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principal Jedge was passed, and she began to fall off before the wind. A beam of hope lighted up the countenance of Bangem. He sprang upon the bulwarks, and cast one quick, searching glance at the sea around him.
• Starboard a little!' cried he.
Steady so, meet her.' • Meet her it is, Sir,' was the reply. For five minutes more she flew through the intricacies of the reef, without deviation. • Port! port! – give her the port helm, quick!' shouted Bangem.
She's got it all, Sir!' was the response ; and the gallant ship glided by the last rock that threatened her destruction, and passed safely into the still water between the reef and the main.
FAMILIAR SKETCHES OF LIFE IN FLORIDA.'
TRAVELLING alone one day through the pine barrens, near the centre of the upper part of the peninsula, I was suddenly surprised by the sight of a house. When I inform the reader that I have journeyed twenty hours out of the twenty-four, without seeing any signs of the handy-work of man, save a wolf-trap, made like a small log-house, the word
surprised' will not seem inappropriate. Wondering, then, at the sight of a dwelling, I asked a half-grown negro boy where I was, and how I was to find the right trail, since I had found all alike equally blazed ?'*Blazed,' means marked, by cutting off a flat chip from the bark of pine or other trees, at intervals, so as to leave a plain spot, about as high as a man's head from the ground. These · blazings' are the gnide-boards and mile-stones of the wild woods. In answer to my question, the negro boy informed me, that the marked trees showed that the trail led somewhere. An incident like this will afford an idea of the nature of the country, so far as the convenience of the traveler is concerned. By the boy's reply, it might be inferred that one is in danger of getting no where and that is half true no where where one might wish to be. The marks, then, are a great convenience. You are sure, in following them into the thickest swamp, or stream, that you have a fair chance of emerging again, which is no small consolation to a traveler. One day, disregarding this hínt, I thought to be wise above what was written, and went down the banks of a stream to find a crossing-place that might suit me better than the old track, which possibly had been used since the commencement of the Chinese records of eclipses; but like all innovators, I brought reproach upon myself, even from my horse, who was very unwilling to try any new projects. By dint of spurring, however, he took the leap - for the bank was perpendicular there — and the stream being very narrow, he stood still and looked at me, as much as to say: 'You would try a new plan, and here we are, swamped; for how am I to climb the steep bank opposite ? I turned my eye instinctively for a rail or two to help him out, for his head and my body only were visible above water; but there was nothing like a rail or a rope within twenty miles. I had no idea the water was so deep, and it really seemed a desperate case; but as I never had been stopped, I concluded, with young Rapid, that it was best to keep moving,' and so I drove a pair of cruel spurs full into his flanks, on both sides at once. He sprang as if he had been shot, and clambered up the side of the creek, as if he depended more on nails in his toes, than his hoofs, and thus he broke down the bank sufficiently to enable him to rise, and out we came, dripping. But when out, it was no easy task to make head-way; the palmettos were so crossed, that it required all the animal's strength to foree himself through. So much for leaving the good old way.
To do justice, however, to new paths: I knew of a more complete plunge having been taken by one who was a guide to General Jackson when he was in that territory. The trail, in his case, led through a pond which he had forded in times of yore; but, as he said, the bottoms
have a mighty chance of quick-sand, and sometimes they have holes, where it was good crossing in times past.' But allow me to relate his mishap in the order I heard it. Mr. W-,' said I, 'how is it that you arrived at the end of your stage at the time you did? You must have .camped out every night, or made some very short or very long days' journeys ?
Oh no,' said he, I stopped only a few hours yesterday, to dry my clothes and papers.
Why, there has been no rain within a day or two: how came your clothes and papers wet ?'
The channel had shifted.' • What channel ??
Oh, I came on the southernmost trail.' • Well, did
your way? • No, I knew the way; but the bottom was uncertain, and so I dismounted, and tied my clothes and papers on my head, and led my horse, as I thought he might stumble, and plunge me head-foremost, before I could know it. But I stepped off a bar myself, and went down over my head, and this compelled me to stop and build a fire; luckily, my tinder-box was water-tight.'
This seemed to be such a matter of course to a traveler like him, that unless I had thus cross-questioned him, he would probably never have said a word of the accident; and yet he had never been disgusted with the life of an Indian. He had married a Seminole woman, and had a large family of children. He was a man of strong mental powers, and his life seems to prove the truth of Shakspeare's observation, that . Nothing's either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.' Thinking Florida too small for him, he has removed to Red River.
Among the désagrémens of land travelling in the territory, is the necessity you are sometimes under of walking long distances, through sand and mud alternately, when your horse gives out, as most horses are apt to do in summer. Another is, the poor fare one meets with in some of the log houses. What is very good to some, is very
lean living to others. I cannot eat corn bread, as it is usually made, and there was no wheat or rye to be seen in the interior. I did not like to seem superior to friends, who were all extremely hospitable, or I should have drawn upon my knapsack for all my sustenance. In truth, I have found it the greatest trial I have met with, to refuse to eat and drink. A huge land-turtle, called a 'gopher,' once well nigh killed
- not by biting me, but by my biting him. I was near a log-house, and the owner
- one of the most noble-hearted men I ever saw - inviwith a blush, to go
in and dine with him. I could not refuse without saying, apparently, 'No, you have nothing good enough for me to eat; for it was the dining hour, and I should have been obliged to go some distance to reach my own camp.
I therefore went in. I might have done well enough, but for a young man who was in company with me at the time. He could not, or would not, restrain the exercise of his risible propensity at what he saw.
This was neither more nor less than the said great land-turtle, occupying the centre of the table - a piece of rustic furniture, made so high that the little ones could reach nothing on it until they had the good sense not to break 'china, glass, and earthenware' a sample of each of the varieties of
which — excepting perhaps china — might be seen, but no great profusion of either. The chairs and benches were of every height, suitable for children of all ages; and while they brought the knees of one of 'the company up to an even elevation with the table, they brought down a short man's chin to the same level; on the whole, it must be confessed we made a rather ludicrous family group. My companion would laugh, in spite of all my grave looks, and it was to cover his ill manners, that I well nigh killed myself by eating, like an alderman, of the turtle, and half-cooked Indian bread.
The mode of living in the woods alone, as the scattering pioneers of the forest do, is calculated to cure any man - who sees, and for a while partakes in it — of all repinings as to the conveniences of life. I was out one night in a boat, with a white man and negro, when a north-easter came on, making it very chilly, after a hot day. Not having been ashore at this place before, although it has a name in the maps of the country, I thought we might at least find lodgings secure from the cold rain and wind; so, on shore we went, about eleven o'clock. A path from the water showed the way to a house. All was dark; but I knocked without hesitation, and demanded admittance, according to the custom of this hospitable country. There was no reply for some time. I gave a
louder suinmons; when at length a female voice called out, in an agony of terror, · Who's there!' I told her the state of the case, in a kind tone, and that there was no necessity to be alarmed. But the only reply I could obtain was, For God's sake, go away!'. Well, I will go,' I replied, 'but where shall I go to ? Is there any other house about here? Yes,' she answered; there is Tom's, the negro's.' Taking pity on her terror - for she was a lone woman' at the time, her brother being away we went to look for Tom's house, and at length found a hul, surrounded by a ditch to carry off the water, and inside we discovered a negro, of about forty-five, with one blanket, and some fence-posts for a bed, and these were laid before the fire, which had burned down. The fire place and chimney were of wood; the sides of the hut of round pine poles, between which a crow might fly, almost without touching; but the roof was tight, and the back part of the hut had a floor of split clap-boards. This, with the deserted nymph's, was the only house in the town, and these had just been built. On the floor of this hut the white man and myself laid down to sleep, and in the morning, without dreaming, I could truly say, 'Oh! I have passed a miserable night.' The negro I had with me preferred to pluck some palmetto leaves, to cover him from the rain, and build a fire on the leeward side of a large log. Thus, by lying between the fire and the log, he contrived to sleep very comfortably. We might have done much better on board of the boat, but the sun had warped the part which had been decked over, so that the rain came through.
In the morning we could not go away without partaking of the hospitality of our timid hostess. We had rye coffee and hominy for breakfast. My companion looked with significant eyes at a large musket in the corner, as much as to say, 'Had we attempted to rob this house, we should have got the contents of that gun.' Replying to his wit, in his own way, I cautioned him not to attempt to impress a chaste salute on her fair cheek at parting, or she would soon prove his gallant essay a blunder-buss. But he was a modest bachelor, as well as myself, and
so we took our leave, much obliged' for our kind entertainment. Our negro cook, however, had to call immediately on our well-stored provision-box, and never did the difference in iny feelings convince me of the difference between the various modes of living adopted by man. Although not solicitous about what I shall eat, or what I shall drink, or wherewithal I shall be clothed,' when there is a good cook in the kitchen, a good market, a dry house, and comfortable clothing at command, yet when all these are absent, the contrast tries one's piety severely.
On another occasion, I stopped at a house where I found the father almost delirious with a high bilious fever; the mother as yellow as gold, and afflicted with a raging tooth-ache; while at the same time a wailing infant, puny and sickly, hung at her breast — a daughter of about thirteen, shaking with the ague, and reduced to a skeleton — and a son near four years of age, in spasms, with eyes fixed, and hands clenched, and moaning piteously. His extremities were cold; and his mother was obliged to hush her infant as well as she could, while she stitched a shroud for her husband's pride, and hope, and joy. Here was misery! There was no physician within thirty-five miles, and the fee for a visit was from thirty to fifty dollars. We did what common humanity dictated, and by good fortune, a smattering in medicine, and the strength of their constitutions, they were all raised up again. But even at this time the cloven foot of Mammon came, and increased their miseries. All their cattle, and their only horse, were taken, by order of a certain land-speculator, for debt, and they were left helpless and destitute of the means of cultivating the ground, even when health permitted. He was a noble-hearted man who was thus afflicted, and his gratitude was boundless for the small services we were enabled to render. One individual gave him his horse, and a friend, now sleeping in the sands of Florida, whose name should descend to posterity in company with the philanthropists and philosophers of the age, took all the pains possible, although ill himseli, to send medicines and advice; but it appeared impossible to procure a regular physician. The delicacy of none can be hurt by mentioning his name. It was Col. John L. Lewis, the scholar, the man of science, the gentleman, and philanthropist. He died on the banks of the St. Johns River, discouraged by the vices and follies of men, and only asking to be attended by an unsophisticated Indian youth. I could not, however, obtain the consent of the chief to allow any to go, although he wrote to me frequently on the subject, and I did all I could to persuade them. The boys would have gone willingly, but more than their consent was wanting. The chiefs did not wish to have their minds vitiated by the teaching of any white man with whom they were unacquainted. Whatever I had to say to them in favor of the arts, sciences, or literature, they heard with interest and pleasure, and often amused me very much.
Wishing, on one occasion, to give them an idea of writing, I took a piece of chalk and wrote in large Roman characters the name of one of their chiefs, and then spelled it to them, so that they could perceive the signs of sounds in the letters, and how to combine them. They took all the interest that intelligent minds might be supposed to feel in the subject, and did not show the least mark of stupidity — which some