frill of a shirt, then fashionable, flapped about his breast,
whilst an extraordinary collar, carefully arranged, fell over the top of
his coat. The latter was of a light green color, harmonizing well with a
pair of flowing yellow nankeen trousers, and a pink waistcoat, from the
bosom of which, amidst a large bunch of the splendid flowers of the
magnolia, protruded part of a young Alligator, which seemed more anxious
to glide through the muddy waters of some retired swamp than to spend
its life swinging to and fro among folds of the finest lawn. The
gentleman held in one hand a cage full of richly-plumed Nonpareils,
whilst in the other he sported a silk umbrella, on which I could plainly
read, "Stolen from I," these words being painted in large white
characters. He walked as if conscious of his own importance--that is,
with a good deal of pomposity, singing, "My love is but a lassie yet,"
and that with such thorough imitation of the Scotch emphasis that had
not his physiognomy brought to my mind a denial of his being from
"within a mile of Edinburgh," I should have put him down in my journal
for a true Scot. But no: his tournure, nay, the very shape of his
visage, pronounced him an American from the farthest parts of our
eastern Atlantic shores.

All this raised my curiosity to such a height that I accosted him with,
"Pray, sir, will you allow me to examine the birds you have in that
cage?" The gentleman stopped, straightened his body, almost closed his
left eye, then spread his legs apart, and, with a look altogether
quizzical, answered, "Birds, sir; did you say birds?" I nodded, and he
continued, "What the devil do you know about birds, sir?"

Reader, this answer brought a blush into my face. I felt as if caught in
a trap; for I was struck by the force of the gentleman's
question--which, by the way, was not much in discordance with a not
unusual mode of granting an answer in the United States. Sure enough,
thought I, little or perhaps nothing do I know of the nature of those
beautiful denizens of the air; but the next moment vanity gave me a
pinch, and urged me to conceive that I knew at least as much about birds
as the august personage in my presence. "Sir," replied I, "I am a
student of Nature, and admire her works, from the noblest figure of man
to the crawling reptile which you have in your bosom."--"Ah!" replied
he, "a--a--a naturalist, I presume!"--"Just so, my good sir," was my
answer. The gentleman gave me the cage; and I observed, from the corner
of one of my eyes, that his were cunningly inspecting my face. I
examined the pretty Finches as long as I wished, returned the cage, made
a low bow, and was about to proceed on my walk, when this odd sort of
being asked me a question quite accordant with my desire of knowing more
of him: "Will you come with me, sir? If you will, you shall see some
more curious birds, some of which are from different parts of the world.
I keep quite a collection." I assured him I should feel gratified, and
accompanied him to his lodgings.

We entered a long room, where, to my surprise, the first objects that
attracted my attention were a large easel with a full-length unfinished
portrait upon it, a table with palettes and pencils, and a number of
pictures of various sizes placed along the walls. Several cages
containing birds were hung near the windows, and two young gentlemen
were busily engaged in copying some finished portraits. I was delighted
with all I saw. Each picture spoke for itself: the drawing, the
coloring, the handling, the composition, and the keeping--all proved,
that, whoever was the artist, he certainly was possessed of superior
talents.

I did not know if my companion was the painter of the picture, but, as
we say in America, I strongly guessed, and, without waiting any longer,
paid him the compliments which I thought he fairly deserved. "Ay," said
he, "the world is pleased with my work. I wish I were so too; but time
and industry are required, as well as talents, to make a good artist. If
you will examine the birds, I'll to my labor." So saying, the artist
took up his palette, and was searching for a rest-stick; but not finding
the one with which he usually supported his hand, he drew the rod of a
gun, and was about to sit, when he suddenly threw down his implements on
the table, and, taking the gun, walked to me and asked if "I had ever
seen a percussion-lock." I had not, for that improvement was not yet in
vogue. He not only explained the superiority of the lock in question,
but undertook to prove that it was capable of acting effectually under
water. The bell was rung, a flat basin of water was produced, the gun
was charged with powder, and the lock fairly immersed. The report
terrified the birds, causing them to beat against the gilded walls of
their prisons. I remarked this to the artist. He replied, "The devil
take the birds!--more of them in the market; why, sir, I wish to show
you that I am a marksman as well as a painter." The easel was cleared of
the large picture, rolled to the further end of the room, and placed
against the wall. The gun was loaded in a trice, and the painter,
counting ten steps from the easel, and taking aim at the supporting-pin
on the left, fired. The bullet struck the head of the wooden pin fairly,
and sent the splinters in all directions. "A bad shot, sir," said this
extraordinary person. "The ball ought to have driven the pin farther
into the hole, but it struck on one side; I'll try at the hole itself."
After reloading his piece, the artist took aim again, and fired. The
bullet this time had accomplished its object, for it had passed through
the aperture and hit the wall behind. "Mr. ----, ring the bell and close
the windows," said the painter, and, turning to me, continued, "Sir, I
will show you the _ne plus ultra_ of shooting." I was quite amazed, and
yet so delighted that I bowed my assent. A servant having appeared, a
lighted candle was ordered. When it arrived, the artist placed it in a
proper position, and retiring some yards, put out the light with a
bullet, in the manner which I have elsewhere in this volume described.
When light was restored, I observed the uneasiness of the poor little
Alligator, as it strove to effect its escape from the artist's
waistcoat. I mentioned this to him. "True, true," he replied. "I had
quite forgot the reptile; he shall have a dram;" and unbuttoning his
vest, unclasped a small chain, and placed the Alligator in the basin of
water on the table.

Perfectly satisfied with the acquaintance which I had formed with this
renowned artist, I wished to withdraw, fearing I might inconvenience him
by my presence. But my time was not yet come. He bade me sit down, and
paying no more attention to the young pupils in the room than if they
had been a couple of cabbages, said, "If you have leisure and will stay
awhile, I will show you how I paint, and will relate to you an incident
of my life which will prove to you how sadly situated an artist is at
times." In full expectation that more eccentricities were to be
witnessed, or that the story would prove a valuable one, even to a
naturalist, who is seldom a painter, I seated myself at his side, and
observed with interest how adroitly he transferred the colors from his
glistening palette to the canvas before him. I was about to compliment
him on his facility of touch, when he spoke as follows:--

"This is, sir, or, I ought to say rather, this will be the portrait of
one of our best navy officers--a man as brave as Cæsar, and as good a
sailor as ever walked the deck of a seventy-four. Do you paint, sir?" I
replied, "Not yet."--"Not yet! what do you mean?"--"I mean what I say: I
intend to paint as soon as I can draw better than I do at
present."--"Good," said he; "you are quite right. To draw is the first
object; but, sir, if you should ever paint, and paint portraits, you
will often meet with difficulties. For instance, the brave Commodore of
whom this is the portrait, although an excellent man at everything
else, is the worst sitter I ever saw; and the incident I promised to
relate to you, as one curious enough, is connected with his bad mode of
sitting. Sir, I forgot to ask if you would take any refreshment--a glass
of wine, or--" I assured him I needed nothing more than his agreeable
company, and he proceeded. "Well, sir, the first morning that the
Commodore came to sit, he was in full uniform, and with his sword at his
side. After a few moments of conversation, and when all was ready on my
part, I bade him ascend this _throne_, place himself in the attitude
which I contemplated, and assume an air becoming an officer of the navy.
He mounted, placed himself as I had desired, but merely looked at me as
if I had been a block of stone. I waited a few minutes, when, observing
no change on his placid countenance, I ran the chalk over the canvas to
form a rough outline. This done, I looked up to his face again, and
opened a conversation which I thought would warm his warlike nature; but
in vain. I waited and waited, talked and talked, until, my
patience--sir, you must know I am not overburdened with phlegm--being
almost run out, I rose, threw my palette and brushes on the floor,
stamped, walking to and fro about the room, and vociferated such
calumnies against our navy that I startled the good Commodore. He still
looked at me with a placid countenance, and, as he has told me since,
thought I had lost my senses. But I observed him all the while, and,
fully as determined to carry my point as he would be to carry off an
enemy's ship, I gave my oaths additional emphasis, addressed him as a
representative of the navy, and, steering somewhat clear of personal
insult, played off my batteries against the craft. The Commodore walked
up to me, placed his hand on the hilt of his sword, and told me, in a
resolute manner, that if I intended to insult the navy, he would
instantly cut off my ears. His features exhibited all the spirit and
animation of his noble nature, and as I had now succeeded in rousing
the lion, I judged it time to retreat. So, changing my tone, I begged
his pardon, and told him he now looked precisely as I wished to
represent him. He laughed, and, returning to his seat, assumed a bold
countenance. And now, sir, see the picture!"

At some future period I may present you with other instances of the odd
ways in which this admired artist gave animation to his sitters. For the
present, kind reader, we shall leave him finishing the Commodore, while
we return to our proper studies.


THE COUGAR

There is an extensive swamp in the section of the State of Mississippi
which lies partly in the Choctaw territory. It commences at the borders
of the Mississippi, at no great distance from a Chickasaw village
situated near the mouth of a creek known by the name of Vanconnah, and
partly inundated by the swellings of several large bayous, the principal
of which, crossing the swamp in its whole extent, discharges its waters
not far from the mouth of the Yazoo River. This famous bayou is called
False River. The swamp of which I am speaking follows the windings of
the Yazoo, until the latter branches off to the northeast, and at this
point forms the stream named Cold Water River, below which the Yazoo
receives the draining of another bayou inclining towards the northwest
and intersecting that known by the name of False River at a short
distance from the place where the latter receives the waters of the
Mississippi. This tedious account of the situation of the swamp is given
with the view of pointing it out to all students of nature who may
happen to go that way, and whom I would earnestly urge to visit its
interior, as it abounds in rare and interesting productions,--birds,
quadrupeds, and reptiles, as well as molluscous animals, many of which,
I am persuaded, have never been described.

In the course of one of my rambles, I chanced to meet with a squatter's
cabin on the banks of the Cold Water River. In the owner of this hut,
like most of those adventurous settlers in the uncultivated tracts of
our frontier districts, I found a person well versed in the chase, and
acquainted with the habits of some of the larger species of quadrupeds
and birds. As he who is desirous of instruction ought not to disdain
listening to any one who has knowledge to communicate, however humble
may be his lot, or however limited his talents, I entered the squatter's
cabin, and immediately opened a conversation with him respecting the
situation of the swamp, and its natural productions. He told me he
thought it the very place I ought to visit, spoke of the game which it
contained, and pointed to some Bear and Deer skins, adding that the
individuals to which they had belonged formed but a small portion of the
number of those animals which he had shot within it. My heart swelled
with delight, and on asking if he would accompany me through the great
morass, and allow me to become an inmate of his humble but hospitable
mansion, I was gratified to find that he cordially assented to all my
proposals. So I immediately unstrapped my drawing materials, laid up my
gun, and sat down to partake of the homely but wholesome fare intended
for the supper of the squatter, his wife, and his two sons.

The quietness of the evening seemed in perfect accordance with the
gentle demeanor of the family. The wife and children, I more than once
thought, seemed to look upon me as a strange sort of person, going
about, as I told them I was, in search of birds and plants; and were I
here to relate the many questions which they put to me in return for
those I addressed to them, the catalogue would occupy several pages.
The husband, a native of Connecticut, had heard of the existence of such
men as myself, both in our own country and abroad, and seemed greatly
pleased to have me under his roof. Supper over, I asked my kind host
what had induced him to remove to this wild and solitary spot. "The
people are growing too numerous now to thrive in New England," was his
answer. I thought of the state of some parts of Europe, and calculating
the denseness of their population compared with that of New England,
exclaimed to myself, "How much more difficult must it be for men to
thrive in those populous countries!" The conversation then changed, and
the squatter, his sons and myself, spoke of hunting and fishing until at
length, tired, we laid ourselves down on pallets of Bear skins, and
reposed in peace on the floor of the only apartment of which the hut
consisted.

Day dawned, and the squatter's call to his hogs, which, being almost in
a wild state, were suffered to seek the greater portion of their food in
the woods, awakened me. Being ready dressed I was not long in joining
him. The hogs and their young came grunting at the well known call of
their owner, who threw them a few ears of corn, and counted them, but
told me that for some weeks their number had been greatly diminished by
the ravages committed upon them by a large _Panther_, by which name the
Cougar is designated in America, and that the ravenous animal did not
content himself with the flesh of his pigs, but now and then carried off
one of his calves, notwithstanding the many attempts he had made to
shoot it. The _Painter_, as he sometimes called it, had on several
occasions robbed him of a dead Deer; and to these exploits the squatter
added several remarkable feats of audacity which it had performed, to
give me an idea of the formidable character of the beast. Delighted by
his description, I offered to assist him in destroying the enemy, at
which he was highly pleased, but assured me that unless some of his
neighbors should join us with their dogs and his own, the attempt would
prove fruitless. Soon after, mounting a horse, he went off to his
neighbors several of whom lived at a distance of some miles, and
appointed a day of meeting.

The hunters, accordingly, made their appearance, one fine morning, at
the door of the cabin, just as the sun was emerging from beneath the
horizon. They were five in number, and fully equipped for the chase,
being mounted on horses which in some parts of Europe might appear sorry
nags, but which in strength, speed, and bottom, are better fitted for
pursuing a Cougar or a Bear through woods and morasses than any in that
country. A pack of large, ugly curs were already engaged in making
acquaintance with those of the squatter. He and myself mounted his two
best horses, whilst his sons were bestriding others of inferior quality.

Few words were uttered by the party until we had reached the edge of the
swamp, where it was agreed that all should disperse and seek for the
fresh track of the Painter, it being previously settled that the
discoverer should blow his horn, and remain on the spot, until the rest
should join him. In less than an hour, the sound of the horn was clearly
heard, and, sticking close to the squatter, off we went through the
thick woods, guided only by the now and then repeated call of the
distant huntsmen. We soon reached the spot, and in a short time the rest
of the party came up. The best dog was sent forward to track the Cougar,
and in a few moments the whole pack were observed diligently trailing,
and bearing in their course for the interior of the Swamp. The rifles
were immediately put in trim, and the party followed the dogs, at
separate distances, but in sight of each other, determined to shoot at
no other game than the Panther.

The dogs soon began to mouth, and suddenly quickened their pace. My
companion concluded that the beast was on the ground, and putting our
horses to a gentle gallop, we followed the curs, guided by their voices.
The noise of the dogs increased, when, all of a sudden their mode of
barking became altered, and the squatter, urging me to push on, told me
that the beast was _treed_, by which he meant that it had got upon some
low branch of a large tree to rest for a few moments, and that should we
not succeed in shooting him when thus situated, we might expect a long
chase of it. As we approached the spot, we all by degrees united into a
body, but on seeing the dogs at the foot of a large tree, separated
again, and galloped off to surround it.

Each hunter now moved with caution, holding his gun ready, and allowing
the bridle to dangle on the neck of his horse, as it advanced slowly
towards the dogs. A shot from one of the party was heard, on which the
Cougar was seen to leap to the ground, and bound off with such velocity
as to show that he was very unwilling to stand our fire longer. The dogs
set off in pursuit with great eagerness and a deafening cry. The hunter
who had fired came up and said that his ball had hit the monster, and
had probably broken one of his fore-legs near the shoulder, the only
place at which he could aim. A slight trail of blood was discovered on
the ground, but the curs proceeded at such a rate that we merely noticed
this, and put spurs to our horses, which galloped on towards the centre
of the Swamp. One bayou was crossed, then another still larger and more
muddy; but the dogs were brushing forward, and as the horses began to
pant at a furious rate, we judged it expedient to leave them and advance
on foot. These determined hunters knew that the Cougar being wounded,
would shortly ascend another tree, where in all probability he would
remain for a considerable time, and that it would be easy to follow the
track of the dogs. We dismounted, took off the saddles and bridles, set
the bells attached to the horses' necks at liberty to jingle, hoppled
the animals, and left them to shift for themselves.

Now, kind reader, follow the group marching through the swamp, crossing
muddy pools, and making the best of their way over fallen trees and
amongst the tangled rushes that now and then covered acres of ground. If
you are a hunter yourself, all this will appear nothing to you; but if
crowded assemblies of "beauty and fashion," or the quiet enjoyment of
your "pleasure grounds" alone delight you, I must mend my pen before I
attempt to give you an idea of the pleasure felt on such an expedition.

After marching for a couple of hours, we again heard the dogs. Each of
us pressed forward, elated at the thought of terminating the career of
the Cougar. Some of the dogs were heard whining, although the greater
number barked vehemently. We felt assured that the Cougar was treed, and
that he would rest for some time to recover from his fatigue. As we came
up to the dogs, we discovered the ferocious animal lying across a large
branch, close to the trunk of a cotton-wood tree. His broad breast lay
towards us; his eyes were at one time bent on us and again on the dogs
beneath and around him; one of his fore-legs hung loosely by his side,
and he lay crouched, with his ears lowered close to his head, as if he
thought he might remain undiscovered. Three balls were fired at him, at
a given signal, on which he sprang a few feet from the branch, and
tumbled headlong to the ground. Attacked on all sides by the enraged
curs, the infuriated Cougar fought with desperate valor; but the
squatter, advancing in front of the party, and almost in the midst of
the dogs, shot him immediately behind and beneath the left shoulder. The
Cougar writhed for a moment in agony, and in another lay dead.

The sun was now sinking in the west. Two of the hunters separated from
the rest to procure venison, whilst the squatter's sons were ordered to
make the best of their way home, to be ready to feed the hogs in the
morning. The rest of the party agreed to camp on the spot. The Cougar
was despoiled of its skin, and its carcass left to the hungry dogs.
Whilst engaged in preparing our camp, we heard the report of a gun, and
soon after one of our hunters returned with a small Deer. A fire was
lighted, and each hunter displayed his _pone_ of bread, along with a
flask of whiskey. The deer was skinned in a trice, and slices placed on
sticks before the fire. These materials afforded us an excellent meal,
and as the night grew darker, stories and songs went round, until my
companions, fatigued, laid themselves down, close under the smoke of the
fire, and soon fell asleep.

I walked for some minutes round the camp, to contemplate the beauties of
that nature from which I have certainly derived my greatest pleasures. I
thought of the occurrences of the day, and glancing my eye around,
remarked the singular effects produced by the phosphorescent qualities
of the large decayed trunks which lay in all directions around me. How
easy, I thought, would it be for the confused and agitated mind of a
person bewildered in a swamp like this, to imagine in each of these
luminous masses some wondrous and fearful being, the very sight of which
might make the hair stand erect on his head. The thought of being myself
placed in such a predicament burst over my mind, and I hastened to join
my companions, beside whom I laid me down and slept, assured that no
enemy could approach us without first rousing the dogs, which were
growling in fierce dispute over the remains of the Cougar.

At daybreak we left our camp, the squatter bearing on his shoulder the
skin of the late destroyer of his stock, and retraced our steps until we
found our horses, which had not strayed far from the place where we had
left them. These we soon saddled, and jogging along, in a direct course,
guided by the sun, congratulating each other on the destruction of so
formidable a neighbor as the Panther had been, we soon arrived at my
host's cabin. The five neighbors partook of such refreshment as the
house could afford, and dispersing, returned to their homes, leaving me
to follow my favorite pursuits.


THE RUNAWAY

Never shall I forget the impression made on my mind by the _rencontre_
which forms the subject of this article, and I even doubt if the
relation of it will not excite in that of my reader emotions of varied
character.

Late in the afternoon of one of those sultry days which render the
atmosphere of the Louisiana swamps pregnant with baneful effluvia, I
directed my course towards my distant home, laden with a pack,
consisting of five or six Wood Ibises, and a heavy gun, the weight of
which, even in those days, when my natural powers were unimpaired,
prevented me from moving with much speed. Reaching the banks of a miry
bayou, only a few yards in breadth, but of which I could not ascertain
the depth, on account of the muddiness of its waters, I thought it might
be dangerous to wade through it with my burden, for which reason,
throwing to the opposite side each of my heavy birds in succession,
together with my gun, powder-flask, and shot-bag, and drawing my
hunting-knife from its scabbard, to defend myself, if need should be,
against Alligators, I entered the water, followed by my faithful dog. As
I advanced carefully, and slowly, "Plato" swam around me, enjoying the
refreshing influence of the liquid element that cooled his fatigued and
heated frame. The water deepened, as did the mire of its bed; but with
a stroke or two I gained the shore.

Scarcely had I stood erect on the opposite bank, when my dog ran to me,
exhibiting marks of terror; his eyes seeming ready to burst from their
sockets, and his mouth grinning with the expression of hatred, while his
feelings found vent in a stifled growl. Thinking that all this was
produced by the scent of a Wolf or Bear, I stooped to take up my gun,
when a stentorian voice commanded me to "stand still, or die!" Such a
_qui vive_ in these woods was as unexpected as it was rare. I instantly
raised and cocked my gun; and although I did not yet perceive the
individual who had thus issued so peremptory a mandate, I felt
determined to combat with him for the free passage of the grounds.
Presently a tall, firmly built negro emerged from the bushy underwood,
where until that moment he must have been crouched, and in a louder
voice repeated his injunction. Had I pressed a trigger, his life would
have instantly terminated; but observing that the gun which he aimed at
my breast, was a wretched, rusty piece, from which fire could not
readily be produced, I felt little fear, and therefore did not judge it
necessary to proceed at once to extremities. I laid my gun at my side,
tapped my dog quietly, and asked the man what he wanted.

My forbearance, and the stranger's long habit of submission, produced
the most powerful effect on his mind. "Master," said he, "I am a
runaway; I might perhaps shoot you down; but God forbids it, for I feel
just now as if I saw him ready to pass his judgment against me for such
a foul deed, and I ask mercy at your hands. For God's sake, do not kill
me, master!" "And why," answered I, "have you left your quarters, where
certainly you must have fared better than in these unwholesome swamps?"
"Master, my story is a short, but a sorrowful one. My camp is close by,
and, as I know you cannot reach home this night, if you will follow me
there, depend upon _my honor_ you shall be safe until the morning, when
I will carry your birds, if you choose, to the great road."

The large, intelligent eyes of the negro, the complacency of his
manners, and the tones of his voice, I thought invited me to venture;
and as I felt that I was at least his equal, while moreover, I had my
dog to second me, I answered that I would _follow him_. He observed the
emphasis laid on the words, the meaning of which he seemed to understand
so thoroughly that, turning to me, he said, "There, master, take my
butcher's knife, while I throw away the flint and priming from my gun!"
Reader, I felt confounded: this was too much for me: I refused the
knife, and told him to keep his piece ready, in case we might
accidentally meet a Cougar or a Bear.

Generosity exists everywhere. The greatest monarch acknowledges its
impulse, and all around him, from the lowliest menial to the proud
nobles that encircle his throne, at times experience that overpowering
sentiment. I offered to shake hands with the runaway. "Master," said he,
"I beg you thanks," and with this he gave me a squeeze that alike
impressed me with the goodness of his heart and his great physical
strength. From that moment we proceeded through the woods together. My
dog smelt at him several times, but as he heard me speak in my usual
tone of voice, he soon left us and rambled around as long as my whistle
was unused. As we proceeded, I observed that he was guiding me towards
the setting of the sun, and quite contrary to my homeward course. I
remarked this to him, when he with the greatest simplicity replied,
"Merely for our security."

After trudging along for some distance, and crossing several bayous, at
all of which he threw his gun and knife to the opposite bank, and stood
still until I had got over, we came to the borders of an immense
cane-brake, from which I had, on former occasions, driven and killed
several Deer. We entered, as I had frequently done before, now erect,
then on "all fours." He regularly led the way, divided here and there
the tangled stalks, and, whenever we reached a fallen tree, assisted me
in getting over it, with all possible care. I saw that he was a perfect
Indian in his knowledge of the woods, for he kept a direct course as
precisely as any "Red-skin" I ever travelled with. All of a sudden he
emitted a loud shriek, not unlike that of an Owl, which so surprised me,
that I once more instantly levelled my gun. "No harm, master, I only
give notice to my wife and children I am coming." A tremulous answer of
the same nature gently echoed through the tree tops. The runaway's lips
separated with an expression of gentleness and delight, when his
beautiful set of ivory teeth seemed to smile through the dusk of evening
that was thickening around us. "Master," said he, "my wife, though
black, is as beautiful to me as the President's wife is to him; she is
my queen, and I look on our young ones as so many princes; but you shall
see them all, for here they are, thank God."

There, in the heart of the cane-brake, I found a regular camp. A small
fire was lighted, and on its embers lay gridling some large slices of
venison. A lad nine or ten years old was blowing the ashes from some
fine sweet potatoes. Various articles of household furniture were
carefully disposed around, and a large pallet of Bear and Deer skins,
seemed to be the resting-place of the whole family. The wife raised not
her eyes towards mine, and the little ones, three in number, retired
into a corner, like so many discomfited Raccoons; but the Runaway, bold,
and apparently happy, spoke to them in such cheering words, that at once
one and all seemed to regard me as one sent by Providence to relieve
them from all their troubles. My clothes were hung up by them to dry,
and the negro asked if he might clean and grease my gun, which I
permitted him to do, while the wife threw a large piece of Deer's flesh
to my dog, which the children were already caressing.

Only think of my situation, reader! Here I was, ten miles at least from
home, and four or five from the nearest plantation, in the camp of
runaway slaves, and quite at their mercy. My eyes involuntarily followed
their motions, but as I thought I perceived in them a strong desire to
make me their confidant and friend, I gradually relinquished all
suspicions. The venison and potatoes looked quite tempting, and by this
time I was in a condition to relish much less savory fare; so, on being
humbly asked to divide the viands before us, I partook of as hearty a
meal as I had ever done in my life.

Supper over, the fire was completely extinguished, and a small lighted
pine-knot placed in a hollowed calabash. Seeing that both the husband
and the wife were desirous of communicating something to me, I at once
and fearlessly desired them to unburden their minds, when the Runaway
told me a tale of which the following is the substance.

About eighteen months before, a planter, residing not very far off,
having met with some losses, was obliged to expose his slaves at a
public sale. The value of his negroes was well known, and on the
appointed day the auctioneer laid them out in small lots, or offered
them singly, in the manner which he judged most advantageous to their
owner. The Runaway, who was well known as being the most valuable next
to his wife, was put up by himself for sale, and brought an immoderate
price. For his wife, who came next, and alone, eight hundred dollars
were bidden and paid down. Then the children were exposed, and, on
account of their breed, brought high prices. The rest of the slaves went
off at rates corresponding to their qualifications.

The Runaway chanced to be bought by the overseer of the plantation; the
wife was bought by an individual residing about a hundred miles off, and
the children went to different places along the river. The heart of the
husband and father failed him under this dire calamity. For a while he
pined in sorrow under his new master; but having marked down in his
memory the names of the different persons who had purchased each dear
portion of his family, he feigned illness, if indeed, he whose
affections had been so grievously blasted could be said to feign it,
refrained from food for several days, and was little regarded by the
overseer, who felt himself disappointed in what he had considered a
bargain.

On a stormy night, when the elements raged with all the fury of a
hurricane, the poor negro made his escape, and being well acquainted
with all the neighboring swamps, at once made directly for the
cane-brake in the centre of which I found his camp. A few nights
afterwards he gained the abode of his wife, and the very next after
their meeting, he led her away. The children, one after another, he
succeeded in stealing, until at last the whole of the objects of his
love were under his care.

To provide for five individuals was no easy task in those wilds, which
after the first notice was given of the wonderful disappearance of this
extraordinary family, were daily ransacked by armed planters. Necessity,
it is said, will bring the Wolf from the forest. The Runaway seems to
have well understood the maxim, for under the cover of night he
approached his first master's plantation, where he had ever been treated
with the greatest kindness. The house-servants knew him too well not to
aid him to the best of their power, and at the approach of each morning
he returned to his camp with an ample supply of provisions. One day,
while in search of wild fruits, he found a Bear dead before the muzzle
of a gun that had been set for the purpose. Both articles he carried to
his home. His friends at the plantation managed to supply him with some
ammunition, and on damp and cloudy days he first ventured to hunt around
his camp. Possessed of courage and activity, he gradually became more
careless, and rambled farther in search of game. It was on one of his
excursions that I met him, and he assured me the noise which I made in
passing the bayou had caused him to lose the chance of killing a fine
Deer, "although," said he, "my old musket misses fire sadly too often."

The Runaways, after disclosing their secret to me, both rose from their
seat, with eyes full of tears. "Good master, for God's sake, do
something for us and our children," they sobbed forth with one accord.
Their little ones lay sound asleep in the fearlessness of their
innocence. Who could have heard such a tale without emotion? I promised
them my most cordial assistance. They both sat up that night to watch my
repose, and I slept close to their urchins, as if on a bed of the
softest down.

Day broke so fair, so pure, and so gladdening that I told them such
heavenly appearances were ominous of good, and that I scarcely doubted
of obtaining their full pardon. I desired them to take their children
with them, and promised to accompany them to the plantation of their
first master. They gladly obeyed. My Ibises were hung round their camp,
and, as a memento of my having been there, I notched several trees;
after which I bade adieu, perhaps for the last time, to that cane-brake.
We soon reached the plantation, the owner of which, with whom I was well
acquainted, received me with all the generous kindness of a Louisiana
planter. Ere an hour had elapsed, the Runaway and his family were looked
upon as his own. He afterwards repurchased them from their owners, and
treated them with his former kindness; so that they were rendered as
happy as slaves generally are in that country, and continued to cherish
that attachment to each other which had led to their adventures. Since
this event happened, it has, I have been informed, become illegal to
separate slave families without their consent.


A TOUGH WALK FOR A YOUTH

About twelve years ago I was conveyed, along with my son Victor, from
Bayou Sara to the mouth of the Ohio, on board the steamer "Magnet,"
commanded by Mr. McKnight, to whom I here again offer my best thanks for
his attentions. The very sight of the waters of that beautiful river
filled me with joy as we approached the little village of Trinity, where
we were landed along with several other passengers, the water being too
low to enable the vessel to proceed to Louisville. No horses could be
procured, and as I was anxious to continue my journey without delay, I
consigned my effects to the care of the tavern-keeper, who engaged to
have them forwarded by the first opportunity. My son, who was not
fourteen, with all the ardor of youth, considered himself able to
accomplish, on foot, the long journey which we contemplated. Two of the
passengers evinced a desire to accompany us, "provided," said the
tallest and stoutest of them, "the lad can keep up. My business," he
continued, "is urgent, and I shall push for Frankfort pretty fast."
Dinner, to which we had contributed some fish from the river, being
over, my boy and I took a ramble along the shores of Cash Creek, on
which, some years before, I had been detained several weeks by ice. We
slept at the tavern, and next morning prepared for our journey, and were
joined by our companions, although it was past twelve before we crossed
the creek.

  [Illustration: VICTOR GIFFORD AUDUBON.
    PAINTED BY AUDUBON ABOUT 1823.]

One of our fellow-travellers, named Rose, who was a delicate and
gentlemanly person, acknowledged that he was not a good walker, and said
he was glad that my son was with us, as he might be able to keep up with
the lively youth. The other, a burly personage, at once pushed forwards.
We walked in Indian file along the narrow track cut through the canes,
passed a wood-yard, and entered the burnt forest, in which we met
with so many logs and briers that we judged it better to make for the
river, the course of which we followed over a bed of pebbles, my son
sometimes ahead, and again falling back, until we reached America, a
village having a fine situation, but with a shallow approach to the
shore. Here we halted at the best house, as every traveller ought to do,
whether pedestrian or equestrian, for he is there sure of being well
treated, and will not have to pay more than in an inferior place. Now we
constituted Mr. Rose purser. We had walked twelve miles over rugged
paths and pebbly shores, and soon proceeded along the edge of the river.
Seven tough miles ended, we found a house near the bank, and in it we
determined to pass the night. The first person we met with was a woman
picking cotton in a small field. On asking her if we might stay in her
cabin for the night, she answered we might, and hoped we could make
shift with the fare on which she and her husband lived. While she went
to the house to prepare supper, I took my son and Mr. Rose to the water,
knowing how much we should be refreshed by a bath. Our fellow-traveller
refused, and stretched himself on a bench by the door. The sun was
setting; thousands of Robins were flying southward in the calm and clear
air; the Ohio was spread before us smooth as a mirror, and into its
waters we leaped with pleasure. In a short time the good man of the hut
called us to supper, and in a trice we were at his heels. He was a tall,
raw-boned fellow, with an honest, bronzed face. After our frugal meal we
all four lay down on a large bed, spread on the floor, while the good
people went up to a loft.

The woodsman, having, agreeably to our instructions, roused us at
daybreak, told us that about seven miles farther we should meet with a
breakfast much better than the last supper we had. He refused any
pecuniary compensation, but accepted from me a knife. So we again
started. My dear boy appeared very weak at first, but soon recovered,
and our stout companion, whom I shall call S., evidently showed symptoms
of lassitude. On arriving at the cabin of a lazy man, blessed with an
industrious wife and six healthy children, all of whom labored for his
support, we were welcomed by the woman, whose motions and language
indicated her right to belong to a much higher class. Better breakfast I
never ate: the bread was made of new corn, ground on a tin grater by the
beautiful hands of our blue-eyed hostess; the chickens had been prepared
by one of her lovely daughters; some good coffee was added, and my son
had fresh milk. The good woman, who now held a babe to her bosom, seemed
pleased to see how heartily we all ate; the children went to work, and
the lazy husband went to the door to smoke a corn-cob pipe. A dollar was
put into the ruddy hand of the chubby urchin, and we bade its mother
farewell. Again we trudged along the beach, but after a while betook
ourselves to the woods. My son became faint. Dear boy! never can I
forget how he lay exhausted on a log, large tears rolling down his
cheeks. I bathed his temples, spoke soothingly to him, and chancing to
see a fine Turkey Cock run close by, directed his attention to it, when,
as if suddenly refreshed, he got up and ran a few yards towards the
bird. From that moment he seemed to acquire new vigor, and at length we
reached Wilcox's, where we stopped for the night. We were reluctantly
received at the house, and had little attention paid to us, but we had a
meal and went to bed.

The sun rose in all its splendor, and the Ohio reflected its ruddy
beams. A finer view of that river can scarcely be obtained than that
from the house which we were leaving. Two miles through intricate woods
brought us to Belgrade, and having passed Fort Massacre, we halted and
took breakfast. S. gave us to understand that the want of roads made
travelling very unpleasant; he was not, he added, in the habit of
"skulking through the bushes, or tramping over stony bars in the full
sunshine;" but how else he had travelled was not explained. Mr. Rose
kept up about as well as Victor, and I now led the way. Towards sunset
we reached the shores of the river, opposite the mouth of the
Cumberland. On a hill, the property of a Major B., we found a house, and
a solitary woman, wretchedly poor, but very kind. She assured us that if
we could not cross the river, she would give us food and shelter for the
night, but said that, as the moon was up, she could get us put over when
her skiff came back. Hungry and fatigued, we laid us down on the brown
grass, waiting either a scanty meal or the skiff that was to convey us
across the river. I had already grated the corn for our supper, run down
the chickens, and made a fire, when a cry of "Boat coming!" roused us
all. We crossed half of the Ohio, walked over Cumberland Isle, and after
a short ferry found ourselves in Kentucky, the native land of my beloved
sons. I was now within a few miles of the spot where, some years before,
I had a horse killed under me by lightning.

It is unnecessary to detain you with a long narrative, and state every
occurrence till we reached the banks of Green River. We had left Trinity
at twelve o'clock of the 15th of October, and on the morning of the 18th
four travellers, descending a hill, were admiring the reflection of the
sun's rays on the forest-margined horizon. The frost, which lay thick on
the ground and the fences, glittered in the sheen, and dissolved away;
all nature seemed beautiful in its calm repose; but the pleasure which I
felt in gazing on the scene was damped by the fatigue of my son, who now
limped like a lamed Turkey, although, as the rest of the party were not
much better off, he smiled, straightened himself, and strove to keep up
with us. Poor S. was panting many yards behind, and was talking of
purchasing a horse. We had now, however, a tolerably good road, and in
the evening got to a house, where I inquired if we could have a supper
and beds. When I came out, Victor was asleep on the grass, Mr. Rose
looking at his sore toes, and S. just finishing a jug of monongahela.
Here we resolved that, instead of going by Henderson, we should take a
cut across to the right, and make direct for Smith's Ferry, by way of
Highland Lick Creek.

Next day we trudged along, but nothing very remarkable occurred
excepting that we saw a fine black Wolf, quite tame and gentle, the
owner of which refused a hundred dollars for it. Mr. Rose, who was an
engineer, and a man of taste, amused us with his flageolet, and
frequently spoke of his wife, his children, and his fireside, which
increased my good opinion of him. At an orchard we filled our pockets
with October peaches, and when we came to Trade Water River we found it
quite low. The acorns were already drifted on its shallows, and the Wood
Ducks were running about picking them up. Passing a flat bottom, we saw
a large Buffalo Lick. Where now are the bulls which erst scraped its
earth away, bellowing forth their love or their anger?

Good Mr. Rose's feet became sorer and sorer each succeeding day; Mr. S.
at length nearly gave up; my son had grown brisker. The 20th was cloudy,
and we dreaded rain, as we knew the country to be flat and clayey. In
Union County, we came to a large opening, and found the house of a
justice, who led us kindly to the main road, and accompanied us for a
mile, giving us excellent descriptions of brooks, woods, and barrens;
notwithstanding which we should have been much puzzled, had not a
neighbor on horseback engaged to show us the way. The rain now fell in
torrents and rendered us very uncomfortable, but at length we reached
Highland Lick, where we stumbled on a cabin, the door of which we thrust
open, overturning a chair that had been placed behind it. On a dirty bed
lay a man, a table with a journal or perhaps a ledger before him, a
small cask in a corner near him, a brass pistol on a nail over his head,
and a long Spanish dagger by his side. He rose and asked what was
wanted. "The way to a better place, the road to Suggs's." "Follow the
road, and you'll get to his house in about five miles!" My party were
waiting for me, warming themselves by the fires of the salt-kettles. The
being I had seen was an overseer. By and by we crossed a creek; the
country was hilly, clayey, and slippery; Mr. S. was cursing, Rose limped
like a lame Duck, but Victor kept up like a veteran.

Another day, kind reader, and I shall for a while shut my journal. The
morning of the 21st was beautiful; we had slept comfortably at Suggs's,
and we soon found ourselves on pleasant barrens, with an agreeable road.
Rose and S. were so nearly knocked up that they proposed to us to go on
without them. We halted and talked a few minutes on the subject, when
our companions stated their resolution to proceed at a slower pace. So
we bade them adieu. I asked my son how he felt; he laughed and quickened
his steps; and in a short time our former associates were left out of
sight. In about two hours we were seated in the Green River Ferry-boat,
with our legs hanging in the water. At Smith's Ferry this stream looks
like a deep lake; and the thick cane on its banks, the large overhanging
willows, and its dark, green waters, never fail to form a fine picture,
more especially in the calm of an autumnal evening. Mr. Smith gave us a
good supper, sparkling cider, and a comfortable bed. It was arranged
that he should drive us to Louisville in his dearborn; and so ended our
walk of two hundred and fifty miles. Should you wish to accompany us
during the remainder of our journey I have only to refer you to the
article "Hospitality in the Woods."


HOSPITALITY IN THE WOODS

Hospitality is a virtue the exercise of which, although always agreeable
to the stranger, is not always duly appreciated. The traveller who has
acquired celebrity is not unfrequently received with a species of
hospitality which is much alloyed by the obvious attention of the host
to his own interest; and the favor conferred upon the stranger must have
less weight when it comes mingled with almost interminable questions as
to his perilous adventures. Another receives hospitality at the hands of
persons who, possessed of all the comforts of life, receive the way-worn
wanderer with pomposity, lead him from one part of their spacious
mansion to another, and bidding him good-night, leave him to amuse
himself in his solitary apartment, because he is thought unfit to be
presented to a party of friends. A third stumbles on a congenial spirit,
who receives him with open arms, offers him servants, horses, perhaps
even his purse, to enable him to pursue his journey, and parts from him
with regret. In all these cases the traveller feels more or less under
obligation, and is accordingly grateful. But, kind reader, the
hospitality received from the inhabitant of the forest, who can offer
only the shelter of his humble roof and the refreshment of his homely
fare, remains more deeply impressed on the memory of the bewildered
traveller than any other. This kind of hospitality I have myself
frequently experienced in our woods, and now proceed to relate an
instance of it.

I had walked several hundred miles, accompanied by my son, then a
stripling, and, coming upon a clear stream, observed a house on the
opposite shore. We crossed in a canoe, and finding that we had arrived
at a tavern, determined upon spending the night there. As we were both
greatly fatigued, I made an arrangement with our host to be conveyed in
a light Jersey wagon a distance of a hundred miles, the period of our
departure to be determined by the rising of the moon. Fair Cynthia, with
her shorn beams, peeped over the forest about two hours before dawn, and
our conductor, provided with a long twig of hickory, took his station in
the fore-part of the wagon. Off we went at a round trot, dancing in the
cart like peas in a sieve. The road, which was just wide enough to allow
us to pass, was full of deep ruts, and covered here and there with
trunks and stumps, over all which we were hurried. Our conductor, Mr.
Flint, the landlord of the tavern, boasting of his perfect knowledge of
the country, undertook to drive us by a short cut, and we willingly
confided ourselves to his management. So we jogged along, now and then
deviating to double the fallen timber. Day commenced with promise of
fine weather, but several nights of white frost having occurred, a
change was expected. To our sorrow, the change took place long before we
got to the road again. The rain fell in torrents; the thunder bellowed;
the lightning blazed. It was now evening, but the storm had brought
perfect night, black and dismal. Our cart had no cover. Cold and wet, we
sat silent and melancholy, with no better expectation than that of
passing the night under the little shelter the cart could afford us.

To stop was considered worse than to proceed. So we gave the reins to
the horses, with some faint hope that they would drag us out of our
forlorn state. Of a sudden the steeds altered their course, and soon
after we perceived the glimmer of a faint light in the distance, and
almost at the same moment heard the barking of dogs. Our horses stopped
by a high fence and fell a-neighing, while I hallooed at such a rate
that an answer was speedily obtained. The next moment a flaming pine
torch crossed the gloom, and advanced to the spot where we stood. The
negro boy who bore it, without waiting to question us, enjoined us to
follow the fence, and said that Master had sent him to show the
strangers to the house. We proceeded, much relieved, and soon reached
the gate of a little yard, in which a small cabin was perceived.

A tall, fine-looking young man stood in the open door, and desired us
get out of the cart and walk in. We did so, when the following
conversation took place. "A bad night this, strangers; how came you to
be along the fence? You certainly must have lost your way, for there is
no public road within twenty miles." "Ay," answered Mr. Flint, "sure
enough we lost our way; but, thank God! we have got to a house; and
thank _you_ for your reception." "Reception!" replied the woodsman; "no
very great thing after all; you are all here safe, and that's enough.
Eliza," turning to his wife, "see about some victuals for the strangers,
and you, Jupiter," addressing the negro lad, "bring some wood and mend
the fire. Eliza, call the boys up, and treat the strangers the best way
you can. Come, gentlemen, pull off your wet clothes, and draw to the
fire. Eliza, bring some socks and a shirt or two."

For my part, kind reader, knowing my countrymen as I do, I was not much
struck at all this; but my son, who had scarcely reached the age of
thirteen, drew near to me, and observed how pleasant it was to have met
with such good people. Mr. Flint bore a hand in getting his horses put
under a shed. The young wife was already stirring with so much
liveliness that to have doubted for a moment that all she did was a
pleasure to her would have been impossible. Two negro lads made their
appearance, looked at us for a moment, and going out, called the dogs.
Soon after the cries of the poultry informed us that good cheer was at
hand. Jupiter brought more wood, the blaze of which illumined the
cottage. Mr. Flint and our host returned, and we already began to feel
the comforts of hospitality. The woodsman remarked that it was a pity we
had not chanced to come that day three weeks; "for," said he, "it was
our wedding-day, and father gave us a good house-warming, and you might
have fared better; but, however, if you can eat bacon and eggs, and a
broiled chicken, you shall have that. I have no whiskey in the house,
but father has some capital cider, and I'll go over and bring a keg of
it." I asked how far off his father lived. "Only three miles, sir, and
I'll be back before Eliza has cooked your supper." Off he went
accordingly, and the next moment the galloping of his horse was heard.
The rain fell in torrents, and now I also became struck with the
kindness of our host.

To all appearance the united ages of the pair under whose roof we had
found shelter did not exceed two score. Their means seemed barely
sufficient to render them comfortable, but the generosity of their young
hearts had no limits. The cabin was new. The logs of which it was formed
were all of the tulip-tree, and were nicely pared. Every part was
beautifully clean. Even the coarse slabs of wood that formed the floor
looked as if newly washed and dried. Sundry gowns and petticoats of
substantial homespun hung from the logs that formed one of the sides of
the cabin, while the other was covered with articles of male attire. A
large spinning-wheel, with rolls of wool and cotton, occupied one
corner. In another was a small cupboard, containing the little stock of
new dishes, cups, plates, and tin pans. The table was small also, but
quite new, and as bright as polished walnut could be. The only bed that
I saw was of domestic manufacture, and the counterpane proved how expert
the young wife was at spinning and weaving. A fine rifle ornamented the
chimney-piece. The fireplace was of such dimensions that it looked as if
it had been purposely constructed for holding the numerous progeny
expected to result from the happy union.

The black boy was engaged in grinding some coffee. Bread was prepared by
the fair hands of the bride, and placed on a flat board in front of the
fire. The bacon and eggs already murmured and spluttered in the
frying-pan, and a pair of chickens puffed and swelled on a gridiron over
the embers, in front of the hearth. The cloth was laid, and everything
arranged, when the clattering of hoofs announced the return of the
husband. In he came, bearing a two-gallon keg of cider. His eyes
sparkled with pleasure as he said, "Only think, Eliza; father wanted to
rob us of the strangers, and was for coming here to ask them to his own
house, just as if we could not give them enough ourselves; but here's
the drink. Come, gentlemen, sit down and help yourselves." We did so,
and I, to enjoy the repast, took a chair of the husband's making, in
preference to one of those called _Windsor_, of which there were six in
the cabin. This chair was bottomed with a piece of Deer's skin tightly
stretched, and afforded a very comfortable seat.

The wife now resumed her spinning, and the husband filled a jug with the
sparkling cider, and, seated by the blazing fire, was drying his
clothes. The happiness he enjoyed beamed from his eye, as at my request
he proceeded to give us an account of his affairs and prospects, which
he did in the following words: "I shall be twenty-two next
Christmas-day," said our host. "My father came from Virginia when young,
and settled on the large tract of land where he yet lives, and where
with hard working he has done well. There were nine children of us. Most
of them are married and settled in the neighborhood. The old man has
divided his lands among some of us, and bought others for the rest. The
land where I am he gave me two years ago, and a finer piece is not
easily to be found. I have cleared a couple of fields, and planted an
orchard. Father gave me a stock of cattle, some hogs, and four horses,
with two negro boys. I camped here for most of the time when clearing
and planting; and when about to marry the young woman you see at the
wheel, father helped me in raising this hut. My wife, as luck would have
it, had a negro also, and we have begun the world as well off as most
folks, and, the Lord willing, may--But, gentlemen, you don't eat; do
help yourselves. Eliza, maybe the strangers would like some milk." The
wife stopped her work, and kindly asked if we preferred sweet or sour
milk; for you must know, reader, that sour milk is by some of our
farmers considered a treat. Both sorts were produced, but, for my part,
I chose to stick to the cider.

Supper over, we all neared the fire, and engaged in conversation. At
length our kind host addressed his wife as follows: "Eliza, the
gentlemen would like to lie down, I guess. What sort of bed can you fix
for them?" Eliza looked up with a smile, and said: "Why, Willy, we will
divide the bedding, and arrange half on the floor, on which we can sleep
very well, and the gentlemen will have the best we can spare them." To
this arrangement I immediately objected, and proposed lying on a blanket
by the fire; but neither Willy nor Eliza would listen. So they arranged
a part of their bedding on the floor, on which, after some debate, we at
length settled. The negroes were sent to their own cabin, the young
couple went to bed, and Mr. Flint lulled us all asleep with a long story
intended to show us how passing strange it was that he should have lost
his way.

"Tired nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep," and so forth. But Aurora
soon turned her off. Mr. Speed, our host, rose, went to the door, and
returning assured us that the weather was too bad for us to attempt
proceeding. I really believe he was heartily glad of it; but anxious to
continue our journey, I desired Mr. Flint to see about his horses. Eliza
by this time was up too, and I observed her whispering to her husband,
when he immediately said aloud, "To be sure, the gentlemen will eat
breakfast before they go, and I will show them the way to the road."
Excuses were of no avail. Breakfast was prepared and eaten. The weather
brightened a little, and by nine we were under way. Willy, on horseback,
headed us. In a few hours our cart arrived at a road, by following which
we at length got to the main one, and parted from our woodsman with the
greater regret that he would accept nothing from any of us. On the
contrary, telling Mr. Flint, with a smile, that he hoped he might some
time again follow the longest track for a short cut, he bade us adieu,
and trotted back to his fair Eliza and his happy home.


NIAGARA

After wandering on some of our great lakes for many months, I bent my
course towards the celebrated Falls of Niagara, being desirous of taking
a sketch of them. This was not my first visit to them, and I hoped it
should not be the last.

Artists (I know not if I can be called one) too often imagine that what
they produce must be excellent, and with that foolish idea go on
spoiling much paper and canvas, when their time might have been better
employed in a different manner. But, digressions aside, I directed my
steps towards the Falls of Niagara, with the view of representing them
on paper, for the amusement of my family.

Returning as I then was from a tedious journey, and possessing little
more than some drawings of rare birds and plants, I reached the tavern
at Niagara Falls in such plight as might have deterred many an
individual from obtruding himself upon a circle of well-clad and perhaps
well-bred society. Months had passed since the last of my linen had been
taken from my body, and used to clean that useful companion, my gun. I
was in fact covered just like one of the poorer class of Indians, and
was rendered even more disagreeable to the eye of civilized man by not
having, like them, plucked my beard, or trimmed my hair in any way. Had
Hogarth been living, and there when I arrived, he could not have found a
fitter subject for a Robinson Crusoe. My beard covered my neck in front,
my hair fell much lower at my back, the leather dress which I wore had
for months stood in need of repair, a large knife hung at my side, a
rusty tin-box containing my drawings and colors, and wrapped up in a
worn-out blanket that had served me for a bed, was buckled to my
shoulders. To every one I must have seemed immersed in the depths of
poverty, perhaps of despair. Nevertheless, as I cared little about my
appearance during those happy rambles, I pushed into the sitting-room,
unstrapped my little burden, and asked how soon breakfast would be
ready.

In America, no person is ever refused entrance to the inns, at least far
from cities. We know too well how many poor creatures are forced to make
their way from other countries in search of employment or to seek
uncultivated land, and we are ever ready to let them have what they may
call for. No one knew who I was, and the landlord, looking at me with an
eye of close scrutiny, answered that breakfast would be on the table as
soon as the company should come down from their rooms. I approached this
important personage, told him of my avocations, and convinced him that
he might feel safe as to remuneration. From this moment I was, with him
at least, on equal footing with every other person in his house. He
talked a good deal of the many artists who had visited the Falls that
season, from different parts, and offered to assist me by giving such
accommodations as I might require to finish the drawings I had in
contemplation. He left me, and as I looked about the room I saw several
views of the Falls, by which I was so disgusted that I suddenly came to
my better senses. "What!" thought I, "have I come here to mimic nature
in her grandest enterprise, and add _my_ caricature of one of the
wonders of the world to those which I here see? No; I give up the vain
attempt. I shall look on these mighty cataracts and imprint them, where
alone they can be represented--on my mind!"

Had I taken a view, I might as well have given you what might be termed
a regular account of the form, the height, the tremendous roar of these
Falls; might have spoken of people perilling their lives by going
between the rock and the sheet of water, calculated the density of the
atmosphere in that strange position, related wondrous tales of Indians
and their canoes having been precipitated the whole depth--might have
told of the narrow, rapid, and rockbound river that leads the waters of
the Erie into those of Ontario, remarking _en passant_ the Devil's Hole
and sundry other places or objects. But, supposing you had been there,
my description would prove useless, and quite as puny as my intended
view would have been for my family; and should you not have seen them,
and are fond of contemplating the more magnificent of the Creator's
works, go to Niagara, reader; for all the pictures you may see, all the
descriptions you may read, of these mighty Falls, can only produce in
your mind the faint glimmer of a glow-worm compared with the
overpowering glory of the meridian sun.

I breakfasted amid a crowd of strangers, who gazed and laughed at me,
paid my bill, rambled about and admired the Falls for a while, saw
several young gentlemen _sketching on cards_ the mighty mass of foaming
waters, and walked to Buffalo, where I purchased new apparel and sheared
my beard. I then enjoyed civilized life as much as, a month before, I
had enjoyed the wildest solitudes and the darkest recesses of mountain
and forest.


MEADVILLE

The incidents that occur in the life of a student of nature are not all
of the agreeable kind; in proof of which I shall present you, good
reader, with an extract from one of my journals.

My money was one day stolen from me, by a person who perhaps imagined
that to a naturalist it was of little importance. This happened on the
shores of Upper Canada. The affair was as unexpected as it well could
be, and as adroitly managed as if it had been planned and executed in
Cheapside. To have repined when the thing could not be helped would
certes not have been acting manfully. I therefore told my companion to
keep a good heart, for I felt satisfied that Providence had some relief
in store for us. The whole amount of cash left with two individuals
fifteen hundred miles from home was just seven dollars and a half. Our
passage across the lake had fortunately been paid for. We embarked and
soon got to the entrance of Presque Isle Harbor, but could not pass the
bar, on account of a violent gale which came on as we approached it. The
anchor was dropped, and we remained on board during the night, feeling
at times very disagreeable, under the idea of having taken so little
care of our money. How long we might have remained at anchor I cannot
tell, had not that Providence on whom I have never ceased to rely come
to our aid. Through some means to me quite unknown, Captain Judd, of the
U.S. Navy, then probably commandant at Presque Isle, sent a gig with six
men to our relief. It was on the 29th of August, 1824, and never shall I
forget that morning. My drawings were put into the boat with the
greatest care. We shifted into it, and seated ourselves according to
directions politely given us. Our brave fellows pulled hard, and every
moment brought us nearer to the American shore. I leaped upon it with
elated heart. My drawings were safely landed, and for anything else I
cared little at the moment. I searched in vain for the officer of our
navy, to whom I still feel grateful, and gave one of our dollars to the
sailors to drink the "freedom of the waters;" after which we betook
ourselves to a humble inn to procure bread and milk, and consider how we
were to proceed.

Our plans were soon settled, for to proceed was decidedly the best. Our
luggage was rather heavy, so we hired a cart to take it to Meadville,
for which we offered five dollars. This sum was accepted, and we set
off. The country through which we passed might have proved favorable to
our pursuits, had it not rained nearly the whole day. At night we
alighted and put up at a house belonging to our conductor's father. It
was Sunday night. The good folks had not yet returned from a distant
meeting-house, the grandmother of our driver being the only individual
about the premises. We found her a cheerful dame, who bestirred herself
as actively as age would permit, got up a blazing fire to dry our wet
clothes, and put as much bread and milk on the table as might have
sufficed for several besides ourselves.

Being fatigued by the jolting of the cart, we asked for a place in which
to rest, and were shown into a room in which were several beds. We told
the good woman that I should paint her portrait next morning for the
sake of her children. My companion and myself were quickly in bed, and
soon asleep, in which state we should probably have remained till
morning, had we not been awakened by a light, which we found to be
carried by three young damsels, who, having observed where we lay, blew
it out, and got into a bed opposite to ours. As we had not spoken, it is
probable the girls supposed us sound asleep, and we heard them say how
delighted they would be to have their portraits taken, as well as that
of their grandmother. My heart silently met their desire, and we fell
asleep without further disturbance. In our backwoods it is frequently
the case that one room suffices for all the members of a family.

Day dawned, and as we were dressing we discovered that we were alone in
the apartment, the good country girls having dressed in silence, and
left us before we had awakened. We joined the family and were kindly
greeted. No sooner had I made known my intentions as to the portraits
than the young folks disappeared, and soon after returned attired in
their Sunday clothes. The black chalk was at work in a few minutes, to
their great delight, and as the fumes of the breakfast that was meantime
preparing reached my sensitive nose, I worked with redoubled ardor. The
sketches were soon finished, and soon too was the breakfast over. I
played a few airs on my flageolet, while our guide was putting the
horses to the cart, and by ten o'clock we were once more under way
towards Meadville. Never shall I forget Maxon Randell and his hospitable
family. My companion was as pleased as myself, and as the weather was
now beautiful we enjoyed our journey with all that happy thoughtlessness
best suited to our character. The country now became covered with heavy
timber, principally evergreens, the pines and the cucumber trees loaded
with brilliant fruits, and the spruces throwing a shade over the land in
good keeping for a mellow picture. The lateness of the crops was the
only disagreeable circumstance that struck us; hay was yet standing,
probably, however, a second crop; the peaches were quite small and
green, and a few persons here and there, as we passed the different
farms, were reaping oats. At length we came in sight of French Creek,
and soon after reached Meadville. Here we paid the five dollars promised
to our conductor, who instantly faced about, and applying the whip to
his nags, bade us adieu, and set off.

We had now only one hundred and fifty cents. No time was to be lost. We
put our baggage and ourselves under the roof of a tavern keeper known
by the name of J. E. Smith, at the sign of the Traveller's Rest, and
soon after took a walk to survey the little village that was to be laid
under contribution for our further support. Its appearance was rather
dull, but, thanks to God, I have never despaired while rambling thus for
the sole purpose of admiring his grand and beautiful works. I had opened
the case that contained my drawings, and putting my portfolio under my
arm, and a few good credentials in my pocket, walked up Main Street,
looking to the right and left, examining the different _heads_ which
occurred, until I fixed my eyes on a gentleman in a store who looked as
if he might want a sketch. I begged him to allow me to sit down. This
granted, I remained purposely silent until he very soon asked me what
was "_in that portfolio_." These three words sounded well, and without
waiting another instant, I opened it to his view. This was a Hollander,
who complimented me much on the execution of the drawings of birds and
flowers in my portfolio. Showing him a sketch of the best friend I have
in the world at present, I asked him if he would like one in the same
style of himself. He not only answered in the affirmative, but assured
me that he would exert himself in procuring as many more customers as he
could. I thanked him, be assured, kind reader; and having fixed upon the
next morning for drawing the sketch, I returned to the Traveller's Rest,
with a hope that to-morrow might prove propitious. Supper was ready, and
as in America we generally have but one sort of _table d'hôte_, we sat
down, when, every individual looking upon me as a missionary priest, on
account of my hair, which in those days flowed loosely on my shoulders,
I was asked to say grace, which I did with a fervent spirit.

Daylight returned. I visited the groves and woods around with my
companion, returned, breakfasted, and went to the store, where,
notwithstanding my ardent desire to begin my task, it was ten o'clock
before the sitter was ready. But, reader, allow me to describe the
_artist's room_. See me ascending a crazy flight of steps, from the
back part of a store room into a large garret extending over the store
and counting room, and mark me looking round to see how the light could
be stopped from obtruding on me through no less than four windows facing
each other at right angles. Then follow me scrutinizing the corners, and
finding in one a cat nursing her young among a heap of rags intended for
the paper mill. Two hogsheads filled with oats, a parcel of Dutch toys
carelessly thrown on the floor, a large drum and a bassoon in another
part, fur caps hanging along the wall, and the portable bed of the
merchant's clerk swinging like a hammock near the centre, together with
some rolls of sole leather, made up the picture. I saw all this at a
glance, and closing the extra windows with blankets, I soon procured a
_painter's light_.

A young gentleman sat to try my skill. I finished his phiz, which was
approved of. The merchant then took the chair, and I had the good
fortune to please him also. The room became crowded with the gentry of
the village. Some laughed, while others expressed their wonder; but my
work went on, notwithstanding the observations which were made. My
sitter invited me to spend the evening with him, which I did, and joined
him in some music on the flute and violin. I returned to my companion
with great pleasure, and you may judge how much that pleasure was
increased when I found that he also had made two sketches. Having
written a page or two of our journals, we retired to rest.

The following day was spent much in the same manner. I felt highly
gratified that from under my gray coat my talents had made their way,
and I was pleased to discover that industry and moderate abilities prove
at least as valuable as first-rate talents without the former of these
qualities. We left Meadville on foot, having forwarded our baggage by
wagon. Our hearts were light, our pockets replenished, and we walked in
two days to Pittsburgh, as happy as circumstances permitted us to be.


THE BURNING OF THE FORESTS.

With what pleasure have I seated myself by the blazing fire of some
lonely cabin, when, faint with fatigue, and chilled with the piercing
blast, I had forced my way to it through the drifted snows that covered
the face of the country as with a mantle. The affectionate mother is
hushing her dear babe to repose, while a group of sturdy children
surround their father, who has just returned from the chase, and
deposited on the rough flooring of his hut the varied game which he has
procured. The great back-log, that with some difficulty has been rolled
into the ample chimney, urged, as it were, by lighted pieces of pine,
sends forth a blaze of light over the happy family. The dogs of the
hunter are already licking away the trickling waters of the thawing
icicles that sparkle over their shaggy coats, and the comfort-loving cat
is busied in passing her furry paws over each ear, or with her rough
tongue smoothing her glossy coat.

How delightful to me has it been when, kindly received and hospitably
treated under such a roof, by persons whose means were as scanty as
their generosity was great, I have entered into conversation with them
respecting subjects of interest to me, and received gratifying
information. When the humble but plentiful repast was ended, the mother
would take from the shelf the Book of books, and mildly request the
attention of her family, while the father read aloud a chapter. Then to
Heaven would ascend their humble prayers, and a good-night would be
bidden to all friends far and near. How comfortably have I laid my
wearied frame on the Buffalo hide, and covered me with the furry skin of
some huge Bear! How pleasing have been my dreams of home and happiness,
as I there lay, secure from danger and sheltered from the inclemency of
the weather.

I recollect that once while in the State of Maine, I passed such a night
as I have described. Next morning the face of nature was obscured by the
heavy rains that fell in torrents, and my generous host begged me to
remain, in such pressing terms that I was well content to accept his
offer. Breakfast over, the business of the day commenced; the
spinning-wheels went round, and the boys employed themselves, one in
searching for knowledge, another in attempting to solve some ticklish
arithmetical problem. In a corner lay the dogs, dreaming of plunder,
while close to the ashes stood grimalkin, seriously purring in concert
with the wheels. The hunter and I seated ourselves each on a stool,
while the matron looked after her domestic arrangements.

"Puss," quoth the dame, "get away; you told me last night of this day's
rain, and I fear you may now give us worse news with tricky paws." Puss
accordingly went off, leaped on a bed, and rolling herself in a ball,
composed herself for a comfortable nap. I asked the husband what his
wife meant by what she had just said. "The good woman," said he, "has
some curious notions at times, and she believes, I think, in the ways of
animals of all kinds. Now, her talk to the cat refers to the fires of
the woods around us, and although they have happened long ago, she fears
them quite as much as ever, and, indeed, she and I and all of us have
good reason to dread them, as they have brought us many calamities."
Having read of the great fires to which my host alluded, and frequently
observed with sorrow the mournful state of the forests, I felt anxious
to know something of the causes by which these direful effects had been
produced. I therefore requested him to give me an account of the events
resulting from those fires which he had witnessed. Willingly he at once
went on, nearly as follows:--

"About twenty-five years ago the larch, or hackmatack, trees were nearly
all killed by insects. This took place in what hereabouts is called the
'black soft growth' land, that is, the spruce, pine, and all other firs.
The destruction of the trees was effected by the insects cutting the
leaves, and you must know that, although other trees are not killed by
the loss of their leaves, the evergreens always are. Some few years
after this destruction of the larch, the same insects attacked the
spruces, pines, and other firs, in such a manner that, before half a
dozen years were over, they began to fall, and, tumbling in all
directions, they covered the whole country with matted masses. You may
suppose that when partially dried or seasoned, they would prove capital
fuel, as well as supplies for the devouring flames, which accidentally,
or perhaps by intention, afterwards raged over the country, and
continued burning at intervals for years, in many places stopping all
communication by the roads; the resinous nature of the firs being of
course best fitted to insure and keep up the burning of the deep beds of
dry leaves or of the other trees." Here I begged him to give me some
idea of the form of the insects which had caused such havoc.

"The insects," said he, "were, in their caterpillar form, about three
quarters of an inch in length, and as green as the leaves of the trees
they fed on, when they committed their ravages. I must tell you also
that, in most of the places over which the fire passed, a new growth of
wood has already sprung up, of what we lumberers call hard wood, which
consists of all other sorts but pine or fir; and I have always remarked
that wherever the first natural growth of a forest is destroyed, either
by the axe, the hurricane, or the fire, there springs up spontaneously
another of quite a different kind." I again stopped my host to inquire
if he knew the method or nature of the first kindling of the fires.

"Why, sir," said he, "there are different opinions about this. Many
believe that the Indians did it, either to be the better able to kill
the game, or to punish their enemies the Pale-faces. My opinion,
however, is different; and I derive it from my experience in the woods
as a lumberer. I have always thought that the fires began by the
accidental fall of a dry trunk against another, when their rubbing
together, especially as many of them are covered with resin, would
produce fire. The dry leaves on the ground are at once kindled, next the
twigs and branches, when nothing but the intervention of the Almighty
could stop the progress of the fire.

"In some instances, owing to the wind, the destructive element
approached the dwellings of the inhabitants of the woods so rapidly that
it was difficult for them to escape. In some parts, indeed, hundreds of
families were obliged to flee from their homes, leaving all they had
behind them, and here and there some of the affrighted fugitives were
burnt alive."

At this moment a rush of wind came down the chimney, blowing the blaze
of the fire towards the room. The wife and daughter, imagining for a
moment that the woods were again on fire, made for the door, but the
husband explaining the cause of their terror, they resumed their work.

"Poor things," said the lumberer, "I dare say that what I have told you
brings sad recollections to the minds of my wife and eldest daughter,
who, with myself, had to fly from our home, at the time of the great
fires." I felt so interested in his relation of the causes of the
burnings that I asked him to describe to me the particulars of his
misfortunes at the time. "If Prudence and Polly," said he, looking
towards his wife and daughter, "will promise to sit still should another
puff of smoke come down the chimney, I will do so." The good-natured
smile with which he made this remark elicited a return from the women
and he proceeded:--

"It is a difficult thing, sir, to describe, but I will do my best to
make your time pass pleasantly. We were sound asleep one night in a
cabin about a hundred miles from this, when, about two hours before
day, the snorting of the horses and lowing of the cattle which I had
ranging in the woods suddenly awakened us. I took yon rifle and went to
the door, to see what beast had caused the hubbub, when I was struck by
the glare of light reflected on all the trees before me, as far as I
could see through the woods. My horses were leaping about, snorting
loudly, and the cattle ran among them with their tails raised straight
over their backs. On going to the back of the house, I plainly heard the
crackling made by the burning brushwood, and saw the flames coming
towards us in a far extended line. I ran to the house, told my wife to
dress herself and the child as quick as possible, and take the little
money we had, while I managed to catch and saddle the two best horses.
All this was done in a very short time, for I guessed that every moment
was precious to us.

"We then mounted, and made off from the fire. My wife, who is an
excellent rider, stuck close to me; my daughter, who was then a small
child, I took in one arm. When making off as I said, I looked back and
saw that the frightful blaze was close upon us, and had already laid
hold of the house. By good luck, there was a horn attached to my
hunting-clothes, and I blew it, to bring after us, if possible, the
remainder of my live stock, as well as the dogs. The cattle followed for
a while; but, before an hour had elapsed, they all ran as if mad through
the woods, and that, sir, was the last of them. My dogs, too, although
at other times extremely tractable, ran after the Deer that in bodies
sprung before us, as if fully aware of the death that was so rapidly
approaching.

"We heard blasts from the horns of our neighbors as we proceeded, and
knew that they were in the same predicament. Intent on striving to the
utmost to preserve our lives, I thought of a large lake some miles off,
which might possibly check the flames; and, urging my wife to whip up
her horse, we set off at full speed, making the best way we could over
the fallen trees and brush-heaps, which lay like so many articles placed
on purpose to keep up the terrific fires that advanced with a broad
front upon us.

"By this time we could feel the heat; and we were afraid that our horses
would drop every instant. A singular kind of breeze was passing over our
heads, and the glare of the atmosphere shone over the daylight. I was
sensible of a slight faintness, and my wife looked pale. The heat had
produced such a flush in the child's face that when she turned towards
either of us, our grief and perplexity were greatly increased. Ten
miles, you know, are soon gone over on swift horses; but,
notwithstanding this, when we reached the borders of the lake, covered
with sweat and quite exhausted, our hearts failed us. The heat of the
smoke was insufferable, and sheets of blazing fire flew over us in a
manner beyond belief. We reached the shores, however, coasted the lake
for a while, and got round to the lee side. There we gave up our horses,
which we never saw again. Down among the rushes we plunged by the edge
of the water, and laid ourselves flat, to wait the chance of escaping
from being burnt or devoured. The water refreshed us, and we enjoyed the
coolness.

"On went the fire, rushing and crashing through the woods. Such a sight
may we never see! The heavens, themselves, I thought were frightened,
for all above us was a red glare mixed with clouds of smoke, rolling and
sweeping away. Our bodies were cool enough, but our heads were
scorching, and the child, who now seemed to understand the matter, cried
so as nearly to break our hearts.

"The day passed on, and we became hungry. Many wild beasts came plunging
into the water beside us, and others swam across to our side and stood
still. Although faint and weary, I managed to shoot a Porcupine, and we
all tasted its flesh. The night passed, I cannot tell you how.
Smouldering fires covered the ground, and trees stood like pillars of
fire, or fell across each other. The stifling and sickening smoke still
rushed over us, and the burnt cinders and ashes fell thick about us. How
we got through that night I really cannot tell, for about some of it I
remember nothing." Here the hunter paused, and took breath. The recital
of his adventure seemed to have exhausted him. His wife proposed that we
should have a bowl of milk, and the daughter having handed it to us, we
each took a draught.

"Now," said he, "I will proceed. Towards morning, although the heat did
not abate, the smoke became less, and blasts of fresh air sometimes made
their way to us. When morning came, all was calm, but a dismal smoke
still filled the air, and the smell seemed worse than ever. We were now
cooled enough, and shivered as if in an ague fit; so we removed from the
water, and went up to a burning log, where we warmed ourselves. What was
to become of us, I did not know. My wife hugged the child to her breast,
and wept bitterly; but God had preserved us through the worst of the
danger, and the flames had gone past, so I thought it would be both
ungrateful to him and unmanly to despair now. Hunger once more pressed
upon us, but this was easily remedied. Several Deer were still standing
in the water, up to the head, and I shot one of them. Some of its flesh
was soon roasted; and after eating it we felt wonderfully strengthened.

"By this time the blaze of the fire was beyond our sight, although the
ground was still burning in many places, and it was dangerous to go
among the burnt trees. After resting awhile, and trimming ourselves, we
prepared to commence our march. Taking up the child, I led the way over
the hot ground and rocks; and, after two weary days and nights, during
which we shifted in the best manner we could, we at last reached the
'hard woods' which had been free of the fire. Soon after we came to a
house, where we were kindly treated for a while. Since then, sir, I have
worked hard and constantly as a lumberer; but, thanks be to God, here we
are safe, sound, and happy!"


A LONG CALM AT SEA

On the 17th of May, 1826, I left New Orleans on board the ship "Delos,"
commanded by Joseph Hatch, Esq., of Kennebunk, bound for Liverpool. The
steamer "Hercules," which towed the ship, left us several miles outside
of the Balize, about ten hours after our departure; but there was not a
breath of wind, the waters were smoother than the prairies of the
Opelousas, and notwithstanding our great display of canvas, we lay like
a dead whale, floating at the mercy of the currents. The weather was
uncommonly fair, and the heat excessive; and in this helpless state we
continued for many days. About the end of a week we had lost sight of
the Balize, although I was assured by the commander that all this while
the ship had rarely answered the helm. The sailors whistled for wind,
and raised their hands in all directions, anxious as they were to feel
some motion in the air; but all to no purpose; it was a dead calm, and
we concluded that "Æolus" had agreed with "Neptune" to detain us, until
our patience should be fairly tried, or our sport exhausted; for sport
we certainly had, both on board and around the ship. I doubt if I can
better contribute to your amusement at present than by giving you a
short account of the occurrences that took place during this sleepy fit
of the being on whom we depended for our progress toward merry England.

Vast numbers of beautiful Dolphins glided by the side of the vessel,
glancing like burnished gold through the day, and gleaming like meteors
by night. The captain and his mates were expert at alluring them with
baited hooks, and not less so at piercing them with five-pronged
instruments, which they called grains; and I was delighted with the
sport, because it afforded me an opportunity of observing and noting
some of the habits of this beautiful fish, as well as several other
kinds.

On being hooked, the Dolphin flounces vigorously, shoots off with great
impetuosity to the very end of the line, when, being suddenly checked,
it often rises perpendicularly several feet out of the water, shakes
itself violently in the air, gets disentangled, and thus escapes. But
when well secured, it is held in play for a while by the experienced
fisher, soon becomes exhausted, and is hauled on board. Some persons
prefer pulling them in at once, but they seldom succeed, as the force
with which the fish shakes itself on being raised out of the water is
generally sufficient to enable it to extricate itself. Dolphins move in
shoals, varying from four or five to twenty or more, hunting in packs in
the waters, as Wolves pursue their prey on land. The object of their
pursuit is generally the Flying-fish, now and then the Bonita; and when
nothing better can be had, they will follow the little Rudder-fish, and
seize it immediately under the stern of the ship. The Flying-fishes
after having escaped for a while by dint of their great velocity, on
being again approached by the Dolphin, emerge from the waters, and
spreading their broad wing-like fins, sail through the air and disperse
in all directions, like a covey of timid Partridges before the rapacious
Falcon. Some pursue a direct course, others diverge on either side; but
in a short time they all drop into their natural element. While they are
travelling in the air, their keen and hungry pursuer, like a greyhound,
follows in their wake, and performing a succession of leaps, many feet
in extent, rapidly gains upon the quarry, which is often seized just as
it falls into the sea.

Dolphins manifest a very remarkable sympathy with each other. The moment
one of them is hooked or grained, those in company make up to it, and
remain around until the unfortunate fish is pulled on board, when they
generally move off together, seldom biting at anything thrown out to
them. This, however, is the case only with the larger individuals, which
keep apart from the young, in the same manner as is observed in several
species of birds; for when the smaller Dolphins are in large shoals,
they all remain under the bows of a ship, and bite in succession at any
sort of line, as if determined to see what has become of their lost
companions, in consequence of which they are often all caught.

You must not suppose that the Dolphin is without its enemies. Who, in
this world, man or fish, has not enough of them? Often it conceives
itself on the very eve of swallowing a fish, which, after all, is
nothing but a piece of lead, with a few feathers fastened to it, to make
it look like a Flying-fish, when it is seized and severed in two by the
insidious Balacouda, which I have once seen to carry off by means of its
sharp teeth, the better part of a Dolphin that was hooked, and already
hoisted to the surface of the water.

The Dolphins caught in the Gulf of Mexico during this calm were
suspected to be poisonous; and to ascertain whether this was really the
case, our cook, who was an African negro, never boiled or fried one
without placing beside it a dollar. If the silver was not tarnished by
the time the Dolphin was ready for the table, the fish was presented to
the passengers, with an assurance that it was perfectly good. But as not
a single individual of the hundred that we caught had the property of
converting silver into copper, I suspect that our African sage was no
magician.

One morning, that of the 22d of June, the weather sultry, I was
surprised on getting out of my hammock, which was slung on deck, to find
the water all around swarming with Dolphins, which were sporting in
great glee. The sailors assured me that this was a certain "token of
wind," and, as they watched the movements of the fishes, added, "ay, and
of a fair breeze too." I caught several Dolphins in the course of an
hour, after which scarcely any remained about the ship. Not a breath of
air came to our relief all that day, no, nor even the next. The sailors
were in despair, and I should probably have become despondent also, had
not my spirits been excited by finding a very large Dolphin on my hook.
When I had hauled it on board, I found it to be the largest I had ever
caught. It was a magnificent creature. See how it quivers in the agonies
of death! its tail flaps the hard deck, producing a sound like the rapid
roll of a drum. How beautiful the changes of its colors! Now it is blue,
now green, silvery, golden, and burnished copper! Now it presents a
blaze of all the hues of the rainbow intermingled; but, alack! it is
dead, and the play of its colors is no longer seen. It has settled into
the deep calm that has paralyzed the energies of the blustering winds,
and smoothed down the proud waves of the ocean.

The best bait for the Dolphin is a long strip of Shark's flesh. I think
it generally prefers this to the semblance of the Flying-fish, which
indeed it does not often seize unless when the ship is under way, and it
is made to rise to the surface. There are times, however, when hunger
and the absence of their usual food will induce the Dolphins to dash at
any sort of bait; and I have seen some caught by means of a piece of
white linen fastened to a hook. Their appetite is as keen as that of the
Vulture, and whenever a good opportunity occurs, they gorge themselves
to such a degree that they become an easy prey to their enemies the
Balacouda and the Bottle-nosed Porpoise. One that had been grained while
lazily swimming immediately under the stern of our ship, was found to
have its stomach completely crammed with Flying-fish, all regularly
disposed side by side, with their tails downwards--by which I mean to
say that the Dolphin always _swallows its prey tail-foremost_. They
looked in fact like so many salted Herrings packed in a box, and were to
the number of twenty-two, each six or seven inches in length.

The usual length of the Dolphins caught in the Gulf of Mexico is about
three feet, and I saw none that exceeded four feet two inches. The
weight of one of the latter size was only eighteen pounds; for this fish
is extremely narrow in proportion to its length, although rather deep in
its form. When just caught, the upper fin, which reaches from the
forehead to within a short distance of the tail, is of a fine dark blue.
The upper part of the body in its whole length is azure, and the lower
parts are of a golden hue, mottled irregularly with deep-blue spots. It
seems that they at times enter very shallow water, as in the course of
my last voyage along the Florida coast, some were caught in a seine,
along with their kinsman the "Cavalier," of which I shall speak
elsewhere.

The flesh of the Dolphin is rather firm, very white, and lies in flakes
when cooked. The first caught are generally eaten with great pleasure,
but when served many days in succession, they become insipid. It is not,
as an article of food, equal to the Balacouda, which is perhaps as good
as any fish caught in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.


STILL BECALMED

On the 4th of June, we were still in the same plight, although the
currents of the Gulf had borne us to a great distance from the place
where, as I have informed you, we had amused ourselves with catching
Dolphins. These currents are certainly very singular, for they carried
us hither and thither, at one time rendering us apprehensive of drifting
on the coast of Florida, at another threatening to send us to Cuba.
Sometimes a slight motion in the air revived our hopes, swelled our
sails a little, and carried us through the smooth waters like a skater
gliding on ice; but in a few hours it was again a dead calm.

One day several small birds, after alighting on the spars, betook
themselves to the deck. One of them, a female Rice Bunting, drew our
attention more particularly, for, a few moments after her arrival, there
came down, as if in her wake, a beautiful Peregrine Falcon. The
plunderer hovered about for a while, then stationed himself on the end
of one of the yard-arms, and suddenly pouncing on the little gleaner of
the meadows, clutched her and carried her off in exultation. But,
reader, mark the date, and judge besides of my astonishment when I saw
the Falcon feeding on the Finch while on wing, precisely with the same
ease and composure as the Mississippi Kite might show while devouring
high in air a Red-throated Lizard, swept from one of the magnificent
trees of the Louisiana woods.

There was a favorite pet on board belonging to our captain, and which
was nothing more nor less than the female companion of a cock--in other
words, a common hen. Some liked her because she now and then dropped a
fresh egg--a rare article at sea, even on board the "Delos;" others,
because she exhibited a pleasing simplicity of character; others again,
because, when they had pushed her overboard, it gave them pleasure to
see the poor thing in terror strike with her feet, and strive to reach
her floating home, which she would never have accomplished, however, had
it not been for the humane interference of our captain, Mr. Joseph
Hatch, of Kennebunk. Kind, good-hearted man! when, several weeks after,
the same pet hen accidentally flew overboard, as we were scudding along
at a furious rate, I thought I saw a tear stand in his eye, as she
floated panting in our wake. But as yet we are becalmed, and heartily
displeased at old "Æolus" for overlooking us.

One afternoon we caught two Sharks. In one of them, a female, about
seven feet long, we found ten young ones, all alive, and quite capable
of swimming, as we proved by experiment; for, on casting one of them
into the sea, it immediately made off, as if it had been accustomed to
shift for itself. Of another, that had been cut in two, the head half
swam off out of our sight. The rest were cut in pieces, as was the old
shark, as bait for the Dolphins, which I have already said are fond of
such food.

Our captain, who was much intent on amusing me, informed me that the
Rudder-fishes were plentiful astern, and immediately set to dressing
hooks for the purpose of catching them. There was now some air above us,
the cotton sheets aloft bulged out, the ship moved through the water,
and the captain and I repaired to the cabin window. I was furnished with
a fine hook, a thread line, and some small bits of bacon, as was the
captain, and we dropped our bait among the myriads of delicate little
fishes below. Up they came, one after another, so fast in succession
that, according to my journal, we caught three hundred and seventy in
about two hours. What a mess! and how delicious when roasted! If ever I
am again becalmed in the Gulf of Mexico, I shall not forget the
Rudder-fish. The little things scarcely measured three inches in length;
they were thin and deep in form, and afforded excellent eating. It was
curious to see them keep to the lee of the rudder in a compact body; and
so voracious were they that they actually leaped out of the water at the
sight of the bait, as "sunnies" are occasionally wont to do in our
rivers. But the very instant that the ship became still, they dispersed
around her sides, and would no longer bite. I made a figure of one of
them, as indeed I tried to do of every other species that occurred
during this deathlike calm. Not one of these fishes did I ever see when
crossing the Atlantic, although many kinds at times come close to the
stern of any vessel in the great sea, and are called by the same name.

Another time we caught a fine Porpoise, which measured about two yards
in length. This took place at night, when the light of the moon afforded
me a clear view of the spot. The fish, contrary to custom, was grained,
instead of being harpooned; but in such a way and so effectually,
through the forehead, that it was thus held fast, and allowed to flounce
and beat about the bows of the ship, until the person who had struck it
gave the line holding the grains to the captain, slid down upon the
bob-stays with a rope, and after a while managed to secure it by the
tail. Some of the crew then hoisted it on board. When it arrived on
deck, it gave a deep groan, flapped with great force, and soon expired.
On opening it next morning, eight hours after death, we found its
intestines still warm. They were arranged in the same manner as those of
a pig; the paunch contained several cuttle-fishes partially digested.
The lower jaw extended beyond the upper about three-fourths of an inch,
and both were furnished with a single row of conical teeth, about half
an inch long, and just so far separated as to admit those of one jaw
between the corresponding ones of the other. The animal might weigh
about four hundred pounds; its eyes were extremely small, its flesh was
considered delicate by some on board; but in my opinion, if it be good,
that of a large Alligator is equally so; and on neither do I intend to
feast for some time. The captain told me that he had seen these
Porpoises leap at times perpendicularly out of the water to the height
of several feet, and that small boats have now and then been sunk by
their falling into them when engaged with their sports.

During all this time flocks of Pigeons were crossing the Gulf, between
Cuba and the Floridas; many a Rose-breasted Gull played around by day;
Noddies alighted on the rigging by night; and now and then the Frigate
bird was observed ranging high over head in the azure of the cloudless
sky.

The directions of the currents were tried, and our captain, who had an
extraordinary genius for mechanics, was frequently employed in turning
powder-horns and other articles. So calm and sultry was the weather that
we had a large awning spread, under which we took our meals and spent
the night. At length we got so wearied of it that the very sailors, I
thought, seemed disposed to leap overboard and swim to land. But at
length, on the thirty-seventh day after our departure, a smart breeze
overtook us. Presently there was an extraordinary bustle on board; about
twelve the Tortugas light-house bore north of us, and in a few hours
more we gained the Atlantic. Æolus had indeed awakened from his long
sleep; and on the nineteenth day after leaving the Capes of Florida, I
was landed at Liverpool.


GREAT EGG HARBOR

Some years ago, after having spent the spring in observing the habits of
the migratory Warblers and other land birds, which arrived in vast
numbers in the vicinity of Camden in New Jersey, I prepared to visit the
sea shores of that State, for the purpose of making myself acquainted
with their feathered inhabitants. June had commenced, the weather was
pleasant, and the country seemed to smile in the prospect of bright days
and gentle gales. Fishermen-gunners passed daily between Philadelphia
and the various small seaports, with Jersey wagons, laden with fish,
fowls, and other provisions, or with such articles as were required by
the families of those hardy boatmen; and I bargained with one of them to
take myself and my baggage to Great Egg Harbor.

One afternoon, about sunset, the vehicle halted at my lodgings, and the
conductor intimated that he was anxious to proceed as quickly as
possible. A trunk, a couple of guns, and such other articles as are
found necessary by persons whose pursuits are similar to mine, were
immediately thrust into the wagon, and were followed by their owner. The
conductor whistled to his steeds, and off we went at a round pace over
the loose and deep sand that in almost every part of this State forms
the basis of the roads. After a while we overtook a whole caravan of
similar vehicles, moving in the same direction, and when we got near
them our horses slackened their pace to a regular walk, the driver
leaped from his seat, I followed his example, and we presently found
ourselves in the midst of a group of merry wagoners, relating their
adventures of the week, it being now Saturday night. One gave intimation
of the number of "Sheep-heads" he had taken to town, another spoke of
the Curlews which yet remained on the sands, and a third boasted of
having gathered so many dozens of Marsh Hens' eggs. I inquired if
the Fish Hawks were plentiful near Great Egg Harbor, and was answered by
an elderly man, who with a laugh asked if I had ever seen the "Weak
fish" along the coast without the bird in question. Not knowing the
animal he had named, I confessed my ignorance, when the whole party
burst into a loud laugh, in which, there being nothing better for it, I
joined.

  [Illustration: JOHN WOODHOUSE AUDUBON.
    PAINTED BY AUDUBON ABOUT 1823.]

About midnight the caravan reached a half-way house, where we rested a
while. Several roads diverged from this spot, and the wagons separated,
one only keeping us company. The night was dark and gloomy, but the sand
of the road indicated our course very distinctly. Suddenly the galloping
of horses struck my ear, and on looking back we perceived that our wagon
must in an instant be in imminent danger. The driver leaped off, and
drew his steeds aside, barely in time to allow the runaways to pass
without injuring us. Off they went at full speed, and not long after
their owner came up panting, and informed us that they had suddenly
taken fright at some noise proceeding from the woods, but hoped they
would soon stop. Immediately after we heard a crack; then for a few
moments all was silent; but the neighing of horses presently assured us
that they had broken loose. On reaching the spot we found the wagon
upset, and a few yards farther on were the horses, quietly browsing by
the roadside.

The first dawn of morn in the Jerseys in the month of June is worthy of
a better description than I can furnish, and therefore I shall only say
that the moment the sunbeams blazed over the horizon, the loud and
mellow notes of the Meadow Lark saluted our ears. On each side of the
road were open woods, on the tallest trees of which I observed at
intervals the nest of a Fish Hawk, far above which the white-breasted
bird slowly winged its way, as it commenced its early journey to the
sea, the odor of which filled me with delight. In half an hour more we
were in the centre of Great Egg Harbor.

There I had the good fortune to be received into the house of a
thoroughbred fisherman-gunner, who, besides owning a comfortable cot
only a few hundred yards from the shore, had an excellent woman for a
wife, and a little daughter as playful as a kitten, though as wild as a
Sea-Gull. In less than half an hour I was quite at home, and the rest of
the day was spent in devotion.

Oysters, though reckoned out of season at this period, are as good as
ever when fresh from their beds, and my first meal was of some as large
and white as any I have eaten. The sight of them placed before me on a
clean table, with an honest and industrious family in my company, never
failed to afford more pleasure than the most sumptuous fare under
different circumstances; and our conversation being simple and harmless,
gayety shone in every face. As we became better acquainted, I had to
answer several questions relative to the object of my visit. The good
man rubbed his hands with joy, as I spoke of shooting and fishing, and
of long excursions through the swamps and marshes around.

My host was then, and I hope still is, a tall, strong-boned, muscular
man, of dark complexion, with eyes as keen as those of the Sea-Eagle. He
was a tough walker, laughed at difficulties, and could pull an oar with
any man. As to shooting, I have often doubted whether he or Mr. Egan,
the worthy pilot of Indian Isle, was best; and rarely indeed have I seen
either of them miss a shot.

At daybreak on Monday, I shouldered my double-barrelled gun, and my host
carried with him a long fowling-piece, a pair of oars, and a pair of
oyster-tongs, while the wife and daughter brought along a seine. The
boat was good, the breeze gentle, and along the inlets we sailed for
parts well known to my companions. To such naturalists as are qualified
to observe many different objects at the same time, Great Egg Harbor
would probably afford as ample a field as any part of our coast,
excepting the Florida Keys. Birds of many kinds are abundant, as are
fishes and testaceous animals. The forests shelter many beautiful
plants, and even on the driest sand-bar you may see insects of the most
brilliant tints. Our principal object, however, was to procure certain
birds known there by the name of Lawyers, and to accomplish this we
entered and followed for several miles a winding inlet or bayou, which
led us to the interior of a vast marsh, where after some search we found
the birds and their nests. Our seine had been placed across the channel,
and when we returned to it the tide had run out, and left in it a number
of fine fish, some of which we cooked and ate on the spot. One, which I
considered as a curiosity, was saved, and transmitted to Baron Cuvier.
Our repast ended, the seine was spread out to dry, and we again betook
ourselves to the marshes to pursue our researches until the return of
the tide. Having collected enough to satisfy us, we took up our oars,
and returned to the shore in front of the fisherman's house, where we
dragged the seine several times with success.

In this manner I passed several weeks along those delightful and healthy
shores, one day going to the woods, to search the swamps in which the
Herons bred, passing another amid the joyous cries of the Marsh Hens,
and on a third carrying slaughter among the White-breasted Sea-Gulls; by
way of amusement sometimes hauling the fish called the Sheep's-head from
an eddy along the shore, or watching the gay Terns as they danced in the
air, or plunged into the waters to seize the tiny fry. Many a drawing I
made at Great Egg Harbor, many a pleasant day I spent along its shores;
and much pleasure would it give me once more to visit the good and happy
family in whose house I resided there.


THE GREAT PINE SWAMP

I left Philadelphia, at four of the morning, by the coach, with no other
accoutrements than I knew to be absolutely necessary for the jaunt which
I intended to make. These consisted of a wooden box, containing a small
stock of linen, drawing-paper, my journal, colors, and pencils, together
with twenty-five pounds of shot, some flints, the due quantum of cash,
my gun _Tear-jacket_, and a heart as true to Nature as ever.

Our coaches are none of the best, nor do they move with the velocity of
those of some other countries. It was eight, and a dark night, when I
reached Mauch Chunk, now so celebrated in the Union for its rich
coal-mines, and eighty-eight miles distant from Philadelphia. I had
passed through a very diversified country, part of which was highly
cultivated, while the rest was yet in a state of nature, and
consequently much more agreeable to me. On alighting, I was shown to the
traveller's room, and on asking for the landlord, saw coming towards me
a fine-looking young man, to whom I made known my wishes. He spoke
kindly, and offered to lodge and board me at a much lower rate than
travellers who go there for the very simple pleasure of being dragged on
the railway. In a word, I was fixed in four minutes, and that most
comfortably.

No sooner had the approach of day been announced by the cocks of the
little village, than I marched out with my gun and note-book, to judge
for myself of the wealth of the country. After traversing much ground,
and crossing many steep hills, I returned, if not wearied, at least much
disappointed at the extraordinary scarcity of birds. So I bargained to
be carried in a cart to the central parts of the Great Pine Swamp, and,
although a heavy storm was rising, ordered my conductor to proceed. We
winded round many a mountain and at last crossed the highest. The storm
had become tremendous, and we were thoroughly drenched, but, my
resolution being fixed, the boy was obliged to continue his driving.
Having already travelled about fifteen miles or so, we left the
turnpike, and struck up a narrow and bad road, that seemed merely cut
out to enable the people of the Swamp to receive the necessary supplies
from the village which I had left. Some mistakes were made, and it was
almost dark when a post directed us to the habitation of a Mr. Jediah
Irish, to whom I had been recommended. We now rattled down a steep
declivity, edged on one side by almost perpendicular rocks, and on the
other by a noisy stream, which seemed grumbling at the approach of
strangers. The ground was so overgrown by laurels and tall pines of
different kinds that the whole presented only a mass of darkness.

At length we reached the house, the door of which was already opened,
the sight of strangers being nothing uncommon in our woods, even in the
most remote parts. On entering, I was presented with a chair, while my
conductor was shown the way to the stable, and on expressing a wish that
I should be permitted to remain in the house for some weeks, I was
gratified by receiving the sanction of the good woman to my proposal,
although her husband was then from home. As I immediately began to talk
about the nature of the country, and inquired if birds were numerous in
the neighborhood, Mrs. Irish, more _au fait_ in household affairs than
ornithology, sent for a nephew of her husband's, who soon made his
appearance, and in whose favor I became at once prepossessed. He
conversed like an educated person, saw that I was comfortably disposed
of, and finally bade me good-night in such a tone as made me quite
happy.

The storm had rolled away before the first beams of the morning sun
shone brightly on the wet foliage, displaying all its richness and
beauty. My ears were greeted by the notes, always sweet and mellow, of
the Wood Thrush and other songsters. Before I had gone many steps, the
woods echoed to the report of my gun, and I picked from among the leaves
a lovely Sylvia,[52] long sought for, but until then sought for in vain.
I needed no more, and standing still for a while, I was soon convinced
that the Great Pine Swamp harbored many other objects as valuable to me.

The young man joined me, bearing his rifle, and offered to accompany me
through the woods, all of which he well knew. But I was anxious to
transfer to paper the form and beauty of the little bird I had in my
hand; and requesting him to break a twig of blooming laurel, we returned
to the house, speaking of nothing else than the picturesque beauty of
the country around.

A few days passed, during which I became acquainted with my hostess and
her sweet children, and made occasional rambles, but spent the greater
portion of my time in drawing. One morning, as I stood near the window
of my room, I remarked a tall and powerful man alight from his horse,
loose the girth of the saddle, raise the latter with one hand, pass the
bridle over the head of the animal with the other, and move towards the
house, while the horse betook himself to the little brook to drink. I
heard some movements in the room below, and again the same tall person
walked towards the mill and stores, a few hundred yards from the house.
In America business is the first object in view at all times, and right
it is that it should be so. Soon after my hostess entered my room,
accompanied by the fine-looking woodsman, to whom, as Mr. Jediah Irish,
I was introduced. Reader, to describe to you the qualities of that
excellent man were vain; you should know him, as I do, to estimate the
value of such men in our sequestered forests. He not only made me
welcome, but promised all his assistance in forwarding my views.

The long walks and long talks we have had together I can never forget,
nor the many beautiful birds which we pursued, shot, and admired. The
juicy venison, excellent Bear flesh, and delightful trout that daily
formed my food, methinks I can still enjoy. And then, what pleasure I
had in listening to him as he read his favorite poems of Burns, while my
pencil was occupied in smoothing and softening the drawing of the bird
before me! Was not this enough to recall to my mind the early
impressions that had been made upon it by the description of the golden
age, which I here found realized?

The Lehigh about this place forms numerous short turns between the
mountains, and affords frequent falls, as well as below the falls deep
pools, which render this stream a most valuable one for mills of any
kind. Not many years before this date, my host was chosen by the agent
of the Lehigh Coal Company, as their mill-wright, and manager for
cutting down the fine trees which covered the mountains around. He was
young, robust, active, industrious, and persevering. He marched to the
spot where his abode now is, with some workmen, and by dint of hard
labor first cleared the road mentioned above, and reached the river at
the centre of a bend, where he fixed on erecting various mills. The pass
here is so narrow that it looks as if formed by the bursting asunder of
the mountain, both sides ascending abruptly, so that the place where the
settlement was made is in many parts difficult of access, and the road
then newly cut was only sufficient to permit men and horses to come to
the spot where Jediah and his men were at work. So great, in fact, were
the difficulties of access that, as he told me, pointing to a spot about
one hundred and fifty feet above us, they for many months slipped from
it their barrelled provisions, assisted by ropes, to their camp below.
But no sooner was the first saw-mill erected than the axe-men began
their devastations. Trees, one after another, were, and are yet,
constantly heard falling during the days; and in calm nights, the greedy
mills told the sad tale that in a century the noble forests around
should exist no more. Many mills were erected, many dams raised, in
defiance of the impetuous Lehigh. One full third of the trees have
already been culled, turned into boards, and floated as far as
Philadelphia.

In such an undertaking the cutting of the trees is not all. They have
afterwards to be hauled to the edge of the mountains bordering the
river, launched into the stream, and led to the mills over many shallows
and difficult places. Whilst I was in the Great Pine Swamp, I frequently
visited one of the principal places for the launching of logs. To see
them tumbling from such a height, touching here and there the rough
angle of a projecting rock, bouncing from it with the elasticity of a
foot-ball, and at last falling with an awful crash into the river, forms
a sight interesting in the highest degree, but impossible for me to
describe. Shall I tell you that I have seen masses of these logs heaped
above each other to the number of five thousand? I may so tell you, for
such I have seen. My friend Irish assured me that at some seasons, these
piles consisted of a much greater number, the river becoming in those
places completely choked up.

When _freshets_ (or floods) take place, then is the time chosen for
forwarding the logs to the different mills. This is called a _Frolic_.
Jediah Irish, who is generally the leader, proceeds to the upper leap
with his men, each provided with a strong wooden handspike, and a
short-handled axe. They all take to the water, be it summer or winter,
like so many Newfoundland spaniels. The logs are gradually detached,
and, after a time, are seen floating down the dancing stream, here
striking against a rock and whirling many times round, there suddenly
checked in dozens by a shallow, over which they have to be forced with
the handspikes. Now they arrive at the edge of a dam, and are again
pushed over. Certain numbers are left in each dam, and when the party
has arrived at the last, which lies just where my friend Irish's camp
was first formed, the drenched leader and his men, about sixty in
number, make their way home, find there a healthful repast, and spend
the evening and a portion of the night in dancing and frolicking, in
their own simple manner, in the most perfect amity, seldom troubling
themselves with the idea of the labor prepared for them on the morrow.

That morrow now come, one sounds a horn from the door of the
store-house, at the call of which each returns to his work. The sawyers,
the millers, the rafters, and raftsmen are all immediately busy. The
mills are all going, and the logs, which a few months before were the
supporters of broad and leafy tops, are now in the act of being split
asunder. The boards are then launched into the stream, and rafts are
formed of them for market.

During the months of summer and autumn, the Lehigh, a small river of
itself, soon becomes extremely shallow, and to float the rafts would
prove impossible, had not art managed to provide a supply of water for
this express purpose. At the breast of the lower dam is a curiously
constructed lock, which is opened at the approach of the rafts. They
pass through this lock with the rapidity of lightning, propelled by the
water that had been accumulated in the dam, and which is of itself
generally sufficient to float them to Mauch Chunk, after which, entering
regular canals, they find no other impediments, but are conveyed to
their ultimate destination.

Before population had greatly advanced in this part of Pennsylvania,
game of all description found within that range was extremely abundant.
The Elk itself did not disdain to browse on the shoulders of the
mountains near the Lehigh. Bears and the common Deer must have been
plentiful, as, at the moment when I write, many of both are seen and
killed by the resident hunters. The Wild Turkey, the Pheasant, and the
Grouse, are also tolerably abundant, and as to trout in the streams--ah,
reader, if you are an angler, do go there and try for yourself. For my
part, I can only say that I have been made weary with pulling up from
the rivulets the sparkling fish, allured by the struggles of the common
grasshopper.

A comical affair happened with the Bears, which I shall relate to you,
good reader. A party of my friend Irish's raftsmen, returning from Mauch
Chunk one afternoon, through sundry short-cuts over the mountains, at
the season when the huckleberries are ripe and plentiful, were suddenly
apprised of the proximity of some of these animals by their snuffing the
air. No sooner was this perceived than, to the astonishment of the
party, not fewer than eight Bears, I was told, made their appearance.
Each man, being provided with his short-handled axe, faced about, and
willingly came to the scratch; but the assailed soon proved the
assailants, and with claw and tooth drove the men off in a twinkling.
Down they all rushed from the mountain; the noise spread quickly; rifles
were soon procured and shouldered; but when the spot was reached, no
Bears were to be found; night forced the hunters back to their homes,
and a laugh concluded the affair.

I spent six weeks in the Great Pine Forest--Swamp it cannot be
called--where I made many a drawing. Wishing to leave Pennsylvania, and
to follow the migratory flocks of our birds to the South, I bade adieu
to the excellent wife and rosy children of my friend, and to his kind
nephew. Jediah Irish, shouldering his heavy rifle, accompanied me, and
trudging directly across the mountains, we arrived at Mauch Chunk in
good time for dinner. Shall I ever have the pleasure of seeing that
good, that generous man again?[53]

At Mauch Chunk, where we both spent the night, Mr. White, the civil
engineer, visited me, and looked at the drawings which I had made in the
Great Pine Forest. The news he gave me of my sons, then in Kentucky,
made me still more anxious to move in their direction; and long before
daybreak, I shook hands with the good man of the forest, and found
myself moving towards the capital of Pennsylvania,[54] having as my sole
companion a sharp, frosty breeze. Left to my thoughts, I felt amazed
that such a place as the Great Pine Forest should be so little known to
the Philadelphians, scarcely any of whom could direct me towards it. How
much it is to be regretted, thought I, that the many young gentlemen who
are there, so much at a loss how to employ their leisure days, should
not visit these wild retreats, valuable as they are to the student of
nature. How differently would they feel, if, instead of spending weeks
in smoothing a useless bow, and walking out in full dress, intent on
displaying the make of their legs, to some rendezvous where they may
enjoy their wines, they were to occupy themselves in contemplating the
rich profusion which nature has poured around them, or even in procuring
some desiderated specimen for their Peale's Museum, once so valuable,
and so finely arranged! But, alas, no! they are none of them aware of
the richness of the Great Pine Swamp, nor are they likely to share the
hospitality to be found there.


THE LOST ONE

A "LIVE-OAKER" employed on the St. John's River, in East Florida, left
his cabin, situated on the banks of that stream, and, with his axe on
his shoulder, proceeded towards the swamp in which he had several times
before plied his trade of felling and squaring the giant trees that
afford the most valuable timber for naval architecture and other
purposes.

At the season which is the best for this kind of labor, heavy fogs not
unfrequently cover the country, so as to render it difficult for one to
see farther than thirty or forty yards in any direction. The woods, too,
present so little variety that every tree seems the mere counterpart of
every other; and the grass, when it has not been burnt, is so tall that
a man of ordinary stature cannot see over it, whence it is necessary for
him to proceed with great caution, lest he should unwittingly deviate
from the ill-defined trail which he follows. To increase the difficulty,
several trails often meet, in which case, unless the explorer be
perfectly acquainted with the neighborhood, it would be well for him to
lie down, and wait until the fog should disperse. Under such
circumstances, the best woodsmen are not unfrequently bewildered for a
while; and I well remember that such an occurrence happened to myself,
at a time when I had imprudently ventured to pursue a wounded quadruped,
which led me some distance from the track.

The live-oaker had been jogging onwards for several hours, and became
aware that he must have travelled considerably more than the distance
between his cabin and the "hummock" which he desired to reach. To his
alarm, at the moment when the fog dispersed, he saw the sun at its
meridian height, and could not recognize a single object around him.

Young, healthy, and active, he imagined he had walked with more than
usual speed, and had passed the place to which he was bound. He
accordingly turned his back upon the sun, and pursued a different route,
guided by a small trail. Time passed, and the sun headed his course; he
saw it gradually descend in the west; but all around him continued as if
enveloped with mystery. The huge gray trees spread their giant boughs
over him, the rank grass extended on all sides, not a living being
crossed his path; all was silent and still, and the scene was like a
dull and dreary dream of the land of oblivion. He wandered like a
forgotten ghost that had passed into the land of spirits, without yet
meeting one of his kind with whom to hold converse.

The condition of a man lost in the woods is one of the most perplexing
that could be imagined by a person who has not himself been in a like
predicament. Every object he sees, he at first thinks he recognizes, and
while his whole mind is bent on searching for more that may gradually
lead to his extrication, he goes on committing greater errors the
farther he proceeds. This was the case with the live-oaker. The sun was
now setting with a fiery aspect, and by degrees it sunk in its full
circular form, as if giving warning of a sultry morrow. Myriads of
insects, delighted at its departure, now filled the air on buzzing
wings. Each piping frog arose from the muddy pool in which it had
concealed itself; the Squirrel retired to its hole, the Crow to its
roost, and, far above, the harsh, croaking voice of the Heron announced
that, full of anxiety, it was wending its way towards the miry interior
of some distant swamp. Now the woods began to resound to the shrill
cries of the Owl; and the breeze, as it swept among the columnar stems
of the forest trees, came laden with heavy and chilling dews. Alas! no
moon with her silvery light shone on the dreary scene, and the Lost One,
wearied and vexed, laid himself down on the damp ground. Prayer is
always consolatory to man in every difficulty or danger, and the
woodsman fervently prayed to his Maker, wished his family a happier
night than it was his lot to experience, and with a feverish anxiety
waited the return of day.

You may imagine the length of that dull, cold, moonless night. With the
dawn of day came the usual fogs of those latitudes. The poor man started
on his feet, and with a sorrowful heart, pursued a course which he
thought might lead him to some familiar object, although, indeed, he
scarcely knew what he was doing. No longer had he the trace of a track
to guide him, and yet, as the sun rose, he calculated the many hours of
daylight he had before him, and the farther he went, the faster he
walked. But vain were all his hopes; that day was spent in fruitless
endeavors to regain the path that led to his home, and when night again
approached, the terror that had been gradually spreading over his mind,
together with the nervous debility produced by fatigue, anxiety, and
hunger, rendered him almost frantic. He told me that at this moment he
beat his breast, tore his hair, and, had it not been for the piety with
which his parents had in early life imbued his mind, and which had
become habitual, would have cursed his existence. Famished as he now
was, he laid himself on the ground, and fed on the weeds and grasses
that grew around him. That night was spent in the greatest agony and
terror. "I knew my situation," he said to me. "I was fully aware that
unless Almighty God came to my assistance, I must perish in those
uninhabited woods. I knew that I had walked more than fifty miles,
although I had not met with a brook, from which I could quench my
thirst, or even allay the burning heat of my parched lips and bloodshot
eyes. I knew that if I should not meet with some stream I must die, for
my axe was my only weapon, and although Deer and Bears now and then
started within a few yards, or even feet of me, not one of them could I
kill; and although I was in the midst of abundance, not a mouthful did I
expect to procure, to satisfy the cravings of my empty stomach. Sir, may
God preserve you from ever feeling as I did the whole of that day."

For several days after, no one can imagine the condition in which he
was, for when he related to me this painful adventure, he assured me
that he had lost all recollection of what had happened. "God," he
continued, "must have taken pity on me one day, for, as I ran wildly
through those dreadful pine barrens, I met with a tortoise. I gazed upon
it with amazement and delight, and, although I knew that were I to
follow it undisturbed, it would lead me to some water, my hunger and
thirst would not allow me to refrain from satisfying both, by eating its
flesh, and drinking its blood. With one stroke of my axe the beast was
cut in two, and in a few moments I had despatched all but the shell. Oh,
sir, how much I thanked God, whose kindness had put the Tortoise in my
way! I felt greatly renewed. I sat down at the foot of a pine, gazed on
the heavens, thought of my poor wife and children, and again and again
thanked my God for my life; for now I felt less distracted in mind, and
more assured that before long I must recover my way, and get back to my
home."

The Lost One remained and passed the night, at the foot of the same tree
under which his repast had been made. Refreshed by a sound sleep, he
started at dawn to resume his weary march. The sun rose bright, and he
followed the direction of the shadows. Still the dreariness of the woods
was the same, and he was on the point of giving up in despair, when he
observed a Raccoon lying squatted in the grass. Raising his axe, he
drove it with such violence through the helpless animal that it expired
without a struggle. What he had done with the tortoise, he now did with
the Raccoon, the greater part of which he actually devoured at one meal.
With more comfortable feelings he then resumed his wanderings--his
journey, I cannot say--for although in the possession of all his
faculties, and in broad daylight, he was worse off than a lame man
groping his way in the dark out of a dungeon, of which he knew not where
the doors stood.

Days, one after another, passed--nay, weeks in succession. He fed now on
cabbage-trees, then on frogs and snakes. All that fell in his way was
welcome and savory. Yet he became daily more emaciated, until at length
he could scarcely crawl. Forty days had elapsed, by his own reckoning,
when he at last reached the banks of the river. His clothes in tatters,
his once bright axe dimmed with rust, his face begrimed with beard, his
hair matted, and his feeble frame little better than a skeleton covered
with parchment, there he laid himself down to die. Amid the perturbed
dreams of his fevered fancy, he thought he heard the noise of oars far
away on the silent river. He listened, but the sounds died away on his
ear. It was, indeed, a dream, the last glimmer of expiring hope, and now
the light of life was about to be quenched forever. But again the sound
of oars woke him from his lethargy. He listened so eagerly that the hum
of a fly could not have escaped his ear. They were, indeed, the measured
beats of oars. And now, joy to the forlorn soul! the sound of human
voices thrilled to his heart, and awoke the tumultuous pulses of
returning hope. On his knees did the eye of God see that poor man by the
broad, still stream that glittered in the sunbeams, and human eyes soon
saw him too, for round that headland covered with tangled brushwood,
boldly advances the little boat, propelled by its lusty rowers. The Lost
One raises his feeble voice on high; it was a loud, shrill scream of joy
and fear. The rowers pause, and look around. Another, but feebler
scream, and they observe him. It comes, his heart flutters, his sight is
dimmed, his brain reels, he gasps for breath. It comes--it has run upon
the beach, and the Lost One is found.

This is no tale of fiction, but the relation of an actual occurrence,
which might be embellished, no doubt, but which is better in the plain
garb of truth. The notes by which I recorded it were written in the
cabin of the once lost live-oaker, about four years after the painful
incident occurred. His amiable wife, and loving children, were present
at the recital, and never shall I forget the tears that flowed from
their eyes as they listened to it, albeit it had long been more familiar
to them than a tale thrice told. Sincerely do I wish, good reader, that
neither you nor I may ever elicit such sympathy by having undergone such
sufferings, although no doubt, such sympathy would be a rich recompense
for them.

It only remains for me to say that the distance between the cabin and
the live-oak hummock to which the woodsman was bound, scarcely exceeded
eight miles, while the part of the river where he was found was
thirty-eight miles from his house. Calculating his daily wanderings at
ten miles, we may believe they amounted in all to four hundred. He must
therefore have rambled in a circuitous direction, which people generally
do in such circumstances. Nothing but the great strength of his
constitution, and the merciful aid of his Maker, could have supported
him for so long a time.


THE LIVE-OAKERS

The greater part of the forests of East Florida consist principally of
what in that country are called "pine barrens." In these districts, the
woods are rather thin, and the only trees that are seen in them are tall
pines of indifferent quality, beneath which is a growth of rank grass,
here and there mixed with low bushes, and sword-palmettoes. The soil is
of a sandy nature, mostly flat, and consequently either covered with
water during the rainy season, or parched in the summer or autumn,
although you meet at times with ponds of stagnant water, where the
cattle, which are abundant, allay their thirst, and around which resort
the various kinds of game found in these wilds.

The traveller, who has pursued his course for many miles over the
barrens, is suddenly delighted to see in the distance the appearance of
a dark "hummock" of live-oaks and other trees, seeming as if they had
been planted in the wilderness. As he approaches, the air feels cooler
and more salubrious, the song of numerous birds delights his ear, the
herbage assumes a more luxuriant appearance, the flowers become larger
and brighter, and a grateful fragrance is diffused around. These objects
contribute to refresh his mind, as much as the sight of the waters of
some clear spring gliding among the undergrowth seems already to allay
his thirst. Overhead festoons of innumerable vines, jessamines, and
bignonias, link each tree with those around it, their slender stems
being interlaced as if in mutual affection. No sooner, in the shade of
these beautiful woods, has the traveller finished his mid-day repast
than he perceives small parties of men lightly accoutred, and each
bearing an axe, approaching towards his resting-place. They exchange the
usual civilities, and immediately commence their labors, for they too
have just finished their meal.

I think I see them proceeding to their work. Here two have stationed
themselves on the opposite sides of the trunk of a noble and venerable
live-oak. Their keen-edged and well-tempered axes seem to make no
impression on it, so small are the chips that drop at each blow around
the mossy and wide-spreading roots. There, one is ascending the stem of
another, of which, in its fall, the arms have stuck among the tangled
tops of the neighboring trees. See how cautiously he proceeds,
barefooted, and with a handkerchief around his head. Now he has climbed
to the height of about forty feet from the ground; he stops, and
squaring himself with the trunk on which he so boldly stands, he wields
with sinewy arms his trusty blade, the repeated blows of which, although
the tree be as tough as it is large, will soon sever it in two. He has
changed sides, and his back is turned to you. The trunk now remains
connected only by a thin strip of wood. He places his feet on the part
which is lodged, and shakes it with all his might. Now swings the huge
log under his leaps, now it suddenly gives way, and as it strikes upon
the ground its echoes are repeated through the hummock, and every Wild
Turkey within hearing utters his gobble of recognition. The wood-cutter
however, remains collected and composed; but the next moment, he throws
his axe to the ground, and, assisted by the nearest grape-vine, slides
down and reaches the earth in an instant.

Several men approach and examine the prostrate trunk. They cut at both
its extremities, and sound the whole of its bark, to enable them to
judge if the tree has been attacked by the white rot. If such has
unfortunately been the case, there, for a century or more, this huge log
will remain until it gradually crumbles; but if not, and if it is free
of injury or "wind-shakes," while there is no appearance of the sap
having already ascended, and its pores are altogether sound, they
proceed to take its measurement. Its shape ascertained, and the timber
that is fit for use laid out by the aid of models, which, like fragments
of the skeleton of a ship, show the forms and sizes required, the
"hewers" commence their labors. Thus, reader, perhaps every known
hummock in the Floridas is annually attacked, and so often does it
happen that the white rot or some other disease has deteriorated the
quality of the timber, that the woods may be seen strewn with trunks
that have been found worthless, so that every year these valuable oaks
are becoming scarcer. The destruction of the young trees of this species
caused by the fall of the great trunks is of course immense, and as
there are no artificial plantations of these trees in our country,
before long a good-sized live-oak will be so valuable that its owner
will exact an enormous price for it, even while it yet stands in the
wood. In my opinion, formed on personal observation, live-oak hummocks
are _not quite_ so plentiful as they are represented to be, and of this
I will give you _one_ illustration.

On the 25th of February, 1832, I happened to be far up the St. John's
River in East Florida, in the company of a person employed by our
government in protecting the live-oaks of that section of the country,
and who received a good salary for his trouble. While we were proceeding
along one of the banks of that most singular stream, my companion
pointed out some large hummocks of dark-leaved trees on the opposite
side, which he said were entirely formed of live-oaks. I thought
differently, and as our controversy on the subject became a little warm,
I proposed that our men should row us to the place, where we might
examine the leaves and timber, and so decide the point. We soon landed,
but after inspecting the woods, not a single tree of the species did we
find, although there were thousands of large "swamp-oaks." My companion
acknowledged his mistake, and I continued to search for birds.

One dark evening as I was seated on the banks of this same river,
considering what arrangements I should make for the night, as it began
to rain in torrents, a man who happened to see me, came up and invited
me to go to his cabin, which he said was not far off. I accepted his
kind offer, and followed him to his humble dwelling. There I found his
wife, several children, and a number of men, who, as my host told me,
were, like himself, live-oakers. Supper was placed on a large table, and
on being desired to join the party, I willingly assented, doing my best
to diminish the contents of the tin pans and dishes set before the
company by the active and agreeable housewife. We then talked of the
country, its climate and productions, until a late hour, when we laid
ourselves down on Bears' skins, and reposed till daybreak.

I longed to accompany these hardy woodcutters to the hummock where they
were engaged in preparing live-oak timber for a man-of-war. Provided
with axes and guns, we left the house to the care of the wife and
children, and proceeded for several miles through a pine-barren, such as
I have attempted to describe. One fine Wild Turkey was shot, and when we
arrived at the _shanty_ put up near the hummock, we found another party
of wood-cutters waiting our arrival, before eating their breakfast,
already prepared by a negro man, to whom the Turkey was consigned to be
roasted for part of that day's dinner.

Our repast was an excellent one, and vied with a Kentucky breakfast;
beef, fish, potatoes, and other vegetables, were served up, with coffee
in tin cups, and plenty of biscuit. Every man seemed hungry and happy,
and the conversation assumed the most humorous character. The sun now
rose above the trees, and all, excepting the cook, proceeded to the
hummock, on which I had been gazing with great delight, as it promised
rare sport. My host, I found, was the chief of the party; and although
he also had an axe, he made no other use of it than for stripping here
and there pieces of bark from certain trees which he considered of
doubtful soundness. He was not only well versed in his profession, but
generally intelligent, and from him I received the following account,
which I noted at the time.

The men who are employed in cutting the live-oak, after having
discovered a good hummock, build shanties of small logs, to retire to at
night, and feed in by day. Their provisions consist of beef, pork,
potatoes, biscuit, flour, rice and fish, together with excellent
whiskey. They are mostly hale, strong, and active men, from the eastern
parts of the Union, and receive excellent wages, according to their
different abilities. Their labors are only of a few months' duration.
Such hummocks as are found near navigable streams are first chosen, and
when it is absolutely necessary, the timber is sometimes hauled five or
six miles to the nearest water-course, where, although it sinks, it can
with comparative ease, be shipped to its destination. The best time for
cutting the live-oak is considered to be from the first of December to
the beginning of March, or while the sap is completely down. When the
sap is flowing, the tree is "bloom," and more apt to be "shaken." The
white-rot, which occurs so frequently in the live-oak, and is
perceptible only by the best judges, consists of round spots, about an
inch and a half in diameter, on the outside of the bark, through which,
at that spot, a hard stick may be driven several inches, and generally
follows the heart up or down the trunk of the tree. So deceiving are
these spots and trees to persons unacquainted with this defect, that
thousands of trees are cut, and afterwards abandoned. The great number
of trees of this sort strewn in the woods would tend to make a stranger
believe that there is much more good oak in the country than there
really is; and perhaps, in reality, not more than one-fourth of the
quantity usually reported, is to be procured.

The live-oakers generally revisit their distant homes in the Middle and
Eastern Districts, where they spend the summer, returning to the
Floridas at the approach of winter. Some, however, who have gone there
with their families, remain for years in succession; although they
suffer much from the climate, by which their once good constitutions are
often greatly impaired. This was the case with the individual above
mentioned, from whom I subsequently received much friendly assistance in
my pursuits.


SPRING GARDEN

Having heard many wonderful accounts of a certain spring near the
sources of the St. John's River in East Florida, I resolved to visit it,
in order to judge for myself. On the 6th of January, 1832, I left the
plantation of my friend John Bulow, accompanied by an amiable and
accomplished Scotch gentleman, an engineer employed by the planters of
those districts in erecting their sugar-house establishments. We were
mounted on horses of the Indian breed, remarkable for their activity and
strength, and were provided with guns and some provisions. The weather
was pleasant, but not so our way, for no sooner had we left the "King's
Road," which had been cut by the Spanish government for a goodly
distance, than we entered a thicket of scrubby oaks, succeeded by a
still denser mass of low palmettoes, which extended about three miles,
and among the roots of which our nags had great difficulty in making
good their footing. After this we entered the pine barrens, so
extensively distributed in this portion of the Floridas. The sand seemed
to be all sand and nothing but sand, and the palmettoes at times so
covered the narrow Indian trail which we followed, that it required all
the instinct or sagacity of ourselves and our horses to keep it. It
seemed to us as if we were approaching the end of the world. The country
was perfectly flat, and, so far as we could survey it, presented the
same wild and scraggy aspect. My companion, who had travelled there
before, assured me that, at particular seasons of the year, he had
crossed the barrens when they were covered with water fully knee-deep,
when, according to his expression, they "looked most awful;" and I
readily believed him, as we now and then passed through muddy pools,
which reached the saddle-girths of our horses. Here and there large
tracts covered with tall grasses, and resembling the prairies of the
western wilds, opened to our view. Wherever the country happened to be
sunk a little beneath the general level, it was covered with cypress
trees, whose spreading arms were hung with a profusion of Spanish moss.
The soil in such cases consisted of black mud, and was densely covered
with bushes, chiefly of the Magnolia family.

We crossed in succession the heads of three branches of Haw Creek, of
which the waters spread from a quarter to half a mile in breadth, and
through which we made our way with extreme difficulty. While in the
middle of one, my companion told me that once, when in the very spot
where we then stood, his horse chanced to place his fore-feet on the
back of a large alligator, which, not well pleased at being disturbed in
his repose, suddenly raised his head, opened his monstrous jaws, and
snapped off part of the lips of the affrighted pony. You may imagine the
terror of the poor beast, which, however, after a few plunges, resumed
its course, and succeeded in carrying its rider through in safety. As a
reward for this achievement, it was ever after honored with the
appellation of "Alligator."

We had now travelled about twenty miles, and, the sun having reached the
zenith, we dismounted to partake of some refreshment. From a muddy pool
we contrived to obtain enough of tolerably clear water to mix with the
contents of a bottle, the like of which I would strongly recommend to
every traveller in these swampy regions; our horses, too, found
something to grind among the herbage that surrounded the little pool;
but as little time was to be lost, we quickly remounted, and resumed our
disagreeable journey, during which we had at no time proceeded at a rate
exceeding two miles and a half in the hour.

All at once, however, a wonderful change took place:--the country became
more elevated and undulating; the timber was of a different nature, and
consisted of red and live-oaks, magnolias, and several kinds of pine.
Thousands of "Mole-hills," or the habitations of an animal here called
"the Salamander," and "Gopher's burrows" presented themselves to the
eye, and greatly annoyed our horses, which now and then sank to the
depth of a foot, and stumbled at the risk of breaking their legs, and
what we considered fully as valuable, our necks. We now saw beautiful
lakes of the purest water, and passed along a green space, having a
series of them on each side of us. These sheets of water became larger
and more numerous the farther we advanced--some of them extending to a
length of several miles, and having a depth of from two to twenty feet
of clear water; but their shores being destitute of vegetation, we
observed no birds near them. Many tortoises, however, were seen basking
in the sun, and all, as we approached, plunged into the water. Not a
trace of man did we observe during our journey, scarcely a bird, and not
a single quadruped, not even a Rat; nor can one imagine a poorer and
more desolate country than that which lies between the Halifax River,
which we had left in the morning, and the undulating grounds at which we
had now arrived.

But at length we perceived the tracks of living beings, and soon after
saw the huts of Colonel Rees's negroes. Scarcely could ever African
traveller have approached the city of Timbuctoo with more excited
curiosity than we felt in approaching this plantation. Our Indian horses
seemed to participate in our joy, and trotted at a smart rate towards
the principal building, at the door of which we leaped from our saddles,
just as the sun was withdrawing his ruddy light. Colonel Rees was at
home, and received us with great kindness. Refreshments were immediately
placed before us, and we spent the evening in agreeable conversation.

The next day I walked over the plantation, and examining the country
around, found the soil of good quality, it having been reclaimed from
swampy ground of a black color, rich, and very productive. The greater
part of the cultivated land was on the borders of a lake, which
communicates with others, leading to the St. John's River, distant about
seven miles, and navigable so far by vessels not exceeding fifty or
sixty tons. After breakfast, our amiable host showed us the way to the
celebrated spring, the sight of which afforded me pleasure sufficient to
counterbalance the tediousness of my journey.

This spring presents a circular basin, having a diameter of about sixty
feet, from the centre of which the water is thrown up with great force,
although it does not rise to a height of more than a few inches above
the general level. A kind of whirlpool is formed, on the edges of which
are deposited vast quantities of shells, with pieces of wood, gravel,
and other substances, which have coalesced into solid masses, having a
very curious appearance. The water is quite transparent, although of a
dark color, but so impregnated with sulphur that it emits an odor which
to me was highly nauseous. Its surface lies fifteen or twenty feet below
the level of the woodland lakes in the neighborhood, and its depth, in
the autumnal months, is about seventeen feet, when the water is lowest.
In all the lakes, the same species of shell as those thrown up by the
spring, occur in abundance, and it seems more than probable that it is
formed of the water collected from them by infiltration, or forms the
subterranean outlet of some of them. The lakes themselves are merely
reservoirs, containing the residue of the waters which fall during the
rainy seasons, and contributing to supply the waters of the St. John's
River, with which they all seem to communicate by similar means. This
spring pours its waters into "Rees's Lake," through a deep and broad
channel called Spring Garden Creek. This channel is said to be in some
places fully sixty feet deep, but it becomes more shallow as you
advance towards the entrance of the lake, at which you are surprised to
find yourself on a mud-flat covered only by about fifteen inches of
water, under which the depositions from the spring lie to a depth of
four or five feet in the form of the softest mud, while under this again
is a bed of fine white sand. When this mud is stirred up by the oars of
your boat or otherwise, it appears of a dark-green color, and smells
strongly of sulphur. At all times it sends up numerous bubbles of air,
which probably consist of suphuretted hydrogen gas.

The mouth of this curious spring is calculated to be two and a half feet
square; and the velocity of its water, during the rainy season, is three
feet per second. This would render the discharge per hour about 499,500
gallons. Colonel Rees showed us the remains of another spring of the
same kind, which had dried up from some natural cause.

My companion, the engineer, having occupation for another day, I
requested Colonel Rees to accompany me in his boat towards the river St.
John's, which I was desirous of seeing, as well as the curious country
in its neighborhood. He readily agreed, and after an early breakfast
next morning, we set out, accompanied by two servants to manage the
boat. As we crossed Rees's Lake, I observed that its northeastern shores
were bounded by a deep swamp, covered by a rich growth of tall
cypresses, while the opposite side presented large marshes and islands
ornamented by pines, live-oaks, and orange-trees. With the exception of
a very narrow channel, the creek was covered with nympheæ, and in its
waters swam numerous Alligators, while Ibises, Gallinules, Anhingas,
Coots, and Cormorants were seen pursuing their avocations on its surface
or along its margins. Over our heads the Fish Hawks were sailing, and on
the broken trees around we saw many of their nests.

We followed Spring Garden Creek for about two miles and a half, and
passed a mud bar, before we entered "Dexter's Lake." The bar was stuck
full of unios, in such profusion that each time the negroes thrust their
hands into the mud they took up several. According to their report these
shell-fish are quite unfit for food. In this lake the water had changed
its hue, and assumed a dark chestnut color, although it was still
transparent. The depth was very uniformly five feet, and the extent of
the lake was about eight miles by three. Having crossed it we followed
the creek, and soon saw the entrance of Woodruff's Lake, which empties
its still darker waters into the St. John's River.

I here shot a pair of curious Ibises, which you will find described in
my fourth volume, and landed on a small island covered with wild orange
trees, the luxuriance and freshness of which were not less pleasing to
the sight than the perfume of their flowers was to the smell. The group
seemed to me like a rich bouquet formed by nature to afford consolation
to the weary traveller, cast down by the dismal scenery of swamps and
pools and rank grass around him. Under the shade of these beautiful
evergreens, and amidst the golden fruits that covered the ground, while
the Humming-birds fluttered over our heads, we spread our cloth on the
grass, and with a happy and thankful heart, I refreshed myself with the
bountiful gifts of an ever-careful Providence. Colonel Rees informed me
that this charming retreat was one of the numerous _terræ incognitæ_ of
this region of lakes, and that it should henceforth bear the name of
"Audubon's Isle."

In conclusion, let me inform you that the spring has been turned to good
account by my generous host, Colonel Rees, who, aided by my amiable
companion, the engineer, has directed its current so as to turn a mill,
which suffices to grind the whole of his sugar-cane.


DEATH OF A PIRATE

In the calm of a fine moonlight night, as I was admiring the beauty of
the clear heavens, and the broad glare of light that glanced from the
trembling surface of the waters around, the officer on watch came up and
entered into conversation with me. He had been a turtler in other years,
and a great hunter to boot, and although of humble birth and
pretensions, energy and talent, aided by education, had raised him to a
higher station. Such a man could not fail to be an agreeable companion,
and we talked on various subjects, principally, you may be sure, birds
and other natural productions. He told me he once had a disagreeable
adventure, when looking out for game, in a certain cove on the shores of
the Gulf of Mexico; and, on my expressing a desire to hear it, he
willingly related to me the following particulars, which I give you,
not, perhaps, precisely in his own words, but as nearly so as I can
remember.

"Towards evening, one quiet summer day, I chanced to be paddling along
a sandy shore, which I thought well fitted for my repose, being
covered with tall grass, and as the sun was not many degrees above the
horizon, I felt anxious to pitch my mosquito bar or net, and spend the
night in this wilderness. The bellowing notes of thousands of
bull-frogs in a neighboring swamp might lull me to rest, and I looked
upon the flocks of Blackbirds that were assembling as sure companions
in this secluded retreat.

"I proceeded up a little stream, to insure the safety of my canoe from
any sudden storm, when, as I gladly advanced, a beautiful yawl came
unexpectedly in view. Surprised at such a sight in a part of the
country then scarcely known, I felt a sudden check in the circulation
of my blood. My paddle dropped from my hands, and fearfully indeed, as
I picked it up, did I look towards the unknown boat. On reaching it, I
saw its sides marked with stains of blood, and looking with anxiety
over the gunwale, I perceived, to my horror, two human bodies covered
with gore. Pirates or hostile Indians, I was persuaded, had
perpetrated the foul deed, and my alarm naturally increased; my heart
fluttered, stopped, and heaved with unusual tremors, and I looked
towards the setting sun in consternation and despair. How long my
reveries lasted I cannot tell; I can only recollect that I was roused
from them by the distant groans of one apparently in mortal agony. I
felt as if refreshed by the cold perspiration that oozed from every
pore, and I reflected that though alone, I was well armed, and might
hope for the protection of the Almighty.

"Humanity whispered to me that, if not surprised and disabled, I might
render assistance to some sufferer, or even be the means of saving a
useful life. Buoyed up by this thought, I urged my canoe on shore, and
seizing it by the bow, pulled it at one spring high among the grass.

"The groans of the unfortunate person fell heavy on my ear as I cocked
and reprimed my gun, and I felt determined to shoot the first that
should rise from the grass. As I cautiously proceeded, a hand was
raised over the weeds, and waved in the air in the most supplicating
manner. I levelled my gun about a foot below it, when the next moment
the head and breast of a man covered with blood were convulsively
raised, and a faint hoarse voice asked me for mercy and help! A
deathlike silence followed his fall to the ground. I surveyed every
object around with eyes intent, and ears impressible by the slightest
sound, for my situation that moment I thought as critical as any I
had ever been in. The croaking of the frogs, and the last Blackbirds
alighting on their roosts, were the only sounds or sights; and I now
proceeded towards the object of my mingled alarm and commiseration.

"Alas! the poor being who lay prostrate at my feet was so weakened by
loss of blood that I had nothing to fear from him. My first impulse
was to run back to the water, and having done so, I returned with my
cap filled to the brim. I felt at his heart, washed his face and
breast, and rubbed his temples with the contents of a phial which I
kept about me as an antidote for the bites of snakes. His features,
seamed by the ravages of time, looked frightful and disgusting; but he
had been a powerful man, as the breadth of his chest plainly showed.
He groaned in the most appalling manner, as his breath struggled
through the mass of blood that seemed to fill his throat. His dress
plainly disclosed his occupation. A large pistol he had thrust into
his bosom, a naked cutlass lay near him on the ground, a red silk
handkerchief was bound over his projecting brows, and over a pair of
loose trousers he wore fisherman's boots. He was, in short, a pirate.

"My exertions were not in vain, for as I continued to bathe his
temples he revived, his pulse resumed some strength, and I began to
hope that he might perhaps survive the deep wounds he had received.
Darkness, deep darkness, now enveloped us. I spoke of making a fire.
'Oh! for mercy's sake,' he exclaimed, 'don't.' Knowing, however, that
under existing circumstances it was expedient for me to do so, I left
him, went to his boat, and brought the rudder, the benches, and the
oars, which with my hatchet I soon splintered. I then struck a light,
and presently stood in the glare of a blazing fire. The pirate seemed
struggling between terror and gratitude for my assistance; he desired
me several times in half English and Spanish to put out the flames;
but after I had given him a draught of strong spirits, he at length
became more composed. I tried to stanch the blood that flowed from the
deep gashes in his shoulders and side. I expressed my regret that I
had no food about me, but when I spoke of eating he sullenly waved his
head.

"My situation was one of the most extraordinary that I have ever been
placed in. I naturally turned my talk towards religious subjects, but,
alas, the dying man hardly believed in the existence of a God.
'Friend,' said he, 'for friend you seem to be, I have never studied
the ways of Him of whom you talk. I am an outlaw, perhaps you will say
a wretch--I have been for many years a pirate. The instructions of my
parents were of no avail to me, for I have always believed that I was
born to be a most cruel man. I now lie here, about to die in the
weeds, because I long ago refused to listen to their many admonitions.
Do not shudder when I tell you--these now useless hands murdered the
mother whom they had embraced. I feel that I have deserved the pangs
of the wretched death that hovers over me; and I am thankful that one
of my kind will alone witness my last gaspings.'

"A fond but feeble hope that I might save his life, and perhaps assist
in procuring his pardon, induced me to speak to him on the subject.
'It is all in vain, friend--I have no objection to die--I am glad that
the villains who wounded me were not my conquerors--I want no pardon
from _any one_. Give me some water, and let me die alone.' With the
hope that I might learn from his conversation something that might
lead to the capture of his guilty associates, I returned from the
creek with another capful of water, nearly the whole of which I
managed to introduce into his parched mouth, and begged him, for the
sake of his future peace, to disclose his history to me. 'It is
impossible,' said he; 'there will not be time, the beatings of my
heart tell me so. Long before day these sinewy limbs will be
motionless. Nay, there will hardly be a drop of blood in my body; and
that blood will only serve to make the grass grow. My wounds are
mortal, and I must and will die without what you call confession.'

"The moon rose in the east. The majesty of her placid beauty impressed
me with reverence. I pointed towards her, and asked the pirate if he
could not recognize God's features there. 'Friend, I see what you are
driving at,' was his answer; 'you, like the rest of our enemies, feel
the desire of murdering us all. Well--be it so. To die is, after all,
nothing more than a jest; and were it not for the pain, no one, in my
opinion, need care a jot about it. But, as you really have befriended
me, I will tell you all that is proper.'

"Hoping his mind might take a useful turn, I again bathed his temples,
and washed his lips with spirits. His sunk eyes seemed to dart fire at
mine; a heavy and deep sigh swelled his chest, and struggled through
his blood-choked throat, and he asked me to raise him for a little. I
did so, when he addressed me somewhat as follows; for, as I have told
you, his speech was a mixture of Spanish, French, and English, forming
a jargon the like of which I had never heard before, and which I am
utterly unable to imitate. However, I shall give you the substance of
his declaration.

"'First, tell me how many bodies you found in the boat, and what sort
of dresses they had on.' I mentioned their number and described their
apparel. 'That's right,' said he; 'they are the bodies of the
scoundrels who followed me in that infernal Yankee barge. Bold rascals
they were, for when they found the water too shallow for their craft,
they took to it, and waded after me. All my companions had been shot,
and to lighten my own boat I flung them overboard; but as I lost time
in this, the two ruffians caught hold of my gunwale, and struck on my
head and body in such a manner that after I had disabled and killed
them both in the boat, I was scarce able to move. The other villains
carried off our schooner and one of our boats, and perhaps ere now
have hung all my companions whom they did not kill at the time. I have
commanded my beautiful vessel many years, captured many ships, and
sent many rascals to the devil. I always hated the Yankees, and only
regret that I have not killed more of them.--I sailed from
Matanzas.--I have often been in concert with others. I have money
without counting, but it is buried where it will never be found, and
it would be useless to tell you of it.' His throat filled with blood,
his voice failed, the cold hand of death was laid on his brow; feebly
and hurriedly he muttered, 'I am a dying man. Farewell!'

"Alas! it is painful to see death in any shape; in this it was
horrible, for there was no hope. The rattling of his throat announced
the moment of dissolution, and already did the body fall on my arms
with a weight that was insupportable. I laid him on the ground. A mass
of dark blood poured from his mouth; then came a frightful groan, the
last breathing of that foul spirit; and what now lay at my feet in the
wild desert?--a mangled mass of clay!

"The remainder of that night was passed in no enviable mood; but my
feelings cannot be described. At dawn I dug a hole with the paddle of
my canoe, rolled the body into it, and covered it. On reaching the
boat I found several buzzards feeding on the bodies, which I in vain
attempted to drag to the shore. I therefore covered them with mud and
weeds, and launching my canoe, paddled from the cove with a secret joy
for my escape, overshadowed with the gloom of mingled dread and
abhorrence."


THE WRECKERS OF FLORIDA

Long before I reached the lovely islets that border the southeastern
shores of the Floridas, the accounts I had heard of "The Wreckers" had
deeply prejudiced me against them. Often had I been informed of the
cruel and cowardly methods which it was alleged they employed to allure
vessels of all nations to the dreaded reefs, that they might plunder
their cargoes, and rob their crews and passengers of their effects. I
therefore could have little desire to meet with such men under any
circumstances, much less to become liable to receive their aid; and with
the name of Wreckers there were associated in my mind ideas of piratical
depredations, barbarous usage, and even murder.

One fair afternoon, while I was standing on the polished deck of the
United States revenue cutter, the "Marion," a sail hove in sight,
bearing in an opposite course, and close-hauled to the wind. The gentle
rake of her masts, as she rocked to and fro in the breeze, brought to my
mind the wavings of the reeds on the fertile banks of the Mississippi.
By and by the vessel, altering her course, approached us. The "Marion,"
like a sea-bird with extended wings, swept through the waters, gently
inclining to either side, while the unknown vessel leaped as it were,
from wave to wave, like the dolphin in eager pursuit of his prey. In a
short time we were gliding side by side, and the commander of the
strange schooner saluted our captain, who promptly returned the
compliment. What a beautiful vessel! we all thought; how trim, how clean
rigged, and how well manned! She swims like a duck; and now with a broad
sheer, off she makes for the reefs a few miles under our lee. There, in
that narrow passage, well known to her commander, she rolls, tumbles,
and dances, like a giddy thing, her copper sheathing now gleaming and
again disappearing under the waves. But the passage is thridded, and
now, hauling on the wind, she resumes her former course, and gradually
recedes from the view. Reader, it was a Florida Wrecker.

When at the Tortugas, I paid a visit to several vessels of this kind, in
company with my excellent friend Robert Day, Esq. We had observed the
regularity and quickness of the men then employed at their arduous
tasks, and as we approached the largest schooner, I admired her form, so
well adapted to her occupation, her great breadth of beam, her light
draught, the correctness of her water-line, the neatness of her painted
sides, the smoothness of her well-greased masts, and the beauty of her
rigging. We were welcomed on board with all the frankness of our native
tars. Silence and order prevailed on her decks. The commander and the
second officer led us into a spacious cabin, well-lighted, and furnished
with every convenience for fifteen or more passengers. The former
brought me his collection of marine shells, and whenever I pointed to
one that I had not seen before, offered it with so much kindness that I
found it necessary to be careful in expressing my admiration of any
particular shell. He had also many eggs of rare birds, which were all
handed over to me, with an assurance that before the month should
expire, a new set could easily be procured; "for," said he, "we have
much idle time on the reefs at this season." Dinner was served, and we
partook of their fare, which consisted of fish, fowl, and other
materials. These rovers, who were both from "down east," were stout,
active men, cleanly and smart in their attire. In a short time we were
all extremely social and merry. They thought my visit to the Tortugas,
in quest of birds, was rather a "curious fancy;" but, notwithstanding,
they expressed their pleasure while looking at some of my drawings, and
offered their services in procuring specimens. Expeditions far and near
were proposed, and on settling that one of them was to take place on the
morrow, we parted friends.

Early next morning, several of these kind men accompanied me to a small
Key called Booby Island, about ten miles distant from the lighthouse.
Their boats were well-manned, and rowed with long and steady strokes,
such as whalers and men-of-war's men are wont to draw. The captain sang,
and at times, by way of frolic, ran a race with our own beautiful bark.
The Booby Isle was soon reached, and our sport there was equal to any we
had elsewhere. They were capital shots, had excellent guns, and knew
more about Boobies and Noddies than nine-tenths of the best naturalists
in the world. But what will you say when I tell you the Florida Wreckers
are excellent at a Deer hunt, and that at certain seasons, "when
business is slack," they are wont to land on some extensive Key, and in
a few hours procure a supply of delicious venison.

Some days afterwards, the same party took me on an expedition in quest
of sea shells. There we were all in water, at times to the waist, and
now and then much deeper. Now they would dip, like ducks, and on
emerging would hold up a beautiful shell. This occupation they seemed to
enjoy above all others.

The duties of the "Marion," having been performed, intimation of our
intended departure reached the Wreckers. An invitation was sent to me to
go and see them on board their vessels, which I accepted. Their object
on this occasion was to present me with some superb corals, shells, live
Turtles of the Hawk-bill species, and a great quantity of eggs. Not a
"picayune" would they receive in return, but putting some letters in my
hands, requested me "to be so good as to put them in the mail at
Charleston," adding that they were for their wives "down east." So
anxious did they appear to be to do all they could for me, that they
proposed to sail before the "Marion," and meet her under way, to give me
some birds that were rare on the coast, and of which they knew the
haunts. Circumstances connected with "the service" prevented this,
however, and with sincere regret, and a good portion of friendship, I
bade these excellent fellows adieu. How different, thought I, is often
the knowledge of things acquired by personal observation from that
obtained by report!

I had never before seen Florida Wreckers, nor has it since been my
fortune to fall in with any; but my good friend Dr. Benjamin Strobel,
having furnished me with a graphic account of a few days which he spent
with them, I shall present you with it in his own words:--

"On the 12th day of September, while lying in harbor at Indian Key, we
were joined by five wrecking vessels. Their licenses having expired, it
was necessary to go to Key West to renew them. We determined to
accompany them the next morning; and here it will not be amiss for me to
say a few words respecting these far-famed Wreckers, their captains and
crews. From all that I had heard, I expected to see a parcel of dirty,
pirate-looking vessels, officered and manned by a set of black-whiskered
fellows, who carried murder in their very looks. I was agreeably
surprised on discovering the vessels were fine large sloops and
schooners, regular clippers, kept in first-rate order. The captains
generally were jovial, good-natured sons of Neptune who manifested a
disposition to be polite and hospitable, and to afford every facility to
persons passing up and down the Reef. The crews were hearty,
well-dressed and honest-looking men.

"On the 13th, at the appointed hour, we all set sail together; that is,
the five Wreckers and the schooner 'Jane.' As our vessel was not noted
for fast sailing, we accepted an invitation to go on board of a Wrecker.
The fleet got under way about eight o'clock in the morning, the wind
light but fair, the water smooth, the day fine. I can scarcely find
words to express the pleasure and gratification which I this day
experienced. The sea was of a beautiful, soft, pea-green color, smooth
as a sheet of glass, and as transparent, its surface agitated only by
our vessels as they parted its bosom, or by the Pelican in pursuit of
his prey, which rising for a considerable distance in the air, would
suddenly plunge down with distended mandibles, and secure his food. The
vessels of our little fleet with every sail set that could catch a
breeze, and the white foam curling round the prows, glided silently
along, like islands of flitting shadows, on an immovable sea of light.
Several fathoms below the surface of the water, and under us, we saw
great quantities of fish diving and sporting among the sea-grass,
sponges, sea-feathers, and corals, with which the bottom was covered. On
our right hand were the Florida Keys, which, as we made them in the
distance, looked like specks upon the surface of the water, but as we
neared them, rose to view as if by enchantment, clad in the richest
livery of spring, each variety of color and hue rendered soft and
delicate by a clear sky and a brilliant sun overhead. All was like a
fairy scene; my heart leaped up in delighted admiration, and I could not
but exclaim, in the language of Scott,--

            'Those seas behold
      Round thrice an hundred islands rolled.

The trade wind played round us with balmy and refreshing sweetness; and,
to give life and animation to the scene, we had a contest for the
mastery between all the vessels of the fleet, while a deep interest was
excited in favor of this or that vessel, as she shot ahead, or fell
astern.

"About three o'clock in the afternoon, we arrived off the Bay of Honda.
The wind being light and no prospect of reaching Key West that night, it
was agreed that we should make a harbor here. We entered a beautiful
basin, and came to anchor about four o'clock. Boats were got out, and
several hunting parties formed. We landed, and were soon on the scent,
some going in search of shells, others of birds. An Indian, who had been
picked up somewhere along the coast by a Wrecker, and who was employed
as a hunter, was sent ashore in search of venison. Previous to his
leaving the vessel, a rifle was loaded with a single ball and put into
his hands. After an absence of several hours, he returned with two Deer,
which he had killed at a single shot. He watched until they were both in
range of his gun, side by side, when he fired and brought them down.

"All hands having returned, and the fruits of our excursion being
collected, we had wherewithal to make an abundant supper. Most of the
game was sent on board the largest vessel, where we proposed supping.
Our vessels were all lying within hail of each other, and as soon as the
moon arose, boats were seen passing from vessel to vessel, and all were
busily and happily engaged in exchanging civilities. One could never
have supposed that these men were professional rivals, so apparent was
the good feeling that prevailed among them. About nine o'clock we
started for supper; a number of persons had already collected, and as
soon as we arrived on board the vessel, a German sailor, who played
remarkably well on the violin, was summoned on the quarter-deck, when
all hands, with a good will, cheerily danced to lively airs until supper
was ready. The table was laid in the cabin, and groaned under its load
of venison, Wild Ducks, Pigeons, Curlews, and fish. Toasting and singing
succeeded the supper, and among other curious matters introduced, the
following song was sung by the German fiddler, who accompanied his voice
with his instrument. He is said to be the author of the song. I say
nothing of the poetry, but merely give it as it came on my ear. It is
certainly very characteristic:--

THE WRECKERS' SONG.

      Come, ye good people, one and all,
      Come listen to my song;
      A few remarks I have to make,
      Which won't be very long.
      'Tis of our vessel, stout and good
      As ever yet was built of wood,
      Along the reef where the breakers roar,
      The Wreckers on the Florida shore!

      Key Tavernier's our rendezvous;
      At anchor there we lie,
      And see the vessels in the Gulf,
      Carelessly passing by.
      When night comes on we dance and sing,
      Whilst the current some vessel is floating in;
      When daylight comes, a ship's on shore,
      Among the rocks where the breakers roar.

      When daylight dawns we're under way,
      And every sail is set,
      And if the wind it should prove light,
      Why, then our sails we wet.
      To gain her first each eager strives,
      To save the cargo and the people's lives,
      Amongst the rocks where the breakers roar,
      The Wreckers on the Florida shore.

      When we get 'longside we find she's bilged;
      We know well what to do,
      Save the cargo that we can.
      The sails and rigging too;
      Then down to Key West we soon will go,
      When quickly our salvage we shall know;
      When everything it is fairly sold,
      Our money down to us it is told.

      Then one week's _cruise_ we'll have on shore,
      Before we do sail again,
      And drink success to the sailor lads
      That are ploughing of the main.
      And when you are passing by this way,
      On the Florida reef should you chance to stray,
      Why we will come to you on the shore,
      Amongst the rocks where the breakers roar.

Great emphasis was laid upon particular words by the singer, who had a
broad German accent. Between the verses he played an interlude,
remarking, 'Gentlemen, I makes dat myself.' The chorus was trolled by
twenty or thirty voices, which, in the stillness of the night, produced
no unpleasant effect."


ST. JOHN'S RIVER IN FLORIDA

Soon after landing at St. Augustine, in East Florida, I formed
acquaintance with Dr. Simmons, Dr. Porcher, Judge Smith, the Misses
Johnson, and other individuals, my intercourse with whom was as
agreeable as beneficial to me. Lieutenant Constantine Smith, of the
United States army, I found of a congenial spirit, as was the case with
my amiable but since deceased friend, Dr. Bell of Dublin. Among the
planters who extended their hospitality to me, I must particularly
mention General Hernandez, and my esteemed friend John Bulow, Esq. To
all these estimable individuals I offer my sincere thanks.

While in this part of the peninsula I followed my usual avocation,
although with little success, it then being winter. I had letters from
the Secretaries of the Navy and Treasury of the United States, to the
commanding officers of vessels of war of the revenue service, directing
them to afford me any assistance in their power; and the schooner
"Spark" having come to St. Augustine, on her way to the St. John's
River, I presented my credentials to her commander Lieutenant Piercy,
who readily and with politeness received me and my assistants on board.
We soon after set sail with a fair breeze. The strict attention to duty
on board even this small vessel of war, afforded matter of surprise to
me. Everything went on with the regularity of a chronometer: orders were
given, answered to, and accomplished, before they had ceased to vibrate
on the ear. The neatness of the crew equalled the cleanliness of the
white planks of the deck; the sails were in perfect condition; and,
built as the "Spark" was, for swift sailing, on she went, gambolling
from wave to wave.

  [Illustration: TRINGA ALPINA, RED-BACKED SANDPIPER.
    (Now Pelidna alpina pacifica.)
    FROM THE UNPUBLISHED DRAWING BY J. J. AUDUBON, NOVEMBER 24, 1831.]

I thought that, while thus sailing, no feeling but that of pleasure
could exist in our breasts; but, alas! how fleeting are our enjoyments.
When we were almost at the entrance of the river, the wind changed, the
sky became clouded, and, before many minutes had elapsed, the little
bark was lying to "like a Duck," as her commander expressed himself. It
blew a hurricane--let it blow, reader. At break of day we were again at
anchor within the bar of St. Augustine.

Our next attempt was successful. Not many hours after we had crossed the
bar, we perceived the star-like glimmer of the light in the great
lantern at the entrance of the St. John's River. This was before
daylight; and, as the crossing of the sand-banks or bars, which occur at
the mouths of all the streams of this peninsula is difficult, and can be
accomplished only when the tide is up, one of the guns was fired as a
signal for the government pilot. The good man, it seemed, was unwilling
to leave his couch, but a second gun brought him in his canoe alongside.
The depth of the channel was barely sufficient. My eyes, however, were
not directed towards the waters, but on high, where flew some thousands
of snowy Pelicans, which had fled affrighted from their resting-grounds.
How beautifully they performed their broad gyrations, and how matchless,
after a while, was the marshalling of their files, as they flew past us.

On the tide we proceeded apace. Myriads of Cormorants covered the face
of the waters, and over it Fish-Crows innumerable were already arriving
from their distant roosts. We landed at one place to search for the
birds whose charming melodies had engaged our attention, and here and
there some young Eagles we shot, to add to our store of fresh
provisions. The river did not seem to me equal in beauty to the fair
Ohio; the shores were in many places low and swampy, to the great
delight of the numberless Herons that moved along in gracefulness, and
the grim Alligators that swam in sluggish sullenness. In going up a
bayou, we caught a great number of the young of the latter for the
purpose of making experiments upon them.

After sailing a considerable way, during which our commander and
officers took the soundings, as well as the angles and bearings of every
nook and crook of the sinuous stream, we anchored one evening at a
distance of fully one hundred miles from the mouth of the river. The
weather, although it was the 12th of February, was quite warm, the
thermometer on board standing at 75°, and on shore at 90°. The fog was
so thick that neither of the shores could be seen, and yet the river was
not a mile in breadth. The "blind mosquitoes" covered every object, even
in the cabin, and so wonderfully abundant were these tormentors that
they more than once fairly extinguished the candles whilst I was writing
my journal, which I closed in despair, crushing between the leaves more
than a hundred of the little wretches. Bad as they are, however, these
blind mosquitoes do not bite. As if purposely to render our situation
doubly uncomfortable, there was an establishment for jerking beef on the
nearer shores, to the windward of our vessel, from which the breeze came
laden with no sweet odors.

In the morning when I arose, the country was still covered with thick
fogs, so that although I could plainly hear the notes of the birds on
shore, not an object could I see beyond the bowsprit, and the air was as
close and sultry as on the previous evening. Guided by the scent of the
jerkers' works we went on shore, where we found the vegetation already
far advanced. The blossoms of the jessamine, ever pleasing, lay steeped
in dew, the humming bee was collecting her winter's store from the
snowy flowers of the native orange; and the little warblers frisked
along the twigs of the smilax. Now, amid the tall pines of the forest,
the sun's rays began to force their way, and as the dense mists
dissolved in the atmosphere, the bright luminary at length shone forth.
We explored the woods around, guided by some friendly live-oakers who
had pitched their camp in the vicinity. After a while the "Spark" again
displayed her sails, and as she silently glided along, we spied a
Seminole Indian approaching us in his canoe. The poor, dejected son of
the woods, endowed with talents of the highest order, although rarely
acknowledged by the proud usurpers of his native soil, has spent the
night in fishing, and the morning in procuring the superb feathered game
of the swampy thickets; and with both he comes to offer them for our
acceptance. Alas! thou fallen one, descendant of an ancient line of
freeborn hunters, would that I could restore to thee thy birthright, thy
natural independence, the generous feelings that were once fostered in
thy brave bosom. But the irrevocable deed is done, and I can merely
admire the perfect symmetry of his frame, as he dexterously throws on
our deck the Trout and Turkeys which he has captured. He receives a
recompense, and without smile or bow, or acknowledgment of any kind, off
he starts with the speed of an arrow from his own bow.

Alligators were extremely abundant, and the heads of the fishes which
they had snapped off, lay floating around on the dark waters. A rifle
bullet was now and then sent through the eye of one of the largest,
which, with a tremendous splash of its tail, expired. One morning we saw
a monstrous fellow lying on the shore. I was desirous of obtaining him
to make an accurate drawing of his head, and accompanied by my assistant
and two of the sailors, proceeded cautiously towards him. When within a
few yards, one of us fired, and sent through his side an ounce ball
which tore open a hole large enough to receive a man's hand. He slowly
raised his head, bent himself upwards, opened his huge jaws, swung his
tail to and fro, rose on his legs, blew in a frightful manner, and fell
to the earth. My assistant leaped on shore, and, contrary to my
injunctions, caught hold of the animal's tail, when the alligator,
awakening from its trance, with a last effort crawled slowly towards the
water, and plunged heavily into it. Had he thought of once flourishing
his tremendous weapon, there might have been an end of his assailant's
life, but he fortunately went in peace to his grave, where we left him,
as the water was too deep. The same morning, another of equal size was
observed swimming directly for the bows of our vessel, attracted by the
gentle rippling of the water there. One of the officers, who had watched
him, fired, and scattered his brain through the air, when he tumbled and
rolled at a fearful rate, blowing all the while most furiously. The
river was bloody for yards around, but although the monster passed close
by the vessel, we could not secure him, and after a while he sunk to the
bottom.

Early one morning, I hired a boat and two men, with the view of
returning to St. Augustine by a short-cut. Our baggage being placed on
board, I bade adieu to the officers, and off we started. About four in
the afternoon we arrived at the short-cut, forty miles distant from our
point of departure, and where we had expected to procure a wagon, but
were disappointed. So we laid our things on the bank, and leaving one of
my assistants to look after them, I set out accompanied by the other and
my Newfoundland dog. We had eighteen miles to go; and as the sun was
only two hours high, we struck off at a good rate. Presently we entered
a pine-barren. The country was as level as a floor; our path, although
narrow, was well-beaten, having been used by the Seminole Indians for
ages, and the weather was calm and beautiful. Now and then a rivulet
occurred, from which we quenched our thirst, while the magnolias and
other flowering plants on its banks relieved the dull uniformity of the
woods. When the path separated into two branches, both seemingly leading
the same way, I would follow one, while my companion took the other, and
unless we met again in a short time, one of us would go across the
intervening forest.

The sun went down behind a cloud, and the southeast breeze that sprung
up at this moment, sounded dolefully among the tall pines. Along the
eastern horizon lay a bed of black vapor, which gradually rose, and soon
covered the heavens. The air felt hot and oppressive, and we knew that a
tempest was approaching. Plato was now our guide, the white spots on his
coat being the only objects that we could discern amid the darkness, and
as if aware of his utility in this respect, he kept a short way before
us on the trail. Had we imagined ourselves more than a few miles from
the town, we should have made a camp, and remained under its shelter for
the night; but conceiving that the distance could not be great, we
resolved to trudge along.

Large drops began to fall from the murky mass overhead; thick
impenetrable darkness surrounded us, and to my dismay, the dog refused
to proceed. Groping with my hands on the ground, I discovered that
several trails branched out at the spot where he lay down; and when I
had selected one, he went on. Vivid flashes of lightning streamed across
the heavens, the wind increased to a gale, and the rain poured down upon
us like a torrent. The water soon rose on the level ground so as almost
to cover our feet, and we slowly advanced, fronting the tempest. Here
and there a tall pine on fire presented a magnificent spectacle,
illumining the trees around it, and surrounding them with a halo of dim
light, abruptly bordered with the deep black of the night. At one time
we passed through a tangled thicket of low trees, at another crossed a
stream flushed by the heavy rain, and again proceeded over the open
barrens.

How long we thus, half lost, groped our way is more than I can tell you;
but at length the tempest passed over, and suddenly the clear sky became
spangled with stars. Soon after, we smelt the salt marshes, and walking
directly towards them, like pointers advancing on a covey of partridges,
we at last to our great joy descried the light of the beacon near St.
Augustine. My dog began to run briskly around, having met with ground on
which he had hunted before, and taking a direct course, led us to the
great causeway that crosses the marshes at the back of the town. We
refreshed ourselves with the produce of the first orange-tree that we
met with, and in half an hour more arrived at our hotel. Drenched with
rain, steaming with perspiration, and covered to the knees with mud, you
may imagine what figures we cut in the eyes of the good people whom we
found snugly enjoying themselves in the sitting-room. Next morning,
Major Gates, who had received me with much kindness, sent a wagon with
mules and two trusty soldiers for my companion and luggage.


THE FLORIDA KEYS

I

As the "Marion" neared the Inlet called "Indian Key," which is situated
on the eastern coast of the peninsula of Florida, my heart swelled with
uncontrollable delight. Our vessel once over the coral reef that
everywhere stretches along the shore like a great wall reared by an army
of giants, we found ourselves in safe anchoring grounds, within a few
furlongs of the land. The next moment saw the oars of a boat propelling
us towards the shore, and in brief time we stood on the desired beach.
With what delightful feelings did we gaze on the objects around us!--the
gorgeous flowers, the singular and beautiful plants, the luxuriant
trees. The balmy air which we breathed filled us with animation, so pure
and salubrious did it seem to be. The birds which we saw were almost all
new to us; their lovely forms appeared to be arrayed in more brilliant
apparel than I had ever seen before, and as they fluttered in happy
playfulness among the bushes, or glided over the light green waters, we
longed to form a more intimate acquaintance with them.

Students of nature spend little time in introductions, especially when
they present themselves to persons who feel an interest in their
pursuits. This was the case with Mr. Thruston, the deputy collector of
the island, who shook us all heartily by the hand, and in a trice had a
boat manned, and at our service. Accompanied by him, his pilot and
fishermen, off we went, and after a short pull landed on a large key.
Few minutes had elapsed when shot after shot might be heard, and down
came whirling through the air the objects of our desire. One thrust
himself into the tangled groves that covered all but the beautiful coral
beach that in a continued line bordered the island, while others gazed
on the glowing and diversified hues of the curious inhabitants of the
deep. I saw one of my party rush into the limpid element to seize on a
crab, that, with claws extended upward, awaited his approach, as if
determined not to give way. A loud voice called him back to the land,
for sharks are as abundant along these shores as pebbles, and the hungry
prowlers could not have found a more savory dinner.

The pilot, besides being a first-rate shot, possessed a most intimate
acquaintance with the country. He had been a "conch diver," and no
matter what number of fathoms measured the distance between the surface
of the water and its craggy bottom, to seek for curious shells in their
retreat seemed to him more pastime than toil. Not a Cormorant or
Pelican, a Flamingo, an Ibis, or Heron had ever in his days formed its
nest without his having marked the spot; and as to the Keys to which the
Doves are wont to resort, he was better acquainted with them than many
fops are with the contents of their pockets. In a word, he positively
knew every channel that led to these islands, and every cranny along
their shores. For years his employment had been to hunt those singular
animals called Sea-cows or Manatees, and he had conquered hundreds of
them, "merely," as he said, because the flesh and hide bring "a fair
price" at Havana. He never went anywhere to land without "Long Tom,"
which proved indeed to be a wonderful gun, and which made smart havoc
when charged with "groceries" a term by which he designated the large
shot he used. In like manner, he never paddled his light canoe without
having by his side the trusty javelin with which he unerringly
transfixed such fishes as he thought fit either for market or for his
own use. In attacking Turtles, netting, or overturning them, I doubt if
his equal ever lived on the Florida coast. No sooner was he made
acquainted with my errand, than he freely offered his best services, and
from that moment until I left Key West he was seldom out of my hearing.

While the young gentlemen who accompanied us were engaged in procuring
plants, shells, and small birds, he tapped me on the shoulder, and with
a smile said to me, "Come along, I'll show you something better worth
your while." To the boat we betook ourselves, with the captain and only
a pair of tars, for more he said would not answer. The yawl for a while
was urged at a great rate, but as we approached a point, the oars were
taken in, and the pilot alone sculling desired us to make ready, for in
a few minutes we should have "rare sport." As we advanced, the more
slowly did we move, and the most profound silence was maintained, until
suddenly coming almost in contact with a thick shrubbery of mangroves,
we beheld, right before us, a multitude of Pelicans. A discharge of
artillery seldom produced more effect; the dead, the dying, and the
wounded, fell from the trees upon the water, while those unscathed flew
screaming through the air in terror and dismay. "There," said he, "did
not I tell you so; is it not rare sport?" The birds, one after another,
were lodged under the gunwales, when the pilot desired the captain to
order the lads to pull away. Within about half a mile we reached the
extremity of the Key. "Pull away," cried the pilot, "never mind them on
the wing, for those black rascals don't mind a little firing--now, boys,
lay her close under the nests." And there we were with four hundred
Cormorant's nests over our heads. The birds were sitting, and when we
fired, the number that dropped as if dead, and plunged into the water
was such, that I thought by some unaccountable means or other we had
killed the whole colony. You would have smiled at the loud laugh and
curious gestures of the pilot. "Gentlemen," said he, "almost a blank
shot!" And so it was, for, on following the birds as one after another
peeped up from the water, we found only a few unable to take to wing.
"Now," said the pilot, "had you waited until _I had spoken_ to the black
villains, you might have killed a score or more of them." On inspection,
we found that our shots had lodged in the tough dry twigs of which these
birds form their nests, and that we had lost the more favorable
opportunity of hitting them, by not waiting until they rose. "Never
mind," said the pilot, "if you wish it, you may load _The Lady of the
Green Mantle_[55] with them in less than a week. Stand still, my lads;
and now, gentlemen, in ten minutes you and I will bring down a score of
them." And so we did. As we rounded the island, a beautiful bird of the
species called Peale's Egret came up, and was shot. We now landed, took
in the rest of our party, and returned to Indian Key, where we arrived
three hours before sunset.

The sailors and other individuals to whom my name and pursuits had
become known, carried our birds to the pilot's house. His good wife had
a room ready for me to draw in, and my assistant might have been seen
busily engaged in skinning, while George Lehman was making a sketch of
the lovely isle.

Time is ever precious to the student of nature. I placed several birds
in their natural attitudes, and began to outline them. A dance had been
prepared also, and no sooner was the sun lost to our eye, than males and
females, including our captain and others from the vessel, were seen
advancing gayly towards the house in full apparel. The birds were
skinned, the sketch was on paper, and I told my young men to amuse
themselves. As to myself, I could not join in the merriment, for, full
of the remembrance of you, reader, and of the patrons of my work both in
America and in Europe, I went on "grinding"--not on an organ, like the
Lady of Bras d'Or, but on paper, to the finishing not merely of my
outlines, but of my notes respecting the objects seen this day.

The room adjoining that in which I worked was soon filled. Two miserable
fiddlers screwed their screeching, silken strings,--not an inch of
catgut graced their instruments,--and the bouncing of brave lads and
fair lasses shook the premises to the foundation. One with a slip came
down heavily on the floor, and the burst of laughter that followed
echoed over the isle. Diluted claret was handed round to cool the
ladies, while a beverage of more potent energies warmed their partners.
After supper our captain returned to the "Marion," and I, with my young
men, slept in light swinging hammocks under the eaves of the piazza.

It was the end of April, when the nights were short, and the days
therefore long. Anxious to turn every moment to account, we were on
board Mr. Thruston's boat at three next morning. Pursuing our way
through the deep and tortuous channels that everywhere traverse the
immense muddy soap-like flats that stretch from the outward Keys to the
Main, we proceeded on our voyage of discovery. Here and there we met
with great beds of floating sea-weeds, which showed us that Turtles were
abundant there, these masses being the refuse of their feeding. On
talking to Mr. Thruston of the nature of these muddy flats, he mentioned
that he had once been lost amongst their narrow channels for several
days and nights, when in pursuit of some smugglers' boat, the owners of
which were better acquainted with the place than the men who were along
with him. Although in full sight of several of the Keys, as well as of
the main land, he was unable to reach either until a heavy gale raised
the water, when he sailed directly over the flats, and returned home
almost exhausted with fatigue and hunger. His present pilot often
alluded to the circumstance afterwards, ending with a great laugh, and
asserting that had he "been there, the rascals would not have escaped."

Coming under a Key on which multitudes of Frigate Pelicans had begun to
form their nests, we shot a good number of them, and observed their
habits. The boastings of our pilot were here confirmed by the exploits
which he performed with his long gun, and on several occasions he
brought down a bird from a height of fully a hundred yards. The poor
bird, unaware of the range of our artillery, sailed calmly along, so
that it was not difficult for "Long Tom," or rather for his owner, to
furnish us with as many as we required. The day was spent in this
manner, and towards night we returned, laden with booty, to the
hospitable home of the pilot.

The next morning was delightful. The gentle sea-breeze glided over the
flowery isle, the horizon was clear, and all was silent, save the long
breakers that rushed over the distant reefs. As we were proceeding
towards some Keys seldom visited by men, the sun rose from the bosom of
the waters with a burst of glory that flashed on my soul the idea of
that power which called into existence so magnificent an object. The
moon, thin and pale, as if ashamed to show her feeble light, concealed
herself in the dim west. The surface of the waters shone in its
tremulous smoothness, and the deep blue of the clear heavens was pure as
the world that lies beyond them. The Heron heavily flew towards the
land, like a glutton retiring at daybreak, with well lined paunch, from
the house of some wealthy patron of good cheer. The Night Heron and the
Owl, fearful of day, with hurried flight sought safety in the recesses
of the deepest swamps; while the Gulls and Terns, ever cheerful,
gambolled over the water, exulting in the prospect of abundance. I also
exulted in hope, my whole frame seemed to expand; and our sturdy crew
showed by their merry faces that nature had charms for them too. How
much of beauty and joy is lost to them who never view the rising sun,
and of whose waking existence, the best half is nocturnal.

Twenty miles our men had to row before we reached "Sandy Island," and as
on its level shores we all leaped, we plainly saw the southernmost cape
of the Floridas. The flocks of birds that covered the shelly beaches,
and those hovering overhead, so astonished us that we could for a while
scarcely believe our eyes. The first volley procured a supply of food
sufficient for two days' consumption. Such tales, you have already been
told, are well enough at a distance from the place to which they refer;
but you will doubtless be still more surprised when I tell you that our
first fire among a crowd of the Great Godwits laid prostrate sixty-five
of these birds. Rose-colored Curlews stalked gracefully beneath the
mangroves. Purple Herons rose at almost every step we took, and each
cactus supported the nest of a White Ibis. The air was darkened by
whistling wings, while, on the waters, floated Gallinules and other
interesting birds. We formed a kind of shed with sticks and grass, the
sailor cook commenced his labors, and ere long we supplied the
deficiencies of our fatigued frames. The business of the day over, we
secured ourselves from insects by means of mosquito-nets, and were
lulled to rest by the cacklings of the beautiful Purple Gallinules!

In the morning we rose from our sandy beds, and--


THE FLORIDA KEYS

II

I left you abruptly, perhaps uncivilly, reader, at the dawn of day, on
Sandy Island, which lies just six miles from the extreme point of South
Florida. I did so because I was amazed at the appearance of things
around me, which in fact looked so different then from what they seemed
at night, that it took some minutes' reflection to account for the
change. When we laid ourselves down in the sand to sleep, the waters
almost bathed our feet; when we opened our eyes in the morning, they
were at an immense distance. Our boat lay on her side, looking not
unlike a whale reposing on a mud bank. The birds in myriads were probing
their exposed pasture-ground. There great flocks of Ibises fed apart
from equally large collections of Godwits, and thousands of Herons
gracefully paced along, ever and anon thrusting their javelin bills into
the body of some unfortunate fish confined in a small pool of water. Of
Fish-Crows, I could not estimate the number, but from the havoc they
made among the crabs, I conjecture that these animals must have been
scarce by the time of next ebb. Frigate Pelicans chased the Jager, which
himself had just robbed a poor Gull of its prize, and all the
Gallinules, ran with spread wings from the mud-banks to the thickets of
the island, so timorous had they become when they perceived us.

Surrounded as we were by so many objects that allured us, not one could
we yet attain, so dangerous would it have been to venture on the mud;
and our pilot, having assured us that nothing could be lost by waiting,
spoke of our eating, and on this hint told us that he would take us to a
part of the island where "our breakfast would be abundant although
uncooked." Off we went, some of the sailors carrying baskets, others
large tin pans and wooden vessels, such as they use for eating their
meals in. Entering a thicket of about an acre in extent, we found on
every bush several nests of the Ibis, each containing three large and
beautiful eggs, and all hands fell to gathering. The birds gave way to
us, and ere long we had a heap of eggs that promised delicious food. Nor
did we stand long in expectation, for, kindling a fire, we soon prepared
in one way or other enough to satisfy the cravings of our hungry maws.
Breakfast ended, the pilot, looking at the gorgeous sunrise, said:
"Gentlemen, prepare yourselves for fun; the tide is coming."

Over these enormous mud-flats, a foot or two of water is quite
sufficient to drive all the birds ashore, even the tallest Heron or
Flamingo, and the tide seems to flow at once over the whole expanse.
Each of us, provided with a gun, posted himself behind a bush, and no
sooner had the water forced the winged creatures to approach the shore
than the work of destruction commenced. When it at length ceased, the
collected mass of birds of different kinds looked not unlike a small
haycock. Who could not with a little industry have helped himself to a
few of their skins? Why, reader, surely no one as fond of these things
as I am. Every one assisted in this, and even the sailors themselves
tried their hand at the work.

Our pilot, good man, told us he was no hand at such occupations and
would go after something else. So taking "Long Tom" and his
fishing-tackle, he marched off quietly along the shores. About an hour
afterwards we saw him returning, when he looked quite exhausted, and on
our inquiring the cause said, "There is a dewfish yonder, and a few
balacoudas, but I am not able to bring them, or even to haul them here;
please send the sailors after them." The fishes were accordingly
brought, and as I had never seen a dewfish, I examined it closely, and
took an outline of its form, which some days hence you may perhaps see.
It exceeded a hundred pounds in weight, and afforded excellent eating.
The balacouda is also a good fish, but at times a dangerous one, for,
according to the pilot, on more than one occasion "some of these gentry"
had followed him when waist-deep in the water, in pursuit of a more
valuable prize, until in self-defence, he had to spear them, fearing
that "the gentlemen" might at one dart cut off his legs, or some other
nice bit, with which he was unwilling to part.

Having filled our cask from a fine well, long since dug in the sand of
Cape Sable, either by Seminole Indians or pirates, no matter which, we
left Sandy Isle about full tide, and proceeded homeward, giving a call
here and there at different Keys, with the view of procuring rare birds,
and also their nests and eggs. We had twenty miles to go, "as the birds
fly," but the tortuosity of the channels rendered our course fully a
third longer. The sun was descending fast, when a black cloud suddenly
obscured the majestic orb. Our sails swelled by a breeze that was
scarcely felt by us; and the pilot, requesting us to sit on the weather
gunwale, told us that we were "going to get it." One sail was hauled in
and secured, and the other was reefed, although the wind had not
increased. A low murmuring noise was heard, and across the cloud that
now rolled along in tumultuous masses shot vivid flashes of lightning.
Our experienced guide steered directly across a flat towards the nearest
land. The sailors passed their quids from one cheek to the other, and
our pilot having covered himself with his oil jacket, we followed his
example. "Blow, sweet breeze," cried he at the tiller, and "we'll reach
the land before the blast overtakes us, for, gentlemen, it is a furious
cloud yon."

A furious cloud indeed was the one which now, like an eagle on
outstretched wings, approached so swiftly that one might have deemed it
in haste to destroy us. We were not more than a cable's length from the
shore, when, with an imperative voice, the pilot calmly said to us, "Sit
quite still, gentlemen, for I should not like to lose you overboard just
now; the boat can't upset, my word for that, if you will but sit
still--Here we have it!"

Reader, persons who have never witnessed a hurricane, such as not
unfrequently desolates the sultry climates of the South, can scarcely
form an idea of their terrific grandeur. One would think that, not
content with laying waste all on land, it must needs sweep the waters of
the shallows quite dry, to quench its thirst. No respite for an instant
does it afford to the objects within the reach of its furious current.
Like the scythe of the destroying angel, it cuts everything by the
roots, as it were, with the careless ease of the experienced mower. Each
of its revolving sweeps collects a heap that might be likened to the
full-sheaf which the husbandman flings by his side. On it goes with a
wildness and fury that are indescribable, and when at last its frightful
blasts have ceased, Nature, weeping and disconsolate, is left bereaved
of her beauteous offspring. In some instances, even a full century is
required before, with all her powerful energies, she can repair her
loss. The planter has not only lost his mansion, his crops, and his
flocks, but he has to clear his lands anew, covered and entangled as
they are with the trunks and branches of trees that are everywhere
strewn. The bark, overtaken by the storm, is cast on the lee-shore, and
if any are left to witness the fatal results, they are the "wreckers"
alone, who, with inward delight, gaze upon the melancholy spectacle.

Our light bark shivered like a leaf the instant the blast reached her
sides. We thought she had gone over; but the next instant she was on the
shore. And now in contemplation of the sublime and awful storm, I gazed
around me. The waters drifted like snow; the tough mangroves hid their
tops amid their roots, and the loud roaring of the waves driven among
them blended with the howl of the tempest. It was not rain that fell;
the masses of water flew in a horizontal direction, and where a part of
my body was exposed I felt as if a smart blow had been given me on it.
But enough--in half an hour it was over. The pure blue sky once more
embellished the heavens, and although it was now quite night, we
considered our situation a good one.

The crew and some of the party spent the night in the boat. The pilot,
myself, and one of my assistants took to the heart of the mangroves, and
having found high land, we made a fire as well as we could, spread a
tarpauling, and fixing our insect bars over us, soon forgot in sleep the
horrors that had surrounded us.

Next day the "Marion" proceeded on her cruise, and in a few more days,
having anchored in another safe harbor, we visited other Keys, of which
I will, with your leave, give you a short account.

The deputy-collector of Indian Isle gave me the use of his pilot for a
few weeks, and I was the more gratified by this, that besides knowing
him to be a good man, and a perfect sailor, I was now convinced that he
possessed a great knowledge of the habits of birds, and could without
loss of time lead me to their haunts. We were a hundred miles or so
farther to the south. Gay May, like a playful babe, gambolled on the
bosom of his mother Nature, and everything was replete with life and
joy. The pilot had spoken to me of some birds which I was very desirous
of obtaining. One morning, therefore, we went in two boats to some
distant isle, where they were said to breed. Our difficulties in
reaching that Key might to some seem more imaginary than real, were I
faithfully to describe them. Suffice it for me to tell you that after
hauling our boats and pushing them with our hands, for upwards of nine
miles, over the flats, we at last reached the deep channel that usually
surrounds each of the mangrove islands. We were much exhausted by the
labor and excessive heat, but we were now floating on deep water, and by
resting a short while under the shade of some mangroves, we were soon
refreshed by the breeze that gently blew from the Gulf. We further
repaired our strength by taking some food; and I may as well tell you
here that, during all the time I spent in that part of the Floridas, my
party restricted themselves to fish and soaked biscuit, while our only
and constant beverage was molasses and water. I found that in these warm
latitudes, exposed as we constantly were to alternate heat and moisture,
ardent spirits and more substantial food would prove dangerous to us.
The officers, and those persons who from time to time kindly accompanied
us, adopted the same regimen, and not an individual of us had ever to
complain of so much as a headache.

But we were under the mangroves; at a great distance on one of the
flats, the Heron which I have named _Ardea occidentalis_[56] was seen
moving majestically in great numbers. The tide rose and drove them away,
and as they came towards us, to alight and rest for a time on the
tallest trees, we shot as many as I wished. I also took under my charge
several of their young alive.

At another time we visited the "Mule Keys." There the prospect was in
many respects dismal in the extreme. As I followed their shores, I saw
bales of cotton floating in all the coves, while spars of every
description lay on the beach, and far off on the reefs I could see the
last remains of a lost ship, her dismantled hulk. Several schooners were
around her; they were wreckers. I turned me from the sight with a heavy
heart. Indeed, as I slowly proceeded, I dreaded to meet the floating or
cast-ashore bodies of some of the unfortunate crew. Our visit to the
Mule Keys was in no way profitable, for besides meeting with but a few
birds, in two or three instances I was, whilst swimming in the deep
channel of a mangrove isle, much nearer a large shark than I wish ever
to be again.

"The service" requiring all the attention, prudence, and activity of
Captain Day and his gallant officers, another cruise took place, of
which you will find some account in the sequel; and while I rest a
little on the deck of the "Lady of the Green Mantle," let me offer my
humble thanks to the Being who has allowed me the pleasure of thus
relating to you, kind reader, a small part of my adventures.


THE TURTLERS

The Tortugas are a group of islands lying about eighty miles from Key
West, and the last of those that seem to defend the peninsula of the
Floridas. They consist of five or six extremely low, uninhabitable
banks, formed of shelly sand, and are resorted to principally by that
class of men called wreckers and turtlers. Between these islands are
deep channels, which, although extremely intricate, are well known to
those adventurers, as well as to the commanders of the revenue cutters,
whose duties call them to that dangerous coast. The great coral reef, or
wall, lies about eight miles from these inhospitable isles, in the
direction of the Gulf, and on it many an ignorant or careless navigator
has suffered shipwreck. The whole ground around them is densely covered
with corals, sea-fans, and other productions of the deep, amid which
crawl innumerable testaceous animals, while shoals of curious and
beautiful fishes fill the limpid waters above them. Turtles of different
species resort to these banks, to deposit their eggs in the burning
sand, and clouds of sea-fowl arrive every spring for the same purpose.
These are followed by persons called "eggers," who, when their cargoes
are completed, sail to distant markets, to exchange their ill-gotten
ware for a portion of that gold on the acquisition of which all men seem
bent.

The "Marion" having occasion to visit the Tortugas, I gladly embraced
the opportunity of seeing those celebrated islets. A few hours before
sunset the joyful cry of "Land!" announced our approach to them; but as
the breeze was fresh, and the pilot was well acquainted with all the
windings of the channels, we held on, and dropped anchor before
twilight. If you have never seen the sun setting in those latitudes, I
would recommend to you to make a voyage for the purpose, for I much
doubt if, in any other portion of the world, the departure of the orb of
day is accompanied with such gorgeous appearances. Look at the great red
disk, increased to triple its ordinary dimensions! Now it has partially
sunk beneath the distant line of waters, and with its still remaining
half irradiates the whole heavens with a flood of golden light, purpling
the far-off clouds that hover over the western horizon. A blaze of
refulgent glory streams through the portals of the west, and the masses
of vapor assume the semblance of mountains of molten gold. But the sun
has now disappeared, and from the east slowly advances the gray curtain
which night draws over the world.

The Night-hawk is flapping its noiseless wings in the gentle sea-breeze;
the Terns, safely landed, have settled on their nests; the Frigate
Pelicans are seen wending their way to distant mangroves; and the Brown
Gannet, in search of a resting-place, has perched on the yard of the
vessel. Slowly advancing landward, their heads alone above the water,
are observed the heavily laden Turtles, anxious to deposit their eggs in
the well-known sands. On the surface of the gently rippling stream, I
dimly see their broad forms, as they toil along, while at intervals may
be heard their hurried breathings, indicative of suspicion and fear. The
moon with her silvery light now illumines the scene, and the Turtle,
having landed, slowly and laboriously drags her heavy body over the
sand, her "flippers" being better adapted for motion in the water than
on shore. Up the slope, however, she works her way; and see how
industriously she removes the sand beneath her, casting it out on either
side. Layer after layer she deposits her eggs, arranging them in the
most careful manner, and with her hind paddles brings the sand over
them. The business is accomplished, the spot is covered over, and with a
joyful heart the Turtle swiftly retires towards the shore, and launches
into the deep.

But the Tortugas are not the only breeding places of the Turtles; these
animals, on the contrary, frequent many other Keys, as well as various
parts of the coast of the mainland. There are four different species,
which are known by the names of the _Green_ Turtle, the _Hawk-billed_
Turtle, the _Logger-head_ Turtle, and the _Trunk_ Turtle. The first is
considered the best as an article of food, in which capacity it is well
known to most epicures. It approaches the shores, and enters the bays,
inlets, and rivers, early in the month of April, after having spent the
winter in the deep waters. It deposits its eggs in convenient places, at
two different times in May, and once again in June. The first deposit is
the largest, and the last the least, the total quantity being, at an
average, about two hundred and forty. The Hawk-billed Turtle, whose
shell is so valuable as an article of commerce, being used for various
purposes in the arts, is the next with respect to the quality of its
flesh. It resorts to the outer Keys only, where it deposits its eggs in
two sets, first in July, and again in August, although it "crawls" the
beaches of these Keys much earlier in the season, as if to look for a
safe place. The average number of its eggs is about three hundred. The
Logger-head visits the Tortugas in April, and lays from that period
until late in June three sets of eggs, each set averaging one hundred
and seventy. The Trunk Turtle, which is sometimes of an enormous size,
and which has a pouch like a Pelican, reaches the shores latest. The
shell and flesh are so soft that one may push his finger into them,
almost as into a lump of butter. This species is therefore considered as
the least valuable, and, indeed, is seldom eaten, unless by the Indians,
who, ever alert when the Turtle season commences, first carry off the
eggs, and afterwards catch the Turtles themselves. The average number of
eggs which it lays in the season, in two sets, may be three hundred and
fifty.

The Logger-head and the Trunk Turtles are the least cautious in choosing
the places in which to deposit their eggs, whereas the two other species
select the wildest and most secluded spots. The Green Turtle resorts
either to the shores of the Main, between Cape Sable and Cape Florida,
or enters Indian, Halifax, and other large rivers or inlets, from which
it makes its retreat as speedily as possible, and betakes itself to the
open sea. Great numbers, however, are killed by the turtlers and
Indians, as well as by various species of carnivorous animals, as
Cougars, Lynxes, Bears, and Wolves. The Hawk-bill, which is still more
wary, and is always the most difficult to surprise, keeps to the
sea-islands. All the species employ nearly the same method in depositing
their eggs in the sand, and as I have several times observed them in the
act, I am enabled to present you with a circumstantial account of it.

On first nearing the shores, and mostly on fine, calm, moonlight nights,
the Turtle raises her head above the water, being still distant thirty
or forty yards from the beach, looks around her, and attentively
examines the objects on the shore. Should she observe nothing likely to
disturb her intended operations, she emits a loud hissing sound, by
which such of her many enemies as are unaccustomed to it are startled,
and so are apt to remove to another place, although unseen by her.
Should she hear any noise, or perceive indications of danger, she
instantly sinks, and goes off to a considerable distance; but should
everything be quiet, she advances slowly towards the beach, crawls over
it, her head raised to the full stretch of her neck, and when she has
reached a place fitted for her purpose, she gazes all round in silence.
Finding "all well" she proceeds to form a hole in the sand, which she
effects by removing it from _under_ her body with her _hind_ flippers,
scooping it out with so much dexterity that the sides seldom if ever
fall in. The sand is raised alternately with each flipper, as with a
large ladle, until it has accumulated behind her, when, supporting
herself with her head and fore part on the ground fronting her body,
she, with a spring from each flipper, sends the sand around her,
scattering it to the distance of several feet. In this manner the hole
is dug to the depth of eighteen inches, or sometimes more than two feet.
This labor I have seen performed in the short period of nine minutes.
The eggs are then dropped one by one, and disposed in regular layers, to
the number of a hundred and fifty, or sometimes nearly two hundred. The
whole time spent in this part of the operation may be about twenty
minutes. She now scrapes the loose sand back over the eggs, and so
levels and smooths the surface that few persons on seeing the spot could
imagine anything had been done to it. This accomplished to her mind, she
retreats to the water with all possible despatch, leaving the hatching
of the eggs to the heat of the sand. When a Turtle, a Logger-head for
example, is in the act of dropping her eggs, she will not move,
although one should go up to her, or even seat himself on her back, for
it seems that at this moment she finds it necessary to proceed at all
events, and is unable to intermit her labor. The moment it is finished,
however, off she starts; nor would it then be possible for one, unless
he were as strong as a Hercules, to turn her over and secure her.

To upset a Turtle on the shore, one is obliged to fall on his knees, and
placing his shoulder behind her fore-arm, gradually raise her up by
pushing with great force, and then with a jerk throw her over. Sometimes
it requires the united strength of several men to accomplish this; and,
if the Turtle should be of very great size, as often happens on that
coast, even handspikes are employed. Some turtlers are so daring as to
swim up to them while lying asleep on the surface of the water, and turn
them over in their own element, when, however, a boat must be at hand,
to enable them to secure their prize. Few Turtles can bite beyond the
reach of their fore-legs, and few, when once turned over, can, without
assistance, regain their natural position; but, notwithstanding this,
their flippers are generally secured by ropes so as to render their
escape impossible.

Persons who search for Turtles' eggs, are provided with a light stiff
cane or a gun-rod, with which they go along the shores probing the sand
near the tracks of the animals, which, however, cannot always be seen,
on account of the winds and heavy rains that often obliterate them. The
nests are discovered not only by men, but also by beasts of prey, and
the eggs are collected, or destroyed on the spot, in great numbers, as
on certain parts of the shores hundreds of Turtles are known to deposit
their eggs within the space of a mile. They form a new hole each time
they lay, and the second is generally dug near the first, as if the
animal were quite unconscious of what had befallen it. It will readily
be understood that the numerous eggs seen in a Turtle on cutting it up,
could not be all laid the same season. The whole number deposited by an
individual in one summer may amount to four hundred, whereas, if the
animal is caught on or near her nest, as I have witnessed, the remaining
eggs, all small, without shells, and as it were threaded like so many
large beads, exceed three thousand. In an instance where I found that
number, the Turtle weighed nearly four hundred pounds. The young, soon
after being hatched, and when yet scarcely larger than a dollar, scratch
their way through their sandy covering, and immediately betake
themselves to the water.

The food of the Green Turtle consists chiefly of marine plants, more
especially the Grasswrack (_Zostera marina_) which they cut near the
roots to procure the most tender and succulent parts. Their
feeding-grounds, as I have elsewhere said, are easily discovered by
floating masses of these plants on the flats, or along the shores to
which they resort. The Hawk-billed species feeds on sea-weeds, crabs,
various kinds of shell-fish and fishes; the Logger-head mostly on the
fish of conch-shells of large size, which they are enabled, by means of
their powerful beak, to crush to pieces with apparently as much ease as
a man cracks a walnut. One which was brought on board the "Marion," and
placed near the fluke of one of her anchors, made a deep indentation in
that hammered piece of iron, which quite surprised me. The Trunk Turtle
feeds on mollusca, fish, crustacea, sea urchins, and various marine
plants.

All the species move through the water with surprising speed; but the
Green and Hawk-billed, in particular, remind you, by their celerity and
the ease of their motions, of the progress of a bird in the air. It is,
therefore, no easy matter to strike one with a spear, and yet this is
often done by an accomplished turtler.

While at Key West, and other islands on the coast, where I made the
observations here presented to you, I chanced to have need to purchase
some Turtles, to feed my friends on board "The Lady of the Green
Mantle"--not my friends her gallant officers, or the brave tars who
formed her crew, for all of them had already been satiated with Turtle
soup, but my friends the Herons, of which I had a goodly number alive in
coops, intending to carry them to John Bachman of Charleston, and other
persons for whom I ever feel a sincere regard. So I went to a "crawl"
accompanied by Dr. Benjamin Strobel, to inquire about prices, when, to
my surprise, I found that the smaller the Turtles above ten-pounds
weight, the dearer they were, and that I could have purchased one of the
Logger-head kind that weighed more than seven hundred pounds, for little
more money than another of only thirty pounds. While I gazed on the
large one, I thought of the soups the contents of its shell would have
furnished for a "Lord Mayor's dinner," of the numerous eggs which its
swollen body contained, and of the curious carriage which might be made
of its shell--a car in which Venus herself might sail over the Caribbean
Sea, provided her tender Doves lent their aid in drawing the divinity,
and provided no shark or hurricane came to upset it. The turtler assured
me that although the "great monster" was, in fact, better meat than any
other of a less size, there was no disposing of it, unless, indeed, it
had been in his power to have sent it to some very distant market. I
would willingly have purchased it, but I knew that if killed, its flesh
could not keep much longer than a day, and on that account I bought
eight or ten small ones, which "my friends" really relished exceedingly,
and which served to support them for a long time.

Turtles, such as I have spoken of, are caught in various ways on the
coasts of the Floridas, or in estuaries and rivers. Some turtlers are in
the habit of setting great nets across the entrance of streams, so as to
answer the purpose either at the flow or at the ebb of the waters.
These nets are formed of very large meshes, into which the Turtles
partially enter, when, the more they attempt to extricate themselves,
the more they get entangled. Others harpoon them in the usual manner;
but in my estimation no method is equal to that employed by Mr. Egan,
the pilot of Indian Isle.

That extraordinary turtler had an iron instrument which he called a
_peg_, and which at each end had a point not unlike what nail-makers
call a brad, it being four-cornered but flattish, and of a shape
somewhat resembling the beak of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, together
with a neck and shoulder. Between the two shoulders of this instrument a
fine tough-line, fifty or more fathoms in length, was fastened by one
end being passed through a hole in the centre of the peg and the line
itself was carefully coiled up, and placed in a convenient part of the
canoe. One extremity of this peg enters a sheath of iron that loosely
attaches it to a long wooden spear, until a Turtle has been pierced
through the shell by the other extremity. He of the canoe paddles away
as silently as possible whenever he spies a Turtle basking on the water,
until he gets within a distance of ten or twelve yards, when he throws
the spear so as to hit the animal about the place which an entomologist
would choose, were it a large insect, for pinning it to a piece of cork.
As soon as the Turtle is struck, the wooden handle separates from the
peg, in consequence of the looseness of its attachment. The smart of the
wound urges on the animal as if distracted, and it appears that the
longer the peg remains in its shell, the more firmly fastened it is, so
great a pressure is exercised upon it by the shell of the Turtle, which,
being suffered to run like a whale, soon becomes fatigued, and is
secured by hauling in the line with great care. In this manner, as the
pilot informed me, eight hundred Green Turtles were caught by one man in
twelve months.

Each turtler has his _crawl_, which is a square wooden building or pen
formed of logs, which are so far separated as to allow the tide to pass
freely through, and stand erect in the mud. The Turtles are placed in
this enclosure, fed and kept there until sold. If the animals thus
confined have not laid their eggs previous to their seizure, they drop
them in the water, so that they are lost. The price of Green Turtles,
when I was at Key West, was from four to six cents per pound.

The loves of the Turtles are conducted in the most extraordinary manner;
but as the recital of them must prove out of place here, I shall pass
them over. There is, however, a circumstance relating to their habits
which I cannot omit, although I have it not from my own ocular evidence,
but from report. When I was in the Floridas several of the turtlers
assured me that any Turtle taken from the depositing ground, and carried
on the deck of a vessel several hundred miles, would, if then let loose,
certainly be met with at the same spot, either immediately after, or in
the following breeding season. Should this prove true, and it certainly
may, how much will be enhanced the belief of the student in the
uniformity and solidity of Nature's arrangements, when he finds that the
Turtle, like a migratory bird, returns to the same locality, with
perhaps a delight similar to that experienced by the traveller, who,
after visiting distant countries, once more returns to the bosom of his
cherished family.


THE FORCE OF THE WATERS

The men who are employed in cutting down the trees, and conveying the
logs to the saw-mills or the places for shipping, are, in the State of
Maine, called "lumberers." Their labors may be said to be continual.
Before winter has commenced, and while the ground is yet uncovered with
a great depth of snow, they leave their homes to proceed to the interior
of the pine forests, which in that part of the country are truly
magnificent, and betake themselves to certain places already well known
to them. Their provisions, axes, saws, and other necessary articles,
together with provender for their cattle, are conveyed by oxen in heavy
sledges. Almost at the commencement of their march, they are obliged to
enter the woods, and they have frequently to cut a way for themselves
for considerable spaces, as the ground is often covered with the
decaying trunks of immense trees, which have fallen either from age, or
in consequence of accidental burnings. These trunks, and the undergrowth
which lies entangled in their tops render many places almost impassable
even to men on foot. Over miry ponds they are sometimes forced to form
causeways, this being, under all circumstances, the easiest mode of
reaching the opposite side. Then, reader, is the time for witnessing the
exertions of their fine large cattle. No rods do their drivers use to
pain their flanks; no oaths or imprecations are ever heard to fall from
the lips of these most industrious and temperate men, for in them, as in
most of the inhabitants of our Eastern States, education and habit have
tempered the passions, and reduced the moral constitution to a state of
harmony. Nay, the sobriety that exists in many of the villages of Maine,
I acknowledge, I have often considered as carried to excess, for on
asking for brandy, rum, or whiskey, not a drop could I obtain, and it is
probable there was an equal lack of spirituous liquors of every other
kind. Now and then I saw some good old wines, but they were always drunk
in careful moderation. But to return to the management of the oxen. Why,
reader, the lumbermen speak to them as if they were rational beings. Few
words seem to suffice, and their whole strength is applied to the labor,
as if in gratitude to those who treat them with so much gentleness and
humanity.

While present on more than one occasion at what Americans call
"ploughing matches," which they have annually in many of the States, I
have been highly gratified, and in particular at one, of which I have
still a strong recollection, and which took place a few miles from the
fair and hospitable city of Boston. There I saw fifty or more ploughs
drawn by as many pairs of oxen, which performed their work with so much
accuracy and regularity--without the infliction of whip or rod, but
merely guided by the verbal mandates of the ploughmen--that I was
perfectly astonished.

After surmounting all obstacles, the lumberers with their stock arrive
at the spot which they have had in view, and immediately commence
building a camp. The trees around soon fall under the blows of their
axes, and before many days have elapsed a low habitation is reared and
fitted within for the accommodation of their cattle, while their
provender is secured on a kind of loft covered with broad shingles or
boards. Then their own cabin is put up; rough bedsteads, manufactured on
the spot, are fixed in the corners; a chimney composed of a frame of
sticks plastered with mud leads away the smoke; the skins of Bears or
Deer, with some blankets, form their bedding, and around the walls are
hung their changes of homespun clothing, guns, and various necessaries
of life. Many prefer spending the night on the sweet-scented hay and
corn blades of their cattle, which are laid on the ground. All arranged
within, the lumberers set their "dead falls," large "steel traps," and
"spring guns," in suitable places round their camps, to procure some of
the Bears that ever prowl around such establishments.

Now the heavy clouds of November, driven by the northern blasts, pour
down the snow in feathery flakes. The winter has fairly set in, and
seldom do the sun's gladdening rays fall on the wood-cutter's hut. In
warm flannels his body is enveloped, the skin of a Raccoon covers his
head and brows, his Moose-skin leggings reach the girdle that secures
them around his waist, while on broad moccasins, or snow-shoes, he
stands from the earliest dawn until night, hacking away at majestic
pines, that for a century past have embellished the forest. The fall of
these valuable trees no longer resounds on the ground; and, as they
tumble here and there nothing is heard but the rustling and cracking of
their branches, their heavy trunks sinking into the deep snows.
Thousands of large pines thus cut down every winter afford room for
younger trees, which spring up profusely to supply the wants of man.

Weeks and weeks have elapsed; the earth's pure white covering has become
thickly and firmly crusted by the increasing intensity of the cold, the
fallen trees have all been sawn into measured logs, and the long repose
of the oxen has fitted them for hauling them to the nearest frozen
streams. The ice gradually becomes covered with the accumulating mass of
timber, and, their task completed, the lumberers wait impatiently for
the breaking up of the winter.

At this period they pass the time in hunting the Moose, the Deer, and
the Bear, for the benefit of their wives and children; and as these men
are most excellent woodsmen great havoc is made among the game. Many
skins of Sables, Martens, and Musk-Rats they have procured during the
intervals of their labor, or under night. The snows are now giving way,
as the rains descend in torrents, and the lumberers collect their
utensils, harness their cattle, and prepare for their return. This they
accomplish in safety.

From being lumberers they now become millers, and with pleasure each
applies the grating file to his saws. Many logs have already reached the
dams on the swollen waters of the rushing streams, and the task
commences, which is carried on through the summer, of cutting them up
into boards.

The great heats of the dog-days have parched the ground; every creek has
become a shallow, except here and there where in a deep hole the salmon
and the trout have found a retreat; the sharp, slimy angles of
multitudes of rocks project, as if to afford resting-places to the
Wood-ducks and Herons that breed on the borders of these streams.
Thousands of "saw-logs" remain in every pool, beneath and above each
rapid or fall. The miller's dam has been emptied of its timber, and he
must now resort to some expedient to procure a fresh supply.

It was my good fortune to witness the method employed for the purpose of
collecting the logs that had not reached their destination, and I had
the more pleasure that it was seen in company with my little family. I
wish, for your sake, reader, that I could describe in an adequate manner
the scene which I viewed; but, although not so well qualified as I could
wish, rely upon it that the desire which I feel to gratify you will
induce me to use all my endeavors to give you an _idea_ of it.

It was the month of September. At the upper extremity of Dennysville,
which is itself a pretty village, are the saw-mills and ponds of the
hospitable Judge Lincoln and other persons. The creek that conveys the
logs to these ponds, and which bears the name of the village, is
interrupted in its course by many rapids and narrow embanked gorges. One
of the latter is situated about half a mile above the mill-dams, and is
so rocky and rugged in its bottom and sides as to preclude the
possibility of the trees passing along it at low water, while, as I
conceived, it would have given no slight labor to an army of woodsmen or
millers to move the thousands of large logs that had accumulated in it.
They lay piled in confused heaps to a great height along an extent of
several hundred yards, and were in some places so close as to have
formed a kind of dam. Above the gorge there is a large natural
reservoir, in which the head-waters of the creek settle, while only a
small portion of them ripples through the gorge below, during the later
weeks of summer and in early autumn, when the streams are at their
lowest.

At the _neck_ of this basin the lumberers raised a temporary barrier
with the refuse of their sawn logs. The boards were planted nearly
upright, and supported at their tops by a strong tree extending from
side to side of the creek, which might there be about forty feet in
breadth. It was prevented from giving way under pressure of the rising
waters by having strong abutments of wood laid against its centre, while
the ends of these abutments were secured by wedges, which could be
knocked off when necessary.

The temporary dam was now finished. Little or no water escaped through
the barrier, and that in the creek above it rose in the course of three
weeks to its top, which was about ten feet high, forming a sheet that
extended upwards fully a mile from the dam. My family was invited early
one morning to go and witness the extraordinary effect which would be
produced by the breaking down of the barrier, and we all accompanied the
lumberers to the place. Two of the men, on reaching it, threw off their
jackets, tied handkerchiefs round their heads, and fastened to their
bodies a long rope, the end of which was held by three or four others,
who stood ready to drag their companions ashore, in case of danger or
accident. The two operators, each bearing an axe, walked along the
abutments, and at a given signal knocked out the wedges. A second blow
from each sent off the abutments themselves, and the men, leaping with
extreme dexterity from one cross log to another, sprung to the shore
with almost the quickness of thought.

Scarcely had they effected their escape from the frightful peril which
threatened them, when the mass of waters burst forth with a horrible
uproar. All eyes were bent towards the huge heaps of logs in the gorge
below. The tumultuous burst of the waters instantly swept away every
object that opposed their progress, and rushed in foaming waves among
the timbers that everywhere blocked up the passage. Presently a slow,
heavy motion was perceived in the mass of logs; one might have imagined
that some mighty monster lay convulsively writhing beneath them,
struggling with a fearful energy to extricate himself from the crushing
weight. As the waters rose, this movement increased; the mass of timber
extended in all directions, appearing to become more and more entangled
each moment; the logs bounced against each other, thrusting aside,
demersing, or raising into the air those with which they came in
contact; it seemed as if they were waging a war of destruction, such as
ancient authors describe the efforts of the Titans, the foamings of
whose wrath might to the eye of the painter have been represented by the
angry curlings of the waters, while the tremulous and rapid motions of
the logs, which at times reared themselves almost perpendicularly, might
by the poet have been taken for the shakings of the confounded and
discomfited giants.

Now the rushing element filled up the gorge to its brim. The logs, once
under way, rolled, reared, tossed, and tumbled amid the foam, as they
were carried along. Many of the smaller trees broke across, from others
great splinters were sent up, and all were in some degree seamed and
scarred. Then in tumultuous majesty swept along the mingled wreck, the
current being now increased to such a pitch that the logs, as they were
dashed against the rocky shores, resounded like the report of distant
artillery, or the angry rumblings of the thunder. Onward it rolls, the
emblem of wreck and ruin, destruction and chaotic strife. It seemed to
me as if I witnessed the rout of a vast army, surprised, overwhelmed,
and overthrown. The roar of the cannon, the groans of the dying, and the
shouts of the avengers were thundering through my brain, and amid the
frightful confusion of the scene, there came over my spirit a
melancholy feeling, which had not entirely vanished at the end of many
days.

In a few hours almost all the timber that had lain heaped in the rocky
gorge, was floating in the great pond of the millers; and as we walked
homeward we talked of the _Force of the Waters_.


JOURNEY IN NEW BRUNSWICK AND MAINE

The morning after that which we had spent with Sir Archibald Campbell
and his delightful family, saw us proceeding along the shores of the St.
John River, in the British Province of New Brunswick. As we passed the
Government House, our hearts bade its generous inmates adieu; and as we
left Fredericton behind, the recollection of the many acts of kindness
which we had received from its inhabitants came powerfully on our minds.
Slowly advancing over the surface of the translucent stream, we still
fancied our ears saluted by the melodies of the unrivalled band of the
43d Regiment. In short, with the remembrance of kindness experienced,
the feeling of expectations gratified, the hope of adding to our
knowledge, and the possession of health and vigor, we were luxuriating
in happiness.

The "Favorite," the bark in which we were, contained not only my whole
family, but nearly a score and a half of individuals of all
descriptions, so that the crowded state of the cabin soon began to prove
rather disagreeable. The boat itself was a mere scow, commanded by a
person of rather uncouth aspect and rude manners. Two sorry nags he had
fastened to the end of a long tow-line, on the nearer of which rode a
negro youth, less than half clad, with a long switch in one hand, and
the joined bridles in the other, striving with all his might to urge
them on at the rate of something more than two miles an hour. How
fortunate it is for one to possess a little of the knowledge of a true
traveller! Following the advice of a good and somewhat aged one, we had
provided ourselves with a large basket, which was not altogether empty
when we reached the end of our aquatic excursion. Here and there the
shores of the river were delightful, the space between them and the
undulating hills that bounded the prospect being highly cultivated,
while now and then the abrupt and rocky banks assumed a most picturesque
appearance. Although it was late in September, the mowers were still
engaged in cutting the grass, and the gardens of the farmers showed
patches of green peas. The apples were still green, and the vegetation
in general reminded us that we were in a northern latitude.

Gradually and slowly we proceeded, until in the afternoon we landed to
exchange our jaded horses. We saw a house on an eminence, with groups of
people assembled round it, but there no dinner could be obtained,
because, as the landlord told us, an election was going on. So the
basket was had recourse to, and on the greensward we refreshed ourselves
with its contents. This done, we returned to the scow, and resumed our
stations. As usual in such cases, in every part of the world that I have
visited, our second set of horses was worse than the first. However, on
we went; to tell you how often the tow-line gave way would not be more
amusing to you than it was annoying to us. Once our commander was in
consequence plunged into the stream, but after some exertion he
succeeded in regaining his gallant bark, when he consoled himself by
giving utterance to a volley of blasphemies, which it would as ill
become me to repeat, as it would be disagreeable to you to hear. We
slept somewhere that night; it does not suit my views of travelling to
tell you where.

Before day returned to smile on the "Favorite" we proceeded. Some
rapids we came to, when every one, glad to assist her, leaped on shore,
and tugged _à la cordelle_. Some miles farther we passed a curious
cataract, formed by the waters of the Pokioke. There Sambo led his
steeds up the sides of a high bank, when, lo! the whole party came
tumbling down, like so many hogsheads of tobacco rolled from a
store-house to the banks of the Ohio. He at the steering oar hoped "the
black rascal" had broken his neck, and congratulated himself in the same
breath for the safety of the horses, which presently got on their feet.
Sambo, however, alert as an Indian chief, leaped on the naked back of
one, and showing his teeth, laughed at his master's curses. Shortly
after this we found our boat very snugly secured on the top of a rock,
midway in the stream, just opposite the mouth of Eel River.

Next day at noon, none injured, but all chop-fallen, we were landed at
Woodstock village, yet in its infancy. After dining there we procured a
cart, and an excellent driver, and proceeded along an execrable road to
Houlton in Maine, glad enough, after all our mishaps, at finding
ourselves in our own country. But before I bid farewell to the beautiful
river of St. John, I must tell you that its navigation seldom exceeds
eight months each year, the passage during the rest being performed on
the ice, of which we were told that last season there was an unusual
quantity, so much, indeed, as to accumulate, by being jammed at
particular spots, to the height of nearly fifty feet above the ordinary
level of the river, and that when it broke loose in spring, the crash
was awful. All the low grounds along the river were suddenly flooded,
and even the elevated plain on which Fredericton stands was covered to
the depth of four feet. Fortunately, however, as on the greater streams
of the Western and Southern Districts, such an occurrence seldom takes
place.

Major Clarke, commander of the United States garrison, received us with
remarkable kindness. The next day was spent in a long though fruitless
ornithological excursion, for although we were accompanied by officers
and men from the garrison, not a bird did any of our party procure that
was of any use to us. We remained a few days, however, after which,
hiring a cart, two horses, and a driver, we proceeded in the direction
of Bangor.

Houlton is a neat village, consisting of some fifty houses. The fort is
well situated, and commands a fine view of Mars' Hill, which is about
thirteen miles distant. A custom-house has been erected here, the place
being on the boundary line of the United States and the British
Provinces. The road which was cut by the soldiers of this garrison, from
Bangor to Houlton, through the forests, is at this moment a fine
turnpike, of great breadth, almost straight in its whole length, and
perhaps the best now in the Union. It was incomplete, however, for some
miles, so that our travelling over that portion was slow and
disagreeable. The rain, which fell in torrents, reduced the newly raised
earth to a complete bed of mud, and at one time our horses became so
completely mired that, had we not been extricated by two oxen, we must
have spent the night near the spot. Jogging along at a very slow pace,
we were overtaken by a gay wagoner, who had excellent horses, two of
which a little "siller" induced him to join to ours, and we were taken
to a tavern, at the "Cross Roads," where we spent the night in comfort.
While supper was preparing, I made inquiries respecting birds,
quadrupeds, and fishes, and was pleased to hear that many of these
animals abounded in the neighborhood. Deer, Bears, Trout, and Grouse
were quite plentiful, as was the Great Gray Owl.

When we resumed our journey next morning Nature displayed all her
loveliness, and Autumn with her mellow tints, her glowing fruits, and
her rich fields of corn, smiled in placid beauty. Many of the fields had
not yet been reaped, the fruits of the forests and orchards hung
clustering around us, and as we came in view of the Penobscot River, our
hearts thrilled with joy. Its broad transparent waters here spread out
their unruffled surface, there danced along the rapids, while canoes
filled with Indians glided swiftly in every direction, raising before
them the timorous waterfowl that had already flocked in from the north.
Mountains, which you well know are indispensable in a beautiful
landscape, reared their majestic crests in the distance. The Canada Jay
leaped gaily from branch to twig; the Kingfisher, as if vexed at being
suddenly surprised, rattled loudly as it swiftly flew off; and the Fish
Hawk and Eagle spread their broad wings over the waters. All around was
beautiful, and we gazed on the scene with delight, as seated on a
verdant bank, we refreshed our frames from our replenished stores. A few
rare birds were procured here, and the rest of the road being level and
firm, we trotted on at a good pace for several hours, the Penobscot
keeping company with us.

Now we came to a deep creek, of which the bridge was undergoing repairs,
and the people saw our vehicle approach with much surprise. They,
however, assisted us with pleasure, by placing a few logs across, along
which our horses one after the other were carefully led, and the cart
afterwards carried. These good fellows were so averse to our
recompensing them for their labor that after some altercation we were
obliged absolutely to force what we deemed a suitable reward upon them.

Next day we continued our journey along the Penobscot, the country
changing its aspect at every mile, and when we first descried Old Town,
that village of saw-mills looked like an island covered with
manufactories. The people here are noted for their industry and
perseverance, and any one possessing a mill, and attending to his saws,
and the floating of the timber into his dams, is sure to obtain a
competency in a few years. Speculations in land covered with pine, lying
to the north of this place, are carried on to a great extent, and to
discover a good tract of such ground many a miller of Old Town
undertakes long journeys. Reader, with your leave, I will here introduce
one of them.

Good luck brought us into acquaintance with Mr. Gillies, whom we
happened to meet in the course of our travels, as he was returning from
an exploring tour. About the first of August he formed a party of
sixteen persons, each carrying a knapsack and an axe. Their provisions
consisted of two hundred and fifty pounds of pilot bread, one hundred
and fifty of salt pork, four of tea, two large loaves of sugar, and some
salt. They embarked in light canoes twelve miles north of Bangor, and
followed the Penobscot as far as Wassataquoik River, a branch leading to
the northwest, until they reached the Seboois Lakes, the principal of
which lie in a line, with short portages between them. Still proceeding
northwest they navigated these lakes, and then turning west, carried
their canoes to the great lake Baamchenunsgamook; thence north to
Wallaghasquegantook Lake, then along a small stream to the upper
Umsaskiss Pond, when they reached the Albagash River which leads into
the St. John in about latitude 47°. Many portions of that country had
not been visited before even by the Indians, who assured Mr. Gillies of
this fact. They continued their travels down the St. John to the Grand
Falls, where they met with a portage of half a mile, and having reached
Meduxmekeag Creek, a little above Woodstock, the party walked to
Houlton, having travelled twelve hundred miles, and described almost an
oval over the country by the time they returned to Old Town, on the
Penobscot.

While anxiously looking for "lumber-lands," they ascended the eminences
around, then climbed the tallest trees, and by means of a good
telescope, inspected the pine woods in the distance. And such excellent
judges are these persons of the value of the timber which they thus
observe, when it is situated at a convenient distance from water, that
they never afterwards forget the different spots at all worthy of their
attention. They had observed only a few birds and quadrupeds, the latter
principally Porcupines. The borders of the lakes and rivers afforded
them fruits of various sorts, and abundance of cranberries, while the
uplands yielded plenty of wild white onions, and a species of black
plum. Some of the party continued their journey in canoes down the St.
John, ascended Eel River, and the lake of the same name to Matanemheag
River, due southwest of the St. John, and after a few portages fell into
the Penobscot.

I had made arrangements to accompany Mr. Gillies on a journey of this
kind, when I judged it would be more interesting as well as useful to me
to visit the distant country of Labrador.

The road which we followed from Old Town to Bangor was literally covered
with Penobscot Indians returning from market. On reaching the latter
beautiful town, we found very comfortable lodging in an excellent hotel,
and next day we proceeded by the mail to Boston.


A MOOSE HUNT

In the spring of 1833 the Moose were remarkably abundant in the
neighborhood of the Schoodiac Lakes; and, as the snow was so deep in the
woods as to render it almost impossible for them to escape, many of them
were caught. About the 1st of March, 1833, three of us set off on a
hunt, provided with snow-shoes, guns, hatchets, and provisions for a
fortnight. On the first day we went fifty miles, in a sledge drawn by
one horse, to the nearest lake, where we stopped for the night, in the
hut of an Indian named Lewis, of the Passamaquoddy tribe, who had
abandoned the wandering life of his race, and turned his attention to
farming and lumbering. Here we saw the operation of making snow-shoes,
which requires more skill than one might imagine. The men generally make
the bows to suit themselves, and the women weave in the threads, which
are usually made of the skin of the Caribou Deer.

The next day we went on foot sixty-two miles farther, when a heavy
rain-storm coming on, we were detained a whole day. The next morning we
put on snow-shoes, and proceeded about thirteen miles, to the head of
the Musquash Lake, where we found a camp, which had been erected by some
lumberers in the winter; and here we established our headquarters. In
the afternoon an Indian had driven a female Moose-deer, and two young
ones of the preceding year, within a quarter of a mile of our camp, when
he was obliged to shoot the old one. We undertook to procure the young
alive, and after much exertion succeeded in getting one of them, and
shut it up in the shed made for the oxen; but as the night was falling,
we were compelled to leave the other in the woods. The dogs having
killed two fine Deer that day, we feasted upon some of their flesh, and
upon Moose, which certainly seemed to us the most savory meat we had
ever eaten, although a keen appetite is very apt to warp one's judgment
in such a case. After supper we laid ourselves down before the huge fire
we had built up, and were soon satisfied that we had at last discovered
the most comfortable mode of sleeping.

In the morning we started off on the track of a Moose, which had been
driven from its haunt, or yard, by the Indians the day before; and
although the snow was in general five feet deep, and in some places much
deeper, we travelled three miles before we came to the spot where the
Moose had rested for the night. He had not left this place more than an
hour, when we came to it. So we pushed on faster than before, trusting
that ere long we should overtake him. We had proceeded about a mile and
a half farther, when he took a sudden turn, which threw us off his
track, and when we again found it, we saw that an Indian had taken it
up, and gone in pursuit of the harassed animal. In a short time we heard
the report of a gun, and immediately running up, we saw the Moose,
standing in a thicket, wounded, when we brought him down. The animal
finding himself too closely pursued, had turned upon the Indian, who
fired, and instantly ran into the bushes to conceal himself. It was
three years old, and consequently not nearly grown, although already
about six feet and a half in height.

It is difficult to conceive how an animal could have gone at such a rate
when the snow was so deep, with a thick crust at top. In one place, he
had followed the course of a brook, over which the snow had sunk
considerably on account of the higher temperature of the water, and we
had an opportunity of seeing evidence of the great power which the
species possess in leaping over objects that obstruct his way. There
were places in which the snow had drifted to so great a height that you
would have imagined it impossible for any animal to leap over it, and
yet we found that he had done so at a single bound, without leaving the
least trace. As I did not measure these snow-heaps, I cannot positively
say how high they were, but I am well persuaded that some of them were
ten feet.

We proceeded to skin and dress the Moose, and buried the flesh under the
snow, where it will keep for weeks. On opening the animal we were
surprised to see the great size of the heart and lungs, compared with
the contents of the abdomen. The heart was certainly larger than that of
any animal which I had seen. The head bears a great resemblance to that
of a horse, but the "muffle" is more than twice as large, and when the
animal is irritated or frightened, it projects that part much farther
than usual. It is stated in some descriptions of the Moose that he is
short-winded and tender-footed, but he certainly is capable of long
continued and very great exertion, and his feet, for anything that I
have seen to the contrary, are as hard as those of any other quadruped.
The young Moose was so exhausted and fretted that it offered no
opposition to us as we led it to the camp; but in the middle of the
night we were awakened by a great noise in the hovel, and found that as
it had in some measure recovered from its terror and state of
exhaustion, it began to think of getting home, and was now much enraged
at finding itself so securely imprisoned. We were unable to do anything
with it, for if we merely approached our hands to the openings of the
hut, it would spring at us with the greatest fury, roaring and erecting
its mane, in a manner that convinced us of the futility of all attempts
to save it alive. We threw to it the skin of a Deer, which it tore to
pieces in a moment. This individual was a yearling, and about six feet
high. When we went to look for the other, which we had left in the
woods, we found that he had "taken his back-track" or retraced his
steps, and gone to the "beat," about a mile and a half distant, and
which it may be interesting to describe.

At the approach of winter, parties of Moose-deer, from two to fifty in
number, begin to lessen their range, and proceed slowly to the south
side of some hill, where they feed within still narrower limits, as the
snow begins to fall. When it accumulates on the ground, the snow, for a
considerable space, is divided into well trodden, irregular paths, in
which they keep, and browse upon the bushes at the sides, occasionally
striking out a new path, so that, by the spring, many of those made at
the beginning of winter are obliterated. A "yard" for half a dozen
Moose, would probably contain about twenty acres.

A good hunter, although still a great way off, will not only perceive
that there is a yard in the vicinity, but can tell the direction in
which it lies, and even be pretty sure of the distance. It is by the
marks on the trees that he discovers this circumstance; he finds the
young maple, and especially the moose-wood and birch, with the bark
gnawed off to the height of five or six feet on one side, and the twigs
bitten, with the impression of the teeth left in such a manner, that the
position of the animal when browsing on them, may be ascertained.
Following the course indicated by these marks, the hunter gradually
finds them more distinct and frequent, until at length he arrives at the
yard; but there he finds no Moose, for long before he reaches the place,
their extremely acute smell and hearing warn them of his approach, when
they leave the yard, generally altogether, the strongest leading in one
track, or in two or three parties. When pursued they usually separate,
except the females, which keep with their young, and go before to break
the track for them; nor will they leave them under any circumstances
until brought down by their ruthless pursuers. The males, especially the
old ones, being quite lean at this season, go off at great speed, and
unless the snow is extremely deep, soon outstrip the hunters. They
usually go in the direction of the wind, making many short turns to keep
the scent, or to avoid some bad passage; and although they may sink to
the bottom at every step, they cannot be overtaken in less than three or
four days. The females, on the contrary, are remarkably fat, and it is
not at all unfrequent to find in one of them a hundred pounds of raw
tallow. But let us return to the young buck, which had regained the
yard.

We found him still more untractable than the female we had left in the
hovel; he had trodden down the snow for a small space around him, which
he refused to leave, and would spring with great fury at any one who
approached the spot too near; and as turning on snow-shoes is not an
easy operation, we were content to let him alone, and try to find one in
a better situation for capture, knowing that if we did eventually secure
him, he would probably, in the struggle injure himself too much to live.
I have good reason to believe that the only practicable mode of taking
them uninjured, except when they are very young, is, when they are
exhausted and completely defenceless, to bind them securely, and keep
them so till they have become pacified, and convinced of the uselessness
of any attempt at resistance. If allowed to exert themselves as they
please, they almost always kill themselves, as we found by experience.

On the following day we again set out, and coming across the tracks of
two young bucks, which had been started by the Indians, we pursued them,
and in two or three miles, overtook them. As it was desirable to obtain
them as near the camp as possible, we attempted to steer them that way.
For a while we succeeded very well in our scheme, but at last one of
them, after making many ineffectual attempts to get another way, turned
upon his pursuer, who, finding himself not very safe, felt obliged to
shoot him. His companion, who was a little more tractable, we drove on a
short way, but as he had contrived to take many turnings, he could
approach us on his back-track too swiftly, so that we were compelled to
shoot him also. We "dressed" them, taking with us the tongues and
muffles, which are considered the most delicate parts.

We had not walked more than a quarter of a mile, when we perceived some
of the indications before mentioned, which we followed for half a mile,
when we came across a yard, and going round it, we found where the Moose
had left it, though we afterwards learned that we had missed a fine
buck, which the dogs, however, discovered later. We soon overtook a
female with a young one, and were not long in sight of them when they
stood at bay. It is really wonderful how soon they beat down a hard
space in the snow to stand upon, when it is impossible for a dog to
touch them, as they stamp so violently with their fore-feet that it is
certain death to approach them. This Moose had only one calf with her,
though the usual number is two, almost invariably a male and a female.
We shot them with a ball through the brain.

The Moose bears a considerable resemblance to the horse in his
conformation, and in his disposition a still greater, having much of the
sagacity as well as viciousness of that animal. We had an opportunity of
observing the wonderful acuteness of its hearing and smelling. As we
were standing by one, he suddenly erected his ears, and put himself on
the alert, evidently aware of the approach of some person. About ten
minutes after, one of our party came up, who must have been at the time
at least half a mile off, and the wind was from the Moose towards him.

This species of Deer feeds on the hemlock, cedar, fir, or pine, but will
not touch the spruce. It also eats the twigs of the maple, birch, and
soft shoots of other trees. In the autumn they may be enticed by
imitating their peculiar cry, which is described as truly frightful. The
hunter gets up into a tree, or conceals himself in some other secure
place, and imitates this cry by means of a piece of birch-bark rolled up
to give the proper tone. Presently he hears the Moose come dashing
along, and when he gets near enough, takes a good aim, and soon
despatches him. It is very unsafe to stand within reach of the animal,
for he would certainly endeavor to demolish you.

A full-grown male Moose is said to measure nine feet in height, and with
his immense branching antlers presents a truly formidable appearance.
Like the Virginia Deer, and the male Caribou, they shed their horns
every year about the beginning of December. The first year their horns
are not dropped in spring. When irritated the Moose makes a great
grinding with his teeth, erects his mane, lays back his ears, and stamps
with violence. When disturbed he makes a hideous whining noise, much in
the manner of the Camel.

In that wild and secluded part of the country, seldom visited but by the
Indians, the common Deer were without number, and it was with great
difficulty that we kept the dogs with us, as they were continually
meeting with "beats." In its habits that species greatly resembles the
Moose. The Caribou has a very broad, flat foot, and can spread it on the
snow to the fetlock, so as to be able to run on a crust scarcely hard
enough to bear a dog. When the snow is soft, they keep in immense droves
around the margins of the large lakes to which they betake themselves
when pursued, the crust being much harder there than elsewhere. When it
becomes more firm, they strike into the woods. As they possess such
facility of running on snow, they do not require to make any yards, and
consequently have no fixed place in the winter. The speed of this animal
is not well known, but I am inclined to believe it much greater than
that of the fleetest horse.

In our camp we saw great numbers of Crossbills, Grosbeaks, and various
other small birds. Of the first of these were two species which were
very tame, and alighted on our hut with the greatest familiarity. We
caught five or six at once, under a snow-shoe. The Pine-Martin and Wild
Cat were also very abundant.[57]


LABRADOR

When I look back upon the many pleasant hours that I spent with the
young gentlemen who composed my party, during our excursions along the
coast of sterile and stormy Labrador, I think that a brief account of
our employments may prove not altogether uninteresting to my readers.

We had purchased our stores at Boston, with the aid of my generous
friend, Dr. Parkman of that city; but unfortunately many things
necessary on an expedition like ours were omitted. At Eastport in Maine
we therefore laid in these requisites. No traveller, let me say, ought
to neglect anything that is calculated to insure the success of his
undertaking, or to contribute to his personal comfort, when about to set
out on a long and perhaps hazardous voyage. Very few opportunities of
replenishing stores of provisions, clothing, or ammunition, occur in
such a country as Labrador; and yet, we all placed too much confidence
in the zeal and foresight of our purveyors at Eastport. We had abundance
of ammunition, excellent bread, meat, and potatoes; but the butter was
quite rancid, the oil only fit to grease our guns, the vinegar too
liberally diluted with cider, the mustard and pepper deficient in due
pungency. All this, however, was not discovered until it was too late to
be remedied. Several of the young men were not clothed as hunters should
be, and some of the guns were not so good as we could have wished. We
were, however, fortunate with respect to our vessel, which was a notable
sailer, did not leak, had a good crew, and was directed by a capital
seaman.

The hold of the schooner was floored, and an entrance made to it from
the cabin, so that in it we had a very good parlor, dining-room,
drawing-room, library, etc., all those apartments, however, being
comprised in one. An extravagantly elongated deal table ranged along
the centre; one of the party had slung his hammock at one end, and in
its vicinity slept the cook and a lad who acted as armorer. The cabin
was small; but being fitted in the usual manner with side berths, was
used for a dormitory. It contained a small table and a stove, the latter
of diminutive size, but smoky enough to discomfit a host. We had adopted
in a great measure the clothing worn by the American fishermen on that
coast, namely, thick blue cloth trousers, a comfortable waistcoat, and a
pea-jacket of blanket. Our boots were large, round-toed, strong, and
well studded with large nails to prevent sliding on the rocks. Worsted
comforters, thick mittens, and round broad-brimmed hats, completed our
dress, which was more picturesque than fashionable. As soon as we had an
opportunity, the boots were exchanged for Esquimaux mounted moccasins of
Seal-skin, impermeable to water, light, easy, and fastening at top about
the middle of the thigh to straps, which when buckled over the hips
secured them well. To complete our equipment, we had several good boats,
one of which was extremely light and adapted for shallow water.

No sooner had we reached the coast and got into harbor, than we agreed
to follow certain regulations intended for the general benefit. Every
morning the cook was called before three o'clock. At half-past three,
breakfast was on the table, and everybody equipped. The guns,
ammunition, botanical boxes, and baskets for eggs or minerals were all
in readiness. Our breakfast consisted of coffee, bread, and various
other materials. At four, all except the cook, and one seaman, went off
in different directions, not forgetting to carry with them a store of
cooked provisions. Some betook themselves to the islands, others to the
deep bays; the latter on landing wandered over the country till noon,
when laying themselves down on the rich moss, or sitting on the granite
rock, they would rest for an hour, eat their dinner, and talk of their
successes or disappointments. I often regret that I did not take
sketches of the curious groups formed by my young friends on such
occasions, and when, after returning at night, all were engaged in
measuring, weighing, comparing, and dissecting the birds we had
procured; operations which were carried on with the aid of a number of
candles thrust into the necks of bottles. Here one examined the flowers
and leaves of a plant, there another explored the recesses of a Diver's
gullet, while a third skinned a Gull or a Grouse. Nor was one journal
forgotten. Arrangements were made for the morrow, and at twelve we left
matters to the management of the cook, and retired to our roosts.

If the wind blew hard, all went on shore, and, excepting on a few
remarkably rainy days, we continued our pursuits, much in the same
manner during our stay in the country. The physical powers of the young
men were considered in making our arrangements. Shattuck and Ingalls
went together; the captain and Coolidge were fond of each other, the
latter having also been an officer; Lincoln and my son being the
strongest and most determined hunters, generally marched by themselves;
and I went with one or other of the parties, according to circumstances,
although it was by no means my custom to do so regularly, as I had
abundance of work on hand in the vessel.

The return of my young companions and the sailors was always looked for
with anxiety. On getting on board, they opened their budgets, and laid
their contents on the deck, amid much merriment, those who had procured
most specimens being laughed at by those who had obtained the rarest,
and the former joking the latter in return. A substantial meal always
awaited them, and fortunate we were in having a capital cook, although
he was a little too fond of the bottle.

Our "Fourth of July" was kept sacred, and every Saturday night the toast
of "wives and sweethearts" was the first given, "parents and friends"
the last. Never was there a more merry set. Some with the violin and
flute accompanied the voices of the rest, and few moments were spent in
idleness. Before a month had elapsed, the spoils of many a fine bird
hung around the hold; shrubs and flowers were in the press, and I had
several drawings finished, some of which you have seen, and of which I
hope you will ere long see the remainder. Large jars were filling apace
with the bodies of rare birds, fishes, quadrupeds and reptiles, as well
as molluscous animals. We had several pets too, Gulls, Cormorants,
Guillemots, Puffins, Hawks, and a Raven. In some of the harbors, curious
fishes were hooked in our sight, so clear was the water.

We found that camping out at night was extremely uncomfortable, on
account of the annoyance caused by flies and mosquitoes, which attacked
the hunters in swarms at all times, but more especially when they lay
down, unless they enveloped themselves in thick smoke, which is not much
more pleasant. Once when camping the weather became very bad, and the
party was twenty miles distant from Whapatigan as night threw her mantle
over the earth. The rain fell in torrents, the northeast wind blew
furiously, and the air was extremely cold. The oars of the boats were
fixed so as to support some blankets, and a small fire was with
difficulty kindled, on the embers of which a scanty meal was cooked. How
different from a camp on the shores of the Mississippi, where wood is
abundant, and the air generally not lacking heat, where mosquitoes,
although plentiful enough, are not accompanied by Caribou flies, and
where the barkings of a joyful Squirrel, or the notes of the Barred Owl,
that grave buffoon of our western woods, never fail to gladden the
camper as he cuts to the right and left such branches and canes as most
easily supply materials for forming a lodging for the night. On the
coast of Labrador there are no such things; granite and green moss are
spread around, silence like that of the grave envelops all, and when
night has closed the dreary scene from your sight, the Wolves, attracted
by the scent of the remains of your scanty repast, gather around you.
Cowards as they are they dare not venture on a charge; but their
howlings effectually banish sleep. You must almost roast your feet to
keep them warm, while your head and shoulders are chilled by the blast.
When morning comes, she smiles not on you with rosy cheeks, but appears
muffled in a gray mantle of cold mist, which shows you that there is no
prospect of a fine day. The object of the expedition, which was to
procure some Owls that had been observed there by day, was entirely
frustrated. At early dawn the party rose stiffened and dispirited, and
glad were they to betake themselves to their boats, and return to their
floating home.

Before we left Labrador, several of my young friends began to feel the
want of suitable clothing. The sailor's ever-tailoring system, was,
believe me, fairly put to the test. Patches of various colors ornamented
knees and elbows; our boots were worn out; our greasy garments and
battered hats were in harmony with our tanned and weather-beaten faces;
and, had you met with us, you might have taken us for a squad of
wretched vagrants; but we were joyous in the expectation of a speedy
return, and exulted at the thoughts of our success.

As the chill blast that precedes the winter's tempest thickened the fogs
on the hills and ruffled the dark waters, each successive day saw us
more anxious to leave the dreary wilderness of grim rocks and desolate
moss-clad valleys. Unfavorable winds prevented us for a while from
spreading our white sails; but at last one fair morning smiled on the
wintry world, the "Ripley" was towed from the harbor, her tackle
trimmed, and as we bounded over the billows, we turned our eyes towards
the wilds of Labrador, and heartily bade them farewell forever!


THE EGGERS OF LABRADOR

The distinctive appellation of "eggers" is given to certain persons who
follow, principally or exclusively, the avocation of procuring the eggs
of wild birds, with the view of disposing of them at some distant port.
Their great object is to plunder every nest, wherever they can find it,
no matter where, and at whatever risk. They are the pest of the
feathered tribes, and their brutal propensity to destroy the poor
creatures after they have robbed them, is abundantly gratified whenever
an opportunity presents itself.

Much had been said to me respecting these destructive pirates before I
visited the coast of Labrador, but I could not entirely credit all their
cruelties until I had actually witnessed their proceedings, which were
such as to inspire no small degree of horror. But you shall judge for
yourself.

See yon shallop, shyly sailing along; she sneaks like a thief wishing,
as it were, to shun the very light of heaven. Under the lee of every
rocky isle some one at the tiller steers her course. Were his trade an
honest one, he would not think of hiding his back behind the terrific
rocks that seem to have been placed there as a resort to the myriads of
birds that annually visit this desolate region of the earth, for the
purpose of rearing their young at a distance from all disturbers of
their peace. How unlike the open, the bold, the honest mariner, whose
face needs no mask, who scorns to skulk under any circumstances. The
vessel herself is a shabby thing; her sails are patched with stolen
pieces of better canvas, the owners of which have probably been stranded
on some inhospitable coast, and have been plundered, perhaps murdered,
by the wretches before us. Look at her again! Her sides are neither
painted, nor even pitched; no, they are daubed over, plastered and
patched with strips of Seal-skins laid along the seams. Her deck has
never been washed or sanded; her hold--for no cabin has she--though at
present empty, sends forth an odor pestilential as that of a charnel
house. The crew, eight in number, lie sleeping at the foot of their
tottering mast, regardless of the repairs needed in every part of her
rigging. But see! she scuds along, and as I suspect her crew to be bent
on the commission of some evil deed, let us follow her to the first
harbor.

  [Illustration: AUDUBON, 1850.
    FROM A DAGUERREOTYPE. OWNED BY MRS. ELIZABETH BERTHOUD GRIMSHAW.]

There rides the filthy thing! The afternoon is half over. Her crew have
thrown their boat overboard, they enter and seat themselves, each with a
rusty gun. One of them sculls the skiff towards an island for a century
past the breeding-place of myriads of Guillemots, which are now to be
laid under contribution. At the approach of the vile thieves, clouds of
birds rise from the rock and fill the air around, wheeling and screaming
over their enemies. Yet thousands remain in an erect posture, each
covering its single egg, the hope of both parents. The reports of
several muskets loaded with heavy shot are now heard, while several dead
and wounded birds fall heavily on the rock, or into the water. Instantly
all the sitting birds rise and fly off affrighted to their companions
above, and hover in dismay over their assassins, who walk forward
exultingly, and with their shouts mingling oaths and execrations. Look
at them! See how they crush the chick within its shell, how they trample
on every egg in their way with their huge and clumsy boots. Onward they
go, and when they leave the isle, not an egg that they can find is left
entire. The dead birds they collect and carry to their boat. Now they
have regained their filthy shallop; they strip the birds by a single
jerk, of their feathery apparel while the flesh is yet warm, and throw
them on some coals, where in a short time they are broiled. The rum is
produced when the Guillemots are fit for eating, and after stuffing
themselves with this oily fare, and enjoying the pleasure of beastly
intoxication, over they tumble on the deck of their crazed craft, where
they pass the short hours of night in turbid slumber.

The sun now rises above the snow-clad summit of the eastern mount.
"Sweet is the breath of morn," even in this desolate land. The gay
Bunting erects his white crest, and gives utterance to the joy he feels
in the presence of his brooding mate. The Willow Grouse on the rock
crows his challenge aloud. Each floweret chilled by the night air
expands its pure petals. The gentle breeze shakes from the blades of
grass the heavy dew-drops. On the Guillemot isle the birds have again
settled, and now renew their loves. Startled by the light of day, one of
the eggers springs to his feet and rouses his companions, who stare
around them for a while, endeavoring to collect their senses. Mark them,
as with clumsy fingers they clear their drowsy eyes! Slowly they rise on
their feet. See how the filthy lubbers stretch out their arms, and yawn;
you shrink back, for verily "that throat might frighten a shark."

But the master soon recollecting that so many eggs are worth a dollar or
a crown, casts his eye towards the rock, marks the day in his memory and
gives orders to depart. The light breeze enables them to reach another
harbor a few miles distant, one which, like the last, lies concealed
from the ocean by some other rocky isle. Arrived there, they re-act the
scene of yesterday, crushing every egg they can find. For a week each
night is passed in drunkenness and brawls, until, having reached the
last breeding-place on the coast, they return, touch at every isle in
succession, shoot as many birds as they need, collect the fresh eggs,
and lay in a cargo. At every step each ruffian picks up an egg so
beautiful that any man with a feeling heart would pause to consider the
motive which could induce him to carry it off. But nothing of this sort
occurs to the egger, who gathers and gathers until he has swept the rock
bare. The dollars alone chink in his sordid mind, and he assiduously
plies the trade which no man would ply who had the talents and industry
to procure subsistence by honorable means.

With a bark nearly half filled with fresh eggs they proceed to the
principal rock, that on which they first landed. But what is their
surprise when they find others there helping themselves as industriously
as they can! In boiling rage they charge their guns and ply their oars.
Landing on the rock they run up to the eggers, who, like themselves, are
desperadoes. The first question is a discharge of musketry, the answer
another. Now, man to man, they fight like tigers. One is carried to his
boat with a fractured skull, another limps with a shot in his leg, and a
third feels how many of his teeth have been driven through the hole in
his cheek. At last, however, the quarrel is settled; the booty is to be
equally divided; and now see them all drinking together. Oaths and
curses and filthy jokes are all that you hear; but see, stuffed with
food, and reeling with drink, down they drop one by one; groans and
execrations from the wounded mingle with the snoring of the heavy
sleepers. There let the brutes lie.

Again it is dawn, but no one stirs. The sun is high; one by one they
open their heavy eyes, stretch their limbs, yawn, and raise themselves
from the deck. But see, here comes a goodly company. A hundred honest
fishermen, who for months past have fed on salt meat, have felt a desire
to procure some eggs. Gallantly their boats advance, impelled by the
regular pull of their long oars. Each buoyant bark displays the flag of
its nation. No weapons do they bring, nor anything that can be used as
such save their oars and their fists. Cleanly clad in Sunday attire,
they arrive at the desired spot, and at once prepare to ascend the rock.
The eggers, now numbering a dozen, all armed with guns and bludgeons,
bid defiance to the fishermen. A few angry words pass between the
parties. One of the eggers, still under the influence of drink, pulls
his trigger, and an unfortunate sailor is seen to reel in agony. Three
loud cheers fill the air. All at once rush on the malefactors; a horrid
fight ensues, the result of which is that every egger is left on the
rock beaten and bruised. Too frequently the fishermen man their boats,
row to the shallops, and break every egg in the hold.

The eggers of Labrador not only rob the birds in this cruel manner, but
also the fishermen, whenever they can find an opportunity; and the
quarrels they excite are numberless. While we were on the coast, none of
our party ever ventured on any of the islands which these wretches call
their own, without being well provided with means of defence. On one
occasion, when I was present, we found two eggers at their work of
destruction. I spoke to them respecting my visit, and offered them
premiums for rare birds and some of their eggs; but although they made
fair promises, not one of the gang ever came near the "Ripley."

These people gather all the eider-down they can find; yet so
inconsiderate are they, that they kill every bird which comes in their
way. The eggs of Gulls, Guillemots, and Ducks are searched for with
care; and the Puffins and some other birds they massacre in vast numbers
for the sake of their feathers. So constant and persevering are their
depredations that these species, which, according to the accounts of the
few settlers I saw in the country, were exceedingly abundant twenty
years ago, have abandoned their ancient breeding places, and removed
much farther north in search of peaceful security. Scarcely, in fact,
could I procure a young Guillemot before the eggers left the coast, nor
was it until late in July that I succeeded, after the birds had laid
three or four eggs each, instead of one, and when, nature having been
exhausted, and the season nearly spent, thousands of these birds left
the country without having accomplished the purpose for which they had
visited it. This war of extermination cannot last many years more. The
eggers themselves will be the first to repent the entire disappearance
of the myriads of birds that made the coast of Labrador their summer
residence, and unless they follow the persecuted tribes to the
northward, they must renounce their trade.


THE SQUATTERS OF LABRADOR

Go where you will, if a shilling can there be procured, you may expect
to meet with individuals in search of it.

In the course of last summer, I met with several persons, as well as
families, whom I could not compare to anything else than what in America
we understand by the appellation of "squatters." The methods they
employed to accumulate property form the subject of the observations
which I now lay before you.

Our schooner lay at anchor in a beautiful basin on the coast of
Labrador, surrounded by uncouth granitic rocks, partially covered with
stunted vegetation. While searching for birds and other objects I
chanced one morning to direct my eye towards the pinnacle of a small
island, separated from the mainland by a very narrow channel, and
presently commenced inspecting it with my telescope. There I saw a man
on his knees with clasped hands, and face inclined heavenwards. Before
him was a small monument of unhewn stones, supporting a wooden cross.
In a word, reader, the person whom I thus unexpectedly discovered was
engaged in prayer. Such an incident in that desolate land was affecting,
for there one seldom finds traces of human beings; and the aid of the
Almighty, although necessary everywhere, seems there peculiarly required
to enable them to procure the means of subsistence. My curiosity having
been raised, I betook myself to my boat, landed on the rock, and
scrambled to the place, where I found the man still on his knees. When
his devotions were concluded, he bowed to me, and addressed me in very
indifferent French. I asked him why he had chosen so dreary a spot for
his prayers. "Because," answered he, "the sea lies before me, and from
it I receive my spring and summer sustenance. When winter approaches, I
pray fronting the mountains on the main, as at that period the Caribous
come towards the shore, and I kill them, feed on their flesh, and form
my bedding of their skins." I thought the answer reasonable, and as I
longed to know more of him, followed him to his hut. It was low, and
very small, formed of stones plastered with mud to a considerable
thickness. The roof was composed of a sort of thatching made of weeds
and moss. A large Dutch stove filled nearly one half the place; a small
port-hole then stuffed with old rags, served at times instead of a
window; the bed was a pile of Deerskins; a bowl, a jug, and an iron pot
were placed on a rude shelf; three old and rusty muskets, their locks
fastened by thongs, stood in a corner; and his buckshot, powder, and
flints, were tied up in bags of skin. Eight Esquimaux dogs yelled and
leaped about us. The strong smell that emanated from them, together with
the smoke and filth of the apartment, rendered my stay in it extremely
disagreeable.

Being a native of France, the good man showed much politeness, and
invited me to take some refreshment, when, without waiting for my
assent, he took up his bowl, and went off I knew not whither. No sooner
had he and his strange dogs disappeared than I went out also, to breathe
the pure air, and gaze on the wild and majestic scenery around. I was
struck with the extraordinary luxuriance of the plants and grasses that
had sprung up on the scanty soil in the little valley which the squatter
had chosen for his home. Their stalks and broad blades reached my waist.
June had come, and the flies, mosquitoes, and other insects filled the
air, and were as troublesome to me as if I had been in a Florida swamp.

The squatter returned, but he was chop-fallen; nay, I thought his visage
had assumed a cadaverous hue. Tears ran down his cheeks, and he told me
that his barrel of _rum_ had been stolen by the "eggers" or some
fishermen. He said that he had been in the habit of hiding it in the
bushes, to prevent its being carried away by those merciless thieves,
who must have watched him in some of his frequent walks to the spot.
"Now," said he, "I can expect none till next spring, and God knows what
will become of me in the winter."

Pierre Jean Baptiste Michaux had resided in that part of the world for
upwards of ten years. He had run away from the fishing-smack that had
brought him from his fair native land, and expected to become rich some
day by the sale of the furs, Seal-skins, eider-down, and other articles,
which he collected yearly, and sold to the traders who regularly visited
his dreary abode. He was of moderate stature, firmly framed, and as
active as a Wild Cat. He told me that excepting the loss of his rum, he
had never experienced any other cause of sorrow, and that he felt as
"happy as a lord."

Before parting with this fortunate mortal, I inquired how his dogs
managed to find sufficient food. "Why, sir, during spring and summer
they ramble along the shores, where they meet with abundance of dead
fish, and in winter they eat the flesh of the Seals which I kill late
in autumn, when these animals return from the north. As to myself,
everything eatable is good, and when hard pushed, I relish the fare of
my dogs, I assure you, as much as they do themselves."

Proceeding along the rugged indentations of the bay with my companions,
I reached the settlement of another person, who, like the first, had
come to Labrador with the view of making his fortune. We found him after
many difficulties; but as our boats turned a long point jutting out into
the bay, we were pleased to see several small schooners at anchor, and
one lying near a sort of wharf. Several neat-looking houses enlivened
the view, and on landing, we were kindly greeted with a polite welcome
from a man who proved to be the owner of the establishment. For the rude
simplicity of him of the rum-cask, we found here the manners and dress
of a man of the world. A handsome fur cap covered his dark brow, his
clothes were similar to our own, and his demeanor was that of a
gentleman. On my giving my name to him, he shook me heartily by the
hand, and on introducing each of my companions to him, he extended the
like courtesy to them also. Then, to my astonishment, he addressed me as
follows: "My dear sir, I have been expecting you these three weeks,
having read _in the papers_ your intention to visit Labrador; and some
fishermen told me of your arrival at Little Natasquam. Gentlemen, walk
in."

Having followed him to his neat and comfortable mansion, he introduced
us to his wife and children. Of the latter there were six, all robust
and rosy. The lady, although a native of the country, was of French
extraction, handsome, and sufficiently accomplished to make an excellent
companion to a gentleman. A smart girl brought us a luncheon, consisting
of bread, cheese, and good port wine, to which, having rowed fourteen or
fifteen miles that morning, we helped ourselves in a manner that seemed
satisfactory to all parties. Our host gave us newspapers from different
parts of the world, and showed us his small, but choice collection of
books. He inquired after the health of the amiable Captain Bayfield of
the Royal Navy, and the officers under him, and hoped they would give
him a call.

Having refreshed ourselves, we walked out with him, when he pointed to a
very small garden, where a few vegetables sprouted out, anxious to see
the sun. Gazing on the desolate country around, I asked him how _he_ had
thus secluded himself from the world. For it he had no relish, and
although he had received a liberal education, and had mixed with
society, he never intended to return to it. "The country around," said
he, "is all my own, much farther than you can see. No fees, no lawyers,
no taxes are _here_. I do pretty much as I choose. My means are ample
through my own industry. These vessels come here for Seal-skins,
Seal-oil, and salmon, and give me in return all the necessaries, and
indeed comforts, of the life I love to follow; and what else could _the
world_ afford me?" I spoke of the education of his children. "My wife
and I teach them all that is _useful_ for them to know, and is not that
enough? My girls will marry their countrymen, my sons the daughters of
my neighbors, and I hope all of them will live and die in the country!"
I said no more, but by way of compensation for the trouble I had given
him, purchased from his eldest child a beautiful Fox's skin.

Few birds, he said, came round him in summer, but in winter thousands of
Ptarmigans were killed, as well as great numbers of Gulls. He had a
great dislike to all fishermen and eggers, and I really believe was
always glad to see the departure even of the hardy navigators who
annually visited him for the sake of his salmon, Seal-skins, and oil. He
had more than forty Esquimaux dogs; and as I was caressing one of them
he said, "Tell my brother-in-law at Bras d'Or, that we are all well
here, and that, after visiting my wife's father, I will give him a
call."

Now, reader, his wife's father resided at the distance of seventy miles
down the coast, and, like himself, was a recluse. He of Bras d'Or, was
at double that distance; but, when the snows of winter have thickly
covered the country, the whole family, in sledges drawn by dogs, travel
with ease, and pay their visits, or leave their cards. This good
gentleman had already resided there more than twenty years. Should he
ever read this article, I desire him to believe that I shall always be
grateful to him and his wife for their hospitable welcome.

When our schooner, the "Ripley," arrived at Bras d'Or, I paid a visit to
Mr. ----, the brother-in-law, who lived in a house imported from Quebec,
which fronted the strait of Belle Isle, and overlooked a small island,
over which the eye reached the coast of Newfoundland, whenever it was
the wind's pleasure to drive away the fogs that usually lay over both
coasts. The gentleman and his wife, we were told, were both out on a
walk, but would return in a very short time, which they in fact did,
when we followed them into the house, which was yet unfinished. The
usual immense Dutch stove formed a principal feature of the interior.
The lady had once visited the metropolis of Canada, and seemed desirous
of acting the part of a blue-stocking. Understanding that I knew
something of the fine arts, she pointed to several of the vile prints
hung on the bare walls, which she said were _elegant_ Italian pictures,
and continued her encomiums upon them, assuring me that she had
purchased them from an Italian, who had come there with a trunk full of
them. She had paid a shilling sterling for each, frame included. I could
give no answer to the good lady on this subject, but I felt glad to find
that she possessed a feeling heart, for one of her children had caught
a Siskin, and was tormenting the poor bird, when she rose from her seat,
took the little fluttering thing from the boy, kissed it, and gently
launched it into the air. This made me quite forget the tattle about the
fine arts.

Some excellent milk was poured out for us in clean glasses. It was a
pleasing sight, for not a cow had we yet seen in the country. The lady
turned the conversation on music, and asked me if I played on any
instrument. I answered that I did, but very indifferently. Her forte,
she said, was music, of which she was indeed immoderately fond. Her
instrument had been sent to Europe to be repaired, but would return that
season, when the whole of her children would again perform many
beautiful airs; for in fact anybody could use it with ease, as when she
or the children felt fatigued, the servant played on it for them. Rather
surprised at the extraordinary powers of this family of musicians, I
asked what sort of an instrument it was, when she described it as
follows: "Gentlemen, my instrument is large, longer than broad, and
stands on four legs, like a table. At one end is a crooked handle, by
turning which round, either fast or slow, I do assure you we make most
excellent music." The lips of my young friends and companions instantly
curled, but a glance from me as instantly recomposed their features.
Telling the fair one that it must be a hand-organ she used, she
laughingly said, "Ah, that is it; it is a hand-organ, but I had forgot
the name, and for the life of me could not recollect it."

The husband had gone out to work, and was in the harbor calking an old
schooner. He dined with me on board the "Ripley," and proved to be also
an excellent fellow. Like his brother-in-law, he had seen much of the
world, having sailed nearly round it; and, although no scholar like him,
too, he was disgusted with it. He held his land on the same footing as
his neighbors, caught Seals without number, lived comfortably and
happily, visited his father-in-law and the scholar, by the aid of his
dogs, of which he kept a great pack, bartered or sold his commodities,
as his relations did, and cared about nothing else in the world.
Whenever the weather was fair, he walked with his dame over the
moss-covered rocks of the neighborhood; and during winter killed
Ptarmigans and Caribous, while his eldest son attended to the traps, and
skinned the animals caught in them. He had the only horse that was to be
found in that part of the country, as well as several cows; but, above
all, he was kind to every one, and every one spoke well of him. The only
disagreeable thing about his plantation or settlement, was a heap of
fifteen hundred carcasses of skinned Seals, which, at the time when we
visited the place, in the month of August, notwithstanding the coolness
of the atmosphere, sent forth a stench that, according to the ideas of
some naturalists, might have sufficed to attract all the Vultures in the
United States.

During our stay at Bras d'Or, the kind-hearted and good Mrs. ---- daily
sent us fresh milk and butter, for which we were denied the pleasure of
making any return.


COD FISHING

Although I had seen, as I thought, abundance of fish along the coasts of
the Floridas, the numbers which I found in Labrador quite astonished me.
Should your surprise while reading the following statements be as great
as mine was while observing the facts related, you will conclude, as I
have often done, that Nature's means of providing small animals for the
use of larger ones, and _vice versa_, are as ample as is the grandeur of
that world which she has so curiously constructed.

The coast of Labrador is visited by European as well as American
fishermen, all of whom are, I believe, entitled to claim portions of
fishing-ground assigned to each nation by mutual understanding. For the
present, however, I shall confine my observations to those of our own
country, who, after all, are probably the most numerous. The citizens of
Boston, and many others of our eastern seaports, are those who chiefly
engage in this department of our commerce. Eastport in Maine sends out
every year a goodly fleet of schooners and "pickaxes" to Labrador, to
procure Cod, Mackerel, Halibut, and sometimes Herring, the latter being
caught in the intermediate space. The vessels from that port, and others
in Maine and Massachusetts, sail as soon as the warmth of spring has
freed the gulf of ice, that is, from the beginning of May to that of
June.

A vessel of one hundred tons or so is provided with a crew of twelve
men, who are equally expert as sailors and fishers, and for every couple
of these hardy tars, a Hampton boat is provided, which is lashed on the
deck, or hung in stays. Their provision is simple, but of good quality,
and it is very seldom that any spirits are allowed, beef, pork and
biscuit with water being all they take with them. The men are supplied
with warm clothing, waterproof oiled jackets and trousers, large boots,
broad-brimmed hats with a round crown, and stout mittens, with a few
shirts. The owner or captain furnishes them with lines, hooks, and nets,
and also provides the bait best adapted to insure success. The hold of
the vessel is filled with casks, of various dimensions, some containing
salt, and others for the oil that may be procured.

The bait generally used at the beginning of the season consists of
mussels salted for the purpose; but as soon as the capelings reach the
coast they are substituted to save expense, and in many instances the
flesh of Gannets and other sea-fowl is employed. The wages of fishermen
vary from sixteen to thirty dollars per month, according to the
qualifications of the individual.

The labor of these men is excessively hard, for, unless on Sunday, their
allowance of rest in the twenty-four hours seldom exceeds three. The
cook is the only person who fares better in this respect, but he must
also assist in curing the fish. He has breakfast, consisting of coffee,
bread, and meat, ready for the captain and the whole crew, by three
o'clock every morning, excepting Sunday. Each person carries with him
his dinner ready cooked, which is commonly eaten on the fishing-grounds.

Thus, at three in the morning, the crew are prepared for their day's
labor, and ready to betake themselves to their boats, each of which has
two oars and lugsails. They all depart at once, and either by rowing or
sailing, reach the banks to which the fishes are known to resort. The
little squadron drop their anchors at short distances from each other,
in a depth of from ten to twenty feet, and the business is immediately
commenced. Each man has two lines, and each stands in one end of the
boat, the middle of which is boarded off, to hold the fish. The baited
lines have been dropped into the water, one on each side of the boat;
their leads have reached the bottom, a fish has taken the hook, and
after giving the line a slight jerk, the fisherman hauls up his prize
with a continued pull, throws the fish athwart a small round bar of iron
placed near his back, which forces open the mouth, while the weight of
the body, however small the fish may be, tears out the hook. The bait is
still good, and over the side the line again goes, to catch another
fish, while that on the left is now drawn up, and the same course
pursued. In this manner, a fisher busily plying at each end, the
operation is continued until the boat is so laden that her gunwale is
brought within a few inches of the surface, when they return to the
vessel in harbor, seldom distant more than eight miles from the banks.

During the greater part of the day the fishermen have kept up a constant
conversation, of which the topics are the pleasure of finding a good
supply of cod, their domestic affairs, the political prospects of the
nation, and other matters similarly connected. Now the repartee of one
elicits a laugh from the other; this passes from man to man, and the
whole flotilla enjoy the joke. The men of one boat strive to outdo those
of the others in hauling up the greatest quantity of fish in a given
time, and this forms another source of merriment. The boats are
generally filled about the same time, and all return together.

Arrived at the vessel, each man employs a pole armed with a bent iron,
resembling the prong of a hay-fork, with which he pierces the fish, and
throws it with a jerk on deck, counting the number thus discharged with
a loud voice. Each cargo is thus safely deposited, and the boats
instantly return to the fishing-ground, when, after anchoring, the men
eat their dinner, and begin anew. There, good reader, with your leave, I
will let them pursue their avocations for a while, as I am anxious that
you should witness what is doing on board the vessel.

The captain, four men, and the cook have, in the course of the morning,
erected long tables fore and aft the main hatchway; they have taken to
the shore most of the salt barrels, and have placed in a row their large
empty casks, to receive the livers. The hold of the vessel is quite
clear, except a corner where is a large heap of salt. And now the men,
having dined precisely at twelve, are ready with their large knives. One
begins with breaking off the head of the fish, a slight pull of the hand
and a gash with the knife, effecting this in a moment. He slits up its
belly, with one hand pushes it aside to his neighbor, then throws
overboard the head, and begins to doctor another. The next man tears out
the entrails, separates the liver, which he throws into a cask, and
casts the rest overboard. A third person dexterously passes his knife
beneath the vertebræ of the fish, separates them from the flesh, heaves
the latter through the hatchway, and the former into the water.

Now, if you will peep into the hold, you will see the last stage of the
process, the salting and packing. Six experienced men generally manage
to head, clean, bone, salt, and pack all the fish caught in the morning
by the return of the boats with fresh cargoes, when all hands set to
work, and clear the deck of the fish. Thus their labors continue till
midnight, when they wash their faces and hands, put on clean clothes,
hang their fishing apparel on the shrouds, and, betaking themselves to
the forecastle, are soon in a sound sleep.

At three the next morning, comes the captain from his berth, rubbing his
eyes, and in a loud voice calling, "All hands, ho!" Stiffened in limb,
and but half awake, the crew quickly appear on the deck. Their fingers
and hands are so cramped and swollen by pulling the lines that it is
difficult for them to straighten even a thumb; but this matters little
at present, for the cook, who had a good nap yesterday, has risen an
hour before them, and prepared their coffee and eatables. Breakfast
despatched, they exchange their clean clothes for the fishing apparel,
and leap into their boats, which had been washed the previous night, and
again the flotilla bounds to the fishing-grounds.

As there may not be less than one hundred schooners or pickaxes in the
harbor, three hundred boats resort to the banks each day, and, as each
boat may procure two thousand Cods per diem, when Saturday night comes
about six hundred thousand fishes have been brought to the harbor. This
having caused some scarcity on the fishing-grounds, and Sunday being
somewhat of an idle day, the captain collects the salt ashore, and sets
sail for some other convenient harbor, which he expects to reach long
before sunset. If the weather be favorable, the men get a good deal of
rest during the voyage, and on Monday things go on as before.

I must not omit to tell you, reader, that, while proceeding from one
harbor to another, the vessel has passed near a rock which is the
breeding-place of myriads of Puffins. She has laid to for an hour or so,
while part of the crew have landed, and collected a store of eggs,
excellent as a substitute for cream, and not less so when hard boiled as
food for the fishing-grounds. I may as well inform you also how these
adventurous fellows distinguish the fresh eggs from the others. They
fill up some large tubs with water, throw in a quantity of eggs, and
allow them to remain a minute or so, when those which come to the
surface are tossed overboard, and even those that manifest any upward
tendency share the same treatment. All that remain at bottom, you may
depend upon it, good reader, are perfectly sound, and not less palatable
than any that you have ever eaten, or that your best guinea fowl has
just dropped in your barn-yard. But let us return to the Codfish.

The fish already procured and salted is taken ashore at the new harbor
by part of the crew, whom the captain has marked as the worst hands at
fishing. There, on the bare rocks, or on elevated scaffolds of
considerable extent, the salted Cod are laid side by side to dry in the
sun. They are turned several times a day, and in the intervals the men
bear a hand on board at clearing and stowing away the daily produce of
the fishing-banks. Towards evening they return to the drying-grounds,
and put up the fish in piles resembling so many hay-stacks, disposing
those towards the top in such a manner that the rain cannot injure them,
and placing a heavy stone on the summit to prevent their being thrown
down should it blow hard during the night. You see, reader, that the
life of a Labrador fisherman is not one of idleness.

The capelings have approached the shores, and in myriads enter every
basin and stream, to deposit their spawn, for now July is arrived. The
Cods follow them as the bloodhound follows his prey, and their compact
masses literally line the shores. The fishermen now adopt another
method; they have brought with them long and deep seines, one end of
which is by means of a line fastened to the shore, while the other is,
in the usual manner, drawn out in a broad sweep, to inclose as great a
space as possible, and hauled on shore by means of a capstan. Some of
the men, in boats, support the corked part of the net, and beat the
water to frighten the fishes within towards the land, while others,
armed with poles, enter the water, hook the fishes, and fling them on
the beach, the net being gradually drawn closer as the number of fish
diminishes. What do you think, reader, as to the number of Cod secured
in this manner in a single haul? Thirty, or thirty thousand? You may
form some notion of the matter when I tell you that the young gentlemen
of my party, while going along the shores, caught Codfish alive with
their hands, and trout of many pounds' weight with a piece of twine and
a mackerel-hook hung to their gun-rods; and that, if two of them walked
knee-deep along the rocks, holding a handkerchief by the corners, they
swept it full of capelings. Should you not trust me in this, I refer you
to the fishermen themselves, or recommend you to go to Labrador, where
you will give credit to the testimony of your eyes.

The seining of the Codfish, I believe, is not _quite_ lawful, for a
great proportion of the codlings which are dragged ashore at last are so
small as to be considered useless; and, instead of being returned to the
water, as they ought to be, are left on the shore, where they are
ultimately eaten by Bears, Wolves, and Ravens. The fish taken along the
coast, or on fishing stations only a few miles off, are of small
dimensions; and I believe I am correct in saying that few of them weigh
more than two pounds when perfectly cured, or exceed six when taken out
of the water. The fish are liable to several diseases, and at times are
annoyed by parasitic animals, which in a short time render them lean and
unfit for use.

Some individuals, from laziness or other causes, fish with naked hooks,
and thus frequently wound the Cod, without securing them; in consequence
of which the shoals are driven away, to the detriment of the other
fishers. Some carry their cargoes to other parts before drying them,
while others dispose of them to agents from distant shores. Some have
only a pickaxe of fifty tons, while others are owners of seven or eight
vessels of equal or larger burden; but whatever be their means, should
the season prove favorable, they are generally well repaid for their
labor. I have known instances of men who, on their first voyage, ranked
as "boys," and in ten years after were in independent circumstances,
although they still continue to resort to the fishing; for, said they to
me, "How could we be content to spend our time in idleness at home?" I
know a person of this class who has carried on the trade for many years,
and who has quite a little fleet of schooners, one of which, the largest
and most beautifully built, has a cabin as neat and comfortable as any
that I have ever seen in a vessel of the same size. This vessel took
fish on board only when perfectly cured, or acted as pilot to the rest,
and now and then would return home with an ample supply of halibut, or a
cargo of prime mackerel. On another occasion, I will offer some remarks
on the improvements which I think might be made in the Cod-fisheries of
the coast of Labrador.


A BALL IN NEWFOUNDLAND

On our return from the singularly wild and interesting country of
Labrador, the "Ripley" sailed close along the northern coast of
Newfoundland. The weather was mild and clear, and, while my young
companions amused themselves on the deck with the music of various
instruments, I gazed on the romantic scenery spread along the bold and
often magnificent shores. Portions of the wilds appeared covered with a
luxuriance of vegetable growth, far surpassing that of the regions which
we had just left, and in some of the valleys I thought I saw trees of
moderate size. The number of habitations increased apace, and many small
vessels and boats danced on the waves of the coves which we passed. Here
a precipitous shore looked like the section of a great mountain, of
which the lost half had sunk into the depths of the sea, and the dashing
of the waters along its base was such as to alarm the most daring
seaman. The huge masses of broken rock impressed my mind with awe and
reverence, as I thought of the power that still gave support to the
gigantic fragments which everywhere hung, as if by magic, over the sea,
awaiting, as it were, the proper moment to fall upon and crush the
impious crew of some piratical vessel. There, again, gently swelling
hills reared their heads towards the sky, as if desirous of existing
within the influence of its azure purity; and I thought the bleatings of
Reindeer came on my ear. Dark clouds of Curlews were seen winging their
way towards the south, and thousands of Larks and Warblers were flitting
through the air. The sight of these birds excited in me a wish that I
also had wings to fly back to my country and friends.

Early one morning our vessel doubled the northern cape of the Bay of St.
George, and, as the wind was light, the sight of that magnificent
expanse of water, which extends inward to the length of eighteen
leagues, with a breadth of thirteen, gladdened the hearts of all on
board. A long range of bold shores bordered it on one side, throwing a
deep shadow over the water, which added greatly to the beauty of the
scene. On the other side, the mild beams of the autumnal sun glittered
on the water, and whitened the sails of the little barks that were
sailing to and fro, like so many silvery Gulls. The welcome sight of
cattle feeding in cultivated meadows, and of people at their avocations,
consoled us for the labors which we had undergone, and the privations
which we had suffered; and, as the "Ripley" steered her course into a
snug harbor that suddenly opened to our view, the number of vessels that
were anchored there, and a pretty village that presented itself
increased our delight.

Although the sun was fast approaching the western horizon when our
anchor was dropped, no sooner were the sails furled than we all went
ashore. There appeared a kind of curious bustle among the people, as if
they were anxious to know who we were; for our appearance, and that of
our warlike looking schooner showed that we were not fishermen. As we
bore our usual arms and hunting accoutrements, which were half Indian
and half civilized, the individuals we met on shore manifested
considerable suspicion, which our captain observing, he instantly made a
signal, when the star-spangled banner glided to the mast-head, and
saluted the flags of France and Britain in kindly greeting. We were
welcomed and supplied with abundance of fresh provisions. Glad at once
more standing on something like soil, we passed through the village, and
walked round it, but as night was falling were quickly obliged to return
to our floating home, where, after a hearty supper, we serenaded with
repeated glees the peaceful inhabitants of the village.

At early dawn I was on deck admiring the scene of industry that
presented itself. The harbor was already covered with fishing-boats
employed in procuring mackerel, some of which we appropriated to
ourselves. Signs of cultivation were observed on the slopes of the
hills, the trees seemed of goodly size, a river made its way between two
ranges of steep rocks, and here and there a group of Micmac Indians were
searching along the shores for lobsters, crabs, and eels, all of which
we found abundant and delicious. A canoe laden with Reindeer meat came
alongside, paddled by a pair of athletic Indians, who exchanged their
cargo for some of our stores. You would have been amused to see the
manner in which these men, and their families on shore cooked the
lobsters; they threw them alive into a great wood fire, and as soon as
they were broiled devoured them, while yet so hot that none of us could
have touched them. When properly cooled, I tasted these roasted
lobsters, and found them infinitely better flavored than boiled ones.
The country was represented as abounding in game. The temperature was
higher by twenty degrees than that of Labrador, and yet I was told that
the ice in the bay seldom broke up before the middle of May, and that
few vessels attempted to go to Labrador before the 10th of June, when
the cod-fishery at once commences.

One afternoon we were visited by a deputation from the inhabitants of
the village, inviting our whole party to a ball which was to take place
that night, and requesting us to take with us our musical instruments.
We unanimously accepted the invitation, which had been made from
friendly feelings; and finding that the deputies had a relish for "old
Jamaica" we helped them pretty freely to some, which soon showed that it
had lost nothing of its energies by having visited Labrador. At ten
o'clock, the appointed hour, we landed, and were lighted to the
dancing-hall by paper lanterns, one of us carrying a flute, another a
violin, and I with a flageolet stuck into my waistcoat pocket.

The hall proved nothing else than the ground-floor of a fisherman's
house. We were presented to his wife, who, like her neighbors, was an
adept in the piscatory art. She courtesied, not _à la_ Taglioni, it is
true, but with a modest assurance, which to me was quite as pleasing as
the airiness with which the admired performer just mentioned might have
paid her respects. The good woman was rather unprepared, and quite _en
negligée_, as was the apartment, but full of activity, and anxious to
arrange things in becoming style. In one hand she held a bunch of
candles, in the other a lighted torch, and distributing the former at
proper intervals along the walls, she applied the latter to them in
succession. This done, she emptied the contents of a large tin vessel
into a number of glasses, which were placed on a tea-tray on the only
table in the room. The chimney, black and capacious, was embellished
with coffee-pots, milk-jugs, cups and saucers, knives and forks, and all
the paraphernalia necessary on so important an occasion. A set of
primitive wooden stools and benches was placed around, for the reception
of the belles of the village, some of whom now dropped in, flourishing
in all the rosy fatness produced by an invigorating northern climate,
and in decoration vying with the noblest Indian queen of the West. Their
stays seemed ready to burst open, and their shoes were equally pressed.
Around their necks, brilliant beads mingled with ebony tresses, and
their naked arms might have inspired apprehension had they not been
constantly employed in arranging flowing ribbons, gaudy flowers, and
muslin flounces.

Now arrived one of the beaux, just returned from the fishing, who,
knowing all, and being equally known, leaped without ceremony on the
loose boards that formed a kind of loft overhead, where he soon
exchanged his dripping apparel for a dress suited to the occasion, when
he dropped upon the floor, and strutting up and down, bowed and scraped
to the ladies, with as much ease, if not elegance, as a Bond Street
highly scented exquisite. Others came in by degrees, ready dressed, and
music was called for. My son, by way of overture, played "Hail Columbia,
happy land," then went on with "La Marseillaise," and ended with "God
save the King." Being merely a spectator, I ensconced myself in a
corner, by the side of an old European gentleman, whom I found an
agreeable and well informed companion, to admire the decorum of the
motley assemblage.

The dancers stood in array, little time having been spent in choosing
partners, and a Canadian accompanying my son on his Cremona, mirth and
joy soon abounded. Dancing is certainly one of the most healthful and
innocent amusements; I have loved it a vast deal more than watching for
the nibble of a trout, and I have sometimes thought the enjoyment of it
softened my nature as much as the pale, pure light of the moon softens
and beautifies a winter night. A maiden lady who sat at my side, and who
was the only daughter of my talkative companion, relished my remarks on
the subject so much that the next set saw her gracing the floor with her
tutored feet.

At each pause of the musicians refreshments were handed round by the
hostess and her son, and I was not a little surprised to see all the
ladies, maids and matrons, swallow, like their sweethearts and husbands,
a full glass of pure rum, with evident pleasure. I should perhaps have
recollected that, in cold climates, a glass of ardent spirits is not
productive of the same effects as in burning latitudes, and that
refinement had not yet induced these healthy and robust dames to affect
a delicacy foreign to their nature.

It was now late, and knowing how much I had to accomplish next day, I
left the party and proceeded to the shore. My men were sound asleep in
the boat, but in a few moments I was on board the "Ripley." My young
friends arrived towards daylight, but many of the fishermen's sons and
daughters kept up the dance, to the music of the Canadian, until after
our breakfast was over.


THE BAY OF FUNDY

It was in the month of May that I sailed in the United States revenue
cutter, the "Swiftsure," engaged in a cruise in the Bay of Fundy. Our
sails were quickly unfurled and spread out to the breeze. The vessel
seemed to fly over the surface of the liquid element, as the sun rose in
full splendor, while the clouds that floated here and there formed, with
their glowing hues, a rich contrast with the pure azure of the heavens
above us. We approached apace the island of Grand Menan, of which the
stupendous cliffs gradually emerged from the deep with the majestic
boldness of her noblest native chief. Soon our bark passed beneath its
craggy head, covered with trees, which, on account of the height, seemed
scarcely larger than shrubs. The prudent Raven spread her pinions,
launched from the cliff, and flew away before us; the Golden Eagle,
soaring aloft, moved majestically along in wide circles; the Guillemots
sat on their eggs upon the shelving precipices, or plunging into the
water, dived, and rose again at a great distance; the broad-breasted
Eider Duck covered her eggs among the grassy tufts; on a naked rock the
Seal lazily basked, its sleek sides glistening in the sunshine; while
shoals of porpoises were swiftly gliding through the waters around us,
showing by their gambols that, although doomed to the deep, their life
was not devoid of pleasure. Far away stood the bold shores of Nova
Scotia, gradually fading in the distance, of which the gray tints
beautifully relieved the wing-like sails of many a fishing bark.

Cape after cape, forming eddies and counter currents far too terrific to
be described by a landsman, we passed in succession, until we reached a
deep cove, near the shores of White Head Island, which is divided from
Grand Menan by a narrow strait, where we anchored secure from every
blast that could blow. In a short time we found ourselves under the roof
of Captain Frankland, the sole owner of the isle, of which the surface
contains about fifteen hundred acres. He received us all with politeness
and gave us permission to seek out its treasures, which we immediately
set about doing, for I was anxious to study the habits of certain Gulls
that breed there in great numbers. As Captain Coolidge, our worthy
commander, had assured me, we found them on their nests on almost every
_tree_ of a wood that covered several acres. What a treat, reader, was
it to find birds of this kind lodged on fir-trees, and sitting
comfortably on their eggs! Their loud cackling notes led us to their
place of resort, and ere long we had satisfactorily observed their
habits, and collected as many of themselves and their eggs as we
considered sufficient. In our walks we noticed a Rat, the only quadruped
found on the island, and observed abundance of gooseberries, currants,
raspberries, strawberries, and huckleberries. Seating ourselves on the
summit of the rocks, in view of the vast Atlantic, we spread out our
stores, and refreshed ourselves with our simple fare.

Now we followed the objects of our pursuit through the tangled woods,
now carefully picked our steps over the spongy grounds. The air was
filled with the melodious concerts of birds, and all Nature seemed to
smile in quiet enjoyment. We wandered about until the setting sun warned
us to depart, when, returning to the house of the proprietor, we sat
down to an excellent repast, and amused ourselves with relating
anecdotes and forming arrangements for the morrow. Our captain
complimented us on our success, when we reached the "Swiftsure," and in
due time we betook ourselves to our hammocks.

The next morning, a strange sail appearing in the distance, preparations
were instantly made to pay her commander a visit. The signal staff of
White Head Island displayed the British flag, while Captain Frankland
and his men stood on the shore, and as we gave our sails to the wind,
three hearty cheers filled the air, and were instantly responded to by
us. The vessel was soon approached, but all was found right with her,
and squaring our yards, onward we sped, cheerily bounding over the gay
billows, until our captain sent us ashore at Eastport.

At another time my party was received on board the revenue cutter's
tender, the "Fancy,"--a charming name for so beautiful a craft. We set
sail towards evening. The cackling of the "old wives" that covered the
bay filled me with delight, and thousands of Gulls and Cormorants seemed
as if anxious to pilot us into Head Harbor Bay, where we anchored for
the night. Leaping on the rugged shore, we made our way to the
lighthouse, where we found Mr. Snelling, a good and honest Englishman
from Devonshire. His family consisted of three wild-looking lasses,
beautiful, like the most finished productions of nature. In his
lighthouse snugly ensconced, he spent his days in peaceful forgetfulness
of the world, subsisting principally on the fish of the bay.

When day broke, how delightful it was to see fair Nature open her
graceful eyelids, and present herself arrayed in all that was richest
and purest before her Creator. Ah, reader, how indelibly are such
moments engraved on my soul! With what ardor have I at such times gazed
around me, full of the desire of being enabled to comprehend all that I
saw! How often have I longed to converse with the feathered inhabitants
of the forest, all of which seemed then intent on offering up their
thanks to the object of my own adoration! But the wish could not be
gratified, although I now feel satisfied that I have enjoyed as much of
the wonders and beauties of nature as it was proper for me to enjoy. The
delightful trills of the Winter Wren rolled through the underwood, the
Red Squirrel smacked time with his chops, the loud notes of the Robin
sounded clearly from the tops of the trees, the rosy Grosbeak nipped the
tender blossoms of the maples, and high overhead the Loons passed in
pairs, rapidly wending their way towards far distant shores. Would that
I could have followed in their wake! The hour of our departure had come;
and, as we sailed up the bay, our pilot, who had been fishing for cod,
was taken on board. A few of his fish were roasted on a plank before the
embers, and formed the principal part of our breakfast. The breeze was
light, and it was not until afternoon that we arrived at Point Lepreaux
Harbor, where every one, making choice of his course, went in search of
curiosities and provender.

Now, reader, the little harbor in which, if you wish it, we shall
suppose we still are, is renowned for a circumstance which I feel much
inclined to endeavor to explain to you. Several species of Ducks, that
in myriads cover the waters of the Bay of Fundy, are at times destroyed
in this particular spot in a very singular manner. When July has come,
all the water birds that are no longer capable of reproducing, remain
like so many forlorn bachelors and old maids, to renew their plumage
along the shores. At the period when these poor birds are unfit for
flight, troops of Indians make their appearance in light bark canoes,
paddled by their squaws and papooses. They form their flotilla into an
extended curve, and drive before them the birds, not in silence, but
with simultaneous horrific yells, at the same time beating the surface
of the water with long poles and paddles. Terrified by the noise, the
birds swim a long way before them, endeavoring to escape with all their
might. The tide is high, every cove is filled, and into the one where we
now are, thousands of Ducks are seen entering. The Indians have ceased
to shout, and the canoes advance side by side. Time passes on, the tide
swiftly recedes as it rose, and there are the birds left on the beach.
See with what pleasure each wild inhabitant of the forest seizes his
stick, the squaws and younglings following with similar weapons! Look at
them rushing on their prey, falling on the disabled birds, and smashing
them with their cudgels, until all are destroyed! In this manner upwards
of five hundred wild fowls have often been procured in a few hours.

Three pleasant days were spent at Point Lepreaux, when the "Fancy"
spread her wings to the breeze. In one harbor we fished for shells with
a capital dredge, and in another searched along the shore for eggs. The
Passamaquoddy chief is seen gliding swiftly over the deep in his fragile
bark. He has observed a porpoise breathing. Watch him, for now he is
close upon the unsuspecting dolphin. He rises erect, aims his musket;
smoke rises curling from the pan, and rushes from the iron tube, when
soon after the report comes on the ear. Meantime the porpoise has
suddenly turned back downwards,--it is dead. The body weighs a hundred
pounds or more, but this to the tough-fibred son of the woods is
nothing; he reaches it with his muscular arms, and at a single jerk,
while with his legs he dexterously steadies the canoe, he throws it
lengthwise at his feet. Amidst the highest waves of the Bay of Fundy,
these feats are performed by the Indians during the whole of the season
when the porpoises resort thither.

You have often, no doubt, heard of the extraordinary tides of this bay;
so had I, but, like others, I was loath to believe the reports were
strictly true. So I went to the pretty town of Windsor in Nova Scotia,
to judge for myself. But let us leave the "Fancy" for a while, and
imagine ourselves at Windsor. Late one day in August my companions and I
were seated on the grassy and elevated bank of the river, about eighty
feet or so above its bed, which was almost dry, and extended for nine
miles below like a sandy wilderness. Many vessels lay on the high banks
taking in their lading of gypsum. We thought the appearance very
singular, but we were too late to watch the tide that evening. Next
morning we resumed our station, and soon perceived the water flowing
towards us, and rising with a rapidity of which we had previously seen
no example. We planted along the steep declivity of the bank a number of
sticks, each three feet long, the base of one being placed on a level
with the top of that below it, and when about half flow the tide reached
their tops, one after another, rising three feet in ten minutes, or
eighteen in the hour; and, at high water the surface was sixty-five feet
above the bed of the river! On looking for the vessels which we had seen
the preceding evening, we were told most of them were gone with the
night tide.

But now we are again on board the "Fancy;" Mr. Claredge stands near the
pilot, who sits next to the man at the helm. On we move swiftly for the
breeze has freshened; many islands we pass in succession; the wind
increases to a gale; with reefed sails we dash along, and now rapidly
pass a heavily laden sloop gallantly running across our course with
undiminished sail; when suddenly we see her upset. Staves and spars are
floating around, and presently we observe three men scrambling up her
sides, and seating themselves on the keel, where they make signals of
distress to us. By this time we have run to a great distance; but
Claredge, cool and prudent, as every seaman ought to be, has already
issued his orders to the helmsman and crew, and now near the wind we
gradually approach the sufferers. A line is thrown to them, and the next
moment we are alongside the vessel. A fisher's boat, too, has noticed
the disaster; and, with long strokes of her oars, advances, now rising
on the curling wave, and now sinking out of sight. By our mutual efforts
the men are brought on board, and the sloop is slowly towed into a safe
harbor. An hour later my party was safely landed at Eastport, where, on
looking over the waters, and observing the dense masses of vapor that
veiled the shores, we congratulated ourselves at having escaped from the
Bay of Fundy.


A FLOOD

Many of our larger streams, such as the Mississippi, the Ohio, the
Illinois, the Arkansas, and the Red River, exhibit at certain seasons
the most extensive overflowings of their waters, to which the name of
_floods_ is more appropriate than the term _freshets_, usually applied
to the sudden risings of smaller streams. If we consider the vast extent
of country through which an inland navigation is afforded by the
never-failing supply of water furnished by these wonderful rivers, we
cannot suppose them exceeded in magnitude by any other in the known
world. It will easily be imagined what a wonderful spectacle must
present itself to the eye of the traveller who for the first time views
the enormous mass of waters, collected from the vast central regions of
our continent, booming along, turbid and swollen to overflowing, in the
broad channels of the Mississippi and Ohio, the latter of which has a
course of more than a thousand miles, and the former of several
thousands.

To give you some idea of a _Booming Flood_ of these gigantic streams, it
is necessary to state the causes which give rise to it. These are, the
sudden melting of the snows on the mountains, and heavy rains continued
for several weeks. When it happens that, during a severe winter, the
Alleghany Mountains have been covered with snow to the depth of several
feet, and the accumulated mass has remained unmelted for a length of
time, the materials of a flood are thus prepared. It now and then
happens that the winter is hurried off by a sudden increase of
temperature, when the accumulated snows melt away simultaneously over
the whole country, and the southeasterly wind, which then usually blows,
brings along with it a continued fall of heavy rain, which, mingling
with the dissolving snow, deluges the alluvial portions of the western
country, filling up the rivulets, ravines, creeks, and small rivers.
These delivering their waters to the great streams, cause the latter not
merely to rise to a surprising height, but to overflow their banks,
wherever the land is low. On such occasions the Ohio itself presents a
splendid, and at the same time, an appalling spectacle; but when its
waters mingle with those of the Mississippi, then, kind reader, is the
time to view an American flood in all its astonishing magnificence.

At the foot of the Falls of the Ohio, the water has been known to rise
upwards of sixty feet above its lowest level. The river, at this point,
has already run a course of nearly seven hundred miles from its origin
at Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, during which it has received the waters
of its numberless tributaries, and overflowing all the bottom lands or
valleys, has swept along the fences and dwellings which have been unable
to resist its violence. I could relate hundreds of incidents which might
prove to you the dreadful effects of such an inundation, and which have
been witnessed by thousands besides myself. I have known, for example,
of a cow swimming through a window, elevated at least seven feet from
the ground, and sixty-two feet above low-water mark. The house was then
surrounded by water from the Ohio, which runs in front of it, while the
neighboring country was overflowed; yet, the family did not remove from
it, but remained in its upper portion, having previously taken off the
sashes of the lower windows, and opened the doors. But let us return to
the Mississippi.

There the overflow is astonishing, for no sooner has the water reached
the upper part of the banks than it rushes out and overspreads the whole
of the neighboring swamps, presenting an ocean overgrown with stupendous
forest-trees. So sudden is the calamity that every individual, whether
man or beast, has to exert his utmost ingenuity to enable him to escape
from the dreaded element. The Indian quickly removes to the hills of the
interior, the cattle and game swim to the different strips of land that
remain uncovered in the midst of the flood, or attempt to force their
way through the waters until they perish from fatigue. Along the banks
of the river, the inhabitants have rafts ready made, on which they
remove themselves, their cattle, and their provisions, and which they
then fasten with ropes or grape-vines to the larger trees, while they
contemplate the melancholy spectacle presented by the current, as it
carries off their houses and wood-yards piece by piece. Some who have
nothing to lose, and are usually known by the name of _squatters_, take
this opportunity of traversing the woods in canoes, for the purpose of
procuring game, and particularly the skins of animals, such as the Deer
and Bear, which may be converted into money. They resort to the low
ridges surrounded by the waters, and destroy thousands of Deer, merely
for their skins, leaving the flesh to putrefy.

The river itself, rolling its swollen waters along, presents a spectacle
of the most imposing nature. Although no large vessel, unless propelled
by steam, can now make its way against the current, it is seen covered
by boats, laden with produce, which, running out from all the smaller
streams, float silently towards the city of New Orleans, their owners
meanwhile not very well assured of finding a landing-place even there.
The water is covered with yellow foam and pumice, the latter having
floated from the Rocky Mountains of the Northwest. The eddies are larger
and more powerful than ever. Here and there tracts of forest are
observed undermined, the trees gradually giving way, and falling into
the stream. Cattle, horses, Bears, and Deer are seen at times attempting
to swim across the impetuous mass of foaming and boiling water; whilst
here and there a Vulture or an Eagle is observed perched on a bloated
carcass, tearing it up in pieces, as regardless of the flood as on
former occasions it would have been of the numerous sawyers and planters
with which the surface of the river is covered when the water is low.
Even the steamer is frequently distressed. The numberless trees and logs
that float along break its paddles, and retard its progress. Besides, it
is on such occasions difficult to procure fuel to maintain its fires;
and it is only at very distant intervals that a wood-yard can be found
which the water has not carried off.

Following the river in your canoe, you reach those parts of the shores
that are protected against the overflowings of the waters, and are
called _levees_. There you find the whole population of the district at
work repairing and augmenting those artificial barriers, which are
several feet above the level of the fields. Every person appears to
dread the opening of a _crevasse_, by which the waters may rush into his
fields. In spite of all exertions, however, the crevasse opens, the
water bursts impetuously over the plantations, and lays waste the crops
which so lately were blooming in all the luxuriance of spring. It opens
up a new channel, which, for aught I know to the contrary, may carry its
waters even to the Mexican Gulf.

I have floated on the Mississippi and Ohio when thus swollen, and have
in different places visited the submersed lands of the interior,
propelling a light canoe by the aid of a paddle. In this manner I have
traversed immense portions of the country overflowed by the waters of
these rivers, and particularly when floating over the Mississippi
bottom-lands I have been struck with awe at the sight. Little or no
current is met with, unless when the canoe passes over the bed of a
bayou. All is silent and melancholy, unless when the mournful bleating
of the hemmed-in Deer reaches your ear, or the dismal scream of an Eagle
or a Raven is heard, as the foul bird rises, disturbed by your approach,
from the carcass on which it was allaying its craving appetite. Bears,
Cougars, Lynxes, and all other quadrupeds that can ascend the trees are
observed crouched among their top branches. Hungry in the midst of
abundance, although they see floating around them the animals on which
they usually prey, they dare not venture to swim to them. Fatigued by
the exertions which they have made to reach the dry land, they will
there stand the hunter's fire, as if to die by a ball were better than
to perish amid the waste of waters. On occasions like this, all these
animals are shot by hundreds.

Opposite the city of Natchez, which stands on a bluff bank of
considerable elevation, the extent of inundated land is immense, the
greater portion of the tract lying between the Mississippi and the Red
River, which is more than thirty miles in breadth, being under water.
The mail-bag has often been carried through the immersed forests, in a
canoe, for even a greater distance, in order to be forwarded to
Natchitochez.

But now, kind reader, observe this great flood gradually subsiding, and
again see the mighty changes which it has effected. The waters have now
been carried into the distant ocean. The earth is everywhere covered by
a deep deposit of muddy loam, which in drying splits into deep and
narrow chasms, presenting a reticulated appearance, and from which, as
the weather becomes warmer, disagreeable, and at times noxious,
exhalations arise, and fill the lower stratum of the atmosphere as with
a dense fog. The banks of the river have almost everywhere been broken
down in a greater or less degree. Large streams are now found to exist,
where none were formerly to be seen, having forced their way in direct
lines from the upper parts of the bends. These are by the navigator
called _short-cuts_. Some of them have proved large enough to produce a
change in the navigation of the Mississippi. If I mistake not, one of
these, known by the name of the _Grand Cut-off_, and only a few miles in
length, has diverted the river from its natural course, and has
shortened it by fifty miles. The upper parts of the islands present a
bulwark consisting of an enormous mass of floated trees of all kinds,
which have lodged there. Large sand-banks have been completely removed
by the impetuous whirls of the waters, and have been deposited in other
places. Some appear quite new to the eye of the navigator, who has to
mark their situation and bearings in his log-book. The trees on the
margins of the banks have in many parts given way. They are seen bending
over the stream, like the grounded arms of an overwhelmed army of
giants. Everywhere are heard the lamentations of the farmer and planter,
whilst their servants and themselves are busily employed in repairing
the damages occasioned by the floods. At one crevasse an old ship or
two, dismantled for the purpose, are sunk, to obstruct the passage
opened by the still rushing waters, while new earth is brought to fill
up the chasms. The squatter is seen shouldering his rifle, and making
his way through the morass, in search of his lost stock, to drive the
survivors home, and save the skins of the drowned. New fences have
everywhere to be formed; even new houses must be erected, to save which
from a like disaster, the settler places them on an elevated platform
supported by pillars made by the trunks of trees. The land must be
ploughed anew, and if the season is not too far advanced, a crop of corn
and potatoes may yet be raised. But the rich prospects of the planter
are blasted. The traveller is impeded in his journey, the creeks and
smaller streams having broken up their banks in a degree proportionate
to their size. A bank of sand, which seems firm and secure, suddenly
gives way beneath the traveller's horse, and the next moment the animal
has sunk in the quicksand, either to the chest in front, or over the
crupper behind, leaving its master in a situation not to be envied.

Unlike the mountain torrents and small rivers of other parts of the
world, the Mississippi rises but slowly during these floods, continuing
for several weeks to increase at the rate of about an inch a day. When
at its height, it undergoes little fluctuation for some days, and after
this, subsides as slowly as it rose. The usual duration of a flood is
from four to six weeks, although, on some occasions, it is protracted to
two months.

Every one knows how largely the idea of floods and cataclysms enters
into the speculations of the geologist. If the streamlets of the
European continent afford illustrations of the formation of strata, how
much more must the Mississippi, with its ever-shifting sand-banks, its
crumbling shores, its enormous masses of drift timber, the source of
future beds of coal, its extensive and varied alluvial deposits, and its
mighty mass of waters rolling sullenly along, like the flood of
eternity.


THE SQUATTERS OF THE MISSISSIPPI

Although every European traveller who has glided down the Mississippi,
at the rate of ten miles an hour, has told his tale of the squatters,
yet none has given any other account of them, than that they are "a
sallow, sickly looking sort of miserable beings," living in swamps, and
subsisting on pig-nuts, Indian-corn, and Bear's-flesh. It is obvious,
however, that none but a person acquainted with their history, manners,
and condition, can give any real information respecting them.

The individuals who become squatters, choose that sort of life of their
own free will. They mostly remove from other parts of the United States,
after finding that land has become too high in price, and they are
persons who, having a family of strong and hardy children, are anxious
to enable them to provide for themselves. They have heard from good
authorities that the country extending along the great streams of the
West, is of all parts of the Union, the richest in its soil, the growth
of its timber, and the abundance of its game; that, besides, the
Mississippi is the great road to and from all the markets in the world;
and that every vessel borne by its waters affords to settlers some
chance of selling their commodities, or of exchanging them for others.
To these recommendations is added another, of even greater weight with
persons of the above denomination, namely, the prospect of being able to
settle on land, and perhaps to hold it for a number of years, without
purchase, rent or tax of any kind. How many thousands of individuals in
all parts of the globe would gladly try their fortune with such
prospects, I leave to you, reader, to determine.

As I am not disposed too highly to color the picture which I am about to
submit to your inspection, instead of pitching on individuals who have
removed from our eastern boundaries, and of whom certainly there are a
good number, I shall introduce to you the members of a family from
Virginia, first giving you an idea of their condition in that country,
previous to their migration to the west. The land which they and their
ancestors have possessed for a hundred years, having been constantly
forced to produce crops of one kind or another, is now completely worn
out. It exhibits only a superficial layer of red clay, cut up by deep
ravines, through which much of the soil has been conveyed to some more
fortunate neighbor, residing in a yet rich and beautiful valley. Their
strenuous efforts to render it productive have failed. They dispose of
everything too cumbrous or expensive for them to remove, retaining only
a few horses, a servant or two, and such implements of husbandry and
other articles as may be necessary on their journey, or useful when they
arrive at the spot of their choice.

I think I see them at this moment harnessing their horses, and attaching
them to their wagons, which are already filled with bedding, provisions,
and the younger children, while on their outside are fastened
spinning-wheels and looms, and a bucket filled with tar and tallow
swings between the hind wheels. Several axes are secured to the bolster,
and the feeding-trough of the horses contains pots, kettles, and pans.
The servant, now become a driver, rides the near saddled horse, the wife
is mounted on another, the worthy husband shoulders his gun, and his
sons, clad in plain substantial homespun, drive the cattle ahead, and
lead the procession, followed by the hounds and other dogs. Their day's
journey is short, and not agreeable; the cattle, stubborn or wild,
frequently leave the road for the woods, giving the travellers much
trouble; the harness of the horses here and there gives way, and needs
immediate repair; a basket, which has accidentally dropped, must be gone
after, for nothing that they have can be spared; the roads are bad, and
now and then all hands are called to push on the wagon, or prevent it
from upsetting. Yet by sunset they have proceeded perhaps twenty miles.
Rather fatigued, all assemble round the fire, which has been lighted,
supper is prepared, and a camp being erected, there they pass the night.

Days and weeks, nay months, of unremitting toil, pass before they gain
the end of their journey. They have crossed both the Carolinas, Georgia,
and Alabama. They have been travelling from the beginning of May to that
of September, and with heavy hearts they traverse the State of
Mississippi. But now, arrived on the banks of the broad stream, they
gaze in amazement on the dark deep woods around them. Boats of various
kinds they see gliding downwards with the current, while others slowly
ascend against it. A few inquiries are made at the nearest dwelling, and
assisted by the inhabitants with their boats, and canoes, they at once
cross the Mississippi, and select their place of habitation.

The exhalations arising from the swamps and morasses around them have a
powerful effect on these new settlers, but all are intent on preparing
for the winter. A small patch of ground is cleared by the axe and the
fire, a temporary cabin is erected, to each of the cattle is attached a
jingling bell before it is let loose into the neighboring cane-brake,
and the horses remain about the house, where they find sufficient food
at that season. The first trading-boat that stops at their landing,
enables them to provide themselves with some flour, fish-hooks, and
ammunition, as well as other commodities. The looms are mounted, the
spinning-wheels soon furnish some yarn, and in a few weeks the family
throw off their ragged clothes, and array themselves in suits adapted to
the climate. The father and sons meanwhile have sown turnips and other
vegetables; and from some Kentucky flatboat, a supply of live poultry
has been procured.

October tinges the leaves of the forest, the morning dews are heavy, the
days hot, the nights chill, and the unacclimated family in a few days
are attacked with ague. The lingering disease almost prostrates their
whole faculties, and one seeing them at such a period might well call
them sallow and sickly. Fortunately the unhealthy season soon passes
over, and the hoar-frosts make their appearance. Gradually each
individual recovers strength. The largest ash-trees are felled; their
trunks are cut, split, and corded in front of the building; a large fire
is lighted at night on the edge of the water, and soon a steamer calls
to purchase the wood, and thus add to their comforts during the winter.

The first fruit of their industry imparts new courage to them; their
exertions multiply, and when spring returns, the place has a cheerful
look. Venison, Bear's-flesh, Wild Turkeys, Ducks and Geese, with now and
then some fish, have served to keep up their strength, and now their
enlarged field is planted with corn, potatoes, and pumpkins. Their stock
of cattle, too, has augmented; the steamer, which now stops there as if
by preference, buys a calf or a pig, together with the whole of their
wood. Their store of provisions is renewed, and brighter rays of hope
enliven their spirits.

Who is he of the settlers on the Mississippi that cannot realize some
profit? Truly none who is industrious. When the autumnal months return,
all are better prepared to encounter the ague which then prevails.
Substantial food, suitable clothing, and abundant firing, repel its
attacks; and before another twelvemonth has elapsed the family is
naturalized. The sons have by this time discovered a swamp covered with
excellent timber, and as they have seen many great rafts of saw logs,
bound for the mills of New Orleans, floating past their dwelling, they
resolve to try the success of a little enterprise. Their industry and
prudence have already enhanced their credit. A few cross-saws are
purchased, and some broad-wheeled "carry-logs" are made by themselves.
Log after log, is hauled to the bank of the river, and in a short time
their first raft is made on the shore, and loaded with cord-wood. When
the next freshet sets it afloat, it is secured by long grape-vines or
cables, until the proper time being arrived, the husband and sons embark
on it, and float down the mighty stream.

After encountering many difficulties, they arrive in safety at New
Orleans, where they dispose of their stock, the money obtained for which
may be said to be all profit, supply themselves with such articles as
may add to their convenience or comfort, and with light hearts procure
a passage on the upper deck of a steamer, at a very cheap rate, on
account of the benefit of their labor in taking in wood or otherwise.

And now the vessel approaches their home. See the joyous mother and
daughters as they stand on the bank! A store of vegetables lies around
them, a large tub of fresh milk is at their feet, and in their hands are
plates, filled with rolls of butter. As the steamer stops, three broad
straw hats are waved from the upper deck, and soon husband and wife,
brothers and sisters, are in each other's embrace. The boat carries off
the provisions for which value has been left, and as the captain issues
his orders for putting on the steam, the happy family enter their humble
dwelling. The husband gives his bag of dollars to the wife, while the
sons present some token of affection to the sisters. Surely, at such a
moment, the squatters are richly repaid for all their labors.

Every successive year has increased their savings. They now possess a
large stock of horses, cows, and hogs, with abundance of provisions, and
domestic comfort of every kind. The daughters have been married to the
sons of neighboring squatters, and have gained sisters to themselves by
the marriage of their brothers. The government secures to the family the
lands on which, twenty years before, they settled in poverty and
sickness. Larger buildings are erected on piles, secure from the
inundations; where a single cabin once stood, a neat village is now to
be seen; warehouses, stores, and workshops increase the importance of
the place. The squatters live respected, and in due time die regretted
by all who knew them.

Thus are the vast frontiers of our country peopled, and thus does
cultivation, year after year, extend over the western wilds. Time will
no doubt be, when the great valley of the Mississippi, still covered
with primeval forests interspersed with swamps, will smile with
corn-fields and orchards, while crowded cities will rise at intervals
along its banks, and enlightened nations will rejoice in the bounties of
Providence.


IMPROVEMENTS IN THE NAVIGATION OF THE MISSISSIPPI

I have so frequently spoken of the Mississippi that an account of the
progress of navigation on that extraordinary stream may be interesting
even to the student of nature. I shall commence with the year 1808, at
which time a great portion of the western country, and the banks of the
Mississippi River, from above the city of Natchez particularly, were
little more than a waste, or to use words better suited to my feelings,
remained in their natural state. To ascend the great stream against a
powerful current, rendered still stronger wherever islands occurred,
together with the thousands of sand-banks, as liable to changes and
shiftings as the alluvial shores themselves, which at every deep curve
or _bend_ were seen giving way, as if crushed down by the weight of the
great forests that everywhere reached to the very edge of the water, and
falling and sinking in the muddy stream by acres at a time, was an
adventure of no small difficulty and risk, and which was rendered more
so by the innumerable logs, called _sawyers_ and _planters_, that
everywhere raised their heads above the water, as if bidding defiance to
all intruders. Few white inhabitants had yet marched towards its shores,
and these few were of a class little able to assist the navigator. Here
and there a solitary encampment of native Indians might be seen, but its
inmates were as likely to prove foes as friends, having from their birth
been made keenly sensible of the encroachments of the white men upon
their lands.

Such was then the nature of the Mississippi and its shores. That river
was navigated, principally in the direction of the current, in small
canoes, pirogues, keel-boats, some flatboats, and a few barges. The
canoes and pirogues, being generally laden with furs from the different
heads of streams that feed the great river, were of little worth after
reaching the market of New Orleans, and seldom reascended, the owners
making their way home through the woods, amidst innumerable
difficulties. The flatboats were demolished and used as fire-wood. The
keel-boats and barges were employed in conveying produce of different
kinds besides furs, such as lead, flour, pork, and other articles. These
returned laden with sugar, coffee, and dry goods suited for the markets
of St. Geneviève and St. Louis on the upper Mississippi, or branched off
and ascended the Ohio to the foot of the Falls near Louisville in
Kentucky. But, reader, follow their movements, and judge for yourself of
the fatigues, troubles, and risks of the men employed in that
navigation. A keel-boat was generally manned by ten hands, principally
Canadian French, and a patroon or master. These boats seldom carried
more than from twenty to thirty tons. The barges frequently had forty or
fifty men, with a patroon, and carried fifty or sixty tons. Both these
kinds of vessels were provided with a mast, a square sail, and coils of
cordage known by the name of _cordelles_. Each boat or barge carried its
own provisions. We shall suppose one of these boats under way, and,
having passed Natchez, entering upon what were the difficulties of their
ascent. Wherever a point projected, so as to render the course or bend
below it of some magnitude, there was an eddy, the returning current of
which was sometimes as strong as that of the middle of the great stream.
The bargemen therefore rowed up pretty close under the bank, and had
merely to keep watch in the bow, lest the boat should run against a
planter or sawyer. But the boat has reached the point, and there the
current is to all appearance of double strength, and right against it.
The men, who have all rested a few minutes, are ordered to take their
stations, and lay hold of their oars, for the river must be crossed, it
being seldom possible to double such a point, and proceed along the same
shore. The boat is crossing, its head slanting to the current, which is,
however, too strong for the rowers, and when the other side of the river
has been reached, it has drifted perhaps a quarter of a mile. The men
are by this time exhausted, and, as we shall suppose it to be twelve
o'clock, fasten the boat to the shore or to a tree. A small glass of
whiskey is given to each, when they cook and eat their dinner, and after
repairing their fatigue by an hour's repose, recommence their labors.
The boat is again seen slowly advancing against the stream. It has
reached the lower end of a large sand-bar, along the edge of which it is
propelled by means of long poles, if the bottom be hard. Two men called
bowsmen remain at the prow, to assist, in concert with the steersman, in
managing the boat, and keeping its head right against the current. The
rest place themselves on the land side of the footway of the vessel, put
one end of their poles on the ground, the other against their shoulders,
and push with all their might. As each of the men reaches the stern, he
crosses to the other side, runs along it, and comes again to the
landward side of the bow, when he recommences operations. The barge in
the meantime is ascending at a rate not exceeding one mile in the hour.

The bar is at length passed, and as the shore in sight is straight on
both sides of the river, and the current uniformly strong, the poles are
laid aside, and the men being equally divided, those on the river side
take to their oars, whilst those on the land side lay hold of the
branches of willows, or other trees, and thus slowly propel the boat.
Here and there however, the trunk of a fallen tree, partly lying on the
bank, and partly projecting beyond it, impedes their progress, and
requires to be doubled. This is performed by striking it with the iron
points of the poles and gaff-hooks. The sun is now quite low, and the
barge is again secured in the best harbor within reach. The navigators
cook their supper, and betake themselves to their blankets or Bear skins
to rest, or perhaps light a large fire on the shore, under the smoke of
which they repose, in order to avoid the persecutions of the myriads of
mosquitoes which are found along the river during the whole summer.
Perhaps, from dawn to sunset, the boat may have advanced fifteen miles.
If so, it has done well. The next day, the wind proves favorable, the
sail is set, the boat takes all advantages, and meeting with no
accident, has ascended thirty miles, perhaps double that distance. The
next day comes with a very different aspect. The wind is right ahead,
the shores are without trees of any kind, and the canes on the bank are
so thick and stout that not even the cordelles can be used. This
occasions a halt. The time is not altogether lost, as most of the men,
being provided with rifles, betake themselves to the woods, and search
for the Deer, the Bears, or the Turkeys that are generally abundant
there. Three days may pass before the wind changes, and the advantages
gained on the previous fine day are forgotten. Again the boat proceeds,
but in passing over a shallow place, runs on a log, swings with the
current, but hangs fast, with her lee side almost under water. Now for
the poles! All hands are on deck, bustling and pushing. At length,
towards sunset, the boat is once more afloat, and is again taken to the
shore, where the wearied crew pass another night.

I shall not continue this account of difficulties, it having already
become painful in the extreme. I could tell you of the crew abandoning
the boat and cargo, and of numberless accidents and perils; but be it
enough to say that advancing in this tardy manner, the boat that left
New Orleans on the first of March often did not reach the Falls of the
Ohio until the month of July,--nay, sometimes not until October; and
after all this immense trouble, it brought only a few bags of coffee,
and at most one hundred hogsheads of sugar. Such was the state of things
in 1808. The number of barges at that period did not amount to more than
twenty-five or thirty, and the largest probably did not exceed one
hundred tons burden. To make the best of this fatiguing navigation, I
may conclude by saying that a barge which came up in three months had
done wonders, for, I believe, few voyages were performed in that time.

If I am not mistaken, the first steamboat that went down out of the Ohio
to New Orleans was named the "Orleans," and, if I remember right, was
commanded by Captain Ogden. This voyage, I believe, was performed in the
spring of 1810. It was, as you may suppose, looked upon as the _ne plus
ultra_ of enterprise. Soon after, another vessel came from Pittsburgh,
and before many years elapsed, to see a vessel so propelled had become a
common occurrence. In 1826, after a lapse of time that proved sufficient
to double the population of the United States of America, the navigation
of the Mississippi had so improved, both in respect to facility and
quickness, that I know no better way of giving you an idea of it than by
presenting you with an extract from a letter written by my eldest son,
which was taken from the books of N. Berthoud, Esq., with whom he at
that time resided.

"You ask me in your last letter for a list of the arrivals and
departures here. I give you an abstract from our list of 1826, showing
the number of boats which plied each year, their tonnage, the trips they
performed, and the quantity of goods landed here from New Orleans and
intermediate places:--

                                    Boats.  Tons.  Trips.  Tons.
      1823, from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31,   42    7860     98   19,453
      1824,   "    "    "  Nov. 25,   36    6393    118   20,291
      1825,   "    "    "  Aug. 15,   42    7484    140   24,102
      1826,   "    "    "  Dec. 31,   51    9386    182   28,914

The amount for the present year will be much greater than any of the
above. The number of flatboats and keel-boats is beyond calculation. The
number of steamboats above the Falls I cannot say much about, except
that one or two arrive at and leave Louisville every day. Their passage
from Cincinnati is commonly fourteen or sixteen hours. The "Tecumseh," a
boat which runs between this place and New Orleans, which is of 210
tons, arrived here on the 10th inst. in nine days, seven hours, from
port to port; and the "Philadelphia," of 300 tons, made the passage in
nine days, nine and a half hours, the computed distance being 1650
miles. These are the quickest trips made. There are now in operation on
the waters west of the Alleghany Mountains 140 or 150 boats. We had last
spring (1826) a very high freshet, which came four and a half feet deep
in the counting-room. The rise was 57 feet 3 inches perpendicular."

All the steamboats of which this is an account did not perform voyages
to New Orleans only, but to all points on the Mississippi, and other
rivers which fall into it. I am certain that since the above date the
number has increased, but to what extent I cannot at present say.

When steamboats first plied between Shippingport and New Orleans, the
cabin passage was a hundred dollars, and a hundred and fifty dollars on
the upward voyage. In 1829, I went down to Natchez from Shippingport for
twenty-five dollars, and ascended from New Orleans on board the
"Philadelphia," in the beginning of January, 1830, for sixty dollars,
having taken two state-rooms for my wife and myself. On that voyage we
met with a trifling accident, which protracted it to fourteen days, the
computed distance being, as mentioned above, 1650 miles, although the
real distance is probably less. I do not remember to have spent a day
without meeting with a steamboat, and some days we met several. I might
here be tempted to give you a description of one of these steamers of
the western waters, but the picture having been often drawn by abler
hands, I shall desist.


KENTUCKY SPORTS

It may not be amiss, kind reader, before I attempt to give you some idea
of the pleasures experienced by the sportsmen of Kentucky, to introduce
the subject with a slight description of that State.

Kentucky was formerly attached to Virginia, but in those days the
Indians looked upon that portion of the western wilds as their own, and
abandoned the district only when forced to do so, moving with
disconsolate hearts farther into the recesses of the unexplored forests.
Doubtless the richness of its soil, and the beauty of its borders,
situated as they are along one of the most beautiful rivers in the
world, contributed as much to attract the Old Virginians as the desire,
so generally experienced in America, of spreading over the uncultivated
tracts, and bringing into cultivation lands that have for unknown ages
teemed with the wild luxuriance of untamed nature. The conquest of
Kentucky was not performed without many difficulties. The warfare that
long existed between the intruders and the Redskins was sanguinary and
protracted; but the former at length made good their footing, and the
latter drew off their shattered bands, dismayed by the mental
superiority and indomitable courage of the white men.

This region was probably discovered by a daring hunter, the renowned
Daniel Boone. The richness of its soil, its magnificent forests, its
numberless navigable streams, its salt springs and licks, its saltpetre
caves, its coal strata, and the vast herds of Buffaloes and Deer that
browsed on its hills and amidst its charming valleys, afforded ample
inducements to the new settler, who pushed forward with a spirit far
above that of the most undaunted tribes which for ages had been the sole
possessors of the soil.

The Virginians thronged towards the Ohio. An axe, a couple of horses,
and a heavy rifle, with store of ammunition, were all that were
considered necessary for the equipments of the man, who, with his
family, removed to the new State, assured that, in that land of
exuberant fertility, he could not fail to provide amply for all his
wants. To have witnessed the industry and perseverance of these
emigrants must at once have proved the vigor of their minds. Regardless
of the fatigue attending every movement which they made, they pushed
through an unexplored region of dark and tangled forests, guiding
themselves by the sun alone, and reposing at night on the bare ground.
Numberless streams they had to cross on rafts, with their wives and
children, their cattle and their luggage, often drifting to considerable
distances before they could effect a landing on the opposite shores.
Their cattle would often stray amid the rice pasturage of these shores,
and occasion a delay of several days. To these troubles add the
constantly impending danger of being murdered, while asleep in their
encampments, by the prowling and ruthless Indians; while they had before
them a distance of hundreds of miles to be traversed, before they could
reach certain places of rendezvous called _Stations_. To encounter
difficulties like these must have required energies of no ordinary kind;
and the reward which these veteran settlers enjoy was doubtless well
merited.

  [Illustration: VICTOR GIFFORD AUDUBON, 1853.]

Some removed from the Atlantic shores to those of the Ohio in more
comfort and security. They had their wagons, their negroes, and their
families. Their way was cut through the woods by their own axemen,
the day before their advance, and when night overtook them, the hunters
attached to the party came to the place pitched upon for encamping,
loaded with the dainties of which the forest yielded an abundant supply,
the blazing light of a huge fire guiding their steps as they approached,
and the sounds of merriment that saluted their ears assuring them that
all was well. The flesh of the Buffalo, the Bear, and the Deer soon
hung, in large and delicious steaks, in front of the embers; the cakes
already prepared were deposited in their proper places, and under the
rich drippings of the juicy roasts were quickly baked. The wagons
contained the bedding, and whilst the horses which had drawn them were
turned loose to feed on the luxuriant undergrowth of the woods--some
perhaps hoppled, but the greater number merely with a light bell hung to
their neck, to guide their owners in the morning to the spot where they
might have rambled--the party were enjoying themselves after the
fatigues of the day.

In anticipation all is pleasure; and these migrating bands feasted in
joyous sociality, unapprehensive of any greater difficulties than those
to be encountered in forcing their way through the pathless woods to the
land of abundance; and although it took months to accomplish the
journey, and a skirmish now and then took place between them and the
Indians, who sometimes crept unperceived into their very camp, still did
the Virginians cheerfully proceed towards the western horizon, until the
various groups all reached the Ohio, when, struck with the beauty of
that magnificent stream, they at once commenced the task of clearing
land, for the purpose of establishing a permanent residence.

Others, perhaps encumbered with too much luggage, preferred descending
the stream. They prepared _arks_ pierced with port-holes, and glided on
the gentle current, more annoyed, however, than those who marched by
land by the attacks of the Indians who watched their motions. Many
travellers have described these boats, formerly called _arks_, but now
named _flatboats_. But have they told you, kind reader, that in those
times a boat thirty or forty feet in length, by ten or twelve in
breadth, was considered a stupendous fabric; that this boat contained
men, women and children, huddled together, with horses, cattle, hogs and
poultry for their companions, while the remaining portion was crammed
with vegetables and packages of seeds? The roof or deck of the boat was
not unlike a farm-yard, being covered with hay, ploughs, carts, wagons,
and various agricultural implements, together with numerous others,
among which the spinning-wheels of the matrons were conspicuous. Even
the sides of the floating-mass were loaded with the wheels of the
different vehicles, which themselves lay on the roof. Have they told you
that these boats contained the little all of each family of venturous
emigrants, who, fearful of being discovered by the Indians under night
moved in darkness, groping their way from one part to another of these
floating habitations, denying themselves the comfort of fire or light,
lest the foe that watched them from the shore should rush upon them and
destroy them? Have they told you that this boat was used, after the
tedious voyage was ended, as the first dwelling of these new settlers?
No, kind reader, such things have not been related to you before. The
travellers who have visited our country have had other objects in view.

I shall not describe the many massacres which took place among the
different parties of white and red men, as the former moved down the
Ohio; because I have never been very fond of battles, and indeed have
always wished that the world were more peaceably inclined than it is;
and shall merely add that, in one way or other, Kentucky was wrested
from the original owners of the soil. Let us, therefore, turn our
attention to the sports still enjoyed in that now happy portion of the
United States.

We have individuals in Kentucky, kind reader, that even there are
considered wonderful adepts in the management of the rifle. To _drive a
nail_ is a common feat, not more thought of by the Kentuckians than to
cut off a Wild Turkey's head, at a distance of a hundred yards. Others
will _bark_ off Squirrels one after another, until satisfied with the
number procured. Some, less intent on destroying game, may be seen under
night _snuffing a candle_ at the distance of fifty yards, off-hand,
without extinguishing it. I have been told that some have proved so
expert and cool as to make choice of the eye of a foe at a wonderful
distance, boasting beforehand of the sureness of their piece, which has
afterwards been fully proved when the enemy's head has been examined!

Having resided some years in Kentucky, and having more than once been
witness of rifle sport, I shall present you with the results of my
observation, leaving you to judge how far rifle-shooting is understood
in that State.

Several individuals who conceive themselves expert in the management of
the gun are often seen to meet for the purpose of displaying their
skill, and betting a trifling sum, put up a target, in the centre of
which a common-sized nail is hammered for about two-thirds of its
length. The marksmen make choice of what they consider a proper
distance, which may be forty paces. Each man cleans the interior of his
tube, which is called _wiping_ it, places a ball in the palm of his
hand, pouring as much powder from his horn upon it as will cover it.
This quantity is supposed to be sufficient for any distance within a
hundred yards. A shot which comes very close to the nail is considered
as that of an indifferent marksman; the bending of the nail is, of
course, somewhat better; but nothing less than hitting it right on the
head is satisfactory. Well, kind reader, one out of three shots
generally hits the nail, and should the shooters amount to half a
dozen, two nails are frequently needed before each can have a shot.
Those who drive the nail have a further trial amongst themselves, and
the two best shots out of these generally settle the affair, when all
the sportsmen adjourn to some house, and spend an hour or two in
friendly intercourse, appointing, before they part, a day for another
trial. This is technically termed _driving the nail_.

_Barking off Squirrels_ is delightful sport, and in my opinion requires
a greater degree of accuracy than any other. I first witnessed this
manner of procuring Squirrels whilst near the town of Frankfort. The
performer was the celebrated Daniel Boone. We walked out together, and
followed the rocky margins of the Kentucky River, until we reached a
piece of flat land thickly covered with black walnuts, oaks, and
hickories. As the general mast was a good one that year, Squirrels were
seen gambolling on every tree around us. My companion, a stout, hale,
and athletic man, dressed in a homespun hunting-shirt, bare-legged and
moccasined, carried a long and heavy rifle, which, as he was loading it,
he said had proved efficient in all his former undertakings, and which
he hoped would not fail on this occasion, as he felt proud to show me
his skill. The gun was wiped, the powder measured, the ball patched with
six-hundred-thread linen, and the charge sent home with a hickory rod.
We moved not a step from the place, for the Squirrels were so numerous
that it was unnecessary to go after them. Boone pointed to one of these
animals which had observed us, and was crouched on a branch about fifty
paces distant, and bade me mark well the spot where the ball should hit.
He raised his piece gradually, until the _bead_ (that being the name
given by the Kentuckians to the _sight_) of the barrel was brought to a
line with the spot which he intended to hit. The whip-like report
resounded through the woods and along the hills, in repeated echoes.
Judge of my surprise when I perceived that the ball had hit the piece
of the bark immediately beneath the Squirrel, and shivered it into
splinters, the concussion produced by which had killed the animal, and
sent it whirling through the air, as if it had been blown up by the
explosion of a powder magazine. Boone kept up his firing, and, before
many hours had elapsed, we had procured as many Squirrels as we wished;
for you must know, kind reader, that to load a rifle requires only a
moment, and that if it is wiped once after each shot, it will do duty
for hours. Since that first interview with our veteran Boone I have seen
many other individuals perform the same feat.

The _snuffing of a candle_ with a ball, I first had an opportunity of
seeing near the banks of Green River, not far from a large Pigeon-roost
to which I had previously made a visit. I heard many reports of guns
during the early part of a dark night, and knowing them to be those of
rifles, I went towards the spot to ascertain the cause. On reaching the
place, I was welcomed by a dozen of tall stout men, who told me they
were exercising, for the purpose of enabling them to shoot under night
at the reflected light from the eyes of a Deer or Wolf, by torchlight,
of which I shall give you an account somewhere else. A fire was blazing
near, the smoke of which rose curling among the thick foliage of the
trees. At a distance which rendered it scarcely distinguishable, stood a
burning candle, as if intended for an offering to the goddess of night,
but which in reality was only fifty yards from the spot on which we all
stood. One man was within a few yards of it, to watch the effects of the
shots, as well as to light the candle should it chance to go out, or to
replace it should the shot cut it across. Each marksman shot in his
turn. Some never hit either the snuff or the candle, and were
congratulated with a loud laugh; while others actually snuffed the
candle without putting it out, and were recompensed for their dexterity
by numerous hurrahs. One of them, who was particularly expert, was very
fortunate, and snuffed the candle three times out of seven, whilst all
the other shots either put out the candle or cut it immediately under
the light.

Of the feats performed by the Kentuckians with the rifle, I could say
more than might be expedient on the present occasion. In every thinly
peopled portion of the State, it is rare to meet one without a gun of
that description, as well as a tomahawk. By way of recreation, they
often cut off a piece of the bark of a tree, make a target of it, using
a little powder wetted with water or saliva, for the bull's-eye, and
shoot into the mark all the balls they have about them, picking them out
of the wood again.

After what I have said, you may easily imagine with what ease a
Kentuckian procures game, or despatches an enemy, more especially when I
tell you that every one in the State is accustomed to handle the rifle
from the time when he is first able to shoulder it until near the close
of his career. That murderous weapon is the means of procuring them
subsistence during all their wild and extensive rambles, and is the
source of their principal sports and pleasures.


THE TRAVELLER AND THE POLE-CAT

On a journey from Louisville to Henderson in Kentucky, performed during
very severe winter weather, in company with a foreigner, the initials of
whose name are D. T., my companion, spying a beautiful animal, marked
with black and pale yellow, and having a long and bushy tail, exclaimed,
"Mr. Audubon, is not that a beautiful Squirrel?" "Yes," I answered, "and
of a kind that will suffer you to approach it and lay hold of it, if you
are well gloved." Mr. D. T., dismounting, took up a dry stick, and
advanced towards the pretty animal, with his large cloak floating in
the breeze. I think I see him approach, and laying the stick gently
across the body of the animal, try to secure it; and I can yet laugh
almost as heartily as I did then, when I plainly saw the discomfiture of
the traveller. The Pole-cat (for a true Pole-cat it was, the _Mephitis
americana_ of zoölogists) raised its fine bushy tail, and showered such
a discharge of the fluid given him by nature as a defence that my
friend, dismayed and infuriated, began to belabor the poor animal. The
swiftness and good management of the Pole-cat, however, saved its bones,
and as it made its retreat towards its hole, it kept up at every step a
continued ejectment, which fully convinced the gentleman that the
pursuit of such Squirrels as these was at the best an unprofitable
employment.

This was not all, however. I could not suffer his approach, nor could my
horse; it was with difficulty he mounted his own; and we were forced to
continue our journey far asunder, and he much to leeward. Nor did the
matter end here. We could not proceed much farther that night; as, in
the first place, it was nearly dark when we saw the Pole-cat, and as, in
the second place, a heavy snow-storm began, and almost impeded our
progress. We were forced to make for the first cabin we saw. Having
asked and obtained permission to rest for the night, we dismounted and
found ourselves amongst a crowd of men and women who had met for the
purpose of _corn-shucking_.

To a European who has not visited the western parts of the United
States, an explanation of this corn-shucking may not be unacceptable.
Corn (or you may prefer calling it maize) is gathered in the husk, that
is, by breaking each large ear from the stem. These ears are first
thrown into heaps in the field, and afterwards carried in carts to the
barn, or, as in this instance, and in such portions of Kentucky, to a
shed made of the blades or long leaves that hang in graceful curves from
the stalk, and which, when plucked and dried, are used instead of hay as
food for horses and cattle. The husk consists of several thick leaves
rather longer than the corn-ear itself, and which secure it from the
weather. It is quite a labor to detach these leaves from the ear when
thousands of bushels of the corn are gathered and heaped together. For
this purpose, however, and in the western country more especially,
several neighboring families join alternately at each other's
plantations, and assist in clearing away the husks, thus preparing the
maize for the market or for domestic use.

The good people whom we met with at this hospitable house were on the
point of going to the barn (the farmer here being in rather good
condition) to work until towards the middle of the night. When we had
stood the few stares to which strangers must accustom themselves, no
matter where, even in a drawing-room, we approached the fire. What a
shock for the whole party! The scent of the Pole-cat, that had been
almost stifled on my companion's vestments by the cold of the evening
air, now recovered its primitive strength. The cloak was put out of the
house, but its owner could not well be used in the same way. The
company, however, took to their heels, and there only remained a single
black servant, who waited on us till supper was served.

I felt vexed with myself, as I saw the good traveller displeased. But he
had so much good-breeding as to treat this important affair with great
forbearance, and merely said he was sorry for his want of knowledge in
zoölogy. The good gentleman, however, was not only deficient in
zoölogical lore, but, fresh as he was from Europe, felt more than uneasy
in this out-of-the-way house, and would have proceeded towards my own
home that night, had I not at length succeeded in persuading him that he
was in perfect security.

We were shown to bed. As I was almost a stranger to him, and he to me,
he thought it a very awkward thing to be obliged to lie in the same bed
with me, but afterwards spoke of it as a happy circumstance, and
requested that I should suffer him to be placed next the logs, thinking,
no doubt, that there he should run no risk.

We started by break of day, taking with us the frozen cloak, and after
passing a pleasant night in my own house, we parted. Some years after, I
met my Kentucky companion in a far distant land, when he assured me that
whenever the sun shone on his cloak or it was brought near a fire, the
scent of the Pole-cat became so perceptible that he at last gave it to a
poor monk in Italy.

The animal commonly known in America by the name of the Pole-cat is
about a foot and a half in length, with a large bushy tail, nearly as
long as the body. The color is generally brownish-black, with a large
white patch on the back of the head; but there are many varieties of
coloring, in some of which the broad white bands of the back are very
conspicuous. The Pole-cat burrows, or forms a subterranean habitation
among the roots of trees, or in rocky places. It feeds on birds, young
Hares, Rats, Mice, and other animals, and commits great depredations on
poultry. The most remarkable peculiarity of this animal is the power,
alluded to above, of squirting for its defence a most nauseously scented
fluid contained in a receptacle situated under the tail, which it can do
to a distance of several yards. It does not, however, for this purpose
sprinkle its tail with the fluid, as some allege, unless when extremely
harassed by its enemies. The Pole-cat is frequently domesticated. The
removal of the glands prevents the secretion of the nauseous fluid, and
when thus improved, the animal becomes a great favorite, and performs
the offices of the common cat with great dexterity.


DEER HUNTING

The different modes of Deer hunting are probably too well understood,
and too successfully practised in the United States; for,
notwithstanding the almost incredible abundance of these beautiful
animals in our forests and prairies, such havoc is carried on amongst
them that, in a few centuries, they will probably be as scarce in
America as the Great Bustard now is in Britain.

We have three modes of hunting Deer, each varying in some slight degree
in the different States and districts. The first is termed _still
hunting_, and is by far the most destructive. The second is called
_fire-light hunting_, and is next in its exterminating effects. The
third, which may be looked upon as a mere amusement, is named _driving_.
Although many Deer are destroyed by this latter method, it is not by any
means so pernicious as the others. These methods I shall describe
separately.

_Still hunting_ is followed as a kind of trade by most of our
frontier-men. To be practised with success it requires great activity,
an expert management of the rifle, and a thorough knowledge of the
forest, together with an intimate acquaintance with the habits of the
Deer, not only at different seasons of the year, but also at every hour
of the day, as the hunters must be aware of the situations which the
game prefers, and in which it is most likely to be found at any
particular time. I might here present you with a full account of the
habits of our Deer, were it not my intention to lay before you, at some
future period, in the form of a distinct work, the observations which I
have made on the various quadrupeds of our extensive territories.

Illustrations of any kind require to be presented in the best possible
light. We shall therefore suppose that we are now about to follow the
_true hunter_, as the "still hunter" is also called, through the
interior of the tangled woods, across morasses, ravines, and such
places, where the game may prove more or less plentiful, even should
none be found there in the first instance. We shall allow our hunter all
the agility, patience, and care which his occupation requires, and will
march in his rear, as if we were spies, watching all his motions.

His dress, you observe, consists of a leather hunting-shirt, and a pair
of trousers of the same material. His feet are well moccasined; he wears
a belt round his waist; his heavy rifle is resting on his brawny
shoulder; on one side hangs his ball pouch, surmounted by the horn of an
ancient Buffalo, once the terror of the herd, but now containing a pound
of the best gunpowder; his butcher knife is scabbarded in the same
strap; and behind is a tomahawk, the handle of which has been thrust
through his girdle. He walks with so rapid a step that probably few men,
beside ourselves, that is, myself and my kind reader, could follow him,
unless for a short distance, in their anxiety to witness his ruthless
deeds. He stops, looks to the flint of his gun, its priming, and the
leather cover of the lock, then glances his eye towards the sky, to
judge of the course most likely to lead him to the game.

The heavens are clear, the red glare of the morning sun gleams through
the lower branches of the lofty trees, the dew hangs in pearly drops at
the top of every leaf. Already has the emerald hue of the foliage been
converted into the more glowing tints of our autumnal months. A slight
frost appears on the fence-rails of his little corn-field. As he
proceeds he looks to the dead foliage under his feet, in search of the
well-known traces of a buck's hoof. Now he bends towards the ground, on
which something has attracted his attention. See! he alters his course,
increases his speed, and will soon reach the opposite hill. Now he moves
with caution, stops at almost every tree, and peeps forward, as if
already within shooting distance of the game. He advances again, but
how very slowly! He has reached the declivity, upon which the sun shines
in all its growing splendor; but mark him! he takes the gun from his
shoulder, has already thrown aside the leathern cover of the lock, and
is wiping the edge of the flint with his tongue. Now he stands like a
monumental figure, perhaps measuring the distance that lies between him
and the game which he has in view. His rifle is slowly raised, the
report follows, and he runs. Let us run also. Shall I speak to him, and
ask him the result of this first essay? Assuredly, reader, for I know
him well.

"Pray, friend, what have you killed?" for to say, "What have you shot
at?" might imply the possibility of having missed, and so might hurt his
feelings. "Nothing but a buck." "And where is it?" "Oh, it has taken a
jump or so, but I settled it, and will soon be with it. My ball struck,
and must have gone through his heart." We arrive at the spot where the
animal had laid itself down among the grass in a thicket of grape-vines,
sumach, and spruce bushes, where it intended to repose during the middle
of the day. The place is covered with blood, the hoofs of the Deer have
left deep prints in the ground, as it bounced in the agonies produced by
its wound; but the blood that has gushed from its side discloses the
course which it has taken. We soon reach the spot. There lies the buck,
its tongue out, its eye dim, its breath exhausted; it is dead. The
hunter draws his knife, cuts the buck's throat almost asunder, and
prepares to skin it. For this purpose he hangs it upon the branch of a
tree. When the skin is removed, he cuts off the hams, and abandoning the
rest of the carcass to the Wolves and Vultures, reloads his gun, flings
the venison, enclosed by the skin, upon his back, secures it with a
strap, and walks off in search of more game, well knowing that, in the
immediate neighborhood, another at least is to be found.

Had the weather been warmer, the hunter would have sought for the buck
along the _shadowy_ side of the hills. Had it been the spring season, he
would have led us through some thick cane-brake, to the margin of some
remote lake, where you would have seen the Deer immersed to his head in
the water, to save his body from the tormenting attacks of mosquitoes.
Had winter overspread the earth with a covering of snow, he would have
searched the low, damp woods, where the mosses and lichens, on which at
that period the Deer feeds, abound; the trees being generally crusted
with them for several feet from the ground. At one time he might have
marked the places where the Deer clears the velvet from his horns by
rubbing them against the low stems of bushes, and where he frequently
scrapes the earth with his fore-hoofs; at another he would have betaken
himself to places where persimmons and crab-apples abound, as beneath
these trees the Deer frequently stops to munch their fruits. During
early spring our hunter would imitate the bleating of the doe, and thus
frequently obtain both her and the fawn, or, like some tribes of
Indians, he would prepare a Deer's head, placed on a stick, and creeping
with it amongst the tall grass of the prairies, would decoy Deer in
reach of his rifle. But, kind reader, you have seen enough of the _still
hunter_. Let it suffice for me to add that by the mode pursued by him
thousands of Deer are annually killed, many individuals shooting these
animals merely for the skin, not caring for even the most valuable
portions of the flesh, unless hunger, or a near market, induce them to
carry off the hams.

The mode of destroying deer by _fire-light_, or, as it is named in some
parts of the country, _forest-light_, never fails to produce a very
singular feeling in him who witnesses it for the first time. There is
something in it which at times appears awfully grand. At other times a
certain degree of fear creeps over the mind, and even affects the
physical powers of him who follows the hunter through the thick
undergrowth of our woods, having to leap his horse over hundreds of huge
fallen trunks, at one time impeded by a straggling grape-vine crossing
his path, at another squeezed between two stubborn saplings, whilst
their twigs come smack in his face, as his companion has forced his way
through them. Again, he now and then runs the risk of breaking his neck,
by being suddenly pitched headlong on the ground, as his horse sinks
into a hole covered over with moss. But I must proceed in a more regular
manner, and leave you, kind reader, to judge whether such a mode of
hunting would suit your taste or not.

The hunter has returned to his camp or his house, has rested and eaten
of his game. He waits impatiently for the return of night. He has
procured a quantity of pine knots filled with resinous matter, and has
an old frying-pan, that, for aught I know to the contrary, may have been
used by his great-grandmother, in which the pine-knots are to be placed
when lighted. The horses stand saddled at the door. The hunter comes
forth, his rifle slung on his shoulder, and springs upon one of them,
while his son, or a servant, mounts the other with the frying-pan and
the pine-knots. Thus accoutred, they proceed towards the interior of the
forest. When they have arrived at the spot where the hunt is to begin,
they strike fire with a flint and steel, and kindle the resinous wood.
The person who carries the fire moves in the direction judged to be the
best. The blaze illuminates the near objects, but the distant parts seem
involved in deepest obscurity. The hunter who bears the gun keeps
immediately in front, and after a while discovers before him two feeble
lights, which are produced by the reflection of the pine-fire from the
eyes of an animal of the Deer or Wolf kind. The animal stands quite
still. To one unacquainted with this strange mode of hunting, the glare
from its eyes might bring to his imagination some lost hobgoblin that
had strayed from its usual haunts. The hunter, however, nowise
intimidated, approaches the object, sometimes so near as to discern its
form, when, raising the rifle to his shoulder, he fires and kills it on
the spot. He then dismounts, secures the skin and such portions of the
flesh as he may want, in the manner already described, and continues his
search through the greater part of the night, sometimes until the dawn
of day, shooting from five to ten Deer, should these animals be
plentiful. This kind of hunting proves fatal, not to the Deer alone, but
also sometimes to Wolves, and now and then to a horse or cow, which may
have straggled far into the woods.

Now, kind reader, prepare to mount a generous, full-blood Virginian
hunter. See that your gun is in complete order, for hark to the sound of
the bugle and horn, and the mingled clamor of a pack of harriers! Your
friends are waiting for you, under the shade of the wood, and we must
together go _driving_ the light-footed Deer. The distance over which one
has to travel is seldom felt when pleasure is anticipated as the result;
so galloping we go pell-mell through the woods, to some well-known place
where many a fine buck has drooped its antlers under the ball of the
hunter's rifle. The servants, who are called the drivers, have already
begun their search. Their voices are heard exciting the hounds, and
unless we put spurs to our steeds, we may be too late at our stand, and
thus lose the first opportunity of shooting the fleeting game as it
passes by. Hark again! The dogs are in chase, the horn sounds louder and
more clearly. Hurry, hurry on, or we shall be sadly behind!

Here we are at last! Dismount, fasten your horse to this tree, place
yourself by the side of that large yellow poplar, and mind you do not
shoot me! The Deer is fast approaching; I will to my own stand, and he
who shoots him dead wins the prize.

The Deer is heard coming. It has inadvertently cracked a dead stick with
its hoof, and the dogs are now so near that it will pass in a moment.
There it comes! How beautifully it bounds over the ground! What a
splendid head of horns! How easy its attitudes, depending, as it seems
to do, on its own swiftness for safety! All is in vain, however; a gun
is fired, the animal plunges and doubles with incomparable speed. There
he goes! He passes another stand, from which a second shot, better
directed than the first, brings him to the ground. The dogs, the
servants, the sportsmen are now rushing forward to the spot. The hunter
who has shot it is congratulated on his skill or good luck, and the
chase begins again in some other part of the woods.

A few lines of explanation may be required to convey a clear idea of
this mode of hunting. Deer are fond of following and retracing paths
which they have formerly pursued, and continue to do so even after they
have been shot at more than once. These tracks are discovered by persons
on horseback in the woods, or a Deer is observed crossing a road, a
field, or a small stream. When this has been noticed twice, the deer may
be shot from the places called _stands_ by the sportsman, who is
stationed there, and waits for it, a line of stands being generally
formed so as to cross the path which the game will follow. The person
who ascertains the usual pass of the game, or discovers the parts where
the animal feeds or lies down during the day, gives intimation to his
friends, who then prepare for the chase. The servants start the Deer
with the hounds, and by good management generally succeed in making it
run the course that will soonest bring it to its death. But, should the
Deer be cautious, and take another course, the hunters, mounted on swift
horses, gallop through the woods to intercept it, guided by the sound of
the horns and the cry of the dogs, and frequently succeed in shooting
it. This sport is extremely agreeable, and proves successful on almost
every occasion.

Hoping that this account will be sufficient to induce you, kind reader,
to go _driving_ in our western and southern woods, I now conclude my
chapter on Deer Hunting by informing you that the species referred to
above is the Virginia Deer, _Cervus virginianus_; and that, until I be
able to present you with a full account of its habits and history, you
may consult for information respecting it the excellent "Fauna
Americana" of my esteemed friend Dr. Harlan, of Philadelphia.


THE ECCENTRIC NATURALIST

"What an odd-looking fellow!" said I to myself, as, while walking by the
river, I observed a man landing from a boat, with what I thought a
bundle of dried clover on his back; "how the boatmen stare at him! sure
he must be an original!" He ascended with a rapid step, and approaching
me asked if I could point out the house in which Mr. Audubon resided.
"Why, I am the man," said I, "and will gladly lead you to my dwelling."

The traveller rubbed his hands together with delight, and drawing a
letter from his pocket handed it to me without any remark. I broke the
seal and read as follows: "My dear Audubon, I send you an odd fish,
which you may prove to be undescribed, and hope you will do so in your
next letter. Believe me always your friend B." With all the simplicity
of a woodsman I asked the bearer where the odd fish was, when M. de T.
(for, kind reader, the individual in my presence was none else than that
renowned naturalist) smiled, rubbed his hands, and with the greatest
good-humor said, "I am that odd fish I presume, Mr. Audubon." I felt
confounded and blushed, but contrived to stammer an apology.

We soon reached the house, when I presented my learned guest to my
family, and was ordering a servant to go to the boat for M. de T.'s
luggage, when he told me he had none but what he brought on his back.
He then loosened the pack of weeds which had first drawn my attention.
The ladies were a little surprised, but I checked their critical glances
for the moment. The naturalist pulled off his shoes, and while engaged
in drawing his stockings, not up, but down, in order to cover the holes
about the heels, told us in the gayest mood imaginable that he had
walked a great distance, and had only taken a passage on board the
_ark_, to be put on this shore, and that he was sorry his apparel had
suffered so much from his late journey. Clean clothes were offered, but
he would not accept them, and it was with evident reluctance that he
performed the lavations usual on such occasions before he sat down to
dinner.

At table, however, his agreeable conversation made us all forget his
singular appearance; and, indeed, it was only as we strolled together in
the garden that his attire struck me as exceedingly remarkable. A long
loose coat of yellow nankeen, much the worse for the many rubs it had
got in its time, and stained all over with the juice of plants, hung
loosely about him like a sac. A waistcoat of the same, with enormous
pockets, and buttoned up to his chin, reached below over a pair of tight
pantaloons, the lower parts of which were buttoned down to the ankles.
His beard was as long as I have known my own to be during some of my
peregrinations, and his lank black hair hung loosely over his shoulders.
His forehead was so broad and prominent that any tyro in phrenology
would instantly have pronounced it the residence of a mind of strong
powers. His words impressed an assurance of rigid truth, and as he
directed the conversation to the study of the natural sciences, I
listened to him with as much delight as Telemachus could have listened
to Mentor. He had come to visit me, he said, expressly for the purpose
of seeing my drawings, having been told that my representations of birds
were accompanied with those of shrubs and plants, and he was desirous
of knowing whether I might chance to have in my collection any with
which he was unacquainted. I observed some degree of impatience in his
request to be allowed at once to see what I had. We returned to the
house, when I opened my portfolios and laid them before him.

He chanced to turn over the drawing of a plant quite new to him. After
inspecting it closely, he shook his head, and told me no such plant
existed in nature; for, kind reader, M. de T., although a highly
scientific man, was suspicious to a fault, and believed such plants only
to exist as he had himself seen, or such as, having been discovered of
old, had, according to Father Malebranche's expression, acquired a
"venerable beard." I told my guest that the plant was common in the
immediate neighborhood, and that I should show it him on the morrow.
"And why to-morrow, Mr. Audubon? Let us go now." We did so, and on
reaching the bank of the river I pointed to the plant. M. de T., I
thought, had gone mad. He plucked the plants one after another, danced,
hugged me in his arms, and exultingly told me that he had got not merely
a new species, but a new genus. When we returned home, the naturalist
opened the bundle which he had brought on his back, and took out a
journal rendered water-proof by means of a leather case, together with a
small parcel of linen, examined the new plant, and wrote its
description. The examination of my drawings then went on. You would be
pleased, kind reader, to hear his criticisms, which were of the greatest
advantage to me, for, being well acquainted with books as well as with
nature, he was well fitted to give me advice.

It was summer, and the heat was so great that the windows were all open.
The light of the candles attracted many insects, among which was
observed a large species of Scarabæus. I caught one, and, aware of his
inclination to believe only what he should himself see, I showed him
the insect, and assured him it was so strong that it would crawl on the
table with the candlestick on its back. "I should like to see the
experiment made, Mr. Audubon," he replied. It was accordingly made, and
the insect moved about, dragging its burden so as to make the
candlestick change its position as if by magic, until coming upon the
edge of the table, it dropped on the floor, took to wing, and made its
escape.

When it waxed late, I showed him to the apartment intended for him
during his stay, and endeavored to render him comfortable, leaving him
writing materials in abundance. I was indeed heartily glad to have a
naturalist under my roof. We had all retired to rest. Every person I
imagined was in deep slumber save myself, when of a sudden I heard a
great uproar in the naturalist's room. I got up, reached the place in a
few moments, and opened the door, when to my astonishment, I saw my
guest running about the room naked, holding the handle of my favorite
violin, the body of which he had battered to pieces against the walls in
attempting to kill the bats which had entered by the open window,
probably attracted by the insects flying around his candle. I stood
amazed, but he continued jumping and running round and round, until he
was fairly exhausted, when he begged me to procure one of the animals
for him, as he felt convinced they belonged to "a new species." Although
I was convinced of the contrary, I took up the bow of my demolished
Cremona, and administering a smart tap to each of the bats as it came
up, soon got specimens enough. The war ended, I again bade him
good-night, but could not help observing the state of the room. It was
strewed with plants, which it would seem he had arranged into groups,
but which were now scattered about in confusion. "Never mind, Mr.
Audubon," quoth the eccentric naturalist, "never mind, I'll soon arrange
them again. I have the bats, and that's enough."

Some days passed, during which we followed our several occupations. M.
de T. searched the woods for plants, and I for birds. He also followed
the margins of the Ohio, and picked up many shells, which he greatly
extolled. With us, I told him, they were gathered into heaps to be
converted into lime. "Lime! Mr. Audubon; why, they are worth a guinea
apiece in any part of Europe." One day, as I was returning from a hunt
in a cane-brake, he observed that I was wet and spattered with mud, and
desired me to show him the interior of one of these places, which he
said he had never visited.

The cane, kind reader, formerly grew spontaneously over the greater
portions of the State of Kentucky and other western districts of our
Union, as well as in many farther south. Now, however, cultivation, the
introduction of cattle and horses, and other circumstances connected
with the progress of civilization, have greatly altered the face of the
country, and reduced the cane within comparatively small limits. It
attains a height of from twelve to thirty feet, and a diameter of from
one to two inches, and grows in great patches resembling osier-holts, in
which occur plants of all sizes. The plants frequently grow so close
together, and in course of time become so tangled, as to present an
almost impenetrable thicket. A portion of ground thus covered with canes
is called a _cane-brake_.

If you picture to yourself one of these cane-brakes growing beneath the
gigantic trees that form our western forests, interspersed with vines of
many species, and numberless plants of every description, you may
conceive how difficult it is for one to make his way through it,
especially after a heavy shower of rain or a fall of sleet, when the
traveller, in forcing his way through, shakes down upon himself such
quantities of water as soon reduce him to a state of the utmost
discomfort. The hunters often cut little paths through the thickets with
their knives, but the usual mode of passing through them is by pushing
one's self backward, and wedging a way between the stems. To follow a
Bear or a Cougar pursued by dogs through these brakes is a task the
accomplishment of which may be imagined, but of the difficulties and
dangers accompanying which I cannot easily give an adequate
representation.

The canes generally grow on the richest soil, and are particularly
plentiful along the margins of the great western rivers. Many of our new
settlers are fond of forming farms in their immediate vicinity, as the
plant is much relished by all kinds of cattle and horses, which feed
upon it at all seasons, and again because these brakes are plentifully
stocked with game of various kinds. It sometimes happens that the farmer
clears a portion of the brake. This is done by cutting the stems--which
are fistular and knotted, like those of other grasses--with a large
knife or cutlass. They are afterwards placed in heaps, and when
partially dried set fire to. The moisture contained between the joints
is converted into steam, which causes the cane to burst with a smart
report, and when a whole mass is crackling, the sounds resemble
discharges of musketry. Indeed, I have been told that travellers
floating down the rivers, and unacquainted with these circumstances,
have been induced to pull their oars with redoubled vigor, apprehending
the attack of a host of savages, ready to scalp every one of the party.

A day being fixed, we left home after an early breakfast, crossed the
Ohio, and entered the woods. I had determined that my companion should
view a cane-brake in all its perfection, and after leading him several
miles in a direct course, came upon as fine a sample as existed in that
part of the country. We entered, and for some time proceeded without
much difficulty, as I led the way, and cut down the canes which were
most likely to incommode him. The difficulties gradually increased, so
that we were presently obliged to turn our backs to the foe, and push
ourselves on the best way we could. My companion stopped here and there
to pick up a plant and examine it. After a while we chanced to come upon
the top of a fallen tree, which so obstructed our passage that we were
on the eve of going round, instead of thrusting ourselves through
amongst the branches, when, from its bed in the centre of the tangled
mass, forth rushed a Bear, with such force, and snuffing the air in so
frightful a manner, that M. de T. became suddenly terror-struck, and, in
his haste to escape, made a desperate attempt to run, but fell amongst
the canes in such a way that he looked as if pinioned. Perceiving him
jammed in between the stalks, and thoroughly frightened, I could not
refrain from laughing at the ridiculous exhibition which he made. My
gayety, however, was not very pleasing to the _savant_, who called out
for aid, which was at once administered. Gladly would he have retraced
his steps, but I was desirous that he should be able to describe a
cane-brake, and enticed him to follow me by telling him that our worst
difficulties were nearly over. We proceeded, for by this time the Bear
was out of hearing.

The way became more and more tangled. I saw with delight that a heavy
cloud, portentous of a thunder gust, was approaching. In the mean time,
I kept my companion in such constant difficulties that he now panted,
perspired, and seemed almost overcome by fatigue. The thunder began to
rumble, and soon after a dash of heavy rain drenched us in a few
minutes. The withered particles of leaves and bark attached to the canes
stuck to our clothes. We received many scratches from briers, and now
and then a switch from a nettle. M. de T. seriously inquired if we
should ever get alive out of the horrible situation in which we were. I
spoke of courage and patience, and told him I hoped we should soon get
to the margin of the brake, which, however, I knew to be two miles
distant. I made him rest, and gave him a mouthful of brandy from my
flask; after which, we proceeded on our slow and painful march. He threw
away all his plants, emptied his pockets of the fungi, lichens, and
mosses which he had thrust into them, and finding himself much
lightened, went on for thirty or forty yards with a better grace. But,
kind reader, enough--I led the naturalist first one way, then another,
until I had nearly lost myself in the brake, although I was well
acquainted with it, kept him tumbling and crawling on his hands and
knees until long after mid-day, when we at length reached the edge of
the river. I blew my horn, and soon showed my companion a boat coming to
our rescue. We were ferried over, and on reaching the house, found more
agreeable occupation in replenishing our empty coffers.

M. de T. remained with us for three weeks, and collected multitudes of
plants, shells, bats, and fishes, but never again expressed a desire of
visiting a cane-brake. We were perfectly reconciled to his oddities,
and, finding him a most agreeable and intelligent companion, hoped that
his sojourn might be of long duration. But, one evening when tea was
prepared, and we expected him to join the family, he was nowhere to be
found. His grasses and other valuables were all removed from his room.
The night was spent in searching for him in the neighborhood. No
eccentric naturalist could be discovered. Whether he had perished in a
swamp, or had been devoured by a Bear or a Gar-fish, or had taken to his
heels, were matters of conjecture; nor was it until some weeks after
that a letter from him, thanking us for our attention, assured me of his
safety.


SCIPIO AND THE BEAR

The Black Bear (_Ursus americanus_), however clumsy in appearance, is
active, vigilant, and persevering; possesses great strength, courage,
and address; and undergoes with little injury the greatest fatigues and
hardships in avoiding the pursuit of the hunter. Like the Deer, it
changes its haunts with the seasons, and for the same reason, namely,
the desire of obtaining suitable food, or of retiring to the more
inaccessible parts, where it can pass the time in security, unobserved
by man, the most dangerous of its enemies. During the spring months, it
searches for food in the low rich alluvial lands that border the rivers,
or by the margins of such inland lakes as, on account of their small
size, are called by us ponds. There it procures abundance of succulent
roots, and of the tender juicy stems of plants, upon which it chiefly
feeds at that season. During the summer heat, it enters the gloomy
swamps, passes much of its time in wallowing in the mud, like a hog, and
contents itself with crayfish, roots, and nettles, now and then, when
hard pressed by hunger, seizing on a young pig, or perhaps a sow, or
even a calf. As soon as the different kinds of berries which grow on the
mountains begin to ripen, the Bears betake themselves to the high
grounds, followed by their cubs. In such retired parts of the country
where there are no hilly grounds, it pays visits to the maize fields,
which it ravages for a while. After this, the various species of nuts,
acorns, grapes, and other forest fruits, that form what in the western
country is called _mast_, attract its attention. The Bear is then seen
rambling singly through the woods to gather this harvest, not forgetting
meanwhile to rob every _Bee-tree_ it meets with, Bears being, as you
well know, expert at this operation. You also know that they are good
climbers, and may have been told, or at least may now be told, that the
Black Bear now and then _houses_ itself in the hollow trunks of the
larger trees for weeks together, when it is said to suck its paws. You
are probably not aware of a habit in which it indulges, and which, being
curious, must be interesting to you.

At one season, the Black Bear may be seen examining the lower part of
the trunk of a tree for several minutes with much attention, at the same
time looking around, and snuffing the air, to assure itself that no
enemy is near. It then raises itself on its hind-legs, approaches the
trunk, embraces it with its fore-legs, and scratches the bark with its
teeth and claws for several minutes in continuance. Its jaws clash
against each other, until a mass of foam runs down on both sides of the
mouth. After this it continues its rambles.

In various portions of our country, many of our woodsmen and hunters who
have seen the Bear performing the singular operation just described,
imagine that it does so for the purpose of leaving behind it an
indication of its size and power. They measure the height at which the
scratches are made, and in this manner can, in fact, form an estimate of
the magnitude of the individual. My own opinion, however, is different.
It seems to me that the Bear scratches the trees, not for the purpose of
shewing its size or its strength, but merely for that of sharpening its
teeth and claws, to enable it better to encounter a rival of its own
species during the amatory season. The Wild Boar of Europe clashes its
tusks and scrapes the earth with its feet, and the Deer rubs its antlers
against the lower part of the stems of young trees or bushes, for the
same purpose.

Being one night sleeping in the house of a friend, I was wakened by a
negro servant bearing a light, who gave me a note, which he said his
master had just received. I ran my eye over the paper, and found it to
be a communication from a neighbor, requesting my friend and myself to
join him as soon as possible, and assist in killing some Bears at that
moment engaged in destroying his corn. I was not long in dressing, you
may be assured, and, on entering the parlor, found my friend equipped
and only waiting for some bullets, which a negro was employed in
casting. The overseer's horn was heard calling up the negroes from their
different cabins. Some were already engaged in saddling our horses,
whilst others were gathering all the cur-dogs of the plantation. All was
bustle. Before half an hour had elapsed, four stout negro men, armed
with axes and knives, and mounted on strong nags of their own (for you
must know, kind reader, that many of our slaves rear horses, cattle,
pigs, and poultry, which are exclusively their own property), were
following us at a round gallop through the woods, as we made directly
for the neighbor's plantation, a little more than five miles off.

The night was none of the most favorable, a drizzling rain rendering the
atmosphere thick and rather sultry; but as we were well acquainted with
the course, we soon reached the house, where the owner was waiting our
arrival. There were now three of us armed with guns, half a dozen
servants, and a good pack of dogs of all kinds. We jogged on towards the
detached field in which the Bears were at work. The owner told us that
for some days several of these animals had visited his corn, and that a
negro who was sent every afternoon to see at what part of the enclosure
they entered, had assured him there were at least five in the field that
night. A plan of attack was formed: the bars at the usual gap of the
fence were to be put down without noise; the men and dogs were to
divide, and afterwards proceed so as to surround the Bears, when, at the
sounding of our horns, every one was to charge towards the centre of the
field, and shout as loudly as possible, which it was judged would so
intimidate the animals as to induce them to seek refuge upon the dead
trees with which the field was still partially covered.

The plan succeeded. The horns sounded, the horses galloped forward, the
men shouted, the dogs barked and howled. The shrieks of the negroes were
enough to frighten a legion of Bears, and those in the field took to
flight, so that by the time we reached the centre they were heard
hurrying towards the tops of the trees. Fires were immediately lighted
by the negroes. The drizzling rain had ceased, the sky cleared, and the
glare of the crackling fires proved of great assistance to us. The Bears
had been so terrified that we now saw several of them crouched at the
junction of the larger boughs with the trunks. Two were immediately shot
down. They were cubs of no great size, and being already half dead, we
left them to the dogs, which quickly despatched them.

We were anxious to procure as much sport as possible, and having
observed one of the Bears, which from its size we conjectured to be the
mother, ordered the negroes to cut down the tree on which it was
perched, when it was intended the dogs should have a tug with it, while
we should support them, and assist in preventing the Bear from escaping
by wounding it in one of the hind-legs. The surrounding woods now echoed
to the blows of the axemen. The tree was large and tough, having been
girded more than two years, and the operation of felling it seemed
extremely tedious. However, it began to vibrate at each stroke; a few
inches alone now supported it; and in a short time it came crashing to
the ground, in so awful a manner that Bruin must doubtless have felt the
shock as severe as we should feel a shake of the globe produced by the
sudden collision of a comet.

The dogs rushed to the charge, and harassed the Bear on all sides. We
had remounted, and now surrounded the poor animal. As its life depended
upon its courage and strength, it exercised both in the most energetic
manner. Now and then it seized a dog, and killed him by a single stroke.
At another time, a well administered blow of one of its fore-legs sent
an assailant off yelping so piteously that he might be looked upon as
_hors de combat_. A cur had daringly ventured to seize the Bear by the
snout, and was seen hanging to it, covered with blood, whilst a dozen or
more scrambled over its back. Now and then the infuriated animal was
seen to cast a revengeful glance at some of the party, and we had
already determined to despatch it, when, to our astonishment, it
suddenly shook off all the dogs, and, before we could fire, charged upon
one of the negroes, who was mounted on a pied horse. The Bear seized the
steed with teeth and claws, and clung to its breast. The terrified horse
snorted and plunged. The rider, an athletic young man, and a capital
horseman, kept his seat, although only saddled on a sheep's-skin tightly
girthed, and requested his master not to fire at the Bear.
Notwithstanding his coolness and courage, our anxiety for his safety was
raised to the highest pitch, especially when in a moment we saw rider
and horse come to the ground together; but we were instantly relieved on
witnessing the masterly manner in which Scipio despatched his adversary,
by laying open his skull with a single well-directed blow of his axe,
when a deep growl announced the death of the Bear, and the valorous
negro sprung to his feet unhurt.

Day dawned, and we renewed our search. Two of the remaining Bears were
soon discovered, lodged in a tree about a hundred yards from the spot
where the last one had been overpowered. On approaching them in a
circle, we found that they manifested no desire to come down, and we
resolved to try _smoking_. We surrounded the tree with a pile of
brushwood and large branches. The flames ascended and caught hold of the
dry bark. At length the tree assumed the appearance of a pillar of
flame. The Bears mounted to the top branches. When they had reached the
uppermost, they were seen to totter, and soon after, the branch cracking
and snapping across, they came to the ground, bringing with them a mass
of broken twigs. They were cubs, and the dogs soon worried them to
death.

The party returned to the house in triumph. Scipio's horse, being
severely wounded, was let loose in the field, to repair his strength by
eating the corn. A cart was afterwards sent for the game. But before we
had left the field, the horses, dogs, and Bears, together with the
fires, had destroyed more corn within a few hours than the poor Bear and
her cubs had during the whole of their visits.


A KENTUCKY BARBECUE

Beargrass Creek, which is one of the many beautiful streams of the
highly cultivated and happy State of Kentucky, meanders through a deeply
shaded growth of majestic beechwoods, in which are interspersed various
species of walnut, oak, elm, ash, and other trees, extending on either
side of its course. The spot on which I witnessed the celebration of an
anniversary of the glorious proclamation of our independence is situated
on its banks near the city of Louisville. The woods spread their dense
tufts towards the shores of the fair Ohio on the west, and over the
gently rising grounds to the south and east. Every open spot forming a
plantation was smiling in the luxuriance of a summer harvest. The farmer
seemed to stand in admiration of the spectacle; the trees of his
orchards bowed their branches, as if anxious to restore to their mother
earth the fruit with which they were laden; the flocks leisurely
ruminated as they lay on their grassy beds; and the genial warmth
of the season seemed inclined to favor their repose.

  [Illustration: JOHN WOODHOUSE AUDUBON, 1853.]

The free, single-hearted Kentuckian, bold, erect, and proud of his
Virginian descent, had, as usual, made arrangements for celebrating the
day of his country's independence. The whole neighborhood joined with
one consent. No personal invitation was required where every one was
welcomed by his neighbor, and from the governor to the guider of the
plough, all met with light hearts and merry faces.

It was indeed a beautiful day; the bright sun rode in the clear blue
heavens; the gentle breezes wafted around the odors of the gorgeous
flowers; the little birds sang their sweetest songs in the woods, and
the fluttering insects danced in the sunbeams. Columbia's sons and
daughters seemed to have grown younger that morning. For a whole week or
more many servants and some masters had been busily engaged in clearing
an area. The undergrowth had been carefully cut down, the low boughs
lopped off, and the grass alone, verdant and gay, remained to carpet the
sylvan pavilion. Now the wagons were seen slowly moving along under
their load of provisions which had been prepared for the common benefit.
Each denizen had freely given his ox, his ham, his venison, his Turkeys
and other fowls. Here were to be seen flagons of every beverage used in
the country; "la belle rivière" had opened her finny stores, the melons
of all sorts, peaches, plums, and pears, would have sufficed to stock a
market. In a word, Kentucky, the land of abundance, had supplied a feast
for her children. A purling stream gave its waters freely, while the
grateful breezes cooled the air. Columns of smoke from the newly kindled
fires rose above the trees; fifty cooks or more moved to and fro as they
plied their trade; waiters of all qualities were disposing the dishes,
the glasses and the punch-bowls, amid vases filled with rich wines. "Old
Monongahela" filled many a barrel for the crowd. And now the roasting
viands perfume the air, and all appearances conspire to predict the
speedy commencement of a banquet such as may suit the vigorous appetite
of American woodsmen. Every steward is at his post ready to receive the
joyous groups that at this moment begin to emerge from the dark recesses
of the woods.

Each comely fair one, clad in pure white, is seen advancing under the
protection of her sturdy lover, the neighing of their prancing steeds
proclaiming how proud they are of their burden. The youthful riders leap
from their seats, and the horses are speedily secured by twisting their
bridles round a branch. As the youth of Kentucky lightly and gayly
advanced towards the barbecue, they resembled a procession of nymphs and
disguised divinities. Fathers and mothers smiled upon them as they
followed the brilliant cortége. In a short time the ground was alive
with merriment. A great wooden cannon bound with iron hoops was now
crammed with home-made powder; fire was conveyed to it by means of a
train, and as the explosion burst forth, thousands of hearty huzzas
mingled with its echoes. From the most learned a good oration fell in
proud and gladdening words on every ear, and although it probably did
not equal the eloquence of a Clay, an Everett, a Webster, or a Preston,
it served to remind every Kentuckian present of the glorious name, the
patriotism, the courage, and the virtue of our immortal Washington.
Fifes and drums sounded the march which had ever led him to glory; and
as they changed to our celebrated "Yankee-Doodle," the air again rang
with acclamations.

Now the stewards invited the assembled throngs to the feast. The fair
led the van, and were first placed around the tables, which groaned
under the profusion of the best productions of the country that had been
heaped upon them. On each lovely nymph attended her gay beau, who in her
chance or sidelong glances ever watched an opportunity of reading his
happiness. How the viands diminished under the action of so many agents
of destruction, I need not say, nor is it necessary that you should
listen to the long recital. Many a national toast was offered and
accepted, many speeches were delivered, and many essayed in amicable
reply. The ladies then retired to booths that had been erected at a
little distance, to which they were conducted by their partners, who
returned to the table, and having thus cleared for action, recommenced a
series of hearty rounds. However, as Kentuckians are neither slow nor
long at their meals, all were in a few minutes replenished, and after a
few more draughts from the bowl, they rejoined the ladies and prepared
for the dance.

Double lines of a hundred fair ones extended along the ground in the
most shady part of the woods, while here and there smaller groups
awaited the merry trills of reels and cotillons. A burst of music from
violins, clarionets, and bugles gave the welcome notice, and presently
the whole assemblage seemed to be gracefully moving through the air. The
"hunting-shirts" now joined in the dance, their fringed skirts keeping
time with the gowns of the ladies, and the married people of either sex
stepped in and mixed with their children. Every countenance beamed with
joy, every heart leaped with gladness; no pride, no pomp, no affectation
were there; their spirits brightened as they continued their
exhilarating exercise, and care and sorrow were flung to the winds.
During each interval of rest refreshments of all sorts were handed
round, and while the fair one cooled her lips with the grateful juice of
the melon, the hunter of Kentucky quenched his thirst with ample
draughts of well-tempered punch.

I know, reader, that had you been with me on that day you would have
richly enjoyed the sight of this national _fête champêtre_. You would
have listened with pleasure to the ingenuous tale of the lover, the wise
talk of the elder on the affairs of the State, the accounts of
improvement in stock and utensils, and the hopes of continued
prosperity to the country at large, and to Kentucky in particular. You
would have been pleased to see those who did not join in the dance
shooting at distant marks with their heavy rifles, or watched how they
showed off the superior speed of their high bred "Old Virginia" horses,
while others recounted their hunting exploits, and at intervals made the
woods ring with their bursts of laughter. With me the time sped like an
arrow in its flight, and although more than twenty years have elapsed
since I joined a Kentucky barbecue, my spirit is refreshed every Fourth
of July by the recollection of that day's merriment.

But now the sun has declined, and the shades of evening creep over the
scene. Large fires are lighted in the woods, casting the long shadows of
the live columns far along the trodden ground, and flaring on the happy
groups loath to separate. In the still, clear sky, begin to sparkle the
distant lamps of heaven. One might have thought that Nature herself
smiled on the joy of her children. Supper now appeared on the tables,
and after all had again refreshed themselves, preparations were made for
departure. The lover hurried for the steed of his fair one, the hunter
seized the arm of his friend, families gathered into loving groups, and
all returned in peace to their happy homes.

And now, reader, allow me also to take my leave, and wish you
good-night, trusting that when I again appear with another volume,[58]
you will be ready to welcome me with a cordial greeting.


A RACCOON HUNT IN KENTUCKY

The Raccoon, which is a cunning and crafty animal, is found in all our
woods, so that its name is familiar to every child in the Union. The
propensity which it evinces to capture all kinds of birds accessible to
it in its nightly prowlings, for the purpose of feasting on their
flesh, induces me to endeavor to afford you some idea of the pleasure
which our western hunters feel in procuring it. With your leave, then,
reader, I will take you to a "Coon Hunt."

A few hours ago the sun went down far beyond the "far west." The
woodland choristers have disappeared, the matron has cradled her babe,
and betaken herself to the spinning-wheel; the woodsman, his sons, and
"the stranger," are chatting before a blazing fire, making wise
reflections on past events, and anticipating those that are to come.
Autumn, sallow and sad, prepares to bow her head to the keen blast of
approaching winter; the corn, though still on its stalk, has lost its
blades; the wood-pile is as large as the woodsman's cabin; the nights
have become chill, and each new morn has effected a gradual change in
the dews, which now crust the withered herbage with a coat of glittering
white. The sky is still cloudless; a thousand twinkling stars reflect
their light from the tranquil waters; all is silent and calm in the
forest, save the nightly prowlers that roam in its recesses. In the
cheerful cabin all is happiness; its inmates generously strive to
contribute to the comfort of the stranger who has chanced to visit them;
and, as Raccoons are abundant in the neighborhood, they propose a hunt.
The offer is gladly accepted. The industrious woman leaves her wheel,
for she has listened to her husband's talk; now she approaches the fire,
takes up the board shovel, stirs the embers, produces a basket filled
with sweet potatoes, arranges its contents side by side in front of the
hearth, and covers them with hot ashes and glowing coals. All this she
does because she "guesses" that hungry stomachs will be calling for food
when the sport is over. Ah! reader, what "homely joys" there are in such
scenes, and how you would enjoy them! The rich may produce a better, or
a more sumptuous meal, but his feelings can never be like those of the
poor woodsman. Poor, I ought not to call him, for nature and industry
bountifully supply all his wants; the woods and rivers produce his chief
dainties, and his toils are his pleasures.

Now mark him! the bold Kentuckian is on his feet; his sons and the
stranger prepare for the march. Horns and rifles are in requisition. The
good man opens the wooden-hinged door, and sends forth a blast loud
enough to scare a Wolf. The Raccoons scamper away from the corn-fields,
break through the fences, and hie to the woods. The hunter has taken an
axe from the wood-pile, and returning, assures us that the night is
fine, and that we shall have rare sport. He blows through his rifle to
ascertain that it is clear, examines his flint, and thrusts a feather
into the touch-hole. To a leathern bag swung at his side is attached a
powder-horn; his sheath-knife is there also; below hangs a narrow strip
of homespun linen. He takes from his bag a bullet, pulls with his teeth
the wooden stopper from his powder-horn, lays the ball on one hand, and
with the other pours the powder upon it until it is just overtopped.
Raising the horn to his mouth, he again closes it with the stopper, and
restores it to its place. He introduces the powder into the tube;
springs the box of his gun, greases the "patch" over with some melted
tallow, or damps it; then places it on the honey-combed muzzle of his
piece. The bullet is placed on the patch over the bore, and pressed with
the handle of the knife, which now trims the edge of the linen. The
elastic hickory rod, held with both hands, smoothly pushes the ball to
its bed; once, twice, thrice has it rebounded. The rifle leaps as it
were into the hunter's arms, the feather is drawn from the touch-hole,
the powder fills the pan, which is closed. "Now I'm ready," cries the
woodsman. His companions say the same. Hardly more than a minute has
elapsed. I wish, reader, you had seen this fine fellow--but hark! the
dogs are barking.

All is now bustle within and without; a servant lights a torch, and off
we march to the woods. "Don't mind the boys, my dear sir," says the
woodsman, "follow me close, for the ground is covered with logs, and the
grape-vines hang everywhere across. Toby, hold up the light, man, or
we'll never see the gullies. Trail your gun, sir, as General Clark used
to say--not so, but this way--that's it; now then, no danger, you see;
no fear of snakes, poor things! They are stiff enough, I'll be bound.
The dogs have treed one. Toby, you old fool, why don't you turn to the
right?--not so much; there--go ahead, and give us light. What's that?
Who's there? Ah, you young rascals! you've played us a trick, have you?
It's all well enough, but now just keep behind, or I'll--" And, in fact,
the boys, with eyes good enough to see in the dark, although not quite
so well as an Owl's, had cut directly across the dogs, which had
surprised a Raccoon on the ground, and bayed it until the lads knocked
it on the head. "Seek him, boys!" cried the hunter. The dogs, putting
their noses to the ground, pushed off at a good rate. "Master, they're
making for the creek," says old Toby. On towards it therefore we push.
What woods, to be sure! No gentleman's park this, I assure you, reader.
We are now in a low flat; the soil thinly covers the hard clay; nothing
but beech-trees hereabouts, unless now and then a maple. Hang the limbs!
say I--hang the supple-jacks too--here I am, fast by the neck; cut it
with your knife. My knee has had a tremendous rub against a log; now my
foot is jammed between two roots; and here I stick. "Toby, come back;
don't you know the stranger is not up to the woods? Halloo, Toby, Toby!"
There I stood perfectly shackled, the hunter laughing heartily, and the
lads glad of an opportunity of slipping off. Toby arrived, and held the
torch near the ground, on which the hunter, cutting one of the roots
with his hatchet, set me free. "Are you hurt, sir?"--"No, not in the
least." Off we start again. The boys had got up with the dogs, which
were baying a Raccoon in a small puddle. We soon joined them with the
light. "Now, stranger, watch and see!" The Raccoon was all but swimming,
and yet had hold of the bottom of the pool with his feet. The glare of
the lighted torch was doubtless distressing to him; his coat was
ruffled, and his rounded tail seemed thrice its ordinary size; his eyes
shone like emeralds; with foaming jaws he watched the dogs, ready to
seize each by the snout if it came within reach. They kept him busy for
several minutes; the water became thick with mud; his coat now hung
dripping, and his draggled tail lay floating on the surface. His
guttural growlings, in place of intimidating his assailants excited them
the more; and they very unceremoniously closed upon him, curs as they
were, and without the breeding of gentle dogs. One seized him by the
rump, and tugged, but was soon forced to let go; another stuck to his
side, but soon taking a better directed bite of his muzzle than another
dog had just done of his tail, Coon made him yelp; and pitiful were the
cries of luckless Tyke. The Raccoon would not let go, but in the mean
time the other dogs seized him fast, and worried him to death, yet to
the last he held by his antagonist's snout. Knocked on the head by an
axe, he lay gasping his last breath, and the heaving of his chest was
painful to see. The hunters stood gazing at him in the pool, while all
around was by the flare of the torch rendered trebly dark and dismal. It
was a good scene for a skilful painter.

We had now two Coons, whose furs were worth two quarters of a dollar,
and whose bodies, which I must not forget, as Toby informed us, were
worth two more. "What now?" I asked. "What now?" quoth the father; "why,
go after more, to be sure." So we did, the dogs ahead, and I far behind.
In a short time the curs treed another, and when we came up, we found
them seated on their haunches, looking upwards, and barking. The
hunters now employed their axes, and sent the chips about at such a rate
that one of them coming in contact with my cheek, marked it so that a
week after several of my friends asked me where, in the name of wonder,
I had got that black eye. At length the tree began to crack, and slowly
leaning to one side, the heavy mass swung rustling through the air, and
fell to the earth with a crash. It was not one Coon that was surprised
here, but three--ay, three of them, one of which, more crafty than the
rest, leaped fairly from the main top while the tree was staggering. The
other two stuck to the hollow of a branch, from which they were soon
driven by one of the dogs. Tyke and Lion, having nosed the cunning old
one, scampered after him, not mouthing like the well-trained hounds of
our southern Fox-hunters, but yelling like furies. The hunter's sons
attacked those on the tree, while the woodsman and I, preceded by Toby,
made after the other; and busy enough we all were. Our animal was of
extraordinary size, and after some parley, a rifle-ball was sent through
his brain. He reeled once only; next moment he lay dead. The rest were
despatched by the axe and the club, for a shot in those days was too
valuable to be spent when it could be saved. It could procure a Deer,
and therefore was worth more than a Coon's skin.

Now, look at the moon! how full and clear has she risen on the Raccoon
hunters! Now is the time for sport! Onward we go, one following the long
shadow of his precursor. The twigs are no impediment, and we move at a
brisker pace, as we return to the hills. What a hue and cry! here are
the dogs. Overhead and all around, on the forks of each tree, the
hunter's keen eye searches for something round, which is likely to prove
a coiled-up Raccoon. There's one! Between me and the moon I spied the
cunning thing crouched in silence. After taking aim, I raise my barrel
ever so little, the trigger is pressed; down falls the Raccoon to the
ground. Another and another are on the same tree. Off goes a bullet,
then a second; and we secure the prey. "Let us go home, stranger," says
the woodsman; and contented with our sport, towards his cabin we trudge.
On arriving there, we find a cheerful fire. Toby stays without, prepares
the game, stretches the skins on a frame of cane, and washes the bodies.
The table is already set; the cake and the potatoes are all well done;
four bowls of buttermilk are ranged in order, and now the hunters fall
to.

The Raccoon is a cunning animal, and makes a pleasant pet. Monkey-like,
it is quite dexterous in the use of its fore-feet, and it will amble
after its master, in the manner of a Bear, and even follow him into the
street. It is fond of eggs, but prefers them raw, and it matters not
whether it be morning, noon, or night when it finds a dozen in the
pheasant's nest, or one placed in your pocket to please him. He knows
the habits of mussels better than most conchologists. Being an expert
climber he ascends to the hole of the Woodpecker, and devours the young
birds. He knows, too, how to watch the soft-shelled Turtle's crawl, and,
better still, how to dig up her eggs. Now, by the edge of the pond,
grimalkin-like, he lies seemingly asleep, until the Summer-Duck comes
within reach. No negro knows better when the corn is juicy and pleasant
to eat; and although Squirrels and Woodpeckers know this too, the
Raccoon is found in the corn-field longer in the season than any of
them, the havoc he commits there amounting to a tithe. His fur is good
in winter, and many think his flesh good also; but for my part, I prefer
a live Raccoon to a dead one; and should find more pleasure in hunting
one than in eating him.


PITTING OF WOLVES

There seems to be a universal feeling of hostility among men against the
Wolf, whose strength, agility, and cunning, which latter is scarcely
inferior to that of his relative, Master Reynard, tend to render him an
object of hatred, especially to the husbandman, on whose flocks he is
ever apt to commit depredations. In America, where this animal was
formerly abundant, and in many parts of which it still occurs in
considerable numbers, it is not more mercifully dealt with than in other
parts of the world. Traps and snares of all sorts are set for catching
it, while dogs and horses are trained for hunting the Fox. The Wolf,
however, unless in some way injured, being more powerful and perhaps
better winded than the Fox, is rarely pursued with hounds or any other
dogs in open chase; but as his depredations are at times extensive and
highly injurious to the farmer, the greatest exertions have been used to
exterminate his race. Few instances have occurred among us of any attack
made by Wolves on man, and only one has come under my own notice.

Two young negroes who resided near the banks of the Ohio, in the lower
part of the state of Kentucky, about twenty-three years ago, had
sweethearts living on a plantation ten miles distant. After the labors
of the day were over, they frequently visited the fair ladies of their
choice, the nearest way to whose dwelling lay directly across a great
cane-brake. As to the lover every moment is precious, they usually took
this route to save time. Winter had commenced, cold, dark, and
forbidding, and after sunset scarcely a glimpse of light or glow of
warmth, one might imagine, could be found in that dreary swamp,
excepting in the eyes and bosoms of the ardent youths, or the hungry
Wolves that prowled about. The snow covered the earth, and rendered them
more easy to be scented from a distance by the famished beasts. Prudent
in a certain degree, the young lovers carried their axes on their
shoulders, and walked as briskly as the narrow path would allow. Some
transient glimpses of light now and then met their eyes, but so faint
were they that they believed them to be caused by their faces coming in
contact with the slender reeds covered with snow. Suddenly, however, a
long and frightful howl burst upon them, and they instantly knew that it
proceeded from a troop of hungry, perhaps desperate Wolves. They
stopped, and putting themselves in an attitude of defence, awaited the
result. All around was dark, save a few feet of snow, and the silence of
night was dismal. Nothing could be done to better their situation, and
after standing a few minutes in expectation of an attack, they judged it
best to resume their march; but no sooner had they replaced their axes
on their shoulders and begun to move, than the foremost found himself
assailed by several foes. His legs were held fast as if pressed by a
powerful screw, and the torture inflicted by the fangs of the ravenous
animal was for a moment excruciating. Several Wolves in the meantime
sprung upon the breast of the other negro, and dragged him to the
ground. Both struggled manfully against their foes; but in a short time
one of them ceased to move, and the other, reduced in strength, and
perhaps despairing of maintaining his ground, still more of aiding his
unfortunate companion, sprung to the branch of a tree, and speedily
gained a place of safety near the top. The next morning the mangled
remains of his comrade lay scattered around on the snow, which was
stained with blood. Three dead Wolves lay around, but the rest of the
pack had disappeared, and Scipio, sliding to the ground, took up the
axes, and made the best of his way home, to relate the sad adventure.

About two years after this occurrence, as I was travelling between
Henderson and Vincennes, I chanced to stop for the night at a farmer's
house by the side of the road. After putting up my horse and refreshing
myself, I entered into conversation with mine host, who asked if I
should like to pay a visit to the Wolf-pits, which were about half a
mile distant. Glad of the opportunity I accompanied him across the
fields to the neighborhood of a deep wood, and soon saw the engines of
destruction. He had three pits, within a few hundred yards of each
other. They were about eight feet deep and broader at bottom, so as to
render it impossible for the most active animal to escape from them. The
aperture was covered with a revolving platform of twigs attached to a
central axis. On either surface of the platform was fastened a large
piece of putrid venison, with other matters by no means pleasing to my
olfactory nerves, although no doubt attractive to the Wolves. My
companion wished to visit them that evening, merely as he was in the
habit of doing so daily, for the purpose of seeing that all was right.
He said that Wolves were very abundant that autumn, and had killed
nearly the whole of his sheep and one of his colts, but that he was now
"paying them off in full;" and added that if I would tarry a few hours
with him next morning, he would beyond a doubt show me some sport rarely
seen in those parts. We retired to rest in due time, and were up with
the dawn.

"I think," said my host, "that all's right, for I see the dogs are
anxious to get away to the pits, and although they are nothing but curs,
their noses are none the worse for that." As he took up his gun, an axe,
and a large knife, the dogs began to howl and bark, and whisked around
us, as if full of joy. When we reached the first pit, we found the bait
all gone, and the platform much injured; but the animal that had been
entrapped had scraped a subterranean passage for himself, and so
escaped. On peeping into the next, he assured me that "three famous
fellows were safe enough" in it. I also peeped in and saw the Wolves,
two black, and the other brindled, all of goodly size, sure enough. They
lay flat on the earth, their ears laid close over the head, their eyes
indicating fear more than anger. "But how are we to get them out?" "How,
sir?" said the farmer; "why, by going down, to be sure, and hamstringing
them." Being a novice in these matters, I begged to be merely a
looker-on. "With all my heart," quoth the farmer; "stand here and look
at me through the brush." Whereupon he glided down, taking with him his
axe and knife, and leaving his rifle to my care. I was not a little
surprised to see the cowardice of the Wolves. He pulled out successively
their hind legs, and with a side stroke of the knife cut the principal
tendon above the joint, exhibiting as little fear as if he had been
marking lambs.

"Lo!" exclaimed the farmer, when he had got out, "we have forgotten the
rope; I'll go after it." Off he went accordingly, with as much alacrity
as any youngster could show. In a short time he returned out of breath,
and wiping his forehead with the back of his hand--"Now for it." I was
desired to raise and hold the platform on its central balance, whilst
he, with all the dexterity of an Indian, threw a noose over the neck of
one of the Wolves. We hauled it up motionless with fright, as if dead,
its disabled legs swinging to and fro, its jaws wide open, and the
gurgle in its throat alone indicating that it was alive. Letting him
drop on the ground, the farmer loosened the rope by means of a stick,
and left him to the dogs, all of which set upon him with great fury and
soon worried him to death. The second was dealt with in the same manner;
but the third, which was probably the oldest, as it was the blackest,
showed some spirit the moment it was left loose to the mercy of the
curs. This Wolf, which we afterwards found to be a female, scuffled
along on its fore-legs at a surprising rate, giving a snap every now and
then to the nearest dog, which went off howling dismally, with a
mouthful of skin torn from its side. And so well did the furious beast
defend itself, that apprehensive of its escape, the farmer levelled his
rifle at it, and shot it through the heart, on which the curs rushed
upon it, and satiated their vengeance on the destroyer of their master's
flock.


THE OPOSSUM

This singular animal is found more or less abundant in most parts of the
Southern, Western, and Middle States of the Union. It is the _Didelphis
virginiana_ of Pennant, Harlan, and other authors who have given some
accounts of its habits; but as none of them, so far as I know, have
illustrated its propensity to dissimulate, and as I have had
opportunities of observing its manners, I trust that a few particulars
of its biography will prove amusing.

The Opossum is fond of secluding itself during the day, although it by
no means confines its predatory rangings to the night. Like many other
quadrupeds which feed principally on flesh, it is also both frugivorous
and herbivorous, and, when very hard pressed by hunger, it seizes
various kinds of insects and reptiles. Its gait, while travelling, and
at a time when it supposes itself unobserved, is altogether ambling; in
other words, it, like a young foal, moves the two legs of one side
forward at once. The Newfoundland dog manifests a similar propensity.
Having a constitution as hardy as that of the most northern animals, it
stands the coldest weather, and does not hibernate, although its
covering of fur and hair may be said to be comparatively scanty even
during winter. The defect, however, seems to be compensated by a skin of
considerable thickness, and a general subcutaneous layer of fat. Its
movements are usually rather slow, and as it walks or ambles along, its
curious prehensile tail is carried just above the ground, its rounded
ears are directed forward, and at almost every step its pointed nose is
applied to the objects beneath it, in order to discover what sort of
creatures may have crossed its path. Methinks I see one at this moment
slowly and cautiously trudging over the melting snows by the side of an
unfrequented pond, nosing as it goes for the fare its ravenous appetite
prefers. Now it has come upon the fresh track of a Grouse or Hare, and
it raises its snout and snuffs the keen air. At length it has decided on
its course, and it speeds onward at the rate of a man's ordinary walk.
It stops and seems at a loss in what direction to go, for the object of
its pursuit has either taken a considerable leap or has cut backwards
before the Opossum entered its track. It raises itself up, stands for a
while on its hind feet, looks around, snuffs the air again, and then
proceeds; but now, at the foot of a noble tree, it comes to a full
stand. It walks round the base of the huge trunk, over the snow-covered
roots, and among them finds an aperture which it at once enters. Several
minutes elapse, when it re-appears, dragging along a Squirrel already
deprived of life, with which in its mouth it begins to ascend the tree.
Slowly it climbs. The first fork does not seem to suit it, for perhaps
it thinks it might there be too openly exposed to the view of some wily
foe; and so it proceeds, until it gains a cluster of branches
intertwined with grape-vines, and there composing itself, it twists its
tail round one of the twigs, and with its sharp teeth demolishes the
unlucky Squirrel, which it holds all the while with its fore-paws.

The pleasant days of spring have arrived, and the trees vigorously shoot
forth their buds; but the Opossum is almost bare, and seems nearly
exhausted by hunger. It visits the margins of creeks, and is pleased to
see the young frogs, which afford it a tolerable repast. Gradually the
poke-berry and the nettle shoot up, and on their tender and juicy stems
it gladly feeds. The matin calls of the Wild Turkey Cock delight the ear
of the cunning creature, for it well knows that it will soon hear the
female and trace her to her nest, when it will suck the eggs with
delight. Travelling through the woods, perhaps on the ground, perhaps
aloft, from tree to tree, it hears a cock crow, and its heart swells as
it remembers the savory food on which it regaled itself last summer in
the neighboring farm-yard. With great care, however, it advances, and at
last conceals itself in the very hen-house.

Honest farmer! why did you kill so many Crows last winter? ay and Ravens
too? Well, you have had your own way of it; but now hie to the village
and procure a store of ammunition, clean your rusty gun, set your traps,
and teach your lazy curs to watch the Opossum. There it comes. The sun
is scarcely down, but the appetite of the prowler is keen; hear the
screams of one of your best chickens that has been seized by him! The
cunning beast is off with it, and nothing can now be done, unless you
stand there to watch the Fox or the Owl, now exulting in the thought
that you have killed their enemy and your own friend, the poor Crow.
That precious hen under which you last week placed a dozen eggs or so is
now deprived of them. The Opossum, notwithstanding her angry outcries
and rufflings of feathers, has removed them one by one, and now look at
the poor bird as she moves across your yard; if not mad, she is at least
stupid, for she scratches here and there, calling to her chickens all
the while. All this comes from your shooting Crows. Had you been more
merciful or more prudent, the Opossum might have been kept within the
woods, where it would have been satisfied with a Squirrel, a young Hare,
the eggs of a Turkey, or the grapes that so profusely adorn the boughs
of our forest trees. But I talk to you in vain.

There cannot be a better exemplification of maternal tenderness than the
female Opossum. Just peep into that curious sack in which the young are
concealed, each attached to a teat. The kind mother not only nourishes
them with care, but preserves them from their enemies; she moves with
them as the shark does with its progeny, and now, aloft on the
tulip-tree, she hides among the thick foliage. By the end of two months
they begin to shift for themselves; each has been taught its particular
lesson, and must now practise it.

But suppose the farmer has surprised an Opossum in the act of killing
one of his best fowls. His angry feelings urge him to kick the poor
beast, which, conscious of its inability to resist, rolls off like a
ball. The more the farmer rages, the more reluctant is the animal to
manifest resentment; at last there it lies, not dead, but exhausted, its
jaws open, its tongue extended, its eye dimmed; and there it would lie
until the bottle-fly should come to deposit its eggs, did not its
tormentor at length walk off. "Surely," says he to himself, "the beast
must be dead." But no, reader, it is only "'possuming," and no sooner
has its enemy withdrawn than it gradually gets on its legs, and once
more makes for the woods.

Once, while descending the Mississippi, in a sluggish flat-bottomed
boat, expressly for the purpose of studying those objects of nature more
nearly connected with my favorite pursuits, I chanced to meet with two
well-grown Opossums, and brought them alive to the "ark." The poor
things were placed on the roof or deck, and were immediately assailed by
the crew, when, following their natural instinct, they lay as if quite
dead. An experiment was suggested, and both were thrown overboard. On
striking the water, and for a few moments after, neither evinced the
least disposition to move; but finding their situation desperate, they
began to swim towards our uncouth rudder, which was formed of a long
slender tree, extending from the middle of the boat thirty feet beyond
its stern. They both got upon it, were taken up, and afterwards let
loose in their native woods.

In the year 1829, I was in a portion of lower Louisiana, where the
Opossum abounds at all seasons, and having been asked by the President
and the Secretary of the Zoölogical Society of London, to forward live
animals of this species to them, I offered a price a little above the
common, and soon found myself plentifully supplied, twenty-five having
been brought to me. I found them excessively voracious, and not less
cowardly. They were put into a large box, with a great quantity of food,
and conveyed to a steamer bound for New Orleans. Two days afterwards, I
went to that city, to see about sending them off to Europe; but, to my
surprise, I found that the old males had destroyed the younger ones, and
eaten off their heads, and that only sixteen remained alive. A separate
box was purchased for each, and some time after they reached my friends,
the Rathbones of Liverpool, who, with their usual attention, sent them
off to London, where, on my return, I saw a good number of them in the
Zoölogical Gardens.

This animal is fond of grapes, of which a species now bears its name.
Persimmons are greedily eaten by it, and in severe weather I have
observed it eating lichens. Fowls of every kind, and quadrupeds less
powerful than itself, are also its habitual prey.

The flesh of the Opossum resembles that of a young pig, and would
perhaps be as highly prized, were it not for the prejudice generally
entertained against it. Some "very particular" persons, to my knowledge,
have pronounced it excellent eating. After cleaning its body, suspend it
for a whole week in the frosty air, for it is not eaten in summer; then
place it on a heap of hot wood embers; sprinkle it when cooked with
gunpowder; and now tell me, good reader, does it not equal the famed
Canvas-back Duck? Should you visit any of our markets, you may see it
there in company with the best game.


A MAPLE-SUGAR CAMP

While advancing the best way I could through the magnificent woods that
cover the undulating grounds in the vicinity of the Green River in
Kentucky, I was overtaken by night. With slow and cautious steps I
proceeded, feeling some doubt as to my course, when the moon came forth,
as if purposely to afford me her friendly light. The air I thought was
uncommonly keen, and the gentle breeze that now and then shook the tops
of the tall trees more than once made me think of halting for the night,
and forming a camp. At times I thought of the campaigns of my old
friend, Daniel Boone, his strange adventures in these very woods, and
the extraordinary walk which he performed to save his fellow creatures
at Fort Massacre from the scalping knives of the irritated Indians.[59]
Now and then a Raccoon or Opossum, causing the fallen leaves to rustle,
made me pause for a moment; and thus I was forcing my way, thinking on
many things dismal as well as pleasing, when the glimmer of a distant
fire suddenly aroused me from my reveries, and inspired me with fresh
animation. As I approached it, I observed forms of different kinds
moving to and fro before it, like spectres; and ere long, bursts of
laughter, shouts, and songs apprised me of some merry-making. I thought
at first I had probably stumbled upon a camp meeting; but I soon
perceived that the mirth proceeded from a band of sugar-makers. Every
man, woman, and child stared as I passed them, but all were friendly,
and, without more ceremony than was needful, I walked up to the fire, at
which I found two or three old women, with their husbands, attending to
the kettles. Their plain dresses of Kentucky homespun were far more
pleasing to my sight than the ribboned turbans of city dames, or the
powdered wigs and embroidered waistcoats of antique beaux. I was
heartily welcomed, and supplied with a goodly pone of bread, a plate of
molasses, and some sweet potatoes.

Fatigued with my long ramble, I lay down under the lee of the smoke, and
soon fell into a sound sleep. When day returned, the frost lay thick
around; but the party arose cheerful and invigorated, and after
performing their orisons, resumed their labor. The scenery was most
pleasing; the ground all round looked as if it had been cleared of
underwood; the maples, straight and tall, seemed as if planted in rows;
between them meandered several rills, which gently murmured as they
hastened toward the larger stream; and as the sun dissolved the frozen
dews the few feathered songsters joined the chorus of the woodsmen's
daughters. Whenever a burst of laughter suddenly echoed through the
woods, an Owl or Wild Turkey would respond to it, with a signal welcome
to the young men of the party. With large ladles the sugar-makers
stirred the thickening juice of the maple; pails of sap were collected
from the trees and brought in by the young people, while here and there
some sturdy fellow was seen first hacking a cut in a tree, and
afterwards boring with an auger a hole, into which he introduced a piece
of hollow cane, by which the sap was to be drained off. About half a
dozen men had felled a noble yellow poplar, and sawed its great trunk
into many pieces, which, after being split, they were scooping into
troughs to be placed under the cane-cocks, to receive the maple juice.

Now, good reader, should you ever chance to travel through the maple
grounds that lie near the banks of that lovely stream the Green River of
Kentucky, either in January or in March, or through those on the
broader Monongahela in April; nay, should you find yourself by the
limpid streamlets that roll down the declivities of the Pocano Mountains
to join the Lehigh, and there meet with a sugar camp, take my advice and
tarry for a while. If you be on foot or on horseback, and are thirsty,
you can nowhere find a more wholesome or more agreeable beverage than
the juice of the maple. A man when in the Floridas may drink molasses
diffused in water; in Labrador he may drink what he can get; and at New
York or Philadelphia he may drink what he chooses; but in the woods a
draught from the sugar maple is delicious and most refreshing. How
often, when travelling, have I quenched my thirst with the limpid juice
of the receiving-troughs, from which I parted with regret; nay, even my
horse, I have thought, seemed to desire to linger as long as he could.

But let me endeavor to describe to you the manner in which the sugar is
obtained. The trees that yield it (_Acer saccharinum_) are found more or
less abundantly in all parts of the United States from Louisiana to
Maine, growing on elevated rich grounds. An incision is made into the
trunk at a height of from two to six feet; a pipe of cane or of any
other kind is thrust into the aperture, a trough is placed beneath and
receives the juice, which trickles by drops, and is as limpid as the
purest spring water. When all the trees of a certain space have been
tapped, and the troughs filled, the people collect the juice, and pour
it into large vessels. A camp has already been pitched in the midst of a
grove; several iron boilers have been fixed on stone or brick supports,
and the business proceeds with vigor. At times several neighboring
families join, and enjoy the labor, as if it were a pastime, remaining
out day and night for several weeks; for the troughs and kettles must be
attended to from the moment when they are first put in requisition until
the sugar is produced. The men and boys perform the most laborious part
of the business, but the women and girls are not less busy.

It takes ten gallons of sap to produce a pound of fine-_grained sugar_;
but an inferior kind in lumps, called _cake sugar_, is obtained in
greater quantity. When the season is far advanced, the juice will no
longer grain by boiling, and only produces a syrup. I have seen maple
sugar so good, that some months after it was manufactured it resembled
candy; and well do I remember the time when it was an article of
commerce throughout Kentucky, where, twenty-five or thirty years ago, it
sold at from 6½ to 12½ cents per pound, according to its quality, and
was daily purchased in the markets or stores.

Trees that have been thus bored rarely last many years; for the cuts and
perforations made in their trunks injure their health, so that after
some years of _weeping_ they become sickly, exhibit monstrosities about
their lower parts, gradually decay, and at length die. I have no doubt,
however, that, with proper care, the same quantity of sap might be
obtained with less injury to the trees; and it is now fully time that
the farmers and land-owners should begin to look to the preservation of
their sugar-maples.


THE WHITE PERCH AND THE FAVORITE BAIT

No sooner have the overflowing waters of early spring subsided within
their banks, and the temperature become pleasant, than the trees of our
woods are seen to unfold their buds and blossoms, and the White Perch
which during the winter has lived in the ocean, rushes up our streams,
to seek the well-known haunts in which it last year deposited its spawn.
With unabating vigor it ascends the turbulent current of the
Mississippi, of which, however, the waters are too muddy to suit its
habits; and glad no doubt it is to enter one of the numberless
tributaries whose limpid waters are poured into the mighty river. Of
these subsidiary waters the Ohio is one in whose pure stream the White
Perch seems to delight; and towards its head-springs the fish advance in
numerous shoals, following the banks with easy progress. Over many a
pebbly or gravelly bar does it seek its food. Here the crawling Mussel
it crunches and devours; there, with the speed of an arrow, it darts
upon the minnow; again, at the edge of a shelving rock, or by the side
of a stone, it secures a cray-fish. No impure food will "the Growler"
touch; therefore, reader, never make use of such to allure it, otherwise
not only will your time be lost, but you will not enjoy the
gratification of tasting this delicious fish. Should you have no
experience in fishing for Perch I would recommend to you to watch the
men you see on that shore, for they are excellent anglers.

Smooth are the waters, clear is the sky, and gently does the stream
move--perhaps its velocity does not exceed a mile in the hour. Silence
reigns around you. See, each fisher has a basket or calabash, containing
many a live cray; and each line, as thick as a crowquill, measures
scarce a furlong. At one end two Perch-hooks are so fastened that they
cannot interfere with each other. A few inches beyond the reaching point
of the farthest hook, the sinker, perhaps a quarter of a pound in
weight, having a hole bored through its length, is passed upon the line,
and there secured by a stout knot at its lower extremity. The other end
of the line is fastened ashore. The tackle, you observe, is carefully
coiled on the sand at the fisher's feet. Now on each hook he fixes a
cray-fish, piercing the shell beneath the tail, and forcing the keen
weapon to reach the very head of the suffering creature, while all its
legs are left at liberty to move. Now each man, holding his line a yard
or so from the hooks, whirls it several times overhead, and sends it
off to its full length directly across the stream. No sooner has it
reached the gravelly bed than, gently urged by the current, it rolls
over and over, until the line and the water follow the same direction.
Before this, however, I see that several of the men have had a bite, and
that by a short jerk they have hooked the fish. Hand over hand they haul
in their lines. Poor Perch, it is useless labor for thee to flounce and
splash in that manner, for no pity will be shown thee, and thou shalt be
dashed on the sand, and left there to quiver in the agonies of death.
The lines are within a few yards of being in. I see the fish gasping on
its side. Ah! there are two on this line, both good; on most of the
others there is one; but I see some of the lines have been robbed by
some cunning inhabitant of the water. What beautiful fishes these
Perches are! So silvery beneath, so deeply colored above! What a fine
eye, too! But, friend, I cannot endure their gaspings. Pray put them on
this short line, and place them in the water beside you, until you
prepare to go home. In a few hours each fisher has obtained as many as
he wishes. He rolls up his line, fastens five or six Perches on each
side of his saddle, mounts his horse, and merrily wends his way.

In this manner the White Perch is caught along the sandy banks of the
Ohio, from its mouth to its source. In many parts above Louisville some
fishers prefer using the trot-line, which, however, ought to be placed
upon, or very little above, the bottom of the stream. When this kind of
line is employed, its hooks are more frequently baited with mussels than
with cray-fish, the latter being, perhaps, not so easily procured there
as farther down the stream. Great numbers of Perches are also caught in
seines, especially during a transient rise of the water. Few persons
fish for them with the pole, as they generally prefer following the
edges of the sand-bars, next to deep water. Like all others of its
tribe, the White Perch is fond of depositing its spawn on gravelly or
sandy beds, but rarely at a depth of less than four or five feet. These
beds are round, and have an elevated margin formed of the sand removed
from their centre, which is scooped out for two or three inches. The
fish, although it generally remains for some days over its treasure, is
by no means so careful of it as the little "Sunny," but starts off at
the least appearance of danger. I have more than once taken considerable
pleasure in floating over their beds, when the water was sufficiently
clear to admit of my seeing both the fish and its place of deposit; but
I observed that if the sun was shining, the very sight of the boat's
shadow drove the Perches away. I am of opinion that most of them return
to the sea about the beginning of November; but of this I am not
certain.

The usual length of this fish, which on the Ohio is called the White
Perch, and in the state of New York the Growler, is from fifteen to
twenty inches. I have, however, seen some considerably larger. The
weight varies from a pound and a half to four, and even six pounds. For
the first six weeks of their arrival in fresh-water streams they are in
season; the flesh is then white and firm, and affords excellent eating;
but during the heats of summer they become poor, and are seldom very
good. Now and then, in the latter days of September, I have eaten some
that tasted as well as in spring. One of the most remarkable habits of
this fish is that from which it has received the name of Growler. When
poised in the water, close to the bottom of the boat, it emits a rough
croaking noise, somewhat resembling a groan. Whenever this sound is
heard under a boat, if the least disturbance is made by knocking on the
gunwale or bottom, it at once ceases; but is renewed when everything is
quiet. It is seldom heard, however, unless in fine, calm weather.

The White Perch bites at the hook with considerable care, and very
frequently takes off the bait without being caught. Indeed, it requires
a good deal of dexterity to hook it, for if this is not done the first
time it touches the bait, you rarely succeed afterward; and I have seen
young hands at the game, who, in the course of a morning, seldom caught
more than one or two, although they lost perhaps twenty crays. But now
that I have afforded you some information respecting the habits of the
White Perch, allow me to say a few words on the subject of its favorite
bait.

The cray is certainly not a fish, although usually so styled; but as
every one is acquainted with its form and nature, I shall not inflict on
you any disquisition regarding it. It is a handsome crustaceous animal
certainly, and its whole tribe I consider as dainties of the first
order. To me "_Écrevisses_," whether of salt or fresh water, stripped of
their coats and blended into a soup or a "Gombo," have always been most
welcome. Boiled or roasted, too, they are excellent in my estimation,
and mayhap in yours. The cray-fish, of which I here more particularly
speak--for I shall not deprive them of their caudal appendage, lest,
like a basha without his tail, they might seem of less consequence--are
found most abundantly swimming, crawling at the bottom or on shore, or
working at their muddy burrows, in all the southern parts of the Union.
If I mistake not, we have two species at least, one more an inhabitant
of rocky streamlets than the other, and that one by far the best, though
the other is good too. Both species swim by means of rapid strokes of
the tail, which propel them backwards to a considerable distance at each
repetition. All that I regret concerning these animals is that they are
absolutely little aquatic vultures--or, if you please, crustacea with
vulturine habits--for they feed on everything impure that comes in their
way, when they cannot obtain fresh aliment. However this may be, the
crays somehow fall in with this sort of food, and any person may catch
as many as he may wish, by fastening a piece of flesh to a line,
allowing it to remain under water for a while, and drawing it up with
care, when, with the aid of a hand-net, he may bring it ashore with _a
few_! But although this is a good method of procuring cray-fish, it
answers only for those that live in running waters. The form of these is
delicate, their color a light olive, and their motions in the water are
very lively. The others are larger, of a dark, greenish brown, less
active in the water than on land, although they are most truly
amphibious. The first conceal themselves beneath shelving rocks, stones,
or water-plants; the others form a deep burrow in the damp earth,
depositing the materials drawn up as a man would do in digging a well.
The manner in which they dispose of the mud you may see by glancing at
the plate of the White Ibis, in my third volume of illustrations, where
also you will find a tolerable portrait of one of these creatures.

According to the nature of the ground, the burrows of this cray-fish are
more or less deep. Indeed, this also depends partly on the increasing
dryness of the soil, when influenced by the heat of summer, as well as
on the texture of the substratum. Thus, in some places, where the cray
can reach the water after working a few inches, it rests contented
during the day, but crawls out for food at night. Should it, however, be
left dry, it renews its labors; and thus while one burrow may be only
five or six inches deep, another may be two or three feet, and a third
even more. They are easily procured when thus lodged in shallow holes;
but when the burrow is deep, a thread is used, with a small piece of
flesh fastened to it. The cray eagerly seizes the bait, and is gently
drawn up, and thrown to a distance, when he becomes an easy prey. You
have read of the method used by the White Ibis in procuring crays,[60]
and I leave you to judge whether the bird or the man is the best
fisher. This species is most abundant round the borders of the stagnant
lakes, bayous, or ponds of the Southern Districts; and I have seen them
caught even in the streets of the suburbs of New Orleans, after a heavy
shower. They become a great pest by perforating embankments of all
sorts, and many are the maledictions that are uttered against them, both
by millers and planters, nay, even by the overseers of the levees along
the banks of the Mississippi. But they are curious creatures, formed no
doubt for useful purposes, and as such they are worthy of your notice.


THE AMERICAN SUN PERCH

Few of our smaller fresh-water fishes excel, either in beauty or in
delicacy and flavor, the species which I have chosen as the subject of
this article, and few afford more pleasure to young fishers. Although it
occurs in all our streams, whether rapid or gentle, small or large, in
the mill-dam overshadowed by tall forest trees, or in the open lake
margined with reeds, you must never expect to find it in impure waters.
Let the place be deep or shallow, broad or narrow, the water must be
clear enough to allow the sun's rays to fall unimpaired on the rich coat
of mail that covers the body of the Sunfish. Look at him as he poises
himself under the lee of the protecting rock beneath our feet! See how
steadily he maintains his position, and yet how many rapid motions of
his fins are necessary to preserve it! Now another is by his side
glowing with equal beauty, and poising itself by equally easy and
graceful movements. The sun is shining, and under the lee of every
stone, and sunk log, some of the little creatures are rising to the
surface to enjoy the bright blaze, which enhances all their beauty. The
golden hues of some parts of the body, blend with the green of the
emerald, while the coral tints of the lower parts and the red of its
sparkling eye, render our little favorite a perfect gem of the waters.

The rushing stream boils and gurgles as it forces its way over the
obstacles presented by its bed, the craggy points, large stones and logs
that are strewn along the bottom. Every one of these proves a place of
rest, safety, and observation to the little things, whose eyes are ever
anxiously watching their favorite prey as it passes. There an
unfortunate moth, swept along by the current, labors in vain to
extricate itself from the treacherous element; its body, indeed, at
intervals, rises a little above the surface, but its broad wings, now
wet and heavy, bear it down again to the water. The Sunfish has marked
it, and as it passes his retreat, he darts towards it, with twenty of
his fellows, all eager to seize the prize. The swiftest swallows it in a
moment, and all immediately return to their lurking-places, where they
fancy themselves secure. But, alas! the Sunfish is no more without
enemies than the moth, or any other living creature. So has nature
determined, evidently, to promote prudence and industry, without which
none can reap the full advantage of life.

On the top of yon miller's dam stands boldly erect the ardent fisher. Up
to the knees and regardless of the danger of his situation, he prepares
his apparatus of destruction. A keen hook attached to his grass line is
now hid within the body of a worm or grasshopper. With a knowing eye he
marks one after another every surge of the water below. Observing the
top of a rock scarcely covered, he sends his hook towards it with
gentleness and certainty; the bait now floats and anon sinks; his reel
slowly lengthens the line, which is suddenly tightened, and he feels
that a fish is secured. Now whirls the reel again; thrice has the fish
tried its utmost strength and speed, but soon, panting and exhausted, it
is seen floating for a moment on the surface. Nothing now is required
but to bring it to hand, which done, the angler baits anew, and sends
forth the treacherous morsel. For an hour or more he continues the
agreeable occupation, drawing from the stream a fish at every short
interval. To the willow twig fastened to his waist a hundred "Sunnies"
are already attached. Suddenly the sky is overcast, and the crafty
fisher, although aware that with a different hook and bait he might soon
procure a fine eel or two, carefully wades to the shore, and homeward
leisurely plods his way.

In this manner are the Sunfishes caught by the regular or "scientific"
anglers, and a beautiful sight it is to see the ease and grace with
which they allure the objects of their desire, whether in the open
turbulence of the waters, or under the low boughs of the overhanging
trees, where, in some deep hole, a swarm of the little creatures may be
playing in fancied security. Rarely does his tackle become entangled,
whilst, with incomparable dexterity, he draws one after another from the
waters.

Thousands of individuals, however, there are, who, less curious in their
mode of fishing, often procure as many "Sunnies" without allowing them
to play for a moment. Look at these boys! One stands on the shore, while
the others are on fallen trees that project over the stream. Their rods,
as you perceive, are merely shoots of the hazel or hickory, their lines
are simply twine, and their hooks none of the finest. One has a calabash
filled with worms and grubs of many sorts, kept alive in damp earth, and
another is supplied with a bottle containing half a gross of live
"hoppers;" the third has no bait at all, but borrows from his nearest
neighbor. Well, there they are, "three merry boys," whirling their rods
in the air to unroll their lines, on one of which, you observe, a cork
is fastened, while on another is a bit of light wood, and on the third a
grain or two of large shot, to draw it at once to a certain depth. Now
their hooks are baited and all are ready. Each casts his line as he
thinks best, after he has probed the depth of the stream with his rod,
to enable him to place his buoy at the proper point. Bob, bob, goes the
cork; down it moves; the bit of wood disappears, the leaded line
tightens; in a moment up swing the "Sunnies," which, getting unhooked,
are projected far among the grass, where they struggle in vain, until
death ends their efforts. The hooks are now baited anew, and dropped
into the water. The fish is abundant, the weather propitious and
delightful, for it is now October; and so greedy have the "Sunnies"
become of grasshoppers and grubs that dozens at once dash at the same
bait. The lads, believe me, have now rare sport, and in an hour scarcely
a fish remains in the hole. The happy children have caught, perhaps,
some hundreds of delicious "panfish," to feed their parents and delight
their little sisters. Surely their pleasure is fully as great as that
experienced by the scientific angler.

I have known instances when the waters of a dam having been let out, for
some reason better known to the miller than to myself, all the Sunfish
have betaken themselves to one or two deep holes, as if to avoid being
carried away from their favorite abode. There I have seen them in such
multitudes that one could catch as many as he pleased with a pin-hook,
fastened to any sort of line, and baited with any sort of worm or
insect, or even with a piece of newly caught fish. Yet, and I am not
able to account for it, all of a sudden, without apparent cause, they
would cease to take, and no allurement whatever could entice them or the
other fishes in the pool to seize the hook.

During high freshets, this species of Perch seldom bites at anything;
but you may procure them with a cast-net or a seine, provided you are
well acquainted with the localities. On the contrary, when the waters
are clear and low, every secluded hole, every eddy under the lee of a
rock, every place sheltered by a raft of timber, will afford you
amusement. In some parts of the Southern States, the negroes procure
these fishes late in the autumn in shallow ponds or bayous, by wading
through the water with caution, and placing at every few steps a wicker
apparatus, not unlike a small barrel, open at both ends. The moment the
fishes find themselves confined within the lower part of this, which is
pressed to the bottom of the stream, their skippings announce their
capture, and the fisher secures his booty.

This species, the _Labrus auritus_ of Linnæus, the _Pomotis vulgaris_ of
Cuvier, seldom exceeds five or six inches in length, but is rather deep
in proportion. The usual size is from four to five inches, with a depth
of from two to two and a half. They are not bony, and at all seasons
afford delicate eating. Having observed a considerable change in their
color in different parts of the United States, and in different streams,
ponds, or lakes, I was led to think that this curious effect might be
produced by the difference of color in the water. Thus the Sunfish
caught in the deep waters of Green River, in Kentucky, exhibit a depth
of olive-brown quite different from the general tint of those caught in
the colorless waters of the Ohio or Schuylkill; those of the
reddish-colored waters of the bayous of the Louisiana swamps look as if
covered with a coppery tarnish; and, lastly, those met with in streams
that glide beneath cedars or other firs, have a pale and sallow
complexion.

The Sun Perch, wherever found, seems to give a decided preference to
sandy, gravelly, or rocky beds of streams, avoiding those of which the
bottom is muddy. At the period of depositing their eggs this preference
is still more apparent. The little creature is then seen swimming
rapidly over shallows, the bed of which is mostly formed of fine gravel,
when after a time it is observed to poise itself and gradually sink to
the bottom, where with its fin it pushes aside the sand to the extent of
eight or ten inches, thus forming a circular cavity. In a few days a
little ridge is thus raised around, and in the cleared area the roe is
deposited. By wading carefully over the extent of the place, a person
may count forty, fifty, or more of these beds, some within a few feet of
each other, and some several yards apart. Instead of abandoning its
spawn, as others of the family are wont to do, this little fish keeps
guard over it with all the care of a sitting bird. You observe it poised
over the bed, watching the objects around. Should the rotten leaf of a
tree, a piece of wood, or any other substance, happen to be rolled over
the border of the bed, the Sunfish carefully removes it, holding the
obnoxious matter in its mouth, and dropping it over the margin. Having
many times witnessed this act of prudence and cleanliness in the little
sunny, and observed that at this period it will not seize on any kind of
bait, I took it into my head one fair afternoon to make a few
experiments for the purpose of judging how far its instinct or reason
might induce it to act when disturbed or harassed.

Provided with a fine fishing-line, and such insects as I knew were
relished by this fish, I reached a sand-bar covered by about one foot of
water, where I had previously seen many deposits. Approaching the
nearest to the shore with great care, I baited my hook with a living
ground-worm, the greater part of which was left at liberty to writhe as
it pleased, and, throwing the line up the stream, managed it so that at
last it passed over the border of the nest, when I allowed it to remain
on the bottom. The fish, I perceived, had marked me, and as the worm
intruded on its premises, it swam to the farther side, there poised
itself for a few moments, then approached the worm, and carried it in
its mouth over the side next to me, with a care and gentleness so very
remarkable as to afford me much surprise. I repeated the experiment six
or seven times, and always with the same result. Then changing the bait,
I employed a young grasshopper, which I floated into the egg-bed. The
insect was removed, as the worm had been, and two attempts to hook the
fish proved unsuccessful. I now threw my line with the hook bare, and
managed as before. The Sunny appeared quite alarmed. It swam to one
side, then to another, in rapid succession, and seemed to entertain a
fear that the removal of the suspicious object might prove extremely
dangerous to it. Yet it gradually approached the hook, took it
delicately up, and the next instant dropped it over the edge of the bed.

Reader, if you are one who, like me, have studied Nature with a desire
to improve your mental faculties, and contemplate the wonderful
phenomena that present themselves to the view at every step we take in
her wide domain, you would have been struck, had you witnessed the
actions of this little fish, as I was, with admiration of the Being who
gave such instincts to so humble an object. I gazed in amazement at the
little creature, and wondered that Nature had endowed it with such
feelings and powers. The irrepressible desire of acquiring knowledge
prompted me to continue the experiment; but with whatever dexterity I
could in those days hook a fish, all my efforts proved abortive, not
with this individual only, but with many others which I subjected to the
same trials.

Satisfied that at this period the Sunfish was more than a match for me,
I rolled up my line, and with the rod gave a rap on the water as nearly
over the fish as I could.

The Sunny darted off to a distance of several yards, poised itself
steadily, and as soon as my rod was raised from the water, returned to
its station. The effect of the blow on the water was now apparent, for I
perceived that the fish was busily employed in smoothing the bed; but
here ended my experiments on the Sunfish.


MY STYLE OF DRAWING BIRDS[61]

When, as a little lad, I first began my attempts at representing birds
on paper, I was far from possessing much knowledge of their nature, and,
like hundreds of others, when I had laid the effort aside, I was under
the impression that it was a finished picture of a bird because it
possessed some sort of a head and tail, and two sticks in lieu of legs;
I never troubled myself with the thought that abutments were requisite
to prevent it from falling either backward or forward, and oh! what
bills and claws I did draw, to say nothing of a perfectly straight line
for a back, and a tail stuck in anyhow, like an unshipped rudder.

Many persons besides my father saw my miserable attempts, and so many
praised them to the skies that perhaps no one was ever nearer being
completely wrecked than I by these mistaken, though affectionate words.
My father, however, spoke very differently to me; he constantly
impressed upon me that nothing in the world possessing life and
animation was easy to imitate, and that as I grew older he hoped I would
become more and more alive to this. He was so kind to me, and so deeply
interested in my improvement that to have listened carelessly to his
serious words would have been highly ungrateful. I listened less to
others, more to him, and his words became my law.

The first collection of drawings I made were from European specimens,
procured by my father or myself, and I still have them in my
possession.[62] They were all represented _strictly ornithologically_,
which means neither more nor less than in stiff, unmeaning profiles,
such as are found in most works published to the present day. My next
set was begun in America, and there, without my honored mentor, I betook
myself to the drawing of specimens hung by a string tied to one foot,
having a desire to show every portion, as the wings lay loosely spread,
as well as the tail. In this manner I made some pretty fair signs for
poulterers.

One day, while watching the habits of a pair of Pewees at Mill Grove, I
looked so intently at their graceful attitudes that a thought struck my
mind like a flash of light, that nothing, after all, could ever answer
my enthusiastic desires to represent nature, except to copy her in her
own way, alive and moving! Then I began again. On I went, forming,
literally, hundreds of outlines of my favorites, the Pewees; how good or
bad I cannot tell, but I fancied I had mounted a step on the high
pinnacle before me. I continued for months together, simply outlining
birds as I observed them, either alighted or on the wing, but could
finish none of my sketches. I procured many individuals of different
species, and laying them on the table or on the ground, tried to place
them in such attitudes as I had sketched. But, alas! they were _dead_,
to all intents and purposes, and neither wing, leg, nor tail could I
place according to my wishes. A second thought came to my assistance; by
means of threads I raised or lowered a head, wing, or tail, and by
fastening the threads securely, I had something like life before me;
yet much was wanting. When I saw the living birds, I felt the blood rush
to my temples, and almost in despair spent about a month without
drawing, but in deep thought, and daily in the company of the feathered
inhabitants of dear Mill Grove.

I had drawn from the "manikin" whilst under David, and had obtained
tolerable figures of our species through this means, so I cogitated how
far a manikin of a bird would answer. I labored with wood, cork, and
wires, and formed a grotesque figure, which I cannot describe in any
other words than by saying that when set up it was a tolerable-looking
Dodo. A friend roused my ire by laughing at it immoderately, and
assuring me that if I wished to represent a tame gander it might do. I
gave it a kick, broke it to atoms, walked off, and thought again.

Young as I was, my impatience to obtain my desire filled my brains with
many plans. I not infrequently dreamed that I had made a new discovery;
and long before day, one morning, I leaped out of bed fully persuaded
that I had obtained my object. I ordered a horse to be saddled, mounted,
and went off at a gallop towards the little village of Norristown,
distant about five miles. When I arrived there not a door was open, for
it was not yet daylight. Therefore I went to the river, took a bath,
and, returning to the town, entered the first opened shop, inquired for
wire of different sizes, bought some, leaped on my steed, and was soon
again at Mill Grove. The wife of my tenant, I really believe, thought
that I was mad, as, on offering me breakfast, I told her I only wanted
my gun. I was off to the creek, and shot the first Kingfisher I met. I
picked the bird up, carried it home by the bill, sent for the miller,
and bade him bring me a piece of board of soft wood. When he returned he
found me filing sharp points to some pieces of wire, and I proceeded to
show him what I meant to do. I pierced the body of the fishing bird,
and fixed it on the board; another wire passed above his upper mandible
held the head in a pretty fair attitude, smaller ones fixed the feet
according to my notions, and even common pins came to my assistance. The
last wire proved a delightful elevator to the bird's tail, and at
last--there stood before me the _real_ Kingfisher.

  [Illustration: OLD MILL AND MILLER'S COTTAGE AT MILL GROVE ON THE
    PERKIOMEN CREEK.
    FROM A PHOTOGRAPH FROM W. H. WETHERILL, ESQ.]

Think not that my lack of breakfast was at all in my way. No, indeed! I
outlined the bird, aided by compasses and my eyes, colored it, finished
it, without a thought of hunger. My honest miller stood by the while,
and was delighted to see me pleased. This was what I shall call my first
drawing actually from nature, for even the eye of the Kingfisher was as
if full of life whenever I pressed the lids aside with my finger.

In those happy days of my youth I was extremely fond of reading what I
still call the delightful fables of La Fontaine. I had frequently
perused the one entitled "_L'hirondelle et les petits oiseaux_," and
thought much of the meaning imparted in the first line, which, if I now
recollect rightly, goes on to say that "_Quiconque a beaucoup vu, peut
avoir beaucoup retenu_." To me this meant that to study Nature was to
ramble through her domains late and early, and if I observed all as I
should, that the memory of what I saw would at least be of service to
me.

"Early to bed, and early to rise," was another adage which I thought,
and still think, of much value; 'tis a pity that instead of being merely
an adage it has not become a general law; I have followed it ever since
I was a child, and am ever grateful for the hint it conveyed.

As I wandered, mostly bent on the study of birds, and with a wish to
represent all those found in our woods, to the best of my powers, I
gradually became acquainted with their forms and habits, and the use of
my wires was improved by constant practice. Whenever I produced a better
representation of any species the preceding one was destroyed, and
after a time I laid down what I was pleased to call a constitution of my
manner of drawing birds, formed upon natural principles, which I will
try to put briefly before you.

The gradual knowledge of the forms and habits of the birds of our
country impressed me with the idea that each part of a family must
possess a certain degree of affinity, distinguishable at sight in any
one of them. The Pewees, which I knew by experience were positively
Flycatchers, led me to the discovery that every bird truly of that
genus, when standing, was usually in a passive attitude; that they sat
uprightly, now and then glancing their eyes upwards or sideways, to
watch the approach of their insect prey; that if in pursuit of this prey
their movements through the air were, in each and all of that tribe, the
same, etc., etc.

Gallinaceous birds I saw were possessed of movements and positions
peculiar to them. Amongst the water-birds also I found characteristic
manners.