« ZurückWeiter »
the house when another was seen approaching the door with that long easy trot which is habitual with the savage when on a journey. He was well dressed, in his way ;
his hat boasted a broad band of silver lace; his tunic, leggins and moccasins were whole and some. what ornamented; his blanket glorying in a bright red border; and on his shoulders, slung by a broad thong, was a pack of furs of considerable value. He seemed an old acquaintance of the family, and was received with some animation even by the grave and dignified mistress of the mansion. The trader examined and counted the skins, spoke to the Indian in his own tongue, and invited him to eat, which however he de. clined, with a significant gesture towards the huts before alluded to.
This evening's supper was made quite luxurious by the preserved cranberries and maple syrup furnished by the settlers; and our friends retired to rest in much more comfortable style than on the preceding night.
The first nap was in all its sweetness, when the whole party were aroused by a hideous yelling, which to city ears could be no less than an Indian war-whoop. Every one was on foot in an instant; and the confusion which ensued in the attempt to dress in the dark was most perplexing and would
have been amusing enough but for certain unpleasant doubts. The noise continued to increase as it approached the house, and terror had reached its acmé,—every one catching at something which could be used as a weapon; when a violent knocking at the door aroused the trader, who slept in an inner room or closet, and who had not been disturbed by the bustle within doors or the yelling with
out. He seemed much surprised at the confusion which reigned among his guests--assured them it was " noting at all” but the Indians coming for more whiskey; and then admitting one of them, and coolly shutting the door in the face of the rest, spoke to the desperate looking savage very sharply, evidently repro. bating in no gentle terms the uproar which had disturbed the sleepers.
The Indian made scarce any reply, but pointed with an impatient gesture to the keg, repeating “ Whiskey! whiskey !" till the trader re-filled it; he then departed leaving our party once more to repose.
The next morning, much was said of the disturbance of the night. The Frenchman seemed to look upon it as a thing of course, and unblushingly vindicated his own agency in the matter. He said that they would get whiskey from some one-that an Indian could not live without it, and that they would pay honestly for what they got, although they would steal anything they could lay their hands on, from the farmers who lived within reach of their settlements. Bitter complaints he said were often made of corn, potatoes, or cucum. bers being spirited away in the night, and the Indians got the blame at least, but from him they took nothing. His lady listened with no pleased aspect to this dis. cussion of the foibles of her countrymen, and seemed quite willing to expedite the departure of the guests.
The way to the “Grand Junction” seemed shortened as they went. The day was fine and the ponies in excellent spirits. The sportsman came very near shooting a fat buck, and this miss kept him in talk for all day. The old gentlemen were much pleased with
certain statistical accounts furnished them by the tra. der, whom they decided on the whole to be a very sensible fellow : and when they reached once more the chosen spot, they saw at a glance how easily the marshes could be drained, the channel of the Shark deepened, and the whole converted into one broad area on which to found a second New York.
They passed another night at the log hut which had first received them, and leaving with the poor couple who inhabited it, what cheered their lonely dwelling for many a day, they returned to Detroit.
Our friends considered the offers which had been made them so very advantageous that the bargain for the site at the 6 Grand Junction” was concluded the very next day. 6 Only one hundred shares at three hundred dollars each !" the money might be quadru. pled in a month. And some of the knowing ones, who took shares “merely to oblige," did realize the golden vision, while the more careful, who held on to get the top of the market-but why should I tell secrets ? a
Nobody happened to mention to these eastern buyers that the whole had been purchased for four hundred dollars, just a week before they reached De. troit.
These things certainly cost a good deal of trouble after all. They ought to have paid well, unquestionably. When lots were to be sold, the whole fair dream was splendidly emblazoned on a sheet of super-royal size; things which only floated before the mind's eye of the most sanguine, were portrayed with bewitching minuteness for the delectation of the ordinary observer. Majestic steamers plied their paddles to and fro upon
the river ; ladies crowding their decks and streamers floating on the wind. Sloops dotted the harbours, while noble ships were seen in the offing. Mills, fac. tories, and light-houses---canals, rail-roads and bridges, all took their appropriate positions. Then came the advertisements, choicely worded and carefully vague, never setting forth any thing which might not come true at some time or other ; yet leaving the buyer without excuse if he chose to be taken in.
An auctioneer was now to be procured (for lots usually went rather heavily at private sale,) and this auctioneer must not be such a one as any Executive can make, but a man of genius, or ready invention, of fluent speech ; one who had seen something of the world, and above all, one who must be so thoroughly acquainted with the property, and so entirely convinced of its value, that he could vouch on his own personal respectability, for the truth of every statement. He must be able to exhibit certificates from no mat. ter whom-Tom-a-Nokes perhaps--but "residing on the spot”—and he must find men of straw to lead the first bids. And when all this had, been attended to, it must have required some nerve to carry the matter through ; to stand by, while the poor artizan, the journeyman mechanic, the stranger who had brought his little all to buy government land to bring up his young family upon, staked their poor means on strips of land which were at that moment a foot under water. I think many of these gentlemen earned their money.
It is not to be supposed that the preliminaries I have enumerated, preceded every successful land-sale. Many thousand acres were transferred from hand to hand
with a rapidity which reminded one irresistibly of the old French game of " le petit bon homme” (anglicised into · Robin's alive')—while all gained save him in whose hand Robin died.
I have known a piece of property bought at five hundred dollars, sold at once for twenty thousand ; five thousand counted down, and the remainder secured by bond and mortgage.
Whether these after payments were ever made, is another question, and one which I am unable to answer. I mention the transaction as one which was performed in all truth and fairness savouring nothing of the “tricksy spirit” on which I have been somewhat diffuse.
I must not omit to record the friendly offer of one of the gentlemen whose adventures I have recapitulated, to take « two Montacute lots at five hundred dollars each.” As this was rather beyond the price which the owner had thought fit to affix to his ordinary lots, he felt exceedingly obliged, and somewhat at a loss to account for the proposition, till his friend whispered, 6 and you shall have in payment a lot at New-New. York at a thousand ; and we have not sold one at that I can assure you."
The obliged party chanced to meet the agent for New-New-York about a year after and inquired the fortunes of the future emporium, the number of inhabitants, &c.
“ There's nobody there," said he “but those we hire to come.'