« ZurückWeiter »
achievements, not even a breath of the talismanic word " land," more interesting to the speculator of 1835-6 than it ever was to the ship-wrecked mariner. They seemed as if they would, Esau-like, have sold their city lots for a good supper, though I doubt whether the offer of a “trade ” would not have aroused all their energies, and so prevented the bargain.
After tea, however, things brightened a little: I speak for one of the party only. The bath, the razor, the much needed change of those “ lendings" on which so much of the comfort of life depends, produced their usual humanizing effect; and by questions skilfully timed and cautiously worded, I drew from my toil-worn spouse a tolerably circumstantial account of the jour. ney.
The first day had been entirely consumed in reaching Shark River, or rather its junction with another con. siderable stream. Twilight had already shaded the woody path, when the surveyor, who was acquainted with the whole region, informed them that they had yet some miles of travel before they could hope to reach any kind of shelter. They had been for some hours follow. ing an Indian trail, and some of the city gentlemen recollecting, as the day declined, that they were a little rheumatic, began to give vent to their opinion that the evening was going to be particularly damp. One went so far as to hint that it would have been as well if Mr. — (the sportsman) had not taken quite so long to ascertain whether that white moving thing he had seen in the woods was a deer's tail or not.
To this the city Nimrod had replied, that as to its being a deer's tail, there was no possibility of question; that if the other gentlemen had been a little more pa. tient, they might have had venison for supper ; and this little discussion, growing more and more animated as it proceeded, at length occupied the attention of the whole party so completely, that they lost the trail and found themselves at the end of what had seemed to them an open path. There was nothing for it, but to turn the horses' heads right about, and retrace the last mile or more, while the faint gleam of daylight was fast disappearing.
The good humour of the party was, to say the least, not increased by this little contretemps, and the following of a trail by star-light is an exercise of skill and patience not likely to be long agreeable to gentlemen who have been for many years accumstomed to pavements and gas-lamps. Not a word was said of " camping out,” so manfully planned in the morning. The loads of preparations for a bivouac seemed entirely forgotten by every body—at least, no one thought proper to mention them ; and after some few attempts of the younger members to be funny, the whole caravan yielded to fate, and plodded on in gloomy and determined silence.
The glimmer of a distant light had an electrical effect. The unlucky sportsman was fortunately in the van, and so had an opportunity of covering up his offences by being the announcer of joyous tidings.
He sang out cheerily, “ So shines a good deed in this naughty world !” and pricked on his tired Canadian into something akin to a trot, while the soberer part of the cavalcade followed as fast as they could, or as they dared. Ere long they reached the much desired shel. ter, and found that their provident care in regard to the various items requisite for food and lodging had not been in vain.
The log cabin which received the weary way-farers was like many others which have served for the first homes of settlers in Michigan. It was logs and nothing else, the fire made on the ground, or on a few loose stones, and a hole in the roof for the escape of the smoke. A family of tolerably decent appearance inha. bited this forlorn dwelling, a man and his wife and two young children. They seemed little moved at the ar. rival of so large a company, but rendered what assistance they could in providing for the ponies and preparing the meal from such materials as were afforded by the well-stored hampers of the baggage pony.
After the conclusion of the meal, the blankets were spread on the ground, and happy he who could get a bag for a pillow. But the night's rest was well earn. ed, and Nature is no niggard paymaster.
Night came; and in their lighted bower, full late
If thou wert the lion, the fox would beguile thee: if thou wert the lamb, the fox would eat thee.
SHAKSPEARE.-Timon of Athens.
THE morning sun showed the river and its adjunct bright and beautiful, though a leetle marshy at the sides. The dead silence, the utter loneliness, the impenetrable shade, which covered the site of the future city, might well call to mind the desolation which has settled on Tadmor and Palmyra ; the anticipation of fu. ture life and splendour contrasting no less forcibly with the actual scene than would the retrospect of departed grandeur. The guide, who had been much employed in these matters, showed in the course of the day six different points, each of which, the owners were fully satisfied, would one day echo the busy tread of thousands, and see reflected in the now glassy wave the towers and masts of a great commercial town. If al. ready this infatuation seems incredible, how shall we make our children believe its reality ?
The day was to be spent in exploring, and as it was desirable to see as much as could be seen of the river so important to the future fortunes of the company, it was concluded to follow the bank as closely as the marshes would allow, and pass the night at the house of a French trader near the outlet of the stream.
The spirits of the party were not very high during the ride. There was something a little cooling in the aspect of the marshes, and, although nobody liked to say so, the ground seemed rather wet for city building. However, the trader's dwelling looked very comfortable after the accommodations of the preceding night, and a few Indian huts at no great distance gave some relief to the extreme solitariness of the scene, which had contributed not a little to the temporary depression of the party.
The Frenchman was luckily at home, and with his Indian wife treated the travellers with much civility : the lady, however, declining conversation, or indeed no. tice of any sort unless when called on to perform the part of interpreter between the gentlemen and some wretched looking Indians who were hanging about the house. Several children with bright, gazelle-like eyes, were visible at intervals, but exhibited nothing of the staring curiosity which is seen peeping from among the sun-bleached locks of the whiter broods of the same class of settlers.
The Indians to whom I have alluded, had come to procure whiskey of the trader, and after they had received the baleful luxury which performs among their fated race the work of fire, famine and pestilence, they departed with rapid steps. They had scarcely quitted