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Title: Wild Sports In The Far West
Author: Gerstaecker, Frederick
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                [Illustration: AN UNEXPECTED RENCONTRE.

                         MEISEL BRO^{S}. LITH]



                              WILD SPORTS

                                  IN

                             The Far West.

                       BY FREDERICK GERSTAECKER.

                      Translated from the German.

                      WITH EIGHT CRAYON DRAWINGS,

                        EXECUTED IN OIL COLORS,

                    FROM DESIGNS BY HARRISON WEIR.

                                BOSTON:
                     CROSBY, NICHOLS AND COMPANY.
                        117 WASHINGTON STREET.
                                 1859.

                              CAMBRIDGE:
            ALLEN AND FARNHAM, ELECTROTYPERS AND PRINTERS.



PREFACE.


On my return, a short time since, to my native land, from the wilds of
America, it was not at first my intention to offer to the public the
contents of the diary I had kept during my travels, and written out in
detail as an employment for my leisure hours, for the exclusive use of
my family in Germany. Incited, however, by the interest awakened by the
publication of a few extracts in one of our periodicals, and yielding to
the wishes expressed by various friends who had read the remainder, I
undertook to correct and revise my notes, and to mould into a continuous
narrative a diary which I had only kept when circumstances worthy of
being chronicled arose,--for instance, on the voyage out, on my march
through the United States, during my sojourn among the swamps of
Arkansas, and finally during my hunting trip in the Ozark mountains.

I have endeavored faithfully to portray the social condition of the
Americans, in so far as it came under my observation, and many a reader,
while turning over the pages of this work, will seek in vain the wonted
glowing descriptions of the riches and plenty which the dwellers in the
West are reputed to enjoy. It is true that the American farmer
commencing operations with small means, may, by dint of _very_ strenuous
exertions, realize an independence in a shorter time than would suffice
for this object in our old fatherland; but, on the other hand, he must
be prepared to renounce every thing that gladdened his heart in his
native country--and only too quickly will he discover that to wean
himself from the comforts to which he has been from childhood
accustomed, to quit the society and intercourse of the civilized world,
and to seek in a far land a life of freedom indeed, but likewise of
solitude and privation, is a harder task than it at first appeared. And
not every man is sufficiently strong of heart to bear the emigrant’s lot
without a murmur.

But should any inveterate sportsman, with an imagination heated by the
description of these scenes, excited by the dangers and difficulties of
the enterprise, depart to the far West, to experience similar
adventures, let him remember, when wet, hungry, alone, and a prey to
mosquitoes, he lies stretched in the untrodden forest, longing in vain
for a fire, and for the society of men; or when he has been following
the tracks of the deer for days together, without the chance of a single
shot, until he can almost persuade himself that the tales he has read
of wild sports in the West are but myths existing only in the brains of
the Indians; let him, I say, remember that I have, so far as in me lay,
painted all this in its true colors, and that many an adventure which
reads admirably on paper, is in reality the reverse of romantic.

The chase in the United States is, moreover, rapidly on the decline; for
the American hunter spares nothing, and for some time, particularly
since the day when skins were first paid for in hard dollars, a war of
extermination has been waged against the poor stags and bears;--so that
the hunter who, some five years hence, shall visit these realms, will
scarcely find his expectations of sport realized, unless he is prepared
either to content himself with small game, or to penetrate to the Rocky
Mountains, and explore the territory of the Indians.

With the concluding request to my readers, to remember that these pages
are penned by a man who, so to speak, has but just emerged from the
forest, and who relates his experiences to his friends at home, not
caring for the fact that he might, perhaps, by adopting a different
method, have told his story with more effect, this diary is submitted to
the kind consideration of the public, by

THE AUTHOR.



                               CONTENTS.


 CHAPTER I.

 FROM BREMEN TO NEW YORK.

 The Bremen Lighter--A Parting Jollification--The good Ship
 “Constitution”--The Steerage--The Last of Germany--Sea-sickness--Life
 on Board--The Channel--Sea Sights--A Shark--A Wreck--Bathing
 at Sea--Dancing on Board--Stormy Weather--The Coast of
 Newfoundland--Festivities on the 4th of July--Shark and
 Pilot-Fish--Mother Carey’s Chickens--Land ho!--Staten Island--Our
 Destination.....pp. 1--30


 CHAPTER II.

 NEW YORK TO BUFFALO.

 Car-drivers--An Irish Funeral--German Boarding-House--A Pulpit
 in a State of Siege--Negroes at New York--Shooting Excursion
 near New York--Railway to Utica--American Canal Boat--My
 Fat Fellow-passenger--Pennsylvanian smith--Hamilton--Wild
 Duck-shooting--An Indian Hunter--Night in the Woods--A Yankee
 Cattle-dealer--Buffalo Politicians.....31--60


 CHAPTER III.

 OHIO--INDIANA--ILLINOIS--MISSOURI.

 Wet and Weary--Out in the Woods--The Forest Mill--A Raccoon--A
 Pleasant Travelling Companion--My Israelite Fellow-lodgers--Fording
 the Wabash--A Wet Road--Buck-shooting--Illinois and its Climate--I set
 off for New Orleans--Lead Mines in Missouri.....61--82


 CHAPTER IV.

 ARKANSAS, AND “DOWN RIVER” TO NEW ORLEANS.

 The Eagle--An Old Settler--My unsuccessful Hunting Dog--The Polish
 Refugee’s Habitation--An Unnecessary Circuit--Indian Tribe--Little
 Rock in Arkansas--My Engagement on board the “Fox”--Quarrel with the
 Captain--An uncomfortable Night--Treatment of Slaves--A Woodland
 Supper--A Panther--Bear-shooting--Life among the Indians--An Indian
 Shooting Party--Wolf Traps--Narrow Escape for my Canoe--By Steamer to
 New Orleans.....83--116


 CHAPTER V.

 CINCINNATI--A FARMER’S LIFE IN THE WOODS.

 A Runaway Couple--Cincinnati and its Religious Sects--The Girl
 “possessed with a Devil”--I start afresh for the Woods--Bad Sport and
 bad Weather--Crawfish--Blackfish Lake--A Picnic in the Woods--Mule
 Drivers from Texas--Strong’s Plantation--A Swimming-race with the
 dogs--Saint Woodland’s Farm--Bee-hunting--Wild Honey--Searching
 for Horses--Dancing for a Dinner--Backwoods Building--Ague--My
 Methodist Friend--Duck-shooting--Snakes in the Swamps--Our Farming
 Arrangements.....117--149


 CHAPTER VI.

 A FARMER’S LIFE IN THE WOODS (_continued_).

 A Wolf--We shift our Quarters--False Alarm--Squirrel for
 Breakfast--Primitive Mode of Winnowing Corn--“Oiltrove Bottom”--Pawpaw
 Trees--“Not at home”--Hard Fare--A Panther--Visit to Hilger--A Great
 Political Discussion--Clearing Land for Fields--Ague--Prompt Burial
 in the Swamps--A Backwoods Family--Swindlers in Arkansas--White River
 and its Neighborhood--Magnus, the Great Buffalo Hunter--A Patient
 with the Ague--Swamps--Hunting with an unloaded Gun--Death of the
 Bear.....150--181


 CHAPTER VII.

 WOODLAND SPORTS--CANE-BRAKES--MY EXAMINATION BY THE SCHOOL COMMISSION.

 Turkey-shooting with Dogs--Forest Travel--Scarcity of
 Provisions--Overcup Oak--Buck-hunting--Buffalo-hunting--Return
 to the Haunts of Men--Bear-hunting with dogs--The Falling
 Tree--“Shocking bad Dreams”--Ladies in the Forest--Unemployed Hands
 in Cincinnati--Card-playing in the Cane-brake--German Settlers down
 South--The Great School Examination--Speculation in Canes.....182-209


 CHAPTER VIII.

 FARMING AT FOURCHE LE FAVE--A BACKWOODS “FROLIC”--RESIDENCE AT
 KELFER’S FARM--SCHOOLS--HUNTING EXCURSION.

 Partnership with Rutkin--Removing Goods by Canoe--Scalding Pigs
 “Arkansas Fashion”--Shooting Deer by Night--Disagreement with
 Rutkin--A Backwoods “Frolic”--Relays of Fiddlers--Chasing a Wolf
 with a Canoe--Another Shooting Excursion--The Sessions in the
 Backwoods--An inconvenient Court-house--Departure from Kelfer’s
 Farm--Road-making in the Backwoods--Visit to Bahrens--Habitual
 Reserve of the Americans--Mechanical Ingenuity of Backwoodsmen--An
 Indian Adventure--Raccoon-shooting--Bee-hunting in the
 Backwoods--Duck-shooting--Curly the Settler--A Prize--Curly’s
 Mishap--An Unpleasant Nocturnal Visitor--Shooting a Panther--Return to
 Slowtrap’s.....210--257


 CHAPTER IX.

 HUNTING ANECDOTES AND EXPERIENCES--CHRISTMAS--CONWELL AND HIS
 REMINISCENCES.

 Surprised by a Panther--A New Hunting Excursion--The
 Fox--“Stole Away”--The Two old Cattle-dealers--Bear-hunting
 Extraordinary--Deer-stalking by Night--Duck-shooting--Thunderstorms
 in Arkansas--Our Nocturnal Encampment--Indian Migration--A
 Bootless Chase--Lost in the Forest--Mr. Davis’s Farm--Conwell and
 his Family--Slowtrap’s Adventure with the Cow--Terrace-hills--A
 Prize--A Sumptuous Breakfast--A Two-year-old Bruin--A
 Comfortable Evening--Indian Stratagem--Simplicity of the
 Backwoodsmen--Bivouac--Story of the Moccasins--Almost surprised by
 a Panther--A Novel Sleeping-room--Struggle with a Buck--Story of a
 Buffalo Hunt--Books in Wet Weather--Manna in the Desert--Marauding
 Wolves--Bruin in his Nest--Honey-laden Home.....258--311


 CHAPTER X.

 A PERILOUS BEAR-HUNT--A DEBATING SOCIETY--PANTHER HUNT--DISASTROUS
 EVENTS--DEATH OF ERSKINE--DEPARTURE.

 Bears in their Winter Quarters--Bruin’s Cave--Our Adventure in the
 Cave--Attack and Retreat--Pursued by a Wounded Bear--Victory at
 last--Another Bruin in his Lair--Backwoods Debating Society--Knotty
 Points of Debate--A Panther in a Cave--Watchfire and Wounds--Off
 again after Game--Hunting with the Indians--Skeletons--Narrow
 Quarters--Wachiga--Our Fatal Temerity--Erskine’s Death--A
 Terrible Night--A Primitive Operation--I decline taking a Farm--A
 Rencontre.....312--349


 CHAPTER XI.

 A FATAL BRAWL--RETURN TO LITTLE ROCK--SUMMARY JUSTICE--DOWN SOUTH.

 Whiskey and Bloodshed--Wounded and Alone--A Prize--Return to
 Slowtrap’s--Little Rock--Deer-shooting at the “Salt Lick”--Logwood
 Trees in Arkansas--Summary Judicial Proceedings--Calls for
 attracting Deer--Indian Method of Dressing Skins--A Matrimonial
 Difficulty--Buck-shooting--Letters at Little Rock--Canoe Voyage down
 the Arkansas--Celebration of the 4th of July.....350--373


 CHAPTER XII.

 LOUISIANA--NEW ORLEANS, AND HOME.

 Mosquitoes--Meeting with Kean--The Hotel at Point Coupée--Slaves and
 their Condition--Snipe-shooting--Vegetation of Louisiana--Shooting
 Alligators by Torchlight--Their Antipathy to Dogs and Negroes--New
 Orleans--The “Olbers” for Bremen--Mouth of the Mississippi--The
 Gulf of Mexico--Fever--The Lübecker and his Wife--The
 Channel--Quarantine.....374--396



                              WILD SPORTS

                                  AND

                      ADVENTURES IN THE FAR WEST.



CHAPTER I.

FROM BREMEN TO NEW YORK.

     A Bremen lighter, and its capacity for holding passengers--An
     unexpected meeting--Scene on board the lighter--The captain--First
     night on board--A parting dance on shore--Our new passengers and
     their mishaps--The “Constitution”--Steerage arrangements--Sleeping
     berths--Scenes between decks--Departure--Sea-sickness--Our Jewish
     passengers--The French and English Coasts--The Atlantic--Jelly-fish
     and “Portuguese men-of-war”--Small-pox on
     board--Dancing--Phosphorescence of the sea--Fricandeau-days--Stormy
     weather--Meeting of ships at sea--The 4th of July and its
     festivities--The shark and pilot-fish--Projects to pass the
     time--“Land ho!”--Arrival, harbor, quarantine, and examination of
     luggage--We take leave of the “Constitution.”


“Does the boat start at nine _exactly_?” “Yes, do not be later.” Such
was the notice I received as I spoke with the master of the lighter,
which in the spring of 1837 was to take me with bag and baggage on board
the “Constitution,” bound to New York, then lying in Bremen Roads, about
forty miles from the town, and only waiting for the two lighters, which
were to take on board the steerage passengers with their effects.

I was true to my appointment at nine o’clock, but soon found that there
was no necessity to have hurried myself, as no preparations had been
made for starting; I took advantage of the time to look over all my
effects, to see if I had everything I thought necessary, and to procure
any thing that was wanting: in a large chest, that could easily be got
at, I had packed some bottles of red wine, a keg of sardines, another of
herrings, a Westphalian ham (oh, that there had been six!), some lemons,
a little rum, pepper, sugar, some tin vessels for the table and to keep
food in, knives, forks, and spoons. I found all right, and then lounged
along the banks of the Weser, so as not to lose the boat. I was
astonished at the number of passengers that arrived; and when I saw the
crowd of people to be stowed in the miserably small boat, it appeared to
me impossible that she could hold so many. While I was leaning against
the corner of a house and looking on, a young man approached, wrapped in
a blue cloak, with a foraging cap, spectacles, a long pipe in one hand,
and a knapsack in the other; he looked at me steadfastly for a moment,
and then accosted me with the intimate “Du” (Thou). His features were
familiar to me, but I did not remember him till he mentioned his name;
he was H., a former school-fellow, who was about to embark in the same
ship. The sight of him first recalled to mind, since I had taken leave
of all who were near and dear to me, that I was not quite alone in the
world, and that there was still some one who would interest himself for
me; of course we were now inseparable.

We lounged about together for some time in the town, and on returning to
the boat found for certain that it would not start till the following
morning. Most of the passengers went on shore in the evening. H. and I
remained on board with our baggage. Next morning we cast off from the
shore and made sail with the ebb; the wind was unfavorable. No one who
has not made such a passage, in a similar boat, with a like number of
passengers, can imagine the scene. It is necessary to give a short
description of it, as these boats are still in use, and may yet carry
thousands of emigrants from their native land. The lighter was
cutter-rigged, about forty-five feet long, and some fifteen broad, with
a little hole in the after part called a cabin, with two sleeping places
on one side and some rows of shelves on the other; it was about large
enough to contain six people closely packed. Imagine sixty passengers in
the other part of the boat! (for the cabin was only for the master, or
captain, as he liked to be called). Sixty live passengers, with their
chests, trunks, hat and other boxes, handkerchiefs of provisions,
cloaks, mattresses, coverlets, &c. &c.; and not young men only, but old
and young women, old men and boys, children and old maids, sitting,
lying, standing, and leaning about. If any one had told me beforehand
that such a number of people could have been packed in such a space, I
would not have believed him.

When all had settled themselves, and I was firmly persuaded that it was
quite impossible to find room for one more, without hanging him up under
the deck, a pair of legs poked themselves down the hatchway; over them
was a blue jacket, topped by the rubicund visage of our faithful
captain. After trying for some time with his feet to find a solid
foundation to stand on, he let go his hands, and lighted on the corns
of a lanky sailor, who had squeezed himself in between two chests, and
had fallen asleep standing; the pain made him draw up his long legs, and
he was so disconcerted, that, still half asleep, he courteously begged
pardon of the captain, or Tarpaulin, as we called him.

The captain now began to look about him, stepping over two and sometimes
three persons at a time. But what was his motive for taking all this
trouble? Merely to look at the pretty faces of the female passengers,
and to try to make himself agreeable to them--but time and place, wind
and weather were against him; he only received snappish words from some,
and derision from others; finding that nothing was to be gained from the
fair sex, he turned to the other, and began to ogle various
attractive-looking bottles, which were less coy towards him, for here
and there some of them were uncorked and their contents earnestly
inquired into.

At last he went on deck, and I followed, not without difficulty, to get
at least a breath of fresh air; the weather was bad, the sky cloudy,
with a sharp cutting wind, and occasionally rain: the dull
leather-colored banks of the Weser filled me with melancholy.

H. had followed me; so we lit a couple of cigars, and talked over old
stories. We anchored at dark, as the master was afraid of running
aground--the vessel swung round, the sails were lowered, and all was
quiet for the night. As the dew fell heavy and cold, we once more
descended through the dark abyss of the hatchway. Not a light was
burning, and all lay close packed together; how I managed to get through
the mass is still a mystery, but I remember that I passed the night,
sitting on the corner of a chest, leaning my head upon another with an
enormous padlock, against which I constantly knocked.

What a scene in the morning!--I was as hungry as a wolf--and no wonder,
for I had eaten nothing since the previous morning; I got on deck,
washed my face and hands in a bucket of Weser water, and greedily
devoured a morsel of bread and cheese which I had in my pocket. The
weather had improved, the boat dropped slowly down with the tide. About
eight o’clock we met a small fishing boat, from which I bought some
capital shell-fish; these our captain ordered to be cooked by his
ministering spirit, and of course came in for his share. When the flood
made, we anchored again; H. and I with the only sailor went on shore to
recruit our store of provisions, as our passage seemed likely to be a
long one.

In the afternoon we dropped down to a village called, I believe, Bracke,
where some merry music struck our ears. Our Tarpaulin would not have
passed it had the whole admiralty of Bremen been standing sentry on the
shore; although the wind was fair, and the ebb still running, the anchor
was dropped, the little boat hauled up, and all the younger members,
babies excepted, landed on the beach.

Dancing was carried on with vigor for a couple of hours, but I took no
part in it; I was in no humor for dancing. I was nevertheless amused;
the emigrants, in the costume of their different states, even in the
moment of bidding farewell to their native land, jumped and bounded to
the sound of a couple of fiddles and a horn, without a care for the
future. As it began to grow late, the not very tender lighterman’s
conscience of our captain began to reproach him. The wind was fair, and
he knew that the ship was only waiting for him; so he collected his
cargo, and we left the merry sounds behind us. We had had some fun at
any rate, and that made the time seem shorter.

At Vegesack, another village on the Weser, we received three more
passengers, also bound for our ship--a man of about five or six and
forty, his wife, some seven or eight years younger, and their hopeful
son, of about eighteen.

As it was a downright impossibility to squeeze in three more passengers
amongst us, Tarpaulin gave them up his cabin, as he called it. It cost
no little trouble to get the two rather helpless old folks stowed below.
William, for that was hopeful’s name, managed it quicker, for his foot
slipped, and down he went, like a flash of lightning, between his
astonished parents, crushing his mother’s bonnet in his descent. Towards
evening our captain wanted some tar. It was stowed under a scuttle in
the floor of the cabin. The sailor, who had taken rather too much on
board at Bracke, and thereupon had totally forgotten the principles of
equilibrium, tumbled to the foot of the cabin ladder, and made the trio
understand that it was necessary to open the little hole in the floor,
and that therefore they must press themselves as close as possible
against the ship’s sides. This was easier said than done, because a
narrow seat ran along the sides. The scuttle was at last opened, the
iron pot lifted out, and set with its sharp edge on William’s toes,
causing him to draw back his foot and strike his heel forcibly against
the ship’s side. But his cup of sorrow was not exhausted yet. With
sublime patience he awaited the retreat of the sailor, who, with
unsteady hands, lifted the bucket towards the captain, who had stretched
out his hands to take it; but “there’s many a slip ’twixt the cup and
the lip.” The bucket turned over. William, poor innocent William,
received the whole of the contents, and the captain got nothing more
than his favorite perfume. He swore like a heathen. And what said
William, as he stood there like butter in the sun? If the saying is
true--“well greased goes easy,” it ought to have gone easy with him.

One more night had we to pass in this wretched boat. It would fill
volumes to relate all the occurrences, serious and comic. In the morning
we saw the object of our hopes--the barque “Constitution”--lying at
anchor, with flags flying. We were soon alongside and on board. The
confusion of this moment was indescribable. The second lighter had
arrived two days before us with the other passengers, who had secured
the most convenient bed-places, and arranged their packages to the best
advantage; no trifling matter in so small a space. The steerage was
about thirty-three feet long by twenty-seven wide, and eight high, with
posts, or stanchions, in the middle, to support the upper deck, to which
the chests, &c., were lashed. Imagine on each side two rows of
bed-places, one over the other, about six feet square, each wide enough,
or rather not wide enough, to contain five people. The chests, cases,
packages of all sorts with clothes and provisions, were stowed in the
intermediate spaces, and lashed to the posts, to keep them from
tumbling about with the motion of the ship, leaving a space on each side
of about twenty-two feet long, and from twelve to fourteen inches wide,
for 118 passengers. At first I could not believe that we were so many,
but by degrees became convinced of it. After for a short time viewing
the scene with its forms climbing and crawling about through the gloom,
I imagined to myself the motion of the ship, the lashings giving way,
the chests and boxes flying from side to side, and the advent of
sea-sickness, which the number of tin basins kept in readiness seemed
mournfully to forebode;--I hastily mounted to the deck, which seemed
spacious and well arranged.

Although lying at anchor, the “Constitution” appeared to one so
uninitiated as myself to roll considerably. Before dark, I crept below
again to take another look at my sleeping-place. There were five of us,
whom fate and our own volition had consigned to a space six feet square,
with the audacious idea of resigning ourselves to the arms of Morpheus;
but we were so squeezed together that the god could not have clasped an
individual; so he must either take all five at once, or leave us to our
fate. Our mattresses were spread (each had a mattress and coverlet), and
we crept in one after the other. When four had taken their places, two
of them being men of colossal bulk, the space was filled, and the
question arose--What was to become of the fifth? Lie across? That would
have been too uncomfortable for those below. Under our heads? That would
not have been agreeable for H., who was the fifth man; besides he was
so scraggy and bony, that I doubt if our heads would not have had the
worst of it. At last we all agreed to lie on our sides, and H. squeezed
in. Turning round was a thing not to be thought of; and thus we passed
our first night in our long-desired ship.

Next morning, when my left side awoke (my right lying fast asleep for
some time longer), all my limbs seemed bruised and broken; I almost felt
homesick. I crept out as well as I could, and went on deck to get a
wash, a bucket serving me for a basin. The wind blew cold and
comfortless through the rigging. All was soon in motion below, and as I
looked down the hatchway, I was forcibly reminded of Schiller’s
“Diver,”[A]

    “Wie’s von Salamandern, Molchen, und Drachen
     Sich regt in dem furchtbaren Höllenrachen.”[A]

 [A]

    Salamanders, and monsters, and dragons did go
    Through the fearful jaws of the hell below.


Laughter, singing, roaring, cursing, the screams of children, crying,
and praying, resounded in a confused din up the hatchway. Presently, one
sleepy face after another crept up the ladder, with blinking eyes,
accustomed to the nether darkness, and looked towards the morning sun
just breaking through a bank of thin gray clouds. In about an hour’s
time, a talismanic word, pronounced in a loud voice in the forepart
of the ship, put life into the crew, who had been on board some days:
we soon found that this mysterious word meant, “breakfast”--“dinner”--“supper.”
We received coffee, biscuit, and brown bread, but every one had to find
his own can, and to fetch his portion himself.

I had now time to notice my bed-fellows: H., I have already described;
the other three were a joiner, a doctor, and an apothecary, the two
latter big enough to fill up one sleeping-place to themselves. As far as
I could judge on such short acquaintance, they seemed to promise
agreeable society.

Boundless disorder still reigned around. No one seemed to know where he
ought to be; everybody was asking for a chest, a box, a trunk: the fair
sex, of whom we had about twenty-five, had made no arrangements among
themselves, so that, instead of only eight, sixteen were speaking at the
same time. I sincerely pitied some among them, who seemed to have been
in better circumstances, but who, probably through insufficiency of
means, were obliged to choose the cheaper passage in the steerage, and
to forego all the comforts to which they had been accustomed from
childhood. A single man can rough it; indeed, it is highly interesting
to take part in all this life and bustle, and I would not on any account
have taken my passage in the cabin; but for a woman, it is quite another
thing; for what may serve as a joke and subject of conversation to a
man, alarms and hurts the feelings of a woman: it was, however, very
different with some Oldenburg lassies. They seemed as much at home as in
their ferry-boats; the greater the uproar and disorder, the more did
they laugh and enjoy it. The race of Israel had about sixty
representatives on board, among them some pretty Jewesses; had they all
been dirty peddlers, I must have jumped overboard.

After two days, the pilot came on board, the anchor was weighed, all was
life and mirth. None would remain below, and the deck was crowded; the
wind blew fair and we were soon in the North Sea. The strip of land
became smaller and smaller; the pilot left us; his boat lessened and
lessened; then there was only a thin, blue line with one dark point, the
steeple of Wangerode; this became more misty and indistinct; the last
trace of home disappeared in the blue distance. There, behind those thin
clouds that seemed to lie on the water, lived all those who were near
and dear to me in this world,--and yet I had no tears, for their source
seemed dried up. I stood for a long, long time scanning, with dry eyes,
that part of the heavens. I went early to bed to indulge my thoughts. I
had hardly turned in, when my comrades came, and the squeeze began
again. All was tolerably quiet in the steerage, most of the party being,
probably, affected by the disappearance of their mother country.

Running with a fair wind, the ship soon became uneasy; I awoke in the
night with a very disagreeable sensation, to find that my head lay much
lower than my heels. Our berth was on the starboard or right side of the
ship, looking towards the head, and our feet were towards the ship’s
side, on account of the fresh wind; in the night the wind changed, and
the ship laid over on the port side; between laughing and swearing, and
not without considerable difficulty, we changed our position.

The next morning’s sun shone on many a pale and long face; the sea was
rough, the ship rolled and pitched fearfully, the effect was awful to
look upon. I have already stated that we had a number of Jews on board,
with few exceptions, from the lowest class; they were allowed by their
rabbins, at least so they avowed, to eat bacon during the voyage, and
most of them had so far availed themselves of the privilege, as, if not
to overload the stomach, at least to take in a very plentiful supply of
the beautiful sweet bacon that was served out to us. Punishment trod on
the heels of crime; there was not a corner of the ship unoccupied by a
sick Israelite with a tin basin, or one despairingly leaning over the
side and squaring accounts with Neptune.

H., the doctor, and myself were quite well, and not a little did we quiz
the poor wretches, who were already sufficiently tormented. The
following day it rained hard; the confined space, with all these
sufferers, was almost insupportable--yet it was very disagreeable to get
wet through on deck--I was wretched.

About noon on Sunday, some groups formed here and there; people began to
feel that it was a misery not to associate,--yet a sudden qualm would
often end a conversation begun in mirth. Some of the most resolute began
to creep on deck again, but often had to pay dearly for their temerity,
when a heavy sea broke over the ship, and wet to the skin all within its
course. I never before knew the real advantage of a cloak. In the
evening it cleared up, and I made my way forward amongst the crew to
listen to their songs and stories.

On the following day the sea was heavier, and sickness at its height. I
was quite disgusted, and climbed up the rigging to the top to get rid of
it, and remained there till the cook’s magic word announced something
warm for the inner man, though very few of the passengers responded to
the call.

I may as well take this opportunity to say something about the cooking
and manner of living. The kitchen is a small wooden house, well secured
by clamps to the deck, as a safeguard against the force of the seas that
break over the ship. It was divided into two parts; one for the cabin
passengers, the other for the steerage passengers and crew. The
provisions were good and plentiful. Coffee was served out every morning,
though, to be sure, one had to drink a great deal of water to get at the
coffee; but I had always been used to strong coffee, and future
experience in the back woods taught me that, when drunk scalding hot, it
requires a good palate to distinguish between strong and weak coffee.

It was evening when we approached the French coast, which first appeared
as a bluish line, that grew larger and larger: before dark, we came near
enough to Calais to distinguish the steeple and houses. Looking over
towards England, we could see nothing beyond the two lights near Dover.
On the following morning, we were nearer to the coast of England, whose
majestic chalky cliffs were tinged rose-color by the morning sun. In the
evening we passed the Isle of Wight, and the wind changing, we did not
clear the Channel till the 27th May.

We were now on the broad ocean; a number of fishing-boats enlivened the
prospect with their many-colored sails, sometimes white, sometimes
yellow, red, and even black. The sea was green, and the color especially
beautiful under the bows and stern; the picture was further animated by
a number of porpoises and albicores leaping from wave to wave. I saw
several strange substances floating on the sea, which I could not
observe more closely, for want of a net to catch them: I decided on
making one.

All went well for several days; the weather improved, sea-sickness
disappeared, and the fair sex began to show themselves on deck. I had
made a net, fastened it to a staff, and kept it in readiness for any
thing remarkable floating past; indeed, for me, every thing that floated
by was remarkable, or at least worth examination. I caught a number of
jelly-like creatures, which had the power of rising or sinking in the
water, and also that of motion; one kind being about five or six inches
long, and one and a half or two broad, hollow, and provided with a sort
of stomach marked by a dark spot, the only compact part of the animal.
If left on a dry board for a couple of hours, it resolved itself into
water, excepting the stomach and a slimy opaque mass with a very thin
fine skin. Sometimes we saw numbers of them linked together, and always
with the dark spot on one side. Some snails were caught resembling land
snails: their shells contained a blue liquid, which seemed adapted to
give a beautiful dye. I wrote a few lines with this dye to see how the
color lasted, and found that it did not change in the least. The most
beautiful of all this species is unquestionably the “Nautilus,” or, as
the English call it, “Portuguese man-of-war.” It can raise itself about
three inches above the surface, and steer its own course, but disappears
in a storm; numerous feelers of two, three, and four feet, serve to
provide nourishment. I caught one in my net, and happening to touch it
with the back of my hand, it made it smart as if stung by a nettle. At
night they give out a phosphoric light.

Now we were flying along with a fair wind and fine weather to our new
home; the ocean had that deep transparent blue which almost enticed one
to leap into it, to sleep in peace within its depths. My contemplations
were interrupted by a sight that made the peaceful sleep rather
doubtful--the dorsal fin of a shark peering above the surface as the
ship glided by. The idea of coming between the triple row of teeth of
such a monster was any thing but poetical. My attention was soon drawn
to another object, to which we came nearer and nearer, lying dark on the
water: at first I thought it must be a rock, and asked the mate, but he
said there was no rock in that direction, and that it must be something
floating--and so it was; as we passed it, it turned out to be a wreck.
Nothing is more adapted to damp the spirits on board a ship than the
sudden appearance of such a “memento mori,” to remind one of that
journey which awaits us all, in which a wreck may be our starting-point,
and a shark the first station.

On the 30th the wind was unfavorable, with a hollow sea; those good
people who had nothing to do, became, as usual, sea-sick; the others
managed better. Suddenly our messmate the doctor came with a pale and
alarmed countenance, to tell us that the smallpox had broken out on
board; a little girl had it very violently, and of a bad kind. The
carpenter had hastily to fit up a place used as a store-room for ropes;
she was removed thither, away from the other passengers, and the general
apprehension was somewhat allayed.

While standing quietly on deck, I heard a tremendous uproar in the
steerage; men swearing, women screaming, children crying, made a chorus
enough to split one’s ears. I jumped down for fear of missing some fun,
and was greeted by the most comical sight: every one had taken refuge on
the highest sleeping places, on the tops of chests, boxes, or any other
elevations, to be clear of the floor, which was taken possession of by a
little white spaniel, which snarled, and snapped, and foamed at the
mouth. All cried out as I came down the ladder, “A mad dog! a mad dog!”
The poor beast seemed to me more sick than mad; it ran forward a couple
of paces, and got jammed between two chests, and before it could free
itself I had seized it by the back of the neck, while it snapped and
struggled in vain. I shall long remember the shrieks of the women, who
had mounted into the sleeping places, as I raised the dog, and thereby
brought it nearer to them than they thought consistent with their
safety. I kept fast hold of the poor thing, carried him up the ladder,
and threw him overboard. It was the only dog on board, and belonged to
poor William, who came in for the shower-bath of tar on board the
lighter. He took the affair very coolly, and said, “he was glad the
beast was gone, as he was always putting his paws into his food.” He and
his father had remained a long time on deck, and at last, when they had
descended, they did not meet with a very friendly reception from the old
lady, who was lying sick in her bed-place. “William--you--and--your--father-
-are--very--stupid--to--leave--me--a--poor--sick--woman--all--a--lone-
-while--you--are--a--mu--sing--your--selves--on--deck.”
William defended himself earnestly in Low Dutch, and thoughtlessly
seating himself on his mother’s cap-box, the lid gave way under his
weight; his ears were well boxed in consequence.

June 4th.--A calm, with the sea as smooth as a mirror, except
occasionally when a long swell disturbed the surface; the ship was
motionless. I felt a great inclination to bathe, but the captain had
forbidden it, on account of the sharks. Early in the morning, however,
H. and I sprang overboard before he was up, and felt as light as
feathers in the warm sea; I was much more fatigued than ever I had been
in river bathing, and I had swallowed no slight quantity of salt water.

I went to sleep after dinner, and as I came on deck again about two
o’clock, I found dancing going on. The ship was not motionless, though
without headway; the swell made her roll heavily at times, and
occasionally a party of dancers, five or six couple, would be carried
from one side to the other, and thereafter, for a moment attempting to
maintain the perpendicular, yield at last to the laws of gravity, and
fall together in a heap. Towards dark, dancing ceased; a light breeze
sprang up at sunset, driving us gently before it, the sea looking still
more beautiful with its little light foam-crested waves. At night it
appeared to be sown with myriads of stars and sparks, particularly where
the ship dashed through the waters, throwing off the spray: it shone as
if a fire was under the water--every wave that broke against the bows,
gave light enough to exhibit the letters in a book. Although it was
against rules for steerage passengers to pass abaft the capstan, our
kind-hearted captain was not very strict in enforcing this order, and
for hours together I have watched the sparkling foam under the stern.
Once while so occupied I was startled by a rushing, snorting noise, and
looking up, saw the dark form of a grampus from about eighteen to twenty
feet in length, rushing through the flashing waters as if swimming in
liquid fire; he disappeared close under the stern.

On the following day we fell in with another ship: on our hoisting our
Bremen colors, she showed an American ensign; we passed about fifty
yards from her. The captains exchanged their latitude and longitude, and
gave the name of the ports they came from and were bound to: her
destination was Oporto. A singular feeling is awakened by thus meeting
another ship on the immense ocean; to see another little world appear,
pass within hail, then diminish to a white point, and disappear, leaving
the poor emigrant more deserted than before on the waste of waters.

On the 7th June, we were running eleven knots an hour; there was not
much sea, so that very few were sea-sick, and most had appeared on deck
and collected into picturesque groups,--here a couple playing cards,
there one with a prayer-book, a couple of girls knitting and reading
together, and some with wrinkled brows, strange contortions of the
mouth, and uncouth sounds, industriously studying, and endeavoring to
pronounce, English. These quiet pleasant days were named by us fine
_fricandeau_ days, for the following reason. We could not eat all the
salt meat and bacon that was served out, so we mixed the remains, after
mincing it small, with bread crumbs and yolks of eggs, kneaded it
together, and fried it in butter; hence the name, for in bad weather we
could do nothing of the sort.

With so much fine weather I began to fear that we should miss seeing a
storm, and so lose the real delight of a sea voyage; but on the 16th it
began to blow, the sea got heavier and heavier, the faces longer and
longer--and by midnight old Boreas was in full bluster, the ship dashing
nobly through the brilliantly illuminated sea. I was delighted with the
war of the elements, and leaning over the side, watched for hours the
raging storm and restless waves. I did not go to bed till morning, when
I took my mattress out of the berth, and laid it on the deck, as it was
impossible for five to sleep below.

The next day’s sun lighted up a wild but glorious scene; immense dark
blue waves, with green ridges crested with foam, for a moment “towering
in pride of place,” then sinking to make room for others; a shoal of
large porpoises were leaping joyfully among the boisterous waves.
Sailors say that they can tell, by the course of these fish, the quarter
that the wind will blow from, only they are not agreed whether they go
against the wind or run before it;--merely a difference of diametrically
opposite directions. The gale was now so heavy that we were obliged to
lie to, with the helm lashed a-lee. In the midst of it we saw a ship
running before the wind; with very little sail: she was frequently
hidden by the intervening waves, shot quickly past, and was soon out of
sight.

On the 19th, the weather moderated in the morning, but the gale came on
again with greater force towards the evening. The scene in the steerage
was piteous in the extreme; sea-sickness at its height.--H. and I
attempted to joke with some, who were seated on the deck, deadly pale,
with tin basins between their knees, patiently awaiting the dreaded
paroxysms. We put a slice of nice fat bacon into a plate, covered it
over, then went to the sufferers and asked them how they felt. Instead
of answering, they mournfully shook their heads. “Won’t you take
something?” asked H., with a kind voice; the very idea occasioned
disgust, and with wry faces they motioned us not to speak of it; not yet
satisfied, I uncovered the plate, and H., holding up the slice before
them, asked in the most amiable, sympathizing voice, “Perhaps you could
eat a little bit of bacon?” This was like a watchword; it worked like
magic, and we were glad to fly on deck, almost alarmed at the success of
our plans.

At noon pease-soup was served out; I had taken a basinful down below, a
proceeding which required no little skill, and leaning against the
sleeping-place had almost finished it, when H. came cursing and swearing
down the ladder, and standing at the foot of it, showed us his coat,
telling us, fiery with rage, that one of the Oldenburghers had spilt all
his pease-soup over him. At this moment a tin dishful of the same came
flying down the hatchway, and emptied itself so completely over
ill-fated H. that his eyes were bunged up; nor was this all--the soup
was only the prologue to the play, for who should follow his soup,
head-foremost, but poor William, _in propriâ personâ_, who, but for
alighting on H.’s shoulders must have broken his neck. Both fell
together in the mess. It would be a vain attempt to describe H.’s rage;
had we not sprung to the rescue, poor William would have been strangled.
When the gale moderated, more sail was made, but the sea ran high, and
through the wind being north-west, we could not lay our course; still
way was made, and that was a comfort.

In the afternoon we saw another ship, and under Bremen colors. The
captains exchanged information through the speaking-trumpets; we
hastened towards the land of the stranger, while she was in full sail
towards home; with mournful thoughts, I watched the snowy sails, growing
less and less, until all traces of them were lost in the distant
horizon.

Time began to hang heavy on our hands, our wished-for port still
distant, and the wind unfavorable; we approached the banks of
Newfoundland, whose southern points we were rounding under a thick fog.
Towards evening another ship was seen; then the fog came on thicker, so
that the bell was frequently struck, or a horn sounded, to prevent our
running foul of other vessels. Our captain was also anxious on account
of icebergs, which the other ship had spoken of, and the thermometer was
often dipped overboard, to try the temperature of the sea, as it falls
considerably on the approach of icebergs.

The fog lay thick and damp, and the north-west wind blew very cold, so
that our cloaks came again into request. The smallpox did not seem
inclined to leave us, as one of the crew was now attacked, and confined
to the sick cabin. It was as cold as it is in Germany in December, and
if three fourths of the passengers had not been driven on deck by the
fumes of sulphur kindled in the steerage, they would not have ventured
out of the warm but foul air of their sleeping-places. It is surprising
that we had not more sickness on board, for pure air is one of the main
sources of health, and this was much wanted between decks.

At night the wind changed in our favor, and it began to rain. I had
placed my mattress near the hatchway, and was wet through before I
awoke.

The 4th of July approached,--the liberation-day of the Americans. The
captain said he should make it a holiday, and give us some punch, and we
decided on making preparations for it; a young man named Zellner, who
had already been in America, sketched the plan. First a transparency was
painted, with the American arms, the stripes and stars, and rising
eagle, with, as a motto, the names of the four heroes of the revolution,
Washington, La Fayette, Franklin, Kosciusko. It happened that one of the
passengers had some rockets and other fireworks, which he produced for
the occasion. At twelve at night, between the 3rd and 4th July, the
transparency was illuminated, and a song composed for the nonce, sung to
the tune of “God save the King.” The fireworks were let off, and the
rockets fired from our fowling-pieces. The lights were reflected from
the calm water. The captain now invited our party, and some other of the
steerage passengers into the cabin, where punch was handed round, while
the mate served it out on deck to the crew and the rest of the
passengers, pressing it particularly on the ladies. The consequences
soon became manifest. We had sat for about half an hour in the cabin,
laughing and drinking; but I took the precaution of drinking only one
glass, the punch appearing very strong, and much too sweet for my taste.
Observing that the eyes of the doctor and some others began to twinkle,
and that all were getting rather jovial, I rose, and the others
followed, and we came out on deck to see the fun, which every moment
became wilder and wilder. The sailors were aloft on the yards, letting
off squibs; the ship’s bell was being rung as if for fire, and rockets
and blank cartridges were fired out of every available musket. Zellner’s
double-barrelled gun burst, luckily without doing harm; but the
quarter-deck was the place where the “mirth and fun” was most “fast and
furious.” Ollman, an excellent violin player, had at first kindly
offered to play for the general amusement; but when the row got too wild
he withdrew, and another, burning with desire to show his skill, mounted
on the capstan, and began to wake such discordant sounds out of his
fiddle, that nothing but the general uproar prevented everybody’s teeth
from being set on edge; nevertheless they all waltzed away like mad,
caring nothing for the motion of the ship, which occasionally threw them
against the side in a confused heap. The man on the capstan continued
playing as if possessed, his face turned to the stem, and maintained his
place with great skill; and when the dancers were all thrown together by
the motion of the ship, he leant _towards_ them, playing away louder and
louder, but without showing the slightest change of countenance.
William’s mother threw her arms round my neck, begging me to dance with
her; next to her stood an old ropemaker, who had been ill all the
voyage; he tried to stand on one leg, whistling his own tune, while
turning on his axis; the lanky tailor lay on his back, with his arms
and legs working like a telegraph; in short, of the 118 passengers, not
more than six were quite sober. To have a better view I got into the
long boat, and laughed till the tears came; but as one can have too much
of a good thing, as I was tired with laughing, and although I had drank
very little, yet felt some bad effects, I crept down to my bed. As I
afterwards learnt, the mate, with the intention of making everybody
drunk, had heated the rum, put very little water, and plenty of sugar. I
was up again by daylight, and helped many of the victims to their beds.

None of the passengers excepting Vogel and H. showed themselves for a
long time, and when they did at last, what pale, dull faces
appeared--what hollow, heavy eyes--what universal complaints of headache
and wretchedness! William especially went about very chapfallen; in the
midst of the fun he had sat himself down, and remained in the cook’s
steep-tub, where the salt meat for the morrow was soaking.

We had a great deal of lightning in the evening, and about eleven
o’clock the heaviest thunderstorm I had ever experienced broke over us.
Flash after flash of lightning, peal on peal of thunder throughout the
whole vault of heaven. I went aloft to help the sailors; one moment it
was as light as day, with the black threatening sky above and beneath
us, like a dark stripe, the noble ship rushing through the glowing
foam-covered ocean. It was sublime--such moments are never to be
forgotten. The breeze lasted till the 10th July, when it again fell
calm. The ship lay almost motionless, and as all had recovered, alike
from sea-sickness and from the effects of the punch, the greater number
of the passengers showed themselves on deck forming various groups.
About noon a shark came towards us, the first we had seen for some days;
he swam quietly round the ship, and then disappeared, notwithstanding
all the temptations we offered in the shape of large pieces of meat, but
which concealed an enormous hook. He was accompanied by two pilot-fish,
whose attachment to the shark is wonderful. These pilot-fish are from
twelve to fourteen inches long, with stripes of blue and white of about
a finger’s breadth across their back. I shot one, but could not pick it
up. The shark is sometimes accompanied by five or six of these fish; he
never attacks them, and they probably point out his prey; for though we
saw nothing more of the shark, it was most likely under the ship, as the
pilot-fish played about under the bowsprit, a certain sign that he was
not far off. We also saw a sword-fish of twelve or fourteen feet long.

Several stormy petrels, or, as the English call them, “Mother Carey’s
chickens,” had followed us nearly all the voyage, and were now swimming
or flying about the ship; I shot one, and caught it in my net as it
floated past. They are about the size of swallows, and fly something
like them; they are web-footed, dive well, and have a large horny hole
in the beak.

The breeze sprang up again next day, but so light, that the ship seemed
to be asleep,--fancy her in a night-cap and dressing-gown. Our dear
companions became day by day more insupportable; the liveliest, who were
always on deck, began to quarrel among themselves; the others merely
vegetated; they remained day and night in their sleeping-places,
without even taking the trouble to wash themselves; perhaps they were
afraid of taking too much water out of the sea, as the ship was near
sand-banks. We tried all sorts of amusements, such as reasonable
grown-up men would not be suspected of patronizing. Amongst others, we
played at soldiers; working men, shopkeepers, apothecaries, Jews,
Christians, sailors, old and young, all took part in it, with sticks,
brooms, harpoons, fish-grains, hunting knives, wind instruments (the
ship’s horn for fog-signals), flags, &c., just like little boys. The
whole play was carried out--rebellion, desertion (one of the Jews was
the deserter), court-martial, execution, and tocsin: the tocsin bell was
a shirt stretched over a hoop, and beaten with a broomstick. The best of
all was, that the doctor turned up his nose at us, and talked about our
being childish! Wasn’t he hooted?

July 18th.--Running merrily with a fair wind, our hearts swelling with
fresh hopes. We collected the Oldenburghers on deck to sing a song, the
chorus of which was, “Peasants ride in coaches in America.” I thought
the good people might be in error as to coaches, and that wheelbarrows
would be nearer the mark. But what should we be without hope? We were
near the land. At early dawn I sprang out of a hammock I had
manufactured, for I could not sleep in the narrow berth, and mounted
aloft. Placid, just crisped by a light south-east wind, lay the sea,
deep, deep beneath me, dandling the noble ship, playing with her,
yielding before her, and then following with a slight splash. I gained
the highest point, clasped the mast with my left arm, and delightedly
breathed the pure morning air. The horizon became lighter and lighter,
the view clearer and clearer--the mist vanished--a hollow sound like
distant thunder broke on the listening ear! It was surf,--there lay the
land, and plainer and plainer as the light increased appeared a blue
stripe above the dark waves of the horizon. “Land!” cried I from the
mast head, and “land!” “land!” resounded from one to another between
decks. As ants run out of their nest when it is disturbed, so rushed the
half-wakened passengers up the hatchway, hastened to the bows, and
opening their blinking eyes as wide as they could, repeated “land!”
although I am convinced that it was not possible to see it from the
deck, as the day did not get any clearer, and only the highest points
were visible. Our lanky friend the tailor came up among the rest,
holding a plate of butter in one hand, a ship’s biscuit in the other; as
he heard the word “land!” repeated, he set his provisions on one of the
hen-coops, and ran with the others to look at the land. William, who
probably thought that there would be plenty of time to contemplate it,
sat himself quietly down on the hen-coop, and of course on the butter,
which had become rather soft after a night spent between decks; there he
sat, kicking his heels against the rails, his hands comfortably stowed
in his pockets, and whistling to express his content. The tailor
returning, naturally anxious about his week’s allowance of butter, which
he, confiding in the general honesty, had, in a manner, left exposed in
the highway, stood immovable with astonishment, with eyes and mouth wide
open, looking at this picture of innocence and self-satisfaction sitting
in his butter. William, unconscious of evil, and amused at the tailor’s
astonishment, put on a broad grin, which stopped his whistling, but he
kept up the time with his heels. At last the astounded tailor found his
tongue, and calling out, “Oh the wretch!” he sprang on the unprepared
William, pulled him across his knee, and pointing out the butter to the
bystanders, exclaimed in a sorrowful voice, “There, there it is!”

As we came nearer to the long-desired land, we could distinguish woods,
fields, houses, farms, and single trees; a beautiful sight, but not to
be enjoyed long, for the captain not liking to approach too close, stood
off again, and in the evening it was hardly visible. Early on the 19th
we made all sail; about eleven a small vessel stood towards us under
American colors: we hoisted ours, and the pilot came on board. Now all
was fresh life among the passengers. So near the land, fresh water was
served out, and there was washing and splashing and smartening up going
on in every corner. Here a young Jewess adorned herself with earrings
containing false stones, there a man hastily washed a shirt; on one side
women combing and brushing children, there others, their toilet ended,
strutting about in their best;--and there lay the poor ropemaker face
downwards, across the capstan; he had but one pair of trowsers, which
the kind tailor was busily mending. The pilot, a fine-looking man, as
all these American pilots are, and dressed in the newest fashion, soon
carried us into the entrance of New York harbor, near Staten Island.
Where shall I find a pen that can paint what we saw, or describe our
feelings? The sight of this noble land, robed in the most beautiful
green, with luxuriant fields, fine houses, and here and there remains
of the original forests, forts on each side protecting the entrance, the
bright blue heavens above, and rustling waves beneath, melted my heart,
and made me long to be alone. I ran aloft, and looked with enchanted,
and, why should I deny it, with moistened eyes, on the beautiful country
which seemed opening her arms to receive us--and the question rose
unavoidably: “Why is not that my home, and why must I leave all my heart
holds dear to purchase such a sight?” The sailors, who came running up
the rigging like cats, disturbed my meditations. The anchor was dropped,
and the sails furled. A boat under a yellow flag came off from Staten
Island, to inquire after our healths. Luckily all our sick had
recovered, and all the party looked in good condition; so that the good
doctor, in spite of a pair of hexagonal spectacles, could not find a
trace of the late sickness, and left the ship with the words “All’s
well.” In the evening, H., the doctor, and I plunged overboard to bathe.
We were not allowed to leave the ship till the morrow, when a schooner
came to take us all with bag and baggage to a large square block house,
about a hundred yards from the shore, to undergo a short quarantine, and
to show whether our luggage contained any thing liable to duty, or
requiring washing. The customs’ examination was not severe, and nobody
had to pay; the dirty clothes were more strictly examined, and large
buckets were brought, that those who had neglected to wash their clothes
on the passage might do so now. As we quitted the “Constitution,” where
we had passed sixty-four days of mingled joy and sorrow, taking leave of
her crew was, to me at least, like taking leave of old friends, and as
the boat shoved off we gave them a loud cheer, which was answered by
the crew in English fashion with three hurrahs, preceded by “hip, hip,
hip.” This was not very well taken by our Jewish passengers, who could
not find “hip, hip, hip” in their dictionaries, and one of them remarked
that “he did not see why they should so laugh at us.”

[Illustration]



CHAPTER II.

NEW YORK TO BUFFALO.

     Good advice to emigrants--Examination of the baggage--New
     York--Schw--z’s boarding-house and its deficiencies--Aspect of the
     city--Abundance of fruit--An Irishman’s funeral--Fire--Reports from
     Illinois--The German reformed church--Extraordinary
     scene--Soldiers--The Scotch and their national costume--Negroes--My
     tobacco speculation--Unsuccessful shooting excursion--Departure for
     Albany--Utica--An American breakfast--The canal-boat and its
     arrangement--Collision--Crowded state of the boat, and consequent
     discomfort--Lockport--Niagara--Hamilton--Visit to a
     countryman--Excursion into the woods--Meeting with an Indian--Bear
     hunt--Bivouac in the woods--Maize--Buffalo--The ‘William
     Tell’--Village politicians.


Although this blockhouse was called the Quarantine building, the
quarantine was not very strict; several of us got a boat to take us on
shore, and for the first time we stepped on the soil of a new world--for
us a truly beautiful and noble world, but still a new, and therefore a
strange one. Singular feelings came over me as I wandered under strange
trees, among the pale Americans, and sought some quiet spot where I
could indulge my thoughts; they were mournful, though at the same time
full of hope and confidence. It was late when I returned to my
companions, whom I found assembled round some bread and cheese and beer,
and well satisfied with their reception in their new country. While
sitting enjoying God’s good gifts, which we had been so long deprived
of, a stranger came into our room, but as he addressed us in German, we
were soon on a footing of old acquaintance; he was a baker, who had been
about thirty years in America, and had realized a handsome fortune; he
came with the praiseworthy intention of giving us good advice. The good
man might have saved his trouble, for, wise in our own conceits, like
all new comers, we knew better than he did. He had lived principally in
Pennsylvania, and, like all the people of that State, he addressed each
as “Thou.” He cautioned us against the Americans, telling us that they
would cheat us whenever they could; “but,” said he, “if you must trust
to any one, trust an American sooner than a German. It is a disgrace to
the Germans, but it is too true: beware of them, for they are much worse
towards their own countrymen than any others; because,” added he,
confidentially, “they are the simplest. When you land at New York, don’t
go into any of the low public-houses, near the landing-place--‘William
Tell’--and such like--they are all dens of thieves; and now if you
do--you have been warned,--it will be your own faults and you can’t
complain.” He continued for some time giving us advice on this subject,
and although, at that time, I made no exception to the general rule of
knowing better, disbelieving his calumnious warnings because they did
not agree with my preconceived fixed opinions, I found afterwards that
his words were unfortunately but too true.

A second examination of the baggage exposed more dirt; sick of remaining
longer in disagreeable contact with it, we five took the steamer that
starts at nine o’clock for New York, making the passage of nine miles
in half an hour. There was too much to see, and too much that was quite
new, for the eye to dwell long enough on any one object to receive a
deep impression, and I hardly knew that the boat had started, when she
stopped at the landing-place, and the immense sea of houses of New York,
begirt by a forest of masts, lay before us.

The steamer had hardly landed, when we were surrounded by a number of
car-drivers, offering to carry our luggage to our destined abode; we
chose two, which took all our things, and for which we had to pay
altogether one dollar--but they had a tolerable distance to go. Zellner,
who had already been in New York, recommended Schw--z’s boarding-house,
whither we all went. In all my life I never saw such a dirty
establishment as old Madame Schw--z’s: it makes me sick now to think of
it. Of course I did not remain much in the house, but for some days
lounged through the fine broad streets, admiring several handsome
buildings. I was much struck by the immense amount of shipping ranged
thickly side by side all round the town, and by the superfluity of
southern fruits; in every street were carts full of pine-apples,
oranges, cocoa-nuts, &c. The finest pines were to be had for from
sixpence to a shilling.

I had wandered about for a couple of hours, and was about to return to
the boarding house, when turning the corner of a street I came upon one
of the most extraordinary cavalcades I ever saw. It was the funeral of a
poor Irishman, which I will briefly describe, as it is well worth it.
First came a hearse covered with dirty cloth that once had been black.
The driver was seated in front, by no means in a mourning attitude; his
left foot rested on his right knee, the left elbow on the left knee. He
was dressed in a shabby blue coat, a hat with the rim torn and hanging
down; his trowsers might have been white if they had been washed; his
left hand held an apple, which he was eating with the greatest
composure; the right held the whip, with which from time to time he
encouraged his horses; the reins were twisted round his left knee. The
hearse was followed by six luggage cars, each containing from ten to
twelve mourners, sitting back to back, with feet hanging down the sides,
men and women together, in clothes of all colors, eating, drinking, and
laughing: to say the least, it appeared to me a very original kind of
funeral.

It was late when I arrived at the boarding-house, for when I turned
homewards I found so many things to attract my attention that the hours
flew rapidly by. All my companions were assembled, and we had much to
relate. As we were going to bed about twelve, there was a cry of “fire!
fire!” in the streets. I jumped up and looked out of the window,--the
sky above the opposite houses was deep red. As I was still dressed, and
none of the others would go, I ran down stairs, and hastened in the
direction of the fire; I hurried along one street after another,
following the reflection in the sky; yet it was three quarters of an
hour before I arrived at the fire. It was a small wooden building still
in flames, so I came in good time to see the engines worked. There were
several Germans among those who had hastened to the fire; I asked one of
them how far it was to my boarding-house, and learnt to my horror that
it was two miles off. He assured me that if I ran to every fire that
broke out in New York, I should have nothing else to do all night, as
there are seldom less than two in the twenty-four hours. His words were
confirmed by another alarm in a few hours; and during the three months
that I remained in New York, I remember very few nights passing without
an alarm of fire. The fire companies are excellent, and the most
respectable citizens are enrolled amongst the firemen; the engines are
handsome, and formed of brass and iron, often adorned with a pretty
vignette; they are drawn by the men. How different from our old
thunder-boxes, in Germany, where it takes half an hour to get the horses
ready.

A week passed so quickly, I could hardly persuade myself that it was
more than two days. I became acquainted with several Germans. The dirt
of the boarding-house became insupportable. I had been introduced to a
German family by a mutual acquaintance from Brunswick, and they agreed
to let me board and lodge with them for three dollars a week, the
ordinary price, washing not included. Washing costs at the rate of four
cents a single piece.

I had come to New York with the intention of proceeding to Vera Cruz,
but heard so many unfavorable reports of the state of Mexican affairs,
that I was at first undecided; and afterwards, as so many told me of the
disturbed and uncertain state of that country, and warned me, as a new
comer, against going there, I decided on taking a good look at the
United States before I visited other countries.

My prospects here seemed to improve. A young farmer from Illinois, whom
I met in New York, said that it was not difficult to get a farm on
lease there--a lease in the American sense of the word, where the farmer
obtains a piece of cleared land, with the necessary buildings, for which
he gives the proprietor, who also finds most of the farming implements,
one third of the produce. At the same time, he assured me that two men
could easily manage sixty acres. But he suppressed the fact that these
two must be well acquainted with the American system of farming.

All sorts of plans came under my consideration, without my coming to any
determination--and time slipped by.

One Sunday morning I wished to go to church. An acquaintance offered to
accompany me. We went to the German reformed church. We were rather
late, and I was astonished at the excitement and disorder which
prevailed. I was soon to be still more surprised. The preacher, a
robust, powerful man, was very red in the face, spoke with great
vehemence and considerable ability. He paused every now and then to take
a drink. Suddenly, as the confusion was somewhat subsiding, and the
preacher was commenting on the text, a lady stood up, and began to speak
very loud. At first I could not understand what she wanted. With
surprise, I recognized her to be my landlady, and heard such words as
“shame--insufferable--insolence--men--turn out of the pulpit,” &c. As I
was reflecting on what this could mean, the disturbance broke out
afresh. “Down with him out of the pulpit!” “Kick him out!” “Cane him
well!” Such were the sounds that filled the church. The congregation
attempted to get the preacher out of the pulpit, but this was not so
easy as it appeared. The pulpit had a flight of steps on each side, with
a door fastening inside at the foot of each. The insurgents attempted to
storm the steps on the right, but their pastor proved to them that he
belonged to the church militant in the literal meaning of the word. He
made only two steps to the bottom, and gallantly defended the door. But
too many dogs are the death of the fox. The garrison was too weak. While
he defended one side, the other was left exposed. The insurgents made a
breach, stormed the left-hand steps, and took the garrison in the rear.
The preacher was dragged into the middle of the church, but managed to
slip out of the hands of his persecutors, and escaped into a corner,
when, putting himself into a regular boxing attitude, he called out with
an oath--“Come on, all of you.” These words were not mere bravado; for
now that his rear was secure, he kept them all at bay. I had watched the
whole affair, standing on one of the benches. It was not a fair fight;
for while those in front kept out of reach of his fists, those in the
rear kept striking him on the head with umbrellas. At last, making a
desperate sally, he succeeded in escaping. This was all that the
congregation desired, and several talked of “fetching the other
preacher;” but their minds were too excited, and so they separated. On
coming home, I learnt the cause of this uproar from my landlady. The
congregation had dismissed this hard-fisted preacher, and elected
another, who was to have preached to-day for the first time; but they
had reckoned without their host, for the ex-pastor was up at daybreak,
and having his own key, had gone into the church, and taken possession
of the pulpit, where he sat patiently awaiting the turn of events. The
other preacher came in with the congregation, and being a quiet,
peaceable man, he retired; and the former, in spite of threats and
abuse, began the service, and would have carried his point, if my
heroine had not lighted the match which set them all in a blaze. Some
years afterwards I learnt that the same sort of disturbance had occurred
several times in that church.

I was surprised at seeing no soldiers in New York, except now and then a
couple or so of military-looking men, with blue jackets and trowsers,
and glazed caps. These are Uncle Sam’s soldiers, who devote themselves
to their country for eight dollars a month. They are generally men who
dislike hard work, yet cannot gain a living in any other way. They
enlist for five years. There are besides bodies of militia, German as
well as American battalions, who turn out on grand occasions, and are
well dressed. A short time ago some of the Scots had a meeting, and got
up a battalion in highland costume, the different clans in their proper
tartan, with plaids, bonnets, feathers, targets, claymores, bagpipes,
and the chiefs with eagle’s feathers. Thus they marched through the
greater part of the town. The next day, the “New York Herald” made
severe remarks upon people having a claim to respectability marching
through the town with naked legs, having music into the bargain, to
attract everybody’s attention.

A great number of emigrants arrived about this time, and filled all the
taverns. I discovered that the Americans did not seem to care so much
about foreigners as I had imagined; and to my great vexation, I saw
that Germans and Irish were thought little more of than negroes. Of
course there are honorable exceptions, for the educated Americans know
how to make a distinction; yet, at that time, it is very possible that I
may have been misinformed.

It is disagreeable to the feelings of the newly arrived European to
behold the treatment of the unfortunate negroes; for though New York is
not a slave state they are considered no better than cattle. Yet they
enjoy a number of privileges, which they lately obtained through the
kindness of General Jackson. At the same time, they are not allowed to
enter an omnibus, nor to sit anywhere but in the gallery of the theatre.
They must keep to their own churches, and cannot be sworn as witnesses
against the whites.

After a few weeks’ residence in New York, my landlord asked me to try a
speculation with him, in order, as he said, to get rich in a short time.
He proposed to open a cigar shop. I had no inclination for it at first,
having been so often warned against the Germans, but so many people
spoke well of him, and said he was so much esteemed, that I began to
think he must be an exception. I embarked all the money I possessed in
this business. My partner obtained some, but upon credit; and in a short
time a cigar shop was opened by the firm, in Broadway, the most
frequented street of New York. It seemed a miracle how well I had
managed my affairs. Hardly a month had I been in America, and already I
carried on a business of my own! It was well that this dream lasted only
a short time, or I should have lost everything.

I began now to Americanize myself. I was no longer surprised when I saw
a fat mulatto woman walking along the street with a pipe in her mouth,
or a lady handsomely dressed, and in the newest fashion, but without
stockings; just as little did I marvel to see a well-dressed gentleman,
in a black frockcoat, and black trousers, gold watch, chain, &c., going
to market with a basket under his arm; and I hardly looked round if I
saw a New Englander riding from market, in bad weather, at full gallop,
with very short stirrups, a basket of vegetables hanging to his left
arm, while his right hand grasped an outspread umbrella. In fact, a man
may accustom himself to any thing.

I now resolved on making a shooting excursion, and as Zellner had
described the banks of the Hudson as so very beautiful, we started one
fine morning with our guns, by one of the numerous steamers, and ran up
to our shooting grounds, a distance of twenty-two miles, for sixpence.
The voyage alone was worth ten times the money, on account of the beauty
of the scenery. The Hudson is certainly the loveliest river I ever saw,
with its smooth majestic stream, its high steep cliffs, clothed with the
brightest green, with dwelling-houses and villages wherever space will
allow, and thousands of vessels of all descriptions giving such life to
the whole, as fills one with wonder and delight. As we started late, it
was dark when we arrived at our landing-place. We were up at daybreak
next morning, and set off to search the woods and fields, eager to spill
blood. Weary and exhausted with climbing over the number of fences and
hedges, leaping over fallen or half-decayed trees, wading through
morasses and mounting hills, we arrived in the evening at the house of a
cousin of Zellner’s without having seen a feather or any thing else in
the shape of game. Our host received us hospitably, told us that we did
not understand how to find game in America, and promised he would
accompany us on the morrow. Our hopes revived again; we were ready by
break of day, inhaling the sweet morning air and determined upon
slaughter, and doubting whether our game bags would hold all that we
meant to kill. It was yesterday’s fortune repeated. Here we skirted a
wood, there a fence, here we waded a marsh, and there pushed through a
thicket; from daybreak to noon, not a shot had been fired. By the time
we arrived on the banks of the river, and saw a steamer running down
stream, Z. and I had had enough of it, and were rejoiced to see the
steamer answer our signals and stop to take us on board. Hungry and
tired, without having seen a single head of American game, we returned
to New York. After this excursion, I was in no hurry to try another. I
had had enough for once, and attended assiduously to my business; taking
pains at the same time to learn English, for although I had made some
progress in Germany, it sounded like so much Chaldaic or Chinese, till
my ear became accustomed to it; then the foundation that I had formerly
laid helped me to acquire it quickly.

I remained some weeks longer in the town, otherwise I must have
intrusted all that I possessed to the integrity of strangers, and an
inward misgiving warned me against so doing. At the same time, I began
to reflect that I was fast bound in the town, and could not get out into
the open country; and this feeling became every day more painful and
vexatious. It struck me that this was not exactly the object for which
I had left all that was dear in my native land, and often while brooding
over my late step, it seemed a wild, oppressive dream. It seemed as if I
could not be in the long desired land of freedom, so many thousands of
miles from my loved country, and that I might awake at any moment and
thank God that it was only a frightful delusion. It was however a
reality, and I decided on breaking my fetters. I soon arranged with my
partner; with the exception of a small sum down for travelling expenses,
he was to keep the rest in the business till the end of March, and then
repay the bare sum I had at first invested.

I left my two chests containing clothes and books in the care of H., and
taking some clean linen and a double-barrelled gun, I started for the
wide world, according to my heart’s desire. Whither, I neither knew nor
cared, except that I wished in the first place to see the Falls of
Niagara, and then to follow wherever fate might send me. I was free,
once more free, and felt my heart swell with the feeling of
independence. I no longer envied the birds of passage, whose flight
towards the south my eyes had lately so mournfully followed. I was as
free as they were, and no less inclined to use my unbound pinions.

At five in the evening of the 24th Oct., the new steamer “Diamond” left
New York for Albany. I stood on her deck inhaling with delight the pure
balsamic air, viewing with enchanted eyes the glorious scenery.

My costume seemed probably rather eccentric to some of the stiff
Americans, who kept staring with curiosity at the foreigner who was
leaning on his gun, and thinking little about them, lost in admiration
of the wonderfully beautiful landscape that extends along the shores of
the Hudson. Though my costume was nothing extraordinary, yet the tight
leather trousers, high waterproof boots, short green shooting jacket,
green cap, and open shirt collar, might have appeared so to them. The
beautiful double-barrelled gun attracted many eyes, as well as the
double-edged hunting-knife that hung on the left side. The German game
bag, the powder-horn, shot belt,--all, in short, was different to their
fashion.

The night was cold and damp, and as on the following morning the sun
broke through the thick clouds, his rays were reflected from the
steeples of Albany; a pretty little town, and though I stayed too short
a time to be able to judge, I believe it is likely to become a handsome
city. I left that morning by the train for Utica. It was the first time
that I had travelled by a railroad, and cutting the air with the speed
of an arrow made an indescribably agreeable impression on me. A drunken
man next to me told me long stories, in the still strange English, with
a comically mournful expression of countenance, and afforded me much
amusement. We arrived at Utica during the night. In the street I found
some men with a carriage, and inquired of them when the canal boat left;
they pointed to the carriage, one of them taking me by the arm; but I,
remembering former warnings, set my foot against the door, and asked
about the fare: “Nothing to pay, nothing to pay,” said they, and at one
step I was seated in the carriage, which soon stopped before a very
grand house. I did not feel quite comfortable under all this
hospitality, for every light in the large building seemed to call out to
me, “Money is the principal thing, therefore get money,” which sentence
I recollect having to translate at Dr. Flügel’s, at Leipzig. I walked
in, however, and inquired for the first boat going to Buffalo; meantime
be it said, my misgiving was not altogether unwarranted, for I had to
pay fifty cents, about 2_s._ 2_d._, for a cup of tea with bread and
butter. The price of the boat was six dollars, table included, which
seemed too dear, and a German Jew who was present took my part and made
an agreement for me for four dollars. It was very cold when I went on
board the canal boat a short time before its departure, and I found the
warm cabin very agreeable.

The morning broke dull and rainy, and the breakfast-bell roused us too
soon from our beds. An American breakfast is something astonishing to a
newly arrived German. He beholds in surprise coffee, pork, pickled
gherkins, potatoes, turnips, eggs, bread, butter, and cheese, all on the
table at once; but as soon as the stomach has become accustomed to this
strange assemblage, I must honestly acknowledge that it suits a hungry
Christian man much better than dry bread and weak coffee.

After breakfast I had plenty of time to notice the company with whom I
shared the narrow space of a cabin in a canal boat. There were ten
gentlemen and three ladies; these latter had a cabin to themselves,
separated from the other by a red curtain; over the entrance was the
inscription, “Ladies’ Cabin,” with the friendly reminder of “No
Admittance.” The ladies consisted of two old, and one not young. One
young man, certainly the greatest lout I met with in America, deeply
buried in a coat of his father’s, whose skirts nearly swept the ground,
almost hiding his too scanty trowsers, and a hat so large that he was
obliged to keep shoving it up from his face, played the gallant to them.
These canal boats are very long and narrow, decked over, and rising
about six feet above the water; ours was fitted up for the comfort, or
rather discomfort of the passengers. They are well provided with
windows, hold a number of people, and go very slowly; ours in
particular, drawn by two very quiet horses, seemed to traverse the
landscape at a snail’s pace. The canal is crossed by numerous low
bridges, often only a few inches above the deck, and one must be
constantly on the look-out not to be swept overboard, a disaster I once
happened to witness. Sometimes it is necessary to lie quite flat, a
precaution which also has its dangers, and on one occasion caused a
dreadful misfortune, when a passenger, by a boat that had very little
cargo, was horribly crushed to death between the boat and the bridge.

On a sudden we stopped with a tremendous crash. Everybody jumped up to
see what had happened; our boat was jammed with another in a narrow part
of the canal, directly under a bridge; and as ours was the stoutest, she
had broken some of the other’s ribs. We remained as immovably fixed as
if we had been built in; all attempts to drag the boat backwards were in
vain, because the horses, knee deep in mud, would not pull together. At
last, in a fit of compassion, and trusting to my waterproof boots, I
jumped out, seized the large whip, and giving the horses a few sharp
cuts, I made them understand that they could if they would. And they
did, but in doing so one of them lashed out behind, in the thickest of
the red mud, so that I was splashed all over with it, and looked more
like a trout than a human being. I crept back, resolving next time not
to be quite so obliging.

At length the captain came round for the fare; I quietly handed out my
four dollars, and was not a little astounded to learn that an agreement
made with a stranger at Utica was not binding on the captain, and that I
must pay my six dollars like the rest--a bit of experience not too dear
at two dollars.

So far we had been very comfortable, having had plenty of room; but now
we took in fifteen more passengers, all for Buffalo. While daylight
lasted all went on well enough, but in the evening I really could not
divine where all the people would be stowed; yet with the live cargo of
the Bremen lighter fresh in my memory, I considered nothing impossible.
The sleeping-places in the canal boats consist of long four-cornered
frames, which in the evening are hung up along the cabin; and now that
the number of passengers had so much increased, we had to be packed in
layers. The frames are covered with coarse strong canvas, on which a
small mattress was laid; at least all the passengers who came from Utica
had that accommodation, but now, on account of the number of new
arrivals, that luxury had to be dispensed with. I scrambled into my
swinging bed, having first examined the fastenings, leaving the
lately-arrived passengers playing at cards.

I awoke in the night with a dreadful feeling of suffocation; cold
perspiration stood on my forehead, and I could hardly draw my breath;
there was a weight like lead on my stomach and chest. I attempted to cry
out--in vain; I lay almost without consciousness. At last I became quite
awake, and remembered where I was, and in what circumstances I was
placed. The weight remained immovable; above me was a noise like distant
thunder: it was my companion of the upper story, who lay snoring over my
head; and that the weight which pressed on my chest was caused by his
body no longer remained a doubtful point. I endeavored to move the
Colossus--impossible. I tried to push, to cry out--in vain. He lay like
a rock on my chest, and seemed to have no more feeling. As all my
attempts to awaken him were ineffectual, I bethought me of my breastpin,
which luckily I had not taken out of my cravat the night before; with
great difficulty I succeeded in moving my arm and reaching the pin,
which I pressed with a firm hand into the mass above me. There was a
sudden movement, which procured me momentary relief; but the movement
soon subsided, the weight was growing heavier and more insupportable,
and to prevent being utterly crushed, I was obliged to reapply the pin.
“What’s that?” “Murder!” “Help!” cried a deep bass voice above me.
Feeling myself free, I slipped like an eel from under the weight, and
saw, by the dim light reflected from a lamp hanging under the deck, a
sight of no common occurrence. A stout heavy man, who slept in the upper
frame without a mattress, was too much for the well-worn canvas; during
his sleep it had given way under the weightiest part of his form, which
descended till it found support on my chest. The thrust of my breastpin
had caused him to make an effort to move, which gave me that opportunity
of making my escape I so gladly seized. As he returned to his former
position with greater force and weight, from the exertions he had made,
the support being gone, the canvas split still wider, and, more than
half asleep, he was sitting on my bed, while his head and feet remained
in his own. He soon began to call out, “Help!” “Murder!” Everybody
started up to see what was the matter, and to laugh heartily at the
extraordinary attitude of this stout gentleman.

In the morning we arrived at Lockport, where the canal has a fall of
sixty feet, with two sets of locks, one for boats ascending, and the
other for those descending: a noble work for so young a country. Here I
left the boat for the purpose of seeing the Falls of Niagara, towards
which I took the nearest road. It was about two in the afternoon when I
arrived at this most colossal wonder of all the rivers of the earth. I
abstain from any attempt to represent it; inadequate drawings, and
thousands of descriptions, are to be found in all parts of the world; I
will not add to the number. It was so surprisingly grand that I could
only gaze in admiration, and worship God.

My heart still full of this glorious scene, I avoided the little town of
Manchester, lying close to the falls, and followed the first path that
led into the country, partly for the sake of shooting, and partly to
find a house to sleep in. It became darker and darker, and the mud
seemed to be getting deeper and deeper, when I espied a light, which
acted as a guiding star through the darkness. It shone from the quiet
friendly dwelling of a Pennsylvanian smith, who had settled in the state
of New York, and who, with benevolent hospitality, fed the hungry, and
prepared a warm bed for the tired. I learned from him, and from other
farmers, that Canada was a fine country, that the forests there were
full of game, but that sportsmen were often hard beset by bears and
wolves.

I took but little time to consider my route, and on the 1st November, a
steamer from Lewiston, a small town on the Niagara river, carried me
over to Toronto, where I remained the night, and started next morning by
another steamer for Hamilton.

Hamilton is a pretty little town on Lake Ontario in Canada, and although
only a short distance from the frontier of the United States, a great
difference is perceptible as well in general appearance as in trifles.
Most of the settlers in Canada consist of English, Scots, or Irish, who
all keep to their national habits. I twisted my ankle at Hamilton, which
laid me under the disagreeable necessity of remaining there till the
morning of Saturday the 4th, when, recovered and joyful, I again sallied
for the woods, pitying the poor people who were obliged to live in
towns. From Hamilton I proceeded to Dundas, also on the Ontario, and
from thence took a northerly direction towards Preston, turning aside,
two miles short of the town, to visit New Hope, where dwelt, as I was
told, an old German sportsman. I arrived safe and sound at New Hope on
Sunday afternoon, and inquired for the abode of the old German, which I
reached about dusk. He was not at home, but some half-dozen children of
all ages and sizes, stared with their bright clear eyes at the stranger
and his outlandish costume. The father and mother were gone to church;
and the eldest daughter, a girl of about fifteen or sixteen, was
teaching the little ones, some to read and others to spell, from an old
well-thumbed catechism. I sat myself quietly in the corner to await the
return of the parents, and listen to the tattle of the children.

At length the two heads of the family arrived, to the great joy of the
little ones, who ran to meet them. The man presented so striking a
likeness to one of my friends in Germany, that, in my astonishment, I
hardly answered his friendly “Good evening.” After they had laid aside
their church-going clothes, and made themselves comfortable, we sat
ourselves near the stove, which in Canada often takes the place of the
open fireplace, so hurtful to the eyes. The conversation turned mostly
on farming and shooting. He seemed thoroughly to understand the first,
and to be passionately fond of the latter. He was just the man for me.
He spoke of the former abundance of game, which was fast disappearing
through the increasing population, and he complained of the number of
bunglers who infested the woods, frightening the game, and crippling the
poor deer. He said he was very successful in turkey shooting, which is
still the same sport as described by Cooper in his “Pioneer.”

When the night was far advanced, my host showed me to a sleeping place
under the roof, where there was no want of fresh air--but I slept like a
top. He had told me of a lake, not many miles off, where there would
most likely be immense flocks of wild duck; so I was off at daylight in
search of some. My new acquaintance had pointed out the direction in
which I should find the lake; a path was out of the question, but I
thought that I should be able to find it without looking at my compass,
and stepped out boldly; but the wood was so thick and there were so many
fallen trees, some lying one over the other, that the sun stood high,
when, taking the compass out of my pocket, and by its help, making a
straight course, I arrived at the lake. I saw plenty of wild-fowl, but
perhaps frightened by others, they kept in the middle, very few
venturing near the banks. This was out of my reckoning, but as the lake
did not seem very large, I resolved on going round it. I had killed
three ducks one after the other, and in my eagerness had forgotten how
the hours flew by, till I suddenly observed that the sun was fast
approaching the west. I now saw that it was not possible to pass round
the lake before sunset, for as I came to the clearings, I perceived that
as yet I had not gone half the way. Thick masses of cloud were gathering
in the N. W., and the wind began to rustle and moan through the trees. I
expected to be obliged to bivouac here, and slightly appeased my hunger
with a bit of dry bread that I found in my pocket, for I had not had
time to roast one of the ducks. The weather threatened worse and worse;
in no pleasant humor I was walking slowly along the shore, when I found
a canoe, made of a hollowed trunk, fastened to the root of a tree. I
stepped in without the least compunction, and paddled to the opposite
shore, distant about two miles and a half, directing my course by a
large dead tree. The wind blew hard, and the waves tossed the rude
awkward craft to such a degree that I was obliged to exert all my
strength and skill to keep her even and to force her ahead. In the mean
time it began to snow, so that I was soon as white as a miller, and had
great difficulty in keeping my eye fixed on the dead tree, and thus
preserving a direct course. At last I landed, secured the canoe, and
looked out for a path towards some habitation. Before it became quite
dark I had discovered a path, which being wet, the snow melted on it as
it fell, leaving a dark line along the white ground.

Suddenly I heard a noise as if a whole herd of buffaloes were breaking
through the forest, and almost before I could look round, a dark-colored
horse passed at full speed, uttering a very remarkable scream of agony.
A rider sat on his back, who looked behind him in the greatest alarm. I
had hardly caught sight of them, as they passed so rapidly, when another
horse, without a rider, rushed snorting after them. So sudden was it,
that I should have taken it for a dream, if the footmarks in the snow
had not convinced me of the reality. I did not long indulge in useless
meditation on the cause of this nocturnal flight through the forest in
mist and snow, and soon I was happy enough to find a wheel-track. After
about an hour and a half’s walk, I saw a light in the distance, and in a
short time knocked at the door of a small farm-house. A voice called out
in German--“Who’s there?” It fell like balsam on all my organs, but more
particularly on my stomach. The door was opened by the wife of a German
wheelwright, whose husband had ridden into a village some miles off,
and whose return was expected every moment. The warm stove restored my
benumbed limbs to fresh life, which a cup of hot coffee served to
heighten. The husband, a good-natured German, came back in the course of
an hour. He had arrived in the country three years ago, without a
farthing, and now he had a nice little house, a portion of land, and
plenty of work. We went to bed about ten o’clock. It snowed heavily all
night, so, in the hopes of good sport, I started early, and, as my host
would not accept money, I left him the ducks I had killed yesterday.
Loading my left barrel with buck-shot, and fixing fresh caps, I hastened
out of the hot room, and inhaled in long draughts the fresh morning air.

After an hour’s march, and shooting nothing more than a pheasant and a
rabbit, I was startled by seeing a man approach unlike any I had ever
seen before. I soon found that he was a civilized Indian. He was dressed
in a short woollen frock, blue cloth trowsers, with broad seams,
mocassins on his feet, glass earrings in his ears, and on his head a red
woollen shawl, wound like a turban, under which sparkled his dark fiery
eyes, while his black straight hair hung over his temples. He carried
the long American rifle, and had altogether a bold and romantic
appearance. His Indian belt, ornamented with beads, held a tomahawk; and
his powder-horn and shot-belt hung on his right side. After a short and
friendly greeting, we attempted to converse,--but that was no easy
matter, he speaking broken English, while I was, as yet, only partially
acquainted with that language. On my asking him if he had seen any
game, he pointed to the ground before him, showing the fresh trail of a
bear in the snow, which I had not observed, as my attention had been
drawn to him. He made signs for me to go with him, and I need hardly say
that I followed him with a heart beating with joy and excitement. We may
have gone about five miles, through marsh, moor, and bush, over hill and
valley, and hundreds of fallen trees, constantly following the trail,
when my silent comrade came to a halt, and pointing to a thick coppice,
said,--“I believe we find him.” My excitement was now at its height; but
the Indian directed me quietly to take my stand by a tree, while he went
round the coppice to see if the trail was continued on the other side. I
had in the mean time dropped a ball over the swan-shot, and eagerly
watched every motion of the bush. It opened suddenly about fifty paces
from me, and the bear, a dark brown fellow, walked out to seek his
safety in flight. In an instant my ball with the swan-shot, was in his
skin, and immediately after that the barrel of buck-shot. Perhaps
surprised by the report of the gun, perhaps smarting from the buck-shot,
Bruin stood for a moment snuffing the air, and then ran furiously
towards me. A ball from the Indian’s rifle stopped his attempt to
revenge himself, and stretched him dead upon the earth. The Indian cut
down a young straight tree with his tomahawk, and having ripped open and
cleaned out the bear, we bound his paws together, and, as he was not
very large, slung him to the tree, and carried him to Preston, which was
not very far off. We arrived in the evening, and my Indian friend sold
the bear for four dollars. He would probably remain in Preston till he
had spent it all in drink, and then take to the woods again for more
game.

I began to find the climate too cold for me, and several Germans had
told me that here it was much colder in winter than in our own country.
I had no fancy for that, so turned south towards Lake Ontario, in order
to get on to Buffalo. I shot a pheasant which gave me a delicate meal,
and had hardly left the fire to recommence my march, when I saw seven
wolves standing at a distance of about seventy yards. Without a moment’s
consideration, I dropped lightly down in the snow to load one barrel
with ball, fearing that I should not do much with No. 4 shot; but when I
got up again the wolves had taken their leave. As they had fled towards
the S. E., I thought of following, to try and get one or two of their
scalps (government gives six dollars for a wolf’s scalp), but as the sun
was getting low, and looked very red, I gave up the chase. I had seen
several deer in the course of the day, but could not get a shot at them,
and my stomach began to complain considerably. An American would have
helped himself by shooting squirrels, of which there were plenty, but I
hadn’t the heart to eat one of these happy little creatures. Luckily I
shot a hare, and had now the comfort of being able to appease my hunger.
It was out of the question to think of finding a house for the night, as
I was no longer in a track, but in the thick of the forest, and so,
before it became quite dark, I collected as much dry wood as I could,
cleared away the snow from under a fallen tree, and lighted a fire
beneath it, which soon blazed up merrily. When I had got comfortably
warm, I set to work on my hare. I opened it, cleaned it out with snow as
well as I could, and stuck it on a piece of wood before the fire,
placing a piece of bark under it to catch the dripping, with which I
basted it. I felt very much the want of salt and bread, but hunger is a
good sauce. With the exception of the two legs, which I reserved for
breakfast, I devoured the whole. When I had finished, I heaped more wood
on the fire, and prepared to pass my first night in the open air in
America. I laid my game-bag under my head, pulled my cap well over my
ears, and with my feet to the fire was soon asleep. I slept soundly till
the sharp morning air awoke me. The fire had burned out, and I was quite
benumbed by the frost, and shook so that I could hardly light the fire
again. At last I succeeded, and gradually thawed. The rising sun found
me deep in consideration of my two legs of hare, which I looked at so
long that at length I could see only the bones. After thus taking care
of myself, I resumed my march southwards with fresh vigor, and about ten
o’clock the crowing of a cock denoted that I was not very far from a
human habitation. I hastened forward, and was soon saluted by the
barking of dogs. The proprietor was in the forest, cutting wood for a
fence. His wife, a pretty little American woman, treated me hospitably
with bread and milk, and assured me that I was not above twenty miles
from the Buffalo road, and that I should find plenty of farm-houses as I
went south. She would not on any account accept payment for my
refreshment, and so, with hearty thanks, and working my way through a
legion of dogs, I sallied joyfully forth, making the Canadian woods
resound with German songs.

On the following morning I reached the Buffalo road, lined on both sides
with farms, and on which a sort of stage-coach runs. I was now again in
the cultivated part of the country. Wheat is grown in large quantities,
and answers very well, as do oats and barley; Indian corn does not
attain the degree of perfection in which it is found further south. The
ears were small, and most of those I saw had yellow grain.

About thirty miles from the town, I overtook a cattle dealer from the
United States, who was on his road back. He seemed a good sort of
fellow, and I resolved to travel the thirty miles in his company. We
soon became acquainted. He had two enormously fat oxen, which he had
bought in Canada, and a dreadfully thin horse, on which he kindly
invited me to take turns to ride, as he would willingly walk a little.

A light but penetrating rain was falling, and the ride would not have
been disagreeable, though the road had become slippery; only the good
man was constantly offering the horse, while I was riding, to every
person he met, and would have been glad to exchange it for a couple of
cows. When tired, he mounted again, and I walked. He carried a book in
his pocket containing a deeply affecting tragedy, and as soon as he was
firmly fixed in the saddle, he invariably took it out, and began to
declaim, holding the book in his left hand, and gesticulating vehemently
with his right, in which he brandished his long cattle whip. Whenever
the more interesting parts of the tragedy occasioned an extra forcible
movement of the right arm, and with it of the whip so formidable to the
oxen, an implement on which they kept a constant watch, they started on
one side or ran back, and only the prosaic “Quiet there! Gently!” &c.,
&c., uttered in a pathetic tone, brought back the horned audience to
their duty.

On the evening of the 11th of November, I came a second time to the
Falls of Niagara, and could now admire their grandeur and majesty from
the Canadian side. From thence a beautiful road runs along the Niagara
river to Lake Erie. The road itself is good and dry; on the left the
glorious wide river, shaded with trees of the original dark forest, on
the right a succession of prosperous farms, with excellent orchards;
altogether a most enchanting prospect. The whole distance appeared
scarcely more than a few paces. A few miles from Buffalo I crossed a
ferry worked by horses in a large perpendicular wheel, and was now in
the United States again. What I saw of Canada, showed me that it is, at
least this part of it, a beautiful and fertile country, with a healthy,
though very cold climate, too cold to suit me. It produces excellent
corn, but except in the thickly inhabited parts, sheep and pigs do not
succeed on account of the numerous wolves. Many Canadian farmers assured
me that the bite of a wolf was like that of a venomous reptile to these
animals, and that however slightly they may have been bitten, they are
sure to die. But perhaps these deaths may have been caused by the bites
of rabid wolves.

It was Sunday afternoon when I stepped into the public room of the
“William Tell,” in Buffalo, and seated myself in a corner to rest. The
eyes of several respectable German operatives, who were all in hot
political debate, were at first attracted with astonishment towards the
armed stranger, but soon following up their dispute they forgot all
listeners, and I think it might very likely have come to more than
words, if the host, a little fat figure, had not rolled himself in
amongst them, and restored peace with the conciliatory words: “You are
all as foolish as so many stockfish.” In these words, the equality of
persons was proclaimed, and their feelings were pacified. It was,
however, no trifle that formed the subject of their dispute; for an
honest shoemaker would by no means allow that the English could send any
troops over, on account of the disturbances in Canada, because the
Russian was sitting across their necks. A cabinet-maker, seated opposite
to him, maintained that Russia was too far off from England to be able
to make war so quickly; but the shoemaker proved to him so clearly that
Russia was close to England on the north, and that there was only a
broad strip of land between the two Principalities, that the astonished
cabinet-maker was silenced by the overwhelming amount of solid learning;
the shoemaker admitted that the march from Russia to England was
difficult, as the soldiers had sometimes to wade up to their shoulders
in sand. Whence the good man had obtained his idea of a march through
sand, and his geographical knowledge, is more than I can say, but the
debate was amusing enough; and when the shoemaker appealed to me for my
opinion, I agreed with him of course, but told him that the Russians
intended to lay down bear-skins on the sand to make the march easier,
upon which he exclaimed, in astonishment, “What desperate fellows!”

I was up early on the following morning in order to see the town; it is
a very pretty place, and contains many Germans; it must become, and in
fact is already, the central point of all the interior commerce of the
north, for railroads, canals, steamers, and sailing vessels rival each
other in bringing and taking away produce.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER III.

OHIO--INDIANA--ILLINOIS--MISSOURI.

     Lake Erie--Cleveland--Double-beds--March through the
     forest--Canton--Cincinnati--Lawrencebourg--A burning
     forest--Deserted farm-house--Wet weather and swollen rivers--A
     drunken companion--Versailles--Intrepid German
     Jews--Vincennes--Fording a river--The prairies of
     Illinois--Shooting deer--Salem--An Illinois
     settler--Lebanon--Ague--Passage of the Mississippi--St.
     Louis--German emigrants--A week’s work in the forest--Lead mines of
     Missouri--Courant river, the boundary of Missouri.


About noon the steamer “North America” left for Cleveland, in Ohio
State, and with it my worthy self. There was such a number of passengers
in the steerage, that it was hardly possible to move, and the state of
affairs was made worse by each of the American ladies[B] having a short
pipe in her mouth. Yet worse was coming. Lake Erie, under the influence
of a strong breeze, began to get very rough in its treatment of the
boat; one pipe after another was extinguished, and the visages
lengthened and whitened very suspiciously. I observed this change with
horror, and took refuge in one of the uppermost of three rows of
sleeping berths, to be out of range of shot.

 [B] Two Englishmen travelling together in America, on board a steamer,
 one of them was thus accosted: “I am the gentleman that cleans
 the shoes, and that man (pointing to the other) says, you are to
 pay.”--TRANSLATOR.

It was dark when we arrived at Cleveland, and I stood on the shore in
some difficulty, not knowing exactly where to look for shelter, when a
young German, who, by the light of a lantern, recognized me by my
costume for a fellow countryman, asked me if I would like to pass the
night in a German house: on my quickly agreeing to it, he led me to one,
some hundred yards off, where I soon went to bed. The beds in America
are all double, that is to say, so wide as easily to hold three, and
indeed I have sometimes made a fourth. I was shown into this abode of
dreams by a little hump-backed youth, and on my asking if I could sleep
alone there, he replied that perhaps some stranger might come by the
stage-coach. Towards midnight I was disturbed by a noise, and thought to
myself “Oh, oh, here comes the stranger;” and as I was not yet
accustomed to this American fashion, I took the trouble to look up to
see what my bedfellow was like, and had the felicity to see that a negro
as black as pitch was preparing his ebony members to occupy part of my
bed. I moved to the extreme edge, leaving at least two-thirds of the
space to this son of the night. I was at this time but little acquainted
with American habits, and if this had happened to me later, the landlord
would not have had a whole bone in his skin; for it is the greatest
insult to a white man in North America, and more particularly in the
slave states, to place a negro on equal terms with him.

I was up before day, and, according to custom, went out to have a look
at the town. From Cleveland I set off along the canal that goes to
Portsmouth, on the river Ohio, intending to visit my fellow passenger by
the “Constitution,” the apothecary Vogel, at the village of Canton. I
shot several wild-fowl and a few hares as I went along, and found a bed
at a New Englander’s, who gave me a hospitable reception. I was much
amused by a little German maid, who had only lately left her home, and
understood very little English, but as she spoke Low German, they
managed to make out what each party wanted; they had a great regard for
her, as she was very industrious.

It was the 17th of November when I arrived at the agreeable little town
of Canton, situated in the middle of the forest. Some of the buildings
were in very good taste. My friend was not here, and I learned that he
lived in Cincinnati; so I decided on seeking him there, and, having
nothing to detain me in Canton, I set off again the same evening.

Ohio is very extensively cultivated, and the journey through such a
succession of fields was rather monotonous; there was a farm-house to be
seen nearly every half hour, yet here and there was a pretty bit of
forest, as I found rather too soon. About a hundred miles from
Cincinnati I was overtaken one evening by a heavy penetrating rain, and
was soon wet through and through. I was anxious to find shelter, and was
travelling a well-frequented road, when all at once it divided into
three; I chose the most beaten, and pushed on through mud and mire, till
I came to a wood, where all further traces of a road vanished, leaving
me cold and wet in the forest. A fire was out of the question. I was not
inclined to return, as the other roads might also lead to the forest;
so I made my way through the shrubs and bushes, which could not make me
more wet than I was already. I sank down from fatigue at times, but,
after a few moments’ rest, roused myself to fresh efforts. At length,
like a port to a ship in a storm, I saw a light through the branches. I
hastened, as fast as my tired legs would carry me, in that direction,
and soon came to a fence, and shortly afterwards to a farm-house. The
farmer looked at first rather shyly at the dripping wet traveller, who
requested entrance so late in the night; but the customary hospitality
did not let him hesitate long, and a warm fire, with a quickly prepared
supper, considerably refreshed my stiff and weary limbs.

I arrived at Cincinnati, the largest town in Ohio, on the river of that
name, on the 26th of November, without further adventures, and found my
friend the apothecary quite well; the hearty pleasure he expressed on
seeing me was ample reward for the trouble I had taken to find him, and
I passed some happy days in his society. I was much pleased with the
fine town of Cincinnati, the “Queen of the West,” as the Americans call
it. It is the centre of commerce of the West, and owes its rapid rise
and prosperity to its connection by steamers and railroads with the
seaports on the east coast, by canal with Lake Erie and the St.
Lawrence, and by the Ohio and Mississippi with New Orleans. From
Cincinnati I made short shooting excursions into Kentucky, though with
little success, obtaining at most a few hares, and some of the small
American partridges, with now and then a wild duck.

On the 6th of December I bid adieu to the agreeable town of Cincinnati,
and on the same evening arrived at the border of the State, formed by
the little river Miami: I slept there, and crossed over into Indiana on
the following morning. Two miles further I reached the little town of
Lawrencebourg, on the Ohio, and inquired the nearest way to St. Louis; a
question which no one could answer, as they said they never knew of any
one travelling hundreds of miles on foot, when they could go so easily
by the steamers. At last, with much trouble, I learnt something of the
direction, and set off on the journey. I got a good dinner at a farmer’s
in return for a hare I had shot, and passed the night in a solitary
house with some very worthy people.

The 8th of December was a fine day for a walk, and the evening was mild
and agreeable. I was walking on at a good pace, when a farmer told me as
I passed his house that I should find a mill about six or seven miles
further on, where I could pass the night; the sun was already low in the
heavens. I was in the midst of a thick wood when it became dark, and no
mill to be seen; after some time it was somewhat lighter, and I had no
fear of losing my way; moreover, the temperature was very agreeable, and
in case of necessity, I should not have minded camping out, or sleeping
in the forest. At length I saw a light at some distance through the
trees, and the hopes of a warm bed and cup of hot coffee produced a good
effect upon my European system, as yet unweaned from these luxuries. As
I advanced, the lights became brighter and more numerous, and I did not
know what to think. Was it a town, or an Indian camp before me? To put
an end to the uncertainty I hurried on, particularly as my right road
lay in that direction, and soon I stood before a burning forest, blazing
up gloriously in the dark night, making the background still darker, and
giving a ghost-like appearance to the trees on the right and left. This
new scene was too wonderful and imposing for me to hurry past it; so I
sat down on one of the fallen scorched trunks to enjoy the awfully
sublime prospect. I may have remained sitting looking on for about half
an hour, when, about twenty paces from me, a blazing oak fell with a
heavy hollow sound, sending glowing charcoal, burning branches, and
thousands of sparks in all directions. This was rather too near to be
pleasant, so I turned to seek another road through the forest, which
appeared now so much darker than before, on account of the brilliant
light I had just been gazing on.

There seemed to be no end to the forest, and I began to think that the
mill existed only in the good farmer’s imagination, when I heard a sound
of rushing water, and, later, the lowing of a cow. I turned off in the
direction of the sound, first taking the precaution to light a fire,
that I might retrace my steps in case I lost my way. About half a mile
brought me within sight of a dwelling; on coming nearer I discovered a
milldam, and several cows standing about the fence saluted the new comer
with a long-drawn friendly low. I joyfully shook the dust from my feet,
and knocked at the low door: all was as silent as the grave. I knocked
again--nothing moved--no voice called a welcome “come in.” After
knocking three times, I was accustomed to open the door; I pushed this
open in rather ill-humor, and found--a deserted house, with all as still
as death. The stars shone through a hole in the roof, the chimney had
fallen in. It causes a shudder to see a place deserted that you expect
to find occupied by an industrious family: I closed the door, and sprang
over the fence, leaving the building to its mournful solitude.

The fire I had lighted was nearly burnt out, but I found it again, and
followed hastily my former path. After about another hour’s walk, I
heard the bark of a dog, and confiding with a joyful heart in this sure
sign of an approach to a human habitation, I stepped out quickly to the
long-sought mill. Dogs bayed, the wheel clattered, a bright light shone
through all the crevices of the loghouse, and everything showed that I
should soon find shelter for the night;--and in a few minutes I was
comfortably seated in the chimney corner.

My host was a kindly, good-humored man, had lived some years in Indiana,
and was in good circumstances. After a delicious supper, he led me out
of the house, and said, “I will show you a little chap, such as you
never saw before in your life.” He kept his word. Under an inverted tub
was a gray animal, about the size of a cat, but thicker in the body,
with short legs, head and muzzle like a fox, or rather, more like a
colossal rat, with ugly finger-like claws, and a tail about a foot long,
devoid of hair. These creatures are constantly on the look-out for
fowls, and make great havoc amongst the farmers’ poultry. The Americans,
and sometimes the immigrant Germans, eat the flesh and esteem it a
delicacy. The miller made no ceremony with his prisoner, and, after
killing it, he cut off its claws and tail, skinned it, washed it, and
prepared it for cooking, telling me it would serve for a delicate
breakfast; but I could not make up my mind to eat an animal looking so
much like a rat.

It rained hard all night, giving me a sorry prospect for my next day’s
journey; nevertheless, I rose early, and took leave of the miller on
purpose to escape his “delicate breakfast.”

The ground was soft and slippery, and it was not without reason that I
had feared the swelling of the mountain streams; yet, trusting in my
fortune, I went on in good spirits. About ten o’clock it began to rain
again pretty sharply, and about noon I came to a rapid, roaring mountain
stream, which rushed towards the Ohio, carrying some large trees along
with it. Here it was necessary to reflect on what was best to be done,
for though I could have swum across, it would have been extremely
disagreeable, as I had no change of clothing, and the water was
considerably colder than the air. After wandering for some miles up and
down the river in search of means to cross it, night came on, and I was
obliged to camp in the wood. After kindling a good fire, I went to
sleep, lulled by the sound of the water, but waking up now and then,
thinking I might receive a visit from some wild beast.

On the following morning I was early on my legs, and examined the river.
Like all these mountain streams, it had risen rapidly, and fallen as
quickly, having considerably abated in the course of the night. I had
already resolved on trying the passage, when I saw two horsemen coming
down the hill towards me. My difficulties were now at an end; one of
them took me up behind, and I was landed all dry on the other side.

I kept on along the somewhat inclined road, sometimes slipping,
sometimes sinking deep in mud, abusing all American roads and American
weather, when, not very far from the little town of Versailles, I saw a
man with a rifle coming down the hill towards me. He did not seem to be
keeping a very steady course, and when we came nearer, I saw clearly
that I had not made a great mistake in supposing him to be very drunk.
When he came up to me, he winked with his glassy eyes, and shook me
heartily by the hand: so far so good: but when he caught sight of a
bottle I had slung by my side, he made a sudden grasp at it; however, I
was too quick for him, and, like a bear defending her cubs, I wrenched
it out of his hand, and then, with the most imperturbable look in the
world, I said “That is not for you,” and placed it in my pocket. He
yielded to his fate; but, seeing my double-barrelled gun, he wanted to
examine it closer, and to have a shot with it. By this time I had had
enough of it, and would not trust him, so I turned on my heel and
continued my journey. He called out “Stop!” I took no notice; again he
called out, “Stop!” and I distinctly heard him cock his rifle. I turned
instantly, taking my gun from my shoulder, but too late; his ball went
whistling just over my head, and the echo repeated the sharp crack of
his rifle. I now lost all patience, and snatching the whalebone ramrod
out of my gun, I ran after him, caught him by the collar, pulled him
down, and belabored him with the pliant ramrod, till only a few inches
of it were left, he roaring “Mur--der!” “Mur--der!” all the while with
might and main. I must acknowledge that I felt some satisfaction as I
left him lying smarting in the mud.

Towards evening I passed through Versailles, where I procured a new
ramrod. What a piece of irony to call such a place Versailles! but it is
a custom of the Americans to give high-sounding names to their little
settlements. Already in the State of New York, I had passed through
Syracuse, Babylon, Rome, Venice, Alexandria, London, and Paris--villages
of seven or eight houses.

I arrived about the 11th December at Friedmann’s farm. The proprietor
was a German in good circumstances in Indiana: his property, though not
large, was very productive, and his cattle were very fine. He was the
only German settler whom I fell in with in my march through Indiana,
although there are several in that state. The sound of my mother tongue
fell doubly sweet on my ear after so long a privation. I remained to
dinner, and then set off in good spirits, on a road which improved as I
advanced, towards Vincennes on the Wabash.

Towards evening on the 12th, I came to a large, clean-looking house, and
when I went in to ask if I could have a bed, I found two German Jews
sitting comfortably by the fire, who looked at me with astonishment,
and, as it seemed to me, with displeasure. The host was an elderly man,
whose grandfather and grandmother had emigrated from Germany; he spoke
very good German, and was uncommonly friendly, and we chatted away
together the whole evening. The two Israelites had in the mean time been
whispering a great deal together; at length one of them brought his
chair nearer to mine, and began asking several questions, which I
readily answered; amongst others, if I should start early in the
morning, and which way I intended to go? why I carried a gun and hunting
knife? &c. It struck me that they were not very courageous, and I
resolved to have a joke with them: I first asked if they carried on a
good business? what sort of wares they had in their two large packs; if
they had any articles of gold? if they meant to leave early? which road
they intended to take? if they would have far to go through the forest,
before they came to another farm? The Jew anxiously parried all these
questions, while his companion sat by without speaking a word; but when
I asked if they had made much money, they both called out in a scream,
“We have got no money at all;” so that I was obliged to bite my lip to
prevent a burst of laughter.

I was disturbed several times in the night by the squabbling of the
Israelites about the best place in their common bed. On waking up at
early dawn I saw that the birds were flown. When I descended to my host,
the two large packs and the two Jews had disappeared; on my inquiring
after them, he told me that they had started before daylight with as
little noise as possible. I laughed heartily, and told him the whole
history, which tickled him amazingly.

The road from this house was at first pretty good, but it rained hard.
When I came to the flat country in the neighborhood of Vincennes it was
full of pools, and on arriving on the prairie, about a mile from that
town, the whole space between it and me was one sheet of water. Night
coming on, it would have been impossible for me to find my way but for
occasional lights in the town, towards which I directed my steps,
sometimes over my knees in water, and arrived about seven o’clock in
Vincennes, which had not much to boast of as to dryness. The night was
dark as pitch, as I groped my way along the unlighted streets in search
of quarters. A pair of lonely oxen standing in the street looked at me
pathetically, and lowed as I passed close by them. A short distance from
them I found the house I wanted: it belonged to a Pennsylvanian German,
who kept a tavern. I was soon in front of a warm refreshing fire, which,
in my present condition, was what I stood most in need of. As soon as I
was well warmed, I took a survey of the neighborhood. Around me was a
set of regular conventional faces, with American indifference stamped on
the countenances of all the company, who, having finished their meal,
were sitting round the fire, rocking in their chairs, and picking their
teeth. But amongst them I perceived fixed upon me the glances of a pair
of real German looking eyes. I addressed their owner, and found that I
had not been mistaken; he was a German smith and mason, and a very well
educated man for his station. We sat talking together by the fire till
late in the night. In the heat of conversation, he repeated some of his
own poetry, which I listened to patiently, in return for his kind
attempts to amuse me. He had been a long time in America, and had
suffered much, without gaining much experience, being one of those
good-natured souls, who are unwilling to take advantage of others,
though often imposed upon themselves.

It rained in torrents during the night, but cleared up towards morning,
and began to freeze. On going down to the river I met some horsemen, who
had returned from the other side, and declared that it was not possible
to proceed; for not only was the water very deep, but the ice on the
surface was so thick, that it would have cut the horses in breaking
through it. For a moment I was undecided: I could not stay in Vincennes,
because my small supply of money would not admit of great outlay, and I
had yet a considerable distance to travel. I went down to the ferry, but
the ferrymen also strongly advised me to remain at Vincennes, as the
road was quite impassable: however I was obstinate, and crossed the
ferry.

The ground was dry close to the river, but I was stopped by the water
further on. I persisted till noon, trying to find a passage, and upon a
tolerably empty stomach, for I had eaten little more for the last
twenty-four hours than a bit of bread and cheese. Yet I made no
progress, so I resolved to dash at it, and wade through the water to
some houses about two miles off, where the ferrymen had told me I should
find dry ground. At first it was only up to my knees, and my water-proof
boots kept me dry; but it soon became deeper and deeper. I was obliged
to fasten my gamebag on my shoulder, and wade along, sometimes up to the
waist, and sometimes up to the chest in the cold element, all the while
having to break the ice in front of me with the butt of my gun. It took
four hours to do the two miles, and only the conviction that I must
either break through the ice or drown, gave me force to carry out my
resolution. At length I reached a fence, and stepped on dry ground. I
endeavored to climb over in vain; my lower garments and limbs were
frozen too hard. I was obliged to pull down a part of it to make a
passage, and it was not till I had been more than an hour by the fire
that I was thawed enough to be able to move freely.

The continuation of the road was dry, with one short exception; and the
next house that I came to was quite a harbor of refuge for this night,
as I was much in need of rest and refreshment.

I now for the first time saw the wide prairies which extend through
Illinois, and present a dismal prospect in this cold season. The long
waving yellow grass gives a melancholy tint to the picture; the wide
spread straw-colored surface, fringed by a forest in the distant
horizon, depresses the spirits. The frost had set in again, so that at
least I could follow my route with dry feet, and at a good pace. The
first head of large game that I fell in with was a buck, making long
jumps through the high grass, and putting up large flocks of prairie
fowl, which flew to some distance before they settled. In the house
where I passed the night, I gave my gun a thorough cleaning, and put it
in good condition. On the following morning, about eight o’clock, I came
to the Fox river, where I found two houses. To my astonishment, this
also was a town, and called Waterton. A very pretty American woman, who
kept a sort of tavern, set bread and milk with wild honey before me.
She tried hard to persuade me to settle here, and, if possible, induce
other Germans to do so; but my water excursion was still too fresh in my
memory for me to take a fancy to the place, although it appeared to be a
land of milk and honey, for enormous herds of cattle were pasturing in
the prairies, and wild honey was very abundant.

I was so refreshed by my meal, that I went on my way with the springing
step of a sedan-chairman. I had indulged in the agreeable idea of a dry
road, but found myself wofully deceived, for as the little Wabash had
overflowed its banks, I had about two miles to wade through water. The
road lay along rather high ground, and was clear of ice, but there was
plenty of it between the trees on the lower levels. As I approached the
end of the watery path, and could see dry land in front of me, I heard
something rustling through the water, and crashing the ice: I looked
round, and beheld five deer coming towards me with long bounds. I stood
quite still, awaiting their approach with a beating heart; a noble buck
and four does were passing about fifty paces from me. I aimed at the
leader; he made a spring into the air, and fell dead. I had some trouble
to bring my buck to land; for although the American deer are smaller
than the German red deer, yet the one I had shot weighed at least 140
pounds. I cut him up, skinned him, lopped a branch from a tree, made a
bag of the skin with the hair outwards, put the two legs and back into
it, then hanging the rest on a tree for any new comer, I trudged away
with my burden for a couple of miles to the village of Maysville. Here I
sold my prize, and passed the night, starting on the following morning
across a twelve-mile prairie.

A cutting north-wester blew from the great lakes, so that my quickest
pace hardly sufficed to keep me warm. After passing through a small
wood, and surmounting a hill, I came to another little town, called
Salem. On the 21st of December I had another prairie, twenty-two miles
wide, before me: though still very cold, it was good walking over the
hard frozen ground. In the evening I arrived at a farmhouse, where I
passed the night. Just as I came to the house, the farmer was leading
his horse by the bridle into the sitting-room, which I should have taken
for the stable, had I not seen smoke issuing from the chimney. Full of
curiosity, I followed my host into his little dwelling, and here the
riddle was explained. He had been hauling wood, and he had fastened his
horse to a log about eight feet long, to draw it into the house; then he
rolled it to the fire-place, which took up nearly one whole side of the
little block-house, and as he could not conveniently turn the horse on
account of tables, chairs, and beds, he had made an opening on the side
opposite the door, in order to lead him out again. I had shot several
prairie birds in the course of the day, and they afforded us a delicate
supper. They are very numerous in these wide plains, and I have seen
flocks of from 600 to 700 of them. They are about the size of our
domestic fowls, but with a longer neck, and have a tail like a
partridge; their color is an ashy gray. I shot only one gray prairie
wolf; they are much smaller than the black wolves, and very shy.

On the 23rd of December I arrived at Lebanon, a little hamlet on a hill
about twenty miles from St. Louis. My thoughts turned involuntarily to
the gigantic cedars; the highest tree on this mountain of Lebanon was
the tavern sign-post. Next day I had a march of thirty-two miles: as the
usually soft ground was now frozen hard, the route was very rough, and
hurt my feet; yet I pushed on, and in the afternoon arrived in the
valley of the Mississippi, or, as they call it opposite St. Louis, the
“American bottom;” it is considered the most productive land in the
United States. The vegetable mould must be from fifty to sixty feet
deep; but it is low, and in consequence wet, and therefore unhealthy.

During my progress through Illinois I heard constant complaints of ague,
particularly from the Germans; it is very prevalent all the summer, and
even in winter they are not always free from it. The pale countenances
of all, especially of the children, bore too strong evidence that the
complaint was well founded.

At length, after sunset, I arrived on the eastern bank of the
Mississippi, and heard to my great vexation that the river was so full
of ice, that it was utterly impossible to get across. At any rate it was
not to be thought of for this evening, so that I was obliged to pass
another night in Illinois. Very tired with my long journey, I went early
to bed. I was awakened in the night by a fresh arrival, who threw
himself right upon me. I moved a little to one side, while he took up
the middle of the bed; I should have had room enough if the stranger had
not been very restless. Now as I did not like the idea of being
disturbed all the rest of the night, it was necessary to obtain peace in
some way or other; so, drawing myself up like a hedgehog, and planting
my shoulder against his side, and my feet against the wall, before he
could imagine what I was about, I sent him with a sudden jerk into the
middle of the room, and then coolly told him the conditions on which I
would let him come into bed again. As the night was too cold to admit of
his sleeping on the floor, he agreed to all I required, and remained
quiet for the rest of the night.

I was up early the next morning, and heard that a boat was about to try
the passage. We started at nine o’clock, and were six in the boat--two
at each oar, one in the bows to shove away the ice, and one half dead
from fear. With indescribable trouble we succeeded in reaching the
middle of the stream, where the ice had become fixed round a small
island. If we had attempted to row round it we should have been carried
down too far below the town, so we had to get out, and drag the boat
over the rough blocks of ice, and launch her again on the other side;
often we were jammed between immense masses, so that I thought every
moment the boat must be crushed. About noon we gained the opposite
shore, and landed immediately below St. Louis. The difference of time
between Germany and St. Louis is about seven hours, so that while
families at home were enjoying their Christmas festivities around the
brilliantly lighted trees, I was toiling with difficulty through the
waves and large masses of floating ice of the Mississippi. The church
bells were ringing, as, on a bright clear day, I entered this city of a
foreign land. I expected to find letters and money from New York, but to
my no small astonishment I was disappointed. There was now no chance of
any until I arrived at New Orleans; the question was, how was I to get
there? I had not money enough to pay my passage by a steamer, and none
of them would take me as one of the crew; so I resolved to trust to my
legs again. The sale of some game had brought a few dollars, with which
I paid my expenses here, and on the 31st December I set off again alone,
with not very cheering prospects for the commencement of the new year.
At night I lighted a fire, and laid myself under a tree, for I was not
in a humor to seek society; it was past midnight before I fell asleep.
Next morning’s sun brought fresh courage and fresh confidence. In going
southwards from St. Louis, the traveller has no little trouble to find
the right direction among the cross roads that traverse the country, and
I made so many mistakes that it took nearly five days to go fifty miles,
yet without having to pass another night in the forest, as I found a
farm-house every evening, whose owners gave me an hospitable reception.

A great many Germans inhabit this part of the country, particularly
Suabians, living by agriculture, and, when not too far from the town, by
carrying and selling wood, as there is none in the immediate
neighborhood of St. Louis, except some small stunted oaks.

My funds by this time had shrunk down to a single American dollar, whose
superscription, “E pluribus unum,” appeared a bitter sarcasm on my
present circumstances. The third day of my wanderings in Missouri broke
dull and moist through the mist; it began to rain, and the roads became
slippery. About noon I arrived at another cross road, and was
deliberating which to take, when I heard a cock crow not very far off.
The sound was music to my ears at such a moment. I took the path leading
towards it, and soon came to the fence of a little corn-field; upon the
fence sat a curious figure, swinging himself to and fro, and singing in
a low melodious voice some song unknown to me. As he heard my steps he
sprang from the fence, and a poor pale sickly lad stood before me. He
offered me his right hand with a smile, and with his left pushed away
the long lank wet hair from his eyes; he led me quietly to the door and
disappeared. His father, an old farmer, told me that I should find some
German settlements about eight or nine miles further on, and though it
was still raining, I resolved on continuing my journey, and reached the
block-houses of my countrymen before dark.

The weather continuing bad, and I having but little money, I resolved to
accept work if I could find it. Three brothers living here, who seemed
good sort of people, were ready to employ me. We were to agree about the
wages after a week’s trial. The next day saw me sally forth early in the
morning, armed with a heavy hoe, to the unaccustomed work of rooting up
bushes. It made the muscles and sinews of my arms ache and swell, so it
happened very opportunely for me that the following day was the festival
of the Three Kings, and as the honest Germans do no work on that day, I
was very much obliged to the Three Kings for their appearance. But
though they would not work for themselves, we all went, according to the
custom here, to help build a house for a neighbor, who had lately
settled, and for which the logs were already cut and collected.

The week passed by without further incident. I worked very hard, and it
seemed all the harder as it was the first time that I had to work
incessantly. As the brothers offered me no more than eight dollars a
month, I thought that I should find better pay in Little Rock, so took
the two dollars that I had earned, bade them all a hearty farewell, and
went on my way in good spirits.

Next morning I came to the most important lead mines of Missouri, not
far from Farmington, a pretty little town. The lead was laid in great
heaps on both sides of the road, and as it looked very like silver, it
was capable of making a strong impression on any one who possessed a
slightly excitable imagination. As my bullets were getting scarce, I
took a couple of pounds from one of the heaps, in order to cast a few in
the next house that I stopped at. All these mines are private property,
and the workmen carry on their excavations when they please, wherever
they expect to find ore, and are paid according to the quantity they
procure; if they find none, they receive nothing, and many poor fellows
have worked for weeks in vain. Their labors are carried on in the
simplest manner. A workman, or generally two together, come and offer
themselves; a certain space is given, and while one digs, the other
clears out the shaft; sometimes they find a vein of pure lead, in which
case they are very well paid. The whole place is so full of holes, that
it is very dangerous to go about at night. The proprietors have erected
smelting furnaces on the ground between the shafts, where the ore is
cast into pigs, and then it is forwarded to the Mississippi.

I passed the following night in the house of an American family. The
owner had a herd of remarkably fine cattle, as well as a fine breed of
horses. Soon after I was seated in the warm chimney corner, I heard the
gallop of a horse. It stopped at the house, the door opened, and in
stepped a very pretty girl, with her little riding-whip in her hand, and
her color heightened by the sharp ride; she was received by all with a
warm welcome, and seemed to be the betrothed of one of the young men,
near whom she sat, and began to joke.

Passing through Frederickstown, I reached Currant river, the boundary of
Missouri, on the 22nd of January; the water was so clear, that although
it was about fifteen feet deep where I passed, the smallest objects
could be distinctly seen at the bottom.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER IV.

ARKANSAS, AND “DOWN RIVER” TO NEW ORLEANS.

     Wild turkeys--Spring river--Traces of earlier inhabitants of North
     America--An eagle--Quack-doctors in Arkansas--My unsuccessful
     hunting-dog--Little Red river--German and Polish settlers--Hilger
     and Turoski--Encampment of Indians--Their love for ardent
     spirits--Little Rock--Engagement as stoker on board the
     “Fox”--Unhealthiness of the stoker’s avocations--Quarrel with the
     captain, and conclusion of the engagement--Night in the woods--A
     panther--Bear hunt--Great Red river--Slave plantations--Cruelty of
     the overseers towards the negroes--Large herd of deer--Capture of a
     panther--Dangerous encounter with a bear--Excursion with an Indian
     tribe--Their mode of life--Canoe travelling--The Mississippi--New
     Orleans--Its appearance, and unhealthy situation.


I was now in Arkansas. Game seemed to abound. Flocks of wild turkeys
filled the forests as thick as partridges in Germany, and deer were
equally plentiful; in one day I saw several herds of ten or twelve head
each. On the 23rd I came to Spring river, so named from the crystalline
clearness of its waters. I had intended to continue my journey on the
following morning, but my talkative hostess, among other things, spoke
of her husband, an old Pennsylvanian, who understood German, and who
could give a great deal of information about Indian burial-places. The
chance of hearing any thing about the natives was a strong magnet to my
curiosity, so I decided to await his arrival, and, as I did not wish to
diminish unnecessarily my small stock of money, I assisted to gather in
the Indian corn, so as to earn my food. As my host arrived in the
evening, I had not long to wait. He informed me that there were a number
of sepulchral monuments on the banks of the Spring river, or in its
neighborhood, and spoke of gigantic bones and skeletons which had been
found there. When in Illinois, I had heard of such remains of a colossal
race of men, and among others of a human lower jaw, whose owner must
have been about nine feet high. He also said that he had found urns and
weapons in the graves; but he had none to show me, for these people have
no regard for any thing that does not offer some immediate prospect of
gain.

On the banks of the neighboring White river, they had found bricks some
feet under the surface in several places, laid as if they had formed a
street or road, and my host, as well as several others, maintained that
there must have been a town there.

There is a strong probability that, before the modern race of Indians, a
stronger and more civilized people must have inhabited North America, as
several ancient and magnificent buildings in Mexico also tend to prove.
If my host had had time to show me any of the mounds, I would have
devoted a day or two to their examination, but he was obliged to take
another journey on the following day, and I could not well await his
return. Perhaps some one else may find time to make excavations.

On the following morning I set off again on my travels, and turned a
little out of my way to climb a rocky height, when an eagle suddenly
rose before me. I fired. For a minute or two he floated motionless in
the air, then, flapping his wings, he mounted higher and higher till I
could hardly distinguish him. I concluded that I must have missed him,
and was reloading, when he turned in the air, and fell dead to the
ground. He was a large bird, measuring seven feet from wing to wing. I
was pleased with my shot, as it was the first eagle I had killed. He was
of a dark-brown color, with white head and tail. In imitation of the
Indians, I ornamented my cap with one of his feathers.

On the evening of the 27th of January, as I was occupied in breaking up
a deer that I had shot, a lad of about thirteen or fourteen, with a
fowling-piece on his shoulder, came to help me, and showed that he was
by no means an unskilled hand. We packed the two legs and the back in
the skin, and bore it between us to the abode of the youth, only a few
miles distant, where I decided on passing the night. I have met, in all
parts of America, with a number of very worthy, amiable people, as also
with some very bad characters: this is to be expected in a country with
such a mingled population; but here, in this solitude, I found a family
not to be surpassed in worth and amiable qualities in any part of the
world. An old man, with trembling hands, sat by the fire, and though
many winters had bleached his locks, his rosy cheeks showed that he was
still strong and hearty. Opposite sat a noble-looking matron,
considerably younger than her husband, but still of great age. By her
side was a young and pretty woman of the neighborhood, whose husband
had taken a journey to the north on business. Three stout, blooming
youths came in one after the other from shooting, bringing four wild
turkeys.

I was already far enough advanced in English to be able to take part in
the conversation, the educated American being very indulgent to
foreigners in this respect. We sat talking together till about ten
o’clock. The young wife had just received a letter from her husband,
which she read through and through ten times over. She had been very
unfortunate in Arkansas. The doctors had killed three of her children,
and she herself was suffering from inflamed eyes through their
ignorance. The fact is, that there is no sufficient authority to control
their practice in these new States, and every quack who chooses may call
himself doctor. They prescribe calomel for every disorder, and decayed
teeth, inflamed eyes, spongy gums, and shattered health are the
universal consequences.

My next night was passed at a Kentucky-man’s, who had settled here. He
had about a dozen dogs in his house, and he willingly made one over to
me, which, according to his account, was a capital dog for hunting wild
turkeys, running them to a tree, so that they could be more easily shot.

Lounging along the road, I saw, at a good distance in front of me, a
buck quietly feeding right in the path, and, rather distrusting the good
education of my dog, I fastened him to a tree with my pocket-handkerchief
and the string of my powder-horn. The buck continued feeding
unsuspiciously, till I came within about eighty-five paces from him,
when, as I had the wind at my back, he scented my approach, and bounded
over a fallen tree to gain the thicket; my buck shot flew after him, but
I must have fired low, for at about 150 paces he began to limp with his
hind leg. By this time my dog must have thought that he had played the
mere spectator long enough, and having bitten through the powder-horn
string, he bounded after the deer with my handkerchief about his neck,
and neither deer, dog, nor handkerchief have I ever seen since.

About sunset I arrived at a house where I purposed to pass the night,
and had placed my hand on the fence to jump over, when I saw the
mistress of the house sitting before the door, occupied with her
children’s heads in a way that suppressed all inclination to speak on my
part. I turned away, resolving rather to pass the night in the forest
than with such a family; yet this alternative was unnecessary, for
before dark I reached the dwelling of a man who had fought under
Washington in the war of independence; of course he was very old, but he
moved about with considerable vigor.

On the following evening I came to the Little Red river. It was growing
dark, but a man was still at work on the other side. I called to him,
asking where I could pass. He answered: “You see that house there?” By
his accent I knew that he was a German, and asked again, in good Saxon:
“What house?” He replied again, in a mixture of German and English, and
in a tone of vexation at having forgotten his pure mother tongue: “Go a
little way down the river, and you will find a canoe.” We were already
good friends, although divided by the river. I found the canoe, paddled
over, and went to the nearest house, before which a number of people
were standing, and amongst them the owner, Von G., formerly an officer
in the army, now an industrious farmer, and zealous sportsman. He
possessed two slaves, and was well contented with his new condition. He
kindly offered me a bed in his house. In the evening the German came in,
whose acquaintance I had made on the banks of the river. He was a very
worthy, though rather an eccentric man. He must have been equally
pleased with me, for he insisted that I must not think of going away so
soon, but must come and pass some days with him in order to see the
country. Having nothing to hurry me, I willingly accepted his kind
invitation, and went on the following day to his house, where he made me
quite at home. He had a nice little wife, and five strong healthy
children.

In the afternoon it began to rain. Travelling was not to be thought of;
even had I wished it, these kind people would not have let me go. We
chatted away till deep in the night, and it did me a world of good to be
able to converse again to my heart’s content in my mother tongue. My
host was a Rhenish Bavarian, named Hilger, a builder by trade, and by no
means uneducated.

On the next day we had a visit from a neighbor, a man of about
thirty-five, with a short green shooting jacket, and a German rifle; but
his accent betrayed him to be no German. Hilger addressed him by the
name of Turoski. He was a Polish officer, who sought and found in
America security against the political persecutions that he would have
been exposed to in Europe. He was unmarried, and a little ten-year-old
daughter of Hilger’s minded his house. This child was often alone for
days and nights together in Turoski’s log-house, miles away from other
habitations; yet she cared nothing whether it was the storm or the
wolves that howled round the hut.

After a short conversation, Turoski proposed that I should come and stay
with him. I passed some very agreeable days with these estimable men,
sometimes with one, sometimes with the other. To give my reader an idea
of the bachelor-life of an American backwoodsman, I will describe one of
the nights that I passed at Turoski’s. Hilger’s daughter had gone home
to visit her parents, who lived three miles off, and we two were alone.
The Pole’s dwelling was nothing but a simple rough log-house, without
any window, and all the chinks between the logs were left open, probably
to admit fresh air. Two beds, a table, a couple of chairs, one of them
with arms, some iron saucepans, three plates, two tin pots, one saucer,
several knives, and a coffee-mill, formed the whole of his furniture and
kitchen utensils. A smaller building near the house contained the store
of meat for the winter. There was a field of four or five acres close to
the house, and another about a quarter of a mile off on the river. He
had some good horses, a great many pigs, quantities of fowls, and
several milch cows.

Being deeply interested in our conversation, we forgot to prepare any
supper, and it was not till the cold made itself felt that we went to
bed. It may have been about half-past twelve, when Turoski woke up, and
swore by all the saints, that he could lie no longer in bed for
ravenous hunger, and that he must have something to eat, even if it were
a piece of raw meat. I laughed, and told him to draw his hunger-belt
tighter, but he jumped up and gave me no more rest. We made up the fire,
which was nearly burnt out, and then held a council as to what we should
cook. We had shot nothing, the bread was all gone, and we had eaten our
last bit of pork for dinner. What was to be done? Turoski decided the
point. The Indian corn of last harvest was in a small building in a
field by the river; I was to go and fetch an armful, while he would
prepare something in the mean time. The night was dark as pitch; I was
often obliged to feel with my feet for the path like a blind man, that I
might not lose myself in the forest. When, in the course of half an
hour, I returned with the maize, Turoski had killed one of the fowls
that were roosting on a low tree, plunged it in hot water, and while he
cleaned it I fried the corn; then, while the fowl was being grilled, I
ground the corn in the coffee-mill, which by no means reduced it to the
consistence of flour. I moistened the grist with water, added a little
salt, made a cake of it about three-quarters of an inch thick, and set
it in a saucepan cover to bake. So far so good; but I wanted a couple of
eggs. There was a kind of shed attached to the house, in which leaves of
Indian corn, plucked green, and then dried, were kept as fodder, and
here the hens came to lay their eggs. Turoski crept in, and feeling
about, soon came to a nest with five, of which he brought away only two,
having broken the others in his hurry. Coffee was then made, and we had
a very good supper, or rather breakfast, for it was now past two
o’clock. But we were not yet to repose in safety; the monster log of
hickory, that we had laid on the hearth, flared up and set fire to the
chimney: Turoski mounted on the roof, while I handed him some buckets of
water, and the fire was soon extinguished. At last we got to sleep, and
remained so till the sun was high in the heavens.

My unquiet spirit drove me forth again on the morning of the 7th of
February. I took a warm farewell of these kind people, and went in a
south-west direction through the forest, hoping soon to reach the high
road. The sun disappeared behind dark clouds, but thinking I was sure of
my way, I walked quickly on. Who could paint my astonishment at finding
myself, after two hours’ walking, in front of the very house I had
started from! This was vexatious, but I slipped off again into the
forest without being perceived, took out my compass, and made a straight
course.

In the evening I shot a deer, but was obliged to leave the greater
portion of it, as it was too heavy to carry. Long after sunset on the
9th I arrived on the Arkansas river; the lights of Little Rock shone
from the opposite bank, but a strange fantastic scene presented itself
on this side of the river, on which I stared with astonishment. An
Indian tribe had pitched their tents close to the banks of the river. A
number of large crackling fires, formed of whole trunks of dry fallen
trees, which lay about in abundance, offering good shelter against the
wind; over the fires were kettles with large pieces of venison, bear,
squirrels, raccoons, opossums, wild-cats, and whatever else the fortune
of the chase had given them. Here young men were occupied securing the
horses to some of the fallen trees, and supplying them with fodder;
there lay others, overcome by the firewater, singing their national
songs with a mournful and heavy tongue. I stood for a long time watching
the animated scene.

A tall powerful Indian, decked out with glass beads and silver
ornaments, came staggering towards me, with an empty bottle in his left
hand and a handsome rifle in his right, and, holding them both towards
me, gave me to understand that he would give me the rifle if I would
fill his bottle. The dealers in spirituous liquors are subject to a
heavy fine if they sell any to soldiers, Indians, or negroes. The poor
Indians have fallen so low, and become so degraded by the base
speculations of the pale faces, that they will give all they most value,
to procure the body and soul-destroying spirits. Though I had but little
money left, only twelve cents, I declined the exchange; he turned
sorrowfully away, probably to offer the advantageous bargain to some one
else, in which case I thought it best to indulge the poor savage, and
save him his handsome rifle; I took the bottle out of his hand, filled
it, and gave it back to him. On my refusing to accept his rifle, he laid
hold of me, and dragged me almost forcibly to his fire, obliged me to
drink with him, to smoke out of his pipe, and eat a large slice of
venison, while his wife and three children sat in the tent staring with
surprise at the stranger. He then stood up, and in his harmonious
language related a long history to me and to some sons of the forest who
had assembled round us, and of which I did not understand a word. At
last as the noise became annoying, I stole away quietly to seek a berth
for the night.

When I came again to the ferry on the following morning, the encampment
was broken up, and the Indians had embarked on board a steamer, which
was to carry them further west. I crossed by the ferry, and had now no
longer any cause to be anxious about spending too much money, having
paid away my last twelve cents. Rarely has a traveller entered a strange
town with so light a purse. My situation in such a place was not at all
enviable. The soles of my boots had disappeared, and then the feet of my
stockings, so that latterly I had gone barefoot on the frozen ground.
Yet my self-confidence and courage did not fail me. My first object was
to find a house where I could pass the night, my second to get my boots
repaired: I found board and lodging at a German wheelwright’s, named
Spranger, for three dollars a week, and although with all my searching I
could not find three cents in my pockets, I agreed to the bargain,
giving my gun in pawn; then taking my hunting-knife I hastened to a
shoemaker’s, who asked two and a half dollars to re-sole my boots, and
accepted my knife as a pledge, lending me a pair of shoes to wear till
the boots should be finished. When this was all arranged, I looked about
for work, and took many a walk in vain.

On the second day, having nothing else to do, I went with Spranger to
Von Seckendorf’s farm to saw down some trees that S. required for his
business. In Little Rock many had referred me to a Mr. Fisher, who was
well known among the Germans, and who at all events would give me work.
He had just finished a large frame house, and wanted to make some
addition to it. I went to every door in the building to seek some one
who could tell me where to find him, but all was as quiet as the grave.
I then went to a smaller building, and knocked. As no one answered,
after knocking three times, I pushed open the door, and entered. In one
corner of a miserable room I found an empty bedstead, with broken legs;
carpenter’s tools lay on the table and floor, and a coffin stood in
another corner. At the foot of the bed, on the bare earth, lay a man,
with his head on one of the broken legs of the bedstead; his right arm
was under his head, the left lay across his face, so that I could only
see the dark hair; the hands were spotted red and black, I thought from
the paint of the coffin. I asked him if he knew where Mr. Fisher was. He
gave no answer: I supposed him to be asleep, and he appeared to be ill.
I went out again quite quietly, and tried some other doors; but they
were all locked, and not a soul to be seen. I went back again to the
sleeper, and although I called loudly, and shook him by the shoulder, I
could get no answer, and came away much vexed. At length, after a great
deal of trouble, I found Mr. Fisher, and had my trouble for my pains,
for he had no work to give me. In the course of conversation, I inquired
about the man in the hut, and was told that he had died the day before
of smallpox: my blood ran cold at the words. The doctor had stated the
nature of his disease, and desired that nobody should go near him; and
as the man was poor, without a cent in the world, he had shut the door,
and never been near him again. The poor fellow had been left to himself
for three days, without even a drink of water, and at last had died
miserably on the floor. Little Rock is a vile, detestable place in this
respect, and the boatmen on the Mississippi have good reason when they
sing--

    “Little Rock in Arkansaw,
     The d----dest place I ever saw.”

Yet several Germans inhabit the town and neighborhood.

As nothing in the way of work was to be found in the town, I went to the
river to try and get something to do on board a steamer. The steamers
“Fox” and “Harp” were moored side by side. I went first on board the
“Fox,” and was engaged as fireman, at thirty dollars a month. In an hour
the boat started. I was quite contented, and had no trouble with my
luggage. We ran down the Arkansas to its mouth, then up the Mississippi
to Memphis, and back again to Little Rock. The work of a fireman is as
hard as any in the world; though he has only four hours in the day and
four in the night to keep up the fires, yet the heat of the boilers, the
exposure to the cutting cold night air when in deep perspiration, the
quantity of brandy he drinks to prevent falling sick, the icy cold water
poured into the burning throat, must, sooner or later, destroy the
soundest and strongest constitution. How I, unaccustomed to such work,
managed to stand it, has often surprised me.

In addition, there was the dangerous work of carrying wood, particularly
in dark and wet nights. One has to carry logs of four or five feet in
length, six or seven at a time, down a steep, slippery bank, sometimes
fifteen or twenty feet in height when the water is low, and then to
cross a narrow, tottering plank, frequently covered with ice, when a
single false step would precipitate the unfortunate fireman into the
rapid deep stream, an accident which indeed happened to me another time
in the Mississippi. It is altogether a miserable life, offering,
moreover, a prospect of being blown up, no uncommon misfortune, thanks
to the rashness of the American engineers.

I carried on this work for some time, till the desertion of the cook at
Memphis caused a vacancy in that department. Just as the boat was about
to start, I offered myself for the place, and was accepted, although I
knew nothing more than how to boil a kettle; yet I very soon learned as
much as was necessary.

When I returned to Little Rock I released my gun and hunting-knife. The
next voyage was to the mouth of the Arkansas and back. The rude coarse
life among the lowest class of people soon disgusted me, and, in
addition to this, I had incurred the enmity of the captain, who disliked
me, probably only because I was a German. Yet he could not do without
me; but as I could not find a substitute, I was obliged to make another
voyage, and this time up the river. I already had an idea how my service
would terminate, and having my game-bag packed, and my gun,
hunting-knife, and a tomahawk that I had purchased, all at hand, I was
prepared for any thing that might happen.

Two days after our departure, the captain came down to me as I was in
the act of giving the remains of a meal to a poor old woman, who was on
her way to join her children, but who had not wherewithal to pay her
passage. An old Pennsylvanian had informed me that the captain had been
abusing me. This, and the question, “Who gave me permission to give away
the provisions?” put me in a rage, and I asked him, rudely, in return,
“If he would rather that I should throw them overboard?” The “yes” was
hardly out of his mouth, when plate and food were floating in the
Arkansas. He gave vent to his rage by springing on me, and seizing me by
the breast; in return I sent him sprawling against the opposite side. He
was quickly up again, and snatching up a piece of broken hand-spike,
made a desperate blow at me, which I luckily avoided. My fury now knew
no bounds; I grasped his throat, and was dragging him to the side to
throw him overboard, when his cries brought the engineer and boatswain
to the rescue. One of them pulled the captain away by his legs, while
the other took me by the shoulders, and then both carried the captain,
whose head was bleeding severely, into the cabin. I was ordered to go
directly to the book-keeper, received my pay, the steamer stopped, I was
landed on the bank, the boat returned on board, and I found myself in
quite a new and extraordinary position.

All around me was a solitary wilderness--the river behind me, the ground
frozen hard, and covered with a thin sheet of snow--a cold north wind
blowing through the leafless branches. I felt in my pocket for my fire
apparatus--it was all wet; not a single grain of powder in my
powder-horn, and only one barrel loaded. I thought it would never do to
discharge my gun for the sake of lighting a fire, and remain unarmed in
the wilderness. I cleared away the snow from under a tree, lay down, and
tried to sleep; but the wind was too sharp, the cold insupportable, and
I was afraid of being frozen. Driven to extremity, I discharged my gun
against the root of a tree, lighted a match by the burning wadding,
collected dry grass and wood, and in a minute or two had a glorious
fire.

Although I heard the howls of several wolves, I did not mind them, but
enjoyed a sound sleep. Certainly, on the following morning, I trudged on
rather out of spirits, with no powder, and a very hungry stomach.

I followed the direction of the river downwards, in hopes of finding a
house. After I had gone some distance, I saw an old, half-sunken canoe.
I baled out the water with my cap and found that she was still
serviceable. My former intentions of visiting Texas returned in full
force; I decided on crossing to the other side to look for a house, and
procure food and powder, and resolved then to strike off in a south-west
direction in search of the route to Texas.

I had hardly gained the opposite bank when I discovered a large flock of
wild turkeys. I took aim, and pulled the trigger, forgetting that I had
not loaded: they took to the trees on my approach, and I suffered the
tortures of Tantalus at the sight; but there was no help for it, and I
was obliged to pass on. As it always happens in such cases, I saw
quantities of game this day.

Cold and cloudy descended the night, bringing with it the dreaded north
wind; I was obliged to lie down without a fire. In order to avoid the
bears and panthers, I had climbed up a tree, but the wind was too sharp
to make such an airy perch endurable. At length I found a hollow tree,
crept in, covered my feet with my game-bag, placed my gun on my left
side, and, with my knife in my right hand, I passed one of the most
uncomfortable nights of my life. I heard the howling of the wolves, and
once the roar of a panther in the distance; but nothing came to disturb
me, and the bright morning sun saw me early on the march, for my couch
was not inviting enough to detain me. At length, what music to my ears!
the crow of a cock and bark of a dog announced the neighborhood of a
farm. I soon perceived the thin, blue smoke of a chimney ascending into
the beautiful clear sky, and, with a quickened pace made towards it,
hoping soon to refresh both body and soul.

The good people gave me such a hospitable reception, and placed so much
on the table, that, notwithstanding my fearful appetite, there was a
great deal more than I could eat. Fortunately, the farmer had a stock of
gunpowder, and filled my powder-horn for a quarter of a dollar.

As I was about to depart, he asked if I would not like to join a
shooting party; several of his neighbors were coming this morning to
search a thicket not far from his house, where they expected to find a
bear which had robbed him of many of his pigs. I did not long hesitate,
cleaned my gun, loaded the left hand barrel with ball and the right with
buck-shot, and so was ready for any thing. We had not long to wait, and
all mounted on horseback. We soon arrived at the spot, and rode round
and round it; it was the thickly overgrown bed of a former spring.
Suddenly the dogs gave tongue, and immediately afterwards the bear
started out of his hiding-place. Eager as we were we could only follow
him slowly, on account of the thick underwood; so we hobbled the horses’
fore-legs, and pressed forward on foot.

One of the party soon proclaimed that, judging by the bark of the dogs,
the bear must have climbed up a tree. Such proved to be the case, and we
had hardly discovered him, when I and one of the farmers fired: both
balls had taken effect, but a dull cry was the only consequence: two
others of the party coming up, fired. He was mortally wounded, drew
himself together, and hung by one paw from the tree; as I hit him on the
paw with my buck-shot, he fell, and died under the bites of the dogs,
who threw themselves furiously on him. His flesh was savory and tender,
but he was not so fat as was expected. I remained the night with these
kind people, and set off again on the following morning.

Without any thing further worth noticing, I came, on the 15th March, to
the bank of the Great Red river, the boundary between the United States
and Texas. A farmer who had a canoe set me over the river, and,
following a well-trodden path on the other side, I came to a large slave
plantation. The overseer, who directed the labors of the negroes, said
at first that he had no room for me to sleep in; but as there was no
other house far and wide where I could find shelter, he at last agreed,
and I found a sumptuous supper and comfortable bed.

The land near the river was very swampy, and overgrown with thick canes,
but the wood became more open and the ground dryer as I left the river.
On the evening of the third day, I again slept at a plantation, and this
was the last night I passed in a house for some time to come. The
overseer lived in a block-house, and all around stood the smaller huts
of the slaves, one for each family. During the hours of labor, he
carried a heavy whip to keep the blacks in order; yet he did not seem to
feel quite safe amongst these poor, ill-treated people, for he had a
pair of pistols in his saddle holsters.

An overseer once assured me that the whip was the best doctor for the
slaves, and that when any one of them fell sick, he was flogged till he
was well again. It might sometimes happen that a poor negro pretended to
be sick to get a day or two’s rest; but how often must the really sick
slave be most atrociously treated by the inhuman overseer!

From these quarters I marched along fresh and in good spirits into the
forest, which already began to look green. The birds sang so sweetly on
the branches, that my heart was joyful and mournful at the same time; I
longed in vain for a companion, with whom I could exchange thoughts. A
shot echoed from the plantation, and innumerable wild geese rose from
the cotton-fields behind me; with a deafening noise they formed their
usual triangle, and flew all in the same direction.

Luckily for me, I had in my bag a couple of wild ducks that I had killed
and roasted the day before. The forest was mortally dull, and the march
began to grow rather tedious, for my rambles in the north were still
fresh in my memory. I passed the night very pleasantly by a fire, while
my hunger took the second duck into consideration.

Towards noon I came to the little river Sulphurfork, which I was obliged
to wade through, after many vain attempts to find a shallow place, the
water coming up to my chest. I began to despair of getting any thing to
eat, and, being thoroughly wet, I resolved to come soon to a halt, and
dry myself by a fire, when all at once I saw about fifty deer, within
shot, all quietly feeding, and taking no notice of me. For an instant I
stood petrified; then every fibre in my body beat and trembled with
delight. The suddenness of the sight had so excited me that I could not
take aim, and I was obliged to wait to collect myself. It was a glorious
sight, such a number of these noble animals together; I counted
fifty-seven, and derived particular pleasure from the antics of two
fawns, which made the most comical bounds, and came very near me without
any suspicion. Regret to kill such a beautiful innocent creature
withheld my hand for some time, but hunger was not to be cajoled,--I
fired, and one of them fell without a cry. The effect of the report upon
the herd was quite ludicrous,--each of the hitherto unsuspicious animals
became an image of attention, then fled with immense bounds towards the
thicket. As I did not move they stopped again, and began to feed, but
not without frequently raising their heads to listen. The impression
which the fall of his playfellow had produced on the other fawn was very
different. Far from flying, he came nearer, smelt the poor animal as if
he thought it was play, setting his fore-foot several times on the body
of his comrade as if to induce him to get up. I had the other barrel
still loaded, but thought it would be like murder to injure a hair of
the little creature.

As I stepped out from the bushes, the fawn stared at me with
astonishment in his large clear eyes; probably he had never seen a man
before. He then flew like the wind towards his dam, but stopping now and
then as if he expected his comrade. I quickly made a fire on the spot to
roast my game, putting the greater part of the back and the brisket on
sticks before the fire with hollow bark underneath to catch the dripping
for basting; and a delicious meal was very soon the result of this
simple proceeding.

Next day, as I was going quietly along through forest and prairie,
looking out right and left for game or amusement, I caught sight of
something in a large oak. Fixing my eyes steadily on it, and coming
closer, I recognized the glowing eyes of a panther crouched on a bough,
and seemingly ready to spring. I gave him both barrels, one after the
other, when he fell from the tree, and died with a fearful howl. He was
a large handsome beast, of an ashy gray color, and measuring from seven
to eight feet from the nose to the end of the tail.

It was well that I had venison in my game-bag, for the panther would
have been a tough morsel. I dragged the rather heavy skin with me till
the evening, and slept soundly on it for my trouble. A damp fog came on
towards morning, which soon turned to fine penetrating rain, seeming to
foretell a disagreeable day; but as I had enjoyed beautiful weather in
general, I could not complain. The sky became quite dark, the rain fell
heavier, and I was soon wet through. I left the panther skin where I had
slept, so that I had no heavy burden to carry. I found my stomach
beginning to loathe the quantity of animal food that was put into it,
and to long for bread, but I was obliged to divert my thoughts from the
subject, and the last remains of the venison were discreetly devoured.
Meantime I had killed a turkey, so that at all events I had something in
store.

My plan hitherto had been to push on to the nearest eastern settlement;
but the road was too long and tedious, so I turned southwards, in order
afterwards to proceed eastward towards Louisiana and the Red river. The
constant rain made it impossible to light a fire this evening, and I
passed a miserable night, for though I tried to make a shelter of pieces
of bark, I could not manage it; however, the night came at last to an
end, and cold, cross, and hungry as a lion, I went along with only a
plucked turkey in my bag.

About noon my day’s journey was brought to an unexpected end by a river
that had overflowed its banks. The rain had ceased, so that, with better
fortune than yesterday, I succeeded in making a fire, and my turkey,
divided into four quarters, was soon in front of it. Now, comfortably
stretched before my fire, I considered whether I should cross the river;
I had no sort of business on the other side, and it seemed absurd to
swim across for nothing--so I settled on quitting Texas, and returning
to the United States. If I had a friend with me I could have gone on to
the shores of the Pacific, but I had no mind to do it alone. When I had
finished my repast, I got up and made my way in an E. S. E. direction.

As the rain had left off, I made up to-night for the wakefulness of the
last; when I awoke the fire had burnt out, and the sun was shining
through the bursting buds of the trees. I had a good wash in a
neighboring spring, and felt like a giant refreshed.

After taking my frugal breakfast, the remains of yesterday’s meal, I
drew more towards the east, in order the sooner to fall in with human
beings, to eat bread, and taste salt. I had occasionally used gunpowder
instead of salt, but my store of powder was not sufficient for such a
luxury, and it was better to be without salt than without powder.

Gun on shoulder, I trudged slowly and surely on, over hill and dale,
through prairies and forest streams, towards the sun-rising, taking
sharp notice of all around. While thus proceeding, wrapped in my
thoughts, suddenly something rustled in a bush in front of me, and a
bear started out and took to flight. My ball was soon in his interior;
on being hit he stopped and looked round at me in a fury. Expecting
nothing less than an attack, I quietly cocked the other barrel; but his
intentions of attacking me seemed to pass off, and he crept into a
thicket instead. I quickly loaded with ball and followed him: as I
approached he retreated slowly, probably suffering from his wound: as
soon as I got a clear view of his head, I fired again, but only grazed
his skull. As I ran towards him his fury increased, and he turned to
meet me; on taking aim with my second barrel at about thirty paces, it
missed fire. With open jaws and ears laid back, he rushed towards me;
in this mortal danger, I preserved my presence of mind. Dropping my gun,
and drawing my knife, I sprang back a couple of paces behind a small
tree; at this moment the bear was only a few feet from me. As he rose on
his hind legs to embrace me, he was almost as tall as I, and his fiery
eyes and long teeth had nothing very attractive; but he was not destined
to know the taste of my flesh.

I was quite collected, feeling sure that one or the other must die. The
moment he tried to grasp me, I thrust my long double-edged hunting knife
into the yawning abyss of his jaws, and boring it into his brain, I
brought him to the ground. I did not then know better, but I ought to
have sprung back after wounding him, and then I should have escaped
unhurt. As it was, he dragged away my coat in falling, and tore my arm
slightly. I thanked God that it was no worse. There I sat on the sweet
smelling heath, with my coat all in rags, and no other to put on. To
assuage my sorrow, I cut a large steak from the bear, which tasted
particularly good after my severe exertions. I carried away the skin. In
the evening I fell in with a herd of deer, but did not fire at them, as
I was well provided with meat.

On the following evening I heard a shot. The sound ran through me like
an electric shock. There were, then, other people in this wilderness,
and not very far off, for the shooter must be on the other side of the
nearest hill. I turned rapidly in the direction whence the sound came,
and had hardly gained the crest of the hill, when a romantic and
variegated scene spread itself before my eyes.

It was an Indian camp, and all were occupied in pitching their tents,
and preparing for the night. Here, were some cutting tent-poles with
their tomahawks; there, women collecting firewood for cooking; men
securing the horses by hobbling their fore-legs; another skinning a
deer. In short, it was life in the wilds in highest force. I should
never have tired of looking at these noble muscular figures, their faces
marked with various ochres, their heads adorned with feathers, and their
bright-colored dresses.

I was not long allowed to remain a spectator, for the dogs barked and
ran at me. Breaking off a green bough, I went with it to the camp. The
Indians called off the dogs, and all eyes were now directed towards the
stranger. Going up to a group of young men, who were stretching a
deer-skin, I asked if any of them spoke English, and was directed to an
elderly man, who was sitting smoking under a tree and watching me. I
told him that I was a traveller, that I wished to return to the banks of
the Red river, and asked if I could pass the night in his camp. A
considerable group of young men had in the mean time assembled round us.
At length the old man asked--“Are white men so scarce that you come
alone into the wilderness?” I replied that I had only come for the sake
of shooting, and now wished to return. Instead of an answer, he silently
gave me his pipe, out of which I took a few whiffs, and then handed it
to one of the Indians standing near me. He did the same, and returned it
to the chief. I now sat down beside him. He asked a great many
questions, amongst others, how I had torn my coat so badly? Whereupon I
related my affair with the bear. He smiled, and translated my account
to the others, who also showed interest in my adventure.

The chief then told me that it was highly dangerous for any one unused
to these encounters to risk such a fight, and that it was necessary to
spring quickly back after the thrust, the dying bear having sometimes
succeeded in killing his enemy. He took particular notice of my
double-barrelled gun and hunting-knife, and said that he had never
before seen two barrels joined together. He spoke English better than I
did, and, what was very agreeable, he spoke slowly.

The Indians belonged to the Choctaw tribe, and were come out of Arkansas
in search of game. As night came on, fires were burning all around us,
and the women, among whom were some beautiful figures, cooked the
suppers, while the men quietly smoked their pipes. Finding the Indian
fashion of staring at the fire rather tedious, I made several attempts
to engage the chief in conversation, but only received short answers, so
that at last there was nothing left for it but to play the Indian, and
maintain a dignified silence.

At length we retired to rest. I slept on a bear-skin beside the fire, in
front of the chief’s tent. Before sunrise, I was awakened by the noise
and songs of the Indians, who were preparing for a shooting excursion. I
jumped up, and was getting ready to join them, but soon remembered that,
with my ragged coat, I could not venture among the thorns;--I should
have been caught every moment. I showed it to one of the young men, he
immediately ran off, and soon returned with a sort of coat, or rather
hunting-shirt, made out of a blanket. He made signs that he would sell
it to me, and was delighted to receive a dollar for it, with the rags of
my green coat into the bargain. For a second dollar I obtained his
embroidered belt, and was now quite set up again. Resolving to be quite
an Indian for the time, I left my game-bag in the camp.

We set off, sixteen in number, all on foot, some of the Indians with
firearms, others with bows and arrows, with which they can hit their
mark at a great distance. I attached myself to one of the young men with
a bow and arrows, and, as we could not understand each other’s language,
we proceeded in silence. Each of us had provisions, which we ate as we
went along. It may have been about noon when we saw a herd of deer. My
companion went round to gain the wind of them, and shot a couple with
his unerring arrows. Away flew the others in headlong fright, coming
directly towards me, in such blind haste, that the leader of the herd, a
fat buck of eleven, was little more than ten paces off, when he
discovered me. My ball pierced his heart, and he fell without a cry. The
rest fled in all directions.

We were obliged to return to the camp for horses to carry our booty. My
companion started off in a straight line for the camp, which I should
never have been able to find again. It was only a few miles distant,
although I thought it must be at least half a day’s journey behind us.
On arriving at the camp, we each mounted on horseback, and rode off at a
quick trot to the place where our game lay, which we found without
difficulty, the Indian having marked several trees with his tomahawk as
we returned. The last prize we came to was my buck, and on him we saw a
wild-cat preparing to enjoy itself. The Indian rushed forward, and the
cat, which did not perceive him till too late, flew up a tree, whence an
arrow from the sure hand of my companion soon brought it to the ground.
It was of a gray color, and larger than the domestic cat. When these
animals are irritated they will attack men: my comrade carried off the
skin.

We rode back with our booty to the camp, and were received with cheers.
The party all returned one after the other, most of them with game, one
with an immense bear that he had killed, the largest I had yet seen.

While cooking was going on, the young men danced and sang, the women
taking no part in their amusements, but quietly continuing their
occupations.

On the following morning the chief said that he had set a wolf-trap, and
we went to see if any thing had been caught. As there was plenty of food
in the camp, we all went together, except three, who, having killed
nothing yesterday, set off to try their luck again to-day. We took four
large strong dogs with us, and followed the chief. With a triumphant
smile he showed me where he had set the trap, and near it a trace of
blood; it was shown to the dogs, and they followed it up in full cry.

After running about a mile, they barked louder and louder. We hurried on
as fast as we could, and found the wolf at his last gasp under the
furious attack of the dogs. They were immediately called off, and
appeared to have suffered considerably, particularly one, whose ear the
wolf, a great black beast, had bitten quite away.

These traps are set with a bait, but not fastened, for if the wolf is
caught, and the trap should be immovable, he would bite off his own leg
sooner than let himself be taken. So the trap is only fastened by a
chain to an iron clog with four hooks; as soon as the wolf finds himself
caught, he attempts to hurry away with the trap, but is detained every
moment by the hooks catching in the roots and bushes; yet he manages to
get clear again, and has been known to take the iron clog in his
mouth--but the trap still remains a hindrance, and he is easily traced.

By this time I had enjoyed Indian life long enough, and wished myself
back again in more civilized society; yet I remained another day with
them, during which we shot at a mark with bows and arrows, and I caused
many a smile among the Indians, as I shot a foot wide of the mark, which
they seldom missed. We next threw tomahawks at a tree, and in this
practice I was rather more successful.

On the following morning I resumed my journey to the east, provided with
venison and coarse salt, and as I saw the last Indians disappear behind
the trees, it seemed as if I was now for the first time alone in the
forest; but I soon became reaccustomed to my former life, and slept
again this night, as well as a man can sleep, on grass and fragrant
moss.

Next day I came to the Sabine, seeking in vain for a ford; and as the
river was considerably swelled, and seemed wider and deeper further
south, there was nothing for it but a swim. I made a small raft, which
I bound together with creepers, and securing my gun, game-bag, knife,
tomahawk, and powder-horn on the top of it, I pushed it before me to the
opposite bank.

On the 30th of January, as I arrived at the Great Red river, I saw a
farm-house, and the crow of a cock broke on my ear as the music of the
spheres. But the house was on the other side of the broad and swollen
stream, which rolled along its dirty red waves at a fearful rate. In
vain I shouted and roared myself hoarse; a shot had no better effect. I
had made up my mind to hide my gun and other things in the bush, and
swim over, when a second shot roused the farmer’s attention. He came to
the bank, and seeing some one calling and beckoning on the opposite
side, he cast off his canoe, and coming across, was not a little
astonished at finding me alone.

I received a hearty welcome from his family, who were exceedingly amused
at the appetite with which I made the bread disappear, and at my
enjoyment of the coffee.

As I did not wish to remain here long, I soon came to an agreement with
the farmer about the sale of his canoe; he let me have it for four
dollars, throwing a smoked leg of venison, a roast turkey, and some
loaves of maize bread into the bargain.

I was soon afloat in this hollowed trunk, drifting rapidly down the
stream, which carried gigantic trees along with it. The light craft
dashed forward like an arrow under the strokes of my paddle, so that,
according to a reckoning made afterwards, I must have gone about 400
miles in five days. It was not till late in the night that I ran in
among the reeds, and slept quietly in my own property.

[Illustration: THE ALLIGATOR.]

On the day after my departure, I fell in with a number of planks; they
had probably been washed away from some village on the banks. They had
floated against a tree, that was stuck fast in the bed of the river.
Intending to take them with me, in the hope of making something by their
sale, I paddled to the tree, and in attempting to secure the planks I
overreached myself; the current carried away the canoe from under me,
and in an instant I was in the water, holding on to the bough of the
tree, and close to an alligator. Luckily the beast was as much afraid of
me as I of him, and he disappeared under the water. I quickly swung
myself on the bough to reach my canoe, but too late, it was already in
the full strength of the current, leaving me hanging on the waving
bough, with canoe, gun, powder, and all that I possessed, a prey to the
waves. I saw perfectly well at once that I must either regain my canoe
or perish miserably of starvation, so I let go the bough, and swam with
all my might towards the fugitive. It cost a quarter of an hour’s
desperate exertion before I reached it, and then I had to push her to
the bank, in order to get on board, for any attempt to do so in the
middle of the stream would have upset her. In regaining the canoe I had
saved my life.

When my store of provisions was exhausted I shot wild-fowl, and got them
cooked at the nearest plantation, for now, as I approached Louisiana,
the land was more occupied.

Several hundred miles above its junction with the Mississippi, the Great
Red river is blocked up by numbers of trees that have been carried down
and become fixed, and although the United States Government has caused
a passage for steamers to be cut through them, yet I was advised not to
attempt it with my canoe, because the current ran through it with such
force, that the least obstacle I might encounter would infallibly
overset the canoe. I was therefore obliged to traverse two lakes, called
Clear Lake and Soda Lake, which are connected with the river above and
below the Raft, as the collection of matted trees is called.

I saw a great number of alligators sunning themselves on the warm sands.
I shot ten or eleven of them, but could never prevail on myself to touch
them. They were from three to twelve feet long, and sometimes even
eighteen feet. Not far from the mouth of the river, on the fifth day,
just about dusk, seeing something white in the water ahead of me, I
paddled to it, and laid hold of it, but drew my hand back with a
shudder, and the blood ran cold in my veins; it was a corpse--the naked
white back alone floated above the surface, head, arms, and legs hanging
down; a wound several inches long was visible on the left side, just
under the ribs. I paddled hastily away in sickening disgust, and left
the horrid object behind me.

On the following morning I entered the Mississippi, the excessively
dirty “Father of Waters.” The scenery assumed a more tropical character,
and the long waving moss hanging from the gigantic trees gave it a
peculiarly strange aspect. After entering this magnificent river I took
on board fresh provender, not far from the junction, and directed my
course towards that “New Orleans,” now some 240 miles distant, about
which I had heard so much. But on the second day, when I was still some
hundred miles from it, a little above Baton Rouge, it came on to blow
fresh, and the wind caused such a swell in the river, that I could no
longer keep my little craft free of water; indeed it was not without
great effort and difficulty that I was able to reach the shore.

There was a farm near the place where I landed, whose owner had a
quantity of wood for sale, ready cut, and piled up for the use of
steamers. A steamer, bound for New Orleans, was in the act of wooding at
the time. It would have been folly to have attempted to continue the
voyage in such a swell in so frail a craft as mine, and as I found the
farmer willing to buy her we soon agreed as to terms. I transferred my
effects to the steamer, and late on the same evening arrived at New
Orleans.

For the night I slept on board, but early the next morning went to a
German tavern to refresh myself after all the hardships I had undergone,
and to sleep in a regular bed. Oh, how comfortably I stretched myself on
the soft mattress! I got up very early to have a look at the place,
having no wish to show myself in the costume of a savage when the
streets were thronged. For nine months my hair had been uncut, and
during five no razor had approached my chin; then what with my old
woollen hunting-shirt, my embroidered belt, and the high waterproof
boots, which had faithfully held out to the last, people would have
thought me more like a scarecrow than a human being: my first visit was
to a barber.

I had heard too much boasting and bragging about New Orleans, not to be
disappointed in my expectations. I found it by no means so splendidly or
so tastefully built as was asserted, and as I walked along the narrow
streets my thoughts wandered to the far more agreeable Cincinnati. The
only handsome building in New Orleans, and one without a parallel, is
the St. Charles’ Hotel, which certainly is very magnificent.

It is no wonder that the air of New Orleans should be generally so
unhealthy, and in autumn quite pestilential, for the town is built in a
complete swamp, and required to be protected by a dam from being
submerged by the river. It certainly was never intended by nature for
the abode of man; at most it is fitted for alligators, frogs, and
mosquitoes. It is the churchyard of the United States.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER V.

CINCINNATI--A FARMER’S LIFE IN THE WOODS.

     Scenery around New Orleans--Arrangements of American
     steamers--Cincinnati and its reputation--Number of German
     inhabitants--Situation of the town--Religious absurdities; the girl
     “possessed with a devil”--Dangers of American steam navigation--The
     “Mississippi”--Rambles in the woods--Crawfish--Mosquitoes--Picnic
     in the woods--Poisonous plants--Residence with a backwoodsman, and
     farming operations--Wild honey--Cattle keeping--Turkeys’ eggs--A
     Methodist meeting--Attack of ague--Our farming operations.


I found letters and money awaiting me here, which came very opportunely,
as I had expended nearly all I had gained. I now looked out for a
passage to Cincinnati; the steamer “Chillicothe” was to start for that
place at ten the next day. I paid five dollars for 1,500 miles. A
cheaper voyage is almost impossible. We did not start till evening.

On ascending the river from New Orleans, the scenery is quite
enchanting. There is a succession of plantations, with country-houses
embosomed in orange and pomegranate trees, &c., while the regular rows
of negro cottages give a peculiar character to the whole.

The Mississippi steamers are light and sharp, built to make their
passages as quick as possible, and to enrich their owners in five or six
years,--then they may burst or sink. The boilers are in the forepart of
the vessel, the stokers working under them in the open air. They reach
nearly to the centre, some steamers having as many as eight; the
“Chillicothe” had seven. The machinery, also on deck, comes next, and
then a place for steerage-passengers, where there is no want of fresh
air; it is provided with three rows of bed places. Mounting a flight of
steps you find the officers’ cabins forward, and generally a bar for the
sale of various drinks, excepting in the “Temperance” boats. The saloon
is in the centre, having sleeping cabins with glass doors, for
gentlemen, on each side; and near the stern, the most secure place in
case of disaster, is the ladies’ cabin. Some of the boats have a third
story, but most are satisfied with the arrangement described above. The
station for the helmsman is placed high up between the two chimneys,
covered over and glazed, so that he can look out in all directions. The
tiller ropes have lately been made of wire, so that in case of fire, the
vessel might remain under command of the helm till the last moment.

We had a great number of passengers, amongst them a young woman of about
two or three and twenty, who came on board a little below Natchez with a
very young man. The young people seemed to have been only lately
married, to judge by their hugging and kissing. When we arrived at
Louisville, in Kentucky, the steamer had to discharge cargo, and
remained the greater part of the day. I was standing on the bowsprit
watching the proceedings, when an elderly gentleman very well dressed,
accosted me, and, describing the couple, inquired if they were on board.
I replied in the affirmative, and accompanied him to the lower cabin.
The lady was sitting on a trunk and reading; her companion had gone into
the town. I suspected that all was not right, and that the old gentleman
had good reasons for coming; but the quiet unconcerned manner of both
parties soon did away with my suspicions. In the first moment indeed her
color seemed to change slightly, but she rose quietly, laid aside her
book, and offering her hand to the gentleman, said, civilly, “How do you
do, sir?” After a short time they retired into a corner, and spoke very
earnestly together. Meantime, I took no more notice of them, but at
bedtime I was not a little astonished to see the old gentleman take the
husband’s place, while the young man, as pale as death, stood by the
stove heedless of its burning the tails of his coat. The lady was the
wife of the gentleman who came on board at Louisville, and had run away
with the young man. The husband had obtained information, and followed
them, but would hardly have overtaken them, if the vessel had not
stopped to discharge cargo. The cool self-possession exhibited by both
parties, in order to avoid observation, was really astonishing; on his
part, in not giving way to his just displeasure, but remaining composed
and serious; on her part, in allowing no shock or trace of alarm to be
visible, which would have been so natural, when her deeply injured
husband, whom she supposed to be 1,400 miles distant, stood suddenly
before her. They all three left the boat next morning.

On the 20th of February I arrived again at Cincinnati, and was kindly
received by all my old acquaintances after my long absence and
adventures.

Cincinnati, the queen of the West, the El Dorado of the German
emigrant! Ask a German, who is travelling into the interior from one of
the seaports, Where are you going? and the answer will invariably be--to
Cincinnati. And what will he find there? On my arrival every house was
full of people looking out for work, and who would willingly have taken
any wages that were offered them, though only enough to keep body and
soul together. Among others, I met with a man who had written to his
brother to come over to him, as this was the land where roasted pigeons
flew into men’s mouths. And as a proof of it, he referred to himself: a
few years ago he had emigrated without a farthing, and now kept an hotel
and coffee-house. In point of fact, it was true; he had indeed, an hotel
and coffee-house; but what does that mean in America? Every hovel with
one room large enough for five or six double beds, where a dozen people
are fed three times a day for from two-and-a-quarter to two-and-a-half
dollars a week each, is called an hotel. Coffee-house is a name for any
place where two or three bottles are stuck in the window, while the name
of the owner is proudly painted over the door as coffee-house keeper.
The poor German, deceived by these exalted titles, came over to his
brother, and found him, in spite of hotel and coffee-house, in a
miserable condition, and hardly able to maintain himself. Several
similar cases occurred during the time of my residence.

There are a great number of Germans in Cincinnati, particularly in the
upper town across the canal, which, on that account, is often called
Little Germany by the Americans. Unfortunately, my beloved countrymen
are not celebrated for cleanliness and good conduct, and the degree of
estimation in which they are everywhere held does not at all accord with
the accounts I had read in a number of works on America concerning the
way in which they were treated there; and although the well-behaved are
respected there as elsewhere, yet it is painful to hear the word
Dutchman, as the Americans always call us, used as a term of reproach,
even when you yourself are excepted. Everywhere in America, and
particularly in Cincinnati, there are people who, having gained a few
dollars, look down with contempt on their poorer countrymen, and even
join the Americans in abusing them, showing how little they care about
the esteem in which the German is held; these, however, were exceptions,
and I was heartily ashamed of them.

Although the situation of Cincinnati is very healthy, yet it abounds in
doctors and apothecaries. Numbers of the former are Germans; how they
all manage to live is quite a mystery.

I was much amused with some of the religious absurdities which are
carried on at Cincinnati, and in which my countrymen also distinguish
themselves. The Methodists, under the guidance of a Pennsylvanian of the
name of N----h, carry these practices to the greatest excess; on every
Sunday evening they meet to howl, and jump, and beat their breasts, and
then pronounce themselves perfectly happy.

This party supports a paper called the “Christian Apology.” Its
bitterest opponent is the Roman Catholic “Friend of Truth,” which only
discontinues its thunder against the heretical folly of the “Christian
Apology” when it hurls a whole volley of abuse and execration against
the “Friend of Light,” which advocates rational religion, and holds up
the two others to ridicule.

During my present residence, I heard that a German girl was lying sick,
and said to be possessed of a devil, in “Little Germany.” At first I
would not believe that any thing of the sort could occur in the present
day;--but a young Oldenburgher, with whom I had become acquainted,
assured me by all that was holy, that it was so, that he had seen it,
and that having expressed his opinion rather too freely, the bigoted
people, Roman Catholic Alsatians, fell upon him, and drove him out of
the house.

I decided on witnessing the proceedings, and, in company with a friend,
set off one evening to the house in Little Germany. We had no difficulty
in finding our way to the “sick maiden,” for the whole of that part of
the town was full of the _extraordinary circumstance_, as they called
it. It was dark when we entered a little room in a frame house: a lamp
on the chimney-piece was nearly burnt out, the space was almost filled
by about thirty people all on their knees in silent prayer; not a word
was spoken: the lamp flickered, flashed up again, and went out. It
remained perfectly dark, and nothing was audible but the breathing of
those who were repeating their prayers; then a low murmuring, rustling
sound struck the ear, and for some time I did not know what to make of
it. Suddenly a door opened, light streamed into the room, and with it
the murmurs of numerous voices. People came through the doorway, and
those who had been praying on their knees rose up, and moved towards the
light: we followed the stream. An extraordinary sight presented itself:
we entered a tolerably sized room, oppressively hot, and full of people
on their knees, both men and women. It was lighted by two candles on a
table, at which three men were seated, with open books, reading aloud
the Roman Catholic prayer, “Blessed art thou, Maria,” which all the
people repeated after them; when it was ended, they began again.

Although it was only May, the heat was so great from the number of
people that I felt half-boiled; but it seemed much warmer to the poor
creature, who was being made a sacrifice to the demon of absurdity. She
was lying in a wide bed in the corner opposite to the table, and was
said to be seventeen years old; I should have guessed her nearer
thirty-seven. She appeared to be very weak and ailing, and no wonder,
considering that the praying went on night and day without intermission:
her mother leant over her, wiping away from her brow the perspiration
arising from the heat of the room.

It may have been about seven o’clock when we entered this sepulchre of
reason and common sense, and it was ten before we succeeded in making
our way out; and the whole time was occupied with a monotonous
repetition of the same prayer, offered up, as a little Alsatian lightly
whispered to me, “To drive out the devil in order that she may recover.”
The devil in question must certainly have been one of the most obstinate
that ever existed, for had I been in his place, such proceedings would
have driven me out long ago. It was a real luxury to inhale the pure
night air, after escaping from such a pestilential hole. I have never
heard since what became of the poor woman.

As I learned, after a long stay in Cincinnati, that I had been deceived
by those I had trusted in New York, and that not only all my money but
my clothes also were gone, there was nothing left for it but to endeavor
to get work. I had already made a few voyages as sailor and stoker on
board a steamer, which affected my health, and laid me up for several
weeks. Besides, human life did not seem to be particularly safe on board
American steamers, especially on the western waters, disasters
frequently happening through the rashness and carelessness of the
officers in charge; for example, while I was in one of them, the
“Moselle,” a very fast boat, was blown up near Cincinnati, through the
obstinacy of the captain in racing with another boat, and stopping the
safety-valve, by which 130 persons, whose names were on the passengers’
list, lost their lives, besides a number of steerage passengers, whose
names are not inscribed. Thirty carts were employed in carrying their
mutilated remains to the burial-places; for weeks afterwards, bodies
were frequently washed on shore. The force of the steam was so great,
that one man was thrown over to the Kentucky shore, and another came
down, head foremost, through a shingle roof.

In preference to such a life, I sought for work in Cincinnati, and
obtained it at a silversmith’s. Though at first without any knowledge of
the business, I soon acquired it, and was treated by the master and his
family, good kind Americans, as if I had been one of their own
relations. This was the quietest time of my existence. I worked hard and
lived moderately. But this sort of life did not suit me; I longed for
the free woods and nature, and was only detained by the hopes of
acquiring a sufficiency, and then buying a portion of land and settling,
together with the fulfilment of other long-cherished plans. But plans
they remained, and in May I cast off my self-imposed yoke; having
exchanged my shot gun for a double-barrelled rifle, got all my shooting
gear in order, packed up a zither, which I had bought and learnt to play
in Cincinnati, I bade a hearty farewell to all the kind friends I had
made, and set off again with a young German, named Uhl, by the steamer
“Commerce,” to seek fresh adventures and encounter new dangers.

The steamer foamed and hissed through the waves, which rose high upon
her bows, the land receding on both sides, as if impelled by a
magician’s wand. I felt as if new born, and flying to some strange, wild
land. At first starting, the ideas awakened by the passing scenes were
rather confused, but, as we rushed on, they became clearer, and at last
I might have nodded to each gigantic tree that adorned the beautiful
banks of the Ohio, and asked if it did not remember me.

My companion, a young Berliner, with whom I had become acquainted and
struck up a friendship in Cincinnati, and who was as fond of field
sports as myself, did not participate in my feelings, but sat himself
down comfortably with no trifling appetite to a symposium, which he had
provided for himself, in the shape of a smoked tongue, with bread and
whiskey. We had not proceeded far when it grew dark; and, fatigued with
all the labors and excitement of the day, I was soon ensconced on my
soft, warm buffalo skin.

On the 17th May, 1839, we entered the Mississippi, whom I saluted as an
old, long lost, and long wished-for friend; a change in the color shows
where the Ohio joins the “Father of Waters,” for the first is clear and
bright, while the latter is dull and muddy. They run together for some
distance, quite distinct, the Mississippi becoming more and more
intrusive, the other shyly withdrawing, as if vexed that its clear waves
should be contaminated by all the dirt which its companion derives from
the Missouri.

On the 18th, at five in the afternoon, the “Commerce” stopped at
Memphis, in Tennessee. We immediately crossed to the opposite side, and
sprang joyfully ashore in the long-desired Arkansas. We greatly enjoyed
the mild balsamic air that blew towards us from the green forest, after
our four days’ voyage, and we should have enjoyed it still more but for
the load we had to carry. Besides my game-bag, which was filled with all
possible sorts of things, I had a large buffalo skin, and Uhl a heavy
blanket, with our store of powder and ball. But we were fresh and in
good condition, and resolved, although it was already dusk, to commence
our march the same evening, taking advantage of the cool night air, the
mid-day sun of Arkansas being rather too kindly disposed. We walked on
for about five miles in the brightest moonlight, and then lay down to
repose, but were obliged to get up again and make a fire, on account of
the mosquitoes, which were very troublesome.

The next morning found us cheerful and refreshed, and, as hungry as
lions, we started off, in the hope of making a prize of a deer; but a
farmer told us that this was not the right season for them, and we were
glad to enter a house and satiate our appetites with bacon and maize
bread. The information we obtained about the game was not very
encouraging; they all seek shelter in the thickest coppices, or among
the reeds to avoid the flies and mosquitoes, which persecute the poor
creatures incessantly; but we could not now change our plans, so marched
steadfastly on. The farmers were quite right; we did not see any deer,
or any traces of them; a poor partridge, perched on a tree, as is
customary with the American partridges, and looking at us with inquiring
eyes, was our only sport.

In the afternoon the sky became covered with dark clouds, to our great
delight, because it made the air so much cooler. In the evening we saw
the first turkey. He was crossing our path, and stood still when he saw
us: Uhl fired and missed; so our turkey made his bow and departed.

Heavy rain came on with the night, and we were very glad to find an old
deserted house, where at least we could keep ourselves dry. We made a
glorious fire, and the rain holding up for a short time, we washed our
clothes, which soon dried by the blaze we had made. We then broiled the
partridge in the iron spoon that we carried with us for melting lead,
sprinkled it with powder for want of salt, and discussed it under the
mournful feeling of “only one bird for two men.”

The next morning brought with it better weather, and an excessively bad
road, the rain having all but destroyed it; a few miles from our night’s
quarters we came to a house, in which we could at least satisfy our
hunger. As the roads were so bad, we decided on leaving our heavy
articles here for a time while we went in search of game. But game
seemed to have vanished entirely; we traversed the forest in all
directions in vain: we only saw a few turkeys, and these were too shy to
let us come within shot. We took up stations to watch for them in the
night, but without seeing any thing, and returned disappointed and tired
to the house.

Greater misfortune awaited me next day. Continuing our route, we came on
the fresh trail of a bear, and eagerly followed it, but the wood was so
thick and our packs so inconvenient that we were obliged to give it up.
On returning to the path, I was in the act of springing over a pool,
when my foot catching in one of the numerous creepers that cover the
ground, I was thrown, and broke the stock of my rifle, besides cutting
my under lip and loosening some of my teeth: I secured my rifle as well
as I could with my pocket handkerchief, and went on vexed and out of
tune.

About ten o’clock in the morning, the sun began to dart his hot rays
upon us rather more fiercely than we thought agreeable; we resolved to
enter the first house we came to, till the great heat of the day was
passed. It happened to be inhabited by an elderly widow and her sons;
while we were conversing together I observed one of the boys fishing in
a little flowing stream, pulling up prizes as fast as he could. The
lucky fisherman excited my curiosity; I went to see what he was
catching, and could hardly believe my eyes when I found that they were
crawfish. So long was it since I had tasted them, that they made my
mouth water; I soon got my fish-hook to work, and in the course of half
an hour Uhl and I with two of the boys had caught half a pailful. The
old lady looked at us with astonishment as we seized a saucepan, put in
the crawfish with a little salt, filled it up with water, and set it on
the fire; they had always thought them only fit for bait. The crawfish
soon began to show their red noses, and, when done, we set to work on
them. The meal itself was no slight treat, but our enjoyment was much
heightened by watching the countenances of the Americans, expressive
half of merriment, half of disgust, for they had never dreamt that
people could eat such nasty animals with such a zest.

When the trees made long shadows we took a friendly leave of these kind
folks, and set off towards the west. About ten o’clock we came to
Blackfish lake, which we had to cross. There was a house on the bank,
where the ferryman lived; but everybody seemed fast asleep--so we
lighted our fire close to the lake, and, covering ourselves well in our
buffalo skin and blanket, we slept soundly till the morning in spite of
the mosquitoes who were humming furiously above us.

On the 22nd May we were stirring at daybreak; and who would not have
been so, after sleeping in the open air in a southern climate,
surrounded by mosquitoes, which by the first glimmer of light collect
all their forces to attack more ferociously than ever? We roused the
ferryman, who told us of an unexpected swamp, which it would be
impossible for us to get through with such a weight of baggage. I had
heard the word _impossible_ too often, to have much respect for it, it
being frequently applied to things that afterwards were proved to be
very possible; however, a swamp ten miles long did not sound pleasant.
We had to beg hard and pay high for a morsel of bread to quiet our
appetite, the man declaring that he had nothing else for himself.

Blackfish lake is a desolate, melancholy-looking, coffee-colored piece
of water, several miles long, and some hundreds of yards wide, and its
gloom is increased by overhanging cypresses. It is said to be full of
snakes and other reptiles. Arrived on the opposite side, we had not to
look out long for the swamp. It was straight before our eyes. In point
of fact, the whole land we had passed through was very like a swamp, but
hitherto there had been a broad chaussée, running in a direct line
through the State of Arkansas, from east to west, from Memphis, in
Tennessee, to Batesville; but on the west bank of Blackfish lake it was
not yet cut through the forest, nor raised above the swamp. We were now
to enter the recesses of the primeval forest. And what a forest! and
what a journey! A load of from sixty to seventy pounds on our shoulders,
soft mud under our feet, the heat of the sun increasing, the swamp
giving out a hot suffocating air! Such was our enviable position. We had
hardly worked our way for a quarter of a mile through mud and thorns,
when we were obliged to sit down and rest; but rest was also a torment;
there was not a breath of wind to refresh us, and the moment we stopped
millions of mosquitoes attacked us. The water was lukewarm, and we had
to suck it up from pools covered with slime. If we left the regular
path, which was the most muddy, and tried a short cut through the wood,
we were caught at every step by the thorns and creepers, which in many
places were impenetrable. In spite of all, we were not discouraged, but
went on as well as we could, floundering and resting alternately. After
a time, while taking a short repose, we heard the strokes of an axe--a
heavenly sound to our ears. We laid aside our burdens, and Uhl followed
the direction of the sound, to discover what unfortunate child of man
was thinking of settling in such a swamp. He soon came back, and called
to me to take up the packages and come along, for he had found some
charming people; and we both worked our way through the almost
impervious thicket to these strangers.

They were a family from Tennessee, who had halted to dine. The group
consisted of the father, a large, strong built man, upon whom time was
just beginning to set his wrinkles, his wife, also formed on a large
scale, two sons, of fifteen and ten, and three daughters, from twelve to
seven. A horse and pair of oxen were feeding quietly near them, and two
large dogs were hid under the two carts, one of which was for baggage,
the other, rather lighter, for the wife and children. The dogs,
anxiously looking out for their food, advanced as near as their ropes
would allow to the table-cloth, which was spread out on a dry place.
Maize-bread and butter, pork, cheese, and coffee were the ingredients of
the meal; and, after a kindly greeting, and a hearty invitation from the
seniors, we were soon all in our places, in Turkish attitudes, round the
table-cloth. The children had kindled fires all round us, laying on
rotten wood, there being no scarcity of it, so that we were sheltered by
a thick smoke, which these tormenting demons cannot bear. Thus we were
left in tolerable repose.

Uhl and I did not disgrace our German lineage in regard to the
provisions, and after the greater part of them had disappeared, we set
off again on our journey, taking a cordial farewell of our hospitable
friends; and footmarks, of from eighteen inches to two feet deep
impressed in the soft mud, and rapidly filling with water, soon showed
that two pair of German boots had passed that way. At length, when the
sun had descended below the tops of the trees, and was glowing like a
fiery red ball above the horizon, after the greatest exertions, we
approached the termination of our amphibious walk. The forest opened a
little, and we caught sight of a block-house standing on dry ground. We
decided on making a short stay here at all events, to recover from our
fatigue, and to clean and wash our clothes.

On the next morning I awoke with an excessive itching in my face and
right shoulder, and found, to my no slight astonishment, that both parts
were much swelled, and covered with small blisters. An American, who
dwelt a few hundred paces from the house, and who probably came to see
us and pick up any news, soon cleared up the mystery. A great many of
the creepers and shrubs in the swamps have a milk-white sap, which is
poisonous, and it is likely that I may have broken some of them, and my
face and shoulder may have been smeared with this sap. Wet and cold
applications are considered the best cure. I accordingly surrendered
myself to such treatment, first rubbing my face well with pork fat, as
an antidote to the poison. I must have cut a pretty figure with my
swollen, blistered, shining face. Uhl nearly killed himself with
laughing at me.

In the evening, some mule drivers from Texas came in, having pitched
their camp not far from the house. They consisted of three whites, and
two Cherokees. One of the Indians spoke English very well, and I had a
long conversation with him. He had adopted all the habits of the whites,
although he did not seem to have much love for them. I went to bed late,
and dreamed of Indians and buffalo hunts.

All next day I was obliged to remain quiet, on account of my swelled
face, and was rewarded for my patience by being nearly well by the
evening. As the baggage we had hitherto carried was too heavy, we
resolved to leave some of it with these people till we saw what was
likely to become of us. We had neither of us any settled plan. Our
mutual wish had only been freedom and the forest, rightly conjecturing
that all the rest would come of itself.

As on the second day we continued our journey a great deal lighter, and
with renewed strength. After several miles walk we came to a smithy,
where, luckily, I could get my gun repaired, otherwise I should not have
been able to shoot. This smithy was at a Mr. Strong’s plantation, where
the road branches off to Little Rock, and to Batesville. We were
undecided which to take, when we were told that we should find much more
game on the road to Batesville. This settled the point. We waited till
the cool of the evening to resume our march. While the smith was
repairing my gun, the Tennessee man, with his family, arrived from the
marsh. He had been three days and three nights coming the ten miles, and
even now it is a riddle to me how he managed it.

On the evening of the 26th of May, after a rich feast on the quantities
of blackberries which grew by the way, we came to a house belonging to a
man of the name of Saint, and decided on staying there to sleep; we
found a better set of people than we had expected, and engaged in a long
conversation with our host. After supper, to our no small horror we
learnt that unless we could swim twenty-eight miles, further progress
was not to be thought of, as the whole swamp between this and White
river was under water. Uhl and I looked at each other, with long faces,
as much as to say, “quid faciamus nos;” but Saint was good enough to
invite us to stay with him till the swamp had somewhat dried up, which
at least would be about the middle of July; meantime we could go out
shooting, and the game we brought home would well repay him for all our
expenses.

This, of course, was grist to our mill, and we soon made ourselves at
home. On the following morning, almost before we were settled, we went
to the forest with our host, a keen sportsman, to look for bears, taking
seven dogs with us. And what a country he took us to! Swamps and thorns,
creepers, wild vines, fallen trees, half or entirely rotted, deep and
muddy water-courses, bushes so thick that you could hardly stick a knife
into them, and, to complete the enjoyment, clouds of mosquitoes and
gnats, not to mention snakes lying about on the edges of the
water-courses; such is the aboriginal American forest, and in such a
scene we commenced our sport.

After an hour or two, the dogs started a young bear, and followed him in
full cry, but had not gone far when they were stopped by the river
l’Anguille, or, as they call it here, the Langee; neither coaxing nor
threats could induce them to take to the water, and Saint thought that
if one of us swam over, the dogs would follow, and that we should find
the trail again on the other side. Saint _could_ not swim, Uhl _would_
not: so I threw off my clothes, and plunged in. The river, which in
summer is very shallow, and hardly seems to flow, was now much swollen,
and had overflowed its banks. As soon as I had swam some distance, Saint
began to cheer on the dogs, and I soon heard them spring into the water,
one after the other, and follow me. I was swimming slowly with long
strokes, and had reached about the middle of the river, when I heard two
of the dogs close behind me, while Saint was still cheering them on from
the bank, as if to attack a bear. The two near me were barking
furiously, and the thought flashed upon me: suppose they were to seize
me? If only one had attacked me, all the rest would have joined, and as
they were strangers to me, if they had fallen upon me I should have had
no chance: so I began to strike out as hard and as fast as I could to
reach the shore. Exerting myself for my life, I came nearer and nearer
the bank, but the excited dogs swam faster still, and I heard the
snorting of one of them close to me when I felt the ground: in an
instant I and the dogs were both on shore. The danger was over now, and
they began to hunt; but either the bear had followed the stream, and
landed lower down, or the ground was too wet for the scent; in short,
we could not find the trail. We tried our luck at another place, with no
more success, and returned home towards evening quite tired and out of
spirits.

Our hosts to all appearance were very religious people, and we had
prayers every evening. This evening we went early to bed, being all very
tired, so that, as yet, I hardly had time to take much notice of the
people we were to live with. We had to be awakened for breakfast;
afterwards we strolled about the house and fields to realize our
situation. Saint was a man of about forty, with a bright clear eye, and
open brow; you were captivated by him at the very first sight. His wife,
an Irishwoman, treated us very civilly and kindly, and proved to be an
excellent manager. They had no children; but there was another person in
the house, who demands a more particular description. This was a
duodecimo Irish shoemaker, or, as he always insisted--schoolmaster, for
such, by his own account, was his former occupation, though now he made
shoes. Saint had bought a quantity of leather, and the little Irishman
was to work it up, receiving a certain monthly sum. He had red hair, was
pock-marked, stood about five feet, but was stout and strongly built,
and may have been about fifty years old. He spoke unwillingly about his
age, wishing to pass for much younger. Saint, who loved to joke with
him, told us, with a smile, that on Sunday we should see him in his
best, when he would go to pay his court to a young widow in the
neighborhood.

The house was built of logs, roughly cut. It consisted of two ordinary
houses, under one roof, with a passage between them open to north and
south, a nice cool place to eat or sleep in during summer. Like all
block-houses of this sort, it was roofed with rough four-feet planks;
there were no windows, but in each house a good fireplace of clay. A
field of about five acres was in front of the house, planted with Indian
corn, excepting a small portion which was planted with wheat. Southwest
from the house stood the stable, which S. was obliged to build, because
he gave “good accommodation to man and horse;” otherwise it is not much
the custom in Arkansas to trouble one’s self about stables. A place,
called a “lot,” with a high fence, is used for the horses, hollowed
trees serving for mangers. Near at hand was a smaller log-house for the
store of Indian corn, and a couple of hundred paces further was a mill
which S. had built to grind such corn as he wanted for his own use, and
which was worked by one horse.

About a quarter of a mile from the house, through the wood, there was
another field of about five acres, also sown with maize. The river
l’Anguille flowed close in the rear of the house; another small building
at the back of the dwelling was used as a smoking house; near it was a
well about thirty-two feet deep.

We went out shooting and wandering through the woods all day long,
though with little sport. Uhl had had better luck than I, so being
firmly resolved to bring home something, I had been straying in the
forest from daybreak, when at last I saw a deer. Firing too eagerly I
took bad aim, and he fled with long bounds to the thicket; but red marks
on the leaves showed that he was hit. I followed the trail;--but without
a dog it was slow work, and then the increasing darkness convinced me
of the impossibility of finding either the deer or the way back to the
house, being as yet too unacquainted with the country to be able to find
my way by the stars.

I was soon comfortably stretched by a blazing fire, and should have done
very well, but for the stomach, that constant tormentor, who kept
reminding me that he had had no work to do since the morning, except to
consume a few insignificant green sassafras leaves. The night was
beautiful, the stars shining brilliantly, and the weather fortunately
too cool for mosquitoes. I soon slept quietly and comfortably till about
midnight, when I was awakened by the disagreeable howling of the wolves;
it seemed as if they had all assembled to give me a serenade; if so, the
poor beasts had a very ungrateful audience. During the interval, the
sharp roar of a panther was heard rather too close to my lair. Such a
neighbor was by no means desirable or trustworthy; so I fired in the
direction whence I heard the sound, and he flew back again to the
jungle. I now made up my fire afresh, and was soon asleep for the second
time.

When I awoke the sun was peeping through the branches. Shaking my limbs,
which were stiff with cold, I commenced my journey homewards,
endeavoring to shorten the way by thoughts of a good warm breakfast.

S. had for some days talked of cutting down a tree, in which he had
discovered a swarm of wild bees, but something had always happened to
hinder it; however, on the first of June we set off at daybreak on our
long talked of excursion, the party being increased by S.’s
brother-in-law. The two Americans took axes, while Uhl and I carried
pails to hold the honey we expected to find. We proceeded to a little
prairie about three miles off, and soon found the tree, which S. had
discovered and marked. It is a backwoods custom, when any one finds a
tree with wild bees, and has not time or inclination to cut it down at
once, to cut his name, or if he cannot write, as was the case with S.,
to make his mark on it, and if any one else finds the tree and sees the
mark, he goes on his way, leaving it to the first finder.

S.’s tree was a decayed red oak, on the verge of the little prairie. The
two axes, wielded by powerful and skilful arms, soon made the old tree
totter, and then fall with a crash. In the mean time I had lighted a
fire by S.’s directions, laid it on a piece of bark, and covered it with
rotten wood, so that it gave out a thick black smoke. As soon as the
tree was down, I held this under the opening where the bees went in and
out: stupefied by the smoke, they flew high into the air, never
attempting to sting, though several flew about me, and lighted on my
clothes. Our trouble did not go unrewarded; we found a pretty thick
bough full of honey, of which we ate as much as we wished, carrying home
the rest.

S. seemed to be pleased with us, for he asked us to remain with him to
look after his cattle, of which he had about two hundred head running
loose in the woods; we might take our rifles and shoot at the same time.
As this seemed to suit our plans, we took the subject into serious
consideration, and on Monday, June 3rd, made the following compact. We
agreed to undertake the charge of S.’s cattle, to give them salt in the
little prairie from time to time, where a tent was to be pitched for us,
and whither we were frequently to drive them, to accustom them to it. We
were to receive one-third of the produce, namely: every third calf, as
our property. S. bound himself to provide us with pork, flour, coffee,
sugar, and salt; also, as soon as he had time, to build a small house
for us in place of the tent. So far so good; but the final clause was a
jewel, and the Irish schoolmaster who drew up the bond was not a little
vain of his performance. It stated: “Neither of the undersigned parties
is bound by this contract, if any one of them should think that he could
do better elsewhere.” The important document was signed by both parties,
S. making a cross, and then it was carefully secured in S.’s strong box,
the Irishman putting the copy in his pocket, probably to show the widow
this specimen of his abilities. We shouldered our rifles, and trotted
off to reconnoitre our new province.

Uhl and I having separated, I shot a young deer, but as it was too heavy
to carry, I let it lie, and took a direct line towards home, marking the
trees with my tomahawk as I went along. Suddenly a hen turkey flew up;
before I could fire she was lost in the bushes, but right under my feet
lay nine beautiful eggs, in a nest made of dry grass. I sat down to
await the return of the hen, but as she did not choose to make her
appearance, I took up the eggs and carried them home, intending to rear
them; then I went with a horse to pick up my deer.

Having signed the agreement with S., and decided on remaining here some
time, it was necessary to fetch our things, which we had left at
Blackfish lake, and S. kindly offered us one of his horses for the
purpose; but the horses were running wild in the woods, and had to be
caught. Uhl and I set off to catch one, taking different directions; we
searched the whole day without seeing a single trail, and our endeavors
on the following day were just as unfortunate. At first we hunted
together, but afterwards again separated. I went pacing along one of the
paths that cross the wood in all directions, but soon found that it was
only a deer or cow path; I left it, and pushed on in a straight
direction, careless as to the line of country, so that I could only fall
in with a horse; and as to the night, sleeping under the green trees was
more agreeable than in a close room. The idea that I might lose myself
never occurred to me. At length, however, as I advanced, the scenery
assumed a different character to that in S.’s neighborhood. It was no
longer marshy, but the ground was undulating, and I once more saw
fir-trees, which I had lately so much longed for. Contrary to my
expectations, I arrived at a farm before dark, but could obtain no
information about the horses--no one had seen any--and on my asking how
far I was from S.’s farm, I received the agreeable answer, “At least
eleven miles;” rather too far for an evening’s walk--so the good folks
kindly asked me to pass the night with them. I placed my gun and cap in
a corner, and seated myself with them in the mild evening air; we struck
up an agreeable conversation, and I fully expected a very pleasant
evening; but a storm was brewing to disturb its serenity. We had not
long been seated when a tall, ceremonious, respectable looking man,
buttoned to the chin in a long brown coat, arrived. He saluted us rather
solemnly, then seating himself at a short distance, took a little book
from his pocket, turned over the leaves, and, before I suspected any
thing, he thundered out a hymn with a voice that astounded me. Not being
used to such a proceeding, I looked first at one then at the other for
some explanation, but they kept their eyes fixed on the ground, looking
very solemn all the time. The voice of the singer became louder and
louder. The good man seemed to have lost the end of his song; night came
on, and it was rather cold--still he kept on, until at last his voice
failed, and he was obliged to stop. I thought this was all, but more
people arrived, among them some very pretty young women, such as I never
expected to see in the wilderness. The air being cool and damp, we
entered the house, which was set out with benches, and looked like a
school-room. The case was clear--I had stumbled on a Methodist meeting,
and must take the consequences. The singing and praying lasted several
hours, and I was heartily tired of it, as it did not agree with my
habits and feelings.

With the first streaks of red I commenced my journey homewards, and
arrived about noon, to find that Uhl, with more luck than myself, had
already caught a horse.

On the 8th of June I rode off to Blackfish lake swamp, to bring away the
things we had left at Hamilton’s. Just as I entered the house, Mrs.
Hamilton had a robust little fellow in front of her, a stepson, I
believe, about three or four years old, and told him to jump about the
room for a piece of cake she held in her hand. He began to jump, and
looked very comical as he bobbed up and down like a cork. When he
thought he had earned his cake, he came to ask for it, but was put off
with the word “more.” He quietly went back to his place, and recommenced
his exercise, but had lost the cheerful expression of his
countenance--he was doing it as a duty. After dancing for some time
longer, he came again for his cake, in the firm belief that this time he
was sure of it, but a “more yet” made him start. He begged, protested,
cried--all in vain; “more yet,” said his inexorable tormentor, holding
the cake up for him to jump at. Tears ran down the poor little fellow’s
cheeks, and he jumped and jumped, and sobbed, and wiped his eyes with
his sleeve. It was impossible to keep one’s countenance any longer, and
as I cried with laughing, he laughed through his tears. He then received
the cake he had so well danced for, and jumped once more from free will,
out of doors with it.

I packed all things on the horse, and set out on my return the same
evening. On the following morning we began to build our house; we pulled
down an old block-house, standing about three miles from the site we had
chosen, and carted the logs to our prairie, where we could easily
rebuild it. In the backwoods building is a very simple art. In the first
place, small trees of oak, or some other good wood, are felled and cut
to the requisite length. Next comes the foundation: two of the largest
trunks are laid parallel to each other on the ground at the proper
distance, two others are laid across their ends to form the square, and
fitted into each other with notches, which makes the building all the
firmer, and closes the crevices. In this way the walls are run up, but
without any entrance. Ours being an old house rebuilt, the logs all
fitted each other, and door and chimney were already cut, which, in
other cases, has to be done with the axe after the walls are up. The
roof is then laid, and, Swiss fashion, has to be secured with weights,
to prevent its being blown away; but wood being more plentiful here than
stone, heavy poles, called weight-poles, or young trees are used
instead.

Although the heat was oppressive, our work went on rapidly, and we soon
had the house up all but the chimney, which, it being summer, was not so
necessary. Besides, dabbling with moist clay being dirty and
disagreeable work, the chimney is generally left until it is too cold to
do without it. June 10th, we began our fence, so that the cattle might
not walk into the house, and also to secure the calves, that the cows
might come to be milked.

The fences are formed of split logs of black or red oak, or hickory, ten
or eleven feet long, and four or five inches thick, these woods
splitting easily; the fences are laid zigzag, and carried to a height
that no horse, much less a cow, can jump over. This was hard work, and
the heat oppressive; I felt very feverish, and had a severe headache,
but as the work could not go on without me, I would not hang back. On a
sudden every thing began to dance before my eyes, then all was dark, and
I fell fainting to the ground. I soon recovered, and lay for a short
time in the shade of a tree, then continued my work till evening. Next
day S. wanted to get in his wheat, and as I felt quite well again, we
went to help him; I had hardly been half an hour at work, when, in spite
of the burning heat, I felt a peculiar shivering and severe headache,
while my lips and nails turned blue; in short, there was no doubt I had
the ague. I went immediately to bed, and by noon was somewhat better. S.
would not allow me to return to our hut, but insisted on my staying with
them till my recovery, that I might always receive assistance. The fits
returned on the second and third days, making me feel very weak and
weary.

On the third day, a Saturday, at about two in the afternoon, I felt
better, and went to the mill, where S. was at work, meaning to help him
and take a little exercise, when I saw two strangers, a man and a woman,
riding along the road. With horror, I recognized in the countenance of
the man the Methodist preacher who had so tormented me some days before.
It was not without reason that I dreaded a repetition of the scene. He
rode past me with an important and expressive countenance, which seemed
to say: “Here I am again you see, make yourself happy.” Uhl, to whom I
had given a description of the former meeting, tried to slip off with me
to the hut, but we were discovered, and invited to attend. The
difference between this and the former meeting was that we had a sermon,
in the course of which two women in succession jumped about in a
pitiable state of excitement.

About noon next day, the dogs ran round and round the field, always
stopping at one particular place. S. said there must be a fox there. I
hastened to get a shot at him, but without success, till suddenly, by
the barking of the dogs, I knew that Reynard must have come to a stop,
and supposed him to have run to earth; but what was my surprise on
finding him perched on a tree, from which he was seriously contemplating
the furious dogs beneath him! I was so astonished that at first I did
not fire. When I did so, he remained hanging between the two branches
where he had squeezed himself, which was all the better for his skin, as
the dogs would have spoiled it. I afterwards learnt that the foxes here
always climb a tree, when driven to the last, but they can only manage
it with small trees, nor can they get higher than ten or twelve feet; in
the swamps they generally live in the hollows of trees.

On returning to the house I found the little schoolmaster in the height
of his glory. He was dressed all in white;--white trousers, a snow white
shirt and jacket, white neckcloth, a light-colored, almost white, straw
hat, and light tanned shoes, also almost white. To all this garb of
innocence, the red hair, red face, redder nose, and bluish red hands,
offered a striking contrast; he seemed to be well satisfied with
himself, stepped carefully over the fence, and was soon lost, like a
sunbeam, in a dark forest.

On the 20th June we finished our fence. On the 21st we began the floor
of our house, and on the 22nd the grand work was all complete. In the
afternoon we went to S.’s to fetch our things, and towards evening, as
it was very warm, I plunged into the cool stream flowing past the back
of the house, and had to pay for it severely on the following day by a
return of ague. Perhaps a rather too copious indulgence in
blackberries, which abounded here, may have somewhat contributed to this
result. Be the cause what it may, the attacks were repeated, and so
severely that I was confined to the house, when S., his brother-in-law,
and Uhl rode away for a buffalo hunt. I passed two tedious days in bed,
but on the third, feeling better, I took my rifle, and lounged along the
banks of the river, to try and pick up a couple of young wild ducks,
which were just in season. In the course of half an hour I had killed
three, and was on my way home, feeling much fatigued, when immediately
before me, almost under my feet, I perceived a mocassin snake, ready to
attack me, with its head drawn back, and its tongue darting out. These
snakes are very venomous; so jumping back, by no means leisurely, I
seized a long stick, and belabored him with it till he could do no harm.
This deep moist ground is full of venomous snakes; but it is very rarely
that any person is bitten, because they are shy, and always try to
escape when any one approaches.

On my return I found a fresh bear’s trail very near the house. Bruin had
crossed the river since I had passed, but the buffalo hunters had taken
all the dogs; and I was too weak to follow him alone. They returned in
the evening without having seen any buffaloes, though they had crossed
their trail. Uhl had shot a deer or two, which was all their booty.

On the 2nd July we rode off to a farm belonging to a Mr. Dunn, about
eleven miles off, to drive home some cattle that S. had bought. We did
not arrive till dusk, and found Mr. Dunn at home; he was a fat man with
a copper-colored nose, that seemed to do no dishonor to the sign before
his door; and a bottle of whiskey soon glittered on the table. S. drank
no spirits, so only just tasted it once: we did not follow his example,
but drank and laughed and talked till late in the night.

I was much surprised next morning by the view from Dunn’s house. We were
again amongst the hills, the house standing on the eastern spur, which
stretches out towards the swamps like a peninsula. The thick white fog,
through which not a tree was visible, north, south, or east, looked like
the sea, and I was prompted to look out for a sail; the glowing red ball
of the sun as he worked his way through it, cast a roseate hue over all.
As the sun rose higher the fog began to disperse, and the tips of the
highest trees appeared. As the fog vanished, it gave place to a
boundless extent of green, unbroken by any rise, save that on which we
stood. I remained for a long time in silent admiration of the
fascinating sight.

After breakfast we collected our animals, and drove them towards home,
through thorns, creepers, morasses, cane brakes, streams, and woods.
Driving a number of cattle, which have never before been under the hand
of man, is about as hard work as one can imagine, and a man who never
swore in his life would be sure to learn it then. But cattle-driving was
now our business, and we followed it up with a will. After immense
difficulty, we succeeded in bringing them all within the fence in our
prairie, secured them with the lasso, branded them with Saint’s mark,
and left them to themselves till the morning. At dark we spread my
buffalo skin on the ground, covered ourselves with Uhl’s blanket, and
were soon fast asleep.

By this time we began to feel a little more comfortable, having made a
couple of rough benches, and fixed some shelves to hold our things; but
as our utensils were not very numerous, cooking was one of our chief
difficulties. There was, however, no want of food, for Saint supplied so
plentifully.

We kept in all the calves of the new herd, leaving the cows at liberty,
as they never strayed very far from their young. We were also obliged to
confine some of the wildest, but the rest soon accustomed themselves to
the prairie, particularly as we sprinkled salt before them, of which
they are passionately fond. Indeed we gave it to all the cattle every
evening, which kept them from straying far away. In the daytime we
ranged the woods with our rifles.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER VI.

A FARMER’S LIFE IN THE WOODS.

(CONTINUED.)

     My comrade attacked by ague--Removal to a new locality--Snakes in
     the woods--Grinding corn--“Lying” Bahrens--Repeated attacks of
     ague--Sassafras tree--“An epileptic breakfast”--Night in the
     forest--The panther--Visit to Hilger--Shooting by torchlight--A
     distillery--A backwoods politician--Clearings--New farm--Illness,
     and want of medical aid--Negro children--Two American
     speculators--Bad characters in Arkansas--Removal to a new farm at
     Oiltrove bottom--White river--A gallant buffalo
     hunter--Home-sickness--Unhealthy swamps--Bear-hunting in companies.


On the 8th of July, I had killed a fawn. The flesh was very delicate,
and we had made a hearty feast on it, when Uhl complained of headache
and sickness, and though he had frequently boasted of his sound
constitution, and maintained that he should never be ill, he began to
feel some doubts on the subject. Next day he was very ill, and on the
third, about noon, his sickness declared itself as a regular attack of
ague. I did all I could to relieve him, but in our loneliness we had
little to comfort an invalid. Towards evening he got better, and longed
for some blackberries. I took a tin dish, and went to a place about
eighty paces from our house, where they grew in quantities; there had
formerly been a field here, and the thorns grew thick about the
overthrown trees. I was plucking some of the ripest berries from one of
the largest bushes, in which I had once or twice heard something move;
but as all the cows and calves were near me, and I supposed it proceeded
from some of them, I had not taken much notice of the fact, when
suddenly the bush opened, and a large, powerful wolf walked deliberately
forth; he looked steadily at me, and seemed inclined to declare war. I
raised my foot to give him a kick with my heavy fisherman’s boot, for I
had no weapon; but he seemed to think better of it, and walked away
slowly towards the jungle. I hastened to the house, seized my rifle, and
followed his trail; but too late, for he had taken to flight.

July 11th. Uhl was so far recovered as to be able to go to Saint’s,
where he could receive better care, and for some time I was alone in my
hermitage. I felt very comfortable, having no cares or troubles, paid
attention to my charge, supplied them plentifully with salt, and
constantly went out shooting, bringing home young turkeys, which were
just large enough to be eaten. In the evening, when all was still, I sat
in front of the house, by a blazing fire, playing my zither, and was
very happy without seeing a human face.

On July 17th I went to Saint’s to see Uhl, and to get some flour and
coffee. Uhl was better, and free from fever, but weak. I did not return,
as Saint required my assistance. Saint then proposed that, for the
summer and autumn, we should move further west, and pitch our camp near
Brushy lake, about six miles from Saint’s, where there was better
pasture, so that when once the cattle had been driven there, they would
not be likely to stray. I was pleased with the plan, as there was more
game there, and we only waited Uhl’s recovery to put it in execution.

On July 22nd Uhl felt tolerably well, so we started in company with a
long Kentuckyman, who happened to be there, to have a look at the
country, and to fix on a place for our tent. As it was late in the
afternoon when we started, it was almost dark when we arrived. We were
deceived in our expectations of finding game, and had to go hungry to
sleep, having brought no provisions with us, except a morsel of bread
and a couple of onions. We had made sure of killing a deer before dark,
but had reckoned without our host. It was a beautiful night, mosquitoes
excepted; we had nothing to wish for beyond a good supper. A bright fire
was soon blazing up, for notwithstanding the heat of the days the nights
were cold.

Our American friend, Jim by name, was very much afraid of snakes, which
abounded in this neighborhood. He could not rest quiet, and repeated a
number of stories of this person or that having been bitten by snakes in
the night. I let him talk on, while I made preparations to go to sleep.

Half asleep, I still heard the snake stories, till, overpowered by
fatigue, Morpheus took me softly in his arms; but there were snakes
hanging about me, and some of them grew to an immense size, till at last
it seemed as if a very wicked-looking one came straight towards me,
crawled under my left knee, and there coiled himself down--yet he kept
fidgeting as if he could not make himself quite comfortable. I awoke,
and lay for a moment quite still; Jim was yet telling his snake stories
to Uhl, who was listening attentively, when I positively felt something
move under my knee, and hearing of nothing else, thinking of nothing
else, of course I supposed it must be a snake. I dared not raise myself
slowly for fear of pressing on the snake, when he would certainly have
bitten me. I sprang up as quickly as I could, and at once burst away
from my couch: my two comrades, with their brains full of all sorts of
monsters, no sooner saw me start up so suddenly, than they followed my
example, as if they had been fired from a gun, and we looked at each
other in dismay.

I examined the place where I supposed the snake to be, and found a
little twig of about eight or nine inches growing out of the ground, and
which had been under my knee. We all laughed heartily at our fright, and
were soon fast asleep.

Our appetites next morning were very sharp. In the course of a couple of
hours Jim shot a squirrel, which afforded but a meagre breakfast for
three people. After breakfast we tried again, and with better success on
my part, for, happening to espy a deer in the jungle, I knocked him
over, and we returned to S.’s well laden with venison. Although we had
found several spots suitable for our tent, we had not fixed on any one
in particular, and we were well pleased with the place altogether,
notwithstanding snakes and mosquitoes.

Hitherto we had always eaten maize bread, because, although S. could
grind wheat, he had no means of bolting it; and as it was stacked in the
field he decided on sending it to a mill about fifteen miles distant.
The wheat was in sheaves, but there was neither barn nor thrashing
floor, neither flail nor winnowing machine, nothing to clean it from
the straw; however, we set to work Arkansas fashion. The weather was
bright and dry, the road before the door as hard as a stone, but dusty:
a space about thirty feet in diameter was fenced in, and swept as clean
as possible; the sheaves were unbound and laid in a circle, every two
sheaves with their ears together, one with the straw to the centre, the
other with the straw outwards; six horses were mounted, and ridden round
and round, while two men kept shaking down fresh corn; when it had been
well trodden out, it had to be sifted.

I had probably worked rather too hard, caught another attack of ague,
and was obliged to lie down till evening, when I felt somewhat better.
This evening we were visited by a friend of S.’s, or neighbor, as he
called himself, though living at a distance of twenty-five miles; but
there was neither house nor road between the two. He was called Jim
Bahrens, but S. whispered to me that he was nicknamed “lying Bahrens,”
and indeed Munchausen would have been obliged to hide his face before
him. He was very talkative and amusing; amongst other things, he told us
that he had but a small tract of land, but that it was the best and most
fertile in the whole world; that he could grow every thing on it, except
corn beans (the common garden bean), because the corn grows so fast,
that it drags the beans out of the earth. He invited us to come and see
him, telling us that he could kill as much game in a day as would weigh
1000 pounds for that he lived among large herds both of buffaloes and
deer. We promised to come, and see all these wonders.

On the 1st of August, Uhl told me that he wished to go, being tired of
this sort of life; and, indeed, I must allow that I myself was rather
sick of it. I was so weak that I could hardly crawl, and saw so many
sickly faces around me, that I could not try to persuade him to remain.
We divided our property, for hitherto we had had all things in common,
and on the same day he marched off to the west. I had no time to indulge
in sorrowful thoughts, for the ague attacked me again; having brought
some medicine with me from Cincinnati, I took an emetic, and then a dose
of quinine, which succeeded in subduing it.

On August 3rd, I felt better, and decided in the afternoon on driving to
the mill; but the grain had first to be cleaned. This, without a
machine, was rather a difficult matter, but the sharp Americans know how
to manage it. Two of the stoutest fellows hold a blanket by the four
corners; a third stands on a chair with a sieve full of grain, which he
shakes, not too fast, nor too long at a time, while the two with the
blanket make as much wind as they can, by working it up and down; the
chaff is blown away, while the wheat falls to the ground, and is at once
gathered into the sack, though not quite so clean as it would be with
our system.

By two o’clock we were able to start, the cart being drawn by oxen, and,
owing to their slow discreet pace, it was pitch dark when we arrived at
the mill. At so late an hour grinding was out of the question; we
lighted our fire, broiled our supper, and laid down in the wagon to
sleep till daylight. But the night was so beautiful, the stars shining
so mildly down upon us, the wind blowing so soft and warm through the
green branches, that we could not sleep, but went on talking. Both my
companions were Americans, one of them a strict Methodist, and there was
nothing more natural than that we should talk of the stars, then of
heaven, then of religion; and as we entertained very different views,
our conversation degenerated into a hot dispute, which was put an end to
about midnight by a heavy shower of rain, that forced us to seek shelter
for ourselves and our sacks.

Next day we began to grind, and slow work it was, for we had to turn the
mill with our own oxen, who had no idea of inconveniencing themselves;
however, we managed to reach home the same night. The season was now far
enough advanced for the leaves of Indian corn to be stripped and laid up
as fodder for the winter. This plant, in the southern States, will grow
to a height of eleven or twelve feet, and often bears three cobs: the
white sort is the best for bread, the yellow, containing more sugar, is
best for fodder and for whiskey.

On the 15th of August I received a letter from Uhl, telling me that he
was with my old acquaintance, the Rhenish-Bavarian, at Little Red river,
and that he was going to join Turowski in farming. I had too lively a
remembrance of the kindness of old Hilger not to take a walk to visit
him; therefore, as soon as our fodder was all in, I prepared for my
journey, and early on the 20th of August I shouldered my rifle, and,
with one of S.’s dogs by my side, set off in the hottest season of the
year through the dried swamp. The atmosphere was sultry in the extreme,
but by evening I had reached the bank of White river, a distance of
thirty-two miles, where I passed the night.

I was ferried across at daybreak, and had forty miles to go to reach the
Little Red river. The south bank of the White is one of the most fertile
in America, on which account it rejoices in the name of “Oiltrove
bottom.” Some say that the soil is better than that of the American
bottom opposite St. Louis; and this is my opinion, having seen from
sixty to seventy bushels of maize to the acre, and pumpkins larger than
a man can lift. Trees grow to an enormous size, some of the trunks of
the sassafras trees measuring from five to six feet in diameter; pawpaw
trees are also very numerous. This last is a small tree bearing a fruit
about four or five inches long, and two to two and a half inches thick,
having a soft sweetish pulp, with numbers of oily kernels. Generally
speaking, the Americans do not value it much, though some are very fond
of it. It was not at all to my taste; its bark is very tough, and is
useful for a variety of purposes, amongst others for ropes. The valley
of the White river is full of these trees, and of the thick American
canes, or reeds, which form impenetrable thickets, and are the favorite
haunts of bears. Just now this fruit was quite out of favor, and even
the pigs would no longer eat it, when a distiller of the name of Magnus
tried its qualities, and extracted such a superior spirit from it, that
he declared he would not sell a drop of it, but keep it all for his own
drinking.

Not to lose time, I had set off in the morning without breakfast, and by
the time I had walked six miles had a very respectable appetite.
Looking out for a house, I espied one about an hundred paces from the
path. The door was open, and the family were just sitting down to
breakfast; nothing better could be wished for. I sprang over the fence,
and asked a stout pale man if I could have something to eat by paying
for it; on receiving the expected answer I joined the company. Maize
bread, coffee, and bacon, the usual breakfast in this part of the world,
was spread out on the table, and I was preparing to set to with a will,
when the man sitting by my side, after looking at me with a mournful
expression, asked if I had ever in my life seen a man who was subject to
epilepsy. Now such a question could be nowhere more out of place than
when addressed to a hungry man sitting down to a good breakfast, so I
answered shortly, “Yes, sir.” “Well then,” said he, “don’t be surprised
if you see me attacked before breakfast is over, for at times it comes
on very suddenly.” If any one had told me that the meat on the table,
instead of good pork, was a piece of salted negro, it could not have
taken away my appetite more effectually than did this grave
announcement. I looked at the man in astonishment: he was very pale, and
looked serious, and not at all given to joking. I looked at his wife,
who was pale almost to transparency: I looked at the children, who were
also deadly pale, but more dirty than transparent. I gulped down the cup
of coffee in despair, gave the dog, who probably had not heard the
observation, or cared nothing for it, the bread off my plate, which he
eagerly took, paid my quarter dollar, the usual price for a breakfast,
and continued my journey.

For some time I kept the broad road towards Batesville, then struck off
to the left through the forest, and, going tolerably fast, arrived
before sunset at the plantation of a widow named Pace, where I intended
to pass the night, having still ten miles to go to Little Red river, and
no other house near the path. The roof reflected the last beams of the
setting sun; my stomach, which had received nothing but the coffee since
the previous evening, was beginning to rejoice, when we both found
ourselves wofully disappointed--the lady was not at home. The slaves
dared not admit any stranger to sleep there. I should not have cared
about a roof to sleep under, for the nights were fine and warm, if only
I could have obtained something to eat; but this could not be, and I was
obliged to employ the fine warm night in walking on to the place of my
destination.

After the sun had gone down, my light-colored, well-trodden path was
illuminated by the nearly full moon, for I had left the darker lowlands
some hours ago, and was traversing dry, but not very fruitful, hills,
through the midst of fir-trees. About two miles short of the river, I
gained the crest of the hills that divide the waters of the White and
Little Red rivers, just as the moon was setting, and my limbs felt as if
they were hung with lead. I had gone seventy miles since the previous
morning without tasting a regular meal, which was more than flesh and
blood could bear for any length of time, and at last I was so overcome
by fatigue that I sank down exhausted under a tree without even lighting
a fire. The poor dog lay by my side, resting his head on my arm. I might
have slept about three hours, for the first gleam of approaching day
was lighting up the eastern sky, when I was awakened by the loud, angry
bark of the dog. I jumped up, rifle in hand, but could see nothing and
hear nothing: I cheered on the dog, but in vain: he would not move from
my side, and only barked louder and louder. I fancied he might have
scented wolves, and was about to lie down again, when I distinctly heard
a rustling in the bush, although there was not a breath of wind. I
approached the place cautiously with both barrels cocked, but could
discover nothing; and as it was still dark, and no trail perceptible, I
could do no more, so lay down again for another short sleep, when I
suddenly heard the short piercing roar of a panther, which those who
have once heard never forget. My dog answered it with a slight whimper,
and crept closer to my side. I now knew the character of my nightly
visitor; and tolerably sure that, once frightened away, he would be in
no hurry to return, I was soon asleep, and remained so till awakened by
the cold air which always precedes the rising sun.

As beautiful a panorama as I had ever beheld lay spread out before me. A
sea of forest as far as the eye could reach, in every shade of color,
from the darkest green to light blue--the Little Red river winding
through the midst of it, while a light downy mist hung about the tips of
the trees on its banks. To the west and south-west, the distant
mountains cut sharply in a mass of blue against the lighter morning sky.
Hills overgrown with pines rose above the darker extent of oak, like
islands floating in a deep green sea, as the sun’s rays were reflected
from the dewy leaves. Light vapor rising here and there from the
valleys, curling over the forest, and vanishing into air, revealed the
site of human habitations hidden in the woods. I sat long, lost in
contemplation of the lovely scene, and again the question pressed itself
upon me--“Why must I enjoy it alone?” Then I remembered my visitor of
the past night, and, shaking off all mournful thoughts, looked out for
the trail; and there, hardly twenty paces from my bivouac, were the
marks of the large round paws of the beast impressed in the loose sand.
He had probably tried to creep up to me without being discovered, but
the dog had spoiled his sport.

Refreshed by sleep, I hastened down the hill, found a canoe, which took
me over the river, and soon the well-known friendly abode of the
Rhenish-Bavarian shone invitingly before me. It seemed almost as if it
was my home, from which I had been long, long absent, and that all its
dear inmates would rush joyfully forward to embrace me. Alas for our
dreams!

Hilger and his wife welcomed me with a hearty shake of the hand. I soon
felt myself at home and happy with these kind people, and I was not a
little delighted with the breakfast, which quickly adorned the table,
and which did not taste amiss after my long fast.

Hilger had made vast improvements in his condition since I was here two
years ago. He had bought the land, had a pair of horses, several head of
cattle and pigs, and lived happy and independent in the circle of his
family, which, in the mean time had been increased by the birth of a
little prince. His two sons, of fifteen and thirteen, were nice lads,
and worked hard with their father to make their way in the world happily
and honestly.

Uhl came in in the afternoon from a place belonging to Von G., about two
miles off. He looked very pale and wretched, still suffering severely
from ague. I was delighted to pass a short time here among Germans,
where I could speak my mother-tongue to my heart’s content, and live
like a man. Peaches and watermelons grow here in great abundance, and
were a treat which I had long been deprived of.

On the second day I went down the river to Von G.’s, who kept the ferry,
and in whose house I had passed the night two years ago, on my first
arrival. He received me kindly and hospitably. He was a keen sportsman
and capital shot, and was extremely lucky in shooting by torchlight, a
practice in which he had acquired such perfection as often to shoot
three or four deer in a night. On one night when I went out with him, he
shot a noble buck, hitting him right in the heart, although he could not
see his body, and could only judge of his position by the light
reflected from his eyes, and by their movement. I shall describe this
sort of shooting more particularly hereafter. I also attempted it, but
without success, from want of practice, having yet to learn all the fine
touches. We saw the eyes of three wolves, but they were frightened by
the fire, and would not come near us.

My health was still far from good; and being one day wet through by a
sudden shower, I was again attacked by ague, and obliged to lie fallow
for a couple of days. As my illness came on at Von G.’s, he kindly
asked me to remain with him till I was better. I gratefully accepted the
invitation, and recovered in a few days, when I took a hearty farewell
of all my kind friends here, and returned to my marshes.

On the fourth of September I crossed White river, and went on to Little
Cash river, passing a distillery, where they made maize whiskey, but
sold very little of it, as the three young men, who carried on business
in company, drank most of it themselves.

The Cash was so shallow that I crossed it along a fallen tree, and, as
it began to rain, I stopped for the night at the house of a man named
Harriot. We had finished our simple supper, and were sitting comfortably
by a blazing fire, which was crackling up the chimney, when my host,
looking at me sideways, cleared his throat, and brought his chair a
little nearer to mine, then giving the quid of tobacco in his cheek an
extra turn, put to me the unexpected question--“How’s the king of
Spain?” I was rather disconcerted at first, and thought he wanted to
make fun of me, but when I saw by his countenance, that he was in
downright earnest, I replied gravely, that according to the last
accounts which I had received His Majesty was suffering from a severe
cold;--whereupon he expressed his sincere regret, and then inquired
after all the other crowned heads in Europe. As we proceeded in our
conversation, I found that by the king of Spain he meant Gustavus
Adolphus: he placed Francis the Second of Austria on the throne of
France; England was ruled by Constantine the Great; and Germany was
presented to Louis Philippe. I was much amused with his wild fantasies.
In the meanwhile he kept paying earnest devotion to the whiskey bottle,
offering it to me at the same time. I took a little at first, but
latterly only put it to my lips for show. The nearer we approached the
bottom of the bottle, the wilder danced their majesties across the magic
lantern of his imagination. And as we were taking into consideration the
case of Russia, which, by our united endeavors, had become a republic,
his head began to nod, and his chin had hardly touched his breast when
he began to snore. His wife, a simple soul, who had been brought up in
the woods, had listened to us with astonishment, and was still holding
her mouth open as I turned to seek my bed.

My dreams transported me to my native land--not to the royal palaces I
had just left, but to my home, with its much-loved forms. On the 5th of
September, I arrived again at Saint’s, and indulged my body with some
necessary repose, shattered as it was by so many attacks of the ague. On
the 9th, Saint commenced his Indian corn harvest, which lasted till the
11th, and I gave my assistance. The cobs were simply broken away from
the stems, and cast into a cart which carried them to the building
prepared to receive them. When this work was done, we began
another--namely, to clear about half an acre more land, and sow it with
turnips.

The western settlers, and particularly those in the south-western
states, are not very fond of hard work; in those wild regions they
prefer rearing cattle and shooting, to agriculture, and are loth to
undertake the hard work of felling trees and clearing land. To make the
labor as light as possible, yet still to increase their fields, they
generally clear a small space every autumn, and ploughing it very
slightly, sow it with turnips, which answer best for new ground. Next
year it is fenced in and added to the field.

When about to make a clearing, the American looks out for the largest
and straightest oaks, which he fells, and slits into poles, from ten to
twelve feet long, for fencing. When he thinks he has enough for this
purpose, the rest is cut up and piled; next, the trees which have a
diameter of eighteen inches and under, are felled, at about half a yard
from the ground, and cut into lengths, while the larger trees are
girdled all round with the axe, and very soon die. The shrubs and bushes
are then rooted up with a heavy hoe, and, with the help of the neighbors
who are invited for the purpose, the whole, except the poles for the
fence, is rolled into a heap and set on fire.

As soon as the land is cleared of all that can be easily removed it is
fenced in and ploughed. This last work is very severe, and gives the
ploughman and cattle many a rough shake, as the ploughshare, catching in
the roots, has constantly to be lifted out of the ground, or to be moved
out of the way of the standing stumps. These stumps give the fields a
very extraordinary appearance; it takes from six to ten years before
they rot away entirely. It sometimes happens that the trees killed by
girdling are blown down amongst the growing crops, and the settler has a
great deal of trouble in removing them.

The land about Saint’s farm, when not inundated, was very fertile, and
required little labor. It produced splendid oaks, black and white
hickory, and sassafras, which last, though covering the land with
bushes, often grows to a large tree. Creepers of all sorts abounded in
the woods, amongst which were three sorts of wild vines, the first
producing a purple summer grape, which ripens in July, and resembles the
cultivated grape, except in being smaller and somewhat sour; the second,
winter grapes, also dark, and not ripe till they have been touched by
the frost,--properly speaking it is not a grape, and the berry is more
like a currant; last and best are the muscadines. These do not grow in
bunches, but more like cherries, four or five on a stem; they are
purple, with a thick skin, and a very agreeable taste, but if indulged
in too freely, they are said to produce ague, an opinion in which I
agree. Indeed, some of my attacks must be laid to their account;
quantities of muscadines grew where we were at work, and I ate a great
many of them. They ripen in September, and when they fall, they are
greedily sought for by pigs, bears, opossums, raccoons, and turkeys.

As we had had hard work for some days, I resolved on taking a holiday,
and riding to the gunsmith’s, about twelve miles off, to get some
repairs to my rifle. When I awoke in the morning, I had a dreadful
head-ache, but I got up, and mounted the horse, hoping to drive away the
pain with the fresh morning air. I had hardly gone a mile, when I was
seized with such a giddiness, that I could with difficulty keep my seat.
I galloped back as fast as possible, and crept shivering under my
buffalo-skin, but the ague crept in with me and kept me there all that
day and night. The next morning I was so much worse, that I thought my
last hour was approaching. I took one of the emetics I had brought with
me from Cincinnati, but without effect; the fever changed from cold to
hot, and increased every hour. On the nights of the 16th and 17th of
September, I was delirious; what I may have said I know not, as they
told me that I spoke German.

Saint could not procure a doctor. The nearest lived twenty miles off,
and was seldom at home: this probably saved my life, for had I fallen
into the hands of one of these American quacks, I might have prepared
for my last journey. Saint happened to have some pills in the house,
made by J. Sappington, and gave me one. Whether it was from the pill, or
my own good constitution, I was better on the 18th, and could move about
the house, and enjoy a little food, after my four days’ fast; I was very
weak for a long time. I must ever remember with gratitude the kind
interest with which these worthy Americans attended and nursed the poor
stranger.

It was by no means agreeable to remain ill in the swamps, having shortly
before heard accounts of burials, which left it out of all doubt that
some of the poor creatures supposed to be dead had been buried alive.
Mrs. S. spoke of one case in particular, on the St. Francis river, where
the ground was so wet and swampy, that the man’s comrades, for they were
out on a shooting excursion, put the body into a canoe, and brought it
down to the place where the Saints then lived, and where the land was
dry. On account of the greater heat in the southern States, they do not
stand on so much ceremony with a dead body, as is the case in the
north: so, as soon as they could after landing, they placed it in a
grave, which they dug with the assistance of the inhabitants of the
place. Mrs. S. assured me that she had never seen such a corpse. His
limbs were quite pliant, and almost warm, and his cheeks still red; but
the cold earth soon covered him, and nothing was ever said on the
subject.

By the 29th September I was pretty well again, and helped S. to get in
the corn from the more distant field; but as it came on to rain, I was
none the better for it. On the first October an old man from Tennessee
came with his son to the marshes to buy cattle. We mounted to drive them
together that they might see them, for at this season, when the grass is
everywhere in abundance, the beasts do not remain in one place, but are
one day here, the next day there. There cannot be a better place in the
world for cattle than the marshes. In summer the woods are filled with
pea-vine as high as the knees, as well as with the finest grass, wild
oats, and wild rye; in the winter the evergreen canebrakes afford the
finest pasture for cattle and deer, and winter grass grows in many parts
of the marshes.

We worked our way through thorns and creepers, reeds and forests, and
almost impenetrable sassafras bushes, and came back without having seen
a single horn. One of the consequences was that I was again laid up, but
this time I had a companion in the young stranger, who had thus to pay
his footing in the swamps. On the second day he was so ill that his life
was despaired of; but at last he recovered.

On the 7th October I rode for the sake of exercise, towards a settlement
about twelve miles off. It began to get dark when I reached the house
of a Mrs. Lane, who seeing me look so wretched and worn, kindly invited
me to rest there. Mrs. Lane might be held up as a good specimen of
American women. She was very simply dressed, but in good taste, and
every thing in the house, where she lived with her two daughters,
remarkably pretty girls, was scrupulously neat and clean.

They listened with pleasure to my accounts of distant Europe, the sort
of life people led there, the luxury of the rich and the misery of the
poor, particularly in large towns, the general fondness for society, and
the good qualities of many of all stations, high and low; they shook
their heads and said, “The other side of the great ocean must be a
curious place!” It was late when I rolled myself in a blanket before the
fire, to sleep sweetly and calmly during the night. In the morning my
headache returned, and shivering limbs announced the enemy. There was no
time for delay; I buckled the girths with trembling hands, and went in
to take leave: the kind folks had some hot coffee ready for me, which
might delay but could not prevent the attack. I went on about three
miles to the smithy, and explained my wishes, and then turned the
horse’s head toward the house of Mr. Dunn: how I got there is more than
I can say,--I have a faint remembrance of a piercing headache, and
dreadful weakness--that I often lay upon the horse’s neck, when the
gentle animal stood still, and did not move till I could sit upright
again. Dunn’s house was about three miles from the smith’s; on arriving,
I slipped off rather than dismounted. The old man soon saw what was the
matter with me, and bringing out a glass of some green liquid, he made
me take a good gulp of it: its excessive bitterness seemed to cut me in
two, and I asked with horror what was the stuff he had given me. He
laughed at the face I made, and told me it was something quite new and
his own invention: it was bear’s gall and whiskey, and he was not a
little proud of his medicine. I slept well during the night, and
returned to S.’s next day. I was very sorry not to have been in better
condition on the evening that I passed at Dunn’s, for he was a good old
fellow, and very amusing with his dry stories.

On the evening of the 18th October, S. came back from Strong’s, where he
had bought a couple of negro children, and brought them home on a led
horse. One was a boy about fifteen years old, as black as pitch, and
with a regular Ethiopian cast of countenance; as he crossed the
threshold, he examined every one present, with a rapid glance of his
large dark eyes, and then looked unconcernedly at all the furniture,
&c., as if all that was of no consequence to him. The other was a little
girl of about eleven, who seemed already to have gone through some hard
work. When she saw so many strange faces, a tear glittered in her eyes:
she had been sold away from her parents, whom she would probably never
more behold, and stood an image of suppressed grief. The boy was from
Maryland, had been taken by sea to New Orleans, and from thence brought
here. He had been told that he had fallen to a kind master, and his
countenance seemed to say that was enough, happen what might.

On the following Sunday, I had another attack of ague, which I could
not shake off for some days. In the evening two strangers arrived; and
although they came from opposite directions, they seemed to be well
acquainted, as they frequently conversed in a whisper. After supper,
when we were in the second house, where we all slept, they consulted
together about their future plans, which consisted in no less than their
travelling about the country, and keeping a gaming table, pretending all
the while to be unknown to each other, and so playing into each other’s
hands: their designs were to be principally carried on among the
Indians, particularly the Cherokees, as they thought they were more
easily cheated than the whites. But perhaps the two scoundrels had not
been able to agree, for on the following morning they parted, one of
them passing off a false five-dollar note on S., who was not a little
annoyed when he some time afterwards made the discovery. I was about to
ride in the same direction that the other fellow took, and when he saw
my horse saddled, he expressed his delight at having the pleasure of my
company; but I said dryly: “I am not going to ride with a scoundrel.” At
the word “scoundrel,” he flew into a rage, and began to feel for his
knife or pistol, on which I quietly brought my rifle to my shoulder: he
bit his lip and rode off at a sharp trot. After waiting a short time I
followed, taking the route to Cash river to bring home some dogs, for S.
and I saw nothing more of him.

Arkansas was overrun at this time with a number of bad characters,
gamblers, drunkards, thieves, murderers, who all thought that the
simple-minded backwoodsmen were easier to be cheated than the wary
settlers in the older states. This circumstance had given so bad a name
to Arkansas, that many thought all its inhabitants went about armed to
the teeth with pistols and bowie-knives; but I have traversed the State
in all directions, and met with as honest and upright people as are to
be found in any other part of the Union.

On the 24th October, two heavily laden carts arrived, each drawn by one
horse: they contained all sorts of things useful for settlers. Their
owners are called peddlers, and they ask high prices for their goods,
and are said to make a good thing of it. S. bought only a few trifles.

S. having sold most of his cattle, decided on parting with this farm,
and removing to Oiltrove bottom. Our contract having been dissolved by
Uhl’s departure and my frequent sickness, was no longer to be thought
of. Preparations were made for moving; S. had been already to White
river and made his purchase. When about to start, we found that two more
oxen were necessary: we had four, but the load was too heavy with such
soft boggy roads. So we rode into the woods, and drove a couple of wild
bulls into the inclosure, threw nooses over their horns, and fastened
them to trees. They made tremendous efforts to free themselves, jerking
the leather thongs with all their force; and when they found all their
struggles were in vain, they threw themselves on the ground and bellowed
with rage. Thus they remained all the day and night, during which we
gave them nothing but a little water to quench their thirst. About nine
o’clock next morning they were yoked each with a steady old hand; the
whips cracked, voices shouted, and partly from the shower of blows that
fell on them, partly dragged along by their stout companions, after four
or five hours’ useless opposition, they went as well as if they had done
nothing all their lives but draw a cart.

The heavy wagon made slow progress along the muddy tracts, softened by
the autumnal rains. We arrived at White river on the morning of the 4th
November, and had to wait on the bank till evening, as it was blowing a
storm, and it would have been dangerous to trust the heavy wagon to the
ferry-boat in such weather.

White river is beyond all dispute the most beautiful river of Arkansas.
Its clear waves form a striking contrast to those of the Mississippi and
Red river; only towards its mouth the banks are low, and the land
swampy; higher up it is enclosed by picturesque hills. It rises in the
Ozark mountains, in the north-west angle of the State, where there is
game in abundance; it divides into two arms, one of which falls into the
Mississippi, and the other into the Arkansas.

As the wind fell, the dry cold air changed into a damp fog, which soon
turned to rain, and we were glad to find shelter under the roof of a
free negro, who kept a sort of tavern. Merry peals of laughter resounded
from the well-lighted room, where a bright fire was blazing, and very
comfortable did its warmth appear to us after our exposure to the
weather. Three jovial looking fellows were sitting round it, telling
stories, and roaring with laughter. Three long American rifles, with
their shot-belts hanging on them, leaning in a corner, showed that the
party, if not regular woodsmen, were at least out on a shooting
excursion. A half empty whiskey-bottle stood on the table, and after a
short conversation, I learnt that the little fat man, with sparkling
eyes and ruby nose, sitting enjoying himself in the corner, and making
constant love to the whiskey-bottle, was Magnus the distiller, who, with
a couple of friends, was on his way to the swamps from whence we came,
for the sake of buffalo hunting. The little man drank my health, and
amused me very much with his drolleries. He could think of nothing but
buffaloes, swore only by buffaloes, made bets in buffalo-skins,
estimated every thing by their value, and tormented the small modicum of
understanding which the whiskey had left in his brains, to devise how he
should be able to transport at the greatest advantage the skins of all
the buffaloes he meant to kill.

It was all in vain that I attempted to give him an idea of the almost
impenetrable swamps, of the difficulty of finding the few buffaloes
which were there, and of the almost impossibility when found of bringing
their skins or any other part away; his countenance bore the same
joyous, amicable expression as before. When I had finished my remarks,
he handed me the bottle, which I put to my lips without drinking. In a
voice trembling with emotion, he assured me that he was prepared to
venture every thing, even life itself, for the sake of killing a
buffalo, and when life was at stake, who could take into consideration a
few insignificant swamp-holes or thorns! And then, as it struck him
that he was a father of a family, his voice became weaker and more
tremulous, his emotion increased, a flood of tears gushed from his eyes,
and before I was aware, the little round figure was hanging to my neck.
The heavy weight forced from me a sigh, which he took for sympathy, and
he began to squeeze so hard that I was afraid I should be suffocated,
when his two friends, who had been more moderate with the bottle, sprang
to my rescue. But this was no easy matter, and as he clung to me he
cried out, “Let me alone! he’s my friend--he, he will save me!” I
escaped from him by a sudden wrench, and his companions carried him off
to bed, he all the while throwing about his little fat arms and legs,
and calling them good-for-nothing buffalo dogs. Then he again began to
whine and cry, the sounds changing gradually, first into a groan and
then into a snore.

We arrived at the new farm about noon next day, and found the former
proprietors loading their wagon. They took their leave in the afternoon,
and left as a memorial an incredible quantity of dirt. As soon as our
wagon was cleared, and the things under cover, S. returned with the two
drivers for another load, leaving me in the house alone. It was in the
midst of a thick forest, with a field of about seven acres, surrounded
by the largest trees. But I had not much time to contemplate the
beauties of Nature, for in unloading and stowing away, the hours had
flown on the wings of the wind. The sun had set before I had collected
wood from the forest to keep up a fire for the night, or had had time to
prepare my supper; the latter duty did not take long, for my whole
store of provisions consisted of maize flour, dried venison, and wild
honey.

Darkness, thick darkness, lay upon the slumbering earth: yielding up my
imagination to memorials of old times, I drew the solitary chair to the
blazing fire, took out my zither, and with soft mournful tones, soothed
the home-sickness, which in loneliness forces itself on the heart. After
a time, overcome by fatigue, I extended myself on my buffalo skin before
the fire, and soon a succession of fantastic dreams flitted across my
brain. The little fat distiller sat with me and mine in a garden at
Leipzig, relating all the hardships and dangers which he had undergone
at the buffalo hunt, while my dear mother listened to him with
astonishment: many other loved forms were sitting round a large table,
each with their coffee before them, when we were all disturbed by a loud
knocking at the gate, and started up to see what was the matter, except
the little distiller, who laughingly told us it was only a tame buffalo
that he had tied up at the gate. The knocking growing louder and louder,
I jumped up in alarm: the fire was burnt out, thick darkness surrounded
me, but the repeated loud knocking shook off the remains of sleep, and I
hastened to the door.

One of the drivers who had left the day before, stepped into the room,
his teeth chattering with ague. I made haste to light the fire, which
soon burnt up brightly, and then looked to my patient, who had sunk down
on a chair, telling me with a weak voice that his last hour was come.
Luckily, I had some coffee at hand, and made him drink a couple of cups
as hot as possible, sweetened with honey. He then threw himself on the
skin and was soon asleep. Next day he was somewhat better, and we passed
the time as well as we could, till S. should come with his second load.
I employed myself in collecting wood for the fire, and in shooting
turkeys, to make our provisions last. After a week, during the last days
of which we had lived on turkeys and pumpkins, taking the latter, which
were very sweet and delicate, from the field of a neighbor at no great
distance, S. arrived with the rest of his property, cows, horses, pigs,
geese, cats, chickens, and dogs. Then there was all the bustle of
arranging and settling, and then another attack of ague, which seemed
regularly to have fixed itself on me in this unhealthy country. I bore
up against it, but was not well enough to mount a horse till the 20th
November, when I took a ride of four or five miles with my rifle, for a
breath of fresh air.

These swamps and morasses partly realize the idea which Europeans
entertain of the primitive forest, but in which they are frequently
deceived, for the simple reason, that on the higher dry grounds which
are covered with dry leaves and wood, fires are often made, not only by
shooting parties, but by the settlers, for the sake of the grass, which
comes up all the sooner when all these enormous quantities of leaves,
&c., have been burnt; and the fire does not consume the young plants
only, but considerably checks the growth of the older trees, excepting
in the marshes, where the ground even in summer is moist; and there the
trees grow to a colossal grandeur--I have seen some measuring seven,
eight, and even nine feet in diameter.

Towards evening I saw a young buck, walking quietly and circumspectly
through the wood; I dismounted, and left the horse to graze at leisure,
while I crept nearer. He stopped when he saw the horse pawing the
ground, raised his handsome head, and snuffed the air; my ball whistled
through his ribs, and he fell lifeless to the ground. Weak as I was, it
was some time before I could lift the not very large animal on to the
horse, when I rode slowly homewards. Just before dark, I shot a turkey
with the other barrel, and did not load again, not expecting to get
another shot so late in the evening. The full moon set its soft silvery
light among the dark shadows of the trees, to point out my path. I might
have ridden for about an hour and a half through the thick forest on my
heavily laden horse, and had gained a cattle track, which led to the
house; the stillness of the night was broken by the cow-bells, the
baying of the dogs and the neigh of my horse, in expectation of a good
supper, when there was a sudden rustling among the bushes on my right. I
pulled up, and a herd of swine rushed in wild haste across the path,
just in front of me. I was about to ride on, when I heard further
rustling amongst the dry leaves, and then one of the largest bears of
the swamps stood in the path, not above six paces from my horse’s nose.
He did not seem to know what to make of the figure looming through the
glade of the forest by the light of the moon, and began to snuff the
air. My rifle was not loaded, and the thought flashed upon me, that I
should have to fight it out with the knife; but I resolved first to try
and send him a bit of lead. I placed the butt of my gun on my left toe,
and succeeded in loading; but, as I was about to place the copper cap,
the horse, who had hitherto stood quite still, seemed inclined to
examine the object before him a little closer, and giving a snort he
made a step forward. Master Bruin, however, did not seem to like this,
and with one bound he was in the jungle. Having finished my loading, I
slipped off my horse, and crept into the bushes to get a shot, if
possible. I may have gone about twenty paces over the dry leaves, when I
stood still to listen. Not the slightest sound was to be heard; though I
was firmly convinced that the bear could not be above ten paces off, for
the leaves were so dry that if he had gone further I must have heard it.
I raised my foot gently to make another step forward, when the bear, who
had been standing so motionless before me that I took him for the root
of a fallen tree, almost brushed my face, and took himself off with a
growl; before I could recover from my surprise he had disappeared.

I returned, quite disappointed, to my horse, who remained quietly
grazing, and rode away with two good resolutions in my head,--first,
never to go a step with my gun unloaded; secondly, to seek a nearer
acquaintance with Bruin on the morrow, if possible.

On the 22nd November, I was early afoot, and although the weather was
cold and disagreeable, I set off with a neighbor and eleven dogs, full
of joyous hopes.

Bear-shooting in America differs according to the time of the year, and
the habits of the animal. It was now late in the autumn, almost winter,
so that they could be hunted with dogs. Well mounted, with not less
than from four to about eight or ten dogs, the hunters seek in the
thickest and most unfrequented parts of the forest the favorite haunts
of the bear. The men ride slowly through the thorns and creepers, the
dogs seeking in all directions till they find a fresh trail, or a bear
breaks cover, when they follow up in full cry. If the bear is fat he
seldom runs far, but takes to a tree, or shows fight; if there are not
dogs enough to master him, he knocks them over and continues his flight.
If he takes to a tree, his fate is soon sealed by the rifle.

We had ridden along quietly for about an hour, when the dogs gave
tongue, and started off, we after them as well as we could. My horse was
an old hand at it, and I had nothing to do but to sit fast as he leaped
the fallen trees, and try to avoid the creepers, which however often
checked, and sometimes threw us.

Keeping up with the dogs was out of the question. I had long lost sight
of my companion; I listened, and it appeared that the bear had turned to
the left, towards the river; could he reach it he was safe,--it was too
cold for the dogs--besides, they would hardly venture to swim, and we
also must have remained on the bank.

I changed my course to cut him off, and luckily hit upon one of the
cattle tracks that cross the wood in all directions. Once clear of the
thorns, we went at a good pace, and soon heard the pack approaching.
Suddenly the horse swerved to one side with a snort, and the bear burst
out of the thicket. The moment he saw the horse, he stopped short and
gave a deep growl. I had sprung off, and the bear had hardly

[Illustration: BRUIN AT BAY.]

stopped, when my ball was in his shoulder. The pack was close upon him,
and he summoned all his strength to escape from the dogs; but the
wounded shoulder checked his pace, the dogs attacked him, and he rose on
his hind legs to oppose them. I could not venture a second shot for fear
of injuring some of them, so charged him with my knife, and plunged it
from behind the shoulder into his heart; this, with the furious bites of
the dogs, soon ended his life.

My companion arrived at this moment, tired to death, all torn with the
thorns, and his horse covered with foam. He was not a little vexed at
coming too late; however, he helped to break up the bear, and strip off
his skin,--and as each of us had a bag under the saddle, we divided the
prize, and rode slowly home. The carcase is always equally divided
amongst the hunters; the skin belongs to the first shot.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER VII.

WOODLAND SPORTS--CANE-BRAKES--MY EXAMINATION BY THE SCHOOL COMMISSION.

     Turkey hunting with dogs--American aptitude for barter--Hard life
     in the woods--Ague--Wolves--Unhousing a bear--Number of widows in
     the swamps--Postal system in the back states--Comfortable
     quarters--My musical propensities--The Mississippi at
     Memphis--Cincinnati and its German inhabitants--Our pill-box
     manufactory--My speculations in reeds--Democrats in America--The
     candidates for schoolmastership--My examination--Another cane
     trip--Buffalo shooting.


The weather became worse every day. The cold north wind blew furiously
through the leafless boughs of the gigantic trees. All crowded together
round the warm hearth, and the European began to long for the solid
walls and warm rooms of his native land; for the wind blows, on all
sides, through the crevices of the American block-houses; and as they
are without windows, the door must be left open the livelong day to
admit the necessary light. Thus it may be imagined, that in spite of the
enormous fire, the temperature is not even moderate. In addition, we had
nothing to eat but bear’s flesh, three times a day; so I put on my thick
flannel hunting-shirt, took my rifle, and made up my mind to shoot a
turkey, whereat the dogs began bounding and barking for joy.

Turkey hunting with dogs is one of the most amusing and convenient
sports in the world. As soon as the dogs find a _gang_, as they are
called, they run amongst them, barking furiously; although a turkey can
run fast, he cannot outrun a dog;--so by way of escape, he flies heavily
to the nearest tree, generally seeking the highest branches, and looks
inquisitively from his exalted station, on the dogs jumping and yelping
round the trunk. It now requires some good management on the part of the
sportsman, for should the turkey catch sight of him, he will fly away
again. The best plan is to make as much noise as possible, and, if the
party is large enough to surround the tree, or the gang, breaking
through the bushes with loud shouts; and while the bird is confused by
the strange noises, the sportsman, having got near enough, must slip
behind a tree. Then it requires a steady hand and correct eye to hit,
with a single ball, a turkey at the top of a tree, from 130 to 140 feet
high; it is not absolutely necessary that he be killed outright, for if
a wing is wounded, his heavy weight will infallibly kill him in his
fall. A hen turkey weighs from nine to fourteen pounds; the cock from
sixteen to twenty, and even twenty-four. I killed three, and returned
heavily laden home.

On the 21st December came the last load from l’Anguille, and another
attack of ague for me. This was altogether too much,--I decided on
bidding adieu to the unhealthy swamps, and trying the hills, and on the
4th January put my plan in execution. Saint had taken a strong liking to
my double-barrelled rifle, and repeatedly wished to exchange something
for it. This system of exchange is quite a passion with the Americans;
they will barter any thing--lands, houses, horses, cattle, guns,
clothes, even to the shirt and boots they have on--or, if you prefer it,
they are just as willing to sell. Saint had a very good long rifle, and
we soon settled the matter, by my taking it, and a good sum into the
bargain.

I soon found that I was no longer master of my former powers, as when I
knew the word “tired” only by name. Frequent attacks of ague had robbed
my muscles of their elasticity: with all my exertions, I could hardly
accomplish more than twenty miles the first day, and had enough to do to
make thirteen the next; in the evening, tired to death, I arrived at Von
G.’s, on the Little Red river. Next day it came on to rain heavily, and
I considered myself fortunate in having a good roof over my head. I
remained with Von G. till the 9th, when I went to my old friend Hilger.
I passed a few very pleasant weeks with him, helped the old fellow at
his work now and then, but generally went out turkey shooting. I was
treated as one of the family. But my restless spirit and desire for
change, which drove me away from every place where I had made friends,
would not allow me to remain here; I must away, for the peaceful life of
the happy family caused me mournful thoughts: to escape them, I
determined to return to the swamps, as in winter the danger was less
imminent.

The Hilgers begged me to remain, but the spirit which possessed me was
too strong for them, and I took a warm leave of them all; the children,
however, would not hear of my departure, and the little three-year-old
girl was only to be pacified by a promise that she should go with me.
The dear little thing actually put on her bonnet, accompanied me for a
quarter of a mile, and then her brother had to carry her home by force;
my eyes moistened as she held forth her little hand, and called out my
name.

On, on, without delay, till the evening of the 25th January saw me at
Bay de View, a little river running between, and parallel to, the Cash
and l’Anguille. I pitched my camp on one of the many old Indian
sepulchral mounds there. Deer and turkeys were plentiful, but, like the
little distiller, the idea of a buffalo hunt had got fixed in my head.
So on the 27th I followed the course of the stream, through the wild
forest, and at night, beside the crackling fire, gave myself up to
troubled thoughts. I had become so used to forest life, that I seldom
required the compass; in the level marshy land, with its straight
gigantic trees, the traveller can easily find his way by paying
attention to the moss, which grows much longer and fuller on the north
side than on the south.

In a day or two it began to freeze; as the ground was covered with
water, in many places knee deep, the noise I made in breaking the ice
drove away all the game within hearing. On the 28th and 29th January, I
could not get a shot, and lived on the remains of a turkey, and some
maize I had in my pockets. On the 30th I had nothing but the maize,
which I roasted and devoured with the greatest appetite; but instead of
appeasing my hunger, it only served to excite it the more, and I began
seriously to chew tender stems of sassafras, in order to have something
in my stomach.

My baggage was no great burden to me. At White river I had exchanged my
buffalo skin for a blanket--I had one spare shirt in my game-bag, with a
pair of rather woful looking socks, a small cord, a bullet mould, and a
few bits of lead; but my greatest incumbrance was the zither, which hung
over my shoulder. Yet it fully repaid me for all my trouble, when I
reposed by the fire after the day’s toil, and I never could have
prevailed on myself to leave it in the lurch.

Towards evening, as, still suffering from raging hunger, I was looking
out for a dry spot to sleep on, I felt it growing colder every moment; I
made haste to light a good fire, and threw myself before it completely
exhausted. A hard frost came on, and a little later I was delighted to
see it begin to snow. I coiled myself up as well as I could and was soon
asleep. I was awakened in the night by the frightful howling of the
wolves, which probably had no better sport than myself, and I consoled
myself with the idea that perhaps they were only half as hungry. I got
up several times during the night to shake off the snow, and feed the
fire with the large logs I had collected the evening before; so that,
notwithstanding the severity of the cold, I enjoyed a comfortable
warmth.

A bough breaking with the weight of snow, roused me out of my sleep, and
when I pulled the blanket from my eyes they were nearly blinded by the
bright reflection of the sun’s rays from the white surface. The snow
suited my purposes very well; I rubbed my hands and face with it, till
they were quite in a glow, and having no breakfast to cook, I was soon
on the march. Though weakened by my long fast, my good night’s rest and
reawakend hope inspired me with new force, and I lost no time in seeking
something to appease my ravenous appetite, as I roamed at random under
the heavily laden trees. The evening before, I had discovered, near my
sleeping place, an overcup oak, bearing sweet acorns, some of which I
gathered and devoured, so as not to leave my stomach entirely
unemployed. This tree grows to a great size, but only in the
marshes;--the leaves are small, and the acorn is covered by the cup,
with the exception of a small opening at the top, whence the name. It is
nearly round, and serves for food in case of need, being less bitter
than the common sort. Bears are particularly fond of it.

I had not gone far from my bivouac when I came on the fresh trail of an
old buck, which I followed up swiftly and silently through snow half a
foot deep, passing several places where he had lain down. After
following the track for about three hours, it became confused, but as I
was forcing my way through a thickly tangled thorn-bush, the buck stood
before me, looking at me with inquiring eyes. Ere I could clear myself
of the good-for-nothing creepers, he was off again, leaving me to admire
the immense leaps he had made in the commencement of his flight; his
third leap had been over a bush from eight to nine feet high, and from
the spot where he took off to that where he lighted was about twenty
feet. I found that he had soon slackened his pace to a walk, so
quickening my steps, I followed him cautiously. I saw him a second time
standing in a thicket about a hundred paces off, and evidently on the
look-out; I had no hopes of getting nearer, so took steady aim and
fired: he gave a start on one side, then fled in wild haste through the
thick jungle. I was now certain of him, so loaded quietly and walked to
the spot where he had been standing. The snow was discolored with blood,
and a broad stripe of large dark red spots pointed out the path he had
taken.

Being somewhat exhausted by the sharp pace, and wishing to allow the
poor beast to lie down in peace, I seated myself on a fallen tree. After
half an hour’s rest, I followed him again; unfortunately he had made for
the river, to lave his burning wound in its cool waves, and, having swum
across, he was lying dead on the snow, on the other side, in a pool of
blood.

Had I not been half starved, I should not have thought of venturing into
the cold water; but necessity would admit of no hesitation. I bound
together some logs of decayed wood, as floating lightest, laid on the
raft my rifle, zither, blanket, hunting-shirt, powder-horn, gamebag, and
shirt, and stepped into the icy-cold water. I kept on my lower garments,
as they were already wet through from the small streams I had waded in
the course of the chase. I dipped my head as soon as I could, and then
swam across, pushing my raft before me.

Shivering with cold, I had some difficulty in making a fire, on account
of the deep snow which covered every thing;--but I managed it at last
with the help of my tomahawk; dried myself, and having laid some steaks
on the fire, I devoured them ere they were well warmed through.

The exertion of the chase and the cold bath was too much for my
weakened frame. I threw myself down by the fire, and soon felt another
attack of ague. The shivering fit lasted full two hours, and seemed the
worst I had ever experienced: it was succeeded by a hot fit, which made
me forget ice and snow. Towards evening I was somewhat better, but not
in condition to continue my journey; so I cleared away the snow, piled
it up like a wall to keep off the wind, collected a good store of wood
and slept calmly and sweetly through the night. Next day the ague had
left me, but I felt very weak, and remained all day extended before my
warm fire, enjoying my venison. Towards evening I took a little turn for
the sake of exercise, and to see if I could get a shot, returning to my
old quarters to sleep, and setting out next day for the long desired
buffalo.

I struck off in a southerly direction, and had lounged along for about a
couple of hours, when I came to a place where at least twenty of these
creatures must have passed the previous night. I lost no time in
following the broad trail of the herd down the bank of the river. After
a time, the trail turned suddenly to the northward. As it grew dark, I
lighted a good fire and laid down, having cleared away the snow. It was
dreadfully cold. The wolves howled fearfully, but did not come near me.

After a good breakfast, I again followed up the trail, which ran zigzag
and in all directions, and when I laid down again for the night I knew
that I could not be very far from my prey. I slept under the shelter of
a fallen tree, which kept off the wind, and the fire burnt brightly.
About midnight, the wind changed from north-west to south-west, of which
I did not much approve, for the sky foreboded a change. Dark masses of
cloud assembled in the south, and the air became perceptibly warmer. I
dreaded the consequences.

On the 5th of February it began to thaw, yet I would not all at once
give up my hopes of the buffaloes, till several abortive attempts to
find the trail convinced me of the fruitlessness of further pursuit.
Shower followed shower. In a few hours all the beautiful snow had
disappeared, leaving a waste of waters, in which no trail was visible.

I had now to ponder within myself what was best to be done, but the
approaching night soon settled that matter. The darkness and pouring
rain informed me that there was nothing to be attempted at present. A
fire was out of the question, and I cowered under a half-fallen tree, to
be sheltered as much as possible from the rain. I had some broiled
venison in my bag, but felt no appetite, and passed a miserable night,
shivering with cold. The wolves seemed almost tame, for some came within
a few paces of me, and howled awfully. I was in such a state of
despondency that I would not take the trouble to draw my knife, because
I should have had to move; besides, in the humor I was in, it almost
seemed that to be shaken by wolves till I was warm would have been
rather pleasant than otherwise.

I did not close an eye the whole night, and longed eagerly for the first
gleam of day, which at last broke gloomily through the dark forest.

The rain ceased, and a damp thin mist lay upon the swamp. I cut a slice
of venison, and all my salt being

[Illustration: NOCTURNAL ENTERTAINMENT.]

expended, sprinkled it with powder, and ate it, cold and dry as it was.

The almost impenetrable swamps and the wretched weather, together with
my long solitude, had considerably cooled my shooting propensities, and
I resolved to seek human society. To get clear of the swamps as soon as
possible, I directed my steps to the north-east, towards the St. Francis
river, in hopes of finding letters from Cincinnati, or perhaps from
home, at Strong’s post-office, as I had written for them to be forwarded
there.

A few dry strips of land ran across the country from north to south, the
intermediate spaces being about a foot or a foot and a half under water,
with here and there channels three or four feet deep. Worn out and
wretched as I felt from the frequent attacks of ague, I had twice to
swim through the icy water, but the word “must” carried me through. In
fact, I had the choice of that or perishing in the swamp. The first
alternative was merely disagreeable, while the latter was highly
objectionable; so I chose the former.

I passed the night by a warm fire, at which I roasted a turkey I had
shot. It was at any rate an improvement on its predecessor, and my
zither responded through the forest to the voices of the owls and
wolves.

Next morning I resumed my north-east direction with fresh strength, and
was not a little surprised about nine o’clock by a smell of smoke. Soon
afterwards I came on the fresh remains of a fire. The impressions on the
leaves showed clearly enough that only one person had lain there, and
that he had four dogs with him. About twenty paces from the fire some
grains of Indian corn were scattered about, and a tree showed signs that
a horse, who had left unmistakable marks of his teeth in the bark, had
been tethered there.

According to appearances, this person had not left his halting-place
above an hour, and as the dew and hoar frost still lay on the leaves and
grass, his trail towards the south-east was easily traceable. After
following for a short distance, I heard a shot, hastened towards the
sound, and came up just as the object of my search was mounting his
horse. A broken-up deer was hanging to a tree, and four dogs came
barking towards me. It turned out to be a man of the name of Pearce, a
dweller in the neighborhood, with whom I was slightly acquainted. We
greeted each other heartily, and were mutually delighted at the chance
meeting, he assuring me that nothing could have given him greater
pleasure than falling in with me, as he had discovered a tree a few days
back in which the marks left it out of doubt that a bear must be
concealed. He had killed the deer as he came along, and hung it up,
intending to carry it home on his return. I readily accepted his
proposal to join him, and we hastened towards Brushy lake, which we soon
reached, but too far south;--so we had to go up the stream.

As we were both tired, we bivouacked early in the afternoon, on an
elevated tract of land, and stretched ourselves comfortably before a
warm fire. I had half a turkey remaining, and Pearce had bear, deer, and
coffee, so I need hardly say that we made a good dinner.

We passed a quiet night, and the sun was well up before we commenced our
march. About ten o’clock P. pointed out a large cypress close to the
bank of the river, assuring me that the bear was there. The tree may
have been about four feet in diameter, and there were very distinct
traces of a bear’s claws in the bark. P. had intended to smoke out the
sleeper; but that would have required much time, and as we were now two,
and the tree was quite hollow at the base, we resolved to cut it down
with our tomahawks. Securing the horse at a safe distance, we set to
work, and the forest soon resounded with the strokes of our small axes.
About two o’clock we paused to take a little refreshment; the dogs,
meantime, tired of waiting, amused themselves in chasing rabbits and
raccoons.

We had hardly recommenced our work, when P. cried, “Look out! the bear!”
At the first word I had seized my rifle. The bear was down the tree like
a flash of lightning; to fire, drop the gun, out knife, and at him, was
the work of an instant for each of us; but he slipped off like an eel
from between us, and our knives had nearly found a different sheath; so
exactly had our shots fallen together, that neither knew the other had
fired.

The bear, so discourteously roused from his winter sleep, could not at
first make out the reason. But the approach of the dogs, attracted by
the shots, soon caused him to take to flight. P., rifle in hand, threw
himself on his horse, and galloped after them, I following, with my
drawn knife, as fast as my legs would carry me. The bear, severely
wounded, did not run far, and finding the dogs gaining on him, he took
to a tree. P. sprang off his horse and loaded, and I came up just in
time to see the bear, struck by his unerring ball, spring up, turn over,
cling for a moment with both paws, then fall heavily to the ground. The
dogs threw themselves on him, while we plunged our knives into his chest
with a shout of joy. The first two balls had hit him in the flank, while
the third from P.’s hand had lodged in his heart.

As it was too late in the day to travel further, we returned to the
place where my rifle and some of P.’s things were left, collected wood,
made a capital fire, and prepared a splendid supper. As P. had been some
days in the woods, we had finished his coffee in the morning; so, by way
of something hot to wash down the meat, I pulled up some sassafras
roots, cut them up into small pieces, and made a very good substitute
for tea.

Refreshed by our hard-earned meal, we enveloped ourselves in our
blankets, and chatted together before the fire: P. telling me about the
winter sleep of the bears. Towards the end of the year, they select a
hollow tree for the purpose, scratching and biting the inside as smooth
and clean as possible. This done, they descend into it, about Christmas
time, tail downwards, and remain immovable, if not disturbed, till the
end of February or middle of March, when they come out for a drink of
water, returning to their retreat till the weather is mild, and they can
gain their ordinary livelihood. Sometimes, instead of a tree, they
select a cane-brake, breaking and biting off the canes to form a bed.

The nearest house lay about ten miles north-east from our bivouac, and
through the worst part of the swamp; but once there, I had hopes of
being able to walk on firm ground, instead of floundering through water
and mud.

After some hours’ agreeable repose, both of us having risen to make up
the fire afresh, and just laid down again, we were suddenly alarmed by a
most tremendous crash, which made us start up. The tree which we had
been hacking at, and then thought no more about, was overthrown by the
rising wind; but this wind saved us, for as it blew in the opposite
direction to our fire, the tree fell from us--otherwise we might have
paid dearly for our carelessness. As it happened to fall across the
river, it made a very good bridge for me on the following morning. The
dogs had dropped their tails, and started off at the very first crack.

We were up with the day. P. packed his bear on the horse, and made me
promise to come and see him when the swamps should be dry, to join in a
buffalo hunt. Taking a hearty leave of him I set off to the north-east.
After three hours’ marching up to the knees, and sometimes to the waist,
in water, I came on the broad road leading to Memphis, and turned to the
eastward. In the afternoon I arrived at S.’s old farm, and walked half a
mile further, to sleep at McO.’s, dwelling with pleasure all the while
on the hopes of a warm bed, a sound roof, and the society of
fellow-creatures.

McO. gave me a warm reception, doing every thing to make me comfortable:
his wife came in later, having taken a ride to pay a visit to a couple
of widows. It is a remarkable fact that such a number of widows are
found in the swamps. Wherever you go, you are sure to see one at the
least, and I think “Mr. Weller” would have felt very uncomfortable in
this part of the world. Doubtless the climate is better suited to women
than to men, as the latter almost always die first.

We were merrily chatting by the cheerful fire when suddenly the doorway
was darkened. I turned to look at the new comer, and who should it be
but the Methodist preacher. One night later, and I should have been out
of his reach.

As the sun rose I started, quite refreshed, and before sunset arrived at
Strong’s post-office, on the St. Francis. Communication by letter would
be impossible in the thinly settled Western States, did not one of the
farmers undertake the office of post-master. One is appointed for each
county, but their duties are not severe. A postman, or mail rider as he
is called, traverses the county on horseback, sleeping at certain fixed
stations. The mail rider from Memphis, in Tennessee, with a pack-horse
in addition, carries the mail for Little Rock and Batesville to Strong’s
post-office, about forty miles, taking back the return bags; from
Strong’s, one rider goes to Batesville, and another to Little Rock. I
found a letter from Vogel, requesting me to return to Cincinnati, and
telling me that three letters had arrived for me from Germany.

The following morning found me on the other side of the St. Francis,
traversing the swamp which Uhl and I had had such trouble to cross nine
months ago. Although still soft and muddy, it was not quite so bad as on
the previous occasion. I gained the banks of the lake about dusk, and
hailed the ferryman. He was not the man who kept it when we first came
here. As the sky looked suspicious, I decided on passing the night in
the house. My host was a young man, with no one but a negro boy to
attend him; yet there was society enough in front of the house, for on
the spot where Uhl and I had bivouacked, three families were encamped,
all bound for Texas.

As we were about to go to sleep, an old man came in, saying that he was
not quite well, and could not bear the night air, and requesting
permission to sleep in the house. On leave being granted, he spread his
blanket before the fire, sat himself on it, and clasping his left knee
with both hands, fixed his eyes steadfastly on the blazing logs. The
negro boy sat in the chimney corner, staring at the old man, who at
first took no notice of him, but after a time he turned suddenly towards
him, saying,--“Here, good lad, I am subject to shocking bad dreams; if I
begin to talk, and throw my arms about, will you give me a good
shaking?” The boy nodded, and the old man became a much more important
personage in his estimation. “But I sleep very sound, you must shake me
well.” The boy nodded again. “If you do it well, I will give you
sixpence.” The boy grinned as well as nodded. The man lay down on his
blanket, and the boy watched him as a cat watches a mouse. I could not
sleep, and turned and turned in vain; at length I heard a groan. I
thought of the old fellow and his contract with the boy, and looked to
see if the latter was awake. He was on his knees watching his charge
with all his might. The man uttered some broken words, and raised both
his arms. The boy had only waited for this; he had him by the shoulder
in an instant, and shaking him with all his force, called out, “Master,
master--open your eyes, master.” The man awoke, and saying, “Thank you,”
was about to turn on the other side, which did not suit the boy: he
shook him again. “I tell you I am awake; do you want to shake the soul
out of me?” and he tried to get to sleep. But Sambo shook him again, so
that he started up in a rage, asking, “What do you go on shaking me for,
when I am wide awake?” The boy jumped back, frightened by the
threatening expression of the old fellow, and said, trembling,
“I--I--I--want that sixpence!” Altogether, it was too much for my
gravity, and I burst into a roar of laughter; the two managed to settle
their differences, and I soon afterwards fell asleep.

I was early on the march, and arrived towards evening at a neat
comfortable looking house, surrounded by large fields of cotton and
Indian corn, betokening the abode of a rich planter; on receiving a
friendly affirmative to my inquiry for night quarters, I placed my rifle
and game bag in the corner, and sat myself on an easy chair by the fire.

Strangers inquiring for night quarters must never suppose that they are
to receive them gratuitously. The usual price for supper, bed, and
breakfast--be the same good or bad--is half a dollar; but at Strong’s I
had to pay a dollar, which was an imposition. The charge for a horse
depends on the neighborhood, and the price of Indian corn. In the swamps
it was half a dollar; in Oiltrove Bottom, only a quarter, corn being
cheap there; further south, the charge was higher, and to the north-east
again it was cheaper.

On my entrance, I perceived that there were ladies in the house. I had
been for some time alone, and as it grew dark, having had enough of my
own thoughts, I took out my zither, and began to play. A negro boy,
enticed into the room by the music, soon ran out again, probably to tell
his mistress what a curious sort of instrument I was playing upon. I
soon had an invitation to join the ladies; but my costume was not the
most suitable for a drawing-room. For months, neither razor nor scissors
had approached my head: my hunting-shirt had been ten months in wear,
sorely battered by wind and weather, and not being of leather, the
thorns had left their marks in many places: my leggins and water-proof
boots were passable: my shirt, of my own washing without soap, in cold
water, boasted various shades of red, from turkey’s and bear’s blood,
which is much more difficult to wash out than that of deer.

The ladies received me very politely, almost too politely, and I began
to play. The Americans in general have little feeling for German music;
they are a people who live in a hurry, and every thing must go fast,
even music: when they hear any which has not the time of a reel or
hornpipe, they say that they do not understand it. The more educated
class forms an exception, and of such was my audience. The younger lady
was the owner’s wife, very pretty, though pale; but, indeed, I should
like to know how any one could live in these vile swamps without being
pale. The elder, a kindly, venerable matron, seemed to be on a visit;
they were simply but tastefully dressed, as is the case with all
American women, even of the lowest classes; every thing in the room
seemed neat and orderly. I passed a few very agreeable hours there; they
were very much pleased with the instrument, having seen nothing like it
before; and as they listened with marked pleasure to the sweet German
and Scottish airs, it seemed as if they could never have enough of it,
and it was past eleven before I got to bed. There was a piano in the
room, but it had not been played upon sufficiently to perfect its tone.

It was long since I had enjoyed the pleasure of accomplished society,
and I shall never forget my friendly reception by this family.

From hence, to Memphis was thirteen miles, with a good road, and by two
in the afternoon I was again on the waves of the Mississippi. The ferry
carried me over to Tennessee, Arkansas lay behind me, and once more I
returned to civilized society from the wild life of the backwoods; but
who can decide whether to a happier one. My funds had fallen so low that
I was obliged to look out for work. The banks of the Mississippi are so
high and steep at Memphis, at the mouth of the Wolf river, that the town
cannot be seen from the stream. The steamers deliver their passengers
and cargoes on board wharf-boats, formed of used-up steamboats moored to
the banks.

The times were hard: I could obtain no other work than to cut wood,
which, with my weak health and unpractised hand, was certainly no
trifle; but necessity is a good teacher. I gained half a dollar and food
by cutting a cord of wood, eight feet long, four feet high, and four
feet deep, at a merchant’s, who had a tract of land and a saw-mill about
two miles from the town. Although hard work at first, yet when I got
used to it, I found that on an average I could cut and pile a cord a
day.

After fourteen days’ hard work, I resolved to go to Cincinnati for my
letters, and, above all, to recover my health in its superior climate,
then to return and visit the hills. I had cut eighteen cords, and as the
man saw that I was poor, sickly, and in a hurry to go away, he cheated
me out of two dollars by giving me bad coin, a fact which I discovered
on board the “Persian” steamer, on my passage to Cincinnati. I was
kindly received by all my old friends, and established myself in a new
suit of clothes, for which, however, I had to run in debt.

I looked about for work; every tavern in the place was crammed full of
Germans, ready to do any thing for bare food: whole families were in a
helpless state. Fine stories had been told them that they could gain a
dollar a day for every sort of work, and when they arrived, farmers were
paying only five or six dollars a month, and could not employ four
fifths of the applicants. I pitied the poor creatures, though no better
off myself. I took many a long walk in vain, looking for employment,
when Vogel offered me an occupation I should never have thought of
myself, viz., making pill-boxes. Vogel thought he would try “Emperor’s
Pills,” of which he had the prescription. He was very clever in such
matters, but he required little round boxes, resembling the original as
imported. We set to work with a will; a carpenter was found to plane
the chips, we formed the tops and bottoms with a stamp, and I colored
the sides with logwood. The pill-box manufacture was soon in full play,
and I made them as if I had done nothing else all my life. But all
things must have an end, even the manufacture of pill-boxes, and my
genius was again left fallow. Vogel came once more to my assistance, and
I became a chocolate maker, gaining a dollar a day by pounding it in an
iron mortar.

Shortly afterwards I heard of a dealer in tobacco who was out of
pipe-stems. These pipe-stems are made from the reeds or canes growing on
the banks of rivers, and other moist places in the Southern States, and
as all the rivers had risen very high, he could find no one to venture
among the snakes and mosquitoes. This was something more in my way than
sitting behind a pestle and mortar.

I bargained with a companion, and, with a few dollars in our pockets to
cover the most necessary expenses, we started off for Tennessee, by the
“Algonquin.” There were plenty of canes at one of the places where the
vessel stopped for wood; I jumped on shore, and the owner of the wood,
who dwelt in a small house close at hand, agreed to board and lodge us
at two dollars a head per week. We at once landed our baggage, and set
to work next morning.

These reeds grow in immense thickets on the banks of the Mississippi;
but we only cut the smallest for pipe-stems. They were about the
thickness of a large quill just above the root, from four to six feet
long, the joints being from eight to sixteen inches. The leaves are
green in summer and winter, and serve as fodder for cattle. We stripped
off the leaves, and bound the reeds in bundles of 500, which make a good
armful, and rather a heavy one when green. We sold them in Cincinnati
for two and a half dollars a bundle.

The man on whom we had so summarily quartered ourselves was very civil
and obliging, and we were soon good friends. To enliven the long
evenings, he luckily happened to have a pack of cards, and a relation of
his, who lived at some distance, used to come in and play whist. I often
wished that our friends at home could have seen us, so as to have an
idea of the difference of a whist party in Germany and one near a
cane-brake in Tennessee: ours had at least the advantage of simplicity.
A very roughly hewn table was placed in the middle of the room, the
seats were chairs or boxes. It happened that the mosquitoes were more
formidable here than I ever found them anywhere else; and as it would
have been quite impossible to sit still under the constant attacks of
these tormentors, an iron pot with glowing charcoal was placed under the
table; a negro boy from time to time fed it with rotten wood, in order
to keep up a thick smoke, which rose up all round the table, and was by
no means beneficial to the eyes.

Instead of wax candles, a long stick was jammed between two of the
boards of the floor; pork fat was then cut in long strips, wound round
with cotton rags, tied to the stick at a moderate height, and lighted.
It burnt rather dim, but gave light enough to show whether the colors
were red or black, when the card was not dirtier than usual, and the
smoke was not so strong as to draw tears.

We had also great fun in harpooning buffalo-fish, which make for the
swamps when the river is high. The land here, at 100 to 150 paces from
the river, is lower than the bank; it is covered with water in winter
and spring, and dries up in summer, generating fever and disease,
besides myriads of mosquitoes and other insects. One afternoon, in the
space of two hours and a half, I caught fifteen fish, of which the
smallest weighed about ten pounds.

Towards the end of April, having cut 18,000 canes, we hailed the next
boat that passed, embarked our cargo, and landed at Cincinnati on the
30th. Our canes were soon sold, and they were still in demand. I had a
great mind to make another voyage, but resolved next time to go alone;
for though I found my companion very willing to share the gains, he was
by no means so ready to share the pains. For the present, however, I
preferred staying a short time at Cincinnati and amusing myself.

I happened to fall in with some of my Jewish fellow passengers on board
the “Constitution.” Acting on the instructions of their friends and
countrymen at New York, they had begun to trade in a small way; all had
gained something, and some few had become comparatively rich. They
generally begin as peddlers, stopping at every farmhouse, and the farmer
is obliged to buy something to get rid of them.

As the rivers were still rising, I made a second trip to the canes. I
had paid all my debts, and had something in hand. Towards the end of
May, I embarked on board the “Mediator,” with the intention of going
further south than before, as the canes there are larger, and I could
cut some for fishing rods, from thirty to forty feet long, and 1½ to two
inches thick.

What a view presented itself on leaving the Ohio for the Mississippi! Of
Cairo, a small town on a point of land in Illinois, nothing was to be
seen, except a hotel, a manufactory, and a brick house. In August the
water subsided, and the river returned to its bed, leaving a thick layer
of sticky mud behind it. The sides were all under water, except some
hills on the left bank, but no canes grew there, and it was not till I
reached Louisiana, where the “levee” begins, that I found dry land. To
avoid being carried to New Orleans, I landed at random, and found myself
in a French settlement with numerous plantations close to each other. I
learned from a Creole that there was a German settlement further down
the river, and thither I directed my steps, to hear something about the
country. I fell in with a German planter, and he directed me to a German
inn-keeper still further on. I received a cordial welcome from him; he
offered me his boat to row over to the opposite bank, where I could cut
as many canes as I chose.

Next morning I made a voyage of discovery, and found a beautiful
country, but mostly under water, even to the canes, which grow on the
highest parts of the marshes; wherever there was a spot of dry land, it
swarmed with all sorts of snakes, and the air was thick with mosquitoes.
However, here I was, and work I must. I cut down a great number of
beautiful fishing-rods, bound them together, and laid them on one of
the highest spots, ready to carry across in a larger boat.

I passed some pleasant weeks here, partly in the society of my
countrymen, and partly engaged in my work, and at last embarked with my
goods, on board the steamer “Independence,” taking cordial leave of my
new friends, and particularly of my kind host, who could not be induced
to receive any payment. I landed first at Louisville, and disposed of a
part of my canes, then took the rest on to Cincinnati, found a ready
sale, and was once more free to do as I liked.

The Whigs and Democrats were at this time more than usually violent,
abusing each other in the public papers and thrashing each other in the
public houses. The Democrats in Cincinnati (and all the Germans were
Democrats) had carried a measure for allowing German to be taught in the
schools as well as English; but the German scholars hung back from the
office of schoolmaster, for fear of the examination they would have to
undergo. Under these circumstances, some of my good friends persuaded me
to attempt to pass, and take a situation, the salary being from
twenty-five to thirty dollars a month. So I resolved to try it, if only
for the fun of the thing.

But for this purpose it was necessary to devote some time to study, as
my knowledge of English grammar was none of the best, and much of my
scholarship had evaporated in the backwoods.

The formidable day at length arrived. The candidates were two Germans
besides myself, and three Americans, besides five or six young women for
the female schools. I had forwarded notice of my wish to become a
candidate towards the end of July, together with a certificate of my
moral character from a citizen of the town, which my former employer,
the silversmith, was kind enough to give me. I stepped with a light
heart into the hall, for I really did not much care whether I passed or
not. The examiners were five very respectable looking gentlemen; as the
others seemed inclined to hang back, I very gallantly stepped forward.
One of the examiners said he should begin with geography, and addressed
me as follows:--“Now, Mr. Kresdegger;” “Gerstaecker, sir.” “Oh, excuse
me; now, Mr. Kerseker, will you be so kind as to give us the boundaries
of Ohio.” “Yes, sir; on the north,” &c. &c. It was all conducted in this
courteous manner, and all answered the questions, except one of the
Germans. They then began upon Germany, asking me, from what state I
came? “From Saxony.” “How is Saxony divided?” “Into five districts.”
“What are their names?” To save my life, I could not on the instant
remember, but my impudence carried me through. Taking it for granted
that my examiner knew no better than myself, especially as he had no
book, I answered gravely: “Leipzig, Dresden, Grimma, Meissen, and
Oschatz;” with which he was perfectly satisfied, though one of my
compatriots was obliged to bite his lips to preserve his gravity. After
a little more geography we came to grammar, spelling, arithmetic, and
writing; we were then dismissed, and directed to apply on the following
Wednesday. On Wednesday we had a fresh examination, rather more tedious
than the first, and then we were referred to the 5th August. All passed,
excepting one of my countrymen, who remarked that, as they had given
him no certificate, he supposed that they had forgotten him.

This affair had detained me longer than I had at first intended, and I
now prepared for another cane trip. This time I went no further than
Tennessee, a little below my old ground, and lodged with a relation of
my former host.

After a few days, some of the neighbors and my host proposed a shooting
party to the Tironia, in Arkansas, and as they intended to be only
fourteen days absent, I agreed to join them, obtained the loan of a
horse and rifle, and was in a few days once again in Arkansas. We
remained about a week at the junction of the Tironia with Big Creek, and
shot three bears; but the season was the most unfavorable that we could
have selected. They were not only very thin, but their skins foxy and
useless. While here we happened to fall in with a young man named
Woodsworth, who wished to go to my old swamps of Baz de View, and Cash
river, to try for buffalo, these marshes being now dry. Nothing could
have presented itself more opportunely. My comrades were soon persuaded,
and in five days we were in the buffalo feeding grounds.

After three days’ fruitless search, we came upon a herd of sixteen, a
cow and a calf in the rear. We all fired at the cow, in hopes of taking
the calf alive. The cow fell, after making a few bounds, but to our
great annoyance, the wild fat calf threw up his tail, galloped after the
rest, and was soon out of sight.

Oh, what a feast we had! Well tanned sole-leather would have been a
delicacy in comparison; the marrow was the only part good for any thing.
My host and Woodsworth cut the skin lengthwise, in two halves, and each
took a half on their horses. We then turned to the north-east, and rode,
without entering a house, to Memphis, crossed the Mississippi, and rode
home by the left bank. So at last, I had been at a buffalo hunt! and had
had hard fagging, little pleasure, and no advantage. Whenever I looked
at the skin, I thought of little Magnus, the distiller.

I set to work on the canes again, and by the middle of October had cut
about 30,000, shipped them on board the steamer “Buckeye,” and returned
to Cincinnati; but this supply overstocked the market there, so I took
them to Pittsburg, in Pennsylvania, selling some at the small towns on
the Ohio on my way. I drove a good trade with them at Pittsburg, and
stayed no longer than was necessary, on account of the coal-dust and
smoke. Like Cincinnati, the place was crowded with Germans out of work.
On my return to Cincinnati, I lived for some time at my ease.



CHAPTER VIII.

FARMING AT FOURCHE LE FAVE--A BACKWOODS “FROLIC”--RESIDENCE AT KELFER’S
FARM--SCHOOLS--HUNTING EXCURSION.

     The Ohio--Partnership in farming--Fourche Le Fave--Mr.
     Kelfer--Congress land--My cooking operations--Pig-killing--Decoys
     used in shooting turkeys--Shooting by night--Salt licks--Mosquitoes
     and ticks--Dissensions on our farm--A grand “frolic”--Canoe voyage
     through the woods--Sickness--Kelfer and his family--Sessions at
     Fourche le Fave--Shooting expedition with Slowtrap--Reserve of the
     Americans--Adventures of the early settlers with Indians--Raccoon
     shooting--Bee-hunting with bait--Tempest--Panther-hunting.


Having received a letter from Rutkin, in Louisiana, with whom I had
passed some pleasant days, inviting me to visit him, and intending to
return to Arkansas to shoot (but to the hills in the west, instead of
the swamps), and having nothing to detain me, I accepted the invitation,
and taking a hearty leave of all friends, I was soon once more on my way
to the south.

The steamer “Artisan,” with cattle, poultry, flour, whiskey, and
passengers, carried me down the beautiful Ohio. It was very cold; and as
we lay at Louisville, taking in more cargo, it began to snow hard. By
the time we had reached the mouth of the Ohio, the snow was eight inches
deep, and continued so as far as Memphis; nor did it entirely disappear
till we had passed Natchez.

The nights were very dark, and the boat landed me seven or eight miles
above the right place, so I had to walk to Rutkin’s, leaving my baggage
at a plantation, and calling for it next day.

Rutkin gave me a cordial reception. He was on the point of selling his
hotel at Pointe Coupée, and removing, with all his family, to Arkansas,
as the climate of Louisiana did not agree with them. Two friends, Haller
and Kean, were to join him, the former with a family.

Early in January we went up the stream in the steamer “Amazon” to the
mouth of the Arkansas, and started from thence by one of the smaller
boats that run from its mouth, through the dark forests, to the western
forts. Our first point was Little Rock, from whence we intended to go to
Fort Smith, on the west frontier, leaving the women and children till a
house was prepared for them.

Rutkin had a capital of about 4,000 dollars, and the others 0,000
amongst them. It was arranged that we should all settle on our tract of
land, and cultivate it together, R. taking a stock of goods for trading,
which was also to be carried on in common, he receiving four per cent.
for his outlay. As the money was at his disposal, he was to a certain
degree our chief, but we were all on good terms with each other.

We heard Fourche le Fave very highly spoken of, and particularly the
land in its neighborhood. We went to look at the place, and were well
received by a settler there, Mr. Kelfer. He rode over the country with
us, showed us every thing that was to be seen, and did all in his power
to make our visit agreeable. We could not see much of the land for snow,
but K. assured us that it was very good, the pasture excellent, and the
shooting also good. K. seemed likely to make a pleasant neighbor, and we
soon came to terms. There were two dwelling-houses, with two fields not
far apart, belonging to an American named Wilson, who was, as usual,
willing to sell. In half an hour the matter was settled, 250 dollars,
Arkansas paper currency, being paid for the whole. There were two other
fields, making altogether about thirteen or fourteen acres of arable
land, fenced in. The house furthest from the river was a very good one.

It has to be noticed that this was Congress land; that is, it belonged
to the United States government, and the first settler on it has a prior
right to purchase it, called in American law “preëmption right.” The
advantages of this system to the settler are as follows: he may settle
on the land and cultivate it as his own, no one having a right to turn
him off, till it has been surveyed and announced for sale in the
Government Gazette. He then has the right of purchasing a quarter
section, or 160 acres, or even as little as forty acres at the rate of a
dollar and a quarter an acre, even though another should bid a larger
sum for it. This right Wilson transferred to us with his “improvements.”

After concluding the purchase, we all came to Little Rock. Rutkin and
Keen went to Louisiana to bring over the families, while Haller and I
bought provisions, and returned to Fourche le Fave. Little Rock was
much increased and improved since I first saw it two years ago, but the
place never pleased me.

Our house being near the river, we required a boat, partly to carry out
goods from Little Rock to the place of destination, thirty miles up the
Arkansas, and forty miles up the Fourche le Fave, and partly to carry us
occasionally across the river. We obtained a very good one for ten
dollars, loaded it with flour, potatoes, coffee, sugar, some carpenter’s
tools, and a puppy that had been given me, and which I meant to break
in, and rowed away in good spirits towards our new home.

We entered the Fourche le Fave on the evening of the second day, hoping
to reach a house, said to be about seven miles up the stream; but we
could not find the smallest spot fit for a human habitation, and landed
on a projecting rock, quite tired, between nine and ten o’clock. As it
had rained all day, this was the only clean spot we could find; and the
stone was so small that we were obliged to rest our feet in the boat, to
keep them out of the water.

Next day it rained harder, and we were very glad to get to a house
before dark, where we were in some measure protected from the tremendous
rain. I say in some measure, because the roof was none of the best, the
rain dropping on my face and neck; luckily, before dark, I had espied an
old cotton umbrella in a corner (no common article in a block-house),
and slept comfortably enough for the rest of the night under its
shelter.

We arrived next evening at Kelfer’s farm, where we were hospitably
received, and reached our place of destination on the day following. The
four naked walls looked dreary enough at first, but we soon made
ourselves comfortable. We had nothing to do but to repair the fences,
and wait till the weather was cold enough to preserve meat, and to buy
and kill pigs for both families for the winter. Soon after our arrival,
I had happened to fall upon the slippery bank of the river, and tore
open my left hand, and afterwards, as I was chopping a plank with my
tomahawk, not being able to hold it properly, it slipped, and I smashed
one of my fingers. Haller tore up one of my shirts to bind the wound,
and as I could now for awhile do nothing else, I attended to the
cooking, which was carried on as follows: first, we had a cask of wheat
flour, of which I made bread for every meal; secondly, corned pork, cut
in thin slices and fried; and lastly, coffee. The sugar was kept in a
paper parcel on a shelf, and each helped himself. At dinner, a glass of
whiskey was substituted for the coffee. After about three weeks, being
in a rage with something, I threw the fryingpan out at the door, whereby
its handle was broken, and it was rendered by no means more convenient
to cook with; then Haller one day made a false step, and stumbled on the
coffee-pot, which, in consequence, had to be stopped with a little paste
every morning. The washing-up I found more disagreeable than the
cooking.

Meantime, my hand had got better. The weather set in very cold, and we
resolved to kill and salt the pigs we had bought, weighing about 200
pounds each. A young American, whom we had engaged to help us, cut down
a large sassafras tree, and hollowed out half a dozen troughs, five for
the meat, and one for the lard.

The neighbors were called in to help, the pigs driven into the
enclosure, shot, stuck, scalded, cleaned, and carried into the house.
Not having any large caldron to scald them, it was done Arkansas
fashion. A cask with the head out was half sunk in the earth, and filled
with cold water, and a large fire was made close by and covered with
stones. When these were hot enough, they were thrown into the water, and
the cask covered with a blanket. The water was soon hot enough for our
purpose: the pig was dipped once or twice in the water, and five or six
pairs of hands soon removed all the bristles. By evening all was
finished, and part of the fat laid aside, out of reach of the dogs, for
making soap. The good people who came to help us, now set-to to drink,
assisted by Haller, so that in the course of an hour and a half, none of
them knew exactly whether he was standing on his head or his feet. As
soon as they were all screwed up, I laid one in each trough, and left
them to repose. Before it came to this, Haller and the young American
had sworn eternal friendship, clasped each other round the neck,
mutually supported each other to prevent their falling on the stupid
staggering ground, till at last they went down like a couple of
flour-sacks. Next day the pigs were cut up, salted, and suspended in the
smoking house. In the evening we went to our next neighbor to borrow a
caldron, to melt down the fat; but when I went to get it, a large
quantity of fat had vanished, not through the dogs, but through wolves,
whose trail I plainly traced through the soft sand near the river, not
fifteen paces from the house; but enough was left for our purpose.

I was now well enough to shoot again, and had good sport with the
turkeys, rising before daybreak, stationing myself near their roost, and
remaining quite still till early dawn, then imitating the voice of the
night-owl. The indignant turkey begins to gobble with great force, and
betrays his whereabouts; by creeping noiselessly near his perch, he may
be easily knocked over before broad daylight. If the day should be too
far advanced for the sportsman to gain upon him unperceived, he must
crouch behind a fallen tree, or other cover, and use a decoy-pipe, made
from the second bone of the hen turkey’s wing, split a little on both
sides. One end of this he applies to his mouth, keeping the other end in
the hollow of his hands. As soon as the cock hears it, he flies down,
gobbling furiously, and struts towards the sound, with his wings
trailing along the ground, his comb and wattles in full bloom, and his
tail spread out. He sometimes will come so near that the sportsman is
obliged to give a short whistle to check him, because it is very
difficult to hit him in the right place with a single ball when his
feathers are all ruffled. On hearing the whistle he pulls up short,
looks round suspiciously, and utters a warning K-t-t-t. Now fire, or
good-by turkey. This sport was so attractive, that I hardly let a
morning pass without bringing home a turkey; but it was long before I
was perfect in my practice, and I lost many a shot by a false note, or
heedless noise.

At the end of two months, Kean arrived early one morning with the news
that Rutkin’s and Haller’s families were in a large flat-bottomed boat,
at the mouth of the Fourche le Fave. Haller took the boat immediately to
join them, leaving Kean with me. Fresh life came with the new arrivals:
Rutkin brought a quantity of wares with him, which were all stowed in a
house we had built for the purpose. They consisted chiefly of coffee,
sugar, salt, powder, lead, cottons, &c., &c., all to be sold for ready
money; but as ready money was one of those things which were very scarce
in Arkansas, a system of barter was opened, and cattle, pigs, horses,
salt meat, butter, poultry, eggs, skins, and smoked venison, were
exchanged for the said articles, and conveyed to Little Rock, to be
again sold or exchanged. This part of the business was intrusted to me.

Rutkin took on some more workmen, and the land was prepared for corn. I
was again passionately fond of shooting, and had capital sport. As my
days were generally occupied, it was carried on at night, as follows:
the handle of a frying-pan is lengthened to about four feet by means of
a narrow board; the pan is filled with kindlers and set alight--then
taking it on your shoulder, and your rifle in your hand, you are ready
for sport. If alone, you must take a store of kindlers to replenish the
fire. For the sake of a better aim, a small crutch is cut in the end of
the wooden handle, to rest the rifle. The fire being kept behind your
head, the eyes of the game will glow like balls of fire: the deer,
accustomed to the frequent fires in the forest, are not alarmed. When
first discovered, if at about 100 paces, the eyes will look like a
single ball, but the two become distinct on a nearer approach, which the
sportsman must make with as little noise as possible, and, if possible,
against the wind. When near enough, he lays his rifle in rest, and aims
between the eyes, or, if he can distinguish the outline of the form, at
the heart; and he is generally sure of his game.

There were numbers of salt-licks in the vicinity of the Fourche le Fave,
which were much visited by deer and cattle. The former generally come in
the night, so that the sportsman may take up a station under a scaffold,
on the top of which a fire is made. Four posts are driven into the
ground, five feet apart, and beams laid across, covered with a layer of
leaves or moss, then a layer of sand or earth, on which the fire is
made. The sportsman sits underneath in impenetrable darkness, yet able
to see for seventy or eighty paces on all sides, and easily kills any
deer approaching the lick.

Many a night I lay in the mild warm air of the forest. Sweet and
refreshing as was the face of nature, all was not repose; mosquitoes and
ticks almost drove me to despair. When the fire was once well alight,
the mosquitoes were attracted by it, and destroyed themselves by
thousands, but the ticks became the more furious. They swarm in the
woods about the end of April, and are a dreadful torment to the
new-comer. The full-grown ticks, about the size of a small shot, are not
the worst, because when they bite they may be caught and killed; but in
July, the seed-ticks, smaller than poppy seeds, cover the bushes by
millions, and I have often almost lost myself under them. Tobacco smoke
is the only safeguard against them, as it kills them at once. The poor
cattle are dreadfully tormented by them, particularly when they get into
their ears. The first cold drives them away, though a few may be found
all through the winter.

Meantime the work of the farm went on, and the maize was planted; but a
change came over the spirit of our society. Rutkin, who had hitherto
been friendly and good-natured, became snappish and domineering, and
once or twice ventured to give me orders in a tone that I did not choose
to bear; but as he had been only a short time in Arkansas, I made
excuses for him, laughed at him, took my gun, and absented myself for
above twenty-four hours. On my return, he was always wise enough to act
as if nothing had happened, and to see that giving orders was of no use.
He had also frequent disputes with Kean. Haller agreed with him best,
because he always flattered him, and coincided with him before his face,
though this was by no means the case behind his back.

One day when I was out shooting, R. attacked K., who was small and
slight. To avenge himself, Kean took down his rifle, and would have shot
Rutkin, had not Haller thrown himself between them. Our friendly
relations were now quite broken up. Kean came over to Haller’s, where I
was living, and we withdrew from the partnership, which was more than R.
had reckoned on, as, knowing the state of our finances, he thought he
had us under his thumb. He did not consider that I had a rifle, that
there was plenty of game in Arkansas, and that there was a river running
to New Orleans, where Kean, who was an excellent accountant, could make
sure of a good situation.

We were soon ready to start. I was to take K.’s things in a canoe to
Little Rock, while he was to follow on horseback. But the 4th of July
approached, on which day a farmer on the Fourche le Fave was going to
give a grand entertainment--or frolic, as it is called--in hopes of
being chosen as a member of the legislature at the next election. We
decided on waiting to be present at it.

These frolics generally take place in Spring. When a farmer calls his
neighbors together to collect and burn all the wood he has cut down, it
is called a “log rolling frolic;” and when the women assemble to sew
together a number of different colored patches, it is called a “quilting
frolic;” and in the evening, there is generally a dance, or a game of
forfeits.

I had hitherto never been present at any of these frolics, for I had
rather avoided the throng of men; but as I was about to return to the
woods, where I should perhaps see nothing of social life for months, I
resolved to see men enjoy themselves for once.

The 4th of July arrived, and at about ten o’clock in the morning I
lounged towards the place of destination, leaving my rifle at home. The
strong attraction of some whortleberries detained me some time on the
road, so that I did not arrive till noon. Here all was in movement; the
whole neighborhood had assembled, and the rough backwoodsmen formed many
strange groups; some in hunting-shirts, like myself; some in woollen
homespun coats--but the greater number without their upper garments.
Several fires were lighted, and cooking was going on in various modes,
while, in a shady place near the house, a group of women were occupied
in boiling a “powerful long coffee.”

The sound of a solitary fiddle had been perceptible at a distance, and
sure enough, when I arrived, I found dancing going on amongst the
younger folk, in one of the wings of the double house. I had never
succeeded in acquiring the dances of my own country, much less the
extraordinary movements of those of America; so I amused myself with
looking on, and watching the arrivals, who thronged in from all ends and
corners of the State. A great number of the young women were light and
graceful figures, and looked very interesting on horseback, their cheeks
flushed with their quick ride. But they seemed as if they were going on
a pilgrimage, instead of coming to a ball,--for each fair dame had a
bundle of tolerable size at her saddle-bow; some of them were already
known to me, and I assisted them to alight.

Meantime a long table was laid out before the house, and surrounded with
chairs, benches, &c.; but as it was impossible for all to find seats at
once, the ladies were accommodated first, and waited upon by the
gentlemen. The dinner consisted of roast beef, roast pork, potatoes,
sweet potatoes, maize bread, cakes, and coffee and milk, and went off
very well. Rutkin had brought a case of wine for the ladies, which was
soon emptied. After dinner, a speech was made to the assembled public,
in honor of the birth-day of the United States, and then dancing
commenced again. Picturesque groups were formed here and there, occupied
in various ways. In one place, a party of strong-built, sun-burnt
figures lounged at full length on the grass, relating their shooting
adventures; further on, two figures, astride a fallen tree, were playing
a game of cards; in another place, a party leaping with a heavy stone in
each hand, to give them more impetus; and a row of big fellows were
taking their siesta under the trees, only moving to avoid the too
intrusive rays of the sun, as he declined towards the west. Kean and I
sauntered about amongst the various groups, and occasionally visited the
ball-room--if the interior of a log-house, about sixteen feet by twenty,
can be so called. The air within was hot, almost to suffocation, but the
sight was at times too pretty, at times too comic to be quickly
deserted. Indeed, most of the girls, beating time with their little feet
in jigs, reels, and hornpipes, were pretty enough to chain to the spot
any worshipper of natural beauty. My attention was soon attracted by an
American;--tall, very thin, and rather weak in the knee-joints;--he was
buttoned up in a dark-blue dress coat, with light-blue seams, and yellow
buttons,--a long roll of tobacco stuck out from one of his pockets
which, in the energy of his jumps, he occasionally kicked with his
heels; to prevent its being damaged, he therefore transferred it to the
breast of his coat: the best of the figure was the cravat, which was so
formed, that his head looked like a cup placed in a very large and deep
saucer; his chin was never in sight, and as he jumped, mouth, nose, and
eyes disappeared behind the black bulwark.

Towards evening I joined in a game of cards. Whiskey bottles passed
round, and many of the party were right merry. Having had enough of
cards, I returned to the dancing, which had undergone some interruption;
but the shrill tones of the violino solo were again heard, as I squeezed
through the crowd at the door, into one of the corners right opposite to
the musician. This functionary was in a rather capricious humor passing
abruptly from the wildest allegro to the most dolorous of the dolefuls,
and then breaking off suddenly to ask me for a quid of tobacco. On my
answering that I had none, he inflicted a couple of rough strokes on his
poor instrument, expressed, in coarse language, a most disagreeable wish
respecting the eyes of all the company, on account of the dryness of his
throat, which had only had the contents of two bottles of whiskey down
it, looked wildly round, began to cry, and fell sobbing on the neck of
the thin man in the blue coat, burying his head in the large cravat. He
was seized by the arms and legs, and unceremoniously carried out.

Dancing, of course, ceased during this little intermezzo, and one of the
party offered to find a sober fiddler; but as the amusement would have
been interrupted too long by waiting for him, a tall lad placed himself
in front of the chimney, turned up his sleeves with the utmost gravity,
bent his knees a little, and began slapping them in time with the palms
of his hands; in two minutes all was going on with as much spirit as
before.

At length the promised musician arrived, not however in the promised
condition; but a connoisseur near me remarked that he would do till
twelve o’clock.

To my astonishment, I observed several of the young ladies in white
dresses, whom I was almost sure I had seen before in dark dresses; but,
as I never paid much attention to such things, I thought I must have
been mistaken. An American, however, told me that I was quite right, and
that most of them had already changed their dresses three times; and, if
I kept a look-out, he continued, I should see that some of them would
change again. This, indeed, was the case. Some changed their dresses
five times between noon and the following morning. It would be as
incorrect to dance for a whole night in the same dress as in Europe to
appear without gloves, which latter articles were thought quite
unnecessary here.

A farmer, who lived about eight miles lower down the Fourche le Fave,
promised me an old canoe to carry K.’s things to Little Rock, and said,
that when I got there I might set it adrift, as it was not worth cutting
up; so I settled to go home with him next morning to bring the canoe
back.

A little after twelve the old American’s prophecy came to pass, and the
second fiddler was carried out and laid on the grass, while a third was
soon found to take his place. By this time I was tired and sleepy, so I
stretched myself under a tree, with my head on an old grindstone, and,
in spite of the hard pillow and squeaking fiddle, I slept soundly till
morning.

When the sun sent his hot rays over the trees into the clearing, dancing
was still going on, and the ground was covered with sleeping figures.
Preparations were soon made for departure. The horses, which had been
tied to the bushes or fence, or driven into an enclosure, and had been
well supplied with maize, were quickly saddled, and troop after troop of
men and women disappeared in the thick green forest. I started with the
farmer and his wife, the indefatigable fiddlestick working away as long
as we were within hearing.

I found the canoe; and the good man was quite right when he said that it
was not worth cutting up. None but a person accustomed to such craft
would have ventured to step into it. It was nothing more than the
roughly hollowed trunk of a tree, about ten feet long by eighteen inches
wide; however, it answered my purpose, and, provided with a light
paddle, I set out on my return, which, though only eight miles by land,
was at least twenty by water.

The sun was just dipping behind the tips of the trees; the air, which
had been oppressively hot all day, was somewhat cooler. I was going
slowly up the stream with long easy strokes of the paddle, under the
shadow of the overhanging willows, when, about 100 paces before me, I
saw four wolves playing together on a bank of gravel, jumping in and out
of the water, and rolling over each other like puppies. They did not see
me, and I paddled silently to the side of the river where they were
playing, ran the canoe on the sand, took the paddle, hardly knowing
exactly what I intended, and crept stealthily along towards the
unsuspecting wolves, a projecting rock hiding me from their sight. But
wolves have a fine scent, and just as I was raising my head cautiously,
they all four sprang into the thicket. I returned disappointed to my
canoe, and continued my voyage. On arriving close to a canebrake, about
100 yards further on, I heard a rustling, and caught hold of the bough
of a tree near me, to keep the canoe as still as possible, when an
immense wolf, as black as pitch, with a white star on his breast, came
out of the canes, apparently with the intention of swimming across to
join his companions. When he caught sight of me, he turned his head from
side to side like a dog. As I remained quite motionless, but with my
eyes steadily fixed on him, he took courage, walked into the water, and
began to swim across about fifteen yards ahead of the canoe. I let him
gain the middle of the stream, which may have been about sixty yards
wide, when I gave the canoe a good shove ahead, and paddling as hard as
I could, I gained fast on the surprised wolf. In the first moment, not
knowing which shore to make for, he turned up stream, giving me thus a
great advantage over him. But he soon found out his mistake, and turned
in his first direction, this time gaining an advantage over me, because
my clumsy craft was not easily turned. He had about twenty yards to
swim, and we both tried hard which should first reach the shore. The
bank was still a few feet distant, when I came alongside of the beast,
which was swimming desperately for its life, and, forgetting the
ticklish nature of my craft, I rose up to give him a blow across the
spine with the sharp edge of the paddle, meaning then to attack him with
my knife, as I was without my rifle. He was close beside me, and looked
up at me as I raised the paddle, when the vile canoe slipped from under
me; I lost my balance, and fell into the water just clear of the wolf,
who touched bottom at the same moment, and at once began shaking
himself. The water was not deep, but I was wet through, and vexed at
seeing my prey escape, just as I had made sure of him. A wolf’s scalp is
valued at three dollars in Arkansas. I had moreover the additional
pleasure of swimming some way down the river after the canoe.

I arrived at Haller’s next day without further adventure, embarked
Kean’s things, taking also all my skins with me, as I could sell them
better at Little Rock than at Fourche le Fave. I gave the canoe to an
old German, who was fond of fishing, and who had to fish himself out of
the water the first time he tried her.

I soon returned to the settlement, and a few days afterwards took leave
of Kean, who, with a promise to write to me, set off on horseback
towards the south. My arrangements were soon made, and on the following
morning I set off up the bank of the river towards the mountains,
intending to shoot all the summer. Kelfer, who had already received us
so hospitably, was kind enough to offer me the loan of a horse for the
summer. I thankfully accepted his kindness, and rode off in good
spirits, not knowing exactly where; but that was always one of the least
of my cares, so that I was only in motion, and I soon found a good place
for sport. I learnt that there was very good shooting ground higher up
the river, near the grave-lick, so called because two Indians were
buried there, who had been killed by a panther. Here I joined an
American, named Hogarth, who lived in the neighborhood, and was a keen
sportsman. After trying the waters of the Fourche le Fave, we went to
the sources of the Washita; but the forests not having been burnt for
many years, were so thickly overgrown with underwood, that it was
impossible to find the deer, or to shoot game enough to live upon.

We had been shooting for about five weeks, when one morning, as we were
riding side by side, I felt all at once giddy and unwell. The evening
before, we had been overtaken by a thunderstorm, and my clothes were
still damp. This attack came on so suddenly, that I had hardly time to
say I was ill, and Hogarth turning round, observed that I was very
pale, when every thing swam before my eyes, and turned black and blue;
and I fell senseless off the horse before Hogarth could lay hold of me.
I recovered my senses in a few minutes, but was so ill that it was with
great difficulty I could mount my horse, and keep myself to the saddle.
We had, however, not far to go to the house of a Mr. Collmar, and I held
on by the mane and pommel, though lolling from side to side like a
drunken man.

The house was nothing more than a shed formed of boards, but the good
people received me very hospitably, and attended me kindly for the two
days that I lay delirious. On the third day I was able to be lifted on
horseback, and we returned over the mountains that divide the left arm
of the Fourche le Fave from the main stream, to Hogarth’s house; he
would not let me move till I was tolerably recovered.

At no great distance from hence, lived an old backwoodsman, named
Slowtrap, with whom I was well acquainted, and who showed so much
kindness and good feeling that I became quite attached to him. Still I
longed for German society; besides, I had kept Kelfer’s horse too long,
and would not abuse his good nature. Therefore, though still unwell, I
rode from Hogarth’s about the end of August, towards Kelfer’s, who not
only received me with kindness, but treated me quite as one of his own
family.

He had been accustomed to a quiet comfortable life in his early days,
having been a clergyman in Germany, but he had shaken off the
superintendent yoke of his native country, exchanging it for the
independent life of a farmer in the American forests, and was happy and
contented in his family circle. His young wife was quite an example of
household virtue: they had four very fine children. He produced almost
every thing that he required, and though in his youth unaccustomed to
hard work, he cultivated his land alone, and was not behind any American
in the use of his axe; his cattle and pigs were among the best in the
place.

When first I arrived I felt very wretched and miserable, but the kind
attentions of Mrs. Kelfer restored me after a time; I managed to help a
little on the farm, and now and then took a turn with my rifle, and shot
a deer or a turkey.

The sessions were held about this time at Fourche le Fave, and several
advocates, some from Little Rock, some from the neighborhood, assembled
at Perryville, and quartered themselves on the farmers. Kelfer received
one, who was a gentlemanly young man, and he (Kelfer) had cases to
settle with some of the bad characters in the vicinity. There was now
bustle enough in the usually quiet place, and the little town of
Perryville, about two miles off, consisting of one little shop, and the
dwelling of the ferryman, who was also postmaster, was the assembling
place of the county.

The shop, which formed one half of the town, belonged to a German, who
was too good a specimen of a certain class of his countrymen to be
passed by without notice. Bockenheim, or as the Americans called him,
Buckingham, must, I should think, have been a manufacturer of birch
brooms, as he showed extraordinary talent for that branch of the fine
arts; but he endeavored to gain his livelihood in the general retail
line, and he drove a pretty good trade in Arkansas, where he had settled
himself by chance, and where the people were forced to deal with him, as
his was at first the only shop. Rutkin, however, interfered with his
business, and at first did him much harm, until his proud domineering
manner drove all his customers away, excepting those who thought to gain
advantage over him. Bockenheim spoke such a jargon that it was
impossible to make out whether he was speaking English, German, or
Indian. A German immigrant would never have understood him, and the
Americans were obliged to guess at his meaning; but for all that, he
managed very well, and as he had gained a good sum by his trade, he
naturally enough ascribed it all to his own wisdom.

The sessions were held in the other half of the town, the postmaster
giving up the half of his house for the purpose, as the court-house was
yet to be built. The judge, who travelled this circuit, had come from
Little Rock with several advocates, and took his place by the chimney in
a cane chair. Two tables were placed together in the middle of the room,
though rather nearer the chimney, round which the advocates and the
clerk of the court took their places. A case of assault was first
brought forward; the jury, who must be householders, were chosen, and
sworn, and placed themselves on a long bench against the wall. The
proceedings were opened by the prosecuting attorney, who directed the
attention of the jury to the various laws enacted against this crime,
and then called his witnesses. He was followed by the advocate for the
defence, who called his witnesses, and concluded with an address to the
jury, in which he did not fail to praise the soundness and acuteness of
their judgment. The prosecuting attorney then rose again, and endeavored
to disparage the statements made on the opposite side, ending with the
remark, that, “in the whole course of his life, he had never known so
flagrant a case.” It was now the judge’s turn, who explained to the jury
the state of the law applicable to the case, and warned them that if
they had any doubts, the law prescribes that the case should be decided
in favor of the defendant. The jury ought now to have withdrawn to
another and distant room; but as, unfortunately, there was no other
room, distant or near, to be had at Perryville, and as the pouring rain
prevented their deliberating in the open air, as at other times, the
horses were turned out of the stable, and the twelve jurymen occupied
their place. The next case was that of a respectable farmer, who was
accused of having shot another’s cow, taken it home, and eaten it. The
case excited considerable interest, as it was stated to have occurred
several years ago, and the penalty was whipping and imprisonment, which
has since been altered. After a long deliberation in the stable, the
jury returned a verdict of “Not guilty.” The sessions lasted several
days, and the crowd dropped off by degrees.

At this time of the year, before the maize is quite ripe, being soft but
no longer milky, while last year’s store is nearly exhausted, the farmer
rubs the grain on a grater, generally made out of an old coffee-pot, in
which holes are punched with a nail, and thus procures a fine damp
flour, containing all the saccharine qualities of the plant, and making
excellent bread. This grating is rather hard work. One day when Kelfer
had grated some maize in front of the house, and the fine bright yellow
flour was heaped up on a clean napkin, a juvenile pig came by, and
playfully seized the corner of the napkin, throwing all the flour into
the dust.

I had received no letter from Kean, but heard that he had joined a young
German in the purchase of a boat, and was gone into Louisiana. I almost
regretted that I had not accompanied them; but my passion for shooting
impelled me in a different direction, and I longed to be in the Ozark
mountains, of which I had heard so much, and which were only 150 miles
off. Week after week passed away, and I was desirous of helping Kelfer
with his approaching harvest. I passed a great part of my time in the
forest with my dog Bearsgrease, the same that I had brought from Little
Rock, and which had grown to a fine powerful animal. I was still
undetermined whether to go north or south, when an old acquaintance
arrived at Kelfer’s to pass the night, and decided the question.

It was old Slowtrap, who had formerly lived near the mouth of Fourche le
Fave, but had since removed higher up, not far from Hogarth’s. He had a
sack full of all sorts of articles, including a half bushel of salt
which he had bought at Little Rock, and carried across his horse. He
afterwards told me that he had transported all his family and goods on
horseback, and then I remembered having once met him riding along with
four chairs and a spinning-wheel. The spinning-wheel having made the
horse shy, he had hung it on a tree, intending to come back for it;
meantime a backwoodsman had set fire to the dry leaves in the
neighborhood, and just as he arrived he saw it, burnt through and
through, fall in two parts into the fire below.

A man will sometimes move with his wife and children, and all his goods,
further into the forest, if the grass about his house gets thin, so that
he would be forced to cultivate a little more maize for his cattle.

Slowtrap spoke much of his father-in-law, who was a keen bear-shooter,
and made me long for the mountains more than ever, by affirming that he
intended to go himself in a few weeks, that I might go with him, and
that he would introduce me to the old gentleman. This drove all thoughts
of the south out of my head, and we settled on marching the following
morning. There is a saying that “short hair is soon brushed;” my baggage
was ready in a few minutes.

I was sorry to part with the Kelfers, who had been so kind to me, and
treated me as one of their family; but I hoped soon to see them again.

The November morning broke cold and disagreeable when I started with my
companion. My baggage was not very heavy; I had on deer-skin leggings,
and moccasins, a light hunting-shirt of summer stuff, secured by a broad
leather belt, bearing my tomahawk on the right, and hunting-knife on the
left side, and a tin cup behind. Spare powder and lead were rolled up in
my blanket, with a small bag of roasted coffee, and a clean shirt; a
powder-horn and a leather shot-pouch completed my equipment. My
companion, though an old sportsman, was not equipped for shooting; but
he was pretty well loaded with other things. As I have already stated,
he formerly lived near the mouth of the Fourche le Fave, but had moved
about fifty miles further west, carrying his kitchen utensils, tools,
bedding, &c., all on horseback, and driving his cattle and pigs before
him to his new home. Difficult as such a move appears, I know of a
family which moved three times in one year.

My old friend cut a glorious figure, as he rode beside me. He was about
six feet tall, and as large boned as a fine figure would allow. A pair
of thoroughly honest eyes looked out of a good-humored, weather-beaten
face, and were in constant motion, giving great animation to the massive
figure. Nobody had ever seen him laugh, but those who are well
acquainted with him say, that a little widening twitch of the mouth, and
a slight closing of the corner of the left eye, are certain evidences of
good-humor; neither had anybody ever seen him go faster than at a quick
walk--he seemed to consider it beneath his dignity to run. A well-worn
black coat, with large pockets and flaps, was thrown over his shoulders,
and, notwithstanding the rough weather, his legs were cased in a pair of
thin, light-colored trowsers, which rumpled up high enough to show a
muscular calf above a short sock; a pair of shoes of his own making
covered his feet, while a hat, of any shape but the original, and that
had been black, covered his head. The articles in one end of his bag
were not heavy enough to balance the salt in the other end; so, to
maintain the equilibrium, he was obliged to lean to the left side, and
as he had a large basket, containing a Muscovy duck, on the right arm,
the horse seemed to be between him and the basket. An unloaded gun,
that he had accepted in payment of a long-standing debt, lay across the
pommel. He kept me constantly amused with his stories, as we jogged
along the county road.

When a county road has to be cut, a director is appointed, who is
authorized to assemble all the male population of the county from the
age of eighteen to forty-five; and these stout sons of the forest soon
make a clearance among the trees, and roll their trunks out of the way.
But holes and other hinderances are left in a state of nature, if there
is the slightest chance that a wagon can pass.

Our road led us near the river, though we seldom saw it, on account of
the canes and rushes through which it flows; moreover, we kept to the
heights as much as possible, for the sake of dry ground. The main course
of the river is from west to east, with very good land on both banks,
forming excellent winter pasture, while the hills, also running east and
west, afford equally good summer pasture amongst the thick pine forests.

It was long since the road had been inspected. Large broken boughs and
fallen trees lay across it, impeding our progress. According to
Slowtrap, this was quite natural. He maintained that a tree never would
fall any other way than across a road, if it could only reach it, just
as a sweet gum tree always fell on a fence, if it stood near enough. We
passed a school as we went along--one of the usual log-houses--but with
a plank inserted between two of the logs to serve for a desk. The more
distant scholars come on horseback, and tie up their horses to the fence
during school hours. Of course they bring their dinners with them.
These forest schools seldom pretend to teach more than reading, writing,
and arithmetic; if they attempt geography, it is confined to that of the
United States. In the swamps I once saw a teacher giving lessons in
writing; some of his scholars were eighteen and twenty years old, yet
could not read what they wrote, but copied the letters as we should copy
hieroglyphics. It was just noon as we passed; at this hour master and
scholars make it a rule to play at ball if the weather will allow, so
that they may return with greater zeal to their spelling. The scholars
whom we saw were nearly all grown up.

Hitherto the weather had been fine; but clouds gathered in the west, and
soon turned to rain. As we were in no great hurry, and as Slowtrap said
that one of his greatest friends lived about half a mile from the road,
we turned to the left, and soon halted before a block-house, whose
chimney smoke indicated a glorious fire within. Old Bahrens, to whom the
house belonged, was not at home, but his two sons, lads fifteen and ten
years of age, gave us a warm reception. We found the room occupied by
three other men, who made room for us, and the fire soon restored warmth
to our half-frozen limbs. Two of the strangers were talking earnestly
about the races, which were shortly to be held in the neighborhood,
while the third seemed to be very tired, for he was fast asleep in his
chair.

As it grew later and later without any signs of supper, and there was no
woman in the house, we all set to work, took maize out of the corn crib,
and began to grind. But what a mill! It was above an hour before we had
flour enough for a tolerable meal; we then moistened it with water, put
it in a flat iron pan, covered it, and set it on the ashes to bake. Milk
and smoked deer-hams formed the remainder of the spread. Having, with
some difficulty, roused our sleeping companion, we commenced upon the
viands, and even our sleepy friend seemed to have banished all other
thoughts in his anxiety to make them disappear with the utmost possible
despatch; but his last mouthful was hardly out of sight, when his eyes
became for a moment fixed, the lids fell, and he was again in a deep
sleep.

The whole party were rather tired, and as there were no spare beds in
the house, S. and I spread our blankets; the boys gave us two more to
cover us, and all five were soon peaceably extended, one beside the
other, in waiting for the next day’s sun.

We were up at daybreak, and, to avoid another grind at the old mill, for
which I had conceived the greatest respect, we started before breakfast.
The horse, having had a good supply of food, was again saddled and
bridled, the bag with salt, &c., laid across, my old comrade climbed up,
I handed him his duck basket and old shooting iron, cast my blanket over
my shoulder, and shaking hands with our two new acquaintances, the third
being still asleep, we went off to the west for the abode of my
companion. The weather had cleared up, and with light heart and light
step we jogged along the well-beaten track; Bearsgrease snuffing the
trails of the deer which had crossed the road in the course of the
night. He stopped at every fresh trail, asking with entreating eyes for
leave to follow it; but we had no notion of shooting just then, and
kept straight on. As the day advanced, our stomachs began to reproach us
for such unfriendly treatment, when, about 200 yards in front, we saw a
gang of wild turkeys running along the road. One word of encouragement
to Bearsgrease, and he seemed to fly rather than run after the
long-legged turkeys, who soon finding that their legs would not save
them, took to their wings, and flew heavily to the nearest trees.

As fast as I could I had followed up the dog, who had singled out a
turkey-cock, and was bounding and barking round the tree in which he had
taken refuge, and whence, with outstretched neck, he was turning his
head first to one side then to the other, intently watching the motions
of Bearsgrease; I was enabled to approach unperceived and knock him
over. Meantime S. had lighted a jolly fire, and we sat rather too long
over our meal, considering, or rather not considering, that we had a bad
bit of road before us, and that the weather began to look threatening.

For half a mile the road led through the “mounds,”--small hills, which
are very frequent in this part of Arkansas, principally on low ground.
There can be no doubt but that they have been formed by the hand of man,
as they are in regular rows, from twenty to forty yards apart, six or
seven feet high, and about twelve feet in diameter. The one in the
middle of a row is always of an oval form, while the others are round.
There are sometimes from twelve to twenty rows, with from ten to twenty
and twenty-five mounds in a row, all at regular distances. I have spoken
with several Americans who had dug into them, in the hope of
discovering treasures; but they only found broken pottery, burnt wood,
and now and then a bone. They are situated in the most fertile soil of
the State, and the Indians know nothing about them.

At length the swamps were behind us. We crossed a small prairie, passed
an old buffalo salt-lick, and arrived at Slowtrap’s dwelling, planted on
a spur of the hills which ran out into the plains. It was in no way
different from the usual log-houses: sixteen feet square, from nine to
ten high, with an enormous fireplace, no window, and a weighted roof;
close by was a field of about seven acres, planted with maize. His wife
and children stood at the door as we arrived, and although I knew that
they were much attached to each other, and lived happily together, and
he had been about three weeks absent, not the least word was exchanged
that could be construed into a greeting. “Take my saddle in,” said S. to
his eldest son, a boy of eight years old, who was leaning on the fence,
looking at us as if we were perfect strangers, in whom he had no
concern. At last, when the horse was cared for, and all things in their
places, S. went into the house, took a seat, and lifted his youngest
child into his lap;--and then he said, “How do you do, all of you?” This
distant reserve of the Americans, so prevalent even in their own
families, often struck cold on my heart, and made me regret my native
land. Man and wife are often as reserved towards each other as two
strangers who meet for the first time, and care not about meeting again.
I have seen Americans leave home to be absent for months, without
shaking hands with their wives, or saying “Good-by,” and it is the same
on their return. I must believe, for the honor of the Americans, that
this reserve is mere custom, and does not proceed from any real want of
affection, as I have seen proofs of deep feeling amongst them, but it
always made a disagreeable impression on me. But still worse was it to
see Germans aping this fashion, as often happened to be my lot.

When quietly seated, I took a survey of the dwelling. In two corners
stood two large beds, covered with good stout quilts of many colors;
between the beds, about four feet from the ground, was a shelf holding a
few more quilts, and the linen of the family, which was not
over-abundant, comprising three or four articles for each person. Under
this shelf were two “gums,” trunks of a hollow tree, about a foot in
diameter, and two and a half or three feet high, with a piece of board
nailed on the bottom. They are applied to all sorts of purposes: I have
seen them used as beehives; these, I subsequently found, were one for
flour and the other for salt. Two wooden hooks over the door supported
my host’s long rifle, with its powder-horn and shot-pouch. A shelf held
some shoemaker’s tools, leather, &c., Gun’s Domestic Medicine, a family
Bible, the Life of Washington, the Life of Marion, Franklin’s Maxims, an
almanac, and a well-worn map of the United States. Various files, awls,
broken knives, and a bullet-mould, were stuck into the crevices of the
logs near the fireplace. On the left of it were two short shelves, with
four plates, two cups, three saucers, some tin pots, and a large
coffee-pot, all as bright and clean as possible. In the corner of the
fireplace was an iron pan with a cover, for baking bread, and two
saucepans, one broken. Several joints of smoked meat hung from the roof,
surrounded by strips of dried pumpkin suspended on poles.

The above-named boy, a girl of ten, a blue-eyed, flaxen-haired,
rosy-cheeked girl of four, diligently munching a bunch of wild grapes,
and the little one on my friend’s lap, formed the family; they all
looked shyly at me, though they had seen me six months before, so that I
was not quite a stranger to them.

We had agreed to set off for the mountains at once--but S. found some
business to detain him at home, so it was put off till the next week,
and I amused myself in the mean time as well as I could; and as I was
acquainted with the country, I took my rifle, and paid a few visits to
old acquaintances, returning to Slowtrap’s on the 12th December, partly
on account of the cold wet weather, and partly to mend my moccasins,
which had suffered severely from the sharp stones of these mountains.
Slowtrap happened to be mending a pair of shoes at the same time. It is
a general practice with the backwoodsmen to make their own shoes, and a
regular shoemaker is a scarce article in this part of the world. As they
are thrown on their own resources from their youth, these Americans are
very skilful in providing for their necessary wants, and are
particularly expert with the axe, which they begin to wield as soon as
their arms are strong enough to lift it. They use it for a variety of
purposes--building houses, laying roofs and floors, forming the chimneys
and doors, the only other tool used being an auger; and nothing amuses
them more than to see the awkwardness of a new comer, when first he
handles an axe. Besides making their own shoes, they understand enough
of tanning to prepare the leather; they make their own ploughs, dig
wells, &c.; for all which operations Europeans require so many different
workmen.

As we sat together before the fire, there was no difficulty in getting
Slowtrap to relate some of his adventures with the Indians in his early
days. In the evening we brought in some pumpkins, and as we cut them
into thin rings to hang on the poles to dry he began to speak in the
following words of the perils he had been exposed to in Kentucky, and
his narrow escapes from the Indians: “Kentucky was at that time a
wilderness, when my father, my uncle, and myself arrived near the
dwelling of Daniel Boone, to look about for a spot that would suit us;
for North Carolina, where we then lived, began to be too populous, and a
man who wanted to shoot a turkey or partridge was tired before he had
walked half an hour, from the number of fences he was obliged to climb
over. I was then just eighteen, as strong as a four-year-old bear, and
was delighted at the thought of meeting the Indians. It was about this
time of the year, and the game we saw made our hearts bound: numbers of
bears, deer, and buffaloes; while the turkeys would hardly get out of
our way. It would tire you to tell you of all the sport we had, for no
country in the world could boast of more game than Kentucky thirty years
ago; but now it is no better there than it was then in North Carolina,
and five years hence, a man who wants to shoot a bear in Arkansas, will
have many a weary mile to tramp. One evening we arrived at the edge of a
cane-brake, and as there was good feeding for the horses, we resolved
to pass the night there. We hobbled the forelegs of the horses with some
bark of the papao tree, and hung a bell round the neck of my uncle’s
mare. Yet, not being sure of escaping the vigilance of the Indians, we
kept watch by turns. Nothing suspicious occurred till about midnight,
when the sound of the bell ceased, which I, having the watch at the
time, thought rather extraordinary, as the horses were not in the habit
of lying down till morning. The dogs also were restless, particularly a
greyheaded bear-hound, who gave a howl when the wind came from the
quarter where the horses had been left. I did not wake the two seniors,
but I passed an anxious night. Towards morning I heard the bell again,
but further off, and more to the right. My father woke about daybreak,
and I told him what had disquieted me. It seemed rather suspicious to
him also, but he thought the horses might perhaps have strayed a little
in search of fresh reeds. As soon as it was broad daylight, he took his
bridle and rifle, and went with ‘Watch,’ the old dog, towards the sound
of the bell, to bring back the horses. My uncle woke in the mean time.
We had set a delicate morsel to broil. I was catching the dripping from
some roasting bear’s meat, in a piece of hollow bark, to baste the
turkey, when my father came back without the horses, and said he had
found infallible traces of Indians near our camp. My uncle wished to
examine the marks; so we shouldered our rifles, and proceeded to the
place where the horses had been feeding the evening before. In one
rather moist place there was a very clear impression of a moccasin, and
one of the savages had inconsiderately stepped on the trunk of a fallen
tree, which being rotten, had yielded to his weight, leaving the mark
of a foot. While examining it, we heard a noise in the canes. In an
instant our rifles were all directed to the spot; but it was only my
horse sticking his head out of the canes, and neighing at sight of us.
My uncle now settled that, as he was best acquainted with the cunning
and tricks of the Indians, he would seek the horses alone, and nothing
we urged could dissuade him from his purpose. He took my father’s
bridle, and my horse, and was soon mounted, slowly and cautiously
following up the trail. Losing sight of him, we went back to the camp to
look after our breakfast, which we had forgotten in the first
excitement. We remained constantly listening for the sound of the bell,
when we heard a shot, and directly afterwards three more in quick
succession. We were up in an instant, started towards the sound, and
soon heard the gallop of a horse, and saw my uncle advancing at full
speed. When he reached us he pulled up short, so that the horse reared.
His eyes were glazed;--he was very pale, reeled in his saddle, and fell
into my arms, which I extended to receive him. It was well for us that
the Indians had not followed him, or we should have fallen an easy prey.
My uncle recovered after a short time, and told us, with failing voice,
that as he was following up the trail, he distinctly heard the bell
again at a little distance, and riding cautiously forward, rather
distrustful of the deep silence, he saw my father’s horse standing by a
fallen tree. He rode up to him, keeping a sharp look-out all round; and
just as he leaned over to take hold of the bell-strap which was round
his neck, an Indian appeared not fifteen paces off, took aim, and
fired; feeling himself hit, he let go the horse, brought forward his
rifle, and fired, when more dark figures appeared right and left. He
turned his horse, and gave him the spurs. He sank fainting to the
ground, and the dark blood flowed out as we opened his clothes. He was
hit in three places, and two of the wounds were mortal. After a few
minutes he raised himself again, gave us each a hand, which we pressed
in silence, drew a deep breath, and fell back a corpse. We buried him on
the spot, and vowed a deep revenge, which we faithfully consummated: a
few nights afterwards, the wolves were tearing the flesh from three
corpses over the fresh grave.”

Having finished his tale, my host sat for some time with his head
leaning on his hand, thinking of times long past. His wife had fallen
asleep: she had probably, heard the tale many times before, and as it
was rather late, we were all glad to retire.

The dogs barked several times during the night, and about an hour and a
half before daylight, they were quite furious; supposing their
excitement to be caused by raccoons, or opossums, we started up, and
took our guns, called the dogs, and went into the piercing cold morning
air, though it was too dark to see one’s hand; my thin deer-skin
moccasins were soon frozen, which by no means added to my agreeable
sensations. The bark of the dogs soon showed that they had chased
something to a tree. As our feet were dreadfully cold, and it was still
too dark to shoot, we lighted a fire, and though the dogs enjoyed its
warmth, they never forgot the object of our being there, keeping their
eyes fixed on the tree, and giving, from time to time, a short
impatient howl. At length a gleam appeared in the east; gradually the
forms of the nearest objects became visible; as the light increased, we
could make out, on one of the upper branches of a tree, a dark spot,
which afterwards was distinctly seen to be a raccoon. S---- raised his
rifle slowly, and took aim; the dogs jumped up, and looked to and fro
from the muzzle of the gun to the dark spot on the tree, giving a slight
whine--the piece became steady--a flash--a sharp report--and the
creature fell dead from the top of the tree. The dogs seized it
instantly, and it cost some trouble to rescue it from their fangs,
before the skin was quite spoiled.

We returned to the house, and rested again till breakfast. After
breakfast I went out to shoot turkeys, which were very numerous; but
when I descended to the lower valley of the river, I found such an
abundance of winter grapes, that I thought no more of my shooting, but
gathering a good quantity, I lay down under a tree to enjoy them. After
lying there about a couple of hours, I was roused by hearing the turkeys
calling; so, hiding myself behind a fallen tree, I used my decoy pipe,
and ten or a dozen stout fellows came strutting along. When they arrived
within about twenty paces I gave a whistle, which brought them to a
stand, and I shot the largest through the head. Satisfied with my prize,
I returned to the house, and found that the grapes had quite spoiled my
dinner.

As the weather turned out fine and warm in the afternoon, we determined
to hunt in the wood for a swarm of wild bees, which we had sought for
in vain about six months before. We took some bait with us, and went to
a spot about half a mile off.

To induce bees to take bait in the fall of the year, the hunter looks
out for a small open space in their neighborhood, and if he cannot find
one he must make a clearance with his knife and tomahawk, stick a branch
upright in the ground, and lay some leaves on it spread with a little
thinned honey. The bees soon discover it, and when they have got as much
of the honey as they can carry, they rise in circles, which become
larger and larger, till they attain a certain height; then they dash off
direct for their own tree, to deposit their store in the general
warehouse. The bee-hunter must take particular notice of the line of
their flight, which requires a good eye, and then carry his bait some
two hundred yards further in that direction, when the bees will soon
flock round it again. If, when loaded, they keep the same course, it is
a sign that the tree is still in that direction, and the bait must be
carried further, until they fly the other way. Then the bee-hunter will
know that he has passed the tree, and that it must be between his
present and his last station, and he is not long in finding it. When he
comes near the tree, and the bees are at work, their unsteady zigzag
flight will betray its proximity.

The first time we moved our bait, the bees flew backward, so we knew we
could not be more than a hundred yards from their tree; but the
approaching night prevented our discovering it. Next morning about ten
o’clock, as it began to get warm, we returned to our hunt, and in less
than half an hour, found the hole where the little laborers were passing
in and out. It was in a nearly decayed, not very large post-oak, a tree
that prefers moist soils, though it also grows on hills. It bears small
and rather sweet acorns; its wood is very durable, and will remain long
in the ground without rotting. I rode hastily back to the house, for we
had taken a horse with us for the chase, and returned with a pail, an
axe, a knife, and a spoon. The tree soon fell under our blows--smoke was
made--the bees stupefied--an opening cut--and a most beautiful sight for
a bee-hunter presented itself, in a number of well-filled cells. We
filled the pail with the best, ate as much as our stomachs would bear,
set the tree on fire, that the bees might not lead us astray in our next
hunt, and returned to the house.

As there were several things to be done about the house, we remained at
home, cut down firewood, and carried it to the house, ground flour in
Slowtrap’s excellent steel mill, and when the evening shadows began to
lengthen fast, we sat by the fire, and the old fellow, rendered
good-humored by the successful bee-hunt, began again with his stories.
In the course of the day, we had seen a man pass by with a smooth-bored
gun, and as such a thing was a rarity in the backwoods, the conversation
turned on this circumstance. He said: “I once had a smooth-bored gun,
called a musket, and not far from the house where we then lived was a
small lake, generally covered with wild fowl. One morning I took the old
thumper, for it kicked tremendously, and lounged towards the lake to
have a shot. I had not gone far along the bank, when I saw through a
gap a number of ducks, swimming quietly on the other side of a thick
bush; a fallen tree stretching out into the lake, seemed to offer a good
bridge to approach them by. When I got to the end of it, and was about
sixty yards from the birds, I raised the heavy old musket to take aim,
but knowing how old kill-devil kicked, I leant as far forward as
possible, with the firm conviction that the recoil would drive me back
on the tree. Three ducks were swimming in a line, and thinking this a
good chance, I pulled the trigger, leaning if possible still further
forward in the act; but it only snapped, the expected recoil failed, and
I fell head over heels into the lake. I had some trouble in getting back
again to the shore, and never saw ducks or musket again.”

The sky seemed to promise a continuance of fine weather, and as there
was no prospect at present of Slowtrap’s visit to the mountains, I
resolved to take a little shooting excursion alone. The shooting on the
north of the river was not so good as on the south, as there were fewer
settlements; so I determined to cross over, and try my luck. A young man
of the name of Curly lived close to the south bank; he was certainly
strongly suspected of horse-stealing, but in other respects was a good
fellow, and a capital sportsman; his little weakness respecting
horse-flesh was a matter of indifference to me--he could not steal any
of mine: so I went to the river and hailed, when he soon brought his
canoe and carried me across.

He was easily persuaded to accompany me for a few days, first requesting
time to prepare some provisions. He lived in a small block-house close
to the river, surrounded by trees, and without an inch of cultivated
land; he subsisted mostly by shooting. He had only lately arrived; his
mother, wife, and sister lived in the house with him. As he had no flour
in store, it was necessary to grind some, but his mill was more like a
mortar than any thing else. Such mills are frequent in Arkansas. A sound
tree is cut off about three feet from the ground, and hollowed by fire,
knife, and chisel till it will hold about as much as a pail; it is made
as smooth as possible, and a logger-head, or pestle of hard wood, is
suspended to a balanced pole, such as is frequently fitted to wells. It
may be imagined that pounding corn in this way is hard work, and as only
a small quantity at a time can be prepared, it has to be done before
every meal; but this is the only resource of all those who are too poor
to buy a steel mill. At last Curly had as much as would serve for two
days, in case we shot nothing. He rolled up in his blanket all the
things he meant to take, hung his tin pot and tomahawk to his belt, and
off we set into the glorious freedom of the forest.

We might have gone about three miles, when we came on the trail of
several deer, though we had seen nothing of the precious creatures
themselves; and as it began to grow dark, and we found ourselves near a
bubbling spring, and a black hawberry bush looked very attractive, we
resolved to camp there, and to begin our sport as early as possible in
the morning. We cast off our blankets, laid down our rifles, and
collected wood for a fire, the night promising to be rather cold. We
soon had a fire of which a volcano need not have been ashamed, and lay
down to repose. Our supper consisted of dried venison, slices of bacon,
maize bread, and coffee--a princely repast for the forest, but we hoped
to have fresh meat on the morrow.

We breakfasted with the first gleam of light, fed the dogs, and related
stories till it was light enough to see the sights on the muzzles of the
rifles; then taking our preconcerted directions, we trod lightly and
cautiously over the dried leaves. A little before sunrise I heard the
crack of Curly’s rifle; a few minutes later a second report, then a
third. I stood still for about a quarter of an hour, in case a
frightened deer should bound past. Nothing moved; I continued my march.
I had not gone far when I saw a majestic buck at a walk. I crept lightly
to a right angle with his course; when about eighty yards off, I gave a
hail: he stopped, and my ball pierced his shoulder; after a few bounds,
he lay struggling in the yellow leaves. Bearsgrease rushed after him,
but finding him already dead, he only licked the wound, and lay quietly
beside him, waiting for his share of the prize. I took the skin and the
two legs, hanging the latter on a tree with the skin over them, cut a
few bits of the rest for Bearsgrease, leaving the remainder for the
wolves and vultures, and continued my march. Soon after I heard a shot,
about a hundred yards off on the other side of a thick jungle, and
proceeded towards the sound. It turned out to be Curly, who had killed a
turkey; he was lying under a tree, and told me, with a mournful visage,
that, having wounded a buck, he was following him over some loose
stones, when he sprained his ankle, and could hardly move, being obliged
to leave the wounded deer to its fate.

As we had traversed the country in a circle, we were not far from our
last night’s camp. I helped him to it as well as I could, and both being
hungry, we roasted the turkey. But Curly had lost all heart for
shooting, and, with the help of a big stick, limped slowly homewards,
where he could lay up his leg to nurse. I could not tear myself away so
soon, and continued my sport alone.

As the sky grew cloudy and threatening, I made a tent of my blanket, and
collected wood enough to defy any quantity of rain that might fall. When
all this was arranged, I went to the tree where I had left my venison
and skin, and to give Bearsgrease another feed from the carcase. But I
was too late; the vultures had left nothing but the bones, and had torn
the skin on the tree, which, however, I was in time to rescue, and
hanging it over my shoulders, with the legs safe in my arms, I returned
to my camp. Having made a good fire, and roasted a slice of meat, the
coffee being all gone, and the bread reduced to one small piece, I fed
my dog, and lay down to repose. About midnight I was awakened by a
formidable thunderstorm. Bearsgrease began to howl dreadfully, and close
behind me an oak burst into flames. Flash followed flash, while the
thunder was incessant; the whole forest seemed to swim in a lake of
fiery brimstone, the rain poured in torrents, and the little stream
swelled to a foaming river. When the storm ceased, silence and darkness
took its place, only disturbed by the rustling of the rain falling
perpendicularly on the leaves. My blanket protected me well; I was
perfectly dry, and soon fast asleep again. Towards morning it cleared
up, and the weather was the most glorious for shooting that could
possibly be imagined. I was on foot by daybreak, and by ten o’clock I
had three deer hanging to the trees. My last night’s repose having been
broken by the storm, and yesterday’s and to-day’s exertions having
fatigued me very much, I threw myself under a tree, and enjoyed a
delightful nap. The sun was near the horizon when I awoke, and there was
hardly time for me to return to camp and collect wood before dark, for
the night threatened to be very cold; but it was bright starlight, and
my blanket was dry,--so I rolled myself comfortably in its folds.

I lay awake till past midnight, giving the reins to my imagination; and
when I fell asleep I dreamed of stretched deerskins, and that
Bearsgrease was chasing an immense buck, when his loud barking and
howling awoke me. I patted him to keep him quiet, and found his hair all
bristling up. I thought wolves must be near us; and listening
attentively, I heard the cautious tread of some heavy beast over the dry
frosty leaves.

I laid some dry fir branches, which were near me, on the fire, to make
it burn up bright, and placed myself between it and the noise of the
footsteps, in order to distinguish the eyes of my untimely visitor, and
shoot him. Three times I caught sight of two glowing balls, and from
their rapid disappearance I was convinced that I had to do with a
panther. He went round and round the fire several times, but never close
enough for me to distinguish his form;--and I passed half an hour with
my rifle at my cheek, in the greatest anxiety, the dog pressing close to
my side, with all his nerves on the stretch, following the tread of the
panther, and giving a fearful howl every time he passed across the wind.

The brute, not possessing courage enough to attack, at length withdrew;
but I remained a good quarter of an hour longer on the watch, till the
dog, persuaded that all was safe, had lain down again, when I followed
his example, wrapped myself in my blanket, and was soon fast asleep.

The morning was bitterly cold; and as I had nothing on my feet but a
pair of thin deer-skin moccasins, not even stockings, I thought of a
plan I had learned from an old sportsman, and bathed my feet in the icy
cold water of the stream, dried them well, and put on my moccasins. My
feet were soon in a glow, and remained warm all the morning.

I started at daylight, and followed the course of the stream downwards;
but the bushes grew thicker and thicker, and I was about returning to
cross the hill to another brook, when I caught sight of a noble stag in
the thicket on my right. I crept quickly and silently round the bush to
cut him off, when suddenly I heard a most heart-rending cry from a deer.
My first impulse was to rush towards the sound, and on the first
movement I made for this purpose, Bearsgrease bounded forwards; but I
thought better of it, and a sharp whistle stopped the dog in his career.
A second fainter whistle brought him to my side; then, hiding behind a
tree, I reflected on what was best to be done.

The shriek certainly came from a deer, and nothing but a panther could
have caused it; for if it had been a wolf, all would not have been
silent again so soon, as a wolf could not have overpowered a deer so
quickly.

Now, I had often heard from Americans how the panther darts on his prey,
kills it in an instant, and, after eating his fill, buries or covers up
the rest for a future meal. I resolved to try and make sure of the
panther, and, if possible, to creep up to him unperceived. I did not
then know how difficult it was to outwit a panther; but this time
fortune favored me.

After waiting about half an hour, I thought I might make the attempt,
and crept lightly and cautiously towards the thicket; the dog, well
knowing my object, crept as silently after me. Just as I gained the edge
of the thicket, and was looking out for the best place to enter it with
the least noise, I heard a light rustling. My heart began to beat
violently; the bush opened, and my eyes encountered the fierce orbs of
the panther. Doubtless, in the first moment of surprise he did not know
exactly what to do; but his surprise did not last long: a panther has a
bad conscience, and justly supposes a foe in every living being not
belonging to his own race; and, crouching down about twenty paces from
me in the yellow grass, he was preparing either to make a spring, or to
hide himself--I could not tell which. But I was not idle; during the
time he stooped, my arm had recovered its steadiness, the rifle cracked,
the animal made one spring upwards, and fell dead to the earth.
Bearsgrease seized him on the instant, and seemed to take exquisite
pleasure in shaking the skin of his deadliest foe; and he cast many a
longing look behind, when, at my command, he followed up the panther’s
trail. We soon came to the place where he had killed the buck, and
covered it with leaves; the skin had been so mauled that it was
useless, but I stripped off the panther’s, and set out on my return to
my camp, deciding to go back to old Slowtrap’s, and to commence my march
to the Ozark mountains as soon as possible.

On arriving at the camp I tied up the skin with strips of bark, and
although I took very little of the venison with me, I had a heavy load.
I reached Curly’s in the evening. As it was nearly dark, I had no fancy
for crossing the river at night, and creeping for half an hour through a
cane-brake, with the chance of getting my eyes poked out; so I remained
with Curly. The house was small, but it contained two large bedsteads,
one table, three chairs, two plates, and one cup; a hole in the wall did
duty for the absent window.

We passed a very pleasant evening. Curly sang well, and gave us a number
of Irish comic songs, till, tired with laughing and the severe exertions
of the day, I rolled myself in my blanket, and laid myself by the fire.
I was up at daybreak, and the river being low, waded through, hastened
to Slowtrap’s, and spread out my skin. Slowtrap was out shooting wild
fowl, which had collected in such numbers on a little river running into
the Fourche le Fave, that I never saw any thing like it; they positively
covered the water, and a good double-barrelled gun might have done
immense havoc, particularly as the steep banks favored the approach to
within thirty yards of the ducks.

Supposing the old fellow not to be far off, I took my rifle, and lounged
down to the brink of the river; not with any intention of shooting, as
my rifle had too large a bore; but I came upon a string of ducks, not
more than fifteen yards off. This was too enticing; I raised the gun,
and off went the golden green head of the largest of them. I reloaded,
fished out my bird, and was turning up the stream, when I heard
Slowtrap’s gun above a mile off, and as I had no intention of walking so
far, I took my duck by the neck and walked home. Where was my home?
Wherever I happened to be--where I had erected a bark shed, or spread my
blanket, or lighted a fire, or where the hospitable roof of a farmer or
backwoodsman received me; though the next morning might find me with all
my goods on my back--no heavy burden--seeking new shooting-ground, and a
new home. What then?--I went home, and commenced mending my old
moccasins once more, though they were almost worn out; and as I had some
tanned deer-skin, I cut out a new pair, for the others would have never
survived a long march.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER IX.

HUNTING ANECDOTES AND EXPERIENCES--CHRISTMAS--CONWELL AND HIS
REMINISCENCES.

     A backwoods gun--Anecdote of a panther--My dog
     “Bearsgrease”--Collmar’s house--Hunting a tame bear--Hunting
     expedition--Hailstorm--Spirit-seller--Route of Eastern Indians;
     their sufferings--The “Mulberry” river--Christmas-eve--Conwell, the
     old settler--Hunting with Conwell--His age and robust frame--A
     bear--Fat turkeys--Anecdotes of the Indians; their
     cunning--Anecdote of the moccasins--Method of hanging up
     deer--Dangerous work with a buck--Anecdote of a
     buffalo-hunt--successful sport.


Meantime it grew dusk, and Slowtrap returned with seven ducks, three of
which had had their heads shot off. Meat was now plentiful. After S. had
made himself comfortable--that is to say, had taken off his hat, laid
aside his rifle and pouch, pulled off his wet shoes and stockings, taken
unto himself a slice of cold turkey, with its appropriate maize bread
and boiled pumpkin, seated himself with his feet to the fire, cut off a
piece of his chair to make a toothpick, and begun complacently to pick
his teeth, a sure sign that he felt comfortable, all which operations
took about three quarters of an hour--he asked, “Well, what’s the news?”
As the answer was not encouraging, another long pause ensued. When it
was quite dark, and a good fire was burning, his wife brought us some
bread and milk, of which he partook largely, and then began to thaw,
and speak of his exploits: he had fired eleven times, and his piece had
missed fire twenty-seven times, a habit the old flint gun had; but he
had nevertheless brought home seven ducks, and he had seen a fresh
panther trail; the panther had probably seen him from a tree, and jumped
down and escaped.

He took particular notice of my panther skin, and thought that there
must be a number of them about, but that formerly there were more than
twice as many in Kentucky. “Ah, at that time,” said he, “a man might
shoot five or six deer before breakfast, and once I had got up at
daylight, and shot two noble bucks, and stalked a third for half a mile,
when he got scent of me, and escaped. I was tired with my exertions, and
had scarcely any sleep all night, for a rascally panther had been
howling near me, and several times came so close to the fire that I
could make out his form, though he never gave me time to put a ball into
him with certainty. So I threw myself under a tree, to rest a little,
meaning then to continue my sport; but somehow my eyes closed
unconsciously;--and I can’t say how long I may have lain there, when,
still half asleep, I heard a strong rustling amongst the dry leaves
which surrounded me, and felt that they were being thrown over me, so
that I was quite covered in a few minutes. Surprise at first, and then
an instinct of danger, which I did not quite understand, kept me
motionless, awaiting the result: before I had formed any resolution, I
heard something moving stealthily away, and cautiously raising my head,
saw a panther disappear in the thicket. My first act was to jump up and
look to my priming, and as I saw nothing more of the beast, though I
was sure that it would return, I resolved to oppose cunning to cunning.
A piece of a broken bough lay near; I dragged it to the spot, and
covered it carefully with dried leaves--then, slinging my rifle on my
back, I mounted a neighboring oak to await in patience, but with a
beating heart, the conclusion of the adventure, as the panther might
return at any moment. I may have sat for rather more than half an hour,
my eyes steadfastly fixed on the place where the panther had vanished,
when the bough began to move, and the female panther (for a female it
turned out to be), reappeared with two cubs, intending, no doubt, that I
should serve as supper for the family. This time she had reckoned
without her host. I remained silent and motionless in the tree, watching
every movement and keeping the rifle in readiness. She crept stealthily
to within fifteen paces of the spot where she had left me covered up
with leaves, and crouched down with her green eyes glaring upon the log;
the next instant she made a spring, struck the claws of both her fore
feet into it, and buried her sharp fangs deep in the rotten wood. When
she found herself deceived she remained for a moment or two in the same
attitude, quite confounded. I did not leave her much time for
consideration; my ball crashed through her brain, and she fell dead on
her supposed prey, without a moan. I killed the two young ones easily
enough.”

He had hardly finished the anecdote, when the dogs began to bark, and,
by and by, we jumped up to see what was the matter. It was a neighbor,
named Collmar, from the other side of the hill. I took the

[Illustration: THE PANTHER AT FAULT.]

saddle off his horse, and laid it under one of the beds, tied up the
horse to a young tree, shoved a roughly-hewn trough before him, which I
filled with maize, and his eager munching proved how well he was
satisfied with all the proceedings. Collmar had come over the hill to
invite us to assist in erecting a new house. He had collected all the
logs on the spot, and now, according to American custom, was calling on
his neighbors to come and assist in raising them. S. was his nearest
neighbor but one, and lived nine miles distant; the next dwelt eight
miles further.

I promised to come at all events, but it was against Slowtrap’s habit to
promise any thing two days in advance. Besides, his wife and his
youngest child were both unwell. We shortened the evening with stories
and anecdotes. Collmar was off with the dawn to prepare for the
following day. I took my rifle and lounged into the forest with
Bearsgrease to look for a turkey. He drove a gang into the trees, at
less than half a mile from the house; but the wood was so thick and
overgrown, that before I could come up to see which trees they had
perched in, they had so hidden amongst the branches that there was not a
trace of them to be seen. I therefore whistled for my dog, and hid
behind a tree to await the time when they would think themselves safe,
and begin to call. I had not long to wait; ere long they began to cry,
and about a hundred yards in front of me, a large cock raised himself on
a branch, where he had nestled without my perceiving him. Without trying
to get nearer, I took aim at once, and hit the turkey, which fell
flapping from the tree; but the bushes were so thick that I should have
lost him, had not Bearsgrease dashed in with the greatest intrepidity,
in spite of thorns and creepers. The turkey, whose fall had been broken
by the wild vines, had no sooner touched the ground, than he made a
quick run for a cane-brake, and disappeared, with Bearsgrease bounding
and barking on his trail. On forcing my way through the canes, I
witnessed an interesting struggle between the two. The dog was still
young, and the turkey a fellow of twenty or twenty-two pounds; and
Bearsgrease, knowing that he must not injure him, tried to hold him with
his fore paws, whilst the turkey, which was only wounded in the left
wing, constantly succeeded in escaping, and running a yard or two before
the dog could pin him again. After watching them for some time, I put an
end to the struggle by cutting off the turkey’s head with my knife, and
carried him home. I then saddled Slowtrap’s old pony, and set off over
the mountain to gain Collmar’s house before night, leaving Bearsgrease
behind me.

The hills and rivers south of the Arkansas almost all run, like that
river, from west to east, and the hills have a peculiar formation. The
middle row or back-bone ridge is the highest, and generally on either
side are two or three lower ranges of hills, running parallel to the
main range, and sloping more and more towards the plain. All the smaller
rivers which run into the Arkansas from this side, have such hills
between them. I rode slowly up and down these hills looking out for
game. I had left my hunting-shirt behind, and a sharp north wind began
to chill me a little; but I did not like covering myself with the
blanket which lay across my saddle. Suddenly I saw a fox watching me
from the side of a hill beyond a little brook. I raised myself slowly in
the saddle, and fired; but my hand shook so with the cold that I missed
him. After the report, when the smoke cleared away, the fox had
disappeared; I jumped off and ran to the place where he had been
standing, to see if I could find traces of the ball--finding none I
reloaded, and returned to the horse, which was quietly grazing. With my
left foot in the stirrup, and in the act of throwing my right leg over
the saddle, what was my astonishment to see the fox in the same place as
before, looking as unconcerned as if nothing had happened! I had to turn
my horse before I could take aim, and the fox turned at the same time. A
loud whistle made him stop for a moment to see what it was; he was off
again before I could fire, but not quick enough to escape my ball. The
jump he gave showed he was hit; so, throwing myself off the horse, I
hastened after him. When he heard the bushes rustling, he stood still to
listen. This allowed me to approach him: the shot had broken his left
hind leg; and, throwing away every thing that hindered me in running, I
darted after him. Dragging his wounded leg, he limped along the side of
the hill; but, finding that I gained on him, he turned towards the
summit. I had run for a good half mile, and too much out of breath to
breast the hill, I soon lost sight of him. Heated and tired, I returned
to the horse, picking up my rifle, powder-horn, pouch, and cap, by the
way, enveloped myself in my blanket, and mounted my patient steed.

I soon crossed the highest summit of the range, and running down by the
side of a small stream southwards from the hills, in about an hour and
a half arrived at the place where Collmar’s house was to be built, and
where some of those who had arrived before me were occupied in cutting
the logs.

The ground was already prepared and planks cut; other neighbors arrived
from time to time with their dogs and guns, and the clearing was filled
with laughing, talkative groups.

The horses were hobbled near some reeds, with plenty of maize shaken
down in a dry place. In the evening, we all assembled at Collmar’s hut,
or rather shed, formed of boards fastened together, supported by poles,
and containing three roughly-hewn bedsteads, a weaver’s loom, and two
spinning-wheels. It may have been about fifty feet long and twenty wide,
with the floor as nature supplied it. Rifles and saddles lay about;
three pairs of deer hams adorned one corner, and dried pumpkins hanging
to poles, formed the sky to this paradise.

Immense blazing logs were heaped up in one blackened corner, and from
time to time it was necessary to throw a pail of water over the fire to
prevent the planks from burning; and then clouds of ashes threatened us
with the fate of Herculaneum and Pompeii.

All sorts of cooking utensils were crowded round the fire--a turkey was
stuck upon a stick to roast by the side of an opossum, dangling on a
string from the roof. Notwithstanding my long abode amongst people who
were passionately fond of this article of food, I could never bring
myself to eat a thing with a rat’s head and tail, and hand-like claws.
The prospect of a good supper was a delight to my hungry stomach.
Meantime, I was much diverted by a bargain about cows going on between
two old backwoodsmen: but, before discussing this subject, it will be as
well to say something of the other inmates of the shed. Collmar’s wife,
a stout, strong-built woman of about thirty-four, with two daughters of
fourteen and ten, were all that belonged to the fair sex. They were
busily employed about the fire with long-handled spoons, turning the
meat in the frying-pans, and basting the turkey and opossum; five
smaller figures, with a tin pot of milk in one hand and a lump of maize
bread in the other, huddled near the fire, stared at the strangers with
all their eyes. The hostess soon made room for the company by sending
the children to bed. But to return to the bargainers about the cows.
Instead of each praising his own cow, they found so much fault with
them, that their own calves, if they had heard it, must have felt
ashamed of them. After above an hour’s discussion on the faults and
failings of their horned property, they observed that they could not
part with them without giving something into the bargain, as even their
hides were worth nothing. These calumnies were put an end to by the
announcement, “Supper is ready.” Boxes, chairs, and logs were placed
round the table for seats. Turkey, venison, pork, opossum, maize bread,
and the favorite beverage of the backwoodsman, coffee, disappeared so
rapidly that soon nothing was left but the bones of the animals, the
remembrance of the bread, and the grounds of the coffee. One after
another rose when he had had enough, and then the woman-folk, who had
wisely kept something for themselves, took their places. This is one of
the customs of the West which always displeased me. The hostess seldom
sits down to table with the men, except now and then at tea or coffee.
The other custom, that of rising when they had had enough, without
regard to those who remained at table, was not so bad.

After supper the company formed various groups, and the conversation
turned on shooting, pasture grounds, the survey of the land that had
recently been accomplished, and then on religion. Words soon ran high;
for among the company were Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and
unbelievers--but all disputes were put an end to by the arrival of two
large jugs of whiskey, each containing about four bottles, which Collmar
had sent his eldest son, a lad of fifteen, to fetch from a distant
store. The boy had been obliged to ride slowly for fear of breaking the
jugs.

The old bear-shooters were highly amused at the following account one of
the party gave of a bear-hunt that had occurred in North Carolina, and
which gave a sad picture of the low state to which field sports had
fallen there. “In order to have a bear-hunt several farmers met, and let
loose a tame two-year-old bear, giving him half an hour’s law, and then
following with horse and hound. The bear made straight for some hills,
and in about an hour and a half’s time was chased into a tree. Not
wishing to kill him, no one had brought a rifle; so I went to a house
about half a mile off, and borrowed an axe to cut down the tree. The
bear looked with inquisitive eyes on the proceedings below, and did not
appear to suspect danger, till the tree fell with a tremendous crash;
men and dogs threw themselves on the half-stunned bear, to secure him
and take him home; but the majority voted for another hunt, so the dogs
were held in and the bear let loose. After a time, we all went after him
again; this time the chase lasted longer, as the bear swam a river, and
to avoid a wetting we turned off to a bridge, giving the bear a great
advantage. At length, when we got close to him, he took to an enormous
fir-tree, and we all assembled under it; none of us knew how to get him
down again. We were several miles from any house, and had left the axe
behind us, and he seemed to set us at defiance in his lofty position.
Nevertheless he did not seem quite at his ease, and kept looking
anxiously first on one side, and then on the other, at the dogs who were
jumping and barking round the trunk of the tree. This inspired an old
Virginian of the party with a new idea. There were several pine branches
lying about; so, taking up one of the heaviest and longest, he commenced
striking the tree with all his force. At the first blow, the bear gave a
start as if electrified, and at the second or third he darted down like
lightning among the dogs, when he was soon secured and taken home. He
was once more allowed to run about for a couple of years, when he grew
very fat, and in good condition for killing, and he was slaughtered
accordingly.” When the story was ended, we wrapped ourselves in our
blankets, and slept soundly, though occasionally disturbed by some
thirsty souls who rose to get a drink. It was lucky for those who were
lying in the outer rows that most of the water seekers wore moccasins.

We were up at daybreak, and prepared to build the house by first making
a large fire to warm our hands and feet. A man with an axe stood in each
corner of the rising house, to cut the mortices and fit them into each
other, while the rest of the party raised the logs; no trifling labor,
as the house was to have two stories. By the evening, it was all up
except the roof, when rain began to fall, and the logs became too
slippery to admit of our standing on them; so the completion was left
till dry weather.

We remained the night at Collmar’s, and departed next day on our various
ways, after a very frugal breakfast, for we had devoured all his store.

It was cold and foggy, and I was glad to get to Hogarth’s, where I
passed the night, returning next day to Slowtrap’s. On relating the
extraordinary behavior of the fox; he gave one of his smiles, and told
many droll stories of the tricks of foxes, and one of a wild-cat, which
attacked a man in the marshes of the Cash. The man had gone out early in
the morning to shoot a turkey, and hearing a cock gobbling away with all
his might, he placed himself behind a fallen tree, and began to use his
call, when a wild-cat, probably deceived by the sound, sprang upon him
like a fury, and attempted to bite through the veins of his neck. He
found it impossible to pull the beast off, and was obliged to kill it
behind his back with his scalping-knife; he was confined to his bed for
several weeks, before he recovered from the ugly wounds caused by the
cat’s teeth and claws.

The weather cleared up next morning, and as old Slowtrap was still
unprepared for his journey, I resolved to cross the river to shoot, and
went to Curly’s on the same day. As the deer kept themselves close hid
in the daytime, we determined to have a shot in the night. An iron pan
was soon prepared, and with my old German game-bag, which had
accompanied me in all my wanderings, full of kindlers, our rolled-up
blankets on our shoulders, we set off as soon as it was dark. A sharp
wind had made the leaves so dry in the course of a few hours, that our
footsteps might be heard at three hundred yards off; consequently we saw
no deer, and after carrying the pan to and fro for about three hours, we
got tired of such useless trouble. On arriving at a small stream, we
made a good fire, and after a frugal supper had set our chins for a very
short time in motion, we rolled ourselves in our blankets, and lay down
each with his dog pressed close to his side.

We rose at daybreak, and following different routes, appointed a
rendezvous at Curly’s, as we did not mean to make a long affair of it.
Bad luck seemed to stick to us, for though we found plenty of trails, we
saw no game. At length Bearsgrease found a fresh trail, and followed it
up, often looking round to see if I was near him; so I kept as close as
possible. Suddenly he stood still and pointed, and an old buck got up
about fifty yards from us, and made a half circle round us. When I gave
a hail, he stood still as if to ask what I wanted. It happened that I
was to windward of him; and snuffing the air he gave a bound, which
caused my ball to strike too far backwards under his spine, bringing him
on his haunches. Bearsgrease had been observing it all with remarkable
patience, only turning his head from one to the other;--but now giving
vent to his eagerness he darted on the deer, seized him by the jaw, and
springing over his back, brought him to the ground. I had now a good
opportunity of cutting the deer’s throat, but wished to give the dog a
little practice, and I watched the struggle with the greatest interest.
The buck was one of twelve branches, and had the full use of the
forepart of his body. He strove to hit the dog with his sharp hoof, and
to run his horns into him; but the dog cleverly eluded all his attempts,
and at last seizing him by the throat, held him fast, while I ended his
torments with my knife.

As Slowtrap had assured me that he would be ready to make the
long-expected journey in a few days, I would not delay. I skinned the
deer, packed the two haunches in the skin, fed the dog, and trudged away
heavily laden up and down hill to Curly’s house.

Slowtrap was not ready. It was quite out of his character to be hurried.
I saw no end of his awful procrastination; yet there was nothing left
for it but patience. On my arrival, he was busy making a sledge to draw
wood, that his wife might have enough for several weeks; this was no
trifle, considering what enormous logs were consumed in these
fireplaces.

The next day was a washing-day--and a washing-day in most places, and in
Arkansas in particular, is an awful thing to a man whether married or
not. Curly’s young wife and sister had volunteered to assist, and to me
was deputed the honor of escorting them; I buckled a blanket on the
horse, and rode over, but as all three could not find room at once, I
had to make two trips. All the American women are good riders. Curly’s
wife jumped up lightly behind me, and held on by my belt. Away we went
at a gallop through the foaming though shallow river and thick forest,
to Slowtrap’s house, where having safely deposited my charge, I hastened
back for the sister. I had now to think of my own safety, as it would
have been foolhardiness to have remained near three women on a
washing-day. Being tired from yesterday’s exertions, to take a long
walk, I decided on shooting wild-fowl; so seizing S.’s long rifle with a
hundred balls to the pound, I sauntered down to Porter’s Creek. The
number of ducks was astounding. I lay down in a quiet shady place, and
only fired when a good opportunity offered, Bearsgrease securing the
prize. To be sure he frightened the others away, but only for a time;
they soon returned, and by the evening I had bagged thirteen.

The two next days were wet and disagreeable. All we could do was to cut
and stack wood. When the sun again shone through the clouds on the moist
smoking ground, it was the 12th of December, and I went again over to
Curly’s to shoot another deer before the journey, if possible. Old
Collmar was there and a young man of the name of Martin, who was rather
eccentric; he was about twenty-five, and had not a single hair on his
head. He used to tell extraordinary stories as to the cause of his
baldness, in which he frequently got confused, when he would start up,
rush out of the house, and never show himself again the whole day.
Sometimes when he was engaged to work, he would steal away, leaving his
wages, and sometimes his clothes. We gained from him, that he had
married a wooden-legged woman in Illinois, and had left her there; but
he told it in such a way that we doubted its truth. He told the most
absurd stories of what he had seen and experienced, and flew into the
most violent passions if the least doubt was manifested. Thus passed the
afternoon. When it was dark C. and I took our firepan to try our luck
once more. We went southwards towards the hills, in the first instance,
and then turned to the westward, the stars shining brightly; but
gradually thick clouds began to appear, and some flashes of lightning
were visible. We continued walking in the same direction without seeing
any deer, and may have gone on about three quarters of an hour when we
came to a clearing. Looking upwards to find our way by the stars, we
saw, to our horror, that the whole sky was one mass of black clouds. I
had now left my compass at home, the wind blew in violent gusts, and
thunder in the distance kindly gave us notice that a storm was
approaching.

Nothing is easier than to lose one’s way in the forest by torchlight;
for the fire lights up only a few paces around, giving a peculiar
appearance to the trees, and all beyond thirty yards is the blackest
darkness, and all points of the compass look alike. I now recollected
that when I last carried the pan (for we took it in turns), I had
observed it was lightning under the north star, which was not then
covered by clouds, and we concluded that the storm must have advanced
towards the east. A heavy clap of thunder informed us that we had no
time to lose; so we beat our retreat, keeping the lightning on the left
hand. We may have been about two miles from Curly’s house; the lightning
came quicker and brighter, the thunder louder, and we fled like two
ghosts with our waving flame, when by one of the flashes Curly
distinguished the roof of his abode; we hastened to it as fast as our
legs would carry us, dashed in, and fastened the door, just as the hail
came down as if it was trying to split every plank on the roof. As we
looked at each other we broke into such an immoderate fit of laughter,
that we could scarcely recover ourselves. The noise of our arrival, the
thunder, hail, and our loud laugh awoke all the inmates. Martin’s
handkerchief, which he wore at night to cover his pate, had slipped off,
and his queer appearance, as he looked at us with astonishment, set us
off laughing again.

Meantime the hail gave place to heavy rain; but “savage tyrants reign
not long,” and presently the beauteous stars looked down quite cheerily
upon us.

Storms are frequent in Arkansas, and occasionally hurricanes, which will
sweep a district of a mile in width and several miles in length,
levelling every thing in their path. After a time blackberries, thorns,
and creepers, grow so luxuriantly over the heaps of fallen trees, as to
make the thickets quite impenetrable in many places, offering a secure
refuge to bears, &c.

On returning to Slowtrap’s, we began in earnest to make preparations for
the long-expected, long-delayed journey. In S.’s good steel mill we
ground flour enough to last the family till his return, put our knives
and rifles in order, and finally started on the morning of the 19th of
December.

It was a bright cold winter’s day, when, with our three dogs bounding
about us, we commenced our march; Slowtrap on his nag, which carried,
besides, a sack of provisions, our blankets, and my skins, while I
stepped out briskly in a hunting-shirt, leggings, and moccasins, an
untanned raccoon-skin-cap, and with no pack to carry. S. as he sat on
his horse looked as if he must weigh at least twenty stone, his wife had
heaped so many clothes on him, while my accoutrements were all of summer
stuff; but the exercise prevented me from feeling cold, as we jogged
along a small cart-track through the thick forest.

The first part of our journey led through marshes, but we soon reached
the hills that divide the “petit Jean” from the “Fourche le Fave,” and
with them, dry land. The people of Yell county had selected a spot near
the “petit Jean” for a new county seat for the sessions. The infant town
consisted of exactly the same number of buildings as Perryville, viz.
two houses and a stable. When a town is founded in America, the streets
are first marked off, by cutting away a piece of bark from the trees,
and boards are nailed up at the corners with the names, such as,
Main-street, Second-street, Walnut-street, Elm-street, &c., and
sometimes, when in the forest, a man may find that he is in the high
street of a town.

If the position of the new-born, newly-christened town be a good one, it
grows incredibly fast; in the contrary case, it looks desolate
enough--merchants and travellers desert it, houses are left unfinished
and fall to pieces, and the court-house, as I once saw near White River,
may be turned into a corn-crib.

In Danville, as the town was called, a speculative genius had
established a small store, having removed from the Arkansas, about
twenty miles off, with a cask of whiskey, and for whiskey or money he
bought all skins he could find. He had also powder, lead, coffee,
sugar, and lucifer matches; the latter article are wretchedly made in
America. I exchanged all my skins for powder, lead, and coffee.

From hence, somewhat lightened, we proceeded to Spring Creek, which is
thickly settled, one good farm bordering another, till we passed the
water-mill, where they ceased, and we prepared for the night, which
looked threatening. We halted by an overthrown pine-tree, unloaded the
horse, and gave him some corn, collected firewood, and made a hut. Pine
bark lay about in heaps; though worm-eaten in many places, it answered
for want of better, and, used in double and treble layers, it made a
very respectable sort of shed. When I thought it was finished, being
rather tired, I flung myself on the ground; but my companion was not so
easily satisfied; he laid on one piece of bark after another, and spread
some to keep our limbs from the damp earth, and, whether I wished it or
not, I must up and help till he pronounced “That’ll do.” Our simple
supper was soon over; he then pulled off his shabby old coat, folded it
up carefully, and laid it on his saddle as an extra pillow, spread his
blanket on the pine bark with the edge to the fire, so that in lying on
it, and covering himself with the other half, he might admit the warmth.
After adding a few more logs to the fire, he pulled off his shoes,
placing them near him with the soles upwards, that they might not fill
with water in case of rain; he hung his socks under the bark roof, to
keep them properly warm and dry; then laying himself carefully on his
blanket, and covering himself with the other half, he was soon asleep.

I could not sleep, but lay close to the fire, which I kept stirring with
a stick, making it crackle, and raising showers of sparks, which were
carried by the wind far away into the dark forest, while I gave audience
to my various thoughts. At length some pattering drops warned me that it
was time to seek shelter in the warm shed.

The rising sun found us again on the march, and nothing remarkable
occurred till evening, when we passed an old plum orchard of the
Cherokees. It was an unenclosed space, several miles in circumference,
thickly covered with bushes from two to six feet high, bearing small,
round, very sweet plums, which ripen in August. Similar plum orchards
are found in many places near the Arkansas and Mississippi.

We struck the Arkansas before dark, opposite the little town of
Pittsburg, and crossed over. As our purses were in a weak condition, we
did not enter the town, but lighted a fire on the river’s bank, made a
shed of some planks which had been driven on shore, probably from a
sunken boat, and were soon well housed. As we had marched quick, and
kept in our dogs for fear of losing them, we had seen no game; our
provisions were rather low, and henceforth the horse had no further
weight to carry than the well-packed, goodly person of my companion, who
now and then got off to give me a lift. We husbanded our stores so well,
that we had something for supper and breakfast, and to feed the dogs,
and laid ourselves comfortably down in our blankets.

Next day we passed along a part of the route by which some years ago a
numerous body of eastern Indians, having given up their lands to the
United States on condition of receiving other equally good lands in the
West, were conducted by the parties who had engaged to provide for them
on their journey. Numerous square holes cut in the fallen trees showed
where the squaws had pounded their maize to make bread. More melancholy
traces were visible in the bones of human beings and animals which were
strewed about. Many a warrior and squaw died on the road from
exhaustion, and the maladies engendered by their treatment; and their
relations and friends could do nothing more for them than fold them in
their blankets, and cover them with boughs and bushes, to keep off the
vultures, which followed their route by thousands, and soared over their
heads; for their drivers would not give them time to dig a grave and
bury their dead. The wolves, which also followed at no great distance,
soon tore away so frail a covering, and scattered the bones in all
directions. This is a sad instance of the abominable haggling spirit so
prevalent in America. The government, to avoid trouble, had contracted
with individuals for a certain sum, which was quite sufficient to have
conveyed the poor Indians comfortably; but they were obliged to part
with all they had for bread, selling their rifles and tomahawks, horses
going for two and three dollars; and, while they died of hunger and
distress, the contractors made a fortune.

About three in the afternoon we reached the Ozark mountains, and passed
close by some farm buildings where there were several tame white
turkeys. My dog, who was a capital fellow for turkeys, had as yet never
seen any but wild, consequently black ones. He gave a side glance or
two at them, and then passed on without further notice, until one
crossed the road, and he came on the fresh trail, which he followed on
the instant; but when he got close to the white bird, he kept first
looking at the one, and then smelling at the other, as much as to say,
“They don’t agree,” while the turkey walked off with long strides,
turning his head from side to side to examine the stranger who was so
close at his heels, and whose intentions he rather seemed to doubt. I
called off the dog, and we stepped out at a good pace up a narrow ravine
by the banks of a mountain stream. Narrow as the ravine was, we found
houses in places where no one, at least no reasonable being, could ever
have supposed they would have been erected, there being so little arable
land near. One place particularly amused me--a turnip field, about sixty
paces square, from one corner of which I saw smoke rising. As there was
no trace of a building or of a human being to be seen, I was anxious to
discover where the smoke came from, and on reaching the corner of the
field, I found myself looking straight down a chimney. The house was
built in a little hollow in the rock, probably to avoid encroaching on
any part of the useful ground. But what could induce people to settle in
such a hole, when so much good land was to be had in Arkansas, was more
than I could divine.

We now turned to the left, and crossed the first spur towards the summit
of the hills that divide the Mulberry from the Arkansas. The ascent was
rather steep, but we surmounted it without mishap, and were rewarded
with a beautiful view over the country we had passed. While I was seated
on a high piece of rock, contemplating the prospect, Slowtrap rolled a
large stone to the edge of the declivity; then pushing it over, he set
the dogs after it--these hearing the noise, flew in wild haste down the
steep. The stone at first moved slowly, but as it gathered way in its
descent, it made bounds of twenty and thirty feet, broke off young
trees, and went thundering to the bottom in clouds of dust, the dogs
still in chase. I did not much like it, fearing they might break their
legs or necks. Bearsgrease came back first, crouching and wagging his
tail, as if he knew that he had committed an egregious folly. The others
returned later, puffing and snorting. S. seemed to have been much
amused: he sat comfortably on a rock, with his bridle on his left arm,
and looked on without moving a muscle of his countenance.

We had a long march before us. It was ten miles to the nearest house,
and we had nothing eatable left, either for ourselves or the horse; it
was moreover getting dark. S. said we must keep on the hill for six or
seven miles, and then turn down towards the Mulberry to the house.

It grew darker and darker. A narrow unfrequented footpath covered with
yellow leaves was our only guide, which I followed up with undivided
attention, Slowtrap riding slowly after me. A thin penetrating rain set
in with the night; yet, indefatigably, and with my nose nearly on the
ground, I kept to the almost invisible path, till about ten o’clock,
when I stopped, and told Slowtrap that either the path ended here, or I
had missed it; which of the two was the case I could not say. Slowtrap,
who had followed patiently without speaking a word, asked if I thought
I could find the trail again on retracing my steps. The weather was not
favorable for conversation; I shouldered my rifle, went some way back,
made a circle, and found a strip of darker ground amongst the leaves. I
called out, and my companion came, leading his horse, and said that I
might ride, and he would follow up the path, as his eyes were more
accustomed to forest work than mine. Tired with the long day’s march, I
was not sorry for this, and was soon in the saddle, while Slowtrap,
stooping low, preceded me about two hundred paces; but he came to a
stand where I had stopped, and said the path ended there. We could not
be far from the descent to the Mulberry, for the trees were thinner, and
Slowtrap said that if it were not so dark, we might be able to see the
whole of its valley. At present nothing was to be seen but our miserable
plight.

It is dangerous to lose one’s way in these hills, as precipices occur
where least suspected. The rain now fell in torrents, and we were as wet
as drowned rats. At length we decided on descending the hill straight
before us, lead where it would. It was steep and slippery, and although
we led the horse, we were often in danger of falling into one of the
steep ravines; we passed so near one that we heard the stones fall to
the bottom as they were kicked away by the horse’s feet.

It may have been about eleven o’clock when the dogs gave the first signs
of life, by a growl and a low bark. Then the oldest of them, a good old
fellow, covered with honorable scars, gave a short howl. It was answered
by several dogs in the distance; this inspired us with fresh courage,
and we hastened down the hill towards the sound. When the strange dogs
left off barking, we easily excited them again by imitating the howl of
a wolf. We gained at once the foot of the hill and a mountain stream,
and came to a small house, from whence we had heard the bark of the
dogs. We entered and obtained shelter, but no hearty welcome.

Next morning, as we were not very well pleased with our host, who did
not care about us, and fearing that the rivers we had to cross might
swell with rain--an event which soon occurs in the mountains--we left at
daylight, and proceeded to a farmer’s, named Davis, about half a mile
off on the other side of the river; here we were received kindly and
hospitably.

Mr. Davis would by no means allow us to proceed, as it had poured with
rain the whole night, and all the brooks were rushing torrents; so,
taking charge of our things, he made us sit by the fire, and seemed
highly gratified at the pleasure its warmth afforded us. His family were
very agreeable, and I was quite sorry to part with them so soon as the
next morning; but by that time the waters fell, and Slowtrap was in a
hurry to get on. However, it was hard work to get through some of the
rivers, especially as we had but one horse. Luckily my companion knew
the country too well to expose us to the chance of sleeping again in the
forest, and this evening, wet, tired, and half frozen, we arrived at the
abode of an old squatter.

This day we had crossed the main range of the “Boston divide,” which
parts the waters of the Mulberry from the White river, and found
ourselves on the latter, which, here, we could leap across, though
further down it is navigated by steamers. The country and vegetation
differed considerably from that south of the Arkansas. There was no
trace of fir; the mountains were covered with oak, beech, and hickory,
all at this season without leaves, which, to an eye accustomed to green
hollows, seemed rather mournful and monotonous. It struck me as
extraordinary that the best and most fertile land was on the hill tops,
where, in other places it is generally the worst; here grew black
walnut, wild cherry, with stems sometimes twenty inches in diameter,
black locust, and sugar maple, trees which generally grow only in the
richest soils. The black locust was very frequent, and its long sharp
thorns are by no means pleasant on a journey.

About noon we passed a log house, at the door of which stood a fat
red-haired man. When we had passed, Slowtrap told me that, four years
ago, that man had bought a clock; and after he had had it two days, he
doubted whether all was right inside; so he took it to pieces, and when
satisfied, put it together again, and people said that when he had done
so, he had wheels enough left for another clock.

It was Christmas eve, and growing dark. My heart sunk as I remembered
former joys of this season, and thought of my present loneliness.
Strange! that recollections should be so sweet and yet so bitter.

In good time we arrived at old Conwell’s, Slowtrap’s father-in-law. He
lived in a block-house, surrounded by mountains covered with trees,
close to the bank of the White river, which was narrow enough to be
bridged by a tree. The family were assembled round the fire; Conwell
himself was absent. A matron of pleasing appearance rose from her seat
on the entrance of her son-in-law, and cordially shook his hand, while
two fine boys of eleven and eight jumped up to welcome him; another
person in the room, a young graceful girl, who at first kept modestly in
the background, then came forward to greet her brother-in-law, who
addressed her as Sophy; neither was the stranger overlooked, but
received a hearty welcome from all. I, who, a few minutes before, had
felt so deserted and miserable, now experienced a silent joy, as I
looked on the amiable, honorable countenance of the mother, the mild
expression of the daughter, and the open, happy faces of the two boys.
It was as if I had found new relations, and was once again at home.
Never in my life had I felt, from the first moment, so completely
domesticated as with these people.

In about half an hour old Conwell came in: if ever uprightness was
stamped upon any countenance, it was upon his; his hair was white as
snow, but his step was as springy as he moved about in his
hunting-shirt, leggins, moccasins, and bare neck, as if he had seen but
twenty years. After we had been seated about an hour, it seemed as if I
had known him from childhood, and the evening flew past with incredible
swiftness.

The cold was very sharp on Christmas-day, and we were delighting in a
glorious fire, when John, the youngest boy, ran in, and said there was a
large gang of turkeys in the corn. I seized my rifle, called
Bearsgrease, and was soon in the field. No sooner had the dog found the
scent, than he was amongst them, and they flew to the neighboring trees.
I knocked over one, loaded, and tried for another, leaving Bearsgrease
to watch the prize, as several pigs were near us. Not being able to get
another shot, I returned to the dog, and found him with his paws full of
business. Another larger dog had come to have a smell at the turkey;
Bearsgrease, mistaking his intentions and my instructions, attacked the
stranger, threw him over, and held him fast, with the fiercest
countenance in the world; but when he saw me coming he began to wag his
tail, being thus, like Janus, severe in front and amicable behind. I
released the stranger from his disagreeable position, and patted and
soothed Bearsgrease to express my approbation and satisfaction at his
good behavior; but he continued to give an occasional growl and scowl at
the other dog.

I amused myself for a couple of days with turkey shooting, leaving
Slowtrap time to arrange his affairs, when he informed me that he had
concluded his business quicker than he had expected, and now meant to
return home. This was disagreeable to me for two reasons--first, because
he was a very pleasant companion; and, secondly, because he was so well
acquainted with the mountains. However, there was no persuading him to
remain, and he fixed on the following morning for his departure.

In the afternoon, as the sun was bright and warm, we formed a merry
party in front of the house; but S. who never could bear lying or
sitting on the cold ground, sat himself on the fence, which was about
five feet high, and told us some of his humorous stories with his usual
gravity. Meantime several cows had assembled on the other side of the
fence. It has already been said that S. wore a shabby old coat, whereof
the tails hung low outside the fence. In the morning he had been walking
about the hills, and had been very hot; and his pocket-handkerchief,
moist with perspiration, was in one of his pockets. It is well known
that cows are fond of salt and saline substances, and they had probably
divined that something of the sort was in one of those pockets. One,
rather bolder than the rest, had quietly approached, taken the flap in
her mouth, and was contentedly chewing it. I had observed the whole
proceeding with great amusement; but fearing that his coat was in danger
of being reduced to a state of pulp, I called out to him to look behind.
He looked round, beheld the cow chewing his coat-tails with the greatest
placidity, and raised one of his long arms to drive her away. The cow,
frightened at the long arm, made a retreat; but unluckily one of the
buttons caught between her teeth, and she gave a sudden wrench to poor
Slowtrap, who was nicely balanced at the top of the fence; in a moment
his legs rose in the air, like the two chimneys of a steamer, and then
his body tumbled to the ground. What happened afterwards, no one could
tell, as we all followed his example, in a convulsion of laughter.

On the 28th December my old companion mounted his steed, and shaking
hands with his relations and me, was soon out of sight in the forest. I
prepared for the mountains, and Conwell said he would willingly go with
me, but that he had business for some days; I answered, that I would go
first, not to be a burden to him, at which he was much vexed, and
requested me not to go without him, concluding his kind invitation to
remain in his house, by saying that I was “as welcome as the flowers in
May.” I could not withstand this, and remained with much pleasure. He
rode away the same day, and returned on the following evening. In the
afternoon it came on to snow, and continued till late at night, so that
we expected glorious weather for shooting; but our joy did not last
long, for it soon became warm again. Nevertheless we got every thing in
readiness, mended moccasins, cast balls, sharpened knives, and, on the
30th, we proceeded to the Pilot rock, at the source of the Hurricane.
After crossing the Boston divide, we stopped on the slope, where we
found a spring of delicious water, and “struck camp.” The night was
clear and cold, but the heat of the day had spoiled all the beautiful
snow. Stretched before the fire, we rested our weary limbs after the
exertions of the day, and were soon sound asleep, with our dogs beside
us.

As we were not yet on our intended ground, we rose early, descended the
mountain, crossed the Hurricane, and fixed upon a spot for our night’s
camp, where we left Conwell’s horse, with our blankets, and provisions.
Here we separated to mount the hill on different routes. The Hurricane
is a mountain stream, taking its name from a hurricane which raged near
its mouth some time ago, leaving traces that are still visible. It runs
into the Mulberry, and flows with it into the Arkansas.

Conwell went to the left, I to the right; the hill was in places so
steep, that I was obliged to lift the dog up before me. At length I
gained a flat terrace. The terrace formation is characteristic of these
mountains; seen from below they do not appear very high, because only
the top of the next division is visible; but when one is surmounted,
another and another arises, and people maintain that when you come to
the highest there is always one more.

The terrace on which I found myself was about one hundred and eighty
paces wide. Advancing cautiously towards the middle, keeping a sharp
look-out, I perceived a doe quietly grazing, and coming towards me. I
whistled, she stopped, bounded upwards with the shot, ran about fifty
paces towards me, and fell dead. She was in excellent condition--I hung
her up, and went on. At the end of the terrace, where a spring dashed
down the rock, I observed signs of a bear; he had turned over several
stones to find worms, and had bitten off some of the bushes to make a
bed; seeing nothing more, I returned to the camp, to have the help of my
companion to follow up the trail next day, taking half the doe on my
shoulders as I went along. I found Conwell occupied with a very fat
turkey.

Tired with all the climbing, we wrapped ourselves in our blankets, and
threw ourselves down for a nap; but the sun setting, and wind getting
colder and sharper, did not allow us much repose, but warned us to make
a fire, and a good fire too, for the night. Wood was abundant, and we
had only to move a few steps for as much as we wanted. The sun had
hardly disappeared behind the trees on the western mountains, when it
became dark in our ravine; the twilight did not last more than ten
minutes. It was the last day of the year. In my native land, many a
happy pair were forgetting past pains and sorrows in the tumult of the
dance in lighted halls; while I was stretched under the starry skies
beside a crackling fire in the forest, my trusty rifle and faithful dog
by my side. I had no mind for dancing or music; for seven months I had
not heard from home, and seemed to have got wedged in among the
mountains, with the world closed behind me, all retreat cut off, and
nothing left but to advance: and yet the future offered no inviting
picture; alone, in the endless wilderness, I stood, with hair turning
gray--a solitary hunter, leaning on my rifle, separated from all I
loved.

Old Hawkeye, must have had many a sorrowful hour.

Meantime, my companion, leaning on his elbow, was gazing on the fire,
and lost in recollections of the past; but his past must have been a
happy one, for he often smiled to himself. He had lived an active life,
and looked forward to a happy old age, in the circle of an amiable
family, in the vicinity of his married children, in the enjoyment of
health and strength. Wherefore should he be unhappy?

I stood up to change the current of my thoughts, poked at the fire, laid
the logs together, which were burnt through the middle, and reposed
again on my blanket. Conwell told me he was sixty-two years old to-day,
31st of December, 1841; and yet he was so strong and active that I had
to exert myself to keep up with him. He spoke of his past life; how he
had continually preceded civilization, first in Carolina, then in
Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and now in the Ozark mountains, and he
complained that people were gathering too thick about him, and said he
felt a strong inclination to make another move. He mentioned how
fortunate and happy he was in his family. He spoke of his children, and
as I listened to him my troubled thoughts were soothed; it was as if one
of my own family was speaking. Thus passed our evening till sleep
weighed down our eyelids, and wrapped in our blankets past and future
were forgotten.

Next morning, as the tips of the western mountains were lighted up with
the first rays of the rising sun, we woke from our lairs, shook off the
wreaths of frost, and joyfully inhaled the fresh morning air; it was
bitter cold, the water in our tin cups was all frozen, as was the meat,
but a breakfast fit for a prince was soon smoking before us--juicy
venison, fat turkey, good strong coffee, and maize bread. Where was the
hotel that could afford fare as good? but man is fated never to be
satisfied--my companion sighed for bear.

Before breakfast was quite ready I went to the creek which flowed at a
few paces from our camp, to have a good wash, and finding a hole with
deep water as clear as crystal, I threw off my clothes, and plunged
under the cool element. It was a delicious treat, and I did not feel the
cold till I got out; but I was soon by the fire, and by the time I had
my clothes on I felt such an animating glow, and such strength that I
could almost have torn an oak up by the roots. Old C. looked on smiling,
but thought it too cold to plunge in, and contented himself with washing
face, breast, hands, and feet. Thus refreshed, we sat down to breakfast;
turkey, venison, coffee, and bread disappeared with terrific rapidity;
even Bearsgrease appeared surprised sitting with his mouth wide open,
though Conwell maintained that he held it open more conveniently to
catch the morsels I threw to him from time to time; perhaps he was
right.

After these trifles, half a turkey, and the greater part of a haunch of
venison had been safely disposed of to the general satisfaction, we set
off to look for the bear, tokens of whose whereabout I had seen the day
before. On arriving at the place, the dogs showed signs of excitement,
and running down the steep they soon began to give tongue. We followed
as fast as we could, and came to a large detached rock, behind which a
cave ran into the mountain. Several marks showed that the bear was at
home; the dogs barked furiously, and I laid aside my rifle and pouch,
and was about to enter the cave with my drawn knife, when Bruin began to
suspect mischief. He was right opposite the entrance, but a slight bend
in the cave, which was only eight feet deep, prevented our seeing him.
He would not have cared much for the dogs, but as I approached the wind
was behind me; the moment he discovered me he began snorting and
growling, and made a rush which nearly upset me, although I sprang on
one side. Conwell, who had seen many such affairs, coolly stood at the
entrance with his rifle cocked, watching my proceedings. The report of
the rifle was heard before I and the dogs had recovered our composure
after the rush; the bear seemed to be determined that nothing should
stop him, and disappeared in a gorge; but the dogs, roused by the shot
were soon on his traces. The old man laughed heartily as he saw me
standing knife in hand quite disconcerted at the mouth of the cave, and
regretted that he had not been able to give all his attention to my
admirable jump, as he was obliged to look after the beast.

We followed the dogs, and on examining a rock which the bear had
crossed, we found drops of dark blood, and were tolerably sure of him.
Weakened with loss of blood, he had not run far before the dogs came up
with him. As they were both young and untrained to bears, he had not
much trouble in keeping them off, but they answered our purpose in
stopping him. I came up just as he had shaken off the dogs, and was
climbing a steep bluff. I fired and struck his right paw, and as he fell
the dogs seized him again; my companion now arrived, and coolly taking
aim, sent a ball through his heart. He was a fat two-year-old, and
promised a delicate repast; we decided on taking him home. So while C.
skinned and cut him up, I returned to the camp to fetch the horse with
our blankets and game, and as I rode past I brought away the other half
of the doe, which was too good to leave behind. As the day was now far
advanced, and the horse had about 200 lbs. to carry, we resolved to camp
for the night near the first spring we came to.

As we crossed a flat on the top of a mountain we heard a horrible noise
from a large gang of turkeys, a sure sign of bad weather. Conwell sprang
from his horse, and we ran towards the sound. When near enough I cheered
on the dog, and in an instant the whole forest was alive with turkeys. A
great big fellow flapped into a tree about sixty yards in front of me,
and fell to the ground with a ball from my rifle. While loading, I
observed Conwell going about with his rifle at his cheek, carefully
watching all the long necks; then he stopped, took aim, and fired. But
the turkey only reeled on the bough, and recovered himself. As soon as I
was loaded I knocked over a second, and by this time the greater part of
the gang had made off; but the one Conwell had hit sat still, badly
wounded, with the blood dropping fast. Conwell had now loaded again, and
shot him through the head. On my asking why he had not selected another,
as he was sure of this one, he answered, that this was the fattest and
heaviest of the whole gang; and he was right. Mine were both large
birds, but his weighed more by three pounds. He laughed, and said he had
not looked out for the best in vain, and told me, “when the turkeys are
all sitting on the trees, frightened at the dogs, there is no occasion
to be in a hurry to shoot the first that comes--a good sportsman should
choose the best, which is easily done; a short thick neck is the
infallible sign. The leaner the turkey, the longer and thinner his neck.
The bird seems larger, but take care to shoot the thick-necks, and I’ll
wager that they ain’t so bad to eat.” Long experience has since taught
me that he was right, but it required some time before I was cool enough
to look at the turkeys on their perch, and make a choice amongst them.
We opened them on the spot; for it is extraordinary how soon they spoil,
even in cold weather, if this is not done. We threw two of them over the
horse, while I shouldered the third; and in a very short time we came to
a spring of good water, and made a camp for the night.

One of the results of our camping out, with supper and breakfast, was
the disappearance of one of the turkeys and half the bear’s ribs. With
strength well recruited we set off for the dwelling of my old friend,
and reached it about two in the afternoon. It was dark by the time when
the skins were stretched and the meat salted, when we sat round the fire
and talked over old times.

We were tired and went betimes to bed, intending to sally forth early
next morning; but the rain poured down the whole night, and we had
forgotten to take our blankets in from the fence, so that, it may be
supposed, they were rather damp; however, we were not vexed. We had
plenty of provisions; a little repose would not hurt us, especially as
we were looking forward to fresh adventures.

We made ourselves comfortable, provided wood, and had placed ourselves
in a half circle round the fire, when little John ran in and told us
that he was just come from a neighbor’s, who had sent out his negro to
count the little pigs, which a sow was bringing with her out of the
forest. After a little while he came in, and said gravely, that he had
counted nineteen, but that one had run about so, that he could not count
him. Conwell now commenced a story of his early days, in the following
words:--“About forty years ago my parents moved into the Cumberland
mountains; and as the land was good and fertile, and game plentiful, a
little settlement was soon made. We were very comfortable, grew as much
Indian corn as we wanted, had plenty of venison, bear, and wild honey,
and we could always procure powder, coffee, and whatever else we wanted
in exchange for our bears’ fat, skins, &c.; so that every one would have
allowed that we could not be better off, but for one circumstance that
embittered our existence and exposed us to numberless dangers. There was
a tribe of Tuskarora Indians in our vicinity, who had been driven out of
the north, probably by the French, and who plundered and murdered
whenever they found an opportunity. Amongst other things, they had
stolen a number of horses, and that so cunningly, that for a long time
they eluded all our efforts to trace them. The mountains ended in a
bluff several miles long, and from twenty to thirty feet high, so steep
that no bear, let alone a horse, could have descended it. As soon as a
horse was missed, those who went to seek him examined each end of the
cliff, without ever finding any traces of the animal. I was then about
twenty-two years old, and one day I was out with my dog,--and such a dog
I have never seen since. Old Beef here is a good fellow, but that one
had a cross of a bull in him; well, we came on the trail of a fat
bear--for fat he was--of that I had infallible signs; in the first
place, because he had crossed a sandy bed of a small stream where his
footsteps were deeply impressed, showing the balls round and full;
secondly, I found that he had not eaten the acorns with their cups, but
had taken the trouble to separate them. I fancied he could not be far
off, and followed up the trail, which led towards the bluff; at about
two hundred yards from it, he had entered the stony bed of a brook. I
kept close up with the dog, making as little noise as possible, and only
taking my eye off the trail when a turn or higher ground gave me a
chance of seeing the beast. As I proceeded I was astonished to find
traces of horses leading towards the bluff. Two capital horses had been
stolen from us a few nights before, and we had looked everywhere for
traces of them, without success; of course, no one thought of looking on
the edge of the cliff.

“My previous astonishment was nothing to what I experienced, when I came
to the place, where, after heavy rain, the brook falls over the cliff,
but which in dry weather does not contain a drop of water, and found,
where the depth might be about twenty feet, two fir-trees, rounded, and
placed standing against the rock, just so far apart that a horse might
slide down them, but could not fall through; that this was the use they
had been put to was evident from the marks of the struggles of the
horses, before they were launched, and from patches of horsehair
sticking to the poles. That the bear had descended by these means was
clear from the marks of his claws in the wood.

“It would not have done for the dog;--besides the discovery was too
important for delay, and I hastened home to give information. We had not
long to wait to turn it to account. The Indians, who had stolen a couple
of horses a few nights before, returned for some more the same evening.
Luckily, our watchmen gave the alarm in time, and they had hardly made
off with their booty, when we started by a nearer road, as they were
obliged to choose the most stony paths, in order to leave as few traces
as possible, and thus made a long circuit.

“About nine in the morning we arrived opposite the fir-trees, and hid
ourselves in the trees and behind rocks to await the redskins. About
noon we began to think that they must have discovered our trail, and
would not appear; but we resolved to wait till dark. We were fifteen in
all, and decided not to fire till every man was sure of his mark; and,
with beating hearts, we listened for the slightest sounds. We had almost
given up the hopes of seeing them, when a single warrior appeared, in
his blanket dress, and descended the cliff. He was sent to reconnoitre,
and had not the slightest suspicion of danger; for he passed close
before my uncle Ben, who, not able to resist the temptation, or fancying
that he was discovered, I know not which, contrary to his usual caution,
fired. The savage leaped high in the air, and fell on his face without a
groan.

“Now, whether the Indians thought that their spy had shot something, or
whether they thought themselves strong enough to disregard a single man,
whom chance might have brought to the spot, in less than five minutes
the whole troop were on the edge of the bluff, about eighty paces from
our hiding-place. They had with them only the four horses which they had
lately stolen, and as we well knew that it would be vain to seek them if
once their suspicions were roused, we took aim in silence. The party
consisted of nine men, four of them on horseback; we might easily have
killed them all, but were too eager to recover the horses; so it
happened that all aimed at the riders. I had not been in quite such a
hurry, and when the others turned to fly I aimed at one just as he was
entering the thicket; he gave a spring and threw off his blanket; I saw
the blood spurt out, but he was soon out of sight, and as I could not
find his body, I think he must have escaped.

“We took the arms and dresses of the slain, bound them on the horses,
left the corpses to the wolves and vultures, and entered the settlement
in triumph the same evening. It was long before we saw any thing more of
the Tuskaroras, who withdrew in alarm towards Lake Ontario.”

By this time dinner was ready, and after dinner we took a siesta; then,
what with reading and conversation, it was evening before we were aware.
I was now asked to give information about the old world, and to tell
them whether kings would take off people’s heads when they chose--and
how houses were built when there was so little wood--and what people did
in the winter. They were much astonished when I mentioned that we did
not grow Indian corn, nor let the cattle run wild; but when I said that
we sometimes planted trees, the children shook their heads, and even the
old ones thought that I was practising on their credulity; they also
wanted to know if kings and queens always wore their crowns, and if they
walked about with their sceptres, and what the nobility looked like.

Next morning, starting with the rising sun, we took a direction towards
the Richland and War-eagle, two streams which flow into the White river.
We took no provisions with us, but rode out with only the blankets on
the horses, as Conwell supposed we should find plenty of game. On
arriving on our ground, we turned the horses loose, who bent their steps
homewards, grazing as they went. We took different courses, agreeing to
return in the evening to the place where our blankets were hanging up. I
walked cautiously and slowly, but saw nothing of either deer or turkey;
once I heard the report of C.’s rifle. When I returned to the camp I
made a good fire, spread my blanket, placed my rifle in readiness, and
laid me down to rest. About sunset I heard a light step; at first I
thought it was a deer--it was Conwell, without game or dog. He sat down
by my side on the blanket, and observing that he supposed I must be very
hungry, he gave a faint smile, and said that he could fast until
tomorrow evening. He might well laugh. He said his dog was after a deer
which he had shot, and, judging from the marks, he must have been hit in
the fleshy part of the haunch; the dog, being young, could not be called
off after once catching the scent, and dog and deer were soon out of
sight.

While he was talking, Bearsgrease rose up and snuffed the air; Conwell
thought it must be his dog who had found his trail. As I supposed so too
I took no notice, until I thought I heard a short bark, and Bearsgrease,
growling lightly, gave me a significant look. I jumped up with my rifle,
and in a minute a noble buck, with horns laid back, rushed by at full
speed, at about twenty paces from the camp. I sent a ball into him, and
my dog was instantly close on his heels. He did not run far; my ball had
broken the left leg, and passed through the right. After running about
200 paces, he sprang into the Richland, on whose banks we were encamped,
and seemed resolved to sell his life as dearly as possible. The dogs
were upon him, but, as they were forced to swim, while he touched the
bottom, he had not much difficulty in shaking them off again. Conwell
remained lying as if it were no concern of his, so I seized his rifle,
ran to the bank, ended the poor animal’s torments with a ball through
his brain, and plunged into the water to pull him out. Now we had meat
in plenty; the skin and haunches were hung up, the ribs roasted, and the
dogs fed before dark.

We slept well all night, and were up early, but the leaves were so dry
that we found nothing but one turkey, which Conwell knocked over.
However, the sky began to get cloudy, and as we had meat for the
present, our hopes rose. It came on to blow from the north, but we were
protected by a bank of about ten feet high, and though we could not sit
close to it on account of sharp stones, yet it kept off some of the cold
wind, and a glorious fire soon made us forget it.

Supper was over, and Conwell had taken off one of his moccasins to take
a stone out, when he said that it reminded him of something that had
happened to him a long time ago when he was a child. I was already
covered up in my blanket, but finding that he had a mind to talk, I
roused up, gave the fire a poke that made the sparks fly, and leaning
back, with Bearsgrease for a pillow, who seemed well pleased with the
arrangement, I awaited the commencement of his narrative.

When I got up, Conwell stopped; but now passing his hand over his face,
he began:--

“I was between five and six years old when my father made my first pair
of moccasins, for he was a very good shoemaker, and had always made
strong shoes for children, though he himself always wore moccasins; but,
at my earnest, repeated request, he made a pair for me, and warned me
particularly not to lose them. On this same day a peddler had been in
the house, and had persuaded my father to buy a pair of large boots, as
very serviceable for bad weather;--and as it had rained a great deal
lately, he put them on, took his rifle, and sallied forth to the forest.
He was hardly gone when I wished to wear my new moccasins; and, to my
horror, found that one was missing. In vain I searched the house from
top to bottom; it was gone, and the other seemed to be there only to
remind me of my loss, and the punishment awaiting me. With a beating
heart I saw my father return earlier than I had expected, out of humor
with the bad weather and bad sport; and he asked roughly, why I was
running about barefoot. With tears in my eyes I told him that I could
not find one of the moccasins, and that I thought the cat must have run
off with it. He said he would _cat_ me, and that if I did not find the
other before night I should suffer for it. With a sorrowful heart I
recommenced my search, and all my brothers helped me. Meantime my father
had sat himself by the fire, and complained that something in his boot
had plagued him the whole day; so, pulling it off, and feeling inside,
what should he find but my much-bemoaned moccasin. It is easier to
imagine my delight than to express it.”

Conwell rolled himself in his blanket and fell asleep, still smiling at
the recollection. I could not sleep; his story had recalled events of my
own childhood, and I kept gazing at the strange and changing figures in
the fire. Bearsgrease was lying close to me, with his head on my
shoulder; he had raised it several times, and snuffed the air, and again
lain down. At length he roused up and gave a slight growl. I thought I
heard something, and looking up to the bank behind me, I was astonished
to find two glowing eyeballs steadily fixed upon me. My head being
between the fire and the animal, I could see them plainly just above the
bank. It must be a panther, and, judging from the position, ready to
spring. My rifle, as usual, lay ready; so, half raising myself, that I
might have the fire in a line with the two sights, I aimed between the
two fiery balls, and the rocks reëchoed the report.

Old Conwell was up like lightning with his rifle ready, and the dogs
hunted about while I reloaded, but all was as silent as the grave. The
old fellow shook his head, and asked what on earth I had been firing at.
I finished loading without a word, then taking a brand from the fire and
going about twenty paces to a slope in the bank, I mounted, and found an
immense panther, quite dead. I threw him over, and C. dragged him to the
fire; the ball had pierced his brain through the right eye. He was a
very powerful beast, had enormous fangs, and when we cut him open, his
stomach was found quite empty. He must have been attracted to the fire
by hunger, and C. thought he might have smelt the venison; he would
probably have ventured a spring as soon as the fire had burnt low; the
dogs could not scent him, as he was so much above us. After skinning him
we threw the carcass into the river below the camp, as the dogs would
not touch it. We slept the rest of the night undisturbed.

A light rain fell next morning, which, in about an hour, moistened the
dead leaves sufficiently for us to walk without making a noise; so I
made haste to stretch the panther’s skin, and we set off, each as
before taking a separate path. Before I had gone half a mile I saw two
deer grazing; just at this moment Conwell’s gun was heard at some
distance, and they both raised their heads and listened attentively, but
perceiving nothing suspicious, they began to feed again. They were a doe
and a year-old fawn, and when they were in a line I fired; the doe,
which was nearest, fell at once, and the fawn after running about fifty
yards. They were very fat, and I hung them up.

In hanging up deer it is necessary to take precautions against the
vultures, which are a great annoyance to sportsmen. The best way of
securing the deer, whose skin they would ruin with their beaks, is to
hang them up by their heads, so that the vultures may have no point of
support, and must content themselves with pecking at the skull. There is
also a large crow, which tries to steal the fat; but they may be kept
off by placing two peeled sticks crosswise on the deer--for the crows
will not venture their heads between two such suspicious-looking
objects.

Continuing my march, I came to the bank of a stream running into the
Richland, when I saw a wolf spring out of a thicket on the opposite
side, about eighty paces off; he ran about fifty yards and then stopped,
but not long enough for me to take aim; finally he disappeared among
some rocks. I crossed over to the thicket to see how Bearsgrease would
take the scent of a wolf; all his hairs bristled up the moment he came
to the yet warm lair.

Late in the afternoon, on my way to the camp, I struck a fresh bear’s
trail, and followed it up, though it led me out of my way. Meantime it
began to rain harder, and coming to a broad stream, which the bear had
crossed, my dog lost the trail. As it was too late to return to the
camp, I considered myself lucky in finding a cave, two feet deep in
leaves driven in by the wind. Without making a fire, which would have
been dangerous, I crept in, taking Bearsgrease for a pillow, who was
much pleased thereby, and, spite of wet clothes, I slept well till
morning, covered up with the leaves.

The morning was cold and wet, my clothes were still damp from
yesterday’s rain, and I was as hungry as a lion; so altogether I did not
feel quite so comfortable as I could wish. But walking quick to warm
myself, in about an hour’s time I reached the place where I had left the
two deer, hung the fawn over my shoulders, and not long after gained the
camp.

The fire was burning bright which C. had only lately left, and it was no
small quantity of venison that I put down to roast. Having appeased my
appetite, and fed Bearsgrease, I laid down again to rest. After an
hour’s time, as C. did not return, I set off again; it was still very
cold. As I was passing a small ravine I saw a young buck feeding,
without the slightest suspicion of danger. As I was within distance, I
aimed and fired; he fell as if shot through the brain, but my ball had
struck too high, so that at the moment when I came up to seize him he
recovered himself, and rose on his forelegs. I saw on the instant that
there was no time to lose, and threw myself upon him. The dog had also
seized him, and I was in the act of drawing my knife to plunge in his
throat, when he made a sudden effort, and we all three tumbled down a
declivity of nine or ten feet. In falling I had dropped my knife, which
fell among the stones, and I felt much pain in my head and left side;
but neither I nor Bearsgrease had let go our hold. The poor animal made
most desperate efforts to escape, and with our greatest exertions it was
hardly possible for us to hold him. Without a knife there was but one
method of securing him; a cruel one, indeed, but if I had to bite his
neck through with my teeth I would not let him go. I threw him over on
his side, and smashed his forelegs with a sharp stone. Thus crippled,
Bearsgrease could hold him; I jumped up, found my knife, and ended the
poor creature’s torments.

I succeeded in slinging it with a great deal of trouble, my left side
paining me exceedingly; however I managed to climb up the steep,
recovered and loaded my rifle, and hobbled towards the camp, intending
to remain quiet the rest of the day.

I found my old friend awaiting me. He had killed four bucks, and brought
away their haunches, the rest not being good eating at this season. We
settled to shoot towards the house next day, and then to take horses to
carry home the game we had shot.

On our way homewards we only killed three turkeys. We caught the horses
the same evening, and once more reposed our weary limbs among my old
friend’s family circle.

At midnight it began to rain, and towards morning it poured in torrents.
The game was not to be thought of, and we sat round the fire amusing
ourselves with

[Illustration: THE CAPTURED BUFFALO.]

old stories and anecdotes. As we were talking of the prairies, Conwell
told us one of his adventures after buffaloes.

“Not many years ago, when I lived in the Kickapoo prairie, in Missouri,
four of us set out one morning to shoot buffaloes. It was bitter cold,
and we rode rapidly over the frozen ground. On gaining an elevation, we
descried a herd in the distance, and made towards them. When about half
a mile from them they discovered us, and ran off, we after them
helter-skelter. The hindmost was a cow, too fat to keep up with the
others, so we all singled her out for our mark. After galloping for
about a mile, she received all our balls, and fell, when we secured her.
The wind was now blowing from the north-west, almost cold enough to
freeze the marrow in our bones, and the dry buffalo dung, the only fuel
in the prairies, made but a poor fire. The nearest wood was about a mile
from the place where the cow fell, and a debate arose whether we should
fetch the wood to the buffalo, or carry the buffalo to the wood. We
thought the latter easier. One of the party, named Turner, began to
strip off the skin; we offered to help him, but he would not permit it;
so, willingly leaving the cold work to him, we made as good a fire as we
could for him to warm his hands by. When the skin was off, we cut off
the prime pieces, took the marrow-bones, packed them in the skin, threw
them over a horse, and brought them to the nearest wood, where we
luckily found water. Our four tomahawks soon cut wood enough, and we
made a roaring fire; when it was burnt to charcoal we stuck in the
marrow-bones, first one end, then the other; and certainly there is no
more delicate eating for the backwoodsman than buffalo marrow, except
bear’s ribs, and wild honey. The meat was rather tough, and nothing
particular.

“It was now getting dark, and we began to prepare our camp. One of the
party proposed, instead of each rolling himself separately in his
blanket, that we should spread the skin, which was large enough to hold
us all, and then lay all the blankets over us. But Turner objected, and
maintained that as he had skinned the cow alone, he alone would sleep in
it. It was all the same to us; we all had good blankets, and could make
ourselves comfortable by the fire, which we closely surrounded, while
Turner wrapped himself in his heavy skin, with the hairy side
inwards;--and we were all soon asleep.

“The weather was extremely cold, and we were obliged to get up several
times in the course of the night, to lay on fresh wood, though Turner
never moved out of his warm skin. Towards morning the wind changed to
north-east, and the sky threatening a snow-storm, we decided on
returning home as soon as possible, to avoid the approaching storm, or
at any rate to get better shelter than the open prairie afforded. So we
swallowed our breakfasts quickly, and saddled the horses, which had been
feeding on the dry grass, and now approached as close as they could to
the fire. We called Turner several times to make him get up, but a
slight motion of the hide was the only answer. At length, a half
smothered cry for help issued from the skin. We rushed to Turner in
alarm, fearing something serious, but burst into a roar of laughter, on
finding that he was frozen in, and could not move a limb. We rolled him
to the fire, to thaw the skin, and set him free; the rolling and the
heat made him feel rather giddy, but a hot marrow-bone restored
him;--and then loading the horses with the softened skin, and the
remainder of the meat, we reached home before the storm, which came on
that evening with tremendous force.”

The weather continued gloomy enough, the clouds hanging about the trees,
as if they were seeking shelter from the wind, which was driving them
from the rocky mountains. All the cattle collected near the house, with
their tails to the wind, and pendant ears, looking very wretched.
Luckily I found a few books,--such as “A Dialogue of Devils,” “The Life
of Marion,” “The Life of Washington,” “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” “The
United States’ Reader,” &c., and killed some of the time by turning over
their leaves.

The rain lasted till the 12th January. The various streams had become
cataracts and rivers, so we were obliged to remain at home two days
longer. Meantime our store of meat had fallen very low, and there
appeared little hope of being able to use that which we had left hanging
in the forest. However we hastened away to save the skins, if there was
yet time. The streams were still so swelled that we could only pass them
on horseback. We reached our last camp about noon, and found, as we had
expected, that the meat was tainted, and the greater part of it
devoured by vultures. We stretched the skins, in the hope that the wind,
with the help of a faint sun, which was peering bashfully through the
clouds, might dry them.

As it grew late, and we had no other provisions than bread and salt, we
set off with the dogs to look for turkeys, and came upon a gang just as
they were making themselves comfortable for the night. We killed two,
and might have shot more, but did not wish to increase the quantity of
decaying meat in the neighborhood. On this account we removed our camp
about half a mile off, stretched our blankets to keep off a light
drizzling rain, hobbled the horses, and fed them with maize. The wolves
made a dreadful noise all night at our old quarters. In the morning the
rain held up, and the clouds separated a little; so I set off to try and
steal a march on them, and spoil their howling. The leaves were wet, and
going round to gain the wind, I crept for about two hundred yards on my
knees up to a large tree, and counted eight of them. Although they were
to windward of me, one of them raised his head and began snuffing the
air, then turned sharp round, and they all made off with their peculiar
long gallop for the bush. Now was my time or never; I aimed at one of
the largest, which covered another with its body. When the smoke cleared
away, not a wolf was to be seen; they had vanished like magic--but
following up the trail, I found one dead, and signs of another being
wounded; but I found nothing more of the latter,--he was probably torn
to pieces by his comrades. I scalped my prize, and returned to the camp;
the scalp is valued, as before stated, at three dollars.

Meantime Conwell had employed himself in roasting turkeys, and we made
an excellent breakfast. We then started off again. When I came to the
place where I had hung up the buck, whose capture nearly cost me my
neck, I found that the wolves had succeeded in dragging it down, and
eaten nearly all but the bones. I knocked over another, and also killed
a wild cat; returning to camp in the afternoon, where Conwell had
arrived before me. He had killed a couple of deer, and we decided on
bringing them to the camp, as there were so many wolves about.

Finding no traces of bears, we determined to leave the Richland and try
the Mulberry again; so next morning we loaded our horses, and set off on
our return. As we were descending a hill, Conwell stopped suddenly at
the foot of a large oak, and after examining the bark attentively, he
said that a bear was either in the tree, or had very lately left it. The
weather had improved, and it was again rather cold. We had nothing
better than our tomahawks for cutting down the tree, and they were not
very sharp; a few strokes proved the fact. Luckily for us it was hollow,
and we set-to with a will.

After hacking at it for three hours, the tree began to crack. We seized
our rifles, called the dogs, and hastened towards the direction in which
the tree must fall, to be ready to receive him. A couple of small
splinters broke first; then a larger one; then the top began to bend
slowly down the hill; then with a loud crash, and smashing its branches
in the fall, the tree measured its length on the ground. No bear
appeared; the nest was empty, though there could be no doubt it had
lately been tenanted, for the sides were beautifully smooth and clean.
There was a bough about five feet below the hole, where the bear went in
and out, on which an Indian must formerly have stood, and tried to make
an opening with his tomahawk, but without success; probably the bear,
disturbed by the blows, had made his way out in time. Judging by the
bark, this must have occurred about four or five years ago.

While we were looking at it, Conwell asked what the dogs were about;
they appeared to be very eagerly licking up something from the ground,
and we found that, accidentally, we had cut down a tree with honey in
it. The bees were all torpid with the cold, and the dogs were enjoying
the honey, which the breaking boughs had brought to light. Our plans
were soon arranged; Conwell went to look for a deer; I took my tomahawk
to cut a trough, and was soon busy about the upper part of the trunk,
which was sound enough. As it was freezing, and the honey would not run,
there was no occasion to make the trough very deep; so it was soon
finished, and I loaded it with great lumps of the frozen delicacy. This
done, I collected wood and made a fire, expecting we should pass the
night here; but just then I heard the report of Conwell’s gun quite
near, followed by his hail: I answered, and was soon by his side. He had
killed a large fat doe, which we hung up by the hind legs, made a cut
above the haunch, and drew off the skin without another touch of the
knife, except at the knees, hocks, and head; stopping the holes, we
turned it with the hair outwards, and so made a bag to carry the honey.
When it was all in, I mounted, Conwell handed it to me, and away we went
homewards, leaving the greater part of the last deer behind.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER X.

A PERILOUS BEAR-HUNT--A DEBATING SOCIETY--PANTHER HUNT--DISASTROUS
EVENTS--DEATH OF ERSKINE--DEPARTURE.

     The winter sleep of bears--The she-bear and cubs in the cave--Our
     perilous hunt--Erskine--Debating society in the woods--Questions
     discussed--My proposition--Adventure with a panther--Our
     wounds--Bad sport--Hunting with the Indians--The skeletons in the
     cave--Erskine’s fatal encounter with the bear--My wounded
     shoulder--Indian surgery--I decline settling in the
     woods--sorrowful leave-taking.


We had no trifle to carry, and were very glad to reach home; but our
feet were hardly out of the stirrups when we heard that some Indians had
looked in. They had discovered a cave which certainly contained a bear,
but the Cherokees, who had first found it, had not ventured to penetrate
far, as it was deep and narrow. This was grist to our mill. The skins
and meat were stowed away, the rifles discharged and cleaned, horses
fed, and all prepared for a regular hunt. We passed the evening in
telling stories about bears; among others Conwell related the following
anecdote respecting their winter sleep: “In this southern climate, the
bear generally lays up about Christmas, or the beginning of the year,
and remains till the end of February; if the weather is then mild he
comes out occasionally, and sometimes he does not return to his
winter-quarters, but prepares a new lair by biting down branches, and
making a bed for himself in the most secluded and thickest jungle, as
far removed as possible from the haunts of man. If they go into a cave,
they do not take any provisions with them, but keep sucking their paws,
whining all the time; when they become torpid, they lie with their head
doubled under them, and their fore-paws above it. I myself have crawled
into a cave, and poked bears with the end of my rifle, to make them
raise their heads, so that I might conveniently fire into their brains;
and the bears were always cowardly in a cave, except they had young,
when they fight furiously--but even then, only when they have no other
choice. When the weather is warm and they come out to drink, it is
extraordinary how exactly they always step in the same place; but as the
marks are thereby made so much deeper, these ‘stepping paths,’ as they
are called, are easily discovered.”

The night was bitter cold; the day broke as fine as a sportsman could
wish. One of Conwell’s married sons, who lived in the neighborhood,
joined our party, and another young man named Smith, and as we rode by
the school, the master dismissed all the boys and girls, as the
temptation to accompany us was too strong to be resisted. We took plenty
of fir splinters for torches, and our guide was young Smith, who was one
of the party who had tracked the bear, but not ventured very far into
the cave.

We reached the entrance about two o’clock in the afternoon, and prepared
a good dinner to strengthen us for the exertions in prospect. While the
meat was roasting, I took a survey of the outside, which presented a
wall of limestone rock, about thirty feet high, and about 300 feet long,
with four openings. After having well fortified the inner man, we
prepared to enter the cave. We took only one rifle with us, but each had
his large hunting-knife, and I buckled my powder-horn close to my side;
then with my rifle in my right hand, and a torch of at least twenty
inches in my left, we entered a dark passage about four feet high and
two feet wide; young Conwell came next to me with another torch,
followed by his father with a bundle of splinters to replace the torches
as they burnt out. For about eighty yards it was all hard rock, and we
advanced easily enough. But now came a sudden turn to the right, and the
cave was so low that we were obliged to crawl on our hands and knees;
the bottom was stiff clay, with numerous marks of bears, some quite
fresh. As we advanced the passage became still smaller, and we were
obliged to crawl on our stomachs. Thus far the Indians had penetrated,
as we found by splinters of fir, and marks of their elbows and knees in
the clay. The passage was now so small that I was obliged to lie quite
flat, and push myself along by my feet assisted by my left elbow,
holding the torch in my left hand, and the rifle in front with the
right. The aperture was quite round, and rubbed smooth by the passing in
and out of wild animals, who may perhaps have made this their
winter-quarters for hundreds of years. Here and there we found
stalactites, which were a great hinderance, and we often had
considerable difficulty in pushing ourselves through.

Apparently, we were the first whites, indeed the first men, who had
ever ventured into the place, for the ground retained every impression
that had been made in it. In some places the marks of the bears were
petrified, having perhaps been left centuries ago. Once the thought
occurred to me: should we ever get out again, or perish here from
hunger? I went on however, all my senses on the stretch, to discover the
sleeping bear.

We disturbed immense numbers of bats with our torches, and found also
several crickets and a few bluebottle flies. When my torch was nearly
burnt out, I stopped for a supply from young Conwell; the moment I
remained quite still, I thought I heard a low whining not far off; and
listening attentively, I distinctly heard the sound bear cubs make in
sucking, and a low deep growling; so there was no longer any doubt but
that we were near a she-bear with cubs.

The place where I had stopped was rather more roomy, so that I could sit
up, and I turned to the two Conwells and asked if they heard the sound,
which they answered with a whispered “Yes;”--and we held a short council
as to further proceedings. In the first place, the cave was smaller
further on--secondly we had only expected a sleeping bear, instead of a
she-bear awake and with cubs, for which it was rather early in the
season; though C. told me afterwards, that in Arkansas he had
occasionally met with bear cubs as early as January. Whoever has seen a
she-bear defend her young, with ears laid back and open jaws, may form
some idea of our feelings. We were all bear-killers, and knew well
enough the danger we were encountering in a space almost too narrow to
admit of any movement. But at all events there we were, and there was
the bear--and no one even hinted at a retreat.

I examined my rifle closely to see that all was right, and as we slowly
worked our way forwards, the elder Conwell warned me to make sure of my
shot, adding drily, by way of comfort, that it would be all the better
for me; for if I missed I should be the first to suffer from the
animal’s fury.

We came nearer and nearer to the growling bear, who certainly must long
since have heard us, and was now listening with all her might. At length
the mingled whining and growling appeared to be quite close, and holding
the torch behind my head, I plainly saw fiery eyeballs. I now halted,
cleared the sight of the rifle, which had got clogged with the clay,
refreshed my torch, and crept as silently as possible towards the dark
mass.

The decisive moment was come; and as I could now distinguish the
animal’s head, through the surrounding darkness, I put myself in an
attitude to take aim. The bear had risen on her hind-legs, and sat with
their usual swinging motion; as I was trying to fix one of her eyes with
the rifle, she suddenly disappeared through the almost palpable
darkness.

Following her up, we came upon three cubs, nice little things, which
roared lustily when for the first time they saw a light. These sounds
were by no means agreeable to us, for we had reason to fear that the
cries of the cubs might still more enrage the dam. We wished to save
them alive, and asked old Conwell to stay with them and quiet them and
to make a fire, while we went after the old one. Conwell sat down, and
soon quieted them by giving them a finger to suck.

About ten feet from the lair the cave divided into two passages of equal
size. The fresh marks showed that the bear had taken the one to the
right. Presently the cubs began to cry again with renewed force, which
rather alarmed us, for we should have been in an awkward predicament if
the bear had endeavored to hasten to their help, and found the way
blocked up by our bodies; for, with the best will in the world, she
could neither pass over us nor by our sides, and there was no other way
left than to kill us, and eat her way through. While we were consulting
together about this matter, in a low voice, the cry suddenly ceased, and
we pushed on silently in better spirits; for, from all that we had seen,
this bear was rather more cowardly than usual.

We went on and on, to the great annoyance of our ribs and elbows, and
there seemed to be no end to the cave. There was a peculiarity about it,
which I never found in any other, namely, several flat stones about one
and two inches thick, which rang like steel when slightly struck with
the finger. One place was very remarkable. It was about fifty or sixty
feet long, with similar flat stones on each side, approaching to within
six inches of each other in the middle, so that one could have passed
through in a sitting posture, with the neck in the narrow part, and the
head in the upper compartment; but to say the least, this would have
been a rather inconvenient position for receiving the attack of an
enraged bear.

After clearing this double passage, we arrived at a spring, which had
worn itself a channel of about eighteen inches deep, and eight or nine
wide. After working our way through another difficult pass, as I was in
the act of drawing a long breath, I heard a deep growl very near me.
Although I had been listening for this sound every foot of the way for
several hours, yet, on hearing it so suddenly and so close, I was rather
startled, and nearly let fall the torch; but quickly recovering, and
raising the torch as high as possible, to the discomfort and horror of
several innocent bats, I could make out Mrs. Bruin, about ten yards off,
sitting upright, gnashing her teeth, digging into the ground with her
sharp claws, and apparently in the worst possible humor.

Young Conwell, who was close behind me, laid his hand lightly on my
foot, and whispered that he heard the bear. As I had obtained this
intelligence for myself, I whispered to him to be quiet, and creeping
forward a couple of paces, I came to a place from whence I thought I
could fire with effect. I placed my right foot in the channel of the
stream, raised myself as well as I could on my left knee, and brought up
the rifle. Young Conwell, who was anxiously watching all my motions,
whispered me for God’s sake to aim carefully, for if I made a bad shot
we were both done for. Although I was nearer the danger than he was, I
would not have changed places with him, as he could not see what was
going on, and must naturally fear the worst; and in such cases, it is
preferable to be in the post of danger, than to remain in a state of
suspense.

The bear, by no means pleased with our intrusion, laid back her ears,
snapped her teeth, and kept constantly swinging to and fro; as she did
not sit quite upright I had no other choice than to aim at the head, in
the hope that if I missed my aim, the ball might pierce the breast. As I
was taking aim, the thought crossed my brain for a moment (why should I
deny it?) how helpless I was if the shot failed; but it lasted only a
moment, and, in the excitement of the present, I forgot both past and
future.

I took a long aim, and yet, as the bear was not still for one second I
pulled the trigger too soon. The cave was filled with thick smoke; a
fearful groan announced that the beast was wounded; we did not wait to
examine the state of affairs, but crept back as fast as the narrow space
would allow, to a spot where there was more room to move, in order to
reload, and return to the attack.

We had retreated, backwards, for about a hundred yards, and had halted
in a more convenient part of the cave, when we heard the bear coming
towards us, snorting and snapping her teeth, till the cave echoed with
the sound. My first thought was “Good-by to the light of the sun.” But I
had not much time for consideration, and called to young Conwell to make
haste if he valued our lives, for the old one was coming. He did not
require much pressing, and I never saw crabs crawl backwards quicker
than we tried to do; yet, however great our hurry, and imminent our
danger, it was very slow work, and the snorting came nearer and nearer.

I had dropped my rifle, as it very much hindered my retreat, and keeping
a sharp look-out in front, where I constantly expected to see the bear,
I suddenly discovered the glowing eyes only a few paces off. Just at
this moment, my left elbow struck against a projecting bit of rock; the
torch fell out of my hand, and all was dark as pitch; for although young
Conwell had a second torch, my body filled up the space so completely
that not a ray of light could pass. I took up the glimmering splinter,
and threw it at the bear, which checked her, but only for a moment.
Suddenly young Conwell stopped, and said he could not find the passage;
and making a slip with his right hand, which held the torch, he dropped
it in the water. I could not answer for the bear, who had followed us
slowly, as if she knew that we were doing our best to get out of her
way; she must have been so near, that I felt sure that if I stretched
out my arm to its full extent I should touch her; for I could feel her
hot breath on my face. With my left arm a little in advance, the right
with the hunting-knife drawn back, I awaited, with every stroke of the
pulse, the beast’s attack, thinking of nothing else than selling my life
as dearly as possible; for I had no hopes of getting out alive.

Meantime, young Conwell had not been idle. Aware that we could do
nothing without a light, he had felt for his tinder-box, and the noise
of his flint and steel was the only sound that broke a silence like that
of the grave; for at the first blow the bear had ceased growling to
listen to the strange sounds.

After a painful and anxious pause, he called out, “I have got a light,
give me the powder-horn and a rag.” I cut away the first from its sling,
then tore off a piece of my hunting-shirt, and passed them behind me. In
a few minutes he recovered his splinter; this gave us, or rather me,
new hopes; for he had no fear--firstly, because he could not know how
near the bear was; and, secondly, because, as he assured me afterwards,
he was so intent on striking a light, that he could think of nothing
else. He had also succeeded in turning himself round, and his voice
sounded to me like an angel’s song when he called out that he had found
the passage. He had now the advantage of creeping forwards, while I was
still obliged to show front to the bear; but he gave me a few more
splinters of fir, and a light, and we again began our slow retreat
towards the entrance.

As I held the torch forwards, the bear gave a deep growl, gnashed her
teeth, and retreated a pace or two, but followed again as soon as she
saw that I was retiring. Necessity sharpens invention; I laid a couple
of burning sticks crosswise on the ground, and saw, to my inexpressible
delight, that she did not venture to pass them. Shuffling back as fast
as I could, I heard Jim (young C.) call out to his father to go back, as
the bear was coming. No other words were spoken, and indeed the growling
came nearer; the fire had probably gone out on the moist ground, and
then she followed us again.

I now crawled over the place where we had first discovered her, and
found out the reason why the cubs had so suddenly ceased their cry. When
we stopped, uncertain what to do, old C. had dashed their heads against
the rock, and thus most likely saved our lives; for a cry from the cubs
when our torches had gone out, would have enraged the wounded animal so
much, that she would certainly have attacked us, and we should have
been either killed, or so dreadfully crippled that we must have perished
miserably in the cave.

At about a hundred paces from the lair, I stopped to listen again, but
could hear nothing. I now called to the others to wait for me, and when
we came to a more roomy place, which had also been the retreat of a
bear, we held a consultation. Old C. thought that the bear had lain down
by her dead cubs, and that one of us had better return to the mouth of
the cave and fetch another rifle, as it was out of the question trying
to pass the furious animal to get at mine. However, before attempting
the long and difficult way back to the entrance, I resolved to creep
again to the lair and see if she was not dead, for I could not but think
that my ball must have had some effect. When I got there I could see
nothing of her. My shout brought the others to the spot; so, advancing a
little, and examining closely, we saw thick dark blood, and found that,
instead of returning to her lair, she had taken the left-hand passage. I
instantly proceeded to regain my rifle, which I found, covered with
blood and slime, about three hundred yards off. I returned as fast as I
possibly could, cleaned it, and reloaded, when we all started again for
a fresh attack.

The left-hand passage was as bad as the right; but luckily the bear had
not gone far. We soon reached the place, where, grinding her teeth, she
awaited our approach. I halted about eight or nine feet from her, raised
myself as high as the space would allow, laid the rifle over my left
arm, in which I held the torch, and, seizing the time when her head was
quiet for an instant, I fired. Again the cave echoed the crack of the
rifle, and all was enveloped in thick smoke. I heard the bear groan and
move, but stood my ground, as this time I knew that my ball had struck
the right place: as the smoke cleared away, she lay dead before me.

Young Conwell and I were half dead from our exertions, and it would have
been impossible for us to get the bear out:--for the time we had been
crawling in the close air of the cave and smoke of the torches, and the
long-continued excitement of constant danger, were almost too much for
the constitution of any man; so we decided on returning to the fresh air
as fast as we could. It took us about half an hour to do so, and I shall
never forget the effect of the delightfully cool night air, as I drew it
in in long inspirations, and gazed on the bright-blue starry skies.

Young Smith and the schoolmaster were fast asleep, but as the dogs
barked they both jumped up, and almost fell down again from fright, for
they swore that they had never seen such horrible figures as we looked
in the red light of the torches, covered with blood and slime, and
blackened with smoke. Judging by the stars, it must have been about two
o’clock in the morning. Although as hungry as lions, we were too
exhausted to touch any thing; so we lay down and slept till daybreak. We
made a good breakfast, and then, leaving old Conwell behind, who had
done rather too much for his time of life, we four again entered the
cave to bring out our prizes. We fastened a cord round the old bear’s
neck; I squeezed past, and shoved from behind, while Smith and the
schoolmaster pulled, and young Jim Conwell held the light. We gained
ground inch by inch, and about noon, amid a general hurrah, we cast down
the carcase by the camp fire, where it was instantly taken possession of
by Bearsgrease, who laid himself growling by its side.

As we had some way to go home, we only opened and cleaned her, and broke
the spine, so that the carcase might lay better across a horse. We
reached home by the evening; I took a plunge in the river, and then
settled down to sleep.

We rose refreshed the next morning ready for further efforts, and
concluded to try some caves that old Conwell knew of. We provided
ourselves with cords and food, and made two large wax candles, which are
less disagreeable in a close cave than pine torches, give a better
light, and are not so liable to go out. We arrived at the place in the
afternoon, and found eight or nine caves, from forty to eighty feet
deep, but all empty. We now separated to try different paths, and agreed
that as soon as any one found a trail, he was to make a signal so that
all might join in the chase.

I found a small cave with fresh marks, but no bear. On returning to the
mouth, I heard the dogs, and listening attentively for a minute or two,
I felt sure they were coming towards me. Presently the noise of rushing
through breaking branches was very distinct, and at last a bear broke
cover. Throwing himself without hesitation down a precipice of about ten
feet, he came towards me as fast as his legs would carry him. I stood
still to see how near he would come. At about fifty paces distance he
winded me, stopped short in his career,

[Illustration: CLOSE QUARTERS WITH BRUIN.]

snuffed the air for an instant, and then made off in a different
direction. I seized the opportunity offered, and sent him a ball; but I
was not quite cool enough, and only wounded him in the hip. Meantime,
the dogs having been stopped by the bluff which Bruin had so
unceremoniously disposed of, he gained a good space in advance; but the
wound checked his speed, and I could soon distinguish by the dogs’ bark
that they had come up with him again, but were keeping out of reach of
his paws. A young man named Erskine, who was shooting near us, attracted
by the report of my gun and the barking of the dogs, came up and gave
the mortal wound. The two Conwells joined soon after, and we broke him
up together.

Erskine told us that he had found a cave, which he was sure contained a
bear, and asked one of us to go with him and try it, as he had neither
torches nor wax candles. I was ready at once, took one of the candles,
and explaining to the others where they might find us, we set off, and
reached the place about sunset. We first made a large fire before the
entrance of the cave, and then crept into it, E. preceding. Further on,
the passage grew larger, so that we could walk upright, side by side.
After going some distance, we heard the regular low whine of the bear,
who was sucking his paws, and Erskine, also a regular bear-hunter,
asserted that he was fast asleep. Passing a sharp turn in the cave, we
discovered him at our feet, and, as my comrade had stated, fast asleep,
his head between his paws, uttering a low monotonous whine. Erskine set
the muzzle of the rifle to the back of his head, and fired; he gave a
convulsive start, and lay dead. I probed the wound with my fore finger
to see how far the ball had penetrated; the rifle threw a ball of
twenty-two to the pound; the skull was completely shattered.

We now decided on getting out of the cave for a little repose and
refreshment, and to await the Conwells. We found them sitting by the
fire, and young C. offered at once to take the cord and fasten it round
the bear’s neck, and try and pull him out alone. Lighting one of the
candles, he soon disappeared in the cave. They had examined several
other caves, but had not found any more signs. Extraordinary to relate,
we had not seen a single deer during the course of our hunt; the forest
seemed deserted, excepting by a bear or two in the caves, and a very few
turkeys.

We had rested and talked for about half an hour, when young C.
reappeared without the bear, having found it too heavy, and requiring
help. We went, one and all, taking fresh torches with us, to the scene
of action, and dragged him out, though with considerable difficulty, as
many parts of the route were ill adapted for the transport of such a
mass of flesh. Lying down by the fire, we slept comfortably till late
next morning. It was near noon ere we could tear ourselves away from our
couches of soft leaves, but as we all agreed that we must move sooner or
later, we got up, loaded the horses with our prizes, and moved off
towards Conwell’s dwelling in as direct a line as the nature of the
country would allow. We kept no look-out for game on our way home,
having meat enough, and being almost tired to death.

We received a hearty welcome from Conwell’s family, and we resolved to
enjoy a little repose after all our hard work. In spite of the bears
and bats that I encountered in my dreams, I awoke quite refreshed, and
did full justice to the beautiful breakfast of bear-collops, milk, and
maize bread. Perhaps the wild outdoor life which we had been leading may
have lent more charms to the quiet life of this happy home, than under
other circumstances I should have been sensible of; but, be that as it
may, I shall never forget this amiable family. Old C. and I sat the
whole day by the fireside, mending our leggings and moccasins. He was
certainly the last man in the world to neglect spinning a yarn when he
had a good opportunity, and he told me so many anecdotes, and related so
many adventures, that the day passed away only too soon.

About an hour before sunset, a neighbor came in to inquire whether we
would go with him to the debates. “Debates!” I asked, quite astonished,
“what does that mean?” He seemed still more astonished at my ignorance,
and explained that, on every Friday, it was the custom to hold a meeting
at the school-house, about two miles off, to debate on any subject which
might be proposed, and in which the scholars took part. The account
excited my curiosity still more, and I decided on no account to miss
such an opportunity. Old C. had frequented these meetings too often to
be induced to leave his comfortable fireside; but I saddled a horse at
once, and was soon at the school.

Imagine a large smoky building in the midst of a forest, with dark,
dusty windows; a broad, well-worn door-stone; a heavy iron-bound door;
and rules and regulations pasted up here and there in the room. A number
of horses, fastened to the surrounding trees, showed that several of
the debaters were already assembled. A bright fire burned in the
chimney, the room was nearly full, and almost everybody was talking. At
length order was established, and the company proceeded to the business
of the evening. Two judges and two leaders were selected. The judges
took their places in the centre, while the leaders stationed themselves
on opposite sides, each taking it in turns to choose a follower from the
persons present. The question to be decided was this: “In a thickly
inhabited district, where much cattle was reared, there was only one
parish bull. The district was on the bank of a broad river, and the
inhabitants were obliged to cross it very often, as all the mills and
tanneries were on the other side--but there was only one ferry-boat,
passed to and fro by a single rope. The bull got down to the ferry, and
on board the boat, and gnawed the rope in two; the boat floated down the
river with the bull, and boat and bull were never seen again.” These
were the facts, now comes the question, “Who is to pay the damage for
the loss? The owner of the boat for carrying off the bull, or the owner
of the bull, because, from some malicious though undiscovered intention,
he stole the boat?”

It was highly amusing to see one after another stand up, and seriously
defend the cause of the bull, or the boat; others again talked all sorts
of nonsense for a quarter of an hour, and then sat down with the remark
that it was unnecessary to say more, as the case was so clear that the
judges could not do otherwise than give a decision in their favor. After
all had been heard, myself included, the judges consulted together, and
the owner of the bull was condemned to pay the expenses. The next
question was: “Which is better, a single or a married life?” The judges
were not quite impartially chosen. The wife of one had run off with a
young man to Texas, three years ago; the wife of the other had three
times borne twins. I was chosen on the married side with the
schoolmaster, three or four other young men, and six or seven of the
scholars. We defended our cause with glowing animation--but one judge
thought of Texas, and the other of the twins, and our scale kicked the
beam. Several other questions were discussed; among them, “Which is
worse, a smoky chimney or a scolding wife?” Left undecided. At last I
was invited to propose a subject, but I would not consent until I
received assurance that it should be discussed: “Which enjoys life most,
has fewer cares, and lighter sorrows--a short or a long-tailed dog?” But
by this time it was late, and time to adjourn; so the house was soon
left to its solitude in the forest, and the party dispersed in all
directions to their dwellings.

On the morning of the 22nd January, Old Conwell and I shouldered our
rifles, and each provided with meat and bread, we wandered towards the
waters of the Richland. Lucky was it that we took provisions, for not a
shot did we fire. Next day was almost as bad, and if Conwell had not
knocked over a turkey, we should have been reduced to chew sassafras. At
length on the third day, he shot a deer and I a turkey, which put a
little life into the dogs. Disgusted with our bad luck, we decided on
returning home next day; besides, the weather was bad, and threatened
to be worse. To our inexpressible joy, snow fell during the night, and
all thoughts of return vanished. We took different directions, with the
agreement to return to camp in the evening. I had not gone far when I
saw footsteps of a young buck in the four-inch deep snow, followed him
up and shot him. I heard the report of Conwell’s rifle about the same
time. Hanging up the deer, I walked on. After lounging along slowly for
above an hour, without seeing any thing, I came across the track of
Conwell, who, with his dog, had been following up the bloody trail of a
panther; I gathered from the signs that he had broken his left hind leg.
I followed it up on the instant, as fast as my legs could carry me; in
rather more than an hour I arrived at the mouth of a cave, where Conwell
was awaiting me, knowing that I should cross his trail, and follow it up
as soon as I saw the marks of the panther.

The wounded brute had taken refuge in the cave, leaving us to act as we
pleased, probably thinking himself quite safe. We held a short
consultation;--Conwell said, that he had hidden a bundle of kindlers in
a hole, and that if I would keep watch here, he would go and fetch them.
I consented, of course, and laid myself down before the cave, with bare
knife and cocked rifle. Lying in the snow, however, was any thing but
agreeable; at first, when I was warm with running, I thought nothing of
it, but by degrees I became colder and colder, till my teeth chattered.
I could not venture to lay aside the rifle to make a fire, for fear the
panther should escape. I managed to keep up a little warmth by running
and jumping, but was very glad when my old friend returned and made a
good fire.

As soon as we were well warmed, we made torches, and entered the cave as
cautiously as possible, each with a burning torch in his left hand, and
a rifle in the right. I went first, but the cave was soon roomy enough
to admit of our walking upright beside each other. Some distance in, it
took a turn to the left, and about two hundred paces in advance we saw
the fiery eyeballs of the beast, who kept shutting them from time to
time. Conwell, taking my torch, stepped behind me, while I took aim and
fired. We heard a noise after the shot, but could not make out the
result; I reloaded as fast as possible, while Conwell went in advance,
but we could see nothing more of the animal’s eyes. We went on with
cocked rifles on our left arm. Moving silently and cautiously forward,
we suddenly discovered the panther in a little hollow close to our feet,
a beautiful but alarming sight, his ears laid back, his teeth gnashing
in wild rage, and his glowing eyes so wide open, that they seemed half
out of their sockets. Inspired by one impulse, we both fired so exactly
together, that neither knew that the other had done so. Our enemy was
hit, but whether mortally or not was more than we could tell. Dropping
our rifles like lightning, we drew our knives; a sore need we had of
them, for before the sound of the rifles expired, we felt the weight of
the panther upon us. I drove my knife into him, and sprang back; our
torches were extinguished; it all passed so quickly, that I did not
recover full possession of my senses, till I stood beside my old friend
in the fresh air at the mouth of the cave. I only remember that, in the
impenetrable darkness and thick smoke, I did not know which way to turn,
and that Conwell dragged me out. When we came into the light of day, we
found ourselves covered with sweat and blood, and our clothes all torn.

Conwell complained of pain in the breast. Tearing open his shirt, we
found two deep gashes from the left shoulder to the pit of the stomach;
I had escaped with only a few scratches. We had neither of us felt when
we were wounded, but before we troubled ourselves about it, we made a
fire in the mouth of the cave to prevent the panther from coming out;
then washed and bound up our wounds, and sat by the fire to consider
what was next to be done. There was the panther in the cave, whether
alive or dead we knew not. At any rate, he was badly wounded, for both
our knives, with blades nine inches long, were bloody to the hilt. But
indeed we had no choice; our rifles, and Conwell’s ball-pouch, which the
brute had torn away, were still in the cave.

It might perhaps have been possible to suffocate the panther with smoke,
but there might have been another opening, and then we should have had
our trouble for nothing. We soon made up our minds, and entered the cave
again with fresh torches and bare knives, but not without beating
hearts. We moved silently and cautiously on, holding the torches well
before us, so as not to be so agreeably surprised a second time. We
recovered our rifles without seeing the enemy. I held both the torches
while Conwell loaded his rifle, then gave them to him while I loaded
mine; and having our faithful weapons once more in our hands, we stepped
forward again still slowly and silently, but with lighter hearts.
“There!” suddenly called out C., holding his torch aloft, and staring
before him; it was the first word spoken since we re-entered the cave.
The panther lay stretched on the ground; no longer dangerous, for the
last convulsions were over. We skinned him and cut him up; all the balls
had taken effect, and both our knives had pierced his body, so that it
was only in his death-struggle that he sprang upon us. We took the skin,
although it almost looked like a sieve, and returned to our fire.

It was night by the time we came out of the cave, and, with hungry
stomachs, lay all four by the fire; for neither we nor the dogs had any
fancy to eat the panther. Conwell suffered very much from his wound, but
towards morning he fell into a tolerably quiet sleep. We moved off with
the first gleam of day to the place where I had hung up the buck,
breakfasted there, and started for fresh game.

Meantime it had become warmer. The snow had disappeared, but all the
game seemed to have gone on their travels; for although we saw signs
enough, not a shot could we get. In the night we were awakened by a thin
cold rain, and having no mind to get wet through, we jumped up, cut
poles with our heavy knives, and spreading my blanket, which was the
largest, over them, and laying ourselves on the other, underneath it,
after making up the fire afresh, that the rain might not put it out, we
were soon fast asleep.

Next morning brought fresh troubles, but no reward. Dispirited, we
wandered the whole day through the wet forest, without seeing a turkey.
The meat we had brought with us was getting low, as we had not been very
saving of it, and had given the larger share to the dogs; after
breakfast there was one small piece left for each to share with his dog
at night; still hoping, we walked on cautiously and attentively till
late at night, without seeing even so much as a vulture.

On the morning of the 29th of January, we sat by the fire with empty
stomachs, and stared sorrowfully at the crackling flames. At length
Conwell burst out with a loud laugh, and asked whether we were forced to
remain in this deserted spot, and why we should not go home. But I would
not give it up yet; to go home with nothing but a panther’s skin full of
holes was too bad, and I begged for one more day; at any rate, if we
found nothing before twelve o’clock, we could then meet at the camp and
return home. In silence, and on the watch for the merest trifles, I
wandered with Bearsgrease through all the places where hitherto I had
almost always found game, without meeting a sign; and my hunger was
quite painful. How I thought of shooting parties at home, where one was
sure of finding some sort of a house every half hour; here, was only
thick forest, where one wet dripping tree looked exactly like another.
And yet it was not without its charms. For instance, every now and then
you were entangled by the thorns of the black locust, or if your
slippery moccasins caused you to fall, you might be sure of finding some
of them conveniently placed to receive you.

I returned to the camp about noon, exhausted and dispirited, and found
my old comrade stretched quietly by the fire. He said he had been
waiting for me about a couple of hours; that it was very clear there was
no game to shoot; and I was now of the same opinion. Heartily sick of
the useless fatigue, we shouldered the skin and our blankets, and left
the place with heavy hearts and weary limbs.

It was long after dark when we arrived at Conwell’s home, and received
the usual kind welcome, and we were heartily laughed at, when, instead
of bringing provisions, we fell, like famished wolves, upon every thing
eatable that came in our way. A long draught of fresh milk did me, above
every thing else, an immensity of good.

I would willingly have enjoyed a day’s rest; but Conwell--who, in spite
of his deep gashes, which were not yet healed, was as fresh and strong
as ever after his first meal, and could not remain quiet under the
circumstances--impressed on me the necessity of trying again, otherwise
people would believe that we had lost the power of shooting a deer. So
we were off again before noon, gained the source of the Hurricane, rode
across the “Devil’s Stepping Path,” a narrow rock with a precipice on
each side, left the Pilot-rock on our left, and came towards evening
into the pine forests, where we were sure of finding kindlers.
Descending the steep side of a mountain, we observed a column of thin
blue smoke by the side of a stream, showing that some hunters were
encamped there. We went straight towards it, and found it to be an
Indian camp, and our former acquaintance, young Erskine, among them.
They were Cherokees with three young Choctaws, these two tribes being on
good terms. Like ourselves, they were out bear-hunting, but had had
better luck. A quantity of bear meat was hanging about the camp, and
even the dogs could eat no more. Casting ourselves down by the fire, one
of the squaws--for there were several women in the camp--immediately
cooked some bear for us, with which we duly regaled ourselves.

Night came on, and soon all were sunk in deep repose. I was not inclined
to sleep, and Bearsgrease, who had tired himself with chasing a gang of
turkeys, which escaped at last by flying across a ravine, lay close to
me, with his head on my left arm. Soon he began to dream, scrambling
with his feet as if running, and barking in a low voice. Watching him
brought to my mind a story which was told me by an old bear-killer, to
the effect, that if a man lays his pocket-handkerchief over the head of
a dreaming dog, letting it stay till the dream is out, then lays it
under his own head, and falls asleep, he will have the same dream that
the dog had. A pocket-handkerchief was a luxury I had dispensed with,
but I laid my Scotch cap on my dog’s head, under which he went on
dreaming, and when he awoke I laid it under my own head, and was soon
asleep. It was perhaps owing to the idea under which I fell asleep,
although in general I can never dream what I wish, but, be that as it
may, I soon found myself running desperately after turkeys, and never
stopped, till I had chased them into a tree, when I stood looking up at
them without thinking of shooting. Just then my dog gave a loud bark,
and I jumped up. One of the Indians had risen to look to the fire, and
Bearsgrease thought it rather suspicious. My beautiful dream was gone,
and I could no longer recollect whether I barked or not. I fell asleep
again, but the dream never returned.

Early in the morning we began to move, dividing into two parties, for
the better chance of finding game. Conwell went with some of the
Indians, amongst whom he had found an old acquaintance, to make a
circuit round the Pilot-rock, while Erskine and I, with three Cherokees,
proceeded to the sources of the Frog bayou.

About ten o’clock we came to a cave, which seemed worth examining. We
made torches, there being plenty of strips of pine lying about; it was
settled that I should try my luck, with one of the Indians. Erskine
remained with the two others by the fire, saying he had searched so many
caves within the last four days without finding any thing, that he was
tired of it. The entrance was rather small, but it became gradually
larger, and we went a long way in. There were evidences of its having
been tried before, as we found moccasin marks, and pieces of burnt wood.
An unexpected sight suddenly arrested our progress,--the skeletons of a
man and of a bear, lying peaceably within three feet of each other. A
rifle thickly covered with rust, and a corroded knife, lay by the side
of the first, and some glass beads convinced us that it was the skeleton
of an Indian, who had bravely attacked the bear single-handed, and had
fallen in the struggle, the skeleton of the bear proving that he had
sold his life dearly.

The skeleton was perfect, except some of the small bones, which rats or
snakes might have carried off. The Indian pointed in silence to the
upper bone of the right arm, which was broken, and the knife was lying
on the left side.

The sight of these remains of a human being, which may have lain there
for years, while his footsteps were still so fresh in the moist earth,
was deeply affecting. As I was about to pass on, the Indian laid his
hand on my arm, and shook his head, saying, in broken English, “The
spirit of the red man is in the cave, and Wachiga goes no further.”
Nothing could induce him to go on--all my persuasions were fruitless;
pointing to the bones, he said, “The bones of the red man belonged to a
great chief; the bear seeks no bed where the hunter sleeps.” As this
last remark seemed well founded, and as the sight had shaken me too much
for me to go alone, we turned back without touching the remains.

We found Erskine alone, and told him what we had seen, but he did not
seem at all inclined to visit the remains. We found three other caves,
but no bear: Erskine and the Indians tried the two first, Erskine and I
the last. The cave separated into two passages; Erskine took the right,
I the left, and as I proceeded I found plenty of marks. The cave was so
small that I was obliged to leave every thing but a torch and my knife;
I could not even turn myself from one side to the other to change my
attitude. I had taken off my hunting shirt, and had on nothing but a
cotton shirt and leggings, and was working on, inch by inch, with
tolerable certainty of finding a bear. The passage was quite round, and
in many places as smooth as glass from being rubbed by wild beasts. In
one place I found the skin of a rattle-snake.

At length I got so completely jammed in that I could neither move
backwards nor forwards. The perspiration burst from every pore, and for
a minute or two I lay motionless; then I again exerted all my efforts to
force myself backwards, and, to my indescribable satisfaction, at length
succeeded, leaving, however, the greater part of my shirt behind me; and
my delight may be imagined when I again inhaled the fresh air. My hair
stood on end at the fearful thought of sticking fast in such a hole,
buried alive, and dying of hunger.

Night found us far from our camp, so we made one for ourselves where we
were. Wachiga, who had become very pensive, sat smoking his tomahawk and
staring at the fire. Notwithstanding that he had been converted to
Christianity, he had still some remains of the old superstition. Erskine
was in high good humor, and told one droll story after another.

On the next morning, February 1st, we had hardly started ere we heard
the dogs. Wachiga declared instantly that they were his brother’s, and
disappeared behind the rocks without another word. As we stood
listening, the sound seemed to take a different direction; we ascended
the mountain as fast as we could to cut off the chase, but found that we
must have been mistaken, for in a few minutes all was silent as the
grave; once we thought we heard a shot, but could not be certain. We
ascended to the highest terrace and walked slowly on, looking out for
fresh signs, and listening to catch the sound of the dogs; below,
amongst the broken masses of rock, they might be near without being
heard, while on the mountain tops they are audible at a great distance.

It may have been about two in the afternoon, and we had hitherto seen
nothing, when Bearsgrease raised his nose in the air, remained for an
instant or two in a fixed position, then giving a short smothered howl,
dashed down the mountain side. Listening attentively, we heard the chase
coming down the Hurricane river. Erskine called out triumphantly, “We
shall have plenty of bear this evening,” and dashed after the dog. I was
soon by his side. I must observe, by the way, that we were both very
hungry. Presently a bear broke through the bushes; a projecting rock
stopped him for an instant, when Erskine saluted him with a ball: he
received mine as he rushed past, and disappeared. The dogs, encouraged
to greater efforts by our shots and the stronger scent, followed him
out, Bearsgrease, who was quite fresh, leading the van. They soon came
up with him, and stopped him. We rushed to the spot without waiting to
reload, and arrived in time to see the beast, excited to the greatest
fury, kill four of our best dogs with as many blows of his paws; but the
others only threw themselves on him with the greater animosity, and if
our rifles had been loaded we could not have used them. Just as a large
powerful brown dog which had furiously attacked the bear was knocked
over bleeding and howling, Erskine called out, “Oh, save the dogs,”
threw down his rifle, and rushed on with his knife among the furious
group; I followed on the instant. When the bear saw us coming, he
exerted still more force to beat

[Illustration: THE FATAL BEAR HUNT.]

off the dogs, and meet us. Seizing his opportunity, my comrade ran his
steel into his side. The bear turned on him like lightning, and seized
him; he uttered a shrill piercing shriek. Driven to desperation by the
sight, I plunged my knife three times into the monster’s body with all
my force, without thinking of jumping back; at the third thrust the bear
turned upon me. Seeing his paw coming, I attempted to evade the blow,
felt a sharp pang, and sunk senseless to the ground.

When I recovered my senses, Bearsgrease was licking the blood from my
face. On attempting to rise, I felt a severe pain in my left side, and
was unable to move my left arm. On making a fresh effort to rise, I
succeeded in sitting up. The bear was close to me, and--less than three
feet from him lay Erskine, stiff and cold. I sprang up with a cry of
horror, and rushed towards him. It was too true; he was bathed in blood,
his face torn to pieces, his right shoulder almost wrenched away from
his body, and five of the best dogs ripped up and with broken limbs
lying beside him. The bear was so covered with blood that his color was
hardly discernible. My left arm appeared to be out of the socket, but I
could feel that no bones were broken.

The sun had gone down, and I had hoped that the other hunters might have
heard our shots and the barking and howling of the dogs. It grew dark.
No one came. I roared and shouted like mad; no one heard me. I tried to
light a fire, but my left arm was so swelled that I gave up the attempt.
But as it would have been certain death to pass the night under these,
circumstances without a fire, I tore away part of the back of my hunting
shirt, the fore part being saturated with blood, sprinkled some powder
on it, rubbed it well in, all with my right hand, shook a little powder
into my rifle, and placing the muzzle on the rag, I fired, when it began
to burn immediately. Blowing it up to a flame, I piled on dry leaves,
twigs, &c., and succeeded in making a good fire, though with great pain
and trouble. It was now dark. I went to my dead comrade, who was lying
about five yards from the fire. He was already stiff, and it was with
great difficulty that I could pull down his arms and lay him straight;
nor could I keep his eyes closed, though I laid small stones on them.

The dogs were very hungry, but as it was impossible for me to break up
the bear, I only ripped him up, and fed them with his entrails.
Bearsgrease laid himself down by the corpse, looking steadfastly in its
face, and went no more near the bear. In the hope of obtaining help, I
loaded and fired twice, but nothing moved: the forest appeared one
enormous grave.

I felt very ill, vomited several times, and my shoulder was excessively
painful. Winding my blanket round me as well as I could, I laid myself
down beside the fire, and lost all consciousness of my wretched
situation; whether I slept or fainted is more than I can tell, but I
know that I dreamed I was at home, in bed, and my mother brought me some
tea and laid her hand on my breast; I heard the children in the street
making a noise, and saw the snow on the roofs of the houses, and thought
it must be very cold out of doors.

Such an awakening as I had was worse than I could wish to my bitterest
enemy. Bearsgrease had pressed close to my side, laying his head on my
breast; the fire was almost out, I was shivering with cold, and the
wolves were howling fearfully around the dead, keeping at a distance for
fear of the living, but by no means disposed to lose their prey. I rose
with difficulty, and laid more wood on the fire. As it burnt up, the
face of the corpse seemed to brighten. I started, but found it was only
an optical delusion. Louder and fiercer howled the wolves, and the dogs,
of whom five were alive besides Bearsgrease, answered them; but the
answer was by no means one of defiance--rather a lament for the dead.
Partly to scare away the wolves, partly in the hope of finding help, I
loaded and fired three times; my delight was inexpressible as I heard
three shots in return. I loaded and fired till all my powder was
expended. As morning broke, I heard two shots not far off, and soon
after, a third. A shipwrecked mariner, hanging on to a single plank,
could not raise his voice more lustily to hail a passing ship, than I
did then--and, joy upon joy, I heard a human voice in answer. The bark
of the dogs announced a stranger, and Wachiga advanced out of the bush.
“Wah!” he exclaimed, starting at the shocking spectacle. He felt poor
Erskine, and shook his head mournfully. He then turned to me. I showed
him my swollen arm, which he examined attentively, without speaking.
Forming a hollow with his two hands, and placing them to his lips, he
gave a loud piercing shout. The answer came from no great distance, and
in a few minutes my dear old Conwell, and most of the Indians, were at
my side. I grasped Conwell’s hand sorrowfully, and told him in few
words how it had all happened. The old man scolded, and said it served
us right; there was no great danger in sticking a knife into a bear’s
paunch, when he is falling, with the dogs upon him, but if he has been
thrown, and then catches sight of his greatest enemy, man, he exerts all
his force to attack him, and woe to him who comes within reach of his
paws. It was all very well talking; he had not been present, and seen
one dog after another knocked over never to rise again; five minutes
more, and not one would have been saved, and who knows whether the
enraged beast would not have attacked us, then.

Meantime, the Indians had been digging a grave with their tomahawks.
Wrapping the body in a blanket, they laid him in it, and covered him
with earth and heavy stones. Conwell cut down some young stems, and made
a fence round the solitary grave. I could not avoid a shudder at the
quiet coolness of the whole proceeding, as the thought struck me, that
the same persons, under the same circumstances, would have treated me in
the same cool way, had I fallen instead of Erskine. Like me, he was a
lonely stranger in a foreign land, having left England some years
before, and his friends and relations will probably never know what has
become of him. Thousands perish in this way in America, of whom nothing
more is heard, and perhaps in a few months the remembrance of them has
entirely passed away.

After the dead was quietly laid in the grave, Wachiga came with an
elderly Indian to look at my arm. Wachiga moved it, while the other
looked steadfastly in my face: the pain was enough to drive me mad, but
I would not utter a sound. Next the old Indian took hold of my arm,
laying his left hand on my shoulder, and while Wachiga suddenly seized
me round the body from behind, the other pulled with all his force. The
pain at first was so great that I almost fainted; but it gradually
diminished; in spite of my resolve to show no signs of it, I could not
suppress a shriek. Conwell soon after asked if I could ride. On my
answering “yes,” he helped me on a horse; then throwing the bear’s skin
and some of the meat on his own, we moved slowly homewards. My
sufferings on the way were very great, but I uttered no murmur. I only
longed for repose. At nightfall we had still four miles to go. He asked
me if I could support the pain and fatigue, or if we should camp where
we were, as there was plenty of wood and water. I would rather have
ridden forty miles, let alone four, with the hope of rest at the end of
them. We arrived in about an hour. I was so stiff that I could hardly
get off the horse. On entering the room I threw myself on a bed, and had
a violent fever during the night, and talked wildly--fortunately in
German. Towards morning I began to feel better, had a quiet sleep, and
woke up about noon much refreshed. Meantime, old Conwell had related all
that had occurred, and they attended me like a son. It took two more
days before I could move out of bed and was able to stand.

I was hardly so far recovered as to be able to crawl about, when Conwell
proposed another hunt, and although I had suffered so much, I could not
say “No.” On the 6th February we rode out again, but there was no
longer any life in the thing; we found the same Indians, hunted with
them a few days, shot a few deer, some turkeys, and a young bear,
returning on the 12th, Conwell with two deer-skins and some haunches, I
with a turkey.

By this time my arm was quite healed. Nevertheless, I had made up my
mind to leave the mountains and go southwards, partly from a returning
fit of my old love of change, partly because I longed for news from
home, not having received any letters for several months, and partly
also because game had become so scarce through the number of hunters,
that there was hardly enough to subsist on. We heard that a party of
twelve men had been along the Richland and killed or driven away every
thing, and that during the last three days not a turkey was to be seen.
The news of game from other quarters was no better; in short there was
nothing for it but off! off! When I was once more surrounded by my old
friend’s amiable family, and passed another evening amongst them, my
resolution was indeed shaken; however, during the night I gave it mature
consideration, and in the morning I told them that I should that day
take my departure. Attempts were immediately made to dissuade me from
it, and old Conwell asked in downright earnest if I could not stay with
them always, and take the school. The present schoolmaster was ignorant
and a drunkard, and they would have been glad to be rid of him. For a
moment, indeed, but only for a moment, my fancy depicted the delights of
a home amongst the mountains, then the image of my old village
schoolmaster flashed across my mind, with his threadbare black coat,
false collars, and shirt-front, and his frame as thin as a skeleton. I
shook my head mournfully. He changed his plan, and proposed that I
should take a farm. But that I had also reflected on: I was too poor,
and although the kind people would have done every thing in their power
to help me, I should have been too dependent; for although much is not
required to set up farming in America, still there must be something,
and it does not look well for the beginner to be always borrowing horse
or plow, axe, spade, saw--in short, every farming and household utensil,
until at last the most patient man would be worn out, and everybody
would be alarmed the moment they saw the borrower coming. I was once
witness of such a beginning: a family that came to the forest without
any means, were at first most liberally assisted by their neighbors;
they helped them with their fences, in building their house, in clearing
and ploughing the land, and lent them every thing, even to flour and
pork; but how could people who began thus ever become independent? It
took years before they could procure the most necessary articles for
themselves.

My old friend acknowledged the truth of the picture, and my journey was
settled for the morrow.

My store of bears’ fat and skins was not so large but that I could pack
it on one horse, for the greater part of the skins, which had been
exposed to the wet weather, were spoiled. The skins were made up into
two bundles, one on each side of the horse, while a deer-skin sack,
containing about eight gallons of bears’ fat, lay across the pommel. One
of Conwell’s sons, who had his father’s booty to dispose of,
accompanied me, and thus on the following morning we set off for the
little town of Ozark on the Arkansas.

I was very sorrowful on leaving this place, where the kind treatment of
these good people had so completely gained my affections, and I was
obliged to cut short my leave-taking to hide my emotions.

Another grief that weighed heavily on my heart was parting with my
faithful dog. Intending to give up shooting, and to proceed to New
Orleans, and uncertain under what circumstances I might arrive there, I
would not willingly expose the noble creature, who promised to turn out
remarkably well, to become a mere mud-scraper in the streets. Moreover,
my old comrade had become attached to him, and requested to have him,
while my fair friends promised to take good care of him. So they tied
him up, and as I was about to ride off, and he found he was not to go
with me, he looked so entreating and affectionate with his intelligent
eyes, that I was obliged to turn away to hide my tears.

My companion exerted himself to chase away my mournful thoughts, telling
all sorts of droll stories as we rode through the forest; and at length
I made an attempt at least to appear cheerful.

In the afternoon we reached a tavern, which was also a store, not far
from the town. Here we disposed of our goods, though to no great
advantage, and, according to the custom, as whiskey was not sold by the
glass, we ordered a quart, and sat down in a corner to discuss a portion
of it. We found here two other men, dressed as hunters, who were playing
cards before the door, sitting on the trunk of a tree; a third leaning
against the house, was fast asleep; his features seemed familiar to me,
but I could not recollect where I had seen him, till one of the
card-players caught my eye, and held out his hand, asking if I did not
remember Bahren’s wretched steel mill at which we had been grinding
together. This recalled the whole scene to my memory, as well as the
sleeper--I had left him sleeping, and he was still asleep.

As young Conwell had finished his business, and could not remain any
longer, because he wished to stop at a house which stood some miles on
his road home, we took a hearty leave of each other, when he mounted and
soon disappeared in the forest, driving before him my horse and a
pack-horse he had brought with him.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XI.

A FATAL BRAWL--RETURN TO LITTLE ROCK--SUMMARY JUSTICE--DOWN SOUTH.

     Drunken brawl at a whiskey-shop, and its lamentable
     consequences--Little Rock and its vicinity--Shooting at the “salt
     licks”--Justice in the backwoods--Summary proceedings against
     horse-stealers--Curing skins--The dreams of dogs--Departure for New
     Orleans--The 4th of July.


The two hunters had finished their game, and were sitting with me over
the whiskey, conversing about old times, when six more arrived, dressed
like ourselves with leggings and moccasins, armed with rifles and
knives; they brought several empty bottles, which they caused to be
replenished, and they all seemed to be in a fair way of getting drunk.
As they were rolling about, one of them tumbled over the feet of the
sleeper, who just mumbled some indistinct words, and fell off again.
This seemed to afford them much amusement, and they began to tickle him
under the nose with blades of grass, laughing immoderately at the faces
he made. The two other young Americans told them very civilly to leave
off, alleging that the sleeper was their friend, that his sleepiness was
a disease which he could not help, and begging them to leave him in
peace. A scornful burst of loud laughter was the answer. They said they
could and would do as they chose, and one of them had the goodness to
say, that he could eat us up altogether. My blood was already on the
boil. Still it was clearly no business of mine; a somewhat ruder
practical joke at length awoke the sleeper, who was a strong-built man.
He was still the butt of their wit, while yawning and stretching his
limbs, till suddenly on looking round on the circle, he seemed to catch
a glimmering of what had taken place. His yawning was checked, and
looking round attentively, he listened to their remarks, when the
greatest braggart amongst them stepped up to him, and laughing in his
face, wished him a good morning; in another instant, he lay bleeding on
the ground from a blow of the sleeper’s fist. This was the signal for a
general row, and nine blades glittered in the rays of the setting sun.
My knife was out as quickly as any of the others, and we had a regular
hand-to-hand combat; as long as I live I hope never to see such another.
It all passed so quickly, that I can only recollect that I defended
myself against two tall fellows, that my left hand pained me much, and
that one of my opponents uttered a loud cry. At this instant a shot was
heard, and one of the strangers reeled and fell; it acted like an
electric stroke on both parties; all the knives were lowered, and every
one appeared to be interested about the wounded man. The sleeper lost no
time in throwing himself on his horse, which was tied up at the gate,
and soon vanished in the forest. All were sobered in an instant, yet no
one thought of giving chase; all were intent on endeavoring to save the
wounded man. But in vain; as the sun sank behind a range of red clouds
he breathed his last.

The two other Americans now beckoned to me to follow them; and not
knowing whether the friends of the fallen man might not avenge
themselves in secret, they mounted, and one of them taking me up behind
him, we started at a gallop along a narrow path leading into the
interior, following the distinct hoof-marks of the fugitive’s horse. We
halted at dark and made a fire; setting off again at daybreak, we soon
arrived at the burnt-out fire of our comrade, who was again peaceably
sleeping unconcerned about any pursuit. Yet he must have thought one
probable; for a cocked pistol lay by his side, although his morbid
drowsiness had got the better of his fears.

I gently removed the pistol for fear of accident, and awoke him. I had
hardly touched his shoulder when he made a grasp at the vacant place;
but he soon recognized us, and we made him understand that this was not
the best place to sleep in undisturbed. He admitted that himself; a
hasty breakfast was devoured, and we took time to wash our hands from
human blood, partly our own, partly that of others. My left hand, which
I had hastily bound up the night before, began to be very painful; I had
received a thrust through the palm, and the sinews were exposed. Laying
wood-ashes on the wound I bandaged it again. I had also received a
slight cut on the left side. All the others were more or less hurt;
indeed, I seemed to have come off the best.

After breakfast, we left the path and struck into the forest, by no
means following my intended direction to the south-west; so I took a
friendly leave of the three men, turned to the right, and soon lost
sight of them. I have never seen them since, and do not even know their
names, nor they mine, though we fought side by side, and fled together.
Chance had thrown us into each other’s society, common interest had
united us for a moment, and now each went his way, caring neither who
the other might be, nor what his occupation; a true picture of American
life.

I was again alone, and on foot, and could only make short journeys, as
my hand was very painful, and the wound in my side, though not deep,
began to suppurate. Lounging slowly on, and keeping my direction as well
as I could, I followed the course of a small stream, and was looking out
for a convenient place to camp for the night, when I observed a young
buck feeding, without the slightest suspicion of the approach of any
being likely to disturb his peace. He passed away in the same happy
thought, for my ball pierced his brain. On pulling out my knife to break
him up, I could not avoid a shudder on observing the dark stains of
blood--of human blood. I washed it carefully, for I could not bear the
sight.

I did not take the trouble to skin the deer; in fact, I could not with
my wounded hand. So, taking the liver and kidneys, with part of the
back, I made a good fire, and soon lay stretched before it enveloped in
my blanket, with my body, but not my mind in repose.

I lay for a long time staring at the burning embers, recalling my former
life, and forming gloomy pictures of the future; at last I fell asleep
from fatigue. A penetrating icy feeling awoke me; it was raining hard;
the fire was out; all was dark, and the present was not calculated to
sweeten the past. I pulled my wet blanket closer around me, and in the
depths of my wretchedness, abused all the four elements, with the wind
and rain into the bargain. Day came at last. Your dweller in towns, when
he rises out of his warm bed, and hears the rain beat against the
window, looks down for a minute or two on the people hurrying along in
the street, pitying those who are driven out in such unpleasant weather
by business or necessity; then turns carelessly to his breakfast,
growling perhaps because he has let his tea or coffee get cold, and at
last throws himself on a sofa. How different the case with the
backwoodsman! Unrolling himself from his wet blanket, shaking his wet
hair, shivering with cold, devouring a morsel of cold, wet venison, not
as a dainty, but to satisfy hunger; then wringing his blanket, and
laying another piece of venison in its folds, he hangs it on his back,
and continues his journey through the cold, wet forest; the lock of his
rifle, and the inside of the powder-horn, being the only dry things
about the whole man. How various the course of things in this world. The
cold and wet had inflamed and swelled my hand, which pained me much; I
cut a long strip from the skin of the deer’s back, and made a sling of
it for my arm, packed my other things over my shoulder, grasped my
rifle, and wandered along under the dripping trees, turning my back on
the cold wind and rain.

As the day advanced, I became less dissatisfied with my fate and with
the weather. I was indifferent to both, and could even laugh when a
bush knocked my cap off, and cast it into a pool, while the wet branches
slapped my face. At length the rain ceased; a cold wind arose and dried
my upper garments, though my leggings still flapped disagreeably about
my feet. My course was directed towards Little Rock, without knowing
exactly what I was to do there. I was desirous of revisiting New
Orleans, yet did not like leaving the woods; so I walked on, trusting to
my good luck, and leaving the rest to chance. Fortunately, I reached a
house this evening, and obtained a good bandage for my wound and a dry
couch.

On the 27th February I arrived at Slowtrap’s, who gave me a hearty
welcome; but I only stopped one night, and crossed the river to
Kelfer’s, who also received me kindly. Still I could not remain quiet,
and in a few days I continued my journey to Little Rock.

Little Rock is, without any flattery, one of the dullest towns in the
United States; and I would not have remained two hours in the place, if
I had not met with some good friends, who made me forget its dreariness.
Several Germans have settled here, some of whom are doing very well;
many of them have good and prosperous farms in the neighborhood. The
land above the town is as dry and barren as it can well be; but on the
other side of the Arkansas, and at a short distance from the town, it is
of the finest quality. On the north of the town, with the exception of
the valley of the Arkansas, there is little except pine woods growing in
a stony soil.

I made some excursions in the neighborhood, formed an acquaintance with
a young American with a German wife, and was their guest for some time,
employing myself in looking out for turkeys, but with little success;
the mosquitoes in the various bayous or lagoons were so numerous as
almost to drive any man mad, who camped out in the open air. I remained
for some weeks, in spite of them, but if I had stayed any longer, I fear
I should have given up shooting for ever.

My hunting shirt was in rags, and only held together by my belt; and as
deer skins were now in a good state for dressing, I made up my mind to
return to the Fourche le Fave, and shoot at the salt licks, till I had
skins enough to make a good hunting shirt; intending to dress the skins
myself for the purpose.

Not finding any letters, I gave up the idea of going to New Orleans, and
started for the Fourche le Fave towards the end of April. I gained my
old shooting ground on the second day, and leaving the frequented paths,
struck through the forest to a lick, where I had killed several deer the
year before, and where I hoped to find the platform I had erected, still
in its place. I reached the spot just before sunset, and hastened to
collect and split wood, and by working hard I managed to get enough
before dark;--for the twilight is very short in this latitude. I then
set to work on the stand, to raise one side which had given way: most of
the earth remained on the platform, but on putting my shoulder to it,
and exerting all my force, I succeeded in raising it to its old
position. The effort, however, had been too much for my strength; I had
tasted nothing since the previous evening, having taken no food with me;
nor had I seen any game on the way; the long march, the hard work of
hauling and splitting wood, the fatigue and exhaustion overpowered me,
and I fell fainting or at least senseless to the ground. How long I may
have remained so, I cannot say. When I recovered my senses, it was quite
dark. I got up to collect myself and consider where I was, when I heard
a deer, which had got scent of me, spring, blowing and snorting, out of
the lick, and bound away over the dry leaves.

I went, in the first place, to a running stream, close by, and took a
long hearty draught. Feeling considerably refreshed, I made a fire on
the platform, and sat underneath, wrapped in my blanket, patiently
awaiting the approach of game. In less than an hour a young buck
advanced with light and cautious tread. I heard him for ten minutes on
the dry rustling leaves, before he came within sight. When he appeared,
he was about forty paces off, so that I could distinguish the outline of
his form, as he stood still staring at the fire, his eyes shining like
two stars out of the dark background. He cautiously advanced a few
steps, coming nearer the lick, and looking almost white in the light of
the fire. I whistled: he stopped and raised his head; my ball passed
through both shoulder blades, and he died without a cry.

Transgressing all the rules of the craft, I neither reloaded nor
remained quiet in my place to await a second; but rushed out, dragged
him to the fire, broke him up, and in a very few minutes, portions of
him were put down to roast. I then reloaded, and kept a sharp look-out.
Probably the smell of roasting meat kept others away; for though I heard
snorting and stamping, I saw no more for the present--but my stomach
could not hold out any longer.

Refreshed and strengthened by the food, I stirred the fire to a bright
glow, and, again on good terms with myself and the whole world, I sat
patient and watchful under the towering flames. Nothing stirred till
about one in the morning, when I again heard a light measured step, and
a doe appeared coming straight towards me. She had not the slightest
suspicion of danger, but stood staring at the fire with clear shining
eyes, hardly six paces from the stand. She was with young; still I must
have a hunting shirt, and I had raised the death-dealing tube, when
three more deer arrived on the scene, one of them a fine buck. They
passed round the lick, and then stopped about ten or eleven paces behind
the doe, who never once moved from her place. Turning the rifle a little
aside, I fired at the buck, who bounded high in the air and fell dead,
the doe flying off like the wind. She was so close that she must have
been singed by the powder.

Deathlike stillness again prevailed. I was nodding a little, but waking
up suddenly and looking before me, I saw two glowing eyes shining
through the darkness, and soon afterwards descried the whole form of a
deer. He came straight towards me, stood for a moment, turned a little
aside, and disappeared after the crack of the rifle. I gave myself no
concern about him, but reloaded and watched for more. Whip-poor-will had
already begun his monotonous song, which regularly resounds through the
woods shortly before the first gleam of day, when I again heard the
measured tread of a deer on the dry leaves, and he received my ball just
as the gray dawn was appearing. As it grew lighter I found him lying
dead on his tracks. The third, which I had fired at, had left no signs;
so assuming that I had missed him, I made no attempt to seek him, but
set to work to skin the others. When this was done, I hung them up, and
proceeded to a farmer’s about two miles off, with whom I was well
acquainted, to tell him to take the meat; and then went on some miles
further to Kelfer’s, who received me hospitably, and in whose house I
rested for a few days.

Hearing of another lick which was said to be very good, I resorted
thither the same evening, and was soon ensconced under a hastily
prepared platform.

The woods in Arkansas present a beautiful aspect at this season of the
year, when the logwood trees are in bloom. They are small bush-like
trees, seldom more than seven inches in diameter, with a white blossom
of the size of a rose; but the whole tree is covered with them. They
grow in immense numbers, and give the forest the appearance of a garden.
Then the mild spring nights, the wailing note of the whip-poor-will, the
monotonous hooting of the owls, would make it altogether romantic, were
the infernal mosquitoes only away.

I shot two deer during the night, took out their brains, and laid them
about half an inch thick on a flat stone, placed it near the fire, and
kept stirring them, to preserve them for dressing the skins.

Imagining that I had skins enough, I took them, as soon as they were
dry, to old Slowtrap’s, as he was celebrated for understanding the
curing business thoroughly. In a few days I was seated in the well-known
chimney corner opposite my old friend, who was the same as usual, had
on the same shabby old black coat with the same eventful buttons behind,
and as usual he was roasting potatoes in the hot ashes. I made no long
preface, and next morning found me hard at work, scraping off the hair
with a knife which I had prepared for the purpose. Finding that I had
not preserved a sufficiency of brains, I was obliged to go out shooting
again, and Hogarth, who lived near, was willing to accompany me for a
few days.

Just as we were about to start on the following morning, five horsemen
drew up before the door. They dismounted, and Hogarth asked them to
breakfast, though we had just finished. After breakfast, as they saw
that we were ready to start, one of them asked us not to go shooting
to-day, but to go with them, as they were on their way to execute an act
of justice. The case was this: Some time since had settled on the banks
of the little river, a set of men who were found to be rather too fond
of horseflesh, without inquiring particularly to whom the horses
belonged. They lived scattered over a district of about twenty miles in
circumference, and almost conclusive proofs of horse-stealing were
brought against two of these people, though the evidence was not strong
enough for proceedings against them in a court of justice, where they
could have an advocate, a being for whom all backwoodsmen entertain a
profound respect. Therefore to make short work of the matter, they had
decided on taking the law into their own hands. A man of the name of
Brogan and my poor Curly were the two victims.

Hogarth was ready at once. I resolved to go as a spectator, fully
resolved to take no part in the proceedings. We were soon off, and
overtook the poor fellows, bound, and led between two horses. Curly was
very dejected; Brogan looked savage and desperate. When we arrived at
the rendezvous, we found a much more numerous assembly than we had
expected, there being about sixty persons present. The jury was chosen,
witnesses were brought forward, sworn, and questioned, and all the
proceedings were carried on according to the regular forms of a court of
justice. It came out that Brogan had been absent for some time during
the preceding year--that the two horses in question had been seen in the
neighborhood of these two men, in a certain place where the forest was
very thick--and that Brogan was always hanging about there. Later, Curly
had made use of one of these horses, and then sold him; the proofs were
convincing enough, yet they both steadfastly denied all the facts.

Two men now stripped Curly of his upper garments, tied him up to a tree,
and began to belabor his back with hickory sticks. Curly had sense
enough to see that if his head remained obstinate, his back would have
to pay the score; so he offered to confess. He was instantly cast loose,
and the register of his sins was soon unfolded. He stated that he
himself had never stolen any horse, but had acted as receiver, or as he
said, had been good-natured towards the thieves. When the last horse was
to be stolen, four of them had been present, and it was agreed that he
was to be carried off and sold. But as one of them must first steal him,
it was left to sportsman’s luck to decide. He, who by a certain day, had
shot fewest deer, should undertake the risk of stealing the horse. Curly
had killed four, by the day named, the other two had shot two each,
Brogan only one. He concluded by giving the names of all the
horse-stealers, twenty-six in number, and well-known names, having the
modesty to leave out his own.

Brogan, who had listened to it all with a contemptuous smile, was now
questioned; all attempts to make him confess were in vain; he denied
having had any share in the crime, and was tied up to a tree and
dreadfully beaten. It was a horrible sight. At first he gave vent to
volleys of oaths and abuse; then he was silent for a long time, and bore
the severe blows with wonderful firmness; at length he gave a deep
groan, and called out, “Oh, my poor wife and children.”

Two negroes now made their appearance with spades and dug a grave; they
were followed by a white man with a cord in his left hand, and a piece
of tallow, with which he kept greasing the cord in his right, looking as
unconcerned as possible all the time, though he knew it was intended to
hang the poor wretch. This seemed rather too severe, and several of us
now stepped forward, and persuaded those who seemed most open to pity,
that if they had resolved to hang the man, they ought not first to have
lacerated him so dreadfully: this seemed evident to the others, so it
was put to the vote, and his life was spared on condition that he left
the country within four weeks, and never returned to it again. He made
no promise, and as he was cast off, he fell senseless on the grass.

I had seen quite enough. Hogarth and I trotted off to the mountains to
think seriously about our shooting; my comrade was very pensive; I
heard afterwards that there were good reasons for it, as no slight
suspicions rested on him.

As the weather was warm and pleasant, we resolved to look for bees as
well as deer; for we had each a great longing for honey. We placed the
bait in the empty shell of a tortoise, and separated in chase of deer.
Hogarth had a call with him and attempted to attract the does by
imitating the cry of their fawns; a most disgraceful practice, which is
too often indulged in. This practice is most abominable, on two
accounts: first, because it is base and cruel to lure the mother to her
destruction by imitating the cry of her young; secondly, because it so
rapidly exterminates all the game, by killing off the does, and leaving
the fawns to perish with hunger, when they are too young to find their
own nourishment. Although I scorned to adopt such a vile practice, I
shot a two-year-old buck, while Hogarth shot nothing.

At nightfall, the winds seemed to break loose from all the thirty-two
points of the compass at once, to blow down all the old fir-trees in the
forest; towards midnight the storm subsided, and changed into such heavy
rain that I was obliged to cut a channel with my knife round our blanket
tent to carry off the water.

On the next morning Slowtrap joined us with his own and Hogarth’s dogs,
as he wanted to find a bear which was paying rather too much attention
to his pigs. The dogs soon found the trail, and after a pretty fight,
Slowtrap knocked him over with his rifle ball, just as I was near
getting the worst of it by being too forward with my knife. We found
bees the same evening.

The sun had just set, when gaining the crest of a hill, I caught sight
of a young deer quietly feeding. I raised the rifle, and was in the act
of pressing the trigger, when I saw the antlers of a very large buck,
who was walking slowly past the other, unsuspicious of harm. I had often
heard old hunters talk of the buck fever, but could never form a just
idea of the meaning of it; at this moment, however, I felt its full
effects. My anxiety to shoot the buck was so great, that I trembled in
every limb, and could not steady the rifle. At length the deer
discovered me, and raised his noble head. I knew that the decisive
moment was come, and, although the sight of the rifle quivered over his
whole form, I pulled the trigger. He gave a bound and disappeared: I
found some blood where he had been standing, but the color was not very
satisfactory, and I followed the trail in vain; he had escaped with a
slight wound.

I returned to the camp out of humor;--and with reason,--I had lost three
pair of good moccasins by my bad shot, and was almost barefoot. Hogarth
and Slowtrap had killed a few deer, and saved the brains for me, and I
thought I had now enough for my skins. Next day we went after bees, and
found two trees, one of which we cut down--on which occasion I got
dreadfully stung.

I now thought it time to return to my work, and was tired of going about
in shirt sleeves. I took the brains which Hogarth and Slowtrap had
given me, with what I had myself collected, returned to Slowtrap’s, and
set to work in earnest with my skins. For the benefit of those who may
be interested in the subject, I will describe the Indian method of
dressing skins. They are laid in water to soak for a whole night; next
morning they are taken out, placed on a smooth board, and the hair
scraped off. This done, the brains are mixed with an equal quantity of
water in an iron pot, and rubbed well into the skins, one brain being
generally enough for one skin; the brains having previously been put in
a coarse linen bag, boiled for an hour, and then left to cool. As soon
as cool enough for the hand to bear it, they are rubbed through the bag,
giving the water a milky color, and leaving only the fibrous parts in
the bag. The skins are put into the pot, and well kneaded, so that they
may be thoroughly saturated with the mixture; then taken out, well
wrung, and hung up to dry. Before this, they must be well rubbed and
pulled across a sharp board till they are dry, as white as snow, and as
soft as velvet. Yet if they get wet they become as hard as a stone; to
prevent this, all the glutinous substance must be destroyed by smoke.
Therefore two of them are sown together in a bag, a hole is made in the
ground, about sixteen inches deep and about eight inches wide, in which
a fire is lighted. As soon as it is in a bright glow, rotten wood is
laid on to make a thick smoke, and the skins are placed over it, mouth
downwards, till they are so thoroughly penetrated by it, that they begin
to turn brown on the outside. They are then turned inside out, and the
process repeated; when finished, neither water nor sun will hurt them
more, and their color is a yellowish-brown.

As soon as my skins were all properly dressed, I went to an old
backwoodsman of the name of Wallis, whose wife cut out a hunting-shirt
for me, in which she used the best part of five skins, and showed me how
to sew them. After three days of industrious tailoring, I succeeded in
producing the perfection of a hunting-shirt. I now cut out a pair of new
moccasins from the skin of an old deer, that I had dressed with the
others; took some of the bark of the black walnut tree, with a little
green vitriol, and gave my new dress the proper forest tint,--and I was
once more fitted out in the regular garb of a backwoodsman.

Wallis had been a great deal amongst the Indians, and had adopted many
of their manners and customs. He was the best white hunter I ever met
with, and never failed in discovering bees, if once he came on their
traces. He had been for a long time in Texas, and extraordinary stories
were related of him during his absence; at last, news came that he was
dead. His wife, in course of time, became acquainted with another man,
who succeeded in gaining her good graces, and so she married him. One
evening, about a year after her second marriage, a horseman, dressed as
an Indian, stopped before the door, dismounted, and tied up his horse.
He entered the house, and the woman recognized, with delight and
astonishment, the husband she had mourned as dead. At the same moment,
the other returned from shooting, with the dogs, which joyfully bounded
about their old master, and he was not a little perplexed at meeting the
lawful owner of the property; but Wallis was a reasonable man, and told
his wife very gravely, that she was at liberty to take her choice
between the two, provided he might have the children, two fine boys, and
that he would give her till the morrow to decide: so saying, he
shouldered his rifle, mounted his horse, and trotted off to the forest,
where he made his fire, and camped for the night.

Next day, after finishing his breakfast, he saddled his horse, and rode
back to the house, to learn how his wife had decided; he found his
representative on the point of departure, who openly acknowledged that
Wallis had the prior rights, that he should be very sorry to be a cause
of discord, excused himself for the accident, begging him not to take it
amiss, and ended by offering his hand, which the other accepted. He then
rode off to the West, to seek another wife with better luck next time.
The long separated pair lived together afterwards as happily and
contentedly as if nothing had happened; it was not necessary for him to
excuse himself for not writing, as he had never learned the art, and,
even if he had sent her a letter, she would have been in the same
difficulty as to reading it.

I had long conversations with him about shooting, and he lamented very
much the decrease of game, which, as he said, had become very sensible
for some years at the Fourche le Fave, formerly the best hunting ground
in Arkansas. Among other things we talked of the dreams of dogs. When I
told him what I had heard, and what I had experienced myself, he
confirmed it, assuring me that he had tried it with the dog which was
then lying at his feet. He said: “I was stretched before the fire one
evening, and could not sleep. The dog was lying by me fatigued with his
day’s work, for we had been out the whole day; he had been for some time
snoring lightly, and now began to scramble with his feet, and to whine
and bark in a low tone; a sure sign that he was dreaming. I had heard
from my father, when I was a child, that any one might have the same
dream as a dog, if they can catch it in a handkerchief; so I spread my
neckcloth over the dog’s head, and waited in patience till he woke. At
length when he left off barking, and raised his head to shake off the
unaccustomed covering, I took the cloth, folded it up, and laying it
under my head, I was soon asleep; I dreamed that I was running after a
rabbit, with most inexplicable rage, following it through the thickest
thorn bushes, and as at last it escaped into a hole, I thrust my head
into it, and barked, and tried to scrape away the earth to get it out. I
have tried it several times since, and always with the same effect.”
Without being superstitious, I determined to take the next opportunity
of repeating the experiment.

My hunting-shirt being finished, I took a kind leave of the old hunter
and his family, and returned to Slowtrap’s, with whom I remained only a
few days, notwithstanding his pressing invitation to pass the summer
there, and then proceeded to Kelfer’s. From hence I revisited the salt
licks, repaired the scaffold, collected kindlers, and passed twelve
nights successively under the fire, until the mosquitoes, and other
insects almost carried me off piecemeal; yet without getting a single
shot. I never could imagine what had driven the game all away; perhaps
it was too late in the season; I only know that I lay on the look-out
many long, long nights, listening for the tread of a deer, watched the
moon rise, follow her appointed course, and set behind the trees;
hearkened patiently to the hootings of the owls, and the complaint of
whip-poor-will, and left the place each succeeding morning, without
seeing a single head of game, to seek some cool spot to sleep in, and
await the coming night. At last, my provisions being exhausted, I was
forced to return to Kelfer’s for a fresh supply. While there I decided
on giving up the fire, and trying daylight again, when I succeeded in
killing a few fine deer. One of them was the largest I ever shot. I was
going along a mountain-side, and had just fired at and missed a young
buck that was standing behind a fallen tree, with nothing but his head
visible, when, just as I had reloaded, this splendid fellow showed
himself above me, at about fifteen paces distance. My ball knocked him
over, and I never saw fatter venison.

After some time, news arrived from Little Rock, to say that letters were
awaiting me there. I was soon ready to start, intending if their
contents were favorable, to embark for the south. My few things were
easily packed up, and I now took a warm farewell of Kelfer and his
amiable family, from whom it grieved me to part. I had lived in his
house like one of his relations, and had never been treated as a
stranger; and if I ever had found a home in America, it would have been
with him; there was only one point on which we disagreed; I was
passionately fond of field sports, and he often severely blamed my
useless loitering about in the woods, seriously representing to me that
I could not go on so for ever, and that I should be forced, sooner or
later, to settle somewhere, and become a useful and reasonable member of
society. I saw clearly enough, on such occasions, that he was right, and
was often inclined to accept the brotherly offers which he made, and to
hang up the rifle, and take to the axe; but I had become too fond of the
wild unsteady life; besides, a burning desire to revisit my native land
prevented me, and my love of change was now stronger than any other
feeling; I took up my rifle, threw my luggage over my shoulder, shook
hands all round, and followed the course of the Fourche le Fave on my
way to Little Rock.

On arriving at the mouth of the river, I was undecided whether I should
continue my course by land or water. Unluckily, however, I found good
shooting-ground there; so, throwing my bundle under a tree, I formed a
hut of loose bark, and began shooting again to my heart’s content.

The end of June came. My provisions had latterly much diminished, as I
had shot nothing for several days, and as the meat was soon spoilt by
the heat unless it was well dried, I began to get tired of sport, and
resolved to shoot only one more deer for provision, then go to Little
Rock, take up my letters, and come to some decision as to my future
course.

The intention of shooting one more deer seemed this time to be easier
conceived than executed, and I lived for two days on whortleberries, a
fruit which by no means suited my stomach. It happened one morning when
I came again on the banks of the Fourche le Fave, I saw a canoe jammed
amongst some drift-wood, which had stuck fast in the river. This suited
my purpose exactly; so, without further consideration, I swam off and
secured it, took it up to my camp, threw in all my havings and
gatherings, and gained the river Arkansas the same afternoon.

Gliding smoothly along near the bank, I observed numerous signs of deer
in several places. I landed at one of them, where the ground was all
trodden down by their feet, and where there was only one narrow rocky
path, by which they could descend to drink the brackish water, that of
the Arkansas containing a considerable portion of salt. My plan was soon
formed. I was not only excessively hungry myself, but I had some friends
in Little Rock, to whom a nice piece of venison would be a treat; so,
taking my tomahawk, I soon erected a small scaffolding over the canoe,
which was all the more easily accomplished as it had been made to serve
this purpose before, holes having been bored below the gunwales to
receive the poles. Covering it with twigs and some inches of earth, I
collected kindlers from the neighboring hills, and patiently awaited the
approaching night. As soon as it was dark I lighted my fire, then leant
back, giving the reins to my fancy and gazing on the beautiful starry
sky. After a time, raising myself silently and looking towards the place
where I expected the deer, I saw a glowing eye just above the water, and
another reflected from its surface; it was a deer, which had descended
without the least noise, and was eagerly drinking the brackish water,
about twenty paces from the canoe. I raised the rifle slowly, took a
careful aim and fired; loud sounded the report over the water’s surface,
returning in repeated echoes from the hills, and then all was as quiet
and silent as the grave. Taking a brand from the fire, I found a
yearling buck lying dead at a short distance from the spot where he had
been drinking. After breaking him up, I cut off no small portion to
roast, my hunger being truly painful; when this was satisfied I threw
him into the canoe, cast off from the bank, rolled myself in my blanket,
and, floating softly down the stream in the stillness of night, I
arrived at Little Rock in good condition on the following morning.

I found a letter from Germany, and another from Kean in Louisiana, from
whom I had not heard for a long time; he requested me to come to him,
telling me I might easily find employment with a good salary. The
steamer “Arkansas” arrived the next day from Fort Smith, and notice was
given that on the morning of the 5th July she would start for New
Orleans. My arrangements were soon made, and not having much packing to
plague me, I passed the intervening days very happily in the society of
my friends.

The 4th of July was to be celebrated as usual in Little Rock by a grand
barbecue, or banquet, at the public expense. I went to the appointed
place out of curiosity, and found a dozen black cooks, busily preparing
for the grand affair. Two trenches, about two yards long and four wide,
were dug in a garden near the town, the bottom of each was filled with
red-hot charcoal, the supply being kept up from a large fire near at
hand. Pieces of wood were laid across the trenches, and on the wood
immense quantities of meat; two halves of an ox, a number of pigs,
calves, deer, bears, sheep, &c., were roasting and stewing, while people
with bottles or jugs full of whiskey went about offering it to all
present. The meat itself was not particularly inviting, everybody going
up and cutting off what he wanted, and holding it in his hand to eat,
some standing, some walking to and fro. At a camp-fire this is all very
well, but such a multitude with greasy hands and mouths is not
attractive.

I did not remain long, but returned to the town, sleeping at the house
of a German settler; and on the following morning proceeded on board the
boat, which contrary to the usual custom, was punctual to her time and
went off blustering down the river.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XII.

LOUISIANA--NEW ORLEANS, AND HOME.

     Bayou Sara--German settlers--Jews--Pointe Coupée--My engagement at
     the hotel--Levées, or dams, on the banks of the Mississippi--Slave
     auction--Treatment of the slaves--Guinea negroes--Alligator
     shooting--Flesh of the alligator, and prejudices against it--Habits
     of the alligator--Scenes on the Mississippi--New Orleans; variety
     of its inhabitants--Coffee-houses--The “Olbers” clears for
     Bremen--The mouth of the Mississippi--My
     fellow-passengers--Sharks--Sickness and death on board--The English
     channel--Bremerhafen--Quarantine--The Lübecker and his unruly
     American wife--Fumigation--Arrival at home.


We entered the Mississippi the second day, and soon left the State of
Arkansas far behind us. Of all I had seen in America it was the one
which pleased me most; I may perhaps never see it again, but I shall
never forget the happy days I passed there, where many a true heart
beats under a coarse frock or leather hunting-shirt.

The boat went flying past the green banks, and on the third night, she
set me ashore at Bayou Sara, in Louisiana. It may have been about one
o’clock when I landed with my baggage. The little boat which brought me
from the steamer pushed off, flying back to the smoking Colossus. The
pilot gave the signal to go ahead, and, smoking and clattering, she soon
vanished from my sight.

All was dark in the town, not a single light to be seen. Being quite a
stranger in the place, I rolled myself in my blanket and lay down on the
bank of the river. The night was warm and pleasant, but repose was out
of the question. Millions of mosquitoes were swarming furiously around,
and only left me in peace when I pulled the blanket over my head; but as
that excluded air, and I removed it to breathe, it was a signal for all
the swarm to fall upon me with renewed fury.

At length the first negro bell was heard from the opposite shore, for
the negroes to turn out; soon afterwards a gleam was visible in the
east. My tormentors now attacked me like mad, and it appeared as if all
the mosquitoes in Louisiana had assembled with the intention of sucking
me dry, so as to preserve me as a specimen: I jumped up, and ran about
to baffle the attempt.

Day came at last, and with it some houses were opened; amongst others a
German coffee-house. Leaving my baggage there I strolled about the
place. After lounging about for an hour, I thought it was late enough to
find out Kean, who was clerk in a merchant’s house; I soon found him,
Bayou Sara not being very large, and met with a kind reception.

In the first place I had to change my costume; hunting-shirts and
leggings are excellent things in the forest, but not so well adapted to
a town, nor to the hot sun of Louisiana. Summer articles were not dear,
a number of German Jews having settled in the place, underselling each
other; for a few dollars I obtained a very respectable suit.

Most of the houses of Bayou Sara are built of wood, only three or four
being of brick. It may contain about 800 inhabitants, among whom are
several Germans, who are carpenters, tailors, shoemakers, sugar-bakers,
coffee-house keepers, and a large number of German Jews, who by their
low prices have managed to get the trade in ready-made clothes
completely into their own hands. German shoemakers mustered very strong;
and here I was again struck with a peculiarity which I have remarked
among all the German shoemakers in America, namely the rage they have
for selling gingerbread and sugar-plums, as well as boots and shoes.

In the United States as a matter of course, every person is free to buy
and sell whatever he chooses. Therefore all sorts of wares are to be
found at all the stores. In the smaller towns, apothecaries generally
combine a trade in calicoes and hardware with that of drugs; and when a
German shoemaker opens his shop, you are sure to see some glasses with
parti-colored sugar-plums, and pieces of gingerbread in the little
window, while boots and shoes are dangling on pack-thread above them.
This was not only the case in Bayou Sara, and St. Francisville, a town
of the same size on a hill about a quarter of a mile behind Bayou Sara,
but in all the smaller towns in the United States which I had visited,
and even in some parts of the large town of Cincinnati. It is at all
events a strange medley.

I passed my time very agreeably in the society of Kean, whose employers
were good kind people, until I obtained a remunerative occupation in
Pointe Coupée, a large French settlement extending twenty miles along
the opposite or western bank of the Mississippi; this office consisted
in the management of the hotel formerly kept by Rutkin, and which he had
sold before his departure; the purchaser, however, was weak and in bad
health, and had been mostly confined to his bed, leaving the hotel to
the management of another, who was driving every thing to wreck and
ruin. The purchaser’s brother seeing that it would never do to leave it
in such hands, placed me in the situation on Kean’s recommendation.
Although my present sphere of action was very different from any thing
to which I had hitherto been accustomed, I soon gained an insight into
the business, and went on very well, as I was perfectly independent,
acting on all occasions as I thought best: and I can fairly say that I
soon brought things into better order.

Generally speaking, living in Pointe Coupée was much more agreeable than
in Bayou Sara, as my principal dealings were with the opulent planters
of the vicinity, amongst whom were some very pleasant people; there was
also an Irish advocate living in the hotel, who had a very extensive
practice, and we conceived a mutual friendship for each other: I shall
always look back with hearty pleasure to my acquaintance with Mr.
Beattie.

The little town of the settlement, lying rather higher up the stream on
the opposite side to Bayou Sara, consists of the town-hall, the jail,
the Roman Catholic church, the priest’s house, and the hotel.

As the land beyond the banks of the Mississippi, particularly in
Louisiana, is lower than the river, when the latter is very full the
settlers have been obliged to throw up a dam--levée, as it is
called--which is generally from four to five feet high, but in some
places from eighteen to twenty. It costs immense sums to keep this in
repair, as the river constantly undermines it, and carries off large
masses in its wild muddy waters; moreover, it is incumbent on those
dwelling immediately on the banks to supply the means, while those
living further from the river, whose property is more liable to damage,
do not contribute any thing towards the dam; but last year there was a
discussion on the subject, and it is probable that the system will be
changed.

The principal productions of Pointe Coupée are cotton, Indian Corn, and
sugar-cane. The gardens are filled with oranges, figs, peaches, and
pomegranates, with quantities of all the most beautiful flowers. One
great plague of the planters, in some parts of the settlement, for it
does not extend everywhere, is the coco-grass, somewhat similar to our
couch-grass. The roots extend from twelve to fifteen feet in the ground,
as may be seen when the river tears away a part of the bank. Where it
has once taken hold, it is very difficult to extirpate; it grows so fast
that, when cut down at night, it is again about an inch high in the
morning. It is not very good for cattle, though pigs are extremely fond
of the pods, which have a strong smell and taste of camphor.

Most of the planters are French Creoles; but as several Americans live
here also, the law proceedings are carried on both in French and
English. The jailer is a poor wretched German shoemaker, and any
prisoner that has a mind gives him a cudgelling, and takes his leave.
Several cases of the kind occurred last year.

The system of slavery makes a very disagreeable impression upon those
who are unaccustomed to it; and although I had long dwelt in slave
States, and witnessed the oppressed condition and ill-treatment of the
poor blacks, yet the horrors of the system were never so evident as when
I first attended an auction, where slaves were sold like cattle to the
highest bidder, and the poor creatures stood trembling, following the
bidders with anxious eyes, in order to judge in advance whether they
were to belong to a kind or severe master. It does not happen so often
now as formerly that families are separated, at least mothers and
children, so long as the latter are very young. In large auctions, the
law has the humanity to decree that families are only to be sold
together; but individuals are often sold, and then the most sacred ties
are torn asunder for the sake of a few hundred dollars.

I have witnessed most heart-breaking scenes on such occasions. At the
same time, I must admit that the treatment of slaves is generally better
than it is represented by the Abolitionists and missionaries. It is to
the advantage of the owner to keep his slaves healthy and fit for work,
and not to overtax their strength, as he is bound to support them in
their old age. Their food generally is not worse than that of the poor
man in other lands. Though there are instances of rich planters treating
their slaves most shamefully, there are others where they are treated as
part of the family. In our hotel, we had a cook, chambermaid, and
porter, all slaves, who never had occasion to complain of
ill-treatment. A negro, or descendant of a negro, is not allowed to
quit the place of his abode without a pass from his master, while the
free negro must always have his papers about him. If a slave is found
without a pass, he is imprisoned until his master claims him, and pays
the expenses. Fugitive slaves frequently take refuge in the forests; and
I remember how, in Tennessee, large parties used to go out to surround
them, and recover possession of them. Although the law speaks in strong
language against the importation of fresh negroes, yet I saw several
slaves who had been brought over from Africa, and who were called Guinea
negroes, to distinguish them from those born in America. The education
of the poor blacks is strictly forbidden, for fear they should write
their own passes, and thus escape. They are kept for use and increase
like domestic animals; and yet these United States have this sentence in
their declaration of independence: “that all men are free and equal!”

In the towns the Methodist preachers have driven what little
understanding nature has given them, out of the poor blacks’ heads,
teaching them to jump and shout, to thank God for being afflicted, and
to kiss the rod that chastises them. They kiss it, indeed, but leave the
marks of their teeth behind; and when they dare not openly oppose the
tyranny of the whites, they do so in secret, and many of the hated race
fall by the hand of the oppressed. Examples of this kind are frequent;
and although the punishment which the negro has to expect for raising
his hand against a white is appalling, it does not prevent the deed, but
only makes the doer more cautious.

My present occupation did not allow much time for amusement, though now
and then I got some duck-shooting in winter, when the ducks come in
myriads from the north to this milder climate, where ice is very seldom
seen on the lakes and standing pools, and snow was not seen during the
whole winter. Snipe-shooting commenced early in spring, and I followed
it up with great eagerness. It is a very different affair here from what
it is in Europe; you go out in the evening, and shoot them by
torchlight, when, of course, you must have a very small charge, as they
approach within ten yards, often within five or six. The negro, who is
not allowed to carry a gun without permission from his master, goes out
with a torch, and a small bushy bough of a tree, to knock them down.
There are two sorts, both smaller than ours, and they occur in such
numbers, that in two hours I have often killed from eighteen to twenty.
During the day they remain among the thick reeds and in the marshes, and
in the evening flock to the meadows and cotton fields. They are delicate
eating, and more tender than the European variety. As the weather gets
hotter, they fly off to the north.

The spring in Louisiana is enchantingly beautiful. All the grasses and
flowers springing out of the ground, all the buds and blossoms on the
trees, fill the beholder with rapture: the gray silvery-haired moss
dangling from the trees, giving them such a mournful appearance in
winter, now added to the beauty of the scene; assuming a more lively
color itself, it looked a transparent silvery veil thrown over the
blossoms and fresh green of the leaves. The long slender cypresses shone
to the greatest advantage under such a veil. All sorts of birds are now
to be seen; among them numbers of the mocking-bird, sometimes called the
American nightingale, warble sweetly, especially at night.

As usual in all the plantations in Louisiana, several China-trees stood
before my house, for shade as well as for ornament. One of them was an
old patriarch, whose branches spread far and wide, and which had been
used as a summer-house by the former proprietor, who had had a flight of
stairs built up to it, and fixed a round table, with several seats. In
this tree my hammock was slung between two branches, with a mosquito net
spread over it;--for these amiable little creatures were again beginning
their wicked tricks; and I slept in the warm night wind, among the
blossoms of the tree, which have something of the perfume of the
heliotrope, surrounded by fire-flies, lulled by the notes of the
mocking-bird, and by the rushing sound of the mighty Mississippi,
flowing about twenty paces from the tree.

The heat in May, especially in the middle of the day, was oppressive;
but when the other whites had retired to take their siesta, I went with
my rifle and harpoon to the swamps, at a short distance from the river,
to shoot alligators, which are to be found in incredible numbers, in the
warm standing pools. What dreadful statements have been written about
the formidable nature of these animals, and their fierce attacks on man!
I have always found them gentle, harmless creatures, and was very active
in shooting them. However, as I lost those I had shot, by their swimming
a little way and then sinking, I took a harpoon with a twenty-feet line,
and, going up to the waist in water, I placed myself under one of the
many cypresses standing in the swamps, and awaited their approach, as
they swam about slowly in the glowing mid-day heat, or sunned themselves
on the bank. If one came within twelve or fifteen yards, I was sure of
him. The best sport was when he was a great powerful fellow, and I
pulled one way as he pulled the other. But as standing in the terrible
heat of the sun did not suit me, I resolved to try torchlight,
particularly as many of the Creoles told me that no one had ever
attempted to shoot them by the light of a fire, it being supposed that
the alligator was bolder and more dangerous at night. So, on the next
evening, I went to the place with rifle, fire-pan, harpoon, and
kindlers. The sight from the banks of the swamp was enchanting, and made
me endure even mosquito bites with patience. The dark surface of the
water, the immense cypresses standing in it, their moss waving in the
night wind, the dark surrounding forest, the hooting of the owls, the
melancholy croak of the bull-frog, I had long been accustomed to; but
all in the water was wild commotion, and, when holding the flame behind
me, the shadow of my head was cast upon the flood, hundreds of glowing
eyes shone from all parts of it like balls of red-hot iron. As I had
only one hand free, I could not hold the rifle and harpoon at the same
time; so I fired at the head of the nearest, dropped the rifle, seized
the harpoon, darted it into the animal at the distance of six or seven
yards, and drew it by the line to the bank. I had secured two in this
way, when I saw a pair of larger eyes coming straight towards me; I
fired as before, and darted the harpoon into the wounded animal, as he
turned and showed the white of his belly. At the instant of darting the
harpoon, I was standing close to the edge of the water, with the end of
the line fastened to my right wrist. The alligator had hardly felt the
barbed iron, when he darted off and dived, jerking me into the water
before I had time to hold back. The pan fell out of my hand, and the
fire was extinguished with a loud hiss. The line was too securely
fastened for me to free myself, and I was twice dragged under water
before I felt firm bottom, when, holding back with all my might, I
succeeded in stopping him, he being somewhat exhausted by his exertions
and loss of blood; then pulling slowly and cautiously towards the bank,
gradually increasing the strain, he collected his remaining strength,
and darted off, dragging me head under again; but the water was not more
than four feet deep, and this time I had less trouble in hauling the
weakened animal to the shore.

Wet through and through, and in total darkness, I had fortunately left
my matches, with the split wood, at the foot of a tree. I groped for and
found my pan, and in a few minutes another bright flame rose flickering
to the sky. The large alligator was about ten feet long, and I could
make no use of him; for although the planters use the fat for their
cotton machinery, for which it is well adapted, it was too old to be
eatable; the two first caught were three and four feet long; I cut off
their tails, and carried them home to eat.

Very few of the Creoles, or even the negroes, will eat the flesh of the
alligator, partly because they feel disgust at it, and partly because
they fancy it to be poisonous; but I found it excellent, and never
experienced any bad consequences. It is white and firm, and looks and
tastes like fish, but the tail must be cut off immediately, and the
back-bone taken out, or it acquires the musty smell peculiar to these
animals.

After this, I always took a companion with me, and when one had fired,
the other harpooned, which made the work easier. However fearful the
alligators may be of white men, it is extraordinary how furiously they
will attack negroes and dogs, particularly the latter. I was standing
one afternoon, harpoon in hand, up to the waist in water, and although
plenty of alligators were swimming about, none of them would come close
enough, when, acting on the impulse of the moment, I attempted to
attract them by imitating the bark of a dog;--fifteen or sixteen big
fellows came straight towards me, as soon as they heard it! This was too
much of a good thing: standing so deep in water, I was hardly master of
my movements, and began to step out as fast as possible for the shore,
about a hundred feet distant; I then recommenced my bark, but as I was
fully exposed to view, they were afraid of coming close, though they
kept swimming round at a respectable distance.

The predominant religion in Louisiana is the Roman Catholic, with this
difference in the arrangements, that the priest is chosen by the
congregation, and the bishop has nothing to say in the matter. Some time
since, the people had dismissed their priest, being dissatisfied with
him; but, as he had been invested by the bishop, he maintained that the
bishop alone could remove him, and taking Mr. Beattie for his advocate,
he indicted his flock. Mr. Beattie gained his cause at the half-yearly
sessions, but the parish appealed to the court of the United States at
New Orleans. The priest repaired thither, took a new advocate, and
obtained the following sentence: “That the citizens of Pointe Coupée
might dismiss their priest, if they were dissatisfied with him, and that
neither bishop nor pope could issue commands in the United States.”

It was about the end of June, when I made up my mind to return to
Germany. Kean had been for some time in New Orleans, engaged in
commission business, and I began to feel lonely in Pointe Coupée. I
therefore arranged my affairs, and prevailed on a brother of the
proprietor, who had formerly been in partnership with him, to undertake
the management, now that all was in good order; then, taking a kind
leave of all my good friends, I left Pointe Coupée on the 5th of
July--the same day that I had left Little Rock the year before.

I embarked on board the Steamer “Eclipse” for New Orleans, and dashed
down the swollen stream with the speed of an arrow. The banks of the
Mississippi, in the lower part of Louisiana, offer a most beautiful
panorama of towns and plantations, to the eyes of the passenger flying
past in a steamer; the country-seats of the planters make a splendid
appearance through the orange and pomegranate trees, with the rows of
white cottages for the slaves, like so many villages, besides large
cotton fields and sugar plantations, with gangs of negroes at work,
under the inspection of a white on horseback; troops of mustangs, or
ponies, galloping with flowing manes and tails, small schooners, and
so-called chicken thieves dashing with swelling tails along the shores,
give the whole an animated aspect. At present, however, it did not look
everywhere so agreeable; the river had risen considerably, and in many
places broken through the levée, laying a number of cotton fields and
sugar plantations under water, and giving the landscape a wild and
desolate look.

On the following morning, about nine o’clock, we approached the emporium
of the south, and a multitude of boats, barges, schooners, brigs, and
even ships lying above the town, gave evidence of the busy turmoil of an
immense commercial place. We had about forty head of oxen on board,
which had been brought from St. Louis, to be landed at Lafayette, a
suburb of New Orleans. The steamer was stopped near the shore, and the
oxen and cows bundled overboard to swim to land. This done, the engine
was set going, and passing shipping of all sorts and nations, we landed
about ten o’clock, among about sixty other steamers, on the levée of New
Orleans.

I found Kean immediately, and accompanied him to the hotel where he
lodged, left my things there, and lounged about the town with him,
talking of bygone times. The heat was oppressive, and we were soon
obliged to take shelter in the house to escape the scorching rays of the
sun. In the evening we drove to Lafayette, where several Bremen vessels
were lying, to have a look at them, and inquire their times of
departure. We found two bound for Bremen, but the time of departure
uncertain, and I saw that I should have to remain some time in New
Orleans.

The town had increased very much since my former visit, and was
improved in its appearance. It extends above seven miles along the bank
of the river, where it is interesting to observe all sorts of shipping,
steamers and sailing vessels arriving or departing every hour of the
day. In other respects the town offers nothing noticeable beyond
straight handsome streets, with large clean looking houses, and
tastefully ornamented shops. It is still more interesting to observe the
people, who throng the streets in all, even the hottest, hours of the
day, where every shade between white and black is to be seen. The spot
most attractive to me was the lower market, close to the levée, where
every kind of article to be found in America was for sale. The fruit
stalls looked especially inviting, and so did the fish-stalls, where
great varieties of fish were to be seen. In the midst of all the bustle
and crowding, there are quiet retreats, where a brilliant and colossal
coffee machine stands always on a table, surrounded by chairs, cups, and
plates filled with every kind of bread and cake are at hand; a pretty
looking girl performs the part of Hebe. At all hours of the day and
night, hot coffee, and in many of these places tea and chocolate, are
always ready; and almost every night, when I could not prevail on myself
to retire to the hot, close room without a breath of air, I have walked
about the ever thronged streets, and drank coffee, until fatigue drove
me to bed. At daybreak I was in the market again, among the crowds of
Americans, French, Creoles, English, Germans, Spaniards, Italians,
Negroes, Mulattoes, Mestizoes, Indians, &c., &c., and returned to
breakfast, at which I drank, Creole fashion, red wine iced, instead of
coffee, and then went to bed for a few hours. Kean joined me whenever
his business would permit; and many an hour passed in agreeable
conversation.

At length, after a space of three weeks, the “Olbers” was cleared, and
ready to start. My effects were embarked, leave taken of all my friends,
a most hearty one of Kean, whom I loved as a brother, and who had always
behaved like one, and at ten at night the steamer “Porpoise” made
herself fast alongside, having besides a French brig, three schooners in
tow, and we started like a small fleet down the dark stream. We reached
the mouth of the Mississippi about noon the next day, and anchored. In
all directions thin green reeds were growing out of the water, giving
only a representation of land, the yellow river flowing through them,
and not a foot of solid ground anywhere visible. The Mississippi is here
a river but without any banks, though looking as if still enclosed in
its bed. To my great astonishment, houses were seen above this waste of
reeds and water, with living beings moving about them. As the pilot said
that we must wait till tomorrow for broad daylight and the flood tide,
to cross the bar, and we had nothing to do this afternoon, the captain
took two other passengers and myself to the row of houses, to see if we
could get oysters, or any thing else eatable. After half an hour’s sharp
rowing, we reached a platform resting on piles. A more uninviting place
to live in, I never saw. The water flows under the houses of this
outpost of American felicity, leaving at low-water a loose slimy mud,
which would engulf any one attempting to tread on it, and which swarms
with creeping things innumerable. I recollect an American saying that
Louisiana was not fit for the abode of man, but only for mosquitoes,
bullfrogs, and alligators, and certainly here there seemed to be reason
in his words, for how a human being could be induced to settle in such a
place is still a mystery to me. The inhabitants catch oysters at no
great distance from their houses, sell some of them to the ships, and
carry the rest in their boats to New Orleans, to exchange them for
provisions and necessaries for their families, yes, _families_,--for
women and children were there too. When we arrived, there was not an
oyster left in the place, nor any thing else eatable to be had, and they
told us that they were anxiously looking out for a boat with provisions.
A glass of brandy adulterated with a little vitriol was all that we
procured, and we returned on board, rejoicing to escape the frantic
mosquitoes of the little settlement.

At nine the next morning we weighed anchor, and the “Porpoise,” which,
meantime, had taken some smaller vessels over the bar, now took us in
tow, and with some trouble, dragged us over, the keel scraping
occasionally. She carried us several miles out into the gulf, and then
left us to make our way alone as well as we could, which, as there was
very little wind, was slow work enough; and at length we were quite
becalmed.

My fellow-passengers were, a Hamburgh merchant, an American landholder,
who possessed thousands of acres in Texas, which he wished to dispose
of, (I never knew any one from Texas, who did not possess at least ten
thousand acres of good land;) and a citizen of Lübeck, who had married
in America, and who was taking his wife and his two children to live in
his native country.

July 25th, during a perfect calm, I jumped overboard to bathe in the
crystal waters. A more delightful feeling is hardly to be described than
that of diving, swimming, splashing in the warm waters of the gulf; it
almost seemed impossible to sink, the body being so buoyant in the salt
water. I felt a longing desire to become a dolphin in the transmigration
of souls, and to settle in the gulf of Mexico. I remained in the water
till I was quite tired, and was obliged to lie down. Moreover, sea
bathing never agreed with me, and on the morrow I felt rather unwell. In
New Orleans I was not quite right, but would not take any medicine; now
I thought it was time to do so, and swallowed a dose of tartar emetic I
had had the precaution to bring with me, mixing in it a glass of
Madeira. The dose was rather strong, and its effect excessive; yet I was
better after it.

On the 28th and 29th July, two sharks were caught, and eaten; but I
could not join in the feast, for I was now really ill with a fever, and
sharp pains in the chest, and every movement was attended with great
suffering. There was also cause for disquietude, in five sailors being
taken ill, and their disease assuming an extraordinary character.

One evening as I was lying shaded from the moonbeams, I heard the mate
talking with the American passenger, who was also unwell, and he told
him, in a friendly way, that before we were clear of the gulf, at least
five men would have to be sewn up in sailcloth and dropped overboard;
and among them he named my worthy self. This was rather more than a
joke; after escaping all the dangers and toils of the land, to be
pitched over the side like a dead dog: and I was resolved to prove the
old proverb: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and to get well
again. I took a glass of excellent arrack, and had a quantity of it
rubbed on my chest and shoulders. I fell asleep in a few minutes, and in
the morning I felt lighter and better. By the 1st August I was able to
crawl about, and decidedly improving. On the 3rd, we came in sight of
Cuba, and passed close enough to the shore to make out the palm-trees
and country houses.

The sick sailors were still dangerously ill, and though there was a
medicine chest, yet there was no doctor on board, nor any one who
understood its contents; so there was little hope for the poor fellows.
One died that same evening, another on the 6th, another on the 7th.
There were no stones or weights on board to sink the corpses, and they
swam about the ship, as if they wished to be taken on board again, and
not to be left in this waste of waters. The moon was shining clear, and
we looked long in silence at the melancholy spectacle, not knowing whose
turn might come next.

It was possible that we should be obliged to return to an American port
for men to navigate the ship, for six seamen had deserted at New
Orleans, and one had died, and the captain had replaced them by two
Americans, one Frenchman, and one Italian, altogether too few when we
first started. However, soon after the third corpse was thrown
overboard, a fresh breeze sprang up from the westward, and on the 9th we
entered the Atlantic. The patients improved, and by the 11th all were
well and fit for work.

Leaving the Gulf stream as soon as possible, to avoid the
thunder-storms so frequent there, we had the most beautiful weather in
the world, with a fresh S. W. wind, inspiring cheerfulness and good
spirits. We amused ourselves in the mornings with books or chess, and in
the evenings playing whist with a dummy, the time passing rapidly and
agreeably. Sometimes, by way of a change in our amusements, the American
wife cuffed her Lübeck husband, or threw some household utensil at his
head; sometimes the Texan landholder got drunk, and talked all kinds of
nonsense. Thus there was no awful pause in our entertainments, up to the
time of arriving in the channel on the 1st of September, when a cutter
came alongside, and sold us fresh fish and potatoes, which we enjoyed
very much after all the salt provisions.

It was too thick to see the land, but after dark we made out a
light-house on the coast of England, and afterwards another on that of
Normandy. The next day was still foggy, and the wind against us; later,
a pleasant breeze sprung up from the westward, dispersed the fog,
displaying the chalky cliffs of Albion in all the splendor of the
setting sun;--hundreds of vessels were in sight, while the sea was
almost as smooth as a lake. I mounted aloft to feast my eyes
undisturbed, on old, beloved, long-desired Europe, which seemed to open
her arms with a friendly smile to welcome back the wanderer.

I remained till the darkness hid the prospect from my sight. At midnight
the wind changed again, and we had to beat to windward; as the day was
clear, we could make out people walking at Brighton, and the long rows
of bathing-machines on the beach. We also came close in to Dover, and
then over to Calais, after which we cleared the land, and stood into the
North Sea.

On the 17th September, a pilot came on board, and on the evening of the
18th we were off Bremerhafen, and anchored about a quarter of a mile
from the entrance on account of the ebb. Here, to our great
consternation, the pilot informed us that we should be put in
quarantine, on account of the deaths which had occurred. This was a
woful stop to all our hopes of soon treading on terra firma, and it was
in a very ill humor that I watched the dread flag flying from the
foremast.

On the following morning we moved close to the Hanoverian fort. A boat
with a flag uniting the Hanoverian and Bremen colors, put off and came
alongside, holding on by a boat-hook, and refusing to touch a rope, for
fear of infection. Two carefully enveloped figures sat in the stern; one
of these was a doctor, who made us all look over the ship’s side, that
he might behold and study our physiognomies, and see if they looked at
all suspicious. We were mustered, to show that all were present, and
then he inquired into all the particulars of the deaths. After gaining
all the information he desired, he noted it in a book, and said quite
coolly that he would send a report to Bremen, and that we should hear
again in a few days. Here was precious felicity! We had just time to
call out to the boatmen the names of various articles we wished them to
procure us, such as fresh meat, bread, butter, potatoes, &c. a good sign
how ill we all were--ere the boat pushed off, made sail, and disappeared
in the harbor.

The Lübecker’s American wife, the only woman on board, had in the mean
time had many a dispute with her husband, whom she shamefully tormented;
yet he bore it all with inconceivable patience. She struck him, bit him,
hid his things, or threw them overboard, abused him, and in short,
behaved in a manner that would have exposed her to the roughest
treatment from many others; but her good man bore it all with a “What
can I do?” This was his answer to the advice of everybody on board, all
wishing that she should meet the reward of her infamous conduct; but it
was always, “What can I do? I cannot strike her.” His better half
happened to hear the word strike (schlagen), and although she did not
understand German, she knew what that meant; so springing on him like a
fury, and holding her fist in his face, she told him in unmistakable
terms that if he once attempted to raise his hand to her, she would
plunge a knife between his ribs, and scratch out his eyes. She was a
little frightened by one of the party telling her that if she did not
treat her husband better, he had the right in Germany of selling her to
anybody who would buy her--a statement which I confirmed: this startled
her; but if she had had any reflection, she must easily have known that
no one would buy such a termagant.

She behaved better during the time we were in quarantine, perhaps
feeling that she was alone among foreigners, and would be quite helpless
without her husband.

Ten days passed away, and we only saw the boat when she brought the
letters or provisions; at length one of the party wrote a request to the
principal authorities in Bremerhafen, that the passengers at least, who
had nothing to do with the cargo, might be permitted to land. Contrary
to expectation, the answer was favorable, and next morning a barge, of
blessed memory, came alongside, “in which the passengers and
baggage”--so ran the order--“were to be thoroughly smoked.”

All our baggage was removed to the barge; the contents were unpacked and
spread out, the hatches laid on, a dark powder thrown in, and then
something liquid, and the hold was instantaneously filled with a thick
smoke. As soon as all the goods’ were smoked, the passengers were
required to undergo the same process; and we walked about in this
dreadful smoke for about a quarter of an hour: my lungs did not get rid
of the effects of it for three days after. This ordeal past, we repacked
our clothes, and prepared, after our long absence, to tread once more on
German ground. We waved a last adieu to our good captain, his officers,
and crew, whose conduct could not be too highly praised; and in a few
minutes, with light and joyful hearts, we stepped on the soil of our
native land.

THE END.


Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

A Racoon=> A Raccoon {pg viii}

unsteady zizgag flight=> unsteady zigzag flight {pg 247}

for the mouutains=> for the mountains {pg 285}

I was indtfferent to=> I was indifferent to {pg 354}

sparng up from=> sprang up from {pg 392}





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