Page images
PDF
EPUB

its waters, which bubbled up in copious springs, from the rock, or pebble stratum. For a long distance the stream increased from such accessions alone, without large and independent tributaries. On the second day's travel, we came to a spring, of this crystal character, which we judged to be about fifty feet across, at the point of its issue from the rock and soil. Its outlet after running about a thousand yards, joined the main stream, to which it brings a volume fully equal to it. This spring I named the Elk Spring, from the circumstance of finding a large pair of the horns of this animal, partly buried in the leaves, at a spot where I stooped down to drink. I took the horns, and hung them in the forks of a young oak tree.

We found abundance of game in this valley. There was not an entire day, I think, until we got near the hunters' camps, that we did not see either the bear, elk, or deer, or their recent signs. Flocks of the wild turkey were of daily occurrence. The gray squirrel frequently sported on the trees, and as the stream increased in size, we found the duck, brant and swan.

There were two serious objections, however, in travelling down a wooded valley. Its shrubbery was so thick and rank that it was next to impossible to force the pack horse through it. Wherever the cane abounds, and this comprehends all its true alluvions, it is found to be matted to gether, as it were, with the green briar and grape vine. So much noise attended the effort at any rate, that the game generally fled before us, and had it not been for small game, we should have often wanted a meal. With every effort, we could not make an average of more than fourteen miles a day. The river was so tortuous too, that we could not count, on making more than half this distance, in a direct line. To remedy these evils we sometimes went out of the valley, on the

open

naked plains. It was a relief, but had, in the end, these difficulties, that while the plains exposed us to greater heats in travelling, they afforded no water, and we often lost much time in the necessity, we were under, towards night-fall, of going back to the valley for water. Neither was it found to be safe to travel far separated, for there were many causes of accident, which rendered mutual assistance desirable. One day, while Enobitti led the horse, and was conducting him from a lofty ridge, to get into the valley, the animal stumbled, and rolled to the bottom. We thought every bone in his body had been broke, but he had been protected by his pack, and we found that he was but little injured, and when repacked, still capable of going forward. On another occasion, I had been leading him for several hours, along a high terrace of cliffs on the left banks where this terrace was, as it were, suddenly cut off by the intersection of a lateral valley. The view was a sublime one, standing at the pinnacle of junction ; but there was no possible way of descent, and it was necessary to retrace my steps, a long-long way. As an instance of the very

tortuous character of this stream, I will mention that a rocky peninsula, causing a bend which it took my companion some two hours to pass, with the horse, I had crossed in less than twenty minutes, with my hammer and gun.

When we had, as we supposed, become familiar with every species of impediment and delay, in descending the valley, a new, and very serious and unexpected one, arose one day, in crossing the stream, from the left to the right bank. It was my turn to be muleteer that day, and I had selected a ford where the river was not wide, and the water, apparently, some two or three feet deep. I judged from the clearness of the pebbles at the bottom, and their apparent nearness to the surface. But such was the transparency of the water, that a wide mistake was made. We had nearly lost the horse, he plunged in over head, could not touch bottom, and when with great ado, we had got him up the steep bank on the other side, he was completely exhausted. But this was not the extent of the evil. Our sugar and salt were dissolved. Our meal, of which a little still remained, was spoiled. Our tea was damaged, -our blankets and clothing wetted-our whole pack soaked. The horse had been so long in the water, in our often fruitless efforts to get him to some part of the bank depressed enough, to pull him up, that nothing had escaped its effects. We encamped on the spot, and spent the rest of the day in drying our effects, and expelling from our spare gartnents the superfluous moisture.

The next day we struck out into the high plains, on the right bank, and made a good day's journey. The country was nearly level, denuded of trees, with sere autumnal grass. Often the prairie hen started up, but we saw nothing in the animal creation beside, save a few hares, as evening came on. To find water for the horse, and ourselves, we were again compelled to approach the valley. We at length entered a dry and desolate gorge, without grass or water. Night came on, but no sound or sight of water occurred. We were sinking deeper and deeper into the rocky structure of the country at every step, and soon found there were high cliffs on either side of us. What we most feared now occurred. It became dark, the clouds had threatened foul weather and it now began to rain. Had it not been for a cavern, which disclosed itself, in one of these calcareous cliffs, we must have passed a miserable night. On entering it, we found a spring of water. It was too high in the cliff to

get

the horse in, but we carried him water in a vessel. He was afterwards hobbled, and left to shift for himself. On striking a fire, in the cave, its rays disclosed masses of stalactites, and a dark avenue into the rocks back. Having made a cup of tea and finished our repast, we determined to explore the cave before lying down to rest, lest we might be intruded on by some wild animal before morning. A torch of pine wood was soon made, which guided our footsteps into the dismal recess, but we found nothing of the kind. On returning to our fire, near the mouth of the cave, we found the rain had increased to a heavy shower, and the vivid flashes of

lightning, illumined with momentary brilliancy, the dark and frowning precipices of this romantic gorge. The excitement and novelty of our position, served to drive away sleep, notwithstanding a long day's march, and it was late before we sought repose.

Morning brought a clear sky, but the horse was gone. He had followed on the back track, up the glen, in search of something to feed upon, and was not found till we reached the skirts of the plains. The whole morning was indeed, lost in reclaiming him, and we then set forward again and returned to the North Fork valley. We found it had assumed a greater expanse, at the point of our re-entry, which it maintained, and increased, as we pursued it down. Wide open oak plains extended on the left bank, which appeared very eligible for the purposes of settlement. On an oak tree, at this spot, we observed some marks, which had probably been made by some enterprising land explorer. ' With these improved evidences of its character for future occupation, we found the travelling easier. Within a few miles travel, we noticed a tributary coming in on the left bank, and at a lower point another on the left. The first stream had this peculiarity, that its waters came in at a right angle, with the parent stream, and with such velocity as to pass directly across its channel to the opposite bank. In this vicinity, we saw many of the deserted pole camps of the Osages, none of which appeared, however, to have been recently occupied. So far, indeed, we had met no hindrance, or annoyance from this people; we had not even encountered a single member of the tribe, and felt assured that the accounts we had received of their cruelty and rapacity, had been grossly exaggerated, or if not wholly overcoloured, they must have related to a period in their history, which was now well nigh past. We could not learn that they had hunted on these lands, during late years, and were afterwards given to understand that they had ceded them to the United States by a treaty concluded at St. Louis. From whatever causes, however, the district had been left free from their roving parties, it was certain that the game had recovered under such a cessation of the chase. The black bear, deer and elk, were abundant. We also frequently saw signs of the labours of the beaver along the valley. I had the good luck, one day, while in advance with my gun, of beholding two of these animals, at play in the stream, and observing their graceful motions. My position was, within point blank shot of them, but I was screened from their gaze. I sat, with gun cocked, meaning to secure one of them after they came to the shore. Both animals came out together, and sat on the bank at the edge of the river, a ledge of rocks being in the rear of them. The novelty of the sight led me to pause, and admire them, when, all of a sudden, they darted into a crevice in the rock.

On the second day after re-entering the valley, we descried, on descending a long slope of rising ground, a hunter's cabin, covered with narrow

oak boards, split with a frow; and were exhilarated with the idea of finding it occupied. But this turned out a delusive hope. It had been deserted, from appearance, the year before. We found, among the surrounding weeds, a few stems of the cotton plant, which had grown up from seeds, accidentally dropped. The bolls had opened. I picked out the cotton to serve as a material in lighting my camp fires, at night, this being a labour which I had taken the exclusive management of. The site of this camp, had been well chosen. There was a small stream in front, and a heavy rich cane bottom behind it, extending to the banks of the river. A handsome point of woodlands extended north of it, from the immediate door of the camp. And although somewhat early in the day, we determined to encamp, and soon made ourselves masters of the fabric, and sat down before a cheerful fire, with a title to occupancy, which there was no one to dispute.

THE BIRD.

VERSIFIED FROM THE GERMAN OF GESSNER: 1812

A swain, as he strayed through the grove,

Had caught a young bird on a spray-
What a gift, he exclaimed, for my love,

How beautiful, charming, and gay.
With rapture he viewed the fair prize,

And listened with joy to its chat,
As with haste to the meadow he hies

To secure it beneath his straw hat.
I will make of yon willows so gay,

A cage for my prisoner to mourn,
Then to Delia, the gift I'll convey,

And beg for a kiss in return.
She will grant me that one, I am sure,

For a present so rare and so gay,
And I easily can steal a few more

And bear them enraptured away.
He returned: but imagine his grief,

The wind had his hat overthrown,
And the bird, in the joy of relief,
Away with his kisses had flown.

H. R. S.

PERSONAL INCIDENTS AND IMPRESSIONS OF THE INDIAN RACE, DRAWN FROM NOTES OF TRAVEL AND RESIDENCE IN THEIR TERRITORIES.

CHARACTER OF THE RED MAN OF AMERICA.

INQUIRY I.—What kind of a being is the North American Indian ?-Have we judged

rightly of him ?-What are bis peculiar traits, his affections, and his intellectual qualities ?—Is he much influenced by his religion, his mode of government, and his complicated language.

My earliest impressions of the Indian race, were drawn from the fireside rehearsals of incidents which had happened during the perilous times of the American revolution; in which my father was a zealous actor, and were all inseparably connected with the fearful ideas of the Indian yell, the tomahawk, the scalping knife, and the fire brand. In these reci . tals, the Indian was depicted as the very impersonation of evil-a sort of wild demon, who delighted in nothing so much as blood and murder, Whether he had mind, was governed by any reasons, or even had any soul, nobody inquired, and nobody cared. It was always represented as a meritorious act in old revolutionary reminiscences, to have killed one of them in the border wars, and thus aided in ridding the land of a cruel and unnatural race, in whom all feelings of pity, justice, and mercy, were supposed to be obliterated. These early ideas were sustained by printed narratives of captivity and hair-breadth escapes of men and women from their clutches, which, from time to time, fell into my hands, so that long before I was ten years old, I had a most definite and terrific idea impressed on my imagination of what was sometimes called in my native precincts, “the bow and arrow race." A To give a definite conception of the Indian man, there lived in my native valley, a family of Indians of the Iroquois stock, who often went off

[ocr errors]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »