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Full text of "Audubon and his journals"

ALBERT R. MANN 
LIBRARY 

AT 

CORNELL UNIVERSITY 




THE GIFT OF 

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Cornell University 
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The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924052328386 



AUDUBON 



HIS JOURNALS 




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AUDUBON AND HIS 
JOURNALS 

BV 

MARIA R. AUDUBON 



WITH ZOOLOGICAL AND OTHER NOTES 



ELLIOTT COUES 



ILLUSTRATED 



VOLUME II. 



NEW YORK 

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 

1897 



Copyright, 1897, 
By Charles Scribner's Sons. 



John Wilson and Son Cambridge, U. S. A. 



CONTENTS 

Volume II 

PAGE 

The Missouri River Journals {continued') i 

Episodes : 

Louisville in Kentucky 199 

The Ohio 203 

Fishing in the Ohio 208 

A Wild Horse 215 

Breaking up of the Ice 222 

The Prairie 225 

The Regulators 231 

The Earthquake 234 

The Hurricane 237 

Colonel Boone 241 

Natchez in 1820 246 

The Lost Portfolio 250 

The Original Painter 254 

The Cougar 260 

The Runaway 267 

A Tough Walk for a Youth 274 

Hospitality in the Woods 280 

Niagara 286 

Meadville 289 

The Burning of the Forests 294 

A Long Calm at Sea 301 

Still Becalmed 306 

Great Egg Harbor 310 

The Great Pine Swamp 314 

The Lost One 321 

The Live-Oakers 327 



VI CONTENTS 



Episodes : page 

Spring Garden 333 

Death of a Pirate 339 

The Wreckers of Florida 345 

St. John's River in Florida 352 

The Florida Keys. I 358 

The Florida Keys. II 365 

The Turtlers 371 

The Force of the Waters 380 

Journey in New Brunswick and Maine 387 

A Moose Hunt 393 

Labrador 401 

The Eggers of Labrador 406 

The Squatters of Labrador 411 

Cod Fishing 418 

A Ball in Newfoundland 426 

The Bay of Fundy 431 

A Flood 437 

The Squatters of the Mississippi 443 

Improvements in the Navigation of the Mississippi 449 

Kentucky Sports 455 

The Traveller and the Pole-Cat 462 

Deer Hunting 466 

The Eccentric Naturalist 473 

SciPio AND the Bear 481 

A Kentucky Barbecue 486 

A Raccoon Hunt in Kentucky 490 

Pitting of Wolves 497 

The Opossum 501 

A Maple-Sugar Camp 506 

The White Perch and its Favorite Bait .... 509 

The American Sun Perch 515 

My Style of drawing Birds 522 



Index 529 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



Vol. II. 

PAGE 

Emberiza townsendii (now Spiza townsendii), Townsend's 
Bunting Frontispiece 

From an unfinished drawing by J. J. Audubon of the only specimen 
ever known. Shot May ii^ 1833^ in Chester County, Pa., by 
J. K. Towusend. 

Audubon , . 84 

From the pencil sketch by Isaac Sprague, 1842. In the possession of 
the Sprague family, Wellesley Hills, Mass. 

Camp at the Three Mamelles ii8 

From a drawing by Audubon, hitherto unpublished. 

Camp on the Missouri i6o 

From a drawing by Isaac Sprague. 

Mrs. Audubon. 1854 176 

* From a daguerreotype. 

Audubon. 1839 234 

Painted in Edinburgh by J. W. Audubon. 

Victor Gifford Audubon 274 

Painted by Audubon a|30ut 1823. 

John Woodhouse Audubon 310 

Painted by Audubon about 1823. 

Tringa alpina (now Pelidna alpina pacifica), Red-backed 
Sandpiper 352 

From the unpublished drawing by J. J. Audubon, November 24, 1831. 



viii ILL USTRA TIONS. 

PAGE 

Audubon. 1850 406 

From a daguerreotype. Owned by Mrs. Elizabeth Berthoud Grimshaw. 

Victor Gifford Audubon. 1853 456 

John Woodhouse Audubon. 1853 486 

Old Mill and Miller's Cottage at Mill Grove on the 
Perkiomen Creek 524 

From a photograph from W. H. Wetherill, Esq. 

Audubon 526 

From a pencil sketch after death by John Woodhouse Audubon, 
January 28, 1851. 

Bowie Knife 527 

Presented by Henry Carleton. 

Facsimiles of Diplomas At end of volume 

La Soci^td Linndenne de Paris. 6 Novembre, 1823. 
Lyceum of Natural History, New York. January 13, 1824. 
Soci^t^ d'Histoire Naturelle de Paris. 5 Decembre, 1828. 
American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Massachusetts. 

November 10, 1830. 
Royal Society of Edinburgh. March 5, 1831. 
Royal Jennerian Society, London. July 15, 1836. 
Literary and Historical Society of Quebec. November 19, 

1836. 
Western Academy of Natural Sciences, St. Louis, Mo. 

April 17, 1843. 
Natural History Society of Montreal. March 29, 1847. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 
1843 

( Continued) 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 
1843 

(^Continued) 

June 4, Sunday. We have run pretty well, though the* 
wind has been tolerably high ; the country we have passed 
this day is somewhat better than what we saw yesterday, 
which, as I said, was the poorest we have seen. No 
occurrence of interest has taken place. We passed this 
morning the old Riccaree^ Village, where General Ash- 
ley ^ was so completely beaten as to lose eighteen of his 

1 " We halted for dinner at a village which we suppose to have belonged 
to the Ricaras. It is situated in a low plain on the river, and consists of 
about eighty lodges of an octagon form, neatly covered with earth, placed 
as close to each other as possible, and picketed round." (" Lewis and Clark," 
ed. 1893.) 

" The village of the Rikaras, Arickaras, or Rikarees, for the name is vari- 
ously written, is between the 46th and 47th parallels of north latitude, and 
1,430 miles above the mouth of the Missouri. ... It was divided into two 
portions, about eighty yards apart, being inhabited by two distinct bands. 
The whole extended about three quarters of a mile along the river bank, and 
was composed of conical lodges, that looked like so many small hillocks, 
being wooden frames intertwined with osier, and covered with earth." 
(" Astoria," W. Irving.) 

" From the hills we had a fine prospect over the bend of the river, on 
which the villages of the Arikkaras are situated. The two villages of this 
tribe are on the west bank, very near each other, but separated by a small 
stream. They consist of a great number of clay huts, round at top, with a 
square entrance in front, and the whole surrounded with a fence of stakes, 
which were much decayed and in many places thrown down." (" Travels in 
North America," p. 166, Maximilian, Prince of Wied.) 

2 " General Ashley of Missouri, a man whose courage and achievements 
in the prosecution of his enterprises had rendered him famous in the Far 



AUDUBON 



men, with the very weapons and ammunition that he had 
trafficked with the Indians of that village, against all the 
remonstrances of his friends and interpreters; yet he said 
that it proved fortunate for him, as he turned his steps 
towards some other spot, where he procured one hundred 
packs of Beaver skins for a mere song. We stopped to 
cut wood at an old house put up for winter quarters, and 
the wood being ash, and quite dry, was excellent. We 
are now fast for the night at an abandoned post, or fort, 
of the Company, where, luckily for us, a good deal of 
wood was found cut. We saw only one Wolf, and a few 
small gangs of Buffaloes. Bell shot a Bunting which re- 
sembles Henslow's, but we have no means of comparing 
it at present. We have collected a few plants during our 
landing. The steam is blowing off, and therefore our 
day's run is ended. When I went to bed last night it 
was raining smartly, and Alexis did not go off, as he did 
wish. By the way, I forgot to say that along with the 
three Prairie Marmots, he brought also four Spoon-billed 
Ducks, which we ate at dinner to-day, and found delicious. 
Bell saw many Lazuli Finches this morning. Notwith- 
standing the tremendous shaking of our boat, Sprague man- 
aged to draw four figures of the legs and feet of the Wolf 
shot by Bell yesterday, and my own pencil was not idle. 

June 5, Monday. Alexis went off in the night some- 
time, and came on board about three o'clock this morning; 
he had seen nothing whatever, except the traces of Beavers 
and of Otters, on Beaver Creek, which, by the way, he had 
to cross on a raft. Speaking of rafts, I am told that one of 
these, made of two bundles of rushes, about the size of a 
man's body, and fastened together by a few sticks, is quite 
sufficient to take two men and two packs of Bufifalo robes 
across this muddy river. In the course of the morning 

West in conjunction with Mr. [Andrew ?] Henry, of the Missouri Trading 
Co., established a post on the banks of the Yellowstone River in 1822." 
("Capt. Bonneville," W. Irving.) 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS S 

we passed Cannon Ball River,^ and the very remarkable 
bluffs about it, of which we cannot well speak until we 
have stopped there and examined their nature. We saw 
two Swans alighting on the prairie at a considerable dis- 
tance. We stopped to take wood at Bowie's settlement, 
at which place his wife was killed by some of the Riccaree 
Indians, after some Gros Ventres had assured him that 
such would be the case if he suffered his wife to go out of 
the house. She went out, however, on the second day, 
and was shot with three rifle-balls. The Indians took parts 
of her hair and went off. She was duly buried ; but the 
Gros Ventres returned some time afterwards, took up the 
body, and carried off the balance of her hair. They, how- 
ever, reburied her; and it was not until several months 
had elapsed that the story came to the ears of Mr. Bowie. 
We have also passed Apple Creek,^ but the chief part is 
yet to be added. At one place where the bluffs were 
high, we saw five Buffaloes landing a few hundred yards 
above us on the western side; one of them cantered off 

1 " We reached the mouth of Le Boulet, or Cannon Ball River. This 
stream rises in the Black Mts. and falls into the Missouri ; its channel is 
about 140 feet wide, though the water is now confined within 40 ; its name 
is derived from the numbers of perfectly round stones on the shore and 
in the bluffs just above." (" Lewis and Clark," ed. 1893.) 

" We came to an aperture in the chain of hills, from which this river, 
which was very high, issues. On the north side of the mouth there was a 
steep, yellow clay wall ; and on the southern, a flat, covered with poplars and 
willows. This river has its name from the singular regular sandstone balls 
which are found in its banks, and in those of the Missouri in its vicinity. 
They are of various sizes, from that of a musket ball to that of a large 
bomb, and lie irregularly on the bank, or in the strata, from which they often 
project to half their thickness ; when the river has washed away the earth 
they then fall down, and are found in great numbers on the bank. Many of 
them are rather elliptical, others are more flattened, others flat on one side 
and convex on the other. Of the perfectly spherical balls, I observed some 
two feet in diameter. A mile above the mouth of Cannon Ball River I saw 
no more of them." ("Travels in North America," p. 167, Maximilian, 
Prince of Wied.) 

2 Present name of the stream which falls into the Missouri from the east, 
about five miles below Fort Rice ; Chewah or Fish River of Lewis and 
Clark ; Shewash River of Maximilian. Audubon is now approaching 
Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota. — E. C. 



6 AUDUBON 



immediately, and by some means did reach the top of the 
hills, and went out of our sight; the four others ran, waded, 
and swam at different places, always above us, trying to 
make their escape. At one spot they attempted to climb 
the bluff, having unconsciously passed the place where 
their leader had made good his way, and in their attempts 
to scramble up, tumbled down, and at last became so 
much affrighted that they took to the river for good, with 
the intention to swim to the shore they had left. Unfor- 
tunately for them, we had been gaining upon them; we 
had all been anxiously watching them, and the moment 
they began to swim we were all about the boat with guns 
and rifles, awaiting the instant when they would be close 
under our bows. The moment came ; I was on the lower 
deck among several of the people with guns, and the 
firing was soon heavy ; but not one of the Buffaloes was 
stopped, although every one must have been severely hit 
and wounded. Bell shot a load of buckshot at the head of 
one, which disappeared entirely under the water for per- 
haps a minute. I sent a ball through the neck of the last 
of the four, but all ineffectually, and off they went, swim- 
ming to the opposite shore ; one lagged behind the rest, 
but, having found footing on a sand-bar, it rested awhile, and 
again swam off to rejoin its companions. They all reached 
the shore, but were quite as badly off on that side as they 
had been on the other, and their difficulties must have 
been great indeed ; however, in a short time we had passed 
them. Mr. Charles Primeau,^ who is a good shot, and who 
killed the young Buffalo bull the other day, assured me 
that it was his opinion the whole of these would die before 

1 Charles Primeau was born at St. Louis, Mo., entered the American 
Fur Company as clerk, and continued in that service many years. Later he 
helped to form an opposition company under the name of Harvey, Primeau, 
& Co., which did business for a few years, until, like most of the smaller 
concerns, it was absorbed by the American Fur Co. He then went back to 
his former employers, and afterward was engaged by the U. S. Government 
as Indian interpreter, long holding this position. In 1896 he was living in 
the vicinity of Fort Yates. — E. C. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 7 

sundown, but that Buffaloes swimming were a hundred 
times more difficult to kill than those on shore. I have 
been told also, that a Buffalo shot by an Indian, in the 
presence of several whites, exhibited some marks on the 
inside of the skin that looked like old wounds, and that on 
close examination they found no less than six balls in its 
paunch. Sometimes they will run a mile after having been 
struck through the heart ; whilst at other times they will 
fall dead without such desperate shot. Alexis told me 
that once he shot one through the thigh, and that it fell 
dead on the spot. We passed this afternoon a very curious 
conical mound of earth, about which Harris and I had 
some curiosity, by which I lost two pounds of snuff, as he 
was right, and I was wrong. We have seen Geese and 
Goslings, Ravens, Blue Herons, Bluebirds, Thrushes, Red- 
headed Woodpeckers and Red-shafted ditto, Martins, an 
immense number of Rough-winged Swallows about their 
holes, and Barn Swallows. We heard Killdeers last even- 
ing. Small Crested Flycatchers, Summer Yellow-birds, 
Maryland Yellow-throats, House Wrens are seen as we pass 
along our route ; while the Spotted Sandpiper accompanies 
us all along the river. Sparrow Hawks, Turkey Buzzards, 
Arctic Towhee Buntings, Cat-birds, Mallards, Coots, Gad- 
walls, King-birds, Yellow-breasted Chats, Red Thrushes, all 
are noted as we pass. We have had a good day's run; 
it is now half-past ten. The wind has been cold, and 
this evening we have had a dash of rain. We have seen 
only one Wolf. We have heard some wonderful stories 
about Indians and white men, none of which I can well 
depend upon. We have stopped for the night a few miles 
above where the "Assiniboin" ^ steamer was burnt with all 
her cargo uninsured, in the year 1835. I heard that after 
she had run ashore, the men started to build a scow to 
unload the cargo; but that through some accident the 

1 The " Assiniboin " was the steamer on which Maximilian, Prince of 
Wied, travelled down the Missouri in 1833. 



AUDUBON 



vessel was set on fire, and that a man and a woman who 
alone had been left on board, walked off to the island, 
where they remained some days unable to reach shore. 

June 6, Tuesday. This morning was quite cold, and we 
had a thick white frost on our upper deck. It was also 
extremely cloudy, the wind from the east, and all about 
us looked dismal enough. The hands on board seemed to 
have been busy the whole of the night, for I scarcely slept 
for the noise they made. We soon came to a very difficult 
part of the river, and had to stop full three hours. Mean- 
while the yawl went off to seek and sound for a channel, 
whilst the wood-cutters and the carriers — who, by the way, 
are called " charrettes " ^ — followed their work, and we 
gathered a good quantity of drift-wood, which burns like 
straw. Our hopes of reaching the Mandan Village were 
abandoned, but we at last proceeded on our way and passed 
the bar ; it was nearly dinner-time. Harris and Bell had 
their guns, and brought two Arctic Towhee Buntings 
and a Black-billed Cuckoo. They saw two large flocks of 
Geese making their way westward. The place where we 
landed showed many signs of Deer, Elk, and Buffaloes. 
I saw trees where the latter had rubbed their heavy bodies 
against the bark, till they had completely robbed the tree 
of its garment. We saw several Red-shafted Woodpeckers, 
and other birds named before. The Buffalo, when hunted on 
horseback, does not carry its tail erect, as has been repre- 
sented in books, but close between the legs ; but when you 
see a Buffalo bull work its tail sideways in a twisted rolling 
fashion, then take care of him, as it is a sure sign of his in- 
tention to rush against his pursuer's horse, which is very 
dangerous, both to hunter and steed. As we proceeded I 
saw two fine White-headed Eagles alighting on their nest, 

1 This is an interesting note of the early French name on the Missouri 
of the persons about a boat whom we should call " stevedores," or " roust- 
abouts." The French word chareUe, or charrette, occurs also as a personal 
name, and it will be remembered that there was a town of La Charette on 
the Lower Missouri. — E. C. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 9 

where perhaps they had young — and how remarkably 
late in the season this species does breed here ! We also 
saw a young Sandhill Crane, and on an open prairie four 
Antelopes a few hundred yards off. Alexis tells me that at 
this season this is a rare occurrence, as the females are 
generally in the brushwood now ; but in this instance the 
male and three females were on open prairie. We have 
passed what is called the Heart ^ River, and the Square 
Hills, which, of course, are by no means square, but simply 
more level than the generality of those we have passed for 
upwards of three weeks. We now saw four barges be- 
longing to our company, and came to, above them, as usual. 
A Mr. Kipp, one of the partners, came on board; and 
Harris, Squires, and myself had time to write each a short 
letter to our friends at home. Mr. Kipp had a peculiar 
looking crew who appeared not much better than a set of 
bandits among the Pyrenees or the Alps ; yet they seem 
to be the very best sort of men for trappers and boatmen. 
We exchanged four of our men for four of his, as the 
latter are wanted at the Yellowstone. The country ap- 
pears to Harris and to myself as if we had outrun the 
progress of vegetation, as from the boat we observed oaks 
scarcely in leaflets, whilst two hundred miles below, and 
indeed at a much less distance, we saw the same timber in 
nearly full leaf; flowers are also scarce. A single Wolf 
was seen by some one on deck. Nothing can be possibly 
keener than the senses of hearing and sight, as well as of 
smell, in the Antelope. Not one was ever known to jump 
up close to a hunter ; and the very motion of the grasses, 
as these are wafted by the wind, will keep them awake 
and on the alert. Immediately upon the breaking up of the 
ice about the Mandan Village, three Buffaloes were seen 
floating down on a large cake; they were seen by Mr. 

1 Heart River, the stream which falls into the Missouri near the town of 
Mandan, about opposite Bismarck, N. Dak. Here the river is now bridged 
by the Northern Pacific Railroad, which crosses the Missouri from Bismarck, 
and follows up Heart River for some distance. — E. C 



lO AUDUBON 



Primeau from his post, and again from Fort Pierre. How 
much further the poor beasts travelled, no one can tell. It 
happens not infrequently, when the river is entirely closed in 
with ice, that some hundreds of Bufifaloes attempt to cross ; 
their aggregate enormous weight forces the ice to break, 
and the whole of the gang are drowned, as it is impossible 
for these animals to climb over the surrounding sharp 
edges of the ice. We have seen not less than three nests 
of White-headed Eagles this day. We are fast ashore about 
sixteen miles belowthe Mandan Villages, and will, in all prob- 
ability, reach there to-morrow morning at an early hour. 
It is raining yet, and the day has been a most unpleasant one. 
June 7, Wednesday. We had a vile night of rain, and 
wind from the northeast, which is still going on, and likely 
to continue the whole of this blessed day. Yesterday, 
when we had a white frost, ice was found in the kettles of 
Mr. Kipp's barges. We reached Fort Clark ^ and the 
Mandan Villages at half-past seven this morning. Great 
guns were fired from the fort and from the " Omega," as our 
captain took the guns from the " Trapper " at Fort Pierre. 
The site of this fort appears a good one, though it is 
placed considerably below the Mandan Village. We saw 
some small spots cultivated, where corn, pumpkins, and 
beans are grown. The fort and village are situated on the 
high bank, rising somewhat to the elevation of a hill. The 
Mandan mud huts are very far from looking poetical, 
although Mr. Catlin has tried to render them so by placing 
them in regular rows, and all of the same size and form, 
which is by no means the case. But different travellers 
have different eyes ! We saw more Indians than at any 

1 " Fort Clark came in sight, with a background of the blue prairie hills, 
and with the gay American banner waving from the flag-staff. . . . The fort 
is built on a smaller scale, on a plan similar to that of all the other trading 
posts or forts of the company. Immediately behind the fort there were, in 
the prairie, seventy leather tents of the Crows." (Prince of Wied, p. 171.) 

Fort Clark stood on the right bank of the Missouri, and thus across the 
river from the original Fort Mandan built by Lewis and Clark in the fall of 
1804. Maximilian has much to say of it and of Mr. Kipp. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 1 1 

previous time since leaving St. Louis ; and it is possible 
that there are a hundred huts, made of mud, all looking 
like so many potato winter-houses in the Eastern States. 
As soon as we were near the shore, every article that could 
conveniently be carried off was placed under lock and key, 
and our division door was made fast, as well as those of our 
own rooms. Even the axes and poles were put by. Our 
captain told us that last year they stole his cap and his 
shot-pouch and horn, and that it was through the inter- 
ference of the first chief that he recovered his cap and 
horn ; but that a squaw had his leather belt, and would 
not give it up. The appearance of these poor, miserable 
devils, as we approached the shore, was wretched enough. 
There they stood in the pelting rain and keen wind, covered 
with Buffalo robes, red blankets, and the like, some par- 
tially and most curiously besmeared with mud; and as 
they came on board, and we shook hands with each of 
them, I felt a clamminess that rendered the ceremony most 
repulsive. Their legs and naked feet were covered with 
mud. They looked at me with apparent curiosity, perhaps 
on account of my beard, which produced the same effect 
at Fort Pierre. They all looked very poor ; and our cap- 
tain says they are the ne plus ultra of thieves. It is said 
there are nearly three thousand men, women, and children 
that, during winter, cram themselves into these miser- 
able hovels. Harris and I walked to the fort about nine 
o'clock. The walking was rascally, passing through mud 
and water the whole way. The yard of the fort itself was 
as bad. We entered Mr. Chardon's own room, crawled up 
a crazy ladder, and in a low garret I had the great pleasure 
of seeing alive the Swift or Kit Fox which he has given to 
me. It ran swiftly from one corner to another, and, when 
approached, growled somewhat in the manner of a common 
Fox. Mr. Chardon told me that good care would be taken 
of it until our return, that it would be chained to render it 
more gentle, and that I would find it an easy matter to take 



12 AUDUBON 

it along. I sincerely hope so. Seeing a remarkably fine 
skin of a large Cross Fox ^ which I wished to buy, it was 
handed over to me. After this, Mr. Chardon asked one of 
the Indians to take us into the village, and particularly to 
show us the " Medicine Lodge." We followed our guide 
through mud and mire, even into the Lodge. We found 
this to be, in general terms, like all the other lodges, only 
larger, measuring twenty-three yards in diameter, with a 
large squarish aperture in the centre of the roof, some six 
or seven feet long by about four wide. We had entered 
this curiosity shop by pushing aside a wet Elk skin stretched 
on four sticks. Looking around, I saw a number of cala- 
bashes, eight or ten Otter skulls, two very large Buffalo 
skulls with the horns on, evidently of great age, and some 
sticks and other magical implements with which none but 
a " Great Medicine Man " is acquainted. During my sur- 
vey there sat, crouched down on his haunches, an Indian 
wrapped in a dirty blanket, with only his filthy head peeping 
out. Our guide spoke to him ; but he stirred not. Again, 
at the foot of one of the posts that support the central por- 
tion of this great room, lay a parcel that I took for a bun- 
dle of Buffalo robes; but it moved presently, and from 
beneath it half arose the emaciated body of a poor bhnd 
Indian, whose skin was quite shrivelled ; and our guide 
made us signs that he was about to die. We all shook 
both hands with him ; and he pressed our hands closely and 
with evident satisfaction. He had his pipe and tobacco 
pouch by him, and soon lay down again. We left this 
abode of mysteries, as I was anxious to see the interior of 
one of the common huts around; and again our guide led 
us through mud and mire to his own lodge, which we 
entered in the same way as we had done the other. All 

1 This Fox was probably the cross variety of the Long-tailed Prairie 
Fox, Vulpes macrourus of Baird, Stansbury's Exped. Great Salt Lake, June, 
1852, p. 309; Vulpes Utah of Aud. and Bach. Quad. N. Am. iii., 1853, p. 255, 
pi. 151 (originally published by them in Proc. Acad. Philad., July, 1852, 
p. 114). — E. C. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 13 

these lodges have a sort of portico that leads to the door, 
and on the tops of most of them I observed Buffalo skulls. 
This lodge contained the whole family of our guide — 
several women and children, and another man, per- 
haps a son-in-law or a brother. All these, except the 
man, were on the outer edge of the lodge, crouching 
on the ground, some suckling children; and at nearly- 
equal distances apart were placed berths, raised about 
two feet above the ground, made of leather, and with 
square apertures for the sleepers or occupants to enter. 
The man of whom I have spoken was lying down in 
one of these, which was all open in front. I walked up 
to him, and, after disturbing his happy slumbers, shook 
hands with him; he made signs forme to sit down; and 
after Harris and I had done so, he rose, squatted himself 
near us, and, getting out a large spoon made of boiled 
Buffalo horn, handed it to a young girl, who brought a 
great rounded wooden bowl filled with pemmican, mixed 
with corn and some other stuff. I ate a mouthful or so of 
it, and found it quite palatable ; and Harris and the rest 
then ate of it also. Bell was absent; we had seen nothing 
of him since we left the boat. This lodge, as well as the 
other, was dirty with water and mud ; but I am told that in 
dry weather they are kept cleaner, and much cleaning do 
they need, most truly. A round, shallow hole was dug in 
the centre for the fire ; and from the roof descended over 
this a chain, by the aid of which they do their cooking, 
the utensil being attached to the chain when wanted. As 
we returned towards the fort, I gave our guide a piece of 
tobacco, and he appeared well pleased. He followed us 
on board, and as he peeped in my room, and saw the 
dried and stuffed specimens we have, he evinced a slight 
degree of curiosity. Our captain, Mr. Chardon, and our 
men have been busily engaged in putting ashore that por- 
tion of the cargo designed for this fort, which in general 
appearance might be called a poor miniature representa- 



14 AUDUBON 



tion of Fort Pierre. The whole country around was over- 
grown with "Lamb's quarters" (^Chenopodium album), 
which I have no doubt, if boiled, would take the place of 
spinach in this wild and, to my eyes, miserable country, 
the poetry of which lies in the imagination of those writers 
who have described the " velvety prairies " and " enchanted 
castles" (of mud), so common where we now are. We 
observed a considerable difference in the color of these 
Indians, who, by the way, are almost all Riccarees ; many 
appeared, and in fact are, redder than others; they are 
lank, rather tall, and very alert, but, as I have said before, 
all look poor and dirty. After dinner we went up the 
muddy bank again to look at the corn-fields, as the small 
patches that are meanly cultivated are called. We found 
poor, sickly looking corn about two inches high, that had 
been represented to us this morning as full six inches high. 
We followed the prairie, a very extensive one, to the hills, 
and there found a deep ravine, sufficiently impregnated with, 
saline matter to answer the purpose of salt water for the 
Indians to boil their corn and pemmican, clear and clean ; 
but they, as well as the whites at the fort, resort to the 
muddy Missouri for their drinking water, the only fresh 
water at hand. Not a drop of spirituous liquor has been 
brought to this place for the last two years ; and there can 
be no doubt that on this account the Indians have become 
more peaceable than heretofore, though now and then a 
white man is murdered, and many horses are stolen. As 
we walked over the plain, we saw heaps of earth thrown up 
to cover the poor Mandans who died of the small-pox. 
These mounds in many instances appear to contain the 
remains of several bodies and, perched on the top, lies, 
pretty generally, the rotting skull of a Buffalo. Indeed, 
the skulls of the Buffaloes seem as if a kind of relation to 
these most absurdly superstitious and ignorant beings. I 
could not hear a word of the young Grizzly Bear of which 
Mr. Chardon had spoken to me. He gave me his Buffalo 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS IJ 

head-dress and other trifles — as he was pleased to call 
them ; all of which will prove more or less interesting 
and curious to you when they reach Minniesland. He 
presented Squires with a good hunting shirt and a few 
other things, and to all of us, presented moccasins. We 
collected a few round cacti ; ^ and I saw several birds that 
looked much the worse for the cold and wet weather we 
have had these last few days. Our boat has been thronged 
with Indians ever since we have tied to the shore ; and it 
is with considerable difficulty and care that we can stop 
theni from intruding into our rooms when we are there. 
We found many portions of skulls lying on the ground, 
which, perhaps, did at one period form the circles of them 
spoken of by Catlin. All around the village is filthy be- 
yond description. Our captain tells us that no matter 
what weather we may have to-morrow, he will start at 
daylight, even if he can only go across the river, to get 
rid of these wolfish-looking vagabonds of Indians. I sin- 
cerely hope that we may have a fair day and a long run, 
so that the air around us may once more be pure and 
fresh from the hand of Nature. After the Riccarees had 
taken possession of this Mandan Village, the remains of 
that once powerful tribe removed about three miles up the 
river, and there have now fifteen or twenty huts, contain- 
ing, of course, only that number of families. During the 
worst periods of the epidemic which swept over this vil- 
lage with such fury, many became maniacs, rushed to the 
Missouri, leaped into its turbid waters, and were seen no 
more. Mr. Primeau, wife, and children, as well as another 
half-breed, have gone to the fort, and are to remain there 
till further orders. The fort is in a poor condition, roofs 
leaking, etc. Whilst at the fort this afternoon, I was 
greatly surprised to see a tall, athletic Indian thrashing 

1 No doubt the Mammillaria mvipara, a small globose species, quite 
different from the common Opuntia or prickly pear of the Missouri region. 
— E. C. 



1 6 AUDUBON 



the dirty rascals about Mr. Chardon's door most severely; 
but I found on inquiry that he was called " the soldier," ' 
and that he had authority to do so whenever the Indians 
intruded or congregated in the manner this canaille had 
done. After a while the same tall fellow came on board 
with his long stick, and immediately began belaboring the 
fellows on the lower guards; the latter ran off over the 
planks, and scrambled up the muddy banks as if so many 
affrighted Buffaloes. Since then we have been compara- 
tively quiet ; but I hope they will all go off, as the captain 
is going to put the boat from the shore, to the full length 
of our spars. The wind has shifted to the northward, and 
the atmosphere has been so chilled that a House Swallow 
was caught, benumbed with cold, and brought to me by 
our captain. Harris, Bell, and I saw a Cliff Swallow take 
refuge on board ; but this was not caught. We have seen 
Say's Flycatcher, the Ground Finch, Cow Buntings, and a 
few other birds. One of the agents arrived this afternoon 
from the Gros Ventre, or Minnetaree Village, about twelve 
miles above us. He is represented as a remarkably brave 
man, and he relates some strange adventures of his 
prowess. Several great warriors have condescended to 
shake me by the hand ; their very touch is disgusting — 
it will indeed be a deliverance to get rid of all this " Indian 
poetry." We are, nevertheless, to take a few to the Yellow- 
stone. Alexis has his wife, who is, in fact, a good-looking 
young woman; an old patroon. Provost, takes one of his 
daughters along ; and we have, besides, several red-skinned 
single gentlemen. We were assured that the northern 
parts of the hills, that form a complete curtain to the 
vast prairie on which we have walked this afternoon, are 
still adorned with patches of snow that fell there during 
last winter. It is now nine o'clock, but before I go to rest 

^ The individual so designated was an important functionary in these 
villages, vphose authority corresponded with that of our " chief of police," 
and was seldom if ever disputed. — E. C. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 1/ 

I cannot resist giving you a description of the curious 
exhibition that we have had on board, from a numerous 
lot of Indians of the first class, say some forty or fifty. 
They ranged themselves along the sides of the large 
cabin, squatting on the floor. Coffee had been prepared 
for the whole party, and hard sea-biscuit likewise. The 
coffee was first given to each of them, and afterwards the 
biscuits, and I had the honor of handing the latter to the 
row on one side of the boat; a box of tobacco was opened 
and laid on the table. The man who came from the Gros 
Ventres this afternoon proved to be an excellent interpre- 
ter ; and after the captain had delivered his speech to him, 
he spoke loudly to the group, and explained the purport 
of the captain's speech. They grunted their approbation 
frequently, and were, no doubt, pleased. Two individuals 
(Indians) made their appearance highly decorated, with 
epaulets on the shoulders, red clay on blue uniforms, three 
cocks' plumes in their head-dress, rich moccasins, leggings, 
etc. These are men who, though in the employ of the 
Opposition company, act truly as friends ; but who, mean- 
time, being called " Braves," never grunted, bowed, or 
shook hands with any of us. Supper over and the tobacco 
distributed, the whole body arose simultaneously, and each 
and every one of these dirty wretches we had all to shake 
by the hand. The two braves sat still until all the rest 
had gone ashore, and then retired as majestically as they 
had entered, not even shaking hands with our good- 
humored captain. I am told that this performance takes 
place once every year, on the passing of the Company's 
boats. I need not say that the coffee and the two biscuits 
apiece were gobbled down in less than no time. The 
tobacco, which averaged about two pounds to each man, 
was hid in their robes or blankets for future use. Two of 
the Indians, who must have been of the highest order, 
and who distributed the " rank weed," were nearly naked ; 
one had on only a breech-clout and one legging, the other 



1 8 AUDUBON 



was in no better case. They are now all ashore except 
one or more who are going with us to the Yellowstone ; 
and I will now go to my rest. Though I have said " Good- 
night," I have arisen almost immediately, and I must write 
on, for we have other scenes going on both among the 
trappers below and some of the people above. Many 
Indians, squaws as well as men, are bartering and trading, 
and keep up such a babble that Harris and I find sleep 
impossible ; needless to say, the squaws who are on board 
are of the lowest grade of morality. 

June 8, Thursday. This morning was fair and cold, as 
you see by the range of the thermometer, 37° to 56°. We 
started at a very early hour, and breakfasted before five, 
on account of the village of Gros Ventres, where our cap- 
tain had to stop. We passed a few lodges belonging to 
the tribe of the poor Mandans, about all that remained. 
I only coiinted eight, but am told there are twelve. The 
village of the Gros Ventres (Minnetarees)has been cut off 
from the bank of the river by an enormous sand-bar, now 
overgrown with willows and brush, and we could only see 
the American .flag flying in the cool breeze. Two miles 
above this, however, we saw an increasing body of Indians, 
for the prairie was sprinkled with small parties, on horse 
and on foot. The first who arrived fired a salute of small 
guns, and we responded with our big gun. They had an 
abundance of dogs harnessed to take wood back to the vil- 
lage, and their yells and fighting were severe upon our 
ears. Some forty or more of the distinguished black- 
guards came on board ; and we had to close our doors as 
we did yesterday. After a short period they were feasted 
as last evening; and speeches, coffee, and tobacco, as well 
as some gunpowder, were given them, which they took 
away in packs, to be divided afterward. We took one 
more passenger, and lost our interpreter, who is a trader 
with the Minnetarees. The latter are by no means as 
fine-looking a set of men as those we have seen before. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS ig 

and I observed none of that whiteness of skin among 
them. There were numbers of men, women, and chil- 
dren. We saw a crippled and evidently tame Wolf, and 
two Indians, following us on the top of the hills. We 
saw two Swans on a bar, and a female Elk, with her 
young fawn, for a few minutes. I wished that we had 
been ashore, as I know full well that the mother would 
not leave her young; and the mother killed, the young 
one would have been easily caught alive. We are now 
stopping for the night, and our men are cutting wood. 
We have done this, I believe, four times to-day, and have 
run upward of sixty miles. At the last wood-cutting 
place, a young leveret was started by the men, and after 
a short race, the poor thing squatted, and was killed by 
the stroke of a stick. It proved to be the young of Lepus 
townsendii [L. campestris\, large enough to have left the 
mother, and weighing rather more than a pound. It is a 
very beautiful specimen. The eyes are very large, and 
the iris pure amber color. Its hair is tightly, but beau- 
tifully curled. Its measurements are as follows [^omitted]. 
Bell will make a fine skin of it to-morrow morning. We 
have had all sorts of stories related to us ; but Mr. Kipp, 
who has been in the country for twenty-two years, is 
evidently a person of truth, and I expect a good deal of 
information from him. Our captain told us that on a 
previous voyage some Indians asked him if, "when the 
great Medicine" (meaning the steamer) "was tired, he 
gave it whiskey." Mr. Sire laughed, and told them he 
did. "How much.'" was the query. "A barrelful, to 
be sure ! " The poor wretches at first actually believed 
him, and went off contented, but were naturally angry 
at beihg undeceived on a later occasion. I have now 
some hope of finding a young of the Antelope alive at 
Fort Union, as Mr. Kipp left one there about ten days 
ago. I am now going to bed, though our axemen and 
"charettes" are still going; and I hope I may not be 



20 AUDUBON 



called up to-morrow morning, to be ready for breakfast at, 
half-past four. Harris and Bell went off with Alexis. 
BelJ fired at a bird, and a large Wolf immediately made 
its appearance. This is always the case in this country; 
when you shoot an animal and hide yourself, you may see, 
in less than half an hour, from ten to thirty of these hun- 
gry rascals around the carcass, and have fine fun shooting 
at them. We have had a windy day, but a good run on 
the whole. I hope to-morrow may prove propitious, and 
that we shall reach Fort Union in five more days. 

June 9, Friday. Thermometer 42°, 75°, 66°. We had 
a heavy white frost last night, but we have had a fine, 
pleasant day on the whole, and to me a most interesting 
one. We passed the Little Missouri 1 (the real one) about 
ten this morning. It is a handsome stream, that runs all 
the way from the Black Hills, one of the main spurs of 
the mighty Rocky Mountains. We saw three Elks swim- 
ming across it, and the number of this fine species of 
Deer that are about us now is almost inconceivable. We 
have heard of burning springs, which we intend to ex- 
amine on our way down. We started a Goose from the 
shore that had evidently young ones ; she swam off, beat- 
ing the water with wings half extended, until nearly one 
hundred yards off. A shot from a rifle was fired at her, 

1 " It rises to the west of the Black Mts., across the northern extremity of 
which it finds a narrow, rapid passage along high perpendicular banks, then 
seeks the Missouri in a northeasterly direction, through a broken country 
with highlands bare of timber, and the low grounds particularly -supplied 
with Cottonwood, elm, small ash, box, alder, and an undergrowth of willow, 
red-wood, red-berry, and choke-cherry. ... It enters the Missouri with a 
bold current, and is 134 yards wide, but its greatest depth is two feet 
and a half, which, joined to its rapidity and its sand-bars, makes the 
navigation difficult except for canoes." (" Lewis and Clark," ed. 1893, 
pp. 267, 268. 

" We came to a green spot at the mouth of the Little Missouri, which is 
reckoned to be 1670 miles from the mouth of the great Missouri. The 
chain of blue hills, with the same singular forms as we had seen before, 
appeared on the other side of this river." (" Travels in North America," 
Prince of Wied, p. 182.") 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 21 

and happily missed the poor thing; she afterwards low- 
ered her neck, sank her body, and with the tip of the bill 
only above water, kept swimming away from us till out of 
sight. Afterwards one of the trappers shot at two Geese 
with two young ones. We landed at four o'clock, and 
Harris and Bell shot some Bay-winged Buntings and 
Emberisa pallida, whilst Sprague and I went up to the 
top of the hills, bounding the beautiful prairie, by which 
we had stopped to repair something about the engine. 
We gathered some handsome lupines, of two different 
species, and many other curious plants. From this eleva- 
ted spot we could see the wilderness to an immense 
distance ; the Missouri looked as if only a brook, and our 
steamer a very small one indeed. At this juncture we 
saw two men running along the shore upwards, and I 
supposed they had seen an Elk or something else, of 
which they were in pursuit. Meantime, gazing around, 
we saw a large lake, where we are told that Ducks, 
Geese, and Swans breed in great numbers; this we 
intend also to visit when we come down. At this moment 
I heard the report of a gun from the point where the 
men had been seen, and when we reached the steam- 
boat, we were told that a Buffalo had been killed. From 
the deck I saw a man swimming round the animal ; he got 
on its side, and floated down the stream with it. The 
captain sent a parcel of men with a rope ; the swimmer 
fastened this round the neck of the Buffalo, and with his 
assistance, for he now swam all the way, the poor beast 
was brought alongside ; and as the tackle had been previ- 
ously fixed, it was hauled up on the fore deck. Sprague 
took its measurements with me, which are as follows: 
length from nose to root of tail, 8 feet; height of fore 
shoulder to hoof, 4 ft. q\ in. ; height at the rump to hoof, 
4 ft. 2 in. The head was cut off, as well as one fore 
and one hind foot. The head is so full of symmetry, and 
so beautiful, that I shall have a drawing of it to-morrow, 



22 AUDUBON 



as well as careful ones of the feet. Whilst the butchers 
were at work, I was highly interested to see one of our 
Indians cutting out the milk-bag of the cow and eating 
it, quite fresh and raw, in pieces somewhat larger than 
a hen's egg. One of the stomachs was partially washed 
in a bucket of water, and an Indian swallowed a large 
portion of this. Mr. Chardon brought the remainder on 
the upper deck and ate it uncleaned. I had a piece well 
cleaned and tasted it; to my utter astonishment, it was 
very good, but the idea was repulsive to me; besides 
which, I am not a meat-eater, as you know, except when 
other provisions fail. The animal was in good condition; 
and the whole carcass was cut up and dispersed among 
the men below, reserving the nicer portions for the cabin. 
This was accomplished with great rapidity ; the blood was 
washed away in a trice, and half an hour afterwards no 
one would have known that a Buffalo had been dressed on 
deck. We now met with a somewhat disagreeable acci- 
dent ; in starting and backing off the boat, our yawl was 
run beneath the boat; this strained it, and sprung one of 
the planks so much that, when we landed on the oppo- 
site side of the river, we had to haul it on shore, and turn 
it over for examination; it was afterwards taken to the 
forecastle to undergo repairs to-morrow, as it is often 
needed. Whilst cutting wood was going on, we went 
ashore. Bell shot at two Buffaloes out of eight, and 
killed both ; he would also have shot a Wolf, had he had 
more bullets. Harris saw, and shot at, an Elk; but he 
knows little about still hunting, and thereby lost a good 
chance. A negro fire-tender went off with his rifle and 
shot two of Townsend's Hares. One was cut in two by 
his ball, and he left it on the ground ; the other was shot 
near the rump, and I have it now hanging before me; 
and, let me tell you, that I never before saw so beautiful 
an animal of the same family. My drawing will be a 
good one ; it is a fine specimen, an old male. I have been 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 23 

hearing much of the prevalence of scurvy, from living so 
constantly on dried flesh, also about the small-pox, which 
destroyed such numbers of the Indians. Among the 
Mandans, Riccarees, and Gros Ventres, hundreds died in 
1837, oiily ^ fsw surviving; and the Assiniboins were 
nearly exterminated. Indeed it is said that in the various 
attacks of this scourge 52,000 Indians have perished. 
This last visitation of the dread disease has never before 
been related by a traveller,^ and I will write more of it 
when at Fort Union. It is now twenty minutes to mid- 
night ; and, with walking and excitement of one kind or 
another, I am ready for bed. Alexis and another hunter 
will be off in an hour on a hunt. 

June 10, Saturday. I rose at half -past three this morn- 
ing. It was clear and balmy; our men were cutting wood, 
and we went off shooting. We saw a female Elk that 
was loath to leave the neighborhood; and Bell shot a 
Sharp-tailed Grouse, which we ate at our supper and 
found pretty good, though sadly out of season. As we 
were returning to the boat, Alexis and his companion 
went off after Buffaloes that we saw grazing peaceably 
on the bank near the river. Whilst they were shooting 
at the Buffaloes, and almost simultaneously, the fawn 
of the female Elk was seen lying asleep under the bank. 
It rose as we approached, and Bell shot at it, but missed ; 
and with its dam it went briskly off. It was quite 
small, looking almost red, and was beautifully spotted 
with light marks of the color of the Virginia Deer's fawn. 
I would have given five dollars for it, as I saw it skipping 
over the prairie. At this moment Alexis came running, 
and told the captain they had killed two Buffaloes; and 
almost all the men went off at once with ropes, to bring 
the poor animals on board, according to custom. One, 

1 At this time the account of the Prince of Wied had not been published 
in English ; that translation appeared December, 1843, two years after the 
German edition. 



24 AUDUBON 



however, had been already dressed. The other had its 
head cut off, and the men were tugging at the rope, hauling 
the beast along over the grass. Mr. Chardon was seated 
on it; until, when near the boat, the rope gave way, and 
the bull rolled over into a shallow ravine. It was soon on 
board, however, and quickly skinned and cut up. The 
two hunters had been absent three-quarters of an hour. 
At the report of the guns, two Wolves made their appear- 
ance, and no doubt fed at leisure on the offal left from 
the first Buffalo. Harris saw a gang of Elks, consisting 
of between thirty and forty. We have passed a good 
number of Wild Geese with goslings; the Geese were 
shot at, notwithstanding my remonstrances on account of 
the young, but fortunately all escaped. We passed some 
beautiful scenery when about the middle of the "Bend," 
and almost opposite had the pleasure of seeing five Moun- 
tain Rams, or Bighorns, on the summit of a hill. I 
looked at them through the telescope; they stood per- 
fectly still for some minutes, then went out of sight, 
and then again were in view. One of them had very 
large horns; the rest appeared somewhat smaller. Our 
captain told us that he had seen them at, or very near 
by, the same place last season, on his way up. We 
saw many very curious cliffs, but not one answering the 
drawings engraved for Catlin's work. We passed Knife 
River, 1 Rivikre aux Couteaiix, and stopped for a short time 
to take in wood. Harris killed a Sparrow Hawk, and 
saw several Red-shafted Woodpeckers. Bell was then 
engaged in saving the head of the Buffalo cow, of which 
I made a drawing, and Sprague an outline, notwithstand- 
ing the horrible motion of our boat. We passed safely 

1 This is the Little Knife, or Upper Knife River, to be carefully distin- 
guished from that Knife River at the mouth of which were the Minnetaree 
villages. It falls into the Missouri from the north, in Mountraille Co., 55 
miles above the mouth of the Little Missouri. This Is probably the stream 
named Goat-pen Creek by Lewis and Clark : see p. 274 of the edition of 
1893. -E.G. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 25 

a dangerous chain of rocks extending across the river; 
we also passed White River ;^ both the streams I have 
mentioned are insignificant. The weather was warm, 
and became cloudy, and it is now raining smartly. We 
have, however, a good quantity of excellent wood, and 
have made a good run, say sixty miles. We saw what 
we supposed to be three Grizzly Bears, but could not 
be sure. We saw on the prairie ahead of us some 
Indians, and as we neared them, found them to be 
Assiniboins. There were about ten altogether, men, 
squaws, and children. The boat was stopped, and a smart- 
looking, though small-statured man came on board. He 
had eight plugs of tobacco given him, and was asked to 
go off; but he talked a vast deal, and wanted powder and 
ball. He was finally got rid of. During his visit, our 
Gros Ventre chief and our Sioux were both in my own 
cabin. The-first having killed three of that tribe and 
scalped them, and the Sioux having a similar record, they 
had no wish to meet. A few miles above this we stopped 
to cut wood. Bell and Harris went on shore ; and we got 
a White Wolf, so old and so poor that we threw it over- 
board. Meantime a fawn Elk was observed crossing the 
river, coming toward our shore; it was shot at twice, 
but missed ; it swam to the shore, but under such a steep 
bank that it could not get up. Alexis, who was told of 
this, ran down the river bank, reached it, and fastened 
his suspenders around its neck, but could not get it up 
the bank. Bell had returned, and went to his assistance, 
but all in vain; the little thing was very strong, and 
floundered and struggled till it broke the tie, and swam 
swiftly with the current down the river, and was lost. A 
slight rope would have secured it to us. This was almost 
the same spot where the captain caught one alive last sea- 
son with the yawl ; and we could have performed the same 

1 Or White Earth River of some maps, a comparatively small stream, 
eighteen and one half miles above the mouth of Little Knife River. — E. C. 



26 AUDUBON 



feat easily, had not the yawl been on deck undergoing 
repairs. We pushed off, and very soon saw more Indians 
on the shore, also Assiniboins. They had crossed the 
" Bend " below us, and had brought some trifles to trade 
with us ; but our captain passed on, and the poor wretches 
sat and looked at the "Great Medicine" in astonishment. 
Shortly after this, we saw a Wolf attempting to climb a 
very steep bank of clay; he fell down thrice, but at last 
reached the top and disappeared at once. On the oppo- 
site shore another Wolf was lying down on a sand-bar, like 
a dog, and might readily have been taken for one. We 
have stopped for the night at nine o'clock; and I now have 
done my day's putting-up of memoranda and sketches, 
intending to enlarge upon much after I return home. I 
forgot to say that last evening we saw a large herd of Buf- 
faloes, with many calves among them ; they were grazing 
quietly on a fine bit of prairie, and we were actually op- 
posite to them and within two hundred yards before they 
appeared to notice us. They stared, and then started at 
a handsome canter, suddenly wheeled round, stopped, 
closed up their ranks, and then passed over a slight knoll, 
producing a beautiful picturesque view. Another thing I 
forgot to speak of is a place not far below the Little Mis- 
souri, where Mr. Kipp assured us we should find the re- 
mains of a petrified forest, which we hope to see later. 

June 11, Sunday. This day has been tolerably fine, 
though windy. We have seen an abundance of game, a 
great number of Elks, common Virginian Deer, Moun- 
tain Rams in two places, and a fine flock of Sharp-tailed 
Grouse, that, when they flew off from the ground near us, 
looked very much like large Meadow Larks. They 
were on a prairie bordering a large patch of Artemisia, 
which in the distance presents the appearance of acres of 
cabbages. We have seen many Wolves and some Buffa- 
loes. One young bull stood on the brink of a bluff, look- 
ing at the boat steadfastly for full five minutes ; and as 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 27 



we neared the spot, he waved his tail, and moved off 
briskly. On another occasion, a young bujl that had just 
landed at the foot of a very steep bluff was slaughtered 
without difficulty ; two shots were fired at it, and the poor 
thing was killed by a rifle bullet. I was sorry, for we did 
not stop for it, and its happy life was needlessly ended. 
I saw near that spot a large Hawk, and also a very small 
Tamias, or Ground Squirrel. Harris saw a Spermophile, 
of what species none of us could tell. We have seen 
many Elks swimming the river, and they look almost the 
size of a well-grown mule. They stared at us, were fired 
at, at an enormous distance, it is true, and yet stood still. 
These animals are abundant beyond belief hereabouts. 
We have seen much remarkably handsome scenery, but 
nothing at all comparing with Catlin's descriptions; his 
book must, after all, be altogether a humbug. Poor devil ! 
I pity him from the bottom of my soul ; had he studied, 
and kept up to the old French proverb that says, "Bon 
renomm6 vaut mieux que ceinture dor^," he might have 
become an "honest man" — the quintessence of God's 
works. We did hope to have reached L'Eau Bourbeux 
(the Muddy River i) this evening, but we are now fast 
ashore, about six miles below it, about the same distance 
that we have been told we were ever since shortly after 
dinner. We have had one event : our boat caught fire, 
and burned for a few moments near the stern, the effects 
of the large, hot cinders coming from the chimney; but 
it was almost immediately put out, thank God! Any 
inattention, with about 10,000 lbs. of powder on board, 
might have resulted in a sad accident. We have decided 
to write a short letter of thanks to our truly gentlemanly 
captain, and to present him with a handsome six-barrelled 

1 Present name of the stream which flows into the Missouri from the 
north, in Buford Co. This is the last considerable affluent below the 
mouth of the Yellowstone, and the one which Lewis and Clark called 
White Earth River, by mistake. See last note. — E. C. 



28 AUDUBON 



pistol, the only thing we have that may prove of service 
to him, although I hope he may never need it. Sprague 
drew four figures of the Buffalo's foot; and Bell and I 
have packed the whole of our skins. We ran to-day all 
round the compass, touching every point. The following 
is a copy of the letter to Captain Sire, signed by all of us. 

Fort Union, Mouth of Yellowstone, 
Upper Missouri, June 11th, I84S. 

Dear Sir, — We cannot part with you previous to your return 
to St. Louis, without offering to you our best wishes, and our thanks 
for your great courtesy, assuring you how highly we appreciate, 
and feel grateful for, your uniform kindness and genllemanly de- 
portment to each and all of us. We are most happy to add that 
our passage to the Yellowstone River has been devoid of any 
material accident, which we can only attribute to the great regu- 
larity and constant care with which you have discharged your 
arduous duties in the difficult navigation of the river. 

We regret that it is not in our power, at this moment, to offer 
you a suitable token of our esteem, but hope you will confer on us 
the favor of accepting at our hands a six-barrelled, silver-mounted 
pistol, which we sincerely hope and trust you may never have 
occasion to use in defence of your person. We beg you to con- 
sider us, 

Your well-wishers and friends, etc., 

Fort Union, June 12, Monday. We had a cloudy and 
showery day, and a high wind besides. We saw many 
Wild Geese and Ducks with their young. We took in 
wood at two places, but shot nothing. I saw a Wolf giv- 
ing chase, or driving away four Ravens from a sand-bar ; 
but the finest sight of all took place shortly before we 
came to the mouth of the Yellowstone, and that was no 
less than twenty-two Mountain Rams and Ewes mixed, 
and amid them one young one only. We came in sight 
of the fort at five o'clock, and reached it at seven. We 
passed the Opposition fort three miles below this; their 
flags were hoisted, and ours also. We were saluted from 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 29 

Fort Union, and we fired guns in return, six in number. 
The moment we had arrived, the gentlemen of the fort 
came down on horseback, and appeared quite a cavalcade. 
I was introduced to Mr. Culbertson and others, and, of 
course, the introduction went the rounds. We walked to 
the fort and drank some first-rate port wine, and returned 
to the boat at half-past nine o'clock. Our captain was 
pleased with the letter and the pistol. Our trip to the 
this place has been the quickest on record, though our 
boat is the slowest that ever undertook to reach the Yel- 
lowstone. Including all stoppages and detentions, we 
have made the trip in forty-eight days and seven hours 
from St. Louis. We left St. Louis April 25th, at noon; 
reaching Fort Union June 12th, at seven in the evening. 

June 13, Tuesday. We had a remarkably busy day on 
board and on shore, but spent much of our time writing 
letters. I wrote home at great length to John Bachman, 
N. Berthoud, and Gideon B. Smith. We walked to the 
fort once and back again, and dined on board with our 
captain and the gentlemen of the fort. We took a ride 
also in an old wagon, somewhat at the risk of our necks, 
for we travelled too fast for the nature of what I was 
told was the road. We slept on board the "Omega," 
probably for the last time. 

We have been in a complete state of excitement unload- 
ing the boat, reloading her with a new cargo, and we were 
all packing and arranging our effects, as well as writing 
letters. After dinner our belongings were taken to the 
landing of the fort in a large keel -boat, with the last of 
the cargo. The room which we are to occupy during our 
stay at this place is rather small and low, with only one 
window, on the west side. However, we shall manage 
well enough, I dare say, for the few weeks we are to be 
here. This afternoon I had a good deal of conversation 
with Mr. Culbertson, and found him well disposed to do 
all he can for us; and no one can ask for more politeness 



30 AUDUBON 



than is shown us. Our captain having invited us to re- 
main with him to-night, we have done so, and will break- 
fast with him to-morrow morning. It is his intention to 
leave as early as he can settle his business here. All 
the trappers are gone to the fort, and in a few weeks will 
be dispersed over different and distant parts of the wilder- 
ness. The filth they had left below has been scraped and 
washed off, as well indeed as the whole boat, of which 
there was need enough. I have copied this journal and 
send it to St. Louis by our good captain ; also one box of 
skins, one pair Elk horns, and one bundle of Wolf and 
other skins. 

June 14, Wednesday. At six this morning all hands 
rose early; the residue of the cargo for St. Louis was 
placed on board. Our captain told us time was up, and 
we all started for the fort on foot, quite a short distance. 
Having deposited our guns there. Bell, Squires, and I 
walked off to the wooding-place, where our captain was to 
remain a good while, and it was there we should bid him 
adieu. We found this walk one of the worst, the very 
worst, upon which we ever trod ; full of wild rose-bushes, 
tangled and matted with vines, burs, and thorns of all sorts, 
and encumbered by thousands of pieces of driftwood, some 
decayed, some sunk in the earth, while others were en- 
tangled with the innumerable roots exposed by floods and 
rains. We saw nothing but a few Ravens. When nearly 
half way, we heard the trampling of galloping horses, and 
loud hallooings, which we found to proceed from the 
wagon of which we have spoken, which, loaded with men, 
passed us at a speed one would have thought impossible 
over such ground. Soon after we had a heavy shower of 
rain, but reached the boat in good order. Harris and 
Sprague, who had followed us, came afterwards. I was 
pretty hot, and rather tired. The boat took on wood for 
half an hour after we arrived ; then the captain shook us 
all by the hand most heartily, and we bade him God speed. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 3 1 

I parted from him really with sorrow, for I have found 
him all I could wish during the whole passage ; and his 
position is no sinecure, to say naught of the rabble under 
his control. All the wood-cutters who remained walked 
off by the road ; and we went back in the wagon over a 
bad piece of ground — much easier, however, than return- 
ing on foot. As we reached the prairies, we travelled 
faster, and passed by the late garden of the fort, which 
had been abandoned on account of the thieving of the 
men attached to the Opposition Company, at Fort Mor- 
timer. Harris caught a handsome snake, now in spirits. 
We saw Lazuli Finches and several other sorts of small 
birds. Upon reaching the fort, from which many great 
guns were fired as salutes to the steamer, which were 
loudly returned, I was amused at the terror the firing 
occasioned to the squaws and their children, who had 
arrived in great numbers the previous evening; they 
howled, fell down on the earth, or ran in every direc- 
tion. All the dogs started off, equally frightened, and 
made for the distant hills. Dinner not being ready, 
three of us took a walk, and saw a good' number of 
Tamias holes, many cacti of two sorts, and some plants 
hitherto uncollected by us. We saw a few Arctic Ground 
Finches and two Wolves. After dinner Mr. Culbertson 
told us that if a Wolf made its appearance on the 
prairie near the fort, he would give it chase on horse- 
back, and bring it to us, alive or dead; and he was as 
good as his word. It was so handsomely executed, that 
I will relate the whole affair. When I saw the Wolf 
(a white one), it was about a quarter of a mile off, 
alternately standing and trotting; the horses were about 
one-half the distance off. A man was started to drive 
these in ; and I thought the coursers never would reach 
the fort, much less become equipped so as to overhaul 
the Wolf. We were all standing on the platform of the 
fort, with our heads only above the palisades; and I 



32 AUDUBON 



was so fidgety that I ran down twice to tell the hunters 
that the Wolf was making off. Mr. Culbertson, however, 
told me he would see it did not make off; and in a few 
moments he rode out of the fort, gun in hand, dressed 
only in shirt and breeches. He threw his cap off within 
a few yards, and suddenly went off with the swiftness of 
a jockey bent on winning a race. The Wolf trotted on, 
and ever and anon stopped to gaze at the rider and the 
horse; till, finding out the meaning (too late, alas! for 
him), he galloped off with all his might; but the horse 
was too swift for the poor cur, as we saw the rider gain- 
ing ground rapidly. Mr. Culbertson fired his gun off as 
a signal, I was told, that the Wolf would be brought in ; 
and the horse, one would think, must have been of the 
same opinion, for although the Wolf had now reached the 
hills, and turned into a small ravine, the moment it had 
entered it, the horse dashed after, the sound of the gun 
came on the ear, the Wolf was picked up by Mr. Culbert- 
son without dismounting, hardly slackening his pace, 
and thrown across the saddle. The rider returned as 
swiftly as he had gone, wet through with a smart shower 
that had fallen meantime ; and the poor Wolf was placed 
at my disposal. The time taken from the start to the re- 
turn in the yard did not exceed twenty minutes, possibly 
something less. Two other men who had started at the 
same time rode very swiftly also, and skirted the hills to 
prevent the Wolf's escape; and one of them brought in 
Mr. C. 's gun, which he had thrown on the ground as he 
picked up the Wolf to place it on the saddle. The beast 
was not quite dead when it arrived, and its jaws told of 
its dying agonies; it scratched one of Mr. C. 's fingers 
sorely ; but we are assured that such things so often occur 
that nothing is thought of it. 

And now a kind of sham Buffalo hunt was proposed, 
accompanied by a bet of a suit of clothes, to be given to 
the rider who would load and fire the greatest number of 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 33 

shots in a given distance. The horses were mounted as 
another Wolf was seen trotting off towards the hills, and 
Mr. Culbertson again told us he would bring it in. This 
time, however, he was mistaken ; the Wolf was too far 
off to be overtaken, and it reached the hill-tops, made its 
way through a deep ravine full of large rocks, and was 
then given up. Mr. Culbertson was seen coming down 
without his quarry. He joined the riders, started with 
his gun empty, loaded in a trice, and fired the first shot ; 
then the three riders came on at full speed, loading and 
firing first on one side, then on the other of the horse, as 
if after Buffaloes. Mr. C. fired eleven times before he 
reached the fort, and within less than half a mile's run; 
the others fired once less, each. We were all delighted 
to see these feats. No one was thrown off, though the 
bridles hung loose, and the horses were under full gallop 
all the time. Mr. Culbertson's mare, which is of the full 
Blackfoot Indian breed, is about five years old, and could 
not be bought for four hundred dollars. I should like to 
see some of the best English hunting gentlemen hunt in 
the like manner. We are assured that after dusk, or as 
soon as the gates of the fort are shut, the Wolves come 
near enough to be killed from the platform, as these 
beasts oftentimes come to the trough where the hogs are 
fed daily. We have seen no less than eight this day from 
the fort, moving as leisurely as if a hundred miles off. A 
heavy shower put off running a race ; but we are to have a 
regular Buffalo hunt, where I must act only as a specta- 
tor ; for, alas ! I am now too near seventy to run and load 
whilst going at full gallop. Two gentlemen arrived this 
evening from the Crow Indian Nation; they crossed to 
our side of the river, and were introduced at once. One 
is Mr. Chouteau, son of Auguste Chouteau, and the other 
a Scotchman, Mr. James Murray, at whose father's farm, 
on the Tweed, we all stopped on our return from the 
Highlands of Scotland. They told us that the snow and 



34 AUDUBON 



ice was yet three feet deep near the mountains, and an 
abundance over the whole of the mountains themselves. 
They say they have made a good collection of robes, but 
that Beavers are very scarce. This day has been spent 
altogether in talking, sight-seeing, and enjoyment. Our 
room was small, dark, and dirty, and crammed with our 
effects. Mr. Culbertson saw this, and told me that to- 
morrow he would remove us to a larger, quieter, and bet- 
ter one. I was glad to hear this, as it would have been 
very difficult to draw, write, or work in; and yet it is the 
very room where the Prince de Neuwied resided for two 
months, with his secretary and bird-preserver. The even- 
ing was cloudy and cold ; we had had several showers of 
rain since our bath in the bushes this morning, and I felt 
somewhat fatigued. Harris and I made our beds up; 
Squires fixed some Buffalo robes, of which nine had been 
given us, on a long old bedstead, never knowing it had 
been the couch of a foreign prince;^ Bell and Sprague 
settled themselves opposite to us on more Buffalo skins, 
and night closed in. But although we had lain down, 
it was impossible for us to sleep; for above us was a 
drunken man affected with a goitre, and not only was his 
voice rough and loud, but his words were continuous. 
His oaths, both in French and English, were better fitted 
for the Five Points in New York, or St. Giles of London, 
than anywhere among Christians. He roared, laughed 
like a maniac, and damned himself and the whole crea- 
tion. I thought that time would quiet him, but, no ! for 
now clarionets, fiddles, and a drum were heard in the din- 
ing-room, where indeed they had been playing at differ- 
ent times during the afternoon, and our friend above 
began swearing at this as if quite fresh. We had retired 
for the night ; but an invitation was sent us to join the 
party in the dining-room. Squires was up in a moment, 
and returned to say that a ball was on foot, and that "all 
1 Maximilian, Prince of Wied. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 35 

the beauty and fashion " would be skipping about in less 
than no time. There was no alternative; we all got up, 
and in a short time were amid the beau monde of these 
parts. Several squaws, attired in their best, were present, 
with all the guests, engagh, clerks, etc. Mr. Culbertson 
played the fiddle very fairly; Mr. Gu^pe the clarionet, 
and Mr. Chouteau the drum, as if brought up in the army 
of the great Napoleon. Cotillions and reels were danced 
with much energy and apparent enjoyment, and the com- 
pany dispersed about one o'clock. We retired for the 
second time, and now occurred a dispute between the 
drunkard and another man; but, notwithstanding this, 
I was so wearied that I fell asleep. 

yune 15, Thursday. We all rose late, as one might 
expect ; the weather was quite cool for the season, and it 
was cloudy besides. We did nothing else than move our 
effects to an upstairs room. The Mackinaw boats arrived 
at the fort about noon, and were unloaded in a precious 
short time; and all hands being called forth, the empty 
boats themselves were dragged to a ravine, turned over, 
and prepared for calking previous to their next voyage 
up or down, as the case iriight be. The gentlemen from 
these boats gave me a fine pair of Deer's horns; and to 
Mr. Culbertson a young Gray Wolf, and also a young 
Badger, which they had brought in. It snarled and 
snapped, and sometimes grunted not unlike a small pig, 
but did not bite. It moved somewhat slowly, and its 
body looked flatfish all the time; the head has all the 
markings of an adult, though it is a young of the present 
spring. Bell and Harris hunted a good while, but pro- 
cured only a Lazuli Finch and a few other birds. Bell 
skinned the Wolf, and we put its hide in the barrel 
with the head of the Buffalo cow, etc. I showed the 
plates of the quadrupeds to many persons, and I hope 
with success, as they were pleased and promised me 
much. To-morrow morning a man called Black Harris 



36 AUDUBON 



is to go off after Antelopes for me ; and the hunters for 
the men of the fort and themselves; and perhaps some 
of the young men may go with one or both parties. I 
heard many stories about Wolves ; particularly I was in- 
terested in one told by Mr. Kipp, who assured us he had 
caught upwards of one hundred with baited fish-hooks. 
Many other tales were told us; but I shall not forget 
them, so will not write them down here, but wait till 
hereafter. After shooting at a mark with a bow made of 
Elk horn, Mr. Kipp presented it to me. We saw several 
Wolves, but none close to the fort. Both the common 
Crow and Raven are found here; Bell killed one of the 
former. 

June 16, Friday. The weather was cool this morning, 
with the wind due east. I drew the young Gray Wolf, 
and Sprague made an outline of it. Bell, Provost, Alexis, 
and Black Harris went over the river to try to procure 
Antelopes; Bell and Alexis returned to dinner without 
any game, although they had seen dozens of the animals 
wanted, and also some Common Deer. The two others, 
who travelled much farther, returned at dusk with empty 
stomachs and a young fawn of the Common Deer. Harris 
and I took a long walk after my drawing was well towards 
completion, and shot a few birds. The Buffalo, old and 
young, are fond of rolling on the ground in the manner of 
horses, and turn quite over; this is done not only to clean 
themselves, but also to rub off the loose old coat of hair 
and wool that hangs about their body like so many large, 
dirty rags. Those about the fort are gentle, but will not 
allow a person to touch their bodies, not even the young 
calves of the last spring. Our young Badger is quite fond 
of lying on his back, and then sleeps. His general ap- 
pearance and gait remind me of certain species of Arma- 
dillo. There was a good deal of talking and jarring about 
the fort ; some five or six men came from the Opposition 
Company, and would have been roughly handled had they 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 37 

not cleared off at the beginning of trouble. Arrangements 
were. made for loading the Mackinaw barges, and it is in- 
tended that they shall depart for St. Louis, leaving on 
Sunday morning. We shall all be glad when these boats 
with their men are gone, as we are now full to the brim. 
Harris has a new batch of patients, and enjoys the work 
of physician. 

June 17, Saturday. Warm and fair, with the river ris- 
ing fast. The young fawn was hung up, and I drew it. 
By dinner-time Sprague had well prepared the Gray Wolf, 
and I put him to work at the fawn. Bell went shooting, 
and brought five or six good birds. The song of the 
Lazuli Finch so much resembles that of the Indigo Bird 
that it would be difficult to distinguish them by the note 
alone. They keep indifferently among the low bushes 
and high trees. He also brought a few specimens of 
Spermophilus hoodii of Richardson,^ of which the meas- 
urements were taken. Wolves often retreat into holes 
made by the sinking of the earth near ravines, burrow- 
ing in different directions at the bottoms of these. I 
sent Provost early this morning to the Opposition fort, 
to inquire whether Mr. Cutting had written letters 
about us, and also to see a fine Kit Fox, brought in one 
of their boats from the Yellowstone. Much has been 
done in the way of loading the Mackinaw boats. Bell 
has skinned the young Wolf, and Sprague will perhaps 
finish preparing the fawn. The hunters who went out 
yesterday morning have returned, and brought back a 
quantity of fresh Buffalo meat. Squires brought many 
fragments of a petrified tree. No Antelopes were shot, 
and I feel uneasy on this score. Provost returned and 
told me Mr. Cutting's men with the letters had not ar- 
rived, but that they were expected hourly. The Kit Fox 

^ This is a synonym of Spermophilus tridecem-Uneatus, the Thirteen-lined, 
or Federation Sphermophile, the variety that is found about Fort Union 
being S. t. pallidus. — E. C. 



38 AUDUBON 



had been suffocated to death by some dozens of bundles 
of Buffalo robes falling on it, while attached to a ladder, 
and had been thrown out and eaten by the Wolves or the 
dogs. This evening, quite late, I shot a fine large Gray 
Wolf. I sincerely hope to see some Antelopes to-mor- 
row, as well as other animals. 

June 18, Sunday. This day has been a beautiful, as 
well as a prosperous one to us. At daylight Provost and 
Alexis went off hunting across the river. Immediately 
after an early breakfast, Mr. Murray and three Mackinaw 
boats started for St. Louis. After the boats were fairly 
out of sight, and the six-pounders had been twice fired, 
and the great flag floated in the stiff southwesterly breeze, 
four other hunters went off over the river, and Squires 
was one of them. I took a walk with Mr. Culbertson and 
Mr. Chardon, to look at some old, decaying, and simply 
constructed coffins, placed on trees about ten feet above 
ground, for the purpose of finding out in what manner, 
and when it would be best for us to take away the skulls, 
some six or seven in number, all Assiniboin Indians. It 
was decided that we would do so at dusk, or nearly at 
dark. My two companions assured me that they never 
had walked so far from the fort unarmed as on this occa- 
sion, and said that even a single Indian with a gun and a 
bow might have attacked us ; but if several were together, 
they would pay no attention to us, as that might be con- 
strued to mean war. This is a good lesson, however, and 
one I shall not forget. About ten o'clock Alexis came 
to me and said that he had killed two male Antelopes, 
and Provost one Deer, and that he must have a cart to 
bring the whole in. This was arranged in a few minutes; 
and Harris and I went across the river on a ferry flat, tak- 
ing with us a cart and a most excellent mule. Alexis' 
wife went across also to gather gooseberries. The cart 
being made ready, we mounted it, I sitting down, and 
Harris standing up. We took an old abandoned road, 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 39 

filled with fallen timber and bushes innumerable; but 
Alexis proved to be an excellent driver, and the mule the 
most active and the strongest I ever saw. We jogged on 
through thick and thin for about two miles, when we 
reached a prairie covered with large bushes of Artemisia 
(called here " Herbe Sainte "), and presently, cutting down 
a slope, came to where lay our Antelope, a young male, 
and the skin of the Deer, while its carcass hung on a tree. 
These were placed in the cart, and we proceeded across 
the prairie for the other Antelope, which had been tied 
by the horns to a large bush of Artemisia, being alive 
when Alexis left it; but it was now dead and stiff. I 
looked at its eyes at once. This was a fine old male with 
its coat half shed. I was sorry enough it was dead. We 
placed it by its relation in the cart, jumped in, and off 
we went at a good round trot, not returning to the road, 
but across the prairie and immediately under the clay 
hills where the Antelope go after they have fed in the 
prairie below from early dawn until about eight o'clock; 
there are of course exceptions to the contrary. Part of 
the way we travelled between ponds made by the melting 
of the snows, and having on them a few Ducks and a 
Black Tern, all of which no doubt breed here. After we 
had passed the last pond, we saw three Antelopes several 
hundred yards to the lee of us; the moment they per- 
ceived us Alexis said they would be off; and so they were, 
scampering towards the hills until out of sight. We now 
entered the woods, and almost immediately Harris saw 
the head of a Deer about fifty yards distant. Alexis, who 
had only a rifle, would have shot him from the cart, had 
the mule stood still ; but as this was not the case, Alexis 
jumped down, took a long, deliberate aim, the gun went 
off, and the Deer fell dead in its tracks. It proved to be 
a doe with very large milk-bags, and doubtless her fawn 
or fawns were in the vicinity; but Alexis could not find 
them in the dense bush. He and Harris dragged her to the 



40 AUDUBON 



cart, where I stood holding the mule. We reached the 
ferry, where the boat had awaited our return, placed the 
cart on board without touching the game; and, on landing 
at the fort, the good mule pulled it up the steep bank 
into the yard. We now had two Antelopes and two Deer 
that had been killed before noon. Immediately after 
dinner, the head of the old male was cut off, and I went 
to work outlining it; first small, with the camera, and 
then by squares. Bell was engaged in skinning both the 
bodies; but I felt vexed that he had carelessly suffered 
the Gray Wolf to be thrown into the river. I spoke to 
him on the subject of never losing a specimen till we 
were quite sure it would not be needed; and I feel well 
assured he is so honest a man and so good a worker that 
what I said will last for all time. While looking at the 
Deer shot this day, Harris and I thought that their tails 
were very long, and that the animals themselves were very 
much larger than those we have to the eastward ; and we 
all concluded to have more killed, and examine and meas- 
ure closely, as this one may be an exception. It was un- 
fortunate we did not speak of this an hour sooner, as two 
Deer had been killed on this side the river by a hunter 
belonging to the fort ; but Mr. Culbertson assured me 
that we should have enough of them in a few days. I am 
told that the Rocky Mountain Rams lost most of their 
young during the hard frosts of the early spring; for, like 
those of the common sheep, the lambs are born as early 
as the 1st of March, and hence their comparative scarcity. 
Harris and Bell have shot a handsome White Wolf, a 
female, from the ramparts ; having both fired together, it 
is not known which shot was the fatal one. Bell wounded 
another in the leg, as there were several marauders about ; 
but the rascal made off. 

yjine 19, Monday. It began raining early this morn- 
ing; by "early," I mean fully two hours before daylight. 
The first news I heard was from Mr. Chardon, who told 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 4 1 

me he had left a Wolf feeding out of the pig's trough, 
which is immediately under the side of the fort. The 
next was from Mr. Larpenteur,^ who opens the gates when 
the bell rings at sunrise, who told us he saw seven 
Wolves within thirty yards, or less, of the fort. I have 
told him since, with Mr. Chardon's permission, to call 
upon us before he opens these mighty portals, whenever 
he espies Wolves from the gallery above, and I hope that 
to-morrow morning we may shoot one or more of these 
bold marauders. Sprague has been drawing all day, and 
I a good part of it ; and it has been so chilly and cold 
that we have had fires in several parts of the fort. Bell 
and Harris have gone shooting this afternoon, and have 
not yet returned. Bell cleaned the Wolf shot last night, 
and the two Antelopes ; old Provost boiled brine, and the 
whole of them are now in pickle. There are some notions 
that two kinds of Deer are found hereabouts, one quite 
small, the other quite large ; but of this I have no proof 
at present. The weather was too bad for Alexis to go 
hunting. Young Mr. McKenzie and a companion went 
across the river, but returned soon afterwards, having 
seen nothing but one Grizzly Bear. The water is either 
at a stand, or falling a little. — Later. Harris and Bell 
have returned, and, to my delight and utter astonishment, 
have brought two new birds : one a Lark,^ small and 
beautiful; the other like our common Golden -winged 
Woodpecker, but with a red mark instead of a black one 
along the lower mandible running backward.^ I am quite 

1 Charles Larpenteur, whose MS. autobiography I possess. — E. C. 

2 This is the first intimation we have of the discovery of the Missouri 
Titlark, which Audubon dedicated to Mr. Sprague under the name of 
Alauda spragueii, B. of Am. vii., 1844, p. 334, pi. 486. It is now well known 
as Anthus [^Neocorys) spraguei. — E. C. 

' Here is the original indication of the curious Flicker of the Upper 
Missouri region, which Audubon named Picus ayresii, B. of Am. vii., 1844, 
p. 348, pi. 494, after W. O. Ayres. It is the Colaptes hybridus of Baird, and 
the C. aurato-tnexicanus of Hartlaub ; in which the specific characters of the 



42 AUDUBON 



amazed at the differences of opinion respecting the shed- 
ding — or not shedding — of the horns of the Antelope;^ 
and this must be looked to with the greatest severity, for 
if these animals do shed their horns, they are no longer 
Antelopes. We are about having quite a ball in honor of 
Mr. Chardon, who leaves shortly for the Blackfoot Fort. 

June 20, Tuesday. It rained nearly all night; and 
though the ball was given, I saw nothing of it, and heard 
but little, for I went to bed and to sleep. Sprague fin- 
ished the drawing of the old male Antelope, and I mine, 
taking besides the measurements, etc., which I give here. 
. . . Bell has skinned the head and put it in pickle. 
The weather was bad, yet old Provost, Alexis, and Mr. 
Bonaventure, a good hunter and a first-rate shot, went 
over the river to hunt. They returned, however, without 
anything, though they saw three or four Deer, and a Wolf 
almost black, with very long hair, which Provost followed 
for more than a mile, but uselessly, as the rascal out- 
witted him after all. Harris and Bell are gone too, and 
I hope they will bring some more specimens of Sprague's 
Lark and the new Golden-winged Woodpecker. 

To fill the time on this dreary day, I asked Mr. Char- 
don to come up to our room and give us an account of the 
small-pox among the Indians, especially among the Man- 
dans and Riccarees, and he related as follows : Early in 
the month of July, 1837, the steamer " Assiniboin " arrived 
at Fort Clark with many cases of small-pox on board. 

Golden-winged and Red-shafted Flickers are mixed and obscured in every 
conceivable degree. We presently find Audubon puzzled by the curious 
birds, whose peculiarities have never been satisfactorily explained. — E. C. 

1 The fact that the Antilocapra americana does shed its horns was not 
satisfactorily established till several years after 1843. I' was first brought 
to the notice of naturalists by Dr. C. A. Canfield of California, April 10, 
1858, and soon afterward became generally known. (See Proc. Z06I. Soc. 
Lond. 1865, p. 718, and 1866, p. 105.) Thereupon it became evident that, 
as Audubon says, these animals are not true Antelopes, and the family 
Antilocapridie was established for their reception. On the whole subject 
see article in Encycl. Amer. 1., 1883, pp. 237-242,figs. 1-5. E. C. 



THE . MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 43 

Mr. Chardon, having a young son on the boat, went thirty 
miles to meet her, and took his son away. The pesti- 
lence, however, had many victims on the steamboat, and 
seemed destined to find many more among the helpless 
tribes of the wilderness. An Indian stole the blanket of 
one of the steamboat's watchmen (who lay at the point of 
death, if not already dead), wrapped himself in it, and 
carried it off, unaware of the disease that was to cost him 
his life, and that of many of his tribe — thousands, in- 
deed. Mr. Chardon offered a reward immediately for the 
return of the blanket, as well as a new one in its stead, 
and promised that no punishment should be inflicted. 
But the robber was a great chief ; through shame, or some 
other motive, he never came forward, and, before many 
days, was a corpse. Most of the Riccarees and Mandans 
were some eighty miles in the prairies, hunting Buffaloes 
and saving meat for the winter. Mr. Chardon despatched 
an express to acquaint them all of the awful calamity, en- 
joining them to keep far off, for that death would await 
them in their villages. They sent word in return, that 
their corn was suffering for want of work, that they were 
not afraid, and would return; the danger to them, poor 
things, seemed fabulous, and doubtless they thought 
other reasons existed, for which this was an excuse. Mr. 
Chardon sent the man back again, and told them their 
crop of corn was nothing compared to their lives; but 
Indians are Indians, and, in spite of all entreaties, they 
moved en masse, to confront the awful catastrophe that 
was about to follow. When they reached the villages, 
they thought the whites had saved the Riccarees, and put 
the plague on them alone (they were Mandans). More- 
over, they thought, and said, that the whites had a pre- 
ventive medicine, which the whites would not give them. 
Again and again it was explained to them that this was 
not the case, but all to no purpose; the small-pox had 
taken such a hold upon the poor Indians, and in such 



44 AUDUBON 



malignant form, that they died oftentimes within the ris- 
ing and setting of a day's sun. They died by hundreds 
daily; their bodies were thrown down beneath the high 
bluff, and soon produced a stench beyond description. 
Men shot their wives and children, and afterwards, driv- 
ing several balls in their guns, would place the muzzle 
in their mouths, and, touching the trigger with their feet, 
blow their brains out. About this time Mr. Chardon was 
informed that one of the young Mandan chiefs was bent on 
shooting him, believing he had brought the pestilence 
upon the Indians. One of Mr. Chardon' s clerks heard of 
this plot, and begged him to remain in the store ; at first 
Mr. Chardon did not place any faith in the tale, but later 
was compelled to do so, and followed his clerk's advice. 
The young chief, a short time afterwards, fell a victim to 
this fearful malady ; but probably others would have taken 
his life had it not been for one of those strange incidents 
which come, we know not why, nor can we explain thenj. 
A number of the chiefs came that day to confer with Mr. 
Chardon, and while they were talking angrily with him, 
he sitting with his arms on a table between them, a 
Dove, being pursued by a Hawk, flew in through the open 
door, and sat panting and worn out on Mr. Chardon's arm 
for more than a minute, when it flew off. The Indians, 
who were quite numerous, clustered about him, and asked 
him what the bird came to him for.' After a moment's 
thought, he told them that the bird had been sent by the 
white men, his friends, to see if it was true that the Man- 
dans had killed him, and that it must return with the an- 
swer as soon as possible; he added he had told the Dove 
to say that the Mandans were his friends, and would 
never kill him, but would do all they could for him. 
The superstitious redmen believed this story implicitly; 
thenceforth they looked on Mr. Chardon as one of the 
Great Spirit's sons, and believed he alone could help 
them. Little, however, could be done; the small-pox 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 45 

continued its fearful ravages, and the Indians grew fewer 
and fewer day by day. For a long time the Riccarees 
did not suffer; the Mandans became more and more as- 
tounded at this, and became exasperated against both 
whites and Indians. The disease was of the most viru- 
lent type, so that within a few hours after death the 
bodies were a mass of rottenness. Men killed themselves, 
to die a nobler death than that brought by the dreaded 
plague. One young warrior sent his wife to dig his 
grave; and she went, of course, for no Indian woman 
dares disobey her lord. The grave was dug, and the war-, 
rior, dressed in his most superb apparel, with lance and 
shield in hand, walked towards it singing his own death 
song, and, finding the grave finished, threw down all 
his garments and arms, and leaped into it, drawing his 
knife as he did so, and cutting his body almost asunder. 
This done, the earth was thrown over him, the grave filled 
up, and the woman returned to her lodge to live with her 
children, perhaps only another day. A great chief, who 
had been a constant friend to the whites, having caught 
the pest, and being almost at the last extremity, dressed 
himself in his fineries, mounted his war-steed, and, fevered 
and in agony, rode among the villages, speaking against 
the whites, urging the young warriors to charge upon 
them and destroy them all. The harangue over, he went 
home, and died not many hours afterward. The exposure 
and exertion brought on great pains, and one of the men 
from the fort went to him with something that gave him 
temporary relief; before he died, he acknowledged his 
error in trying to create trouble between the whites and 
Indians, and it was his wish to be buried in front of the 
gate of the fort, with all his trophies around and above 
his body; the promise was given him that this should be 
done, and he died in the belief that the white man, as he 
trod on his grave, would see that he was humbled before 
him, and would forgive him. Two young men, just sick- 



46 AUDUBON 



ening with the disease, began to talk of the dreadful death 
that awaited them, and resolved not to wait for the nat- 
ural close of the malady, the effects of which they had 
seen among their friends and relatiyes. One said the 
knife was the surest and swiftest weapon to carry into 
effect their proposed self-destruction ; the other contended 
that placing an arrow in the throat and forcing it into the 
lungs was preferable. After a long debate they calmly 
rose, and each adopted his own method; in an instant the 
knife was driven into the heart of one, the arrow into the 
throat of the other, and they fell dead almost at the same 
instant. Another story was of an extremely handsome 
and powerful Indian who lost an only son, a beautiful boy, 
upon whom all his hopes and affections were placed. The 
loss proved too much for him ; he called his wife, and, 
after telling her what a faithful husband he had been, said 
to her, " Why should we live t all we cared for is taken 
from us, and why not at once join our child in the land of 
the Great Spirit.'" She consented; in an instant he shot 
her dead on the spot, reloaded his gun, put the muzzle in 
his mouth, touched the trigger, and fell back dead. On 
the same day another curious incident occurred ; a young 
man, covered with the eruption, and apparently on the eve 
of death, managed to get to a deep puddle of mire or mud, 
threw himself in it, and rolled over and over as a Buffalo 
is wont to do. The sun was scorching hot, and the poor 
fellow got out of the mire covered with a coating of clay 
fully half an inch thick and laid himself down; the sun's 
heat soon dried the clay, so as to render it like unburnt 
bricks, and as he walked or crawled along towards the 
village, the mud drying and falling from him, taking the 
skin with it, and leaving the flesh raw and bleeding, he 
was in agony, and besought those who passed to kill him; 
but, strange to say, after enduring tortures, the fever 
left him, he recovered, and is still living, though badly 
scarred. Many ran to the river, in the delirium of the 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 47 

burning fever, plunged in the stream, and rose no more. 
The whites in the fort, as well as the Riccarees, took 
the disease after all. The Indians, with few exceptions, 
died, and three of the whites. The latter had no food in 
the way of bread, flour, sugar, or coffee, and they had to 
go stealthily by night to steal small pumpkins, about the 
size of a man's fist, to subsist upon — and this amid a 
large number of wild, raving, mad Indians, who swore 
revenge against them all the while. This is a mere 
sketch of the terrible scourge which virtually annihilated 
two powerful tribes of Indians, and of the trials of the 
traders attached to the Fur Companies on these wild 
prairies, and I can tell you of many more equally strange. 
The mortality, as taken down by Major Mitchell, was 
estimated by that gentleman at 150,000 Indians, includ- 
ing those from the tribes of the Riccarees, Mandans, 
Sioux, and Blackfeet. The small-pox was in the very 
fort from which I am now writing this account, and its 
ravages here were as awful as elsewhere. Mr. Chardon 
had the disease, and was left for dead; but one of his 
clerks saw signs of life, and forced him to drink a quan- 
tity of hot whiskey mixed with water and nutmeg; he fell 
into a sound sleep, and his recovery began from that hour. 
He says that with him the pains began in the small of 
the back, and on the back part of his head, and were in- 
tense. He concluded by assuring us all that the small- 
pox had never been known in the civilized world, as it 
had been among the poor Mandans and other Indians. 
Only twenty-seven Mandans were left to tell the tale ; they 
have now augmented to ten or twelve lodges in the six 
years that have nearly elapsed since the pestilence. ^ 

1 That the account given by Audubon is not exaggerated may be seen 
from the two accounts following; the first from Lewis and Clark, the 
second from the Prince of Wied : — 

" The ancient Maha village had once consisted of 300 cabins, but was 
burnt about four years ago (1800), soon after the small-pox had destroyed 
four hundred men, and a proportion of women and children. . . . The 



48 AUDUBON 



Harris and Bell came back bringing several small birds, 
among which three or four proved to be a Blackbird^ 

accounts we have had of the effects of the small-pox are most distressing ; 
. . . when these warriors saw their strength wasting before a malady which 
they could not resist, their frenzy was extreme ; they burnt their village, and 
many of them put to death their wives and children, to save them from so 
cruel an aiBiction, and that they might go together to some better country." 

" New Orleans, June 6, 1838. We have from the trading posts on the 
western frontier of Missouri the most frightful accounts of the ravages of 
small-pox among the Indians. . . . The number of victims within a few 
months is estimated at 30,000, and the pestilence is still spreading. . . . 
The small-pox was communicated to the Indians by a person who was on 
board the steamboat which went last summer to the mouth of the Yellow- 
stone, to convey both the government presents for the Indians, and the 
goods for the barter trade of the fur-dealers. . . . The officers gave notice of 
it to the Indians, and exerted themselves to the utmost to prevent any inter- 
course between them and the vessel; but this was a vain attempt. . . . The 
disease first broke out about the 15th of June, 1837, in the village of the 
Mandans, from which it spread in all directions with unexampled fury. . . . 
Among the remotest tribes of the Assiniboins from fifty to one hundred 
died daily. . . . The ravages of the disorder were most frightful among the 
Mandans. That once powerful tribe was exterminated, with the exception 
of thirty persons. Their neighbors, the Gros Ventres and the Riccarees, 
were out on a hunting excursion at the time the disorder broke out, so that 
it did not reach them till a month later; yet half the tribe were destroyed 
by October i. Very few of those who were attacked recovered. . . . Many 
put an end to their lives with knives or muskets, or by precipitating them- 
selves from the summit of the rock near the settlement. The prairie all 
around is a vast field of death, covered with unburied corpses. The Gros 
Ventres and the Riccarees, lately amounting to 4,000 souls, were reduced 
to less than one half. The Assiniboins, 9,000 in number, are nearly exter- 
minated. They, as well as the Crows and Blackfeet, endeavored to fly in 
all directions; but the disease pursued them. . . . The accounts of the 
Blackfeet are awful. The inmates of above 1,000 of their tents are already 
swept away. No language can picture the scene of desolation which the 
country presents. The above does not complete the terrible intelligence 
which we receive. . . . According to the most recent accounts, the number 
of Indians who have been swept away by the small-pox, on the Western 
frontier of the United States, amounts to more than 60,000." 

1 Quiscalus brewerii of Audubon, B. of Am. vii., 1844, P- 345. pl- 49z, now 
known as Scolecophagus cyanocephalus. It was new to our fauna when thus 
dedicated by Audubon to his friend Dr. Thomas M. Brewer of Boston, but 
had already been described by Wagler from Mexico as Psarocolius cyano- 
cephalus. It is an abundant bird in the West, where it replaces its near 
ally, Scolecophagus carolinus. — E. C. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 49 

nearly allied to the Rusty Grakle, but with evidently a 
much shorter and straighter bill. Its measurements will 
be given, of course. The weather is still lowering and 
cold, and it rains at intervals. We are now out of speci- 
mens of quadrupeds to draw from. Our gentlemen seem 
to remember the ball of last night, and I doubt not will 
go early to bed, as I shall. 

June 21, Wednesday. Cloudy and lowering weather; 
however, Provost went off over the river, before daylight, 
and shot a Deer, of what kind we do not know; he re- 
turned about noon, very hungry. The mud was dreadful 
in the bottoms. Bell and young McKenzie went off after 
breakfast, but brought nothing but a Sharp-tailed Grouse, 
though McKenzie shot two Wolves. The one Harris shot 
last night proved to be an old female not worth keeping; 
her companions had seamed her jaws, for in this part of 
the world Wolves feed upon Wolves, and no mistake. 
This evening I hauled the beast under the ramparts, cut 
her body open, and had a stake driven quite fast through 
it, to hold it as a bait. Harris and Bell are this moment 
on the lookout for the rascals. Wolves here not only eat 
their own kind, but are the most mischievous animals in 
the country ; they eat the young Buffalo calves, the young 
Antelopes, and the young of the Bighorn on all occa- 
sions, besides Hares of different sorts, etc. Buffaloes 
never scrape the snow with their feet, but with their 
noses, notwithstanding all that has been said to the con- 
trary, even by Mr. Catlin. Bell brought home the hind 
parts, the head, an4 one forefoot of a new species of small 
Hare.i 

We are told these Hares are very plentiful, and yet 
this is the first specimen we have seen, and sorry am I 

1 This is no doubt the Lepus artemisia of Bachman, Joum. Philad. Acad, 
viii., 1839, p. 94, later described and figured by Aud. and Bach., Quad. N. 
Am. ii., 1851, p. 272, pi, 88. It is now generally rated as a subspecies of the 
common Cottontail, L. sylvaticus. Compare aXso L.nuitalli, Aud. and Bach, 
ii., 1851, p. 300, pi. 94. — E. C. 
VOL. II. — 4 



so AUDUBON 



that it amounts to no specimen at all. Harris and I 
walked several miles, but killed nothing; we found the 
nest of a Sparrow-hawk, and Harris, assisted by my shoul- 
ders, reached the nest, and drew out two eggs. Sprague 
went across the hills eastward, and was fortunate enough 
to shoot a superb specimen of the Arctic Bluebird. This 
evening, Mr. Culbertson having told me the Rabbits, 
such as Bell had brought, were plentiful on the road 
to the steamboat landing, Harris, Bell, and I walked 
there; but although we were very cautious, we saw 
none, and only procured a Black-headed Grosbeak, which 
was shot whilst singing delightfully. To-morrow morn- 
ing Mr. Chardon leaves us in the keel-boat for the Black- 
foot Fort, and Mr. Kipp will leave for the Crows early 
next week. 

June 22, Thursday. We rose very late this morning, 
with the exception of Provost, who went out shooting quite 
early ; but he saw nothing fit for his rifle. All was bustle 
after breakfast, as Mr. Chardon's boat was loading, the 
rigging being put in order, the men moving their effects, 
etc., and a number of squaws, the wives of the men, were 
moving to and fro for hours before the ultimate departure 
of the boat, which is called the "Bee." The cargo being 
arranged, thirty men went on board, including the com- 
mander, friend Chardon, thirteen squaws, and a number 
of children, all more or less half-breeds. The flag of 
Fort Union was hoisted, the four-pounder run out of the 
front gate, and by eleven o'clock all was ready. The 
keel-boat had a brass swivel on her bows, and fired first, 
then off went the larger gun, and many an Antelope and 
Deer were doubtless frightened at the report that echoed 
through the hills far and near. We bid adieu to our good 
friend Chardon ; and his numerous and willing crew, tak- 
ing the cordelle to their shoulders, moved the boat against 
a strong current in good style. Harris and Bell had gone 
shooting and returned with several birds, among which 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 51 

was a female Red-patched Woodpecker,^ and a Lazuli 
Finch. Dinner over, I went off with young McKenzie 
after Hares ; found none, but started a Grizzly Bear from 
her lair. Owen McKenzie followed the Bear and I con- 
tinued after Hares; he saw no more of Bruin, and I 
not a Hare, and we both returned to the fort after a 
tramp of three hours. As I was walking over the prairie, 
I found an Indian's skull (an Assiniboin) and put it in 
my game pouch. Provost made a whistle to imitate the 
noise made by the fawns at this season, which is used 
to great advantage to decoy the female Deer; shortly 
afterward Mr. Bonaventure returned, and a cart was sent 
off at once to bring in a doe which he had killed below. 
This species of Deer is much larger than the one we have 
in Virginia, but perhaps no more so than those in Maine ; 
and as yet we cannot tell whether 'it may, or may not, 
prove a distinct species. We took all its measurements, 
and Bell and Provost are now skinning it. Its gross 
weight is 140 lbs., which I think is heavier than any doe 
I have seen before. The animal is very poor and evi- 
dently has fawns in the woods. The little new Lark that 
I have named after Sprague has almost all the habits 
of the Skylark of Europe. Whilst looking anxiously 
after it, on the ground where we supposed it to be 
singing, we discovered it was high over our heads, and 
that sometimes it went too high for us to see it at all. 
We have not yet been able to discover its nest. Bell 
is of opinion that the Red-collared Ground Finch ^ has 
its nest in the deserted holes of the Ground Squirrel, 

1 This is the same hybrid Woodpecker which has been already noted on 
p. 14. — E. C. 

" That is, the Chestnut-collared Longspur, Calcarius ornatus, which Mr. 
Bell was mistaken in supposing to breed in holes of the Ground Squirrels, 
or Sperm'ophiles, as it nests on the open ground, like Sprague's Lark, Mc- 
Cown's Longspur, and most other small birds of the Western plains. But 
the surmise regarding the nesting of Say's Flycatcher is correct. This is a 
near relative of the common Pewit Flycatcher, S. phabe, and its nesting 
places are similar, — E. C. 



52 AUDUBON 



and we intend to investigate this. He also believes 
that Say's Flycatcher builds in rocky caverns or fissures, 
as he found the nest of a bird in some such place, 
after having wounded one of this species, which retired 
into the fissures of the rock, which he examined in 
pursuit of the wounded bird. The nest had no eggs; 
we are going to pay it a visit. Bell was busy most 
of the day skinning birds, and Sprague drew a beau- 
tiful plant. I found a number of wild roses in bloom, 
quite sweet-scented, though single, and of a very pale 
rose-color. 

June 23, Friday. We have had a fine, warm day. The 
hunters of Buffaloes started before daylight, and Squires 
accompanied them ; they are not expected back till some- 
time to-morrow. Provost went across the river with them, 
and with the assistance of his bleating whistle, brought 
several does round him, and a good many Wolves. He 
killed two does, drew them to a tree, and hung his coat 
near them while he returned for help to bring them to the 
fort. The hunters have a belief that a garment hung 
near game freshly killed will keep the Wolves at bay for 
a time; but there are exceptions to all rules, as when he 
returned with the cart, a dozen hungry rascals of Wolves 
had completely devoured one doe and all but one ham of 
the other; this he brought to the fort. The does at this 
season, on hearing the "bleat," run to the spot, suppos- 
ing, no doubt, that the Wolves have attacked their fawns, 
and in rushing to the rescue, run towards the hunter, who 
despatches them without much trouble, unless the woods 
are thickly overgrown with bushes and brush, when more 
difificulty is experienced in seeing them, although one may 
hear them close by; but it is a cruel, deceitful, and un- 
sportsmanlike method, of which I can never avail myself, 
and which I try to discountenance. Bell was busy all 
day with skins, and Sprague with flowers, which he de- 
lineates finely. Mr. Kipp presented me with a complete 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 53 

dress of a Blackfoot warrior, ornamented with many tufts 
of Indian hair from scalps, and also with a saddle. After 
dinner, Harris, who felt poorly all morning, was better, 
and we went to pay a visit at the Opposition fort. We 
started in a wagon with an old horse called Peter, which 
stands fire like a stump. In going, we found we could 
approach the birds with comparative ease, and we had 
the good fortune to shoot three of the new Larks. I 
killed two, and Harris one. When this species starts 
from the ground, they fly in a succession of undula- 
tions, which renders aim at them quite difficult; after 
this, and in the same manner, they elevate themselves 
to some considerable height, as if about to sing, and 
presently pitch towards the ground, where they run pret- 
tily, and at times stand still and quite erect for a few 
minutes; we hope to discover their nests soon. Young 
Meadow Larks, Red-shafted Woodpeckers, and the Red- 
cheeked ditto, ^ are abundant. We reached Fort Mortimer 
in due time; passed first between several sulky, half- 
starved looking Indians, and came to the gate, where we 
were received by the '"bourgeois," ^ a young man by the 
name of Collins, from Hopkinsville, Ky. We found the 
place in a most miserable condition, and about to be car- 
ried away by the falling in of the banks on account of the 
great rise of water in the Yellowstone, that has actually 
dammed ,the Missouri. The current ran directly across, 
and the banks gave way at such a rate that the men had 
been obliged already to tear up the front of the fort and 
remove it to the rear. To-morrow they are to remove 
the houses themselves, should they stand the coming 
night, which appeared to me somewhat dubious. We 

1 This passage shows that Audubon observed individuals of the hybrid 
Woodpecker which he considered identical with Colaptes cafer, and also 
others which he regarded as belonging to the supposed new species — his 
C. ayresii, — E. C. 

2 The usual title or designation of the chief trader or person in charge of 
any establishment of a fur company. — E. C. 



54 AUDUBON 



saw a large athletic man who has crossed the mountains 
twice to the Pacific; he is a Philadelphian, named Wallis, 
who had been a cook at Fort Union four years, but who 
had ^finally deserted, lived for a time with the Crows, and 
then joined the Opposition. These persons were very 
polite to us, and invited us to remain and take supper 
with them ; but as I knew they were short of provisions, 
I would not impose myself upon them, and so, with thanks 
for their hospitality, we excused ourselves and returned to 
Fort Union. As we were in search of birds, we saw a 
small, whitish-colored Wolf trotting across the prairie, 
which hereabouts is very extensive and looks well, though 
the soil is poor. We put Peter to a trot and gained on 
the Wolf, which did not see us until we were about one 
hundred yards off; he stopped suddenly, and then went 
off at a canter. Harris gave the whip to Peter, and off 
we went, evidently gaining rapidly on the beast, when it 
saw an Indian in its road ; taking fright, it dashed to one 
side, and was soon lost in a ravine. We congratulated 
ourselves, on reaching the fort, that we had such good 
fortune as to be able to sup and sleep here, instead of at 
Fort Mortimer. Bell had taken a walk and brought in a 
few birds. The prairie is covered with cacti, and Harris 
and I suffered by them ; my feet were badly pricked by 
the thorns, which penetrated my boots at the junction of 
the soles with the upper leathers. I have to-day heard 
several strange stories about Grizzly Bears, all of which 
I must have corroborated before I fully accept them. 
The Otters and Musk-rats of this part of the country are 
smaller than in the States ; the first is the worst enemy 
that the Beaver has. 

Ju7ie 21^, Saturday. Bell killed a small Wolf last night, 
and Harris wounded another. This morning Provost started 
at daylight, and Bell followed him ; but they returned with- 
out game. After breakfast Harris went off on horseback, 
and brought in a Sharp-tailed Grouse. He saw only one 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 55 

Deer, species not identified. Sprague and I went off last, 
but brought in nothing new. This afternoon I thought 
would be a fair opportunity to examine the manners of 
Sprague's Lark on the wing. Bell drove Peter for me, 
and I killed four Larks; we then watched the flight of 
several. The male rises by constant undulations to a great 
height, say one hundred yards or more ; and whilst singing 
its sweet-sounding notes, beats its wings, poised in the air 
like a Hawk, without rising at this time ; after which, and 
after each burst of singing, it sails in divers directions, 
forming three quarters of a circle or thereabouts, then 
rises again, and again sings; the intervals between the 
singing are longer than those which the song occupies, 
and at times the bird remains so long in the air as to ren- 
der it quite fatiguing to follow it with the eye. Sprague 
thought one he watched yesterday remained in the air 
about one hour. Bell and Harris watched one for more 
than half an hour, and this afternoon I gazed upon one, 
whilst Bell timed it, for thirty-six minutes. We continued 
on to Fort Mortimer to see its condition, were received as 
kindly as yesterday, and saw the same persons. It was 
four o'clock, and the men were all at dinner, having been 
obliged to wait until this time because they had no meat 
in the fort, and their hunters had returned only one hour 
and a half before. We found that the river had fallen 
about fourteen inches since last evening, and the men 
would not remove for the present. On our way home- 
ward Bell shot a fifth Lark, and when we reached the 
ravine I cut out of a tree-stump the nest of an Arctic Blue- 
bird, with six eggs in it, of almost the same size and color 
as those of the common Bluebird. Sprague had brought a 
female of his Lark, and her nest containing five eggs ; the 
measurements of these two species I will write out to-mor- 
row. Our Buffalo hunters are not yet returned, and I 
think that Squires will feel pretty well fatigued when he 
reaches the fort. Mr. Culbertson presented me with a pair 



56 AUDUBON 



of stirrups, and a most splendid Blackfoot crupper for 
my saddle. The day has been warm and clear. We 
caught seven catfish at the river near the fort, and most 
excellent eating they are, though quite small when com- 
pared with the monsters of this species on the Missouri 
below. 

June 25, Sunday. This day has been warm and the 
wind high, at first from the south, but this afternoon from 
the north. Little or nothing has been done in the way of 
procuring birds or game, except that Harris and Mr. 
Denig brought in several Arkansas Flycatchers. Not a 
word from the hunters, and therefore they must have gone 
far before they met Buffaloes. A few more catfish have 
been caught, and they are truly excellent. 

June 26, Monday. The hunters returned this afternoon 
about three o'clock; i. e., Squires and McKenzie; but the 
carts did not reach the fort till after I had gone to bed. 
They have killed three Antelopes, three bull Buffaloes, and 
one Townsend's Hare, but the last was lost through care- 
lessness, and I am sorry for it. The men had eaten one of 
the Antelopes, and the two others are fine males; Bell 
skinned one, and saved the head and the fore-legs of the 
other. One of them had the tips of the horns as much 
crooked inwardly (backwards) as the horns of the Euro- 
pean Chamois usually are. This afternoon early Provost 
brought in a Deer of the large kind, and this also was 
skinned. After this Harris and Bell went off and brought 
in several Lazuli Finches, and a black Prairie Lark Finch 
of the species brought from the Columbia by Townsend 
and Nuttall. We caught several catfish and a very 
curious sturgeon, of which Sprague took an outline with 
the camera, and I here give the measurements. ... It 
had run on the shore, and was caught by one of the men. 
I made a bargain this morning with the hunter Bona- 
venture Le Brun to procure me ten Bighorns, at $io.oo 
apiece, or the same price for any number he may get. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 57 

Mr. Culbertson lent him old Peter, the horse, and I wrote 
a petit billet to Mr. John Collins, to ask him to have them 
ferried across the river, as our boat was away on a wood- 
cutting expedition. As Le Brun did not return, of course 
he was taken across, and may, perhaps, come back this 
evening, or early to-morrow morning, with something 
worth having. At this moment Bell has shot a Wolf 
from the ramparts, and sadly crippled another, but it 
made off somehow. 

June 27, Tuesday. This morning was quite cool, and 
the wind from the north. After breakfast Bell and Owen 
McKenzie went off on horseback on this side of the river, 
to see how far off the Buffaloes are, and they may probably 
bring home some game. Sprague and I have been draw- 
ing all day yesterday and most of to-day. Provost has 
been making whistles to call the Deer; later he, Harris, 
and I, walked to the hills to procure the black root plant 
which is said to be the best antidote for the bite of the 
rattlesnake. We found the root and dug one up, but the 
plant is not yet in bloom. The leaves are long and nar- 
row, and the flowers are said to resemble the dwarf sun- 
flower. Harris shot two of what he calls the Small Shore 
Lark, male and female ; but beyond the size being a little 
smaller than those found at Labrador, I cannot discover 
any specific difference. From the top of the hills we saw 
a grand panorama of a most extensive wilderness, with 
Fort Union beneath us and far away, as well as the Yellow- 
stone River, and the lake across the river. The hills across 
the Missouri appeared quite low, and we could see the high 
prairie beyond, forming the background. Bell and McKen- 
zie returned, having shot a Wolf in a curious manner. On 
reaching the top of a hill they found themselves close to 
the Wolf Bell's horse ran quite past it, but young McKen- 
zie shot and broke one fore-leg, and it fell. Bell then gave 
his horse to McKenzie, jumped off, ran to the Wolf, and 
took hold of it by the tail, pulling it towards the horses ; 



58 AUDUBON 



but it got up and ran rapidly. Bell fired two shots in 
its back with a pistol without stopping it, then he ran as 
fast as he could, shot it in the side, and it fell. Bell says its 
tail was longer than usual, but it was not measured, and 
the Wolf was left on the prairie, as they had no means of 
bringing it in. They saw an Antelope, some Magpies, and 
a Swift Fox, but no Buffaloes, though they were fifteen 
miles from the fort. They ran a Long-tailed Deer, and 
describe its movements precisely as do Lewis and Clark.-^ 
Between every three or four short leaps came the long leap 
of fully twenty-five feet, if not more. The Kit or Swift Fox 
which they saw stood by a bunch of wormwood, and whilst 
looking at the hunters, was seen to brush off the flies with 
his paws. 

I am now going to take this book to Lewis Squires and 
ask him to write in it his account of the Buffalo hunt. 
(The following is in Mr. Squires' handwriting : ) 
" By Mr. Audubon's desire I will relate the adventures 
that befell me in my first Buffalo hunt, and I am in hopes 
that among the rubbish a trifle, at least, may be obtained 
which may be of use or interest to him. On the morning 
of Friday, the 23d, before daylight, I was up, and in a 
short time young McKenzie made his appearance. A 
few minutes sufficed to saddle our horses, and be in readi- 
ness for our contemplated hunt. We were accompanied 
by Mr. Bonaventure the younger, one of the hunters of the 
fort, and two carts to bring in whatever kind of meat 
might be procured. We were ferried across the river in 
a flatboat, and thence took our departure for the Buffalo 
country. We passed through a wooded bottom for about 
one mile, and then over a level prairie for about one mile 
and a half, when we commenced the ascent of the bluffs 
that bound the western side of the Missouri valley; our 

1 "The black-tailed deer never runs at full speed, but bounds with 
every foot from the ground at the same time, like the mule-deer." (" Lewis 
and Clark," ed. 1893.) 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 59 

course then lay over an undulating prairie, quite rough, 
and steep hills with small ravines between, and over dry 
beds of streams that are made by the spring and fall 
freshets. Occasionally we were favored with a level prairie 
never exceeding two miles in extent. When the carts over- 
took us, we exchanged our horses for them, and sat on 
Buffalo robes on the bottom, our horses following on 
behind us. As we neared the place where the Buffaloes had 
been killed on the previous hunt, Bonaventure rode alone 
to the top of a hill to discover, if possible, their where- 
abouts ; but to our disappointment nothing living was to 
be seen. We continued on our way watching closely, 
ahead, right and left. Three o'clock came and as yet 
nothing had been killed ; as none of us had eaten anything 
since the night before, our appetites admonished us that it 
was time to pay attention to them. McKenzie and Bona- 
venture began to look about for Antelopes; but before 
any were ' comeatable,' I fell asleep, and was awakened 
by the report of a gun. Before we, in the carts, arrived at 
the spot from whence this report proceeded, the hunters 
had killed, skinned, and nearly cleaned the game, which 
was a fine male Antelope. I regretted exceedingly I was 
not awake when it was killed, as I might have saved the 
skin for Mr. Audubon, as well as the head, but I was too 
late. It was now about five o'clock, and one may well 
imagine I was somewhat hungry. Owen McKenzie com- 
menced eating the raw liver, and offered me a piece. 
What others can eat, I felt assured I could at least taste. 
I accordingly took it and ate quite a piece of it; to my 
utter astonishment, I found it not only palatable but very 
good ; this experience goes far to convince me that our 
prejudices make things appear more disgusting than fact 
proves them to be. Our Antelope cut up and in the cart, 
we proceeded on our ' winding way,' and scarcely had we 
left the spot where the entrails of the animal remained, 
before the Wolves and Ravens commenced coming from all 



60 AUDUBON 



quarters, and from places where a minute before there was 
not a sign of one. We had not proceeded three hundred 
yards at the utmost, before eight Wolves were about the 
spot, and others approaching. On our way, both going 
and returning, we saw a cactus of a conical shape, having 
a light straw-colored, double flower, differing materially 
from the flower of the flat cactus, which is quite com- 
mon; had I had any means of bringing one in, I would 
most gladly have done so, but I could not depend on 
the carts, and as they are rather unpleasant companions, 
I preferred awaiting another opportunity, which I hope 
may come in a few days. We shot a young of Town- 
send's Hare, about seven or eight steps from us, with 
about a dozen shot ; I took good care of it until I left 
the cart on my return to the fort, but when the carts ar- 
rived it had carelessly been lost. This I regretted very 
much, as Mr. Audubon wanted it. It was nearly sun- 
set when Bonaventure discovered a Buffalo bull, so we 
concluded to encamp for the night, and run the Buffaloes 
in the morning. We accordingly selected a spot near a 
pond of water, which in spring and fall is quite a large 
lake, and near which there was abundance of good pasture ; 
our horses were soon unsaddled and hoppled, a good fire 
blazing, and some of the Antelope meat roasting on sticks 
before it. As soon as a bit was done, we commenced 
operations, and it was soon gone ' the way of all flesh.' 
I never before ate meat without salt or pepper, and until 
then never fully appreciated these two luxuries, as they 
now seemed, nor can any one, until deprived of them, and 
seated on a prairie as we were, or in some similar situation. 
On the opposite side of the lake we saw a Grizzly Bear, 
but he was unapproachable. After smoking our pipes we 
rolled ourselves in our robes, with our saddles for pillows, 
and were soon lost in a sound, sweet sleep. During the 
night I was awakened by a crunching sound ; the fire had 
died down, and I sat up and looking about perceived a 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 6 1 

Wolf quietly feeding on the remains of our supper. One 
of the men awoke at the same time and fired at the Wolf, 
but without effect, and the fellow fled ; we neither saw nor 
heard more of him during the night. By daylight we were 
all up, and as our horses had not wandered far, it was the 
work of a few minutes to catch and saddle them. We rode 
three or four miles before we discovered anything, but at 
last saw a group of three Buffaloes some miles from us. 
We pushed on, and soon neared them ; before arriving at 
their feeding-ground, we saw, scattered about, immense 
quantities of pumice-stone, in detached pieces of all sizes ; 
several of the hills appeared to be composed wholly of it. 
As we approached within two hundred yards of the Buf- 
faloes they started, and away went the hunters after them. 
My first intention of being merely a looker-on continued 
up to this moment, but it was impossible to resist follow- 
ing ; almost unconsciously I commenced urging my horse 
after them, and was soon rushing up hills and through 
ravines ; but my horse gave out, and disappointment and 
anger followed, as McKenzie and Bonaventure succeeded 
in killing two, and wounding a third, which escaped. As 
soon as they had finished them, they commenced skin- 
ning and cutting up one, which was soon in the cart, the 
offal and useless meat being left on the ground. Again 
the Wolves made their appearance as we were leaving; 
they seemed shy, but Owen McKenzie succeeded in killing 
one, which was old and useless. The other Buffalo was 
soon skinned and in the cart. In the meantime McKenzie 
and I started on horseback for water. The man who had 
charge of the keg had let it all run out, and most fortu- 
nately none of us had wanted water until now. We rode 
to a pond, the water of which was very salt and warm, but 
we had to drink this or none ; we did so, filled our flasks 
for the rest of the party, and a few minutes afterward 
rejoined them. We started again for more meat to com- 
plete our load. I observed, as we approached the Buf- 



62 AUDUBON 



faloes, that they stood gazing at us with their heads erect, 
lashing their sides with their tails ; as soon as they dis- 
covered what we were at, with the quickness of thought 
they wheeled, and with the most surprising speed, for an 
animal apparently so clumsy and awkward, flew before us. 
I could hardly imagine that these enormous animals could 
move so quickly, or realize that their speed was as great 
as it proved to be ; and I doubt if in this country one 
horse in ten can be found that will keep up with them. 
We rode five or six miles before we discovered any more. 
At last we saw a single bull, and while approaching him 
we started two others ; slowly we wended our way towards 
them until within a hundred yards, when away they went. 
I had now begun to enter into the spirit of the chase, and 
off I started, full speed, down a rough hill in swift pursuit; 
at the bottom of the hill was a ditch about eight feet wide ; 
the horse cleared this safely. I continued, leading the 
others by some distance, and rapidly approaching t^e 
Buffaloes. At this prospect of success my feelings can 
better be imagined than described. I kept the lead of the 
others till within thirty or forty yards of the Buffaloes, 
when I began making preparations to fire as soon as I was 
suflSciently near ; imagine, if possible, my disappointment 
when I discovered that now, when all my hopes of success 
were raised to the highest pitch, I was fated to meet a 
reverse as mortifying as success would have been gratify- 
ing. My horse failed, and slackened his pace, despite 
every effort of mine to urge him on ; the other hunters 
rushed by me at full speed, and my horse stopped alto- 
gether. I saw the others fire ; the animal swerved a little, 
but still kept on. After breathing my horse a while, I 
succeeded in starting him up again, followed after them, 
and came up in time to fire one shot ere the animal was 
brought down. I think that I never saw an eye so fero- 
cious in expression as that of the wounded Buffalo ; rolling 
wildly in its socket, inflamed as the eye was, it had the 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 63 

most frightful appearance that can be imagined; and in 
fact, the picture presented by the Buffalo as a whole is 
quite beyond my powers of description. The fierce eyes, 
blood streaming from his sides, mouth, and nostrils, he was 
the wildest, most unearthly-looking thing it ever fell to my 
lot to gaze upon. His sufferings were short; he was soon 
cut up and placed in the cart, and we retraced our steps 
homeward. Whilst proceeding towards our camping- 
ground for the night, two Antelopes were killed, and placed 
on our carts. Whenever we approached these animals 
they were very curious to see what we were ; they would 
run, first to the right, and then to the left, then suddenly 
run straight towards us until within gun-shot, or nearly 
so. The horse attracted their attention more than the 
rider, and if a slight elevation or bush was between us, they 
were easily killed. As soon as their curiosity was gratified 
they would turn and run, but it was not difificult to shoot 
before this occurred. When they turned they would fly 
over the prairie for about a mile, when they would again 
stop and look at us. During the day we suffered very 
much for want of water, and drank anything that had the 
appearance of it, and most of the water, in fact all of it, 
was either impregnated with salt, sulphur, or magnesia — 
most disgusting stuff at any other time, but drinkable now. 
The worst of all was some rain-water that we were obliged 
to drink, first placing our handkerchiefs over the cup to 
strain it, and keep the worms out of our mouths. I drank 
it, and right glad was I to get even this. We rode about 
five miles to where we encamped for the night, near a little 
pond of water. In a few minutes we had a good fire of 
Buffalo dung to drive away mosquitoes that were in clouds 
about us. The water had taken away our appetites com- 
pletely, and we went to bed without eating any supper. 
Our horses and beds were arranged as on the previous 
evening. McKenzie and I intended starting for the fort 
early in the morning. We saw a great many Magpies, Cur- 



64 A UDUBON 



lews, Plovers, Doves, and numbers of Antelopes. About 
daylight I awoke and roused McKenzie ; a man had gone 
for the horses, but after a search of two hours returned 
without finding them ; all the party now went off except 
one man and myself, and all returned without success 
except Bonaventure, who found an old horse that had been 
lost since April last. He was despatched on this to the 
fort to get other horses, as we had concluded that ours 
were either lost or stolen. As soon as he had gone, one 
of the men started again in search of the runaways, and in 
a short time returned with them. McKenzie and I soon 
rode off. We saw two Grizzly Bears at the lake again. 
Our homeward road we made much shorter by cutting off 
several turns; we overtook Bonaventure about four miles 
from our encampment, and passed him. We rode forty 
miles to the fort in a trifle over six hours. We had trav- 
elled in all about one hundred and twenty miles. Bona- 
venture arrived two hours after we did, and the carts came 
in the evening." 

Wednesday, June 28. This is an account of Squires' Buf- 
falo hunt, his first one, which he has kindly written in my 
journal and which I hope some day to publish. This 
morning was very cloudy, and we had some rain, but from 
ten o'clock until this moment the weather has been beau- 
tiful. Harris shot a handsome though rather small Wolf; 
I have made a large drawing, and Sprague a fine dimin- 
ished one, of the rascal. The first news we had this morn- 
ing was that the ferry flat had been stolen last night, 
probably by the deserters from the fort who have had the 
wish to return to St. Louis. Some person outside of the 
fort threw a large stone at an Indian woman, and her hus- 
band fired in the dark, but no one could be found on 
searching. There is much trouble and discomfort to the 
managers of such an establishment as this. Provost went 
shooting, but saw nothing. Young McKenzie and another 
man were sent to find the scow, but in vain. On their re- 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 65 

turn they said a hunter from Fort Mortimer had brought 
a Bighorn, and skinned it, and that he would let me have 
it if I wished. I sent Bell and Squires, and they brought 
the skin in. It proves to be that of an old female in the 
act of shedding her winter coat, and I found that she was 
covered with abundance of downy wool like the Antelopes 
under similar circumstances. Mr. Larpenteur caught five 
small catfish, which we ate at breakfast. After dinner Le 
Brun returned home, but brought only the skin of a young 
female of the White-tailed Deer, and I was surprised to see 
that it had the germ of a horn about one inch long; the 
skin was quite red, and it is saved. A young Elk was 
brought in good condition, as the hunters here know how 
to save skins properly ; it was too young, however, to take 
measurements. The horns were in velvet about six inches 
long. When one sees the powerful bones and muscles of 
this young animal, one cannot fail to think of the great 
strength of the creature when mature, and its ability to 
bear with ease the enormous antlers with which its head is 
surmounted. The flesh of the Antelope is not comparable 
with that of the Deer, being dry and usually tough. It 
is very rarely indeed that a fat Antelope is killed. Bell 
has been very busy in skinning small birds and animals. 
We procured a young Red-shafted Woodpecker, killed by 
an Indian boy with a bow and arrow. Mr. Kipp's " Mack- 
inaw " was launched this evening, and sent across the river 
with men to relieve the charcoal-burners; she returned 
immediately and we expect that Mr. Kipp's crew will go 
off to-morrow about twelve. I was told a curious anecdote 
connected with a Grizzly Bear, that I will write down ; it 
is as follows: One of the engagh of the Company was 
forced to run away, having killed an Indian woman, and 
made his way to the Crow Fort, three hundred miles 
up the Yellowstone River. When he arrived there he 
was in sad plight, having his own squaw and one or two 
children along, who had all suffered greatly with hunger, 

VOL. II. — 5 



66 AUDUBON 



thirst, and exposure. They were received at the fort, but 
in a short time, less than a week afterwards, he again ran 
off with his family, and on foot. The discovery was soon 
made, and two men were sent after him; but he eluded 
their vigilance by keeping close in ravines, etc. The men 
returned, and two others with an Indian were despatched 
on a second search, and after much travel saw the man 
and his family on an island, where he had taken refuge 
from his pursuers. The Buffalo-hide canoe in which he 
had attempted to cross the river was upset, and it was with 
difficulty that he saved his wife and children. They were 
now unable to escape, and when talking as to the best way 
to secure their return to the fort, the soldiers saw him 
walk to the body of a dead Buffalo lying on the shore of 
the island, with the evident intention of procuring some of 
it for food. As he stooped to cut off a portion, to his 
utter horror he saw a small Grizzly Bear crawl out from 
the carcass. It attacked him fiercely, and so suddenly 
that he was unable to defend himself; the Bear lacerated 
his face, arms, and the upper part of his body in a fright- 
ful manner, and would have killed him, had not the In- 
dian raised his gun and fired at the Bear, wounding him 
severely, while a second shot killed him. The engagi 
was too much hurt to make further effort to escape, and 
one of the Company's boats passing soon after, he and his 
family were taken back to the fort, where he was kept to 
await his trial. 

June 29, Thursday. It rained hard during the night, 
but at dawn Provost went shooting and returned to 
dinner, having shot a doe, which was skinned and the 
meat saved. He saw a Grouse within a few feet of 
him, but did not shoot, as he had only a rifle. Bell and 
I took a long walk, and shot several birds. We both 
were surprised to find a flock of Cliff Swallows endeavor- 
ing to build nests beneath the ledges of a clay bank. 
Watching the moment when several had alighted against 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 6y 

the bank, I fired, and killed three. Previous to this, as I 
was walking along a ravine, a White Wolf ran past within 
fifteen or twenty paces of me, but I had only very small 
shot, and did not care to wound where I could not kill. 
The fellow went off at a limping gallop, and Bell after it, 
squatting whenever the Wolf stopped to look at him ; but 
at last the rascal lost himself in a deep ravine, and a few 
minutes after we saw him emerge from the shrubs some 
distance off, and go across the prairie towards the river. 
Bell saw two others afterwards, and if ever there was a 
country where Wolves are surpassingly abundant, it is the 
one we now are in. Wolves are in the habit of often lying 
down on the prairies, where they form quite a bed, work- 
ing at bones the while. We found a nest of the Prairie 
Lark, with four eggs. We saw Arctic Bluebirds, Say's 
Flycatcher and Lazuli Finches. Say's Flycatcher has a 
note almost like the common Pewee. They fly over 
the prairies like Hawks, looking for grasshoppers, upon 
which they pounce, and if they lose sight of them, they 
try again at another place. We returned home to dinner, 
and after this a discussion arose connected with the 
Red-shafted Woodpecker. We determined to go and 
procure one of the young, and finding that these have 
pale-yellow shafts, instead of deep orange-red, such as the 
old birds have, the matter was tested and settled according 
to my statement. Harris and I went off after the doe 
killed this morning, and killed another, but as I have now 
skins enough, the measurements only were taken, and the 
head cut off, which I intend drawing to-morrow. Harris 
shot also a Grouse, and a Woodpecker that will prove a 
Canadensis; he killed the male also, but could not find it, 
and we found seven young Red-shafted Woodpeckers in 
one nest. I killed a female Meadow Lark, the first seen in 
this country by us. Provost told me (and he is a respect- 
able man) that, during the breeding season of the Moun- 
tain Ram, the battering of the horns is often heard as far 



68 AUDUBON 



as a mile away, and that at such times they are approached 
with comparative ease; and there is no doubt that it is 
during such encounters that the horns are broken and 
twisted as I have seen them, and not by leaping from high 
places and falling on their horns, as poetical travellers 
have asserted. The fact is that when these animals leap 
from any height they alight firmly on all their four feet. 
At this season the young are always very difficult to catch, 
and I have not yet seen one of them. Harris, Bell, and 
young McKenzie are going Bighorn hunting to-morrow, 
and I hope they will be successful ; I, alas ! am no longer 
young and alert enough for the expedition. We find the 
mosquitoes very troublesome, and very numerous. 

June 30, Friday. The weather was dark, with the wind 
at the northwest, and looked so like rain that the hunters 
did not start as they had proposed. Sprague, Harris, and 
Bell went out, however, after small game. I began draw- 
ing at five this morning, and worked almost without cessa- 
tion till after three, when, becoming fatigued for want of 
practice, I took a short walk, regretting I could no longer 
draw twelve or fourteen hours without a pause or thought 
of weariness. It is now raining quite hard. Mr. Larpen- 
teur went after a large tree to make a ferry-boat, and the 
new skiff was begun this morning. I sent Provost to Fort 
Mortimer to see if any one had arrived from below ; he 
found a man had done so last evening and brought letters 
to Mr. Collins, requesting him to do all he can for us. 
He also reported that a party of Sioux had had a battle 
with the Gros Ventres, and had killed three of the latter 
and a white man who lived with them as a blacksmith. 
The Gros Ventres, on the other hand, had killed eight of 
the Sioux and put them to flight. The blacksmith killed 
two Sioux, and the enemies cut off one leg and one arm, 
scalped him, and left the mangled body behind them. It 
is said there is now no person living who can recollect the 
manner in which the bitter enmity of these two nations 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 6g 

originated. The Yellowstone River is again rising fast, 
and Mr. Kipp will have tough times before he reaches 
Fort Alexander, which was built by Mr. Alexander Cul- 
bertson, our present host, and the Company had it hon- 
ored by his name. When a herd of Buffaloes is chased, 
although the bulls themselves run very swiftly off, their 
speed is not to be compared to that of the cows and year- 
lings ; for these latter are seen in a few minutes to leave 
the bulls behind them, and as cows and young Buffaloes 
are preferable to the old males, when the hunters are well 
mounted they pursue the cows and young ones invariably. 
Last winter Buffaloes were extremely abundant close to 
this fort, so much so that while the people were engaged 
in bringing hay in carts, the Buffaloes during the night 
came close in, and picked up every wisp that was dropped. 
An attempt to secure them alive was made by strewing 
hay in such a manner as to render the bait more and more 
plentiful near the old fort, which is distant about two 
hundred yards, and which was once the property of Mr. 
Sublette and Co. ; but as the hogs and common cattle 
belonging to the fort are put up there regularly at sunset, 
the Buffaloes ate the hay to the very gates, but would not 
enter the enclosure, probably on account of the different 
smells issuing therefrom. At this period large herds slept 
in front of the fort, but just before dawn would remove 
across the hills about one mile distant, and return towards 
night. An attempt was made to shoot them with a can- 
non — a four-pounder ; three were killed and several 
wounded. Still the Buffaloes came to their sleeping 
ground at evening, and many were killed during the 
season. I saw the head of one Mr. Culbertson shot, 
and the animal must have been of unusual size. 

J^ulf 1, Saturday. It was still raining when I got up, 
but a few minutes later the sun was shining through one 
of our windows, and the wind being at northwest we an- 
ticipated a fine day. The ground was extremely wet and 



70 AUDUBON 



muddy, but Harris and Bell went off on horseback, and 
returned a few minutes after noon. They brought some 
birds and had killed a rascally Wolf. Bell found the nest 
of the Arkansas Flycatcher. The nest and eggs, as well 
as the manners, of this bird resemble in many ways those 
of our King-bird. The nest was in an elm, twenty or 
twenty-five feet above the ground, and he saw another in 
a similar situation. Mr. Culbertson and I walked to the 
Pilot Knob with a spy-glass, to look at the present condi- 
tion of Fort Mortimer. This afternoon Squires, Provost, 
and I walked there, and were kindly received as usual. 
We found all the people encamped two hundred yards 
from the river, as they had been obliged to move from 
the tumbling fort during the rain of last night. Whilst 
we were there a trapper came in with a horse and told us 
the following : This man and four others left that fort on 
the I st of April last on an expedition after Beavers. They 
were captured by a party of about four hundred Siojix, 
who took them prisoners and kept him one day and a 
half, after which he was released, but his companions were 
kept prisoners. He crossed the river and found a horse 
belonging to the Indians, stole it, and reached the fort at 
last. He looked miserable indeed, almost without a rag 
of clothing, long hair, filthy beyond description, and hav- 
ing only one very keen, bright eye, which looked as if 
he was both proud and brave. He had subsisted for 
the last eleven days on pomme blanche and the thick 
leaves of the cactus, which he roasted to get rid of the 
thorns or spines, and thus had fared most miserably ; for, 
previous to the capture of himself and his companions,, 
he had upset his bull canoe and lost his rifle, which to 
a trapper is, next to life, his dependence. When he was 
asked if he would have some dinner, he said that he 
had forgotten the word, but would try the taste of meat 
again. Mr. Collins was very polite to me, and promised 
me a hunter for the whole of next week, expressly to 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 71 

shoot Bighorns. I hope this promise may be better 
kept than that of Mr. Chardon, who told me that should 
he have one killed within forty miles he would send Alexis 
back with it at once. We heard some had been killed, 
but this may not be true; at any rate, men are men all 
over the world, and a broken promise is not unheard-of. 
This evening Mr. Culbertson presented me with a splendid 
dress, as well as one to Harris and one to Bell, and prom- 
ised one to Sprague, which I have no doubt he will have. 
Harris and Sprague went off to procure Woodpeckers' 
nests, and brought the most curious set of five birds that 
I ever saw, and which I think will puzzle all the naturalists 
in the world. The first was found near the nest, of which 
Sprague shot the female, a light-colored Red-shafted Wood- 
pecker. It proved to be of the same color, but had the 
rudiments of black stripes on the cheeks. Next, Sprague 
shot an adult yellow-winged male, with the markings prin- 
cipally such as are found in the Eastern States. Harris 
then shot a young Red-shafted, just fledged, with a black 
stripe on the cheek. His next shot was a light-colored 
Red-shafted male, with black cheeks, and another still, a 
yellow Red-shafted with a red cheek.^ After all this Mr. 
Culbertson proposed to run a sham Buffalo hunt again. 
He, Harris, and Squires started on good horses, went 
about a mile, and returned full tilt, firing and cracking. 
Squires fired four times and missed once. Harris did not 
shoot at all ; but Mr. Culbertson fired eleven times, start- 
ing at the onset with an empty gun, snapped three times, 
and reached the fort with his gun loaded. A more won- 
derful rider I never saw. 

July 2, Sunday. The weather was cool and pleasant 
this morning, with no mosquitoes, which indeed — plenti- 
ful and troublesome as they are — Provost tells me are 

1 The above is a very good example of the way these Woodpeckers vary 
in color, presenting a case which, as Audubon justly observes, is a "puzzle 
to all the naturalists in the world." See note, p. 14. — E, C. 



72 AUDUBON 



more scarce this season than he ever knew them thus far 
up the Missouri. Sprague finished his drawing of the 
doe's head about dinner-time, and it looks well. After 
dinner he went after the puzzling Woodpeckers, and 
brought three, all different from each other. Mr. Cul- 
bertson, his squaw wife, and I rode to Fort Mortimer, 
accompanied by young McKenzie, and found Mr. Collins 
quite ill. We saw the hunters of that fort, and they 
promised to supply me with Bighorns, at ten dollars 
apiece in the flesh, and also some Black-tailed Deer, and 
perhaps a Grizzly Bear. This evening they came to the 
fort for old Peter and a mule, to bring in their game; 
and may success attend them ! When we returned, Harris 
started off with Mr. Culbertson and his wife to see the 
condition of Mr. Collins, to whom he administered some 
remedies. Harris had an accident that was near being of 
a serious nature; as he was getting into the wagon, think- 
ing that a man had hold of the reins, which was not the 
case, his foot was caught between the axle-tree and the 
wagon, he was thrown down on his arm and side, and hurt 
to some extent; fortunately he escaped without serious 
injury, and does not complain much this evening, as he 
has gone on the ramparts to shoot a Wolf. Sprague saw 
a Wolf in a hole a few yards from the fort, but said not 
a word of it till after dinner, when Bell and Harris went 
there and shot it through the head. It was a poor, mis- 
erable, crippled old beast, that could not get out of the 
hole, which is not more than three or four feet deep. 
After breakfast we had a hunt after Hares or Rabbits, 
and Harris saw two of them, but was so near he did not 
care to shoot at them. Whilst Harris and Mr. Culbert- 
son went off to see Mr. Collins, Mr. Denig and I walked 
off with a bag and instruments, to take off the head of a 
three-years-dead Indian chief, called the White Cow. 
Mr. Denig got upon my shoulders and into the branches 
near the coffin, which stood about ten feet above ground. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 73 

The coffin was lowered, or rather tumbled, down, and the 
cover was soon hammered off; to my surprise, the feet 
were placed on the pillow, instead of the head, which lay 
at the foot of the coffin — if a long box may so be called. 
Worms innumerable were all about it; the feet were 
naked, shrunk, and dried up. The head had still the hair 
on, but was twisted off in a moment, under jaw and all. 
The body had been first wrapped up in a Buffalo skin 
without hair, and then in another robe with the hair on, 
as usual ; after this the dead man had been enveloped in 
an American flag, and over this a superb scarlet blanket. 
We left all on the ground but the head. Squires, Mr. 
Denig and young Owen McKenzie went afterwards to try 
to replace the coffin and contents in the tree, but in vain ; 
the whole affair fell to the ground, and there it lies ; but 
I intend to-morrow to have it covered with earth. The 
history of this man is short, and I had it from Mr. Lar- 
penteur, who was in the fort at the time of his decease, 
or self-committed death. He was a good friend to the 
whites, and knew how to procure many Buffalo robes for 
them; he was also a famous orator, and never failed to 
harangue his people on all occasions. He was, however, 
consumptive, and finding himself about to die, he sent 
his squaw for water, took an arrow from his quiver, and 
thursting it into his heart, expired, and was found dead 
when his squaw returned to the lodge. He was "buried " 
in the above-mentioned tree by the orders of Mr. McKen- 
zie, who then commanded this fort. Mr. Culbertson drove 
me so fast, and Harris so much faster, over this rough 
ground, that I feel quite stiff. I must not forget to say 
that we had another sham Buffalo chase over the prairie 
in front of the fort, the riders being Squires, young 
McKenzie, and Mr. Culbertson ; and I was glad and proud 
to see that Squires, though so inexperienced a hunter, 
managed to shoot five shots within the mile, McKenzie 
eleven, and Mr. Culbertson eight. Harris killed an old 



74 AUDUBON 



Wolf, which he thought was larger and fatter than any 
killed previously. It was very large, but on examina- 
tion it was found to be poor and without teeth in the 
upper jaw. 

July 3, Monday. We have had a warm night and day ; 
after breakfast we all six crossed the river in the newly 
built skiif, and went off in divers directions. Provost 
and I looked thoroughly through the brushwood, and 
walked fully six miles from the fort ; we saw three Deer, 
but so far were they that it was useless to shoot. Deer- 
shooting on the prairies is all hazard; sometimes the ani- 
mals come tripping along within ten yards of you, and at 
other times not nearer can you get than one hundred and 
fifty yards, which was the case this day. The others 
killed nothing of note, and crossed the river back to the 
fort two hours at least before us ; and we shot and bawled 
out for nearly an hour, before the skiff was sent for us. 
I took a swim, found the water very pleasant, and was 
refreshed by my bath. The Bighorn hunters returned 
this afternoon with a Bighorn, a female, and also a 
female Black-tailed Deer. I paid them ^15 for the two, 
and they are to start again to-morrow evening, or the 
next day. 

July 4> Tuesday. Although we had some fireworks 
going on last evening, after I had laid myself down for the 
night, the anniversary of the Independence of the United 
States has been almost the quietest I have ever spent, 
as far as my recollection goes. I was drawing the whole 
day, and Sprague was engaged in the same manner, paint- 
ing a likeness of Mr. Culbertson. Harris and Bell went 
off to try and procure a buck of the Long White-tailed 
Deer, and returned after dinner much fatigued and hungry 
enough. Bell had shot at a Deer and wounded it very 
severely; the poor thing ran on, but soon lay down, for 
the blood and froth were gushing .out of its mouth. Bell 
saw the buck lying down, and not being an experienced 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 75 

hunter, thought it was dead, and instead of shooting it 
again, went back to call Harris ; when they returned, the 
Deer was gone, and although they saw it again and again, 
the Deer outwitted them, and, as I have said, they re- 
turned weary, with no Deer. After dinner I spoke to Mr. 
Culbertson on the subject, and he told me that the Deer 
could probably be found, but that most likely the Wolves 
would devour it. He prepared to send young McKenzie 
with both my friends ; the horses were soon saddled, and 
the three were off at a gallop. The poor buck's carcass 
was found, but several Wolves and Turkey Buzzards had 
fared well upon it; the vertebrae only were left, with a 
few bits of skin and portions of the horns in velvet. 
These trophies were all that they brought home. It was 
a superb and very large animal, and I am very sorry for 
the loss of it, as I am anxious to draw the head of one of 
such a size as they represent this to have been. They 
ran after a Wolf, which gave them leg bail. Meanwhile 
Squires and Provost started with the skiff in a cart to go 
up the river two miles, cross, and camp on the opposite 
shore. The weather became very gloomy and chill. In 
talking with Mr. Culbertson he told me that no wise man 
would ever follow a Buffalo bull immediately in his track, 
even in a hunt, and that no one well initiated would ever 
run after Buffaloes between the herd and another hunter, 
as the latter bears on the former ever and anon, and places 
him in imminent danger. Buffalo cows rarely, if ever, 
turn on the assailant, but bulls oftentimes will, and are 
so dangerous that many a fine hunter has been gored and 
killed, as well as his horse. 

July 5, Wednesday. It rained the whole of last night 
and the weather has been bad all day. I am at the Big- 
horn's head, and Sprague at Mr. Culbertson. Provost 
and Squires returned drenched and hungry, before dinner. 
They had seen several Deer, and fresh tracks of a large 
Grizzly Bear. They had waded through mud and water 



•]6 AUDUBON 



enough for one day, and were well fatigued. Harris and 
Bell both shot at Wolves from the ramparts, and as these 
things are of such common occurrence I will say no more 
about them, unless we are in want of one of these beasts. 
Harris and I went over to see Mr. Collins, who is much 
better; his hunters had not returned. We found the men 
there mostly engaged in playing cards and backgammon. 
The large patches of rose bushes are now in full bloom, 
and they are so full of sweet fragrance that the air is per- 
fumed by them. The weather looks clear towards the 
north, and I expect a fine to-morrow. Old Provost has 
been telling me much of interest about the Beavers, once 
so plentiful, but now very scarce. It takes about seventy 
Beaver skins to make a pack of a hundred pounds ; in a 
good market this pack is worth five hundred dollars, and 
in fortunate seasons a trapper sometimes made the large 
sum of four thousand dollars. Formerly, when Beavers 
were abundant, companies were sent with as many, as 
thirty and forty men, each with from eight to a dozen 
traps, and two horses. When at a propitious spot, they 
erected a camp, and every man sought his own game ; the 
skins alone were brought to the camp, where a certain 
number of men always remained to stretch and dry them. 
July 6, Thursday. The weather has been pleasant, with 
the wind at northwest, and the prairies will dry a good 
deal. After breakfast Harris, Bell, and McKenzie went 
off on horseback. They saw a Red Fox of the country,^ 
which is different from those of the States; they chased 
it, and though it ran slowly at first, the moment it saw 
the hunters at full gallop, it ran swiftly from them. 
McKenzie shot with a rifle and missed it. They saw 
fresh tracks of the small Hare, but not any of the animals 
themselves. After dinner I worked at Mr. Culbertson's 



pes Utah of Aud. and Bach., Quad. N. Am. iii., 1853, P- ^SS, pi. 151. 
or V. macrourus of Baird, as already noted. This is the Western variety of 
the common Red Fox, now usually called Vulpes fulvus macrourus. — E. C. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 77 

head and dress, and by evening had the portrait nearly 
finished. At four o'clock Harris, Bell, and Sprague went 
across the river in the skiff; Sprague to take a view of 
the fort, the others to hunt. Harris and Bell shot twice 
at a buck, and killed it, though only one buckshot entered 
the thigh. Whilst we were sitting at the back gate of 
the fort, we saw a parcel of Indians coming towards the 
place, yelling and singing what Mr. Culbertson told me 
was the song of the scalp dance; we saw through the 
telescope that they were fourteen in number, with their 
faces painted black, and that it was a detachment of a war 
party. When within a hundred yards they all stopped, as 
if awaiting an invitation; we did not hurry as to this, 
and they seated themselves on the ground and looked at 
us, while Mr. Culbertson sent Mr. Denig to ask them to 
come in by the front gate of the fort, and put them in the 
Indian house, a sort of camp for the fellows. They all 
looked miserably poor, filthy beyond description, and 
their black faces and foully smelling Buffalo robes made 
them appear to me like so many devils. The leader, who 
was well known to be a famous rascal, and was painted 
red, was a tall, well-formed man. The party had only 
three poor guns, and a few had coarse, common lances; 
every man had a knife, and the leader was armed with a 
stick in which were inserted three blades of butcher's- 
knives; a blow from this weapon would doubtless kill a 
man. Some of the squaws of the fort, having found that 
they were Assiniboins, went to meet them; they took one 
of these, and painted her face black, as a sign of friend- 
ship. Most of these mighty warriors had a lump of fresh 
Buffalo meat slung on his back, which was all traded for 
by Mr. Larpenteur, who gave them in exchange some dried 
meat, not worth the notice of Harris's dog, and some 
tobacco. The report of their expedition is as follows: 
Their party at first consisted of nearly fifty; they trav- 
elled several hundred miles in search of Blackfeet, and 



78 A UDUBON 



having discovered a small troop of them, they hid till the 
next morning, when at daylight (this is always the time 
they prefer for an attack) they rushed upon the enemy, 
surprised them, killed one at the onset, and the rest took 
to flight, leaving guns, horses, shields, lances, etc., on 
the ground. The Assiniboins took several guns and 
seven horses, and the scalp of the dead Indian. It hap- 
pened that the man they killed had some time ago killed 
the father of their chief, and he was full of joy. After 
eating and resting awhile, they followed the trail of the 
Blackfeet, hoping to again surprise them ; but not seeing 
them, they separated into small parties, and it is one of 
these parties that is now with us. The chief, to show his 
pride and delight at killing his enemy, has borrowed a 
drum ; and the company have nearly ever since been yell- 
ing, singing, and beating that beastly tambour. Boucher- 
ville came to me, and told me that if the swamp over the 
river was sufficiently dried by to-morrow morning, he 
would come early with a companion for two horses, and 
would go after Bighorns. He returned this afternoon 
from a Buffalo hunt and had killed six. These six ani- 
mals, all bulls, will suffice for Fort Mortimer only three 
days. A rascally Indian had stolen his gun and Big- 
horn bow ; the gun he said he could easily replace, but 
the loss of the bow he regretted exceedingly. 

July 7, Friday. This morning the dirty Indians, who 
could have washed had they so minded, were beating the 
tambour and singing their miserable scalp song, until 
Mr. Culbertson ordered the drum taken away, and gave 
them more tobacco and some vermilion to bedaub their 
faces. They were permitted to remain about the fort the 
remainder of the day, and the night coming they will 
again be sheltered; but they must depart to-morrow 
morning. After breakfast Sprague worked on the view 
of the fort. I went on with the portrait of Mr. Culbert- 
son, who is about as bad a sitter as his wife, whose 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 79 

portrait is very successful, notwithstanding her extreme 
restlessness. After dinner Harris, Bell, and I started on 
foot, and walked about four miles from the fort ; the day- 
was hot, and horseflies and mosquitoes pretty abundant, 
but we trudged on, though we saw nothing; we had gone 
after Rabbits, the tracks of which had been seen previ- 
ously. We walked immediately near the foot of the clay 
hills which run from about a mile from and above the fort 
to the Lord knows where. We first passed one ravine 
where we saw some very curious sandstone formations, 
coming straight out horizontally from the clay banks 
between which we were passing ; others lay loose and de- 
tached; they had fallen down, or had been washed out 
some time or other. All were compressed in such a 
manner that the usual form was an oval somewhat de- 
pressed in the centre ; but, to give you some idea of these 
formations, I will send you a rough sketch. Those in the 
banks extended from five to seven feet, and the largest 
one on the ground measured a little less than ten feet. 
Bell thought they would make good sharpen ing-stones, 
but I considered them too soft. They were all smooth, 
and the grain was alike in all. We passed two much 
depressed and very broken ravines, and at last reached 
the Rabbit ground. Whilst looking at the wild scenery 
around, and the clay hills on the other side of the Mis- 
souri opposite the fort, I thought that 'if all these were 
granite, the formation and general appearance would re- 
semble the country of Labrador, though the grandeur and 
sublimity of the latter far surpass anything that I have 
seen since I left them forever. I must not forget to say 
that on our way we passed through some grasses with 
bearded shafts, so sharp that they penetrated our mocca- 
sins and entered our feet and ankles, and in the shade of 
a stumpy ash-tree we took off our moccasins and drew the 
spines out. The Lazuli Finches and Arctic Bluebirds 
sang in our view ; but though we beat all the clumps of 



8o A UDUBON 



low bushes where the Rabbits must go in, whether dur- 
ing night or day, we did not start one. We saw a Wolf 
which ran close by, reached the brow of the hill, and kept 
where he could watch our every motion ; this they do on 
all possible occasions. We were all very warm, so we 
rested awhile, and ate some service-berries, which I found 
good ; the gooseberries were small and green, and almost 
choked Harris with their sharp acidity. On our return, 
as we were descending the first deep ravine, a Raven flew 
off close by; it was so near Bell that he had no time to 
shoot. I followed it and although loaded with No. 6 
shot, I drew my trigger and the bird fell dead ; only one 
shot had touched it, but that had passed through the 
lungs. After we reached the prairie I shot a Meadow 
Lark, but lost it, as we had unfortunately not taken Bragg 
(Harris's dog). We saw a patch of wood called in these 
regions a " Point ; " we walked towards it for the purpose 
of shooting Deer. I was sent to the lower end, Bell t^ok 
one side, and Harris the other, and the hound we had with 
us was sent in ; no Deer there, however, and we made for 
the fort, which we reached hot and thirsty enough after 
our long walk. As soon as I was cooled I took a good 
swim. I think the Indians hereabouts poor swimmers; 
they beat the water with their arms, attempting to "nage 
4 labrasse;" but, alas! it is too bad to mention. I am 
told, however, that there are no good specimens to judge 
from at the fort, so this is not much of an opinion. It is 
strange how very scarce snakes of every description are, 
as well as insects, except mosquitoes and horseflies. 
Young McKenzie had been sent to seek for the lost ferry- 
boat, but returned without success; the new one is ex- 
pected to be put in the water to-morrow evening. Squires 
and Provost had the skiff carried overland three miles, 
and they crossed the river in it with the intention to 
remain hunting until Sunday night. 

July 8, Saturday. Mr. Culbertson told me this morn- 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 8 1 

ing that last spring early, during a snow-storm, he and 
Mr. Larpenteur were out in an Indian lodge close by the 
fort, when they heard the mares which had young. colts 
making much noise; and that on going out they saw a 
single Wolf that had thrown down one of the colts, and 
was about doing the same with another. _ They both made 
towards the spot with their pistols ; and, fearing that the 
Wolf might kill both the colts, fired before reaching the 
spot, when too far off to take aim. Master Wolf ran off, 
but both colts bear evidence of his teeth to this day. 
When I came down this morning early, I was delighted 
to see the dirty and rascally Indians walking off to their 
lodge on the other side of the hills, and before many 
days they will be at their camp enjoying their merriment 
(rough and senseless as it seems to me), yelling out their 
scalp song, and dancing. Now this dance, to commemo- 
rate the death of an enemy, is a mere bending and slack- 
ening of the body, and patting of the ground with both 
feet at once, in very tolerable time with their music. 
Our squaws yesterday joined them in this exemplary cere- 
mony ; one was blackened, and all the others painted with 
vermilion. The art of painting in any color is to mix 
the color desired with grease of one sort or another ; and 
when well done, it will stick on for a day or two, if not 
longer. Indians are not equal to the whites in the art of 
dyeing Porcupine quills; their ingredients are altogether 
too simple and natural to equal the knowledge of chemi- 
cals. Mr. Denig dyed a good quantity to-day for Mrs. 
Culbertson ; he boiled water in a tin kettle with the quills 
put in when, the water boiled, to remove the oil attached 
naturally to them ; next they were thoroughly washed, and 
fresh water boiled, wherein he placed the color wanted, 
and boiled the whole for a few minutes, when he looked 
at them to judge of the color, and so continued until all 
were dyed. Red, yellow, green, and black quills were 
the result of his labors. A good deal of vegetable acid is 

VOL. II. — 6 



82 A UDUBON 



necessary for this purpose, as minerals, so they say here, 
will not answer. I drew at Mr. Culbertson's portrait till 
he was tired enough ; his wife — a pure Indian — is much 
interested in my work. Bell and Sprague, after some 
long talk with Harris about geological matters, of which 
valuable science he knows a good deal, went off to seek a 
Wolf's hole that Sprague had seen some days before, but 
of which, with his usual reticence, he had not spoken. 
Sprague returned with a specimen of rattle-snake root, 
which he has already drawn. Bell saw a Wolf munching 
a bone, approached it and shot at it. The Wolf had been 
wounded before and ran off slowly, and Bell after it. 
Mr. Culbertson and I saw the race; Bell gained on the 
Wolf until within thirty steps when he fired again ; the 
Wolf ran some distance further, and then fell; but Bell 
was now exhausted by the heat, which was intense, and 
left the animal where it lay without attempting to skin 
it. Squires and Provost returned this afternoon abput 
three o'clock, but the first alone had killed a doe. It 
was the first, one he had ever shot, and he placed seven 
buckshot in her body. Owen went off one way, and 
Harris and Bell another, but brought in nothing. Prov- 
ost went off to the Opposition camp, and when he re- 
turned told me that a Porcupine was there, and would be 
kept until I saw it ; so Harris drove me over, at the usual 
breakneck pace, and I bought the animal. Mr. Collins is 
yet poorly, their hunters have not returned, and they are 
destitute of everything, not having even a medicine chest. 
We told him to send a man bad: with us, which he did, 
and we sent him some medicine, rice, and two bottles of 
claret. The weather has been much cooler and pleasanter 
than yesterday. 

July 9, Sunday. I drew at a Wolf's head, and Sprague 
worked at a view of the fort for Mr. Culbertson. I also 
worked on Mr. Culbertson's portrait about an hour. I 
then worked at the Porcupine, which is an animal such as 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 83 

I never saw or Bell either. Its measurements are : from 
nose to anterior canthus of the eye, \\ in., posterior ditto, 
2^; conch of ear, 3^; distances from eyes posteriorly, 2\; 
fore feet stretched beyond nose, 3 J ; length of head around, 
4-^; nose to root of tail, i8|; length of tail vertebrae, 6|; 
to end of hair, 7|; hind claws when stretched equal to 
end of tail; greatest breadth of palm, i^; of sole, i|; 
outward width of tail at base, 3f ; depth of ditto, 3^; 
length of palm, \\; ditto of sole, i| ; height at shoulder, 
11; at rump, 10^; longest hair on the back, %\; breadth 
between ears, 2\\ from nostril to split of upper lip, |; 
upper incisors, \\ lower ditto, f ; tongue quite smooth; 
weight II lbs. The habits of this animal are somewhat 
different from those of the Canadian Porcupine. The one 
of this country often goes in crevices or holes, and young 
McKenzie caught one in a Wolf's den, along with the old 
Wolf and seven young; they climb trees, however. 

Provost tells me that Wolves are oftentimes destroyed 
•by wild horses, which he has seen run at the Wolves head 
down, and when at a proper distance take them by the 
middle of the back with their teeth, and throw them sev- 
eral feet in the air, after which they stamp upon their 
bodies with the fore feet until quite dead. I have a bad 
blister on the heel of my right foot, and cannot walk 
without considerable pain. 

July 10, Monday. Squires, Owen, McKenzie, and Pro- 
vost, with a mule, a cart, and Peter the horse, went off at 
seven this morning for Antelopes. Bell did not feel well 
enough to go with them, and was unable to eat his usual 
meal, but I made him some good gruel, and he is better 
now. This afternoon Harris went off on horseback after 
Rabbits, and he will, I hope, have success. The day has 
been fine, and cool compared with others. I took a walk, 
and made a drawing of the beautiful sugar-loaf cactus; it 
does not open its blossoms until after the middle of the 
day, and closes immediately on being placed in the shade. 



84 AUDUBON 



July 11, Tuesday. Harris returned about ten o'clock last 
night, but saw no Hares ; how we are to procure any is more 
than I can tell. Mr. Culbertson says that it was danger- 
ous for Harris to go so far as he did alone up the country, 
and he must not try it again. The hunters returned this 
afternoon, but brought only one buck, which is, however, 
beautiful, and the horns in velvet so remarkable that I can 
hardly wait for daylight to begin drawing it. I have taken 
all the measurements of this perfect animal ; it was shot by 
old Provost. Mr. Culbertson — whose portrait is nearly 
finished — his wife, and I took a ride to look at some grass 
for hay, and found it beautiful and plentiful. We saw two 
Wolves, a common one and a prairie one. Bell is better. 
Sprague has drawn another cactus; Provost and I have 
now skinned the buck, and it hangs in the ice-house ; the 
head, however, is untouched. 

July 12, Wednesday. I rose before three, and began 
at once to draw the buck's head. Bell assisted me to place 
it in the position I wanted, and as he felt somewhat better, 
while I drew, he finished the skin of the Porcupine ; so that 
is saved. Sprague continued his painting of the fort. Just 
after dinner a Wolf was seen leisurely walking within one 
hundred yards of the fort. Bell took the repeating rifle, 
went on the ramparts, fired, and missed it. Mr. Culbert- 
son sent word to young Owen McKenzie to get a horse and 
give it chase. All was ready in a few minutes, and' off 
went the young fellow after the beast. I left my drawing 
long enough to see the pursuit, and was surprised to see 
that the Wolf did not start off on a gallop till his pursuer 
was within one hundred yards or so of him, and who then 
gained rapidly. Suddenly the old sinner turned, and the 
horse went past him some little distance. As soon as he 
could be turned about McKenzie closed upon him, his gun 
flashed twice ; but now he was almost d bon touchant, the 
gun went off — the Wolf was dead. I walked out to meet 
Owen with the beast; it was very poor, very old, and good 




AUDUBON. 



From tlie pencil sketch by Isaac Sprajjue, 1S42. In the posbessiun of tlie Spraj;,^ijc family, 
Welk-bley Hills, Mass. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 85 

for nothing as a specimen. Harris, who had shot at one 
last night in the late twilight, had killed it, but was not 
aware of it till I found the villain this morning. It had 
evidently been dragged at by its brothers, who, however, 
had not torn it. Provost went over to the other fort to find 
out where the Buffaloes are most abundant, and did not 
return till late, so did no hunting. A young dog of this 
country's breed ate up all the berries collected by Mrs. Cul- 
bertson, and her lord had it killed for our supper this even- 
ing. The poor thing was stuck with a knife in the throat, 
after which it was placed over a hot fire outside of the fort, 
singed, and the hair scraped off, as I myself have treated 
Raccoons and Opossums. Then the animal was boiled, 
and I intend to taste one mouthful of it, for I cannot say 
that just now I should relish an entire meal from such 
peculiar fare. There are men, however, who much prefer 
the flesh to Buffalo meat, or even venison. An ox was 
broken to work this day, and worked far better than I 
expected. I finished at last Mr. Culbertson's portrait, and 
it now hangs in a frame. He and his wife are much pleased 
with it, and I am heartily glad they are, for in conscience I 
am not; however, it is all I could do, especially with a man 
who is never in the same position for one whole minute ; so 
no more can be expected. The dog was duly cooked and 
brought into Mr. Culbertson's room; he served it out to 
Squires, Mr. Denig, and myself, and I was astonished when 
I tasted it. With great care and some repugnance I put a 
very small piece in my mouth ; but no sooner had the taste 
touched my palate than I changed my dislike to liking, and 
found this victim of the canine order most excellent, and 
made a good meal, finding it fully equal to any meat I ever 
tasted. Old Provost had told me he preferred it to any 
meat, and his subsequent actions proved the truth of his 
words. We are having some music this evening, and Har- 
ris alone is absent, being at his favorite evening occupa- 
tion, namely, shooting at Wolves from the ramparts. 



86 AUDUBON 



July 13, Thursday. This has been a cloudy and a sultry 
day. Sprague finished his drawing and I mine. After 
dinner Mr. Culbertson, Squires, and myself went off nine 
miles over the prairies to look at the " meadows," as they 
are called, where Mr. Culbertson has heretofore cut his 
winter crop of hay, but we found it indifferent compared 
with that above the fort. We saw Sharp-tailed Grouse, and 
what we thought a new species of Lark, which we shot at no 
less than ten times before it was killed by Mr. Culbertson, but 
not found. I caught one of its young, but it proved to be 
only the Shore Lark. Before we reached the meadows we 
saw a flock of fifteen or twenty Bob-o-link, Emberiza ori- 
zivora, and on our return shot one of them (a male) on 
the wing. It is the first seen since we left St. Louis. 
We reached the meadows at last, and tied our nag to a 
tree, with the privilege of feeding. Mr. Culbertson and 
Squires went in the " meadows," and I walked round the 
so-called patch. I shot seven Arkansas Flycatchers on 
the wing. After an hour's walking, my companions re- 
turned, but had seen nothing except the fresh tracks of a 
Grizzly Bear. I shot at one of the White-rumped Hawks, 
of which I have several times spoken, but although it 
dropped its quarry and flew very wildly afterwards, it went 
out of my sight. We found the beds of Elks and their 
fresh dung, but saw none of these animals. I have forgot- 
ten to say that immediately after breakfast this morning I 
drove with Squires to Fort Mortimer, and asked Mr. Col- 
lins to let me have his hunter, Boucherville, to go after 
Mountain Rams for me, which he promised to do. In the 
afternoon he sent a man over to ask for some flour, which 
Mr. Culbertson sent him. They are there in the utmost 
state of destitution, almost of starvation, awaiting the ar- 
rival of the hunters like so many famished Wolves. Harris 
and Bell went across the river and shot a Wolf under the 
river bank, and afterwards a Duck, but saw nothing else. 
But during their absence we have had a fine opportunity of 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 87 

witnessing the agility and extreme strength of a year-old 
Buffalo bull belonging to the fort. Our cook, who is an 
old Spaniard, threw his lasso over the Buffalo's horns, and 
all the men in the fort at the time, hauled and pulled the 
beast about, trying to get him close to a post. He kicked, 
pulled, leaped sideways, and up and down, snorting and 
pawing until he broke loose, and ran, as if quite wild, about 
the enclosure. He was tied again and again, without any 
success, and at last got out of the fort, but was soon re- 
taken, the rope being thrown round his horns, and he was 
brought to the main post of the Buffalo-robe press. There 
he was brought to a standstill, at the risk of breaking his 
neck, and the last remnant of his winter coat was removed 
by main strength, which was the object for which the poor 
animal had undergone all this trouble. After Harris 
returned to the fort he saw six Sharp-tailed Grouse. At 
this season this species have no particular spot where you 
may rely upon finding them, and at times they fly through 
the woods, and for a great distance, too, where they alight 
on trees ; when, unless you accidentally see them, you pass 
by without their moving. After we passed Fort Mortimer 
on our return we saw coming from the banks of the river 
no less than eighteen Wolves, which altogether did not 
cover a space of more than three or four yards, they 
were so crowded. Among them were two Prairie Wolves. 
Had we had a good running horse some could have been 
shot; but old Peter is long past his running days. The 
Wolves had evidently been feeding oh some carcass along 
the banks, and all moved very slowly. Mr. Culbertson 
gave me a grand pair of leather breeches and a very 
handsome knife-case, all manufactured by the Blackfeet 
Indians. 

July 1^, Friday. Thermometer 70°-95". Young 
McKenzie went off after Antelopes across the river alone, 
but saw only one, which he could not get near. After 
breakfast Harris, Squires, and I started after birds of all 



88 AUDUBON 



sorts, with the wagon, and proceeded about six miles on 
the road we had travelled yesterday. We met the hunter 
from Fort Mortimer going for Bighorns for me, and Mr. 
Culbertson lent him a horse and a mule. We caught two 
young of the Shore Lark, killed seven of Sprague's Lark, 
but by bad management lost two, either from the wagon, 
my hat, or Harris's pockets. The weather was exceed- 
ingly hot. We hunted for Grouse in the wormwood 
bushes, and after despairing of finding any, we started up 
three from the plain, and they flew not many yards to the 
river. We got out of the wagon and pushed for them; 
one rose, and Harris shot it, though it flew some yards 
before he picked it up. He started another, and just as 
he was about to fire, his gunlock caught on his coat, and 
off went Mr. Grouse, over and through the woods until out 
of sight, and we returned slowly home. We saw ten 
Wolves this morning. After dinner we had a curious sight. 
Squires put on my Indian dress. McKenzie put on one of 
Mr. Culbertson's, Mrs. Culbertson put on her own superb 
dress, and the cook's wife put on the one Mrs. Culbertson 
had given me. Squires and Owen were painted in an 
awful manner by Mrs. Culbertson, the Ladies had their 
hair loose, and flying in the breeze, and then all mounted 
on horses with Indian saddles and trappings. Mrs. Cul- 
bertson and her maid rode astride like men, and all rode 
a furious race, under whip the whole way, for more than 
one mile on the prairie ; and how amazed would have been 
any European lady, or some of our modern belles who 
boast their equestrian skill, at seeing the magnificent riding 
of this Indian princess — for that is Mrs. Culbertson's rank 
— and her servant. Mr. Culbertson rode with them, the 
horses running as if wild, with these extraordinary Indian 
riders, Mrs. Culbertson's magnificent black hair floating like 
a banner behind her. As to the men (for two others had 
joined Squires and McKenzie), I cannot compare them to 
anything in the whole creation. They ran like wild crea- 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 89 

tures of unearthly compound. Hither and thither they 
dashed, and when the whole party had crossed the ravine 
below, they saw a fine Wolf and gave the whip to their 
horses, and though the Wolf cut to right and left Owen 
shot at him with an arrow and missed, but Mr. Culbertson 
gave it chase, overtook it, his gun flashed, and the Wolf 
lay dead. They then ascended the hills and away they 
went, with our princess and her faithful attendant in the 
van, and by and by the group returned to the camp, run- 
ning full speed till they entered the fort, and all this in 
the intense heat of this July afternoon. Mrs. Culbertson, 
herself a wonderful rider, possessed of both strength and 
grace in a marked degree, assured me that Squires was 
equal to any man in the country as a rider, and I saw for 
myself that he managed his horse as well as any of the 
party, and I was pleased to see him in his dress, orna- 
ments, etc., looking, however, I must confess, after Mrs. 
Culbertson's painting his face, like a being from the 
infernal regions. Mr. Culbertson presented Harris with a 
superb dress of the Blackfoot Indians, and also with a 
Buffalo bull's head, for which Harris had in turn presented 
him with a gun-barrel of the short kind, and well fitted to 
shoot Buffaloes. Harris shot a very young one of Town- 
send's Hare, Mr. Denig gave Bell a Mouse, which, although 
it resembles Mus leucopus greatly, is much larger, and has 
a short, thick, round tail, somewhat blunted. 

July 15, Saturday. We were all up pretty early, for 
we propose going up the Yellowstone with a wagon, 
and the skiff on a cart, should we wish to cross. After 
breakfast all of us except Sprague, who did not wish to go, 
were ready, and along with two extra men, the wagon, and 
the cart, we crossed the Missouri at the fort, and at nine 
were fairly under way — Harris, Bell, Mr. Culbertson, and 
myself in the wagon. Squires, Provost, and Owen on horse- 
back. We travelled rather slowly, until we had crossed 
the point, and headed the ponds on the prairie that run at 



90 AUDUBON 



the foot of the hills opposite. We saw one Grouse, but it 
could not be started, though Harris searched for it. We 
ran the wagon into a rut, but got out unhurt; however, I 
decided to walk for a while, and did so for about two 
miles, to the turning point of the hills. The wheels of our 
vehicle were very shackling, and had to be somewhat 
repaired, and though I expected they would fall to pieces, in 
some manner or other we proceeded on. We saw several 
Antelopes, some on the prairie which we now travelled on, 
and many more on the tops of the hills, bounding west- 
ward. We stopped to water the horses at a saline spring, 
where I saw that Buffaloes, Antelopes, and other animals 
come to allay their thirst, and repose on the grassy margin. 
The water was too hot for us to drink, and we awaited the 
arrival of the cart, when we all took a good drink of the 
river water we had brought with us. After waiting for 
nearly an hour to allow the horses to bait and cool them- 
selves, for it was very warm, we proceeded on, until we 
cime to another watering-place, a river, in fact, which 
during spring overflows its banks, but now has only pools 
of water here and there. We soaked our wheels again, 
and again drank ourselves. Squires, Provost, and Owen 
had left sometime before us, but were not out of our sight, 
when we started, and as we had been, and were yet, travel- 
ling a good track, we soon caught up with them. We shot 
a common Red-winged Starling, and heard the notes 
of what was supposed to be a new bird by my com- 
panions, but which to my ears was nothing more than the 
Short-billed Marsh Wren of Nuttall. We reached our 
camping-place, say perhaps twenty miles' distance, by four 
o'clock, and all things were unloaded, the horses put to 
grass, and two or three of the party went in " the point " 
above, to shoot something for supper. I was hungry my- 
self, and taking the Red-wing and the fishing-line, I went to 
the river close by, and had the good fortune to catch four fine 
catfish, when, my bait giving out, I was obliged to desist. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 91 

as I found that these catfish will not take parts of their 
own kind as food. Provost had taken a bath, and rowed 
the skiff (which we had brought this whole distance on the 
cart, dragged by a mule) along with two men, across the 
river to seek for game on the point opposite our encamp- 
ment. They returned, however, without having shot any- 
thing, and my four catfish were all the fresh provisions that 
we had, and ten of us partook of them with biscuit, coffee, 
and claret. Dusk coming on, the tent was pitched, and 
preparations to rest made. Some chose one spot and 
some another, and after a while we were settled. Mr. 
Culbertson and I lay together on the outside of the tent, 
and all the party were more or less drowsy. About this 
time we saw a large black cloud rising in the west; it 
was heavy and lowering, and about ten o'clock, when 
most of us were pretty nearly sound asleep, the distant 
thunder was heard, the wind rose to a gale, and the rain 
began falling in torrents. All were on foot in a few 
moments, and considerable confusion ensued. Our guns, 
all loaded with balls, were hurriedly placed under the tent, 
our beds also, and we all crawled in, in the space of a very 
few minutes. The wind blew so hard that Harris was 
obliged to hold the flappers of the tent with both hands, 
and sat in the water a considerable time to do this. Old 
Provost alone did not come in, he sat under the shelving 
bank of the river, and kept dry. After the gale was over, 
he calmly lay down in front of the tent on the saturated 
ground, and was soon asleep. During the gale, our fire, 
which we had built to keep off the myriadg of mosquitoes, 
blew in every direction, and we had to watch the embers 
to keep them from burning the tent. After all was over, 
we snugged ourselves the best way we could in our small 
tent and under the wagon, and slept soundly till daylight. 
Mr. Culbertson had fixed himself pretty well, but on aris- 
ing at daylight to smoke his pipe. Squires immediately 
crept into his comfortable corner, and snored there till the 



92 AUDUBON 



day was well begun. Mr. Culbertson had my knees for a 
pillow, and also my hat, I believe, for in the morning, 
although the first were not hurt, the latter was sadly out of 
shape in all parts. We had nothing for our breakfast 
except some vile coffee, and about three quarters of a sea- 
biscuit, which was soon settled among us. The men, poor 
fellows, had nothing at all. Provost had seen two Deer, 
but had had no shot, so of course we were in a quandary, 
but it is now — 

Jtily 16, Sunday. The weather pleasant with a fine 
breeze from the westward, and all eyes were bent upon 
the hills and prairie, which is here of great breadth, to spy 
if possible some object that might be killed and eaten. 
Presently a Wolf was seen, and Owen went after it, and it 
was not until he had disappeared below the first low range 
of hills, and Owen also, that the latter came within shot of 
the rascal, which dodged in all sorts of manners ; but Owen 
would not give up, and after shooting more than once, he 
killed the beast. A man had followed him to help bring 
in the Wolf, and when near the river he saw a Buffalo, 
about two miles off, grazing peaceably, as he perhaps 
thought, safe in his own dominions ; but, alas ! white 
hunters had fixed their eyes upon him, and from that 
moment his doom was pronounced. Mr. Culbertson 
threw down his hat, bound his head with a handkerchief, 
his saddle was on his mare, he was mounted and off and 
away at a swift gallop, more quickly than I can describe, 
not towards the Buffalo, but towards the place where 
Owen had killed the Wolf. The man brought the Wolf 
on old Peter, and Owen, who was returning to the camp, 
heard the signal gun fired by Mr. Culbertson, and at once 
altered his course; his mare was evidently a little heated 
and blown by the Wolf chase, but both hunters went after 
the Buffalo, slowly at first, to rest Owen's steed, but soon, 
when getting within running distance, they gave whip, 
overhauled the Bison, and shot at it twice with balls ; this 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 93 

halted the animal; the hunters had no more balls, and 
now loaded with pebbles, with which the poor beast was 
finally killed. The wagon had been sent from the camp. 
Harris, Bell, and Squires mounted on horseback, and trav- 
elled to the scene of action. They met Mr. Culbertson 
returning to camp, and he told Bell the Buffalo was a 
superb one, and had better be skinned. A man was sent 
to assist in the skinning who had been preparing the Wolf 
which was now cooking, as we had expected to dine upon 
its flesh ; but when Mr. Culbertson returned, covered with 
blood and looking like a wild Indian, it was decided to 
throw it away ; so I cut out the liver, and old Provost and 
I went fishing and caught eighteen catfish. I hooked 
two tortoises, but put them back in the river. I took a 
good swim, which refreshed me much, and I came to 
dinner with a fine appetite. This meal consisted wholly 
of fish, and we were all fairly satisfied. Before long the 
flesh of the Buffalo reached the camp, as well as the hide. 
The animal was very fat, and we have meat for some days. 
It was now decided that Squires, Provost, and Basil (one 
of the men) should proceed down the river to the Charbon- 
neau, and there try their luck at Otters and Beavers, and 
the rest of us, with the cart, would make our way back to 
the fort. All was arranged, and at half-past three this 
afternoon we were travelling towards Fort Union. But 
hours previous to this, and before our scanty dinner, Owen 
had seen another bull, and Harris and Bell joined us in 
the hunt. The bull was shot at by McKenzie, who stopped 
its career, but as friend Harris pursued it with two of the 
hunters and finished it I was about to return, and thought 
sport over for the day. However, at this stage of the pro- 
ceedings Owen discovered another bull making his way 
slowly over the prairie towards us. I was the only one 
who had balls, and would gladly have claimed the privilege 
of running him, but fearing I might make out badly on my 
slower steed, and so lose meat which we really needed, I 



94 AUDUBON 



handed my gun and balls to Owen McKenzie, and Bell 
and I went to an eminence to view the chase. Owen ap- 
proached the bull, which continued to advance, and was 
now less than a quarter of a mile distant; either it did not 
see, or did not heed him, and they came directly towards 
each other, until they were about seventy or eighty yards 
apart, when the Buffalo started at a good run, and Owen's 
mare, which had already had two hard runs this morning, 
had great difficulty in preserving her distance. Owen, 
perceiving this, breathed her a minute, and then applying 
the whip was soon within shooting distance, and fired a 
shot which visibly checked the progress of the bull, and 
enabled Owen to soon be alongside of him, when the con- 
tents of the second barrel were discharged into the lungs, 
passing through the shoulder blade. This brought him 
to a stand. Bell and I now started at full speed, and as 
soon as we were within speaking distance, called to Owen 
not to shoot again. The bull did not appear to be mych 
exhausted, but he was so stiffened by the .shot on the 
shoulder that he could not turn quickly, and taking ad- 
vantage of this we approached him ; as we came near he 
worked himself slowly round to face us, and then made a 
lunge at us; we then stopped on one side and commenced 
discharging our pistols with little or no effect, except to 
increase his fury with every shot. His appearance was 
now one to inspire terror had we not felt satisfied of our 
ability to avoid him. However, even so, I came very near 
being overtaken by him. Through my own imprudence, 
I placed myself directly in front of him, and as he ad- 
vanced I fired at his head, and then ran ahead of him, in- 
stead of veering to one side, not supposing that he was 
able to overtake me ; but turning my head over my shoul- 
der, I saw to my horror, Mr. Bull within three feet of me, 
prepared to give me a taste of his horns. The next in- 
stant I turned sharply off, and the Buffalo being unable to 
turn quickly enough to follow me. Bell took the gun from 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 95 

Owen and shot him directly behind the shoulder blade. 
He tottered for a moment, with an increased jet of blood 
from the mouth and nostrils, fell forward on his horns, 
then rolled over on his side, and was dead. He was a 
very old animal, in poor case, and only part of him was 
worth taking to the fort. Provost, Squires, and Basil 
were left at the camp preparing for their departure after 
Otter and Beaver as decided. We left them eight or nine 
catfish and a quantity of meat, of which they took care to 
secure the best, namely the boss or hump. On our home- 
ward way we saw several Antelopes, some quite in the 
prairie, others far away on the hills, but all of them on 
the alert. Owen tried unsuccessfully to approach several 
of them at different times. At one place where two were 
seen he dismounted, and went round a small hill (for these 
animals when startled or suddenly alarmed always make 
to these places), and we hoped would have had a shot ; but 
alas ! no ! One of the Antelopes ran off to the top of an- 
other hill, and the other stood looking at him, and us per- 
haps, till Owen (who had been re-mounted) galloped off 
towards us. My surprise was great when I saw the other 
Antelope following him at a good pace (but not by bounds 
or leaps, as I had been told by a former traveller they 
sometimes did), until it either smelt him, or found out he 
was no friend, and turning round galloped speedily off to 
join the one on the lookout. We saw seven or eight 
Grouse, and Bell killed one on the ground. We saw a 
Sand-hill Crane about two years old, looking quite majes- 
tic in a grassy bottom, but it flew away before we were 
near enough to get a shot. We passed a fine pond or 
small lake, but no bird was there. We saw several par- 
cels of Ducks in sundry places, all of which no doubt had 
young near. When we turned the corner of the great 
prairie we found Owen's mare close by us. She had run 
away while he was after Antelopes. We tied her to a log 
to be ready for him when he should reach the spot. He 



96 AUDUBON 



had to walk about three miles before he did this. How- 
ever, to one as young and alert as Owen, such things are 
nothing. Once they were not to me. We saw more An- 
telope at a distance, here called " Cabris," and after a 
while we reached the wood near the river, and finding 
abundance of service-berries, we all got out to break 
branches of these plants, Mr. Culbertson alone remaining 
in the wagon ; he pushed on for the landing. We walked 
after him munching our berries, which we found very good, 
and reached the landing as the sun was going down behind 
the hills. Young McKenzie was already there, having cut 
across the point. We decided on crossing the river our- 
selves, and leaving all behind us except our guns. We took 
to the ferry-boat, cordelled it up the river for a while, then 
took to the nearest sand-bar, and leaping into the mud 
and water, hauled the heavy boat. Bell and Harris steer- 
ing and poling the while. I had pulled off my shoes and 
socks, and when we reached the shore walked up to the 
fort barefooted, and made my feet quite sore again; but 
we have had a rest and a good supper, and I am writing 
in Mr. Culbertson's room, thinking over all God's blessings 
on this delightful day. 

July 17, Monday. A beautiful day, with a west wind. 
Sprague, who is very industrious at all times, drew some 
flowers, and I have been busy both writing and drawing. 
In the afternoon Bell went after Rabbits, but saw one 
only, which he could not get, and Sprague walked to the 
hills about two miles off, but could not see any portion 
of the Yellowstone River, which Mr. Catlin has given in 
his view, as if he had been in a balloon some thousands 
of feet above the earth. Two men arrived last evening 
by land from Fort Pierre, and brought a letter, but no 
news of any importance ; one is a cook as well as a hunter, 
the other named Wolff, a German, and a tinsmith by 
trade, though now a trapper. 

July 18, Tuesday. When I went to bed last night the 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 97 

mosquitoes were so numerous downstairs that I took my 
bed under my arm and went to a room above, where I 
slept well. On going down this morning, I found two 
other persons from Fort Pierre, and Mr. Culbertson very 
busy reading and writing letters. Immediately after 
breakfast young McKenzie and another man were de- 
spatched on mules, with a letter for Mr. Kipp, and Owen 
expects to overtake the boat in three or four days. An 
Indian arrived with a stolen squaw, both Assiniboins; 
and I am told such things are of frequent occurrence 
among these sons of nature. Mr. Culbertson proposed 
that we should take a ride to see the mowers, and Harris 
and I joined him. We found the men at work, among 
them one called Bernard Adams, of Charleston, S. C, 
who knew the Bachmans quite well, and who had read 
the whole of the "Biographies of Birds." Leaving the 
men, we entered a ravine in search of plants, etc., and 
having started an Owl, which I took for the barred one, I 
left my horse and went in search of it, but could not 
see it, and hearing a new note soon saw a bird not to be 
mistaken, and killed it, when it proved, as I expected, to 
be the Rock Wren; then I shot another sitting by the 
mouth of a hole. The bird did not fly off; Mr. Culbert- 
son watched it closely, but when the hole was demolished 
no bird was to be found. Harris saw a Shrike, but of 
what species he could not tell, and he also found some 
Rock Wrens in another ravine. We returned to the fort 
and promised to visit the place this afternoon, which we 
have done, and procured three more Wrens, and killed the 
Owl, which proves to be precisely the resemblance of the 
Northern specimen of the Great Horned Owl, which we 
published under another name. The Rock Wren, which 
might as well be called the Ground Wren, builds its nest 
in holes, and now the young are well able to fly, and we 
procured one in the act. In two instances we saw these 
birds enter a hole here, and an investigation showed a 

VOL. II. — 7 



98 AUDUBON 



passage or communication, and on my pointing out a hole 
to Bell where one had entered, he pushed his arm in and 
touched the little fellow, but it escaped by running up 
his arm and away it flew. Black clouds now arose in the 
west, and we moved homewards. Harris and Bell went 
to the mowers to get a drink of water, and we reached 
home without getting wet, though it rained violently for 
some time, and the weather is much cooler. Not a word 
yet from Provost and Squires. 

July 19, Wednesday. Squires and Provost returned 
early this morning, and again I give the former my jour- 
nal that I may have the account of the hunt in his own 
words. "As Mr. Audubon has said, he left Provost, 
Basil, and myself making ready for our voyage down the 
Yellowstone. The party for the fort were far in the 
blue distance ere we bid adieu to our camping-ground. 
We had wished the return party a pleasant ride and safe 
arrival at the fort as they left us, looking forward tg a 
good supper, and what I now call a comfortable bed. We 
seated ourselves around some boiled Buffalo hump, which, 
as has been before said, we took good care to appropriate 
to ourselves according to the established rule of this 
country, which is, ' When you can, take the best, ' and we 
had done so in this case, more to our satisfaction than to 
that of the hunters. Our meal finished, we packed every- 
thing we had in the skiff, and were soon on our way 
down the Yellowstone, happy as could be; Provost act- 
ing pilot, Basil oarsman, and your humble servant seated 
on a Buffalo robe, quietly smoking, and looking on the 
things around. We found the general appearance of the 
Yellowstone much like the Missouri, but with a stronger 
current, and the water more muddy. After a voyage of 
two hours Charbonneau River made its appearance, issu- 
ing from a clump of willows ; the mouth of this river we 
found to be about ten feet wide, and so shallow that we 
were obliged to push our boat over the slippery mud for 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 99 

about forty feet. This passed, we entered a pond formed 
by the contraction of the mouth and the collection of mud 
and sticks thereabouts, the pond so formed being six or 
eight feet deep, and about fifty feet wide, extending about 
a mile up the river, which is very crooked indeed. For 
about half a mile from the Yellowstone the shore is 
lined with willows, beyond which is a level prairie, and 
on the shores of the stream just beyond the willows are 
a few scattered trees. About a quarter of a mile from the 
mouth of the river, we discovered what we were in search 
of, the Beaver lodge. To measure it was impossible, as 
it was not perfect, in the first place, in the next it was so 
muddy that we could not get ashore, but as well as I can 
I will describe it. The lodge is what is called the sum- 
mer lodge; it was comprised wholly of brush, willow 
chiefly, with a single hole for the entrance and exit of the 
Beaver. The pile resembled, as much as anything to 
which I can compare it, a brush heap about six feet high, 
and about ten or fifteen feet base, and standing seven or 
eight feet from the water. There were a few Beaver 
tracks about, which gave us some encouragement. We 
proceeded to our camping-ground on the edge of the 
prairie; here we landed all our baggage; while Basil 
made a fire. Provost and I started to set our traps — the 
two extremes of hunters, the skilful old one, and the 
ignorant pupil; but I was soon initiated in the art of 
setting Beaver traps, and to the uninitiated let me say, 
' First, find your game, then catch it, ' if you can. The 
first we did, the latter we tried to do. We proceeded to 
the place where the greatest number of tracks were seen, 
and commenced operations. At the place where the path 
enters the water, and about four inches beneath the sur- 
face, a level place is made in the mud, upon which the 
trap is placed, the chain is then fastened to a stake which 
is firmly driven in the ground under water. The end of 
a willow twig is then chewed and dipped in the ' Medi- 



lOO AUDUBON 



cine Horn,' which contains the bait; this consists of 
castoreum mixed with spices; a quantity is collected on 
the chewed end of the twig, the stick is then placed or 
stuck in the mud on the edge of the water, leaving the 
part with the bait about two inches above the surface and 
in front of the trap ; on each side the bait and about six 
inches from it, two dried twigs are placed in the ground; 
this done, all 's done, and we are ready for the visit of 
Monsieur Castor. We set two traps, and returned to our 
camp, where we had supper, then pitched our tent and 
soon were sound asleep, but before we were asleep we 
heard a Beaver dive, and slap his tail, which sounded like 
the falling of a round stone in the water ; here was en- 
couragement again. In the morning (Monday) we exam- 
ined our traps and found — nothing. We did not therefore 
disturb the traps, but examined farther up the river, where 
we discovered other tracks and resolved to set our traps 
there, as Provost concluded that there was but one Beaver, 
and that a male. We returned to camp and made a good 
breakfast on Buffalo meat and coffee, sans salt, sans pep- 
per, sans sugar, sans anything else of any kind. After 
breakfast Provost shot a doe. In the afternoon we re- 
moved one trap, Basil and I gathered some wild-goose- 
berries which I stewed for supper, and made a sauce, 
which, though rather acid, was very good with our meat. 
The next morning, after again examining our traps and 
finding nothing, we decided to raise camp, which was 
accordingly done; everything was packed in the skiff, and 
we proceeded to the mouth of the river. The water had 
fallen so much since we had entered, as to oblige us to 
strip, jump in the mud, and haul the skiff over; rich and 
rare was the job ; the mud was about half thigh deep, and 
a kind of greasy, sticky, black stuff, with a something 
about it so very peculiar as to be rather unpleasant ; how- 
ever, we did not mind much, and at last got into the Yel- 
lowstone, scraped and washed the mud off, and encamped 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS lOI 

on a prairie about one hundred yards below the Charbon- 
neau. It was near sunset; Provost commenced fishing; 
we joined him, and in half an hour we caught sixteen cat- 
fish, quite large ones. During the day Provost started to 
the Mauvaises Terres to hunt Bighorns, but returned un- 
successful. He baited his traps for the last time. Dur- 
ing his absence thunder clouds were observed rising all 
around us ; we stretched our tent, removed everything in- 
side it, ate our supper of meat and coffee, and then went 
to bed. It rained some part of the night, but not enough 
to wet through the tent. The next morning (Tuesday) at 
daylight. Provost started to examine his traps, while we 
at the camp put everything in the boat, and sat down to 
await his return, when we proceeded on our voyage down 
the Yellowstone to Fort Mortimer, and from thence by 
land to Fort Union. Nothing of any interest occurred 
except that we saw two does, one young and one buck of 
the Bighorns; I fired at the buck which was on a high 
cliff about a hundred and fifty yards from us; I fired 
above it to allow for the falling of the ball, but the gun 
shot so well as to carry where I aimed. The animal was 
a very large buck ; Provost says one of the largest he had 
seen. As soon as I fired he started and ran along the 
side of the hill which looked almost perpendicular, and I 
was much astonished, not only at the feat, but at the sur- 
prising quickness with which he moved along, with no 
apparent foothold. We reached Fort Mortimer about 
seven o'clock; I left Basil and Provost with the skiff, and 
I started for Fort Union on foot to send a cart for them. 
On my way I met Mr. Audubon about to pay a visit to 
Fort Mortimer; I found all well, despatched the cart, 
changed my clothes, and feel none the worse for my five 
days' camping, and quite ready for a dance I hear we are 
to have to-night." 

This morning as I walked to Fort Mortimer, meeting 
Squires as he has said, well and happy as a Lark, I was 



I02 AUDUBON 



surprised to see a good number of horses saddled, and 
packed in different ways, and I hastened on to find what 
might be the matter. When I entered the miserable 
house in which Mr. Collins sleeps and spends his time 
when not occupied out of doors, he told me thirteen men 
and seven squaws were about to start for the lakes, thirty- 
five miles off, to kill Buffaloes and dry their meat, as the 
last his hunters brought in was already putrid. I saw 
the cavalcade depart in an E. N. E. direction, remained a 
while, and then walked back. Mr. Collins promised me 
half a dozen balls from young animals. Provost was dis- 
comfited and crestfallen at the failure of the Beaver hunt ; 
he brought half a doe and about a dozen fine catfish. 
Mr. Culbertson and I are going to see the mowers, and 
to-morrow we start on a grand Buffalo hunt, and hope for 
Antelopes, Wolves, and Foxes. 

July 20, Thursday. We were up early, and had our 
breakfast shortly after four o'clock, and before eight had 
left the landing of the fort, and were fairly under way for 
the prairies. Our equipment was much the same as be- 
fore, except that we had two carts this time. Mr. C. 
drove Harris, Bell, and myself, and the others rode on the 
carts and led the hunting horses, or runners, as they are 
called here. I observed a Rabbit running across the road, 
and saw some flowers different from any I had ever seen. 
After we had crossed a bottom prairie, we ascended be- 
tween the high and rough ravines until we were on the 
rolling grounds of the plains. The fort showed well from 
this point, and we also saw a good number of Antelopes, 
and some young ones. These small things run even faster 
than the old ones. As we neared the Fox River some one 
espied four Buffaloes, and Mr. C, taking the telescope, 
showed them to me, lying on the ground. Our heads and 
carts were soon turned towards them, and we travelled 
within half a mile of them, concealed by a ridge or hill 
which separated them from us. The wind was favorable, 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS I03 

and we moved on slowly round the hill, the hunters being 
now mounted. Harris and Bell had their hats on, but 
Owen and Mr. Culbertson had their heads bound with 
handkerchiefs. With the rest of the party I crawled on 
the ridge, and saw the bulls running away, but in a direc- 
tion favorable for us to see the chase. On the word of 
command the horses were let loose, and away went the 
hunters, who soon were seen to gain on the game; two 
bulls ran together and Mr. C. and Bell followed after 
them, and presently one after another of the hunters fol- 
lowed them. Mr. C. shot first, and his bull stopped at 
the fire, walked towards where I was, and halted about 
sixty yards from me. His nose was within a few inches 
of the ground; the blood poured from his mouth, nose, and 
side, his tail hung down, but his legs looked as firm as 
ever, but in less than two minutes the poor beast fell on 
his side, and lay quite dead. Bell and Mr. Culbertson 
went after the second. Harris took the third, and Squires 
the fourth. Bell's shot took effect in the buttock, and 
Mr. Culbertson shot, placing his ball a few inches above 
or below Bell's; after this Mr. Culbertson ran no more. 
At this moment Squires's horse threw him over his 
head, fully ten feet; he fell on his powder-horn and 
was severely bruised; he cried to Harris to catch his 
horse, and was on his legs at once, but felt sick for a few 
minutes. Harris, who was as cool as a cucumber, neared 
his bull, shot it through the lungs, and it fell dead on the 
spot. Bell was now seen in full pursuit of his game, and 
Harris joined Squires, and followed the fourth, which, 
however, was soon out of my sight. I saw Bell shooting 
two or three times, and I heard the firing of Squires and 
perhaps Harris, but the weather was hot, and being afraid 
of injuring their horses, they let the fourth bull make his 
escape. Bell's bull fell on his knees, got up again, and 
rushed on Bell, and was shot again. The animal stood a 
minute with his tail partially elevated, and then fell dead ; 



104 AUDUBON 



through some mishap Bell had no knife with him, so did 
not bring the tongue, as is customary. Mr. Culbertson 
walked towards the first bull and I joined him. It was a 
fine animal about seven years old; Harris's and Bell's 
were younger. The first was fat, and was soon skinned 
and cut up for meat. Mr. Culbertson insisted on calling 
it my bull, so I cut off the brush of the tail and placed it 
in my hat-band. We then walked towards Harris, who 
was seated on his bull, and the same ceremony took place, 
and while they were cutting the animal up for meat. Bell, 
who said he thought his bull was about three quarters of 
a mile distant, went off with me to see it ; we walked at 
least a mile and a half, and at last came to it. It was a 
poor one, and the tongue and tail were all we took away, 
and we rejoined the party, who had already started the 
cart with Mr. Pike, who was told to fall to the rear, and 
reach the fort before sundown ; this he could do readily, 
as we were not more than six miles distant. Mr. Culbert- 
son broke open the head of "my" bull, and ate part of 
the brains raw, and yet warm, and so did many of the 
others, even Squires. The very sight of this turned my 
stomach, but I am told that were I to hunt Buffalo one 
year, I should like it " even better than dog meat. " Mr. 
Pike did not reach the fort till the next morning about 
ten, I will say en passant. We continued our route, pass- 
ing over the same road on which we had come, and about 
midway between the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers. 
We saw more Antelopes, but not one Wolf ; these rascals 
are never abundant where game is scarce, but where game 
is, there too are the Wolves. When we had travelled 
about ten miles further we saw seven Buffaloes grazing 
on a hill, but as the sun was about one hour high, we 
drove to one side of the road where there was a pond of 
water, and there stopped for the night; while the hunters 
were soon mounted, and with Squires they went off, leav- 
ing the men to arrange the camp. I crossed the pond, 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS I OS 

and having ascended the opposite bank, saw the bulls 
grazing as leisurely as usual. The hunters near them, 
they started down the hill, and the chase immediately be- 
gan. One broke from the rest and was followed by Mr. 
C. who shot it, and then abandoned the hunt, his horse 
being much fatigued. I now counted ten shots, but all 
was out of my sight, and I seated myself near a Fox hole, 
longing for him. The hunters returned in time; Bell 
and Harris had killed one, but Squires had no luck, 
owing to his being unable to continue the chase on ac- 
count of the injury he had received from his fall. We 
had a good supper, having brought abundance of eatables 
and drinkables. The tent was pitched ; I put up my mos- 
quito-bar under the wagon, and there slept very soundly 
till sunrise. Harris and Bell wedged together under an- 
other bar, Mr. C. went into the tent, and Squires, who is 
tough and likes to rough it with the hunters, slept on a 
Buffalo hide somewhere with Moncrevier, one of the most 
skilful of the hunters. The horses were all hoppled and 
turned to grass ; they, however, went off too far, and had 
to be sent after, but I heard nothing of all this. As 
there is no wood on the prairies proper, our fire was made 
of Buffalo dung, which is so abundant that one meets 
these deposits at every few feet and in all directions. 

July 21, Friday. We were up at sunrise, and had our 
coffee, after which Lafleur a mulatto, Harris, and Bell 
went off after Antelopes, for we cared no more about 
bulls; where the cows are, we cannot tell. Cows run 
faster than bulls, yearlings faster than cows, and calves 
faster than any of these. Squires felt sore, and his side 
was very black, so we took our guns and went after Black- 
breasted Lark Buntings, of which we saw many, but could 
not near them. I found a nest of them, however, with 
five eggs. The nest is planted in the ground, deep enough 
to sink the edges of it. It is formed of dried fine grasses 
and roots, without any lining of hair or wool. By and by 



Io6 AUDUBON 



we saw Harris sitting on a high hill about one mile off, 
and joined him; he said the bulls they had killed last 
evening were close by, and I offered to go and see the 
bones, for I expected that the Wolves had devoured it 
during the night. We travelled on, and Squires returned 
to the camp. After about two miles of walking against a 
delightful strong breeze, we reached the animals; Ravens 
or Buzzards had worked at the eyes, but only one Wolf, 
apparently, had been there. They were bloated, and 
smelt quite unpleasant. We returned to the camp and 
saw a Wolf cross our path, and an Antelope looking at 
us. We determined to stop and try to bring him to us ; I 
lay on my back and threw my legs up, kicking first one 
and then the other foot, and sure enough the Antelope 
walked towards us, slowly and carefully, however. In 
about twenty minutes he had come two or three hundred 
yards ; he was a superb male, and I looked at him for 
some minutes ; when about sixty yards off I could see his 
eyes, and being loaded with buck-shot pulled the trigger 
without rising from my awkward position. Off he went; 
Harris fired, but he only ran the faster for some hundred 
yards, when he turned, looked at us again, and was off. 
When we reached camp we found Bell there; he had shot 
three times at Antelopes without killing; Lafleur had 
also returned, and had broken the foreleg of one, but an 
Antelope can run fast enough with three legs, and he saw 
no more of it. We now broke camp, arranged the horses 
and turned our heads towards the Missouri, and in four 
and three-quarter hours reached the landing. On enter- 
ing the wood we again broke branches of service-berries, 
and carried a great quantity over the river. I much en- 
joyed the trip ; we had our supper, and soon to bed in our 
hot room, where Sprague says the thermometer has been 
at 99° most of the day. I noticed it was warm when walk- 
ing. I must not forget to notice some things which hap- 
pened on our return. First, as we came near Fox River, 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 107 

we thought of the horns of our bulls, and Mr. Culbert- 
son, who knows the country like a book, drove us first to 
Bell's, who knocked the horns off, then to Harris's, which 
was served in the same manner; this bull had been eaten 
entirely except the head, and a good portion of mine had 
been devoured also; it lay immediately under "Audu- 
bon's Bluff" (the name Mr. Culbertson gave the ridge on 
which I stood to see the chase), and we could see it when 
nearly a mile distant. Bell's horns were the handsomest 
and largest, mine next best, and Harris's the smallest, 
but we are all contented. Mr. Culbertson tells me that 
Harris and Bell have done wonders, for persons who have 
never shot at Buffaloes from on horseback. Harris had a 
fall too, during his second chase, and was bruised in the 
manner of Squires, but not so badly. I have but little 
doubt that Squires killed his bull, as he says he shot it 
three times, and Mr. Culbertson's must have died also. 
What a terrible destruction of life, as it were for noth- 
ing, or next to it, as the tongues only were brought in, 
and the flesh of these fine animals was left to beasts and 
birds of prey, or to rot on the spots where they fell. The 
prairies are literally covered with the skulls of the vic- 
tims, and the roads the Buffalo make in crossing the 
prairies have all the appearance of heavy wagon tracks. 
We saw young Golden Eagles, Ravens, and Buzzards. I 
found the Short-billed Marsh Wren quite abundant, and 
in such localities as it is found eastward. The Black- 
breasted Prairie-bunting flies much like a Lark, hover- 
ing while singing, and sweeping round and round, over 
and above its female while she sits on the eggs on the 
prairie below. I saw only one Gadwall Duck; these 
birds are found in abundance on the plains where 
water and rushes are to be found. Alas ! alas ! eighteen 
Assiniboins have reached the fort this evening in two 
groups; they are better-looking than those previously 
seen by us. 



Io8 AUDUBON 



July %2, Saturday. Thermometer 99°-i02°. This day 
has been the hottest of the season, and we all felt the in- 
fluence of this densely oppressive atmosphere, not a breath 
I of air stirring. Immediately after breakfast Provost and 
Lafleur AA^ent across the river in search of Antelopes, and 
we remained looking at the Indians, all Assiniboins, and 
very dirty. When and where Mr. Catlin saw these In- 
dians as he has represented them, dressed in magnificent 
attire, with all sorts of extravagant accoutrements, is more 
than I can divine, or Mr. Culbertson tell me. The even- 
ing was so hot and sultry that Mr. C. and I went into 
the river, which is now very low, and remained in the 
water over an hour. A dozen catfish were caught in the 
main channel, and we have had a good supper from part 
of them. Finding the weather so ^arm I have had my 
bed brought out on the gallery below, and so has Squires. 
The Indians are, as usual, shut out of the fort, all the 
horses, young Buffaloes, etc., shut in ; and much refreshed 
by my bath, I say God bless you, and good-night. 

July 23, Sunday. Thermometer 84°. I had a very 
pleasant night, and no mosquitoes, as the breeze rose a 
little before I lay down ; and I anticipated a heavy thun- 
der storm, but we had only a few drops of rain. About 
one o'clock Harris was called to see one of the Indians, 
who was bleeding at the nose profusely, and I too went 
to see the poor devil. He had bled quite enough, and 
Harris stopped his nostrils with cotton, put cold water on 
his neck and head — God knows when they had felt it 
before — and the bleeding stopped. These dirty fellows 
had made a large fire between the walls of the fort, but 
outside the inner gates, and it was a wonder that the 
whole establishment was not destroyed by fire. Before 
sunrise they were pounding at the gate to be allowed to 
enter, but, of course, this was not permitted. When the 
sun had fairly risen, some one came and told me the hill- 
tops were covered with Indians, probably Blackfeet. I 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 109 

walked to the back gate, and the number had dwindled, 
or the account been greatly exaggerated, for there seemed 
only fifty or sixty, and when, later, they were counted, 
there were found to be exactly seventy. They remained 
a long time on the hill, and sent a youth to ask for 
whiskey. But whiskey there is none for them, and very 
little for any one. By and by they came down the hill 
leading four horses, and armed principally with bows and 
arrows, spears, tomahawks, and a few guns. They have 
proved to be a party of Crees from the British dominions 
on the Saskatchewan River, and have been fifteen days in 
travelling here. They had seen few Buffaloes, and were 
hungry and thirsty enough. They assured Mr. Culbertson 
that the Hudson's Bay Company supplied them all with 
abundance of spirituous liquors, and as the white traders 
on the Missouri had none for them, they would hereafter 
travel with the English. Now ought not this subject to 
be brought before the press in our country and forwarded 
to England.? If our Congress will not allow our traders 
to sell whiskey or rum to the Indians, why should not the 
British follow the same rule.' Surely the British, who 
are so anxious about the emancipation of the blacks, 
might as well take care of the souls and bodies of the 
redskins. After a long talk and smoking of pipes, to- 
bacco, flints, powder, gun-screws and vermilion were 
placed before their great chief (who is tattooed and has 
a most rascally look), who examined everything minutely, 
counting over the packets of vermilion; more tobacco 
was added, a file, and a piece of white cotton with which 
to adorn his head; then he walked off, followed by his 
son, and the whole posse left the fort. They passed by 
the garden, pulled up a few squash vines and some tur- 
nips, and tore down a few of the pickets on their way 
elsewhere. We all turned to, and picked a quantity of 
peas, which with a fine roast pig, made us a capital 
dinner. After this, seeing the Assiniboins loitering 



no AUDUBON 



about the fort, we had some tobacco put up as a target, 
and many arrows were sent to enter the prize, but I never 
saw Indians — usually so skilful with their bows — shoot 
worse in my life. Presently some one cried there were 
Buffaloes on the hill, and going to see we found that four 
bulls were on the highest ridge standing still. The 
horses being got in the yard, the guns were gathered, 
saddles placed, and the riders mounted, Mr. C, Harris, 
and Bell; Squires declined going, not having recovered 
from his fall, Mr. C. led his followers round the hills by 
the ravines, and approached the bulls quite near, when 
the affrighted cattle ran down the hills and over the 
broken grounds, out of our sight, followed by the hunters. 
When I see game chased by Mr. Culbertson, I feel con- 
fident of its being killed, and in less than one hour he 
had killed two bulls, Harris and Bell each one. Thus 
these poor animals which two hours before were tranquilly 
feeding are now dead ; short work this. Harris and Bell 
remained on the hills to watch the Wolves, and carts 
being ordered, Mr. C. and I went off on horseback to the 
second one he had killed. We found it entire, and I 
began to operate upon it at once; after making what 
measurements and investigations I desired, I saved the 
head, the tail, and a large piece of the silky skin from 
the rump. The meat of three of the bulls was brought 
to the fort, the fourth was left to rot on the ground. Mr. 
C. cut his finger severely, but paid no, attention to that; 
I, however, tore a strip off my shirt and bound it up for 
him. It is so hot I am going to sleep on the gallery 
again; the thermometer this evening is 89°. 

July 24, Monday. I had a fine sleep last night, and 
this morning early a slight sprinkling of rain somewhat 
refreshed the earth. After breakfast we talked of going 
to see if Mr. Culbertson's bull had been injured by the 
Wolves. Mr. C, Harris, and I went off to the spot by a 
roundabout way, and when we reached the animal it was 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS III 

somewhat swollen, but untouched, but we made up our 
minds to have it weighed, coute qui coute. Harris pro- 
posed to remain and watch it, looking for Hares mean- 
time, but saw none. The Wolves must be migratory at 
this season, or so starved out that they have gone else- 
where, as we now see but few. We returned first to the 
fort, and mustered three men and Bell, for Sprague would 
not go, being busy drawing a plant, and finding the heat 
almost insupportable. We carried all the necessary im- 
plements, and found Harris quite ready to drink some 
claret and water which we took for him. To cut up so 
large a bull, and one now with so dreadful an odor, was 
no joke; but with the will follows the success, and in 
about one hour the poor beast had been measured and 
weighed, and we were once more en route for the fort. 
This bull measured as follows : from end of nose to root 
of tail, 131 inches; height at shoulder, 6"] inches; at 
rump, 57 inches; tail vertebrae, 15^ inches, hair in length 
beyond it 11 inches. We weighed the whole animal by 
cutting it in parts and then by addition found that this 
Buffalo, which was an old bull, weighed 1777 lbs. avoir- 
dupois. The flesh was all tainted, and was therefore left 
for the beasts of prey. Our road was over high hills, and 
presented to our searching eyes a great extent of broken 
ground, and here and there groups of Buffaloes grazing. 
This afternoon we are going to bring in the skeleton of 
Mr. Culbertson's second bull. I lost the head of my first 
bull because I forgot to tell Mrs. Culbertson that I wished 
to save it, and the princess had its skull broken open to 
enjoy its brains. Handsome, and really courteous and 
refined in many ways, I cannot reconcile to myself the 
fact that she partakes of raw animal food with such evi- 
dent relish. Before our departure, in came six half- 
breeds, belonging, or attached to Fort Mortimer; and 
understanding that they were first-rate hunters, I offered 
them ten dollars in goods for each Bighorn up to eight 



112 AUDUBON 



or ten in number. They have promised to go to-morrow, 
but, alas ! the half-breeds are so uncertain I cannot tell 
whether they will move a step or not. Mrs. Culbertson, 
who has great pride in her pure Indian blood, told me 
with scorn that "all such no-color fellows are lazy." We 
were delayed in starting by a very heavy gale of wind and 
hard rain, which cooled the weather considerably; but we 
finally got off in the wagon, the cart with three mules 
following, to bring in the skeleton of the Buffalo which 
Mr. Culbertson had killed; but we were defeated, for 
some Wolves had been to it, dragged it about twenty-five 
feet, and gnawed the ends of the ribs and the backbone. 
The head of Harris's bull was brought in, but it was 
smaller; the horns alone were pretty good, and they were 
given to Sprague. On our return Mrs. Culbertson was 
good enough to give me six young Mallards, which she 
had caught by swimming after them in the Missouri; she 
is a most expert and graceful swimmer, besides being 
capable of remaining under water a long time; all the 
Blackfoot Indians excel in swimming and take great pride 
in the accomplishment. We found three of the Assini- 
boins had remained, one of whom wanted to carry off a 
squaw, and probably a couple of horses too. He strutted 
about the fort in such a manner that we watched him 
pretty closely. Mr. Culbertson took his gun, and a six- 
barrelled pistol in his pocket; I, my double-barrelled 
gun, and we stood at the back gate. The fellow had a 
spear made of a cut-and-thrust sword, planted in a good 
stick covered with red cloth, and this he never put down 
at any time; but no more, indeed, do any Indians, who 
carry all their goods and chattels forever about their per- 
sons. The three gentlemen, however, went off about 
dusk, and took the road to F"ort Mortimer, where six half- 
breeds from the Northeast brought to Fort Mortimer 
eleven head of cattle, and came to pay a visit to their 
friends here. All these men know Provost, and have 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS II3 

inquired for him. I feel somewhat uneasy about Provost 
and La Fleur, who have now been gone four full days. 
The prairie is wet and damp, so I must sleep indoors. 
The bull we cut up was not a fat one ; I think in good 
condition it would have weighed 2000 lbs. 

July 23, Tuesday. We were all rather lazy this morn- 
ing, but about dinner-time Owen and his man arrived, 
and told us they had reached Mr. Kipp and his boat at 
the crossings within about half a mile of Fort Alexander ; 
that his men were all broken down with drawing the 
cordelle through mud and water, and that they had lost a 
white horse, which, however, Owen saw on his way, and 
on the morning of his start from this fort. About the 
same time he shot a lafge Porcupine, and killed four bulls 
and one cow to feed upon, as well as three rattlesnakes. 
They saw a large number of Buffalo cows, and we are 
going after them to-morrow morning bright and early. 
About two hours later Provost and La Fleur, about whom 
I had felt some uneasiness, came to the landing, and 
brought the heads and skins attached to two female Ante- 
lopes. Both had been killed by one shot from La Fleur, 
and his ball broke the leg of a third. Provost was made 
quite sick by the salt water he had drunk; he killed 
one doe, on which they fed as well as on the flesh of 
the "Cabris. " Whilst following the Mauvaises Terres 
(broken lands), they saw about twenty Bighorns, and 
had not the horse on which Provost rode been frightened 
at the sight of a monstrous buck of these animals, he 
would have shot it down within twenty yards. They saw 
from fifteen to twenty Buffalo cows, and we hope some of 
the hunters will come up with them to-morrow. I have 
been drawing the head of one of these beautiful female 
Antelopes ; but their horns puzzle me, and all of us ; they 
seem to me as if they were new horns, soft and short; 
time, however, will prove whether they shed them or not. 
Our preparations are already made for preserving the 

VOL. II. — 8 



114 AUDUBON 



skins of the Antelopes, and Sprague is making an outline 
which I hope will be finished before the muscles of the 
head begin to soften. Not a word from the six hunters 
who promised to go after Bighorns on the Yellowstone. 

July 26, Wednesday. We were all on foot before day- 
break and had our breakfast by an early hour, and left on 
our trip for Buffalo cows. The wagon was sent across by 
hauling it through the east channel, which is now quite 
low, and across the sand-bars, which now reach seven- 
eighths of the distance across the river. We crossed in 
the skiff, and walked to the ferry-boat — I barefooted, as 
well as Mr. Culbertson; others wore boots or moccasins, 
but my feet have been tender of late, and this is the best 
cure. Whilst looking about for sticks to support our 
mosquito bars, I saw a Rabbit standing before me, within 
a few steps, but I was loaded with balls, and should have 
torn the poor thing so badly that it would have been use- 
less as a specimen, so let it live. We left the ferry be- 
fore six, and went on as usual. We saw two Antelopes 
on entering the bottom prairie, but they had the wind of 
us, and scampered off to the hills. We saw two Grouse, 
one of which Bell killed, and we found it very good this 
evening for our supper. Twelve bulls were seen, but we 
paid no attention to them. We saw a fine large Hawk, 
apparently the size of a Red-tailed Hawk, but with the 
whole head white. It had alighted on a clay hill or bank, 
but, on being approached, flew off to another, was pur- 
sued and again flew away, so that we could not procure 
it, but I have no doubt that it is a species not yet de- 
scribed. We now crossed Blackfoot River, and saw great 
numbers of Antelopes. Their play and tricks are curious; 
I watched many of the groups a long time, and will not 
soon forget them. At last, seeing we should have no 
meat for supper, and being a party of nine, it was deter- 
mined that the first animal seen should be run down and 
killed. We soon saw a bull, and all agreed to give every 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS II5 

chance possible to Squires. Mr. C.,,Owen, and Squires 
started, and Harris followed without a gun, to see the 
chase. The bull was wounded twice by Squires, but no 
blood came from the mouth, and now all three shot at it, 
but the bull was not apparently hurt seriously ; he became 
more and more furious, and began charging upon them. 
Unfortunately, Squires ran between the bull and a ravine 
quite close to the animal, and it suddenly turned on him ; 
his horse became frightened and jumped into the ravine, 
the bull followed, and now Squires lost his balance; 
however, he threw his gun down, and fortunately clung 
to the mane of his horse and recovered his seat. The 
horse got away and saved his life, for, from what Mr. C. 
told me, had he fallen, the bull would have killed him in 
a few minutes, and no assistance could be afforded him, 
as Mr. C. and Owen had, at that moment, empty guns. 
Squires told us all ; he had never been so bewildered and 
terrified before. The bull kept on running, and was shot 
at perhaps twenty times, for when he fell he had twelve 
halls in his side, and had been shot twice in the head. 
Another bull was now seen close by us, and Owen killed 
it after four shots. Whilst we were cutting up this one. 
La Fleur and some one else went to the other, which was 
found to be very poor, and, at this season smelling very 
rank and disagreeable. A few of the best pieces were 
cut away, and, as usual, the hunters ate the liver and fat 
quite raw, like Wolves, and we were now on the move 
again. Presently we saw seven animals coming towards 
us, and with the glass discovered there were six bulls 
and one cow. The hunters mounted in quick time, and 
away after the cow, which Owen killed very soon. To 
my surprise the bulls did not leave her, but stood about 
one hundred yards from the hunters, who were cutting 
her in pieces ; the best parts were taken for dried meat. 
Had we not been so many, the bulls would, in all proba- 
bility, have charged upon the butchers, but after a time 



Il6 AUDUBON 



they went off at a slow canter. At this moment Harris 
and I were going towards the party thus engaged, when a 
Swift Fox started from a hole under the feet of Harris' 
horse. I was loaded with balls, and he also; he gave 
chase and gained upon the beautiful animal with remark- 
able quickness. Bell saw this, and joined Harris, whilst 
I walked towards the butchering party. The Fox was 
overtaken by Harris, who took aim at it several times, 
but could not get sight on him, and the little fellow 
doubled and cut about in such a manner that it escaped 
into a ravine, and was seen no more. Now who will tell 
me that no animal can compete with this Fox in speed, 
when Harris, mounted on an Indian horse, overtook it in 
a few minutes .' We were now in sight of a large band of 
cows and bulls, but the sun was low, and we left them to 
make our way to the camping-place, which we reached 
just before the setting of the sun. We found plenty of 
water, and a delightful spot, where we were all soon at 
work unsaddling our horses and mules, bringing wood 
for fires, and picking service-berries, which we found in 
great quantities and very good. We were thirty miles 
from Fort Union, close to the three Mamelles, but must 
have travelled near fifty, searching for and running down 
the game. All slept well, some outside and others in- 
side the tent, after our good supper. We had a clear, 
bright day, with the wind from the westward. 

July 27, Thursday. This morning was beautiful, the 
birds singing all around us, and after our early breakfast, 
Harris, with La Fleur and Mr. Culbertson, walked to the 
top of the highest of the three Mamelles ; Bell went to 
skinning the birds shot yesterday,^ among which was a 

1 Among the " birds shot yesterday,'' July 26, when Audubon was too 
full of his Buffalo hunt to notice them in his Journal, were two, a male and 
a female, killed by Mr. Bell, which turned out to be new to science. For 
these were no other than Baird's Bunting, Emberiza hairdii of Audubon, 
B. Amer. vii., 1844, p. 359, pi. 500. Audubon there says it was " during one 
of our Buffalo hunts, on the 26th July, 1843," and adds : " I have named this 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS I17 

large Titmouse of the Eastern States, while I walked off a 
short distance, and made a sketch of the camp and the 
three Mamelles. I hope to see a fair picture from this, 
painted by Victor, this next winter, God willing. Dur- 
ing the night the bulls were heard bellowing, and the 
Wolves howling, all around us. Bell had seen evidences 
of Grizzly Bears close by, but we saw none of the animals. 
An Antelope was heard snorting early this morning, and 
seen for a while, but La Fleur could not get it. The 
snorting of the Antelope is more like a whistling, sneez- 
ing sound, than like the long, clear snorting of our com- 
mon Deer, and it is also very frequently repeated, say 
every few minutes, when in sight of an object of which 
the animal does not yet know the nature; for the moment 
it is assured of danger, it bounds three or four times like 
a sheep, and then either trots off or gallops like a horse. 
On the return of the gentlemen from the eminence, from 
which they had seen nothing but a Hawk, and heard the 
notes of the Rock Wren, the horses were gathered, and 
preparations made to go in search of cows. I took my 
gun and walked off ahead, and on ascending the first hill 
saw an Antelope, which, at first sight, I thought was an 
Indian. It stood still, gazing at me about five hundred 
yards off; I never stirred, and presently it walked towards 
me ; I lay down and lowered my rifle ; the animal could 
not now see my body ; I showed it my feet a few times, at 
intervals. Presently I saw it coming full trot towards 
me; I cocked my gun, loaded with buck-shot in one bar- 
species after my young friend Spencer F. Baird, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania." 
Special interest attaches to this case ; for the bird was not only the first one 
ever dedicated to Baird, but the last one ever named, described, and figured 
by Audubon ; and the plate of it completes the series of exactly 500 plates 
which the octavo edition of the " Birds of America " contains. This bird 
became the Centronyx bairdii ai Baird, the Passerculus bairdi of Coues, and 
the Ammodramus bairdi pi some other ornithologists. See "Birds of the 
Colorado Valley," i., 1878, p. 630. One of Audubon's specimens shot this 
day is catalogued in Baird's Birds of N. Am., 1858, p. 441. — E. C. 



Il8 AUDUBON 



rel and ball in the other. He came within thirty yards of 
me and stopped suddenly, then turned broadside towards 
me. I could see his very eyes, his beautiful form, and 
his fine horns, for it was a buck. I pulled one trigger — 
it snapped, the animal moved not; I pulled the other, 
snapped again, and away the Antelope bounded, and ran 
swiftly from me. I put on fresh caps, and saw it stop 
after going a few hundred yards, and presently it came 
towards me again, but not within one hundred and fifty 
yards, when seeing that it would not come nearer I pulled 
the trigger with the ball ; off it went, and so did the Ante- 
lope, which this time went quite out of my sight. I re- 
turned to camp and found all ready for a move. Owen 
went up a hill to reconnoitre for Antelopes and cows ; see- 
ing one of the former he crept after it. Bell followed, 
and at this moment a Hare leaped from the path before 
us, and stopped within twenty paces. Harris was not 
loaded with shot, and I only with buck-shot ; however, I 
fired and killed it; it proved to be a large female, and 
after measuring, we skinned it, and I put on a label 
"Townsend's Hare, killed a few miles from the three 
Mamelles, July 27, 1843." After travelling for a good 
while, Owen, who kept ahead of us, made signs from the 
top of a high hill that Buffaloes were in sight. This 
signal is made by walking the rider's horse backwards 
and forwards several times. We hurried on towards him, 
and when we reached the place, he pointed to the spot 
where he had seen them, and said they were travelling 
fast, being a band of both cows and bulls. The hunters 
were mounted at once, and on account of Squires' sore- 
ness I begged him not to run ; so he drove me in the 
wagon as fast as possible over hills, through plains and 
ravines of all descriptions, at a pace beyond belief. From 
time to time we saw the hunters, and once or twice the 
Buffaloes, which were going towards the fort. At last 
we reached an eminence from which we saw both the 







W 

X 

W 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS II9 

game and the hunters approaching the cattle, preparatory 
to beginning the chase. It seems there is no etiquette 
among Buffalo hunters, and this proved a great disap- 
pointment to friend Harris, who was as anxious to kill a 
cow, as he had been to kill a bull. Off went the whole 
group, but the country was not as advantageous to the 
pursuers, as to the pursued. The cows separated from 
the bulls, the latter making their way towards us, and 
six of them passed within one hundred yards of where I 
stood ; we let them pass, knowing well how savage they 
are at these times, and turned our eyes again to the 
hunters. I saw Mr. C. pursuing one cow, Owen another, 
and Bell a third. Owen shot one and mortally wounded 
it ; it walked up on a hill and stood there for some min- 
utes before falling. Owen killed a second close by the 
one Mr. C. had now killed. Bell's dropped dead in quite 
another direction, nearly one mile off. Two bulls we saw 
coming directly towards us, so La Fleur and I went under 
cover of the hill to await their approach, and they came 
within sixty yards of us. I gave La Fleur the choice of 
shooting first, as he had a rifle; he shot and missed; they 
turned and ran in an opposite direction, so that I, who 
had gone some little distance beyond La Fleur, had no 
chance, and I was sorry enough for my politeness. Owen 
had shot a third cow, which went part way up a hill, fell, 
and kicked violently; she, however, rose and again fell, 
and kept kicking with all her legs in the air. Squires 
now drove to her, and I walked, followed by Moncrevier, 
a hunter ; seeing Mr. C. and Harris on the bottom below 
we made signs for them to come up, and they fortunately 
did, and by galloping to Squires probably saved that 
young man from more danger; for though I cried to him 
at the top of my voice, the wind prevented him from hear- 
ing me; he now stopped, however, not far from a badly 
broken piece of ground over which had he driven at his 
usual speed, which I doubt not he would have attempted, 



I20 AUDUBON 



some accident must have befallen him. Harris and Mr. 
C. rode up to the cow, which expired at that moment. 
The cow Mr. C. had killed was much the largest, and we 
left a cart and two men to cut up this, and the first two 
Owen had killed, and went to the place where the first 
lay, to have it skinned for me. Bell joined us soon, bring- 
ing a tongue with him, and he immediately began opera- 
tions on the cow, which proved a fine one, and I have the 
measurements as follows: "Buffalo Cow, killed by Mr. 
Alexander Culbertson, July 27, 1843. Nose to root of 
tail, 96 inches. Height at shoulder, 60; at rump, 55^. 
Length of tail vertebrae, 13; to end of hair, 25; from 
brisket to bottom of feet, 2\\; nose to anterior canthus, 
xo^\ between horns at root, iif; between tops of ditto, 
17^; between nostrils, 2J; length of ditto, 2\\ height of 
nose, 3^; nose to opening of ear, 20; ear from opening to 
tip, 5; longest hair on head, 14 inches; from angle of 
mouth to end of under lip, i\." Whilst we were at this, 
Owen and Pike were hacking at their cow. After awhile 
all was ready for departure, and we made for the " coupe " 
at two o'clock, and expected to have found water to ena- 
ble us to water our horses, for we had yet some gallons 
of the Missouri water for our own use. We found the 
road to the " coupe," which was seen for many, many miles. 
The same general appearance of country shows through- 
out the whole of these dreary prairies; up one hill and 
down on the other side, then across a plain with ravines 
of more or less depth. About two miles west of the 
"coupe," Owen and others went in search of water, but 
in vain ; and we have had to cross the " coupe " and travel 
fully two miles east of it, when we came to a mere puddle, 
sufficient however, for the night, and we stopped. The 
carts with the meat, and our effects, arrived after a while; 
the meat was spread on the grass, the horses and mules 
hoppled and let go, to drink and feed. All hands col- 
lected Buffalo dung for fuel, for not a bush was in sight, 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 121 

and we soon had a large fire. In the winter season 
this prairie fuel is too wet to burn, and oftentimes the 
hunters have to eat their meat raw, or go without their 
supper. Ours was cooked however ; I made mine chiefly 
from the liver, as did Harris; others ate boiled or roasted 
meat as they preferred. The tent was pitched, and I 
made a bed for Mr. C. and myself, and guns, etc., were 
all under cover; the evening was cool, the wind fresh, 
and no mosquitoes. We had seen plenty of Antelopes ; 
I shot at one twenty yards from the wagon with small 
shot. Harris killed a Wolf, but we have seen very few, 
and now I will wish you all good-night ; God bless you ! 

July B8, Friday. This morning was cold enough for a 
frost, but we all slept soundly until daylight, and about 
half-past three we were called for breakfast. The horses 
had all gone but four, and, as usual, Owen was despatched 
for them. The horses were brought back, our coffee 
swallowed, and we were off, Mr. C. and I, in the wagon. 
We saw few Antelopes, no Buffalo, and reached the 
ferry opposite the fort at half-past seven. We found 
all well, and about eleven Assiniboins, all young men, 
headed by the son of a great chief called " Le mangeur 
d'hommes " (the man-eater). The poor wretched Indian 
whom Harris had worked over, died yesterday morning, 
and was buried at once. I had actually felt chilly riding 
in the wagon, and much enjoyed a breakfast Mrs. Culbert- 
son had kindly provided for me. We had passed over 
some very rough roads, and at breakneck speed, but I did 
not feel stiff as I expected, though somewhat sore, and a 
good night's rest is all I need. This afternoon the cow's 
skin and head, and the Hare arrived, and have been pre- 
served. A half-breed well known to Provost has been 
here to make a bargain with me about Bighorns, Grizzly 
Bear, etc., and will see what he and his two sons can do ; 
but I have little or no confidence in these gentry. I was 
told this afternoon that at Mouse River, about two hundred 



122 AUDUBON 



miles north of this, there are eight hundred carts in one 
gang, and four hundred in another, with an adequate num- 
ber of half-breeds and Indians, killing Buffalo and drying 
their meat for winter provisions, and that the animals are 
there in millions. When Buffalo bulls are shot from a 
distance of sixty or seventy yards, they rarely charge on 
the hunter, and Mr. Culbertson has killed as many as nine 
bulls from the same spot, when unseen by these terrible 
beasts. Beavers, when shot swimming, and killed, sink at 
once to the bottom, but their bodies rise again in from 
twenty to thirty minutes. Hunters, who frequently shoot 
and kill them by moonlight, return in the morning from 
their camping-places, and find them on the margins of the 
shores where they had shot. Otters do the same, but 
remain under water for an hour or more. 

July 29, Saturday. Cool and pleasant. About one hour 
after daylight Harris, Bell, and two others, crossed the 
river, and went in search of Rabbits, but all returned with- 
out success. Harris, after breakfast, went off on this side, 
saw none, but killed a young Raven. During the course 
of the forenoon he and Bell went off again, and brought 
home an old and young of the Sharp-tailed Grouse. This 
afternoon they brought in a Loggerhead Shrike and two 
Rock Wrens. Bell skinned all these. Sprague made a 
handsome sketch of the five young Buffaloes belonging to 
the fort. This evening Moncrdvier and Owen went on the 
other side of the river, but saw nothing. We collected 
berries of the dwarf cherries of this part, and I bottled 
some service-berries to carry home. 

July 30, Sunday. Weather cool and pleasant. After 
breakfast we despatched La Fleur and Provost after Ante- 
lopes and Bighorns. We then went off and had a battue 
for Rabbits, and although we were nine in number, and all 
beat the rose bushes and willows for several hundred yards, 
not one did we see, although their traces were apparent in 
several places. We saw tracks of a young Grizzly Bear 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 1 23 

near the river shore. After a good dinner of Buffalo meat, 
green peas, and a pudding, Mr. C, Owen, Mr. Pike, and I 
went off to Fort Mortimer. We had an arrival of five 
squaws, half-breeds, and a gentleman of the same order, 
who came to see our fort and our ladies. The princess 
went out to meet them covered with a fine shawl, and the 
visitors followed her to her own room. These ladies spoke 
both the French and Cree languages. At Fort Mortimer 
we found the hunters from the north, who had returned 
last evening and told me they had seen nothing. I fear 
that all my former opinions of the half-breeds are likely to 
be'reaHzed, and that they are all more au fait at telling 
lies, than anything else ; and I expect now that we shall 
have to make a regular turn-out ourselves, to kill both 
Grizzly Bears and Bighorns. As we were riding along not 
far from this fort, Mr. Culbertson fired off the gun given 
him by Harris, and it blew off the stock, lock, and breech, 
and it was a wonder it did not kill him, or me, as I was 
sitting by his side. After we had been at home about one 
hour, we were all called out of a sudden by the news that 
the Horse Guards were coming, full gallop, driving the 
whole of their charge before them. We saw the horses, 
and the cloud of dust that they raised on the prairies, and 
presently, when the Guards reached the gates, they told us 
that they had seen a party of Indians, which occasioned 
their hurried return. It is now more than one hour since 
I wrote this, and the Indians are now in sight, and we 
think they were frightened by three or four squaws who had 
left the fort in search of " pommes blanches." Sprague 
has collected a few seeds, but I intend to have some time 
devoted to this purpose before we leave on our passage 
downwards. This evening five Indians arrived, among 
whom is the brother of the man who died a few days ago ; 
he brought a horse, and an Elk skin, which I bought, and 
he now considers himself a rich man. He reported Buf- 
faloes very near, and to-morrow morning the hunters will 



124 AUDUBON 



be after them. When Buffaloes are about to He down, 
they draw all their four feet together slowly, and balancing 
the body for a moment, bend their fore legs, and fall on 
their knees first, and the hind ones follow. In young 
animals, some of which we have here, the effect produced 
on their tender skin is directly seen, as callous round 
patches without hair are found ; after the animal is about 
one year old, these are seen no more. I am told that 
Wolves have not been known to attack men and horses in 
these parts, but they do attack mules and colts, always 
making choice of the fattest. We scarcely see one now-a- 
days about the fort, and yet two miles from here, at Fort 
Mortimer, Mr. Collins tells me it is impossible to sleep, on 
account of their howlings at night. When Assiniboin 
Indians lose a relative by death, they go and cry under 
the box which contains the body, which is placed in a tree, 
cut their legs and different parts of the body, and moan 
miserably for hours at a time. This performance has been 
gone through with by the brother of the Indian who died 
here. 

July 31, Monday. Weather rather warmer. Mr. Lar- 
penteur went after Rabbits, saw none, but found a horse, 
which was brought home this afternoon. Mr. C, Harris, 
Bell, and Owen went after Buffaloes over the hills, saw 
none, so that all this day has been disappointment to us. 
Owen caught a Spermophilus hoodii. The brother of 
the dead Indian, who gashed his legs fearfully this morning, 
went off with his wife and children and six others, who had 
come here to beg. One of them had for a letter of recom- 
mendation one of the advertisements of the steamer 
" Trapper," which will be kept by his chief for time imme- 
morial to serve as a pass for begging. He received from 
us ammunition' and tobacco. Sprague collected seeds this 
morning, and this afternoon copied my sketch of the three 
Mamelles. Towards sunset I intend to go myself after 
Rabbits, along the margins of the bushes and the shore. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 1 25 

We have returned from my search after Rabbits ; Harris and 
I each shot one. We saw five Wild Geese. Harris lost 
his snuff-box, which he valued, and which I fear will never 
be found. Squires to-day proposed to me to let him 
remain here this winter to procure birds and quadrupeds, 
and I would have said " yes " at once, did he understand 
either or both these subjects, or could draw ; but as he does 
not, it would be useless. 

August i, Tuesday. The weather fine, and warmer than 
yesterday. We sent off four Indians after Rabbits, but as 
we foolishly gave them powder and shot, they returned 
without any very soon, having, of course, hidden the 
ammunition. After breakfast Mr. C. had a horse put 
in the cart, and three squaws went off after " pommes 
blanches," and Sprague and I followed in the wagon, 
driven by Owen. These women carried sticks pointed at 
one end, and blunt at the other, and I was perfectly aston- 
ished at the dexterity and rapidity with which they worked. 
They place the pointed end within six inches of the plant, 
where the stem enters the earth, and bear down upon the 
other end with all their weight and move about to the 
right and left of the plant until the point of the stick is 
thrust in the ground to the depth of about seven inches, 
when acting upon it in the manner of a lever, the plant is 
fairly thrown out, and the root procured. Sprague and I, 
who had taken with us an instrument resembling a very 
narrow hoe, and a spade, having rather despised the simple 
instruments of the squaws, soon found out that these 
damsels could dig six or seven, and in some cases a dozen, 
to our one. We collected some seeds of these plants as 
well as those of some others, and walked fully six miles, 
which has rendered my feet quite tender again. Owen told 
me that he had seen, on his late journey up the Yellow- 
stone, Grouse, both old and young, with a black breast 
and with a broad tail ; they were usually near the margin 
of a wood. What they are I cannot tell, but he and Bell 



126 AUDUBON 



are going after them to-morrow morning. Just after dinner 
Provost and La Fleur returned with two male Antelopes, 
skinned, one of them a remarkably large buck, the other 
less in size, both skins in capital order. We have taken 
the measurements of the head of the larger. The timber 
for our boat has been hauling across the sand-bar ever 
since daylight, and of course the work will proceed pretty 
fast. The weather is delightful, and at night, indeed, quite 
cool enough. I spoke to Sprague last night about remain- 
ing here next winter, as he had mentioned his wish to do 
so to Bell some time ago, but he was very undecided. 
My regrets that I promised you all so faithfully that I 
would return this fall are beyond description. I am, as 
years go, an old man, but I do not feel old, and there is 
so much of interest here that I forget oftentimes that I am 
not as young as Owen. 

August 2, Wednesday. Bell and Owen started on their 
tour up the Yellowstone^ after Cocks of the Plain [Sage 
Grouse, Centrocercus urophasianus\. Provost and Mon- 
crdvier went in the timber below after Deer, but saw none. 
We had an arrival of six Chippeway Indians, and afterwards 
about a dozen Assiniboins. Both these parties were better 
dressed, and looked better off than any previous groups that 
we have seen at this fort. They brought some few robes to 
barter, and the traffic was carried on by Mr. Larpenteur in 
his little shop, through a wicket. On the arrival of the 
Assiniboins, who were headed by an old man, one of the 
Chippeways discovered a horse, which he at once not only 
claimed, but tied ; he threw down his new blanket on the 
ground, and was leading off the horse, when the other Indian 
caught hold of it, and said that he had fairly bought it, etc. 
The Chippeway now gave him his gun, powder, and ball, as 
well as his looking-glass, the most prized of all his posses- 
sions, and the Assiniboin, now apparently satisfied, gave 
up the horse, which was led away by the new (or old) 
' See Bell's account of the trip, page 176. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 1 27 

owner. We thought the matter was ended, but Mr. Cul- 
bertson told us that either the horse or the Chippeway 
would be caught and brought back. The latter had 
mounted a fine horse which he had brought with him, and 
was leading the other away, when presently a gun was 
heard out of the fort, and Mr. C. ran to tell us that 
the horse of the Chippeway had been shot, and that the 
rider was running as fast as he could to Fort Mortimer. 
Upon going out we found the horse standing still, and the 
man running; we went to the poor animal, and found that 
the ball had passed through the thigh, and entered the 
belly. The poor horse was trembling like an aspen ; he at 
last moved, walked about, and went to the river, where he 
died. Now it is curious that it was not the same Assini- 
boin who had sold the horse that had shot, but another of 
their party ; and we understand that it was on account of 
an old grudge against the Chippeway, who, by the way, 
was a surly-looking rascal. The Assiniboins brought eight 
or ten horses and colts, and a number of dogs. One of 
the colts had a necklace of " pommes blanches," at the end 
of which hung a handful of Buffalo calves' hoofs, not more 
than f inch long, and taken from the calves before birth, 
when the mothers had been killed. Harris and I took a 
ride in the wagon over the Mauvaises Terres above the 
fort, in search of petrified wood, but though we found 
many specimens, they were of such indifferent quality that 
we brought home but one. On returning we followed a 
Wolf path, of which there are hundreds through the sur- 
rounding hills, all leading to the fort. It is curious to 
see how well they understand the best and shortest roads. 
From what had happened, we anticipated a row among the 
Indians, but. all seemed quiet. Mr. C. gave us a good 
account of Fort McKenzie. I have been examining the 
fawn of the Long-tailed Deer of this country, belonging to 
old Baptiste; the man feeds it regularly, and the fawn fol- 
lows him everywhere. It will race backwards and for- 



128 AUDUBON 



wards over the prairie back of the fort, for a mile or more, 
running at the very top of its speed; suddenly it will 
make for the gate, rush through and overwhelm Baptiste 
with caresses, as if it had actually lost him for some time. 
If Baptiste lies on the ground pretending to sleep, the fawn 
pushes with its nose, and licks his face as a dog would, till 
he awakens. 

Augusts, Thursday. We observed yesterday that the 
atmosphere was thick, and indicated the first appearance 
of the close of summer, which here is brief The nights 
and mornings have already become cool, and summer 
clothes will not be needed much longer, except occasion- 
ally. Harris and Sprague went to the hills so much en- 
crusted with shells. We have had some talk about going 
to meet Bell and Owen, but the distance is too great, and 
Mr. C. told me he was not acquainted with the road beyond 
the first twenty-five or thirty miles. We have had a slight 
shower, and Mr. C. and I walked across the bar to see the 
progress of the boat. The horse that died near the river 
was hauled across to the sand-bar, and will make good cat- 
fish bate for our fishers. This morning we had another 
visitation of Indians, seven in number; they were very 
dirty, wrapped in disgusting Buffalo robes, and were not 
allowed inside the inner gate, on account of their filthy 
condition. 

August 4, Friday. We were all under way this morning 
at half-past five, on a Buffalo hunt, that is to say, the resi- 
due oi us, Harris and I, for Bell was away with Owen, and 
Squires with Provost after Bighorns, and Sprague at Fort 
Mortimer. Tobacco and matches had been forgotten, and 
that detained us for half an hour ; but at last we started in 
good order, with only one cart following us, which carried 
Pike and Moncrdvier. We saw, after we had travelled ten 
miles, some Buffalo bulls ; some alone, others in groups of 
four or five, a few Antelopes, but more shy than ever be- 
fore. I was surprised to see how careless the bulls were 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 129 

of us, as some actually gave us chances to approach them 
within a hundred yards, looking steadfastly, as if not caring 
a bit for us. At last we saw one lying down immediately 
in our road, and determined to give him a chance for his 
life. Mr. C. had a white horse, a runaway, in which he 
placed a good deal of confidence ; he mounted it, and we 
looked after him. The bull did not start till Mr. C. was 
within a hundred yards, and then at a gentle and slow 
gallop. The horse galloped too, but only at the same 
rate. Mr. C. thrashed him until his hands were sore, for 
he had no whip, the bull went off without even a shot 
being fired, and the horse is now looked upon as forever 
disgraced. About two miles farther another bull was ob- 
served lying down in our way, and it was concluded to 
run him with the white horse, accompanied, however, by 
Harris. The chase took place, and the bull was killed by 
Harris, but the white horse is now scorned by every one. 
A few pieces of meat, the tongue, tail, and head, were all 
that was taken from this very large bull. We soon saw 
that the weather was becoming cloudy, and we were 
anxious to reach a camping-place; but we continued to 
cross ranges of hills, and hoped to see a large herd of 
Buffaloes. The weather was hot " out of mind," and we 
continued till, reaching a fine hill, we saw in a beautiful 
valley below us seventy to eighty head, feeding peacefully 
in groups and singly, as might happen. The bulls were 
mixed in with the cows, and we saw one or two calves. 
Many bulls were at various distances from the main group, 
but as we advanced towards them they galloped off and 
joined the others. When the chase began it was curious 
to see how much swifter the cows were than the bulls, and 
how soon they divided themselves into parties of seven or 
eight, exerting themselves to escape from their murderous 
pursuers. All in vain, however; off went the guns and 
down went the cows, or stood bleeding through the nose, 
mouth, or bullet holes. Mr. C. killed three, and Harris 
VOL. n. — 9 



I30 AUDUBON 



one in about half an hour. We had quite enough, and the 
slaughter was ended. We had driven up to the nearest 
fallen cow, and approached close to her, and found that 
she was not dead, but trying to rise to her feet. I cannot 
bear to see an animal suffer unnecessarily, so begged one 
of the men to take my knife and stab her to the heart, 
which was done. The animals were cut up and skinned, 
with considerable fatigue. To skin bulls and cows and 
cut up their bodies is no joke, even to such as are con- 
stantly in the habit of doing it. Whilst Mr. Culbertson 
and the rest had gone to cut up another at some distance, 
I remained on guard to save the meat from the Wolves, but 
none came before my companions returned. We found 
the last cow quite dead. As we were busy about her the 
rain fell in torrents, and I found my blanket capote of great 
service. It was now nearly sundown, and we made up our 
minds to camp close by, although there was no water for 
our horses, neither any wood. Harris and I began collect 
ing Buffalo-dung from all around, whilst the others attended 
to various other affairs. The meat was all unloaded and 
spread on the ground, the horses made fast, the fire burned 
freely, pieces of liver were soon cooked and devoured, 
coffee drunk in abundance, and we went to rest. 

August 5, Saturday. It rained in the night ; but this 
morning the weather was cool, wind at northwest, and 
cloudy, but not menacing rain. We made through the 
road we had come yesterday, and on our way Harris shot 
a young of the Swift Fox, which we could have caught 
alive had we not been afraid of running into some hole. 
We saw only a few bulls and Antelopes, and some Wolves. 
The white horse, which had gone out as a hunter, returned 
as a pack-horse, loaded with the entire flesh of a Buffalo 
cow; and our two mules drew three more and the heads of 
all four. This morning at daylight, when we were called to 
drink our coffee, there was a Buffalo feeding within twenty 
steps of our tent, and it moved slowly towards the hills as 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 131 

we busied ourselves making preparations for our departure. 
We reached the fort at noon; Squires, Provost, and La 
Fleur had returned ; they had wounded a Bighorn, but had 
lost it. Owen and Bell returned this afternoon ; they had 
seen no Cocks of the plains, but brought the skin of a 
female Elk, a Porcupine, and a young White-headed Eagle. 
Provost tells me that Buffaloes become so very poor during 
hard winters, when the snows cover the ground to the depth 
of two or three feet, that they lose their hair, become 
covered with scabs, on which the Magpies feed, and the 
poor beasts die by hundreds. One can hardly conceive 
how it happens, notwithstanding these many deaths and 
the immense numbers that are murdered almost daily on 
these boundless wastes called prairies, besides the hosts 
that are drowned in the freshets, and the hundreds of young 
calves who die in early spring, so many are yet to be 
found. Daily we see so many that we hardly notice them 
more than the cattle in our pastures about our homes. But 
this cannot last; even now there is a perceptible difference 
in the size of the herds, and before many years the Buffalo, 
like the Great Auk, will have disappeared; surely this 
should not be permitted. Bell has been relating his ad- 
ventures, our boat is going on, and I wish I had a couple 
of Bighorns. God bless you all. 

August 6, Sunday. I very nearly lost the skin of the 
Swift Fox, for Harris supposed the animal rotten with the 
great heat, which caused it to have an odor almost insup- 
portable, and threw it on the roof of the gallery. Bell was 
so tired he did not look at it, so I took it down, skinned 
it, and with the assistance of Squires put the coat into 
pickle, where I daresay it will keep well enough. The 
weather is thick, and looks like a thunderstorm. Bell, hav- 
ing awaked refreshed by his night's rest, has given me the 
measurements of the Elk and the Porcupine. Provost has 
put the skin of the former in pickle, and has gone to Fort 
Mortimer to see Boucherville and others, to try if they 



132 AUDUBON 



would go after Bighorn to-morrow morning. This after- 
noon we had an arrival of Indians, the same who were here 
about two weeks ago. They had been to Fort Clark, and 
report that a battle had taken place between the Crees and 
Gros Ventres, and that the latter had lost. Antelopes 
often die from the severity of the winter weather, and are 
found dead and shockingly poor, even in the immediate 
vicinity of the forts. These animals are caught in pens 
in the manner of Buffaloes, and are despatched with clubs, 
principally by the squaws. In 1840, during the winter, 
and when the snow was deep on the prairies and in the 
ravines by having drifted there, Mr. Laidlow, then at Fort 
Union, caught four Antelopes by following them on horse- 
back and forcing them into these drifts, which were in 
places ten or twelve feet deep. They were brought home 
on a sleigh, and let loose about the rooms. They were so 
very gentle that they permitted the children to handle 
them, although being loose they could have kept from 
them. They were removed to the carpenter's shop, and 
there one broke its neck by leaping over a turning-lathe. 
The others were all killed in some such way, for they be- 
came very wild, and jumped, kicked, etc., till all were dead. 
Very young Buffaloes have been caught in the same way, 
by the same gentleman, assisted by Le Brun and four 
Indians, and thirteen of these he took down the river, 
when they became somewhat tamed. The Antelopes can- 
not be tamed except when caught young, and then they 
can rarely be raised. Mr. Wm. Sublette, of St. Louis, had 
one however, a female, which grew to maturity, and was 
so gentle that it would go all over his house, mounting 
and descending steps, and even going on the roof of the 
house. It was alive when I first reached St. Louis, but I 
was not aware of it, and before I left, it was killed by an 
Elk belonging to the same gentleman. Provost returned, 
and said that Boucherville would go with him and La Fleur 
to-morrow morning early, but I doubt it. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 1 33 

August 7, Monday. Provost, Bell, and La Fleur started 
after breakfast, having waited nearly four hours for Bou- 
cherville. They left at seven, and the Indians were curi- 
ous to kAow where they were bound, and looked at them 
with more interest than we all liked. At about nine, we 
saw BoucherviUe, accompanied by five men, all mounted, 
and they were surprised that Provost had not waited for 
them, or rather that he had left so early. I gave them a 
bottle of whiskey, and they started under the whip, and 
must have overtaken the first party in about two hours. 
To-day has been warmer than any day we have had for 
two weeks. Sprague has been collecting seeds, and Har- 
ris and I searching for stones with impressions of leaves 
and fern ; we found several. Mr. Denig says the Assini- 
boins killed a Black Bear on White Earth River, about 
sixty miles from the mouth ; they are occasionally killed 
there, but it is a rare occurrence. Mr. Denig saw the skin 
of a Bear at their camp last winter, and a Raccoon was also 
killed on the Cheyenne River by the Sioux, who knew 
not what to make of it. Mr. Culbertson has given me the 
following account of a skirmish which took place at Fort 
McKenzie in the Blackfoot country, which I copy from his 
manuscript. 

"August 28, 1834- At the break of day we were aroused 
from our beds by the report of an enemy being in sight. 
This unexpected news created naturally a confusion 
among us all ; never was a set of unfortunate beings so 
surprised as we were. By the time that the alarm had 
spread through the fort, we were surrounded by the 
enemy, who proved to be Assiniboins, headed by the chief 
Gauch6 (the Antelope). The number, as near as we could 
judge, was about four hundred. Their first attack was 
upon a few lodges of Piegans, who were encamped at the 
fort. They also, being taken by surprise, could not es- 
cape. We exerted ourselves, however, to save as many as 
we could, by getting them into the fort. But the foolish 



134 AUDUBON 



squaws, when they started from their lodges, each took a 
load of old saddles and skins, which they threw in the 
door, and stopped it so completely that they could not get 
in, and here the enemy massacred several. In the mean 
time our men were firing with muskets and shot-guns. 
Unfortunately for us, we could not use our cannon, as 
there were a great many Piegans standing between us and 
the enemy ; this prevented us from firing a telling shot on 
them at once. The engagement continued nearly an hour, 
when the enemy, finding their men drop very fast, retreated 
to the bluffs, half a mile distant ; there they stood making 
signs for us to come on, and give them an equal chance on 
the prairie. Although our force was much weaker than 
theirs, we determined to give them a trial. At the same 
time we despatched an expert runner to an encampment 
of Piegans for a reinforcement. We mounted our horses, 
and proceeded to the field of battle, which was a perfect 
level, where there was no chance to get behind a tree, or 
anything else, to keep off a ball. We commenced our fire 
at two hundred yards, but soon lessened the distance to 
one hundred. Here we kept up a constant fire for two 
hours, when, our horses getting fatigued, we concluded to 
await the arrival of our reinforcements. As yet none of 
us were killed or badly wounded, and nothing lost but one 
horse, which was shot under one of our men named Bour- 
bon. Of the enemy we cannot tell how many were killed, 
for as fast as they fell they were carried off the field. 
After the arrival of our reinforcements, which consisted 
of one hundred and fifty mounted Piegans, we charged and 
fought again for another two hours, and drove them across 
the Maria River, where they took another stand ; and here 
Mr. Mitchell's horse was shot under him and he was 
wounded. In this engagement the enemy had a decided 
advantage over us, as they were concealed in the bushes, 
while we were in the open prairie. However, we succeeded 
in making them retreat from this place back on to a high 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 135 

prairie, but they suddenly rushed upon us and compelled 
us to retreat across the Maria. Then they had us in their 
power; but for some reason, either lack of courage or 
knowledge, they did not avail themselves of their opportu- 
nity. They could have killed a great many of us when 
we rushed into the water, which was almost deep enough 
to swim our horses ; they were close upon us, but we suc- 
ceeded in crossing before they fired. This foolish move 
came near being attended with fatal consequences, which 
we were aware of, but our efforts to stop it were unsuc- 
cessful. We, however, did not retreat far before we turned 
upon them again, with the determination of driving them 
to the mountains, in which we succeeded. By this time 
it was so dark that we could see no more, and we con- 
cluded to return. During the day we lost seven killed, 
and twenty wounded. Two of our dead the enemy had 
scalped. It is impossible to tell how many of the enemy 
were killed, but their loss must have been much greater 
than ours, as they had little ammunition, and at the last 
none. Our Indians took two bodies and burned them, 
after scalping them. The Indians who were with us in 
this skirmish deserve but little credit for their bravery, for 
in every close engagement the whites, who were compar- 
atively few, always were in advance of them. This, how- 
ever, had one good effect, for it removed the idea they had 
of our being cowards, and made them believe we were 
unusually brave. Had it not been for the assistance we 
gave the Piegans they would have been cut off, for I never 
saw Indians behave more bravely than the enemy this day; 
and had they been well supplied with powder and ball they 
would have done much more execution. But necessity 
compelled them to spare their ammunition, as they had 
come a long way, and they must save enough to enable 
them to return home. And on our side had we been posi- 
tive they were enemies, even after they had surprised us 
in the manner they did, we could have killed many of them 



136 AUDUBON 



at first, but thinking that they were a band of Indians 
coming with this ceremony to trade (which is not uncom- 
mon) we did not fire upon them till the balls and arrows 
came whistling about our heads ; then only was the word 
given, ' Fire ! ' Had they been bold enough at the onset 
to have rushed into the fort, we could have done nothing 
but suffer death under their tomahawks." 

Mr. Denig gave me the following " Bear Story," as he 
heard it from the parties concerned: " In the year 1835 
two men set out from a trading-post at the head of the 
Cheyenne, and in the neighborhood of the Black Hills, to 
trap Beaver ; their names were Michel Carri^re and Bernard 
Le Brun. Carriere was a man about seventy years old, 
and had passed most of his life in the Indian country, in 
this dangerous occupation of trapping. One evening as 
they were setting their traps along the banks of a stream 
tributary to the Cheyenne, somewhat wooded by bushes 
and Cottonwood trees, their ears were suddenly saluted 
by a growl, and in a moment a large she Bear rushed upon 
them. Le Brun, being a young and active man, imme- 
diately picked up his gun, and shot the Bear through the 
bowels. Carriere also fired, but missed. The Bear then 
pursued them, but as they ran for their lives, their legs did 
them good service ; they escaped through the bushes, and 
the Bear lost sight of them. They had concluded the 
Bear had given up the chase, and were again engaged in 
setting their traps, when Carriere, who was a short distance 
from Le Brun, went through a small thicket with a trap 
and came directly in front of the huge, wounded beast, 
which, with one spring, bounded upon him and tore him in 
an awful manner. With one stroke of the paw on his face 
and forehead he cut his nose in two, and one of the claws 
reached inward nearly to the brain at the root of the nose ; 
the same stroke tore out his right eye and most of the 
flesh from that side of his face. His arm and side were 
literally torn to pieces, and the Bear, after handling him in 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 1 37 

this gentle manner for two or three minutes, threw him 
upwards about six feet, when he lodged, to all appearance 
dead, in the fork of a tree. Le Brun, hearing the noise, 
ran to his assistance, and again shot the Bear and killed it. 
He then brought what he at first thought was the dead 
body of his friend to the ground. Little appearance of a 
human being was left to the poor man, but Le Brun found 
life was not wholly extinct. He made a travaille and carried 
him by short stages to the nearest trading-post, where the 
wounded man slowly recovered, but was, of course, the 
most mutilated-looking being imaginable. Carri^re, in 
telling the story, says that he fully believes it to have been 
the Holy Virgin that lifted him up and placed him in the 
fork of the tree, and thus preserved his life. The Bear is 
stated to have been as large as a common ox, and must 
have weighed, therefore, not far from 1 500 lbs." Mr. Denig 
adds that he saw the man about a year after the accident, 
and some of the wounds were, even then, not healed. 
Carri^re fully recovered, however, lived a few years, and 
was killed by the Blackfeet near Fort Union. 

When Bell was fixing his traps on his horse this morn- 
ing, I was amused to see Provost and La Fleur laughing 
outright at him, as he first put on a Buffalo robe under his 
saddle, a blanket over it, and over that his mosquito bar 
and his rain protector. These old hunters could not 
understand why he needed all these things to be comfort- 
able; then, besides, he took a sack of ship-biscuit. Pro- 
vost took only an old blanket, a few pounds of dried meat, 
and his tin cup, and rode off in his shirt and dirty breeches. 
La Fleur was worse off still, for he took no blanket, and 
said he could borrow Provost's tin cup ; but he, being a 
most temperate man, carried the bottle of whiskey to mix 
with the brackish water found in the Mauvaises Terres, 
among which they have to travel till their return. Harris 
and I contemplated going to a quarry from which the 
stones of the powder magazine were brought, but it 



138 AUDUBON 



became too late for us to start in time to see much, and 
the wrong horses were brought us, being both runners ; we 
went, however, across the river after Rabbits. Harris 
killed a Red-cheeked Woodpecker and shot at a Rabbit, 
which he missed. We had a sort of show by Moncr^vier 
which was funny, and well performed ; he has much versa- 
tility, great powers of mimicry, and is a far better actor than 
many who have made names for themselves in that line. 
Jean Baptiste told me the following: " About twelve years 
ago when Mr. McKenzie was the superintendent of this 
fort, at the season when green peas were plenty and good, 
Baptiste was sent to the garden about half a mile off, to 
gather a quantity. He was occupied doing this, when, at 
the end of a row, to his astonishment, he saw a very large 
Bear gathering peas also. Baptiste dropped his tin bucket, 
ran back to the fort as fast as possible, and told Mr. 
McKenzie, who immediately summoned several other men 
with guns; they mounted their horses, rode off, and killed 
the Bear ; but, alas ! Mr, Bruin had emptied the bucket of 
peas." 

Augusts, Tuesday. Another sultry day. Immediately 
after breakfast Mr. Larpenteur drove Harris and myself in 
search of geological specimens, but we found none worth 
having. We killed a Spermophilus hoodii, which, although 
fatally wounded, entered its hole, and Harris had to draw 
it out by the hind legs. We saw a family of Rock Wrens, 
and killed four of them. I killed two at one shot ; one of 
the others must have gone in a hole, for though we saw it 
fall we could not find it. Another, after being shot, found 
its way under a flat stone, and was there picked up, quite 
dead, Mr. Larpenteur accidentally turning the stone up. 
We saw signs of Antelopes and of Hares (Townsend), and 
rolled a large rock from the top of a high hill. The notes 
of the Rock Wren are a prolonged cree-fe-^-6. On our 
return home we heard that Boucherville and his five hunters 
had returned with nothing for me, and they had not met 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 1 39 

Bell and his companions. We were told also that a few 
minutes after our departure the roarings and bellowings 
of Buffalo were' heard across the river, and that Owen and 
two men had been despatched with a cart to kill three fat cows 
but no more ; so my remonstrances about useless slaughter 
have not been wholly unheeded. Harris was sorry he had 
missed going, and so was I, as both of us could have done 
so. The milk of the Buffalo cow is truly good and finely 
tasted, but the bag is never large as in our common cattle, 
and this is probably a provision of nature to render the 
cows more capable to run off, and escape from their pur- 
suers. Bell, Provost, and La Fleur returned just before 
dinner; they had seen no Bighorns, and only brought 
the flesh of two Deer killed by La Fleur, and a young 
Magpie. This afternoon Provost skinned a calf that was 
found by one of the cows that Owen killed ; it was very 
young, only a few hours old, but large, and I have taken its 
measurements. It is looked upon as a phenomenon, as no 
Buffalo cow calves at this season. The calving time is from 
about the ist of February to the last of May. Owen went 
six miles from the fort before he saw the cattle ; there were 
more than three hundred in number, and Harris and I 
regretted the more we had not gone, but had been fruit- 
lessly hunting for stones. It is curious that while Harris 
was searching for Rabbits early this morning, he heard the 
bellowing of the bulls, and thought first it was the growling 
of a Grizzly Bear, and then that it was the fort bulls, so he 
mentioned it to no one. To-morrow evening La Fleur and 
two men will go after Bighorns again, and they are not to 
return before they have killed one male, at least. This 
evening we went a-fishing across the river, and caught ten 
good catfish of the upper Missouri species, the sweetest 
and best fish of the sort that I have eaten in any part of 
the country. Our boat is going on well, and looks pretty 
to boot. Her name will be the " Union," in consequence 
of the united exertions of my companions to do all that 



I40 AUDUBON 



could be done, on this costly expedition. The young 
Buffaloes now about the fort have begun shedding their 
red coats, the latter-colored hair dropping off in patches 
about the size of the palm of my hand, and the new hair 
is dark brownish black. 

August 9, Wednesday. The weather is cool and we are 
looking for rain. Squires, Provost, and La Fleur went off 
this morning after an early breakfast, across the river for 
Bighorns with orders not to return without some of these 
wild animals, which reside in the most inaccessible portions 
of the broken and lofty clay hills and stones that exist in 
this region of the country ; they never resort to the low lands 
except when moving from one spot to another; they swim 
rivers well, as do Antelopes. I have scarcely done any- 
thing but write this day, and my memorandum books are 
now crowded with sketches, measurements, and descrip- 
tions. We have nine Indians, all Assiniboins, among 
whom five are chiefs. These nine Indians fed for three 
days on the flesh of only a single Swan ; they saw no Buf- 
faloes, though they report large herds about their village, 
fully two hundred miles from here. This evening I caught 
about one dozen catfish, and shot a Spermophilus hoodii, 
an old female, which had her pouches distended and filled 
with the seeds of the wild sunflower of this region. I am 
going to follow one of their holes and describe the same. 

August 10, Thursday. Bell and I took a walk after 
Rabbits, but saw none. The nine Indians, having re- 
ceived their presents, went off with apparent reluctance, 
for when you begin to give them, the more they seem to 
demand. The horseguards brought in another Spermoph- 
ilus hoodii ; after dinner we are going to examine one of 
their burrows. We have been, and have returned; the 
three burrows which we dug were as follows : straight 
downward for three or four inches, and gradually becom- 
ing deeper in an oblique slant, to the depth of eight or 
nine inches, but not more, and none of these holes ex- 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 141 

tended more than six or seven feet beyond this. I was 
disappointed at not finding nests, or rooms for stores. 
Although I have said much about Buffalo running, and 
butchering in general, I have not given the particular 
manner in which the latter is performed by the hunters of 
this country, — I mean the white hunters, — and I will now 
try to do so. The moment that the Buffalo is dead, three 
or four hunters, their faces and hands often covered with 
gunpowder, and with pipes lighted, place the animal on 
its belly, and by drawing out each fore and hind leg, fix 
the body so that it cannot fall down again ; an incision is 
made near the root of the tail, immediately above the root 
in fact, and the skin cut to the neck, and taken off in the 
roughest manner imaginable, downwards and on both 
sides at the same time. The knives are going in all 
directions, and many wounds occur to the hands and fin- 
gers, but are rarely attended to at this time. The pipe 
of one man has perhaps given out, and with his bloody 
hands he takes the one of his nearest companion, who has 
his own hands equally bloody. Now one breaks in the 
skull of the bull, and with bloody fingers draws out the 
hot brains and swallows them with peculiar zest ; another 
has now reached the liver, and is gobbling down enor- 
mous pieces of it ; whilst, perhaps, a third, who has come 
to the paunch, is feeding luxuriously on some — to me — 
disgusting-looking offal. But the main business proceeds. 
The flesh is taken off from the sides of the boss, or hump 
bones, from where these bones begin to the very neck, 
and the hump itself is thus destroyed. The hunters give 
the name of "hump " to the mere bones when slightly cov- 
ered by flesh ; and it is cooked, and very good when fat, 
young, and well broiled. The pieces of flesh taken from 
the sides of these bones are called filets, and are the best 
portion of the animal when properly cooked. The fore- 
quarters, or shoulders, are taken off, as well as the hind 
ones, and the sides, covered by a thin portion of flesh 



142 AUDUBON 



called the depouille, are taken out. Then the rihs are 
broken off at the vertebras, as well as the boss bones. 
The marrow-bones, which are those of the fore and hind 
legs only, are cut out last. The feet usually remain at- 
tached to these ; the paunch is stripped of its covering of 
layers of fat, the head and the backbone are left to the 
Wolves, the pipes are all emptied, the hands, faces, and 
clothes all bloody, and now a glass of grog is often en- 
joyed, as the stripping off the skins and flesh of three or 
four animals is truly very hard work. In some cases when 
no water was near, our supper was cooked without our 
being washed, and it was not until we had travelled sev- 
eral miles the next morning that we had any opportunity 
of cleaning ourselves; and yet, despite everything, we are 
all hungry, eat heartily, and sleep soundly. When the 
wind is high and the Buffaloes run towards it, the hunter's 
guns very often snap, and it is during their exertions to 
replenish their pans, that the powder flies and sticks to 
the moisture every moment accumulating on their faces ; 
but nothing stops these daring and usually powerful men, 
who the moment the chase is ended, leap from their 
horses, let them graze, and begin their butcher-like work. 
August 11, Friday. The weather has been cold and 
windy, and the day has passed in comparative idleness 
with me. Squires returned this afternoon alone, having 
left Provost and La Fleur behind. They have seen only 
two Bighorns, a female and her young. It was con- 
cluded that, if our boat was finished by Tuesday next, 
we would leave on Wednesday morning, but I am by no 
means assured of this, and Harris was quite startled at 
the very idea. Our boat, though forty feet long, is, I fear, 
too small. Nous verrons! Some few preparations for 
packing have been made, but Owen, Harris, and Bell are 
going out early to-morrow morning to hunt Buffaloes, and 
when they return we will talk matters over. The activ- 
ity of Buffaloes is almost beyond belief; they can climb 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 143 

the Steep defiles of the Mauvaises Terres in hundreds of 
places where men cannot follow them, and it is a fine 
sight to see a large gang of them proceeding along these 
defiles four or five hundred feet above the level of the 
bottoms, and from which pathway if one of the number 
makes a mis-step or accidentally slips, he goes down roll- 
ing over and over, and breaks his neck ere the level 
ground is reached.. Bell and Owen saw a bull about 
three years old that leaped a ravine filled with mud and 
water, at least twenty feet wide ; it reached the middle at 
the first bound, and at the second was mounted on the 
opposite bank, from which it kept on bounding, till it 
gained the top of quite a high hill. Mr. Culbertson tells 
me that these animals can endure hunger in a most ex- 
traordinary manner. He says that a large bull was seen 
on a spot half way down a precipice, where it had slid, 
and from which it could not climb upwards, and either 
could not or would not descend ; at any rate, it did not 
leave the position in which it found itself. The party 
who saw it returned to the fort, and, on their way back on 
the twenty-fifth day after, they passed the hill, and saw 
the bull standing there. The thing that troubles them 
most is crossing rivers on the ice ; their hoofs slip from 
side to side, they become frightened, and stretch their 
four legs apart to support the body, and in such situations 
the Indians and white hunters easily approach, and stab 
them to the heart, or cut the hamstrings, when they be- 
come an easy prey. When in large gangs those in the 
centre are supported by those on the outposts, and if the 
stream is not large, reach the shore and readily escape. 
Indians of different tribes hunt the Buffalo in different 
ways ; some hunt on horseback, and use arrows altogether ; 
they are rarely expert in reloading the gun in the close 
race. Others hunt on foot, using guns, arrows, or both. 
Others follow with patient perseverance, and kill them 
also. But I will give you the manner pursued by the 



144 AUDUBON 



Mandans. Twenty to fifty men start, as the occasion 
suits, each provided with two horses, one of which is a 
pack-horse, the other fit for the chase. They have quiv- 
ers with from twenty to fifty arrows, according to the 
wealth of the hunter. They ride the pack horse bare- 
back, and travel on, till they see the game, when they 
leave the pack-horse, and leap on the hunter, and start at 
full speed and soon find themselves amid the Buffaloes, 
on the flanks of the herd, and on both sides. When 
within a few yards the arrow is sent, they shoot at a Buf- 
falo somewhat ahead of them, and send the arrow in an 
oblique manner, so as to pass through the lights. If the 
blood rushes out of the nose and mouth the animal is 
fatally wounded, and they shoot at it no more ; if not, a 
second, and perhaps a third arrow, is sent before this hap- 
pens. The Buffaloes on starting carry the tail close in 
between the legs, but when wounded they switch it about, 
especially if they wish to fight, and then the hunter's 
horse shies off and lets the mad animal breathe awhile. 
If shot through the heart, they occasionally fall dead on 
the instant; sometimes, if not hit in the right place, a 
dozen arrows will not stop them. When wounded and 
mad they turn suddenly round upon the hunter, and rush 
upon him in such a quick and furious manner that if 
horse and rider are not both on the alert, the former is 
overtaken, hooked and overthrown, the hunter pitched 
off, trampled and gored to death. Although the Buffalo 
is such a large animal, and to all appearance a clumsy one, 
it can turn with the quickness of thought, and when once 
enraged, will rarely give up the chase until avenged for the 
wound it has received. If, however, the hunter is expert, 
and the horse fleet, they outrun the bull, and it returns 
to the herd. Usually the greater number of the gang is 
killed, but it very rarely happens that some of them do 
not escape. This however is not the case when the ani- 
mal is pounded, especially by the Gros Ventres, Black 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 145 

Feet, and Assiniboins. These pounds are called "parks," 
and the Buffaloes are made to enter them in the follow- 
ing manner: The park is sometimes round and some- 
times square, this depending much on the ground where 
it is put up ; at the end of the park is what is called a 
precipice of some fifteen feet or less, as may be found. It 
is approached by a funnel-shaped passage, which like the 
park itself is strongly built of logs, brushwood, and pick- 
ets, and when all is ready a young man, very swift of 
foot, starts at daylight covered over with a Buffalo robe 
and wearing a Buffalo head-dress. The moment he sees 
the herd to be taken, he bellows like a young calf, and 
makes his way slowly towards the contracted part of the 
funnel, imitating the cry of the calf, at frequent intervals. 
The Buffaloes advance after the decoy; about a dozen 
mounted hunters are yelling and galloping behind them, 
and along both flanks of the herd, forcing them by these 
means to enter the mouth of the funnel. Women and 
children are placed behind the fences of the funnel to 
frighten the cattle, and as soon as the young man who 
acts as decoy feels assured that the game is in a fair way 
to follow to the bank or "precipice," he runs or leaps 
down the bank, over the barricade, and either rests, or 
joins in the fray. The poor Buffaloes, usually headed 
by a large bull, proceed, leap down the bank in haste and 
confusion, the Indians all yelling and pursuing till every 
bull, cow, and calf is impounded. Although this is done 
at all seasons, it is more general in October or November, 
when the hides are good and salable. Now the warriors 
are all assembled by the pen, calumets are lighted, and 
the chief smokes to the Great Spirit, the four points of 
the compass, and lastly to the Buffaloes. The pipe is 
passed from mouth to mouth in succession, and as soon 
as this ceremony is ended, the destruction commences. 
Guns shoot, arrows fly in all directions, and the hunters 
being on the outside of the enclosure, destroy the whole 

VOL. II. — 10 



146 AUDUBON 



gang, before they jump over to clean and skin the mur- 
dered herd. Even the children shoot small, short arrows 
to assist in the destruction. It happens sometimes how- 
ever, that the leader of the herd will be restless at the 
sight of the precipices, and if the fence is weak will 
break through it, and all his fellows follow him, and 
escape. The same thing sometimes takes place in the 
pen, for so full does this become occasionally that the ani- 
mals touch each other, and as they cannot move, the very 
weight against the fence of the pen is quite enough 
to break it through; the smallest aperture is sufficient, 
for in a few minutes it becomes wide, and all the beasts 
are seen scampering over the prairies, leaving the poor 
Indians starving and discomfited. Mr. Kipp told me 
that while travelling from Lake Travers to the Mandans, 
in the month of August, he rode in a heavily laden cart 
for six successive days through masses of Buffaloes, which 
divided for the cart, allowing it to pass without opposi- 
tion. He has seen the immense prairie back of Fort 
Clark look black to the tops of the hills, though the 
ground was covered with snow, so crowded was it with 
these animals; and the masses probably extended much 
further. In fact it is impossible to describe or even conceive 
the vast multitudes of these animals that exist even now, 
and feed on these ocean-like prairies. 

August 12, Saturday. Harris, Bell, and Owen went 
after Buffaloes ; killed six cows and brought them home. 
Weather cloudy, and rainy at times. Provost returned 
with La Fleur this afternoon, had nothing, but had seen 
a Grizzly Bear. The " Union " was launched this even- 
ing and packing, etc., is going on. I gave a memoran- 
dum to Jean Baptiste Moncr^vier of the animals I wish 
him to procure for me. 

August 13, Sunday. A most beautiful day. About 
dinner time I had a young Badger brought to me dead ; I 
bought it, and gave in payment two pounds of sugar. The 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 1 47 

body of these animals is broader than high, the neck is 
powerfully strong, as well as the fore-arms, and strongly 
clawed fore-feet. It weighed 2,\ lbs. Its measurements 
were all taken. When the pursuer gets between a Bad- 
ger and its hole, the animal's hair rises, and it at once 
shows fight. A half-breed hunter told Provost, who has 
just returned from Fort Mortimer, that he was anxious 
to go down the river with me, but I know the man and 
hardly care to have him. If I decide to take him Mr. 
Culbertson, to whom I spoke of the matter, told me my 
only plan was to pay him by the piece for what he killed 
and brought on board, and that in case he did not turn 
out well between this place and Fort Clark, to leave him 
there; so I have sent word to him to this effect by Pro- 
vost this afternoon. Bell is skinning the Badger, Sprague 
finishing the map of the river made by Squires, and the 
latter is writing. The half-breed has been here, and the 
following is our agreement : " It is understood that Fran- 
cois D6taille will go with me, John J. Audubon, and to 
secure for me the following quadrupeds — if possible — 
for which he will receive the prices here mentioned, pay- 
able at Fort Union, Fort Clark, or Fort Pierre, as may 
best suit him. 

For each Bighorn male $10.00 

For a large Grizzly Bear 20.00 

For a large male Elk 6.00 

For a Black-tailed Deer, male or female ... 6.00 

For Red Foxes 3.00 

For small Gray Foxes 3.00 

For Badgers 2.00 

For large Porcupine 2.00 

Independent of which I agree to furnish him with his 
passage and food, he to work as a hand on board. What- 
ever he kills for food will be settled when he leaves us, 
or, as he says, when he meets the Opposition boat com- 



148 AUDUBON 



ing up to Fort Mortimer. " He will also accompany us 
in our hunt after Bighorns, which I shall undertake, 
notwithstanding Mr. Culbertson and Squires, who have 
been to the Mauvaises Terres, both try to dissuade me 
from what they fear will prove over-fatiguing; but though 
my strength is not what it was twenty years ago, I am yet 
equal to much, and my eyesight far keener than that of 
many a younger man, though that*too tells me I am no 
longer a youth. . . . 

The only idea I can give in writing of what are called 
the " Mauvaises Terres " would be to place some thou- 
sands of loaves of sugar of different sizes, from quite 
small and low, to large and high, all irregularly truncated 
at top, and placed somewhat apart from each other. No 
one who has not seen these places can form any idea of 
these resorts of the Rocky Mountain Rams, or the diffi- 
culty of approaching them, putting aside their extreme 
wildness and their marvellous activity. They form paths 
around these broken-headed cones (that are from three to 
fifteen hundred feet high), and run round them at full 
speed on a track that, to the eye of the hunter, does not 
appear to be more than a few inches wide, but which is, 
in fact, from a foot to eighteen inches in width. In some 
places there are piles of earth from eight to ten feet high, 
or even more, the tops of which form platforms of a hard 
and shelly rocky substance, where the Bighorn is often 
seen looking on the hunter far below, and standing im- 
movable, as if a statue. No one can imagine how they 
reach these places, and that too with their young, even 
when the latter are quite small. Hunters say that the 
young are usually born in such places, the mothers going 
there to save the helpless little one from the Wolves, 
which, after men, seem to be their greatest destroyers. 
The Mauvaises Terres are mostly formed of grayish 
white clay, very sparsely covered with small patches of 
thin grass, on which the Bighorns feed, but which, to 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 149 

all appearance, is a very scanty supply, and there, and 
there only, they feed, as not one has ever been seen on 
the bottom or prairie land further than the foot of these 
most extraordinary hills. In wet weather, no man can 
climb any of them, and at such times they are greasy, 
muddy, sliding grounds. Oftentimes when a Bighorn 
is seen on a hill-top, the hunter has to ramble about for 
three or four miles before he can approach within gun- 
shot of the game, and if the Bighorn ever sees his en- 
emy, pursuit is useless. The tops of some of these hills, 
and in some cases whole hills about thirty feet high, are 
composed of a conglomerated mass of stones, sand, and 
clay, with earth of various sorts, fused together, and hav- 
ing a brick-like appearance. In this mass pumice-stone 
of various shapes and sizes is to be found. The whole is 
evidently the effect of volcanic action. The bases of 
some of these hills cover an area of twenty acres or more, 
and the hills rise to the height of three or four hundred 
feet, sometimes even to eight hundred or a thousand ; so 
high can the hunter ascend that the surrounding country is 
far, far beneath him. The strata are of different colored 
clays, coal, etc., and an earth impregnated with a salt 
which appears to have been formed by internal fire or 
heat, the earth or stones of which I have first spoken in 
this account, lava, sulphur, salts of various kinds, oxides 
and sulphates of iron ; and in the sand at the tops of some 
of the highest hills I have found marine shells, but so 
soft and crumbling as to fall apart the instant they were 
exposed to the air. I spent some time over various lumps 
of sand, hoping to find some perfect ones that would be 
hard enough to carry back to St. Louis; but 'twas "love's 
labor lost," and I regretted exceedingly that only a few 
fragments could be gathered. I found globular and oval 
shaped stones, very heavy, apparently composed mostly 
of iron, weighing from fifteen to twenty pounds ; numbers 
of petrified stumps from one to three feet in diameter; the 



150 AUDUBON 



Mauvaises Terres abound with them; they are to be 
found in all parts from the valleys to the tops of the hills, 
and appear to be principally of cedar. On the si^es of 
the hills, at various heights, are shelves of rock or stone 
projecting out from two to six, eight, or even ten feet, and 
generally square, or nearly so; these are the favorite re- 
sorts of the Bighorns during the heat of the day, and 
either here or on the tops of the highest hills they are to 
be found. Between the hills there is generally quite a 
growth of cedar, but mostly stunted and crowded close 
together, with very large stumps, and between the stumps 
quite a good display of grass; on the summits, in some 
few places, there are table-lands, varying from an area 
of one to ten or fifteen acres; these are covered with a 
short, dry, wiry grass, and immense quantities of flat 
leaved cactus, the spines of which often warn the hunter 
of their proximity, and the hostility existing between 
them and his feet. These plains are not more easily 
travelled than the hillsides, as every step may lead the 
hunter into a bed of these pests of the prairies. In the 
valleys between the hills are ravines, some of which are 
not more than ten or fifteen feet wide, while their depth 
is beyond the reach of the eye. Others vary in depth 
from ten to fifty feet, while some make one giddy to look 
in; they are also of various widths, the widest perhaps 
a hundred feet. The edges, at times, are lined with 
bushes, mostly wild cherry; occasionally Buffaloes make 
paths across them, but this is rare. The only safe way to 
pass is to follow the ravine to the head, which is usually 
at the foot of some hill, and go round. These ravines are 
mostly between every two hills, although like every gen- 
eral rule there are variations and occasionally places 
where three or more hills make only one ravine. These 
small ravines all connect with some larger one, the size of 
which is in proportion to its tributaries. The large one 
runs to the river, or the water is carried off by a subterra- 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 151 



nean channel. In these valleys, and sometimes on the 
tops of the hills, are holes, called "sink holes;" these 
are formed by the water running in a small hole and work- 
ing away the earth beneath the surface, leaving a crust 
incapable of supporting the weight of a man; and if an 
unfortunate steps on this crust, he soon finds himself in 
rather an unpleasant predicament. This is one of the 
dangers that attend the hunter in these lands ; these holes 
eventually form a ravine such as I have before spoken of. 
Through these hills it is almost impossible to travel with 
a horse, though it is sometimes done by careful manage- 
ment, and a correct knowledge of the country. The sides 
of the hills are very steep, covered with the earth and 
stones of which I have spoken, all of which are quite loose 
on the surface; occasionally a bunch of wormwood here 
and there seems to assist the daring hunter; for it is no 
light task to follow the Bighorns through these lands, 
and the pursuit is attended with much danger, as the least 
slip at times would send one headlong into the ravines 
below. On the sides of these high hills the water has 
washed away the earth, leaving caves of various sizes; 
and, in fact, in some places all manner of fantastic forms 
are made by the same process. Occasionally in the val- 
leys are found isolated cones or domes, destitute of vege- 
tation, naked and barren. Throughout the Mauvaises 
Terres there are springs of water impregnated with salt, 
sulphur, magnesia, and many other salts of all kinds. 
Such is the water the hunter is compelled to drink, and 
were it not that it is as cold as ice it would be almost im- 
possible to swallow it. As it is, many of these waters 
operate as cathartics or emetics ; this is one of the most 
disagreeable attendants of hunting in these lands. More- 
over, venomous snakes of many kinds are also found here. 
I saw myself only one copperhead, and a common garter- 
snake. Notwithstanding the rough nature of the coun- 
try, the Buffaloes have paths running in all directions, 



152 AUDUBON 



and leading from the prairies to the river. The hunter 
sometimes, after toiling for an hour or two up the side of 
one of these hills, trying to reach the top in hopes that 
when there he will have for a short distance at least, 
either a level place or good path to walk on, finds to his 
disappointment that he has secured a point that only 
affords a place scarcely large enough to stand on, and he 
has the trouble of descending, perhaps to renew his disap- 
pointment in the same way, again and again, such is the 
deceptive character of the country. I was thus deceived 
time and again, while in search of Bighorns. If the 
hill does not terminate in a point it is connected with 
another hill, by a ridge so narrow that nothing but a Big- 
horn can walk on it. This is the country that the Moun- 
tain Ram inhabits, and if, from this imperfect description, 
any information can be derived, I shall be more than re- 
paid for the trouble I have had in these tiresome hills. 
Whether my theory be correct or incorrect, it is thisf 
These hills were at first composed of the clays that I have 
mentioned, mingled with an immense quantity of com- 
bustible material, such as coal, sulphur, bitumen, etc. ; 
these have been destroyed by fire, or (at least the greater 
part) by volcanic action, as to this day, on the Black Hills 
and in the hills near where I have been, fire still exists; 
and from the immense quantities of pumice-stone and 
melted ores found among the hills, even were there no 
fire now to be seen, no one could doubt that it had, at 
some date or other, been there; as soon as this process 
had ceased, the rains washed out the loose material, and 
carried it to the rivers, leaving the more solid parts as 
we now find them ; the action of water to this day con- 
tinues. As I have said, the Bighorns are very fond of 
resorting to the shelves, or ledges, on the sides of the 
hills, during the heat of the day, when these places are 
shaded; here they lie, but are aroused instantly upon the 
least appearance of danger, and, as soon as they have dis- 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 1 53 

covered the cause of alarm, away they go, over hill and 
ravine, occasionally stopping to look round, and when 
ascending the steepest hill, there is no apparent dimi- 
nution of their speed. They will ascend and descend 
places, when thus alarmed, so inaccessible that it is 
almost impossible to conceive how, and where, they find 
a foothold. When observed before they see the hunter, 
or while they are looking about when first alarmed, are 
the only opportunities the hunter has to shoot them ; for, 
as soon as they start there is no hope, as to follow and 
find them is a task not easily accomplished, for where 
or how far they go when thus on the alert, heaven only 
knows, as but few hunters have ever attempted a chase. 
At all times they have to be approached with the greatest 
caution, as the least thing renders them on the qui vive. 
When not found on these shelves, they are seen on the 
tops of the most inaccessible and highest hills, looking 
down on the hunters, apparently conscious of their secur- 
ity, or else lying down tranquilly in some sunny spot 
quite out of reach. As I have observed before, the only 
times that these animals can be shot are when on these 
ledges, or when moving from one point to another. 
Sometimes they move only a few hundred yards, but it 
will take the hunter several hours to approach near enough 
for a shot, so long are the ddtours he is compelled to make. 
I have been thus baffled two or three times. The less 
difficult hills are found cut up by paths made by these 
animals ; these are generally about eighteen inches wide. 
These animals appear to be quite as agile as the European 
Chamois, leaping down precipices, across ravines, and 
running up and down almost perpendicular hills. The 
only places I could find that seemed to afford food for 
them, was between the cedars, as I have before mentioned ; 
but the places where they are most frequently found are 
barren, and without the least vestige of vegetation. From 
the character of the lands where these animals are found, 



154 AUDUBON 



their own shyness, watchfulness, and agility, it is readily 
seen what the hunter must endure, and what difficulties 
he must undergo to near these "Wild Goats." It is one 
constant time of toil, anxiety, fatigue, and danger. Such 
the country ! Such the animal ! Such the hunting ! 

August 16. Started from Fort Union at 12 m. in the 
Mackinaw barge " Union." Shot five young Ducks. 
Camped at the foot of a high bluff. Good supper of 
Chickens and Ducks. 

Thursday, 17th. Started early. Saw three Bighorns, 
some Antelopes, and many Deer, fully twenty ; one Wolf, 
twenty-two Swans, many Ducks. Stopped a short time on 
a bar. Mr. Culbertson shot a female Elk, and I killed 
two bulls. Camped at Buffalo Bluff, where we found 
Bear tracks. 

Friday, 18th. Fine. Bell shot a superb male Elk. 
The two bulls untouched since killed. Stopped to make an 
oar, when I caught four catfish. " Kayac " is the French 
Missourian's name for Buffalo Bluffs, original French for 
Moose; in Assiniboin "Tah-Tah," in Blackfoot "Sick-e-chi- 
choo," in Sioux " Tah-Tah." Fifteen to twenty female Elks 
drinking, tried to approach them, but they broke and ran 
off to the willows and disappeared. We landed and pur- 
sued them. Bell shot at one, but did not find it, though it 
was badly wounded. These animals are at times unwary, 
but at others vigilant, suspicious, and well aware of the 
coming of their enemies. 

Saturday, 19th. Wolves howling, and bulls roaring, 
just like the long continued roll of a hundred drums. 
Saw large gangs of Buffaloes walking along the river. 
Headed Knife River one and a half miles. Fresh signs of 
Indians, burning wood embers, etc. I knocked a cow 
down with two balls, and Mr. Culbertson killed her. 
Abundance of Bear tracks. Saw a great number of bushes 
bearing the berries of which Mrs. Culbertson has given me 
a necklace. Herds of Buffaloes on the prairies. Mr. Cul- 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 155 

bertson killed another cow, and in going to see it I had a 
severe fall over a partially sunken log. Bell killed a doe 
and wounded the fawn. 

Sunday, 20th. Tamias quadrivittatus runs up trees; 
abundance of them in the ravine, and Harris killed one. 
Bell wounded an Antelope. Thousands upon thousands 
of Buffaloes ; the roaring of these animals resembles the 
grunting of hogs, with a rolling sound from the throat. 
Mr. C. killed two cows, Sprague killed one bull, and 
I made two sketches of it after death. The men killed a 
cow, and the bull would not leave her although shot four 
times. Stopped by the high winds all this day. Suffered 
much from my fall. 

Monday, 21st. Buffaloes all over the bars and prairies, 
and many swimming; the roaring can be heard for miles. 
The wind stopped us again at eight o'clock ; breakfasted 
near the tracks of Bears surrounded by hundreds of Buf- 
faloes. We left our safe anchorage and good hunting- 
grounds too soon ; the wind blew high, and we were obliged 
to land again on the opposite shore, where the gale has 
proved very annoying. Bear tracks led us to search for 
those animals, but in vain. Collected seeds. Shot at a 
Rabbit, but have done nothing. Saw many young and 
old Ducks, — Black Mallards and Gadwalls. I shot a bull 
and broke his thigh, and then shot at him thirteen times 
before killing. Camped at the same place. 

Tuesday, 22d. Left early and travelled about twelve 
miles. Went hunting Elks. Mr. Culbertson killed a 
Deer, and he and Squires brought the meat in on their 
backs. I saw nothing, but heard shots which I thought 
were from Harris. I ran for upwards of a mile to look for 
him, hallooing the whole distance, but saw nothing of him. 
Sent three men who hallooed also, but came back without 
further intelligence. Bell shot a female Elk and brought 
in part of the meat. We walked to the Little Missouri 
and shot the fourth bull this trip. We saw many Ducks. 



IS6 AUDUBON 



In the afternoon we started again, and went below the 
Little Missouri, returned to the bull and took his horns, 
etc. Coming back to the boat Sprague saw a Bear; we 
went towards the spot; the fellow had turned under the 
high bank and was killed in a few seconds. Mr. Culbertson 
shot it first through the neck, Bell and I in the body. 

Wednesday, 23d. Provost skinned the Bear. No Prairie- 
Dogs caught. The wind high and cold. Later two Prairie- 
Dogs were shot ; their notes resemble precisely those of the 
Arkansas Flycatcher. Left this afternoon and travelled 
about ten miles. Saw another Bear and closely observed 
its movements. We saw several drowned Buffaloes, and 
were passed by Wolves and Passenger Pigeons. Camped in 
a bad place under a sky with every appearance of rain. 

Thursday, 2^th. A bad night of wind, very cloudy; 
left early, as the wind lulled and it became calm. Passed 
" L'Ours qui danse," travelled about twenty miles, when 
we were again stopped by the wind. Hunted, but found 
nothing. The fat of our Bear gave us seven bottles of oil. 
We heard what some thought to be guns, but I believed it 
to be the falling of the banks. Then the Wolves howled 
so curiously that it was supposed they were Indian dogs. 
We went to bed all prepared for action in case of an 
attack ; pistols, knives, etc., but I slept very well, though 
rather cold. 

Friday, 25th. Fair, but foggy, so we did not start early. 
I found some curious stones with impressions of shells. 
It was quite calm, and we passed the two Riccaree winter 
villages. Many Eagles and Peregrine Falcons. Shot 
another bull. Passed the Gros Ventre village at noon ; no 
game about the place. " La Main Gauche," an Assini- 
boin chief of great renown, left seventy warriors killed and 
thirty wounded on the prairie opposite, the year following 
the small-pox. The Gros Ventres are a courageous tribe. 
Reached the Mandan village ; hundreds of Indians swam to 
us with handkerchiefs tied on their heads like turbans. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 1 57 

Our old friend " Four Bears " met us on the shore ; I 
gave him eight pounds of tobacco. He came on board and 
went down with us to Fort Clark, which we reached at four 
o'clock. Mr. Culbertson and Squires rode out to the 
Gros Ventre village with " Four Bears " after dark, and 
returned about eleven ; they met with another chief who 
curiously enough was called " The Iron Bear." 

Saturday, 26th. Fine, but a cold, penetrating wind. 
Started early and landed to breakfast. A canoe passed us 
with two men from the Opposition. We were stopped by 
the wind for four hours, but started again at three ; passed 
the Butte Quarr6 at a quarter past five, followed now by 
the canoe, as the two fellows are afraid of Indians, and 
want to come on board our boat ; we have not room for 
them, but will let them travel with us. Landed for the 
night, and walked to the top of one of the buttes from 
which we had a fine and very extensive view. Saw a herd 
of Buffaloes, which we approached, but by accident did not 
kill a cow. Harris, whom we thought far off, shot too 
soon and Moncr^vier and the rest of us lost our chances. 
We heard Elks whistling, and saw many Swans. The 
canoe men camped close to us. 

Sunday, 27th. Started early in company with the 
canoe. Saw four Wolves and six bulls, the latter to our 
sorrow in a compact group and therefore difficult to 
attack. They are poor at this season, and the meat very 
rank, but yet are fresh meat. The wind continued high, 
but we landed in the weeds assisted by the canoe men, as 
we saw a gang of cows. We lost them almost immediately 
though we saw their wet tracks and followed them for over 
a mile, but then gave up the chase. On returning to the 
river we missed the boat, as she had been removed to a 
better landing below ; so we had quite a search for her. 
Mrs. Culbertson worked at the parfleche with Golden 
Eagle feathers ; she had killed the bird herself. Stopped 
by the wind at noon. Walked off and saw Buffaloes, but 



IS8 AUDUBON 



the wind was adverse. Bell and Harris, however, killed a 
cow, a single one, that had been wounded, whether by shot 
or by an arrow no one can tell. We saw a bull on a sand- 
bar; the poor fool took to the water and swam so as to 
meet us. We shot at him about a dozen times, I shot him 
through one eye, Bell, Harris, and Sprague about the head, 
and yet the animal made for our boat and came so close 
that Mr. Culbertson touched him with a pole, when he turned 
off and swam across the river, but acted as if wild or crazy ; 
he ran on a sand-bar, and at last swam again to the oppo- 
site shore, in my opinion to die, but Mr. Culbertson says 
he may live for a month. We landed in a good harbor on 
the east side about an hour before sundown. Moncrevier 
caught a catfish that weighed sixteen pounds, a fine fish, 
though the smaller ones are better eating. 

Monday, 28th. A gale all night and this morning also. 
We are in a good place for hunting, and I hope to have 
more to say anon. The men returned and told us of many 
Bear tracks, and four of us started off. Such a walk I do 
not remember ; it was awful — mire, willows, vines, holes, 
fallen logs ; we returned much fatigued and having seen 
nothing. The wind blowing fiercely. 

Tuesday, 29th. Heavy wind all night. Bad dreams 
about my own Lucy. Walked some distance along the 
shores and caught many catfish. Two Deer on the other 
shore. Cut a cotton-tree to fasten to the boat to break 
the force of the waves. The weather has become sultry. 
Beavers during the winter oftentimes come down amid the 
ice, but enter any small stream they meet with at once. 
Apple River, or Creek, was formerly a good place for 
them, as well as Cannon Ball River. Saw a Musk-rat this 
morning swimming by our barge. Slept on a muddy bar 
with abundance of mosquitoes. 

Wednesday, 30th. Started at daylight. Mr. Culbertson 
and I went off to the prairies over the most infernal 
ground I ever saw, but we reached the high prairies by 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 1 59 

dint of industry, through swamps and mire. We saw 
two bulls, two calves, and one cow ; we killed the cow and 
the larger calf, a beautiful young bull; returned to the 
boat through the most abominable swamp I ever travelled 
through, and reached the boat at one o'clock, thirsty and 
hungry enough. Bell and all the men went after the meat 
and the skin of the young bull. I shot the cow, but 
missed the calf by shooting above it. We started later 
and made about ten miles before sunset. 

Thursday, 31st. Started early; fine and calm. Saw 
large flocks of Ducks, Geese, and Swans; also four 
Wolves. Passed Mr. Primeau's winter trading-house; 
reached Cannon Ball River at half-past twelve. No game ; 
water good-tasted, but warm. Dinner on shore. Saw a 
Rock Wren on the bluffs here. Saw the prairie on fire, and 
signs of Indians on both sides. Weather cloudy and hot. 
Reached Beaver Creek. Provost went after Beavers, but 
found none. Caught fourteen catfish. Saw a wonderful 
example of the power of the Buffalo in working through 
the heavy, miry bottom lands. 

Friday, September 1. Hard rain most of the night, and 
uncomfortably hot. Left our encampment at eight o'clock. 
Saw Buffaloes and landed, but on approaching them found 
only bulls; so returned empty-handed to the boat, and 
started anew. , We landed for the night on a large sand- 
bar connected with the mainland, and saw a large gang 
of Buffaloes, and Mr. Culbertson and a man went off; 
they shot at two cows and killed one, but lost her, as she 
fell in the river and floated down stream, and it was dusk. 
A heavy cloud arose in the west, thunder was heard, yet 
the moon and stars shone brightly. After midnight rain 
came on. The mosquitoes are far too abundant for 
comfort. 

Saturday, September 2. Fine but windy. Went about 
ten miles and stopped, for the gale was so severe. No 
fresh meat on board. Saw eight Wolves, four white ones. 



l6o AUDUBON 



Walked six miles on the prairies, but saw only three bulls. 
The wind has risen to a gale. Saw abundance of Black- 
breasted Prairie Larks, and a pond with Black Ducks. 
Returned to the pond after dinner and killed four Ducks. 

Sunday, 3d. Beautiful, calm, and cold. Left early and 
at noon put ashore to kill a bull, having no fresh meat on 
board. He took the wind and ran off. Touched on a 
bar, and I went overboard to assist in pushing off and 
found the water very pleasant, for our cold morning had 
turned into a hot day. Harris shot a Prairie Wolf. At 
half-past four saw ten or twelve Buffaloes. Mr. Culbert- 
son, Bell, a canoe man, and I, went after them; the cattle 
took to the river, and we went in pursuit; the other canoe 
man landed, and ran along the shore, but could not head 
them. He shot, however, and as the cattle reached the 
bank we gave them a volley, but uselessly, and are again 
under way. Bell and Mr. C. were well mired and greatly 
exhausted in consequence. No meat for another day. 
Stopped for the night at the mouth of the Moreau River. 
Wild Pigeons, Sandpipers, but no fish. 

Monday, 4-th. Cool night. Wind rose early, but a fine 
morning. Stopped by the wind at eleven. Mr. Culbert- 
son. Bell, and Moncr^vier gone shooting. Many signs of 
Elk, etc. , and flocks of Wild Pigeons. A bad place for 
hunting, but good for safety. Found Beaver tracks, and 
small trees cut down by them. Provost followed the bank 
and found their lodge, which he says is an old one. It is 
at present a mass of sticks of different sizes matted to- 
gether, and fresh tracks are all around it. To dig them 
out would have proved impossible, and we hope to catch 
them in traps to-night. Beavers often feed on berries 
when they can reach them, especially Buffalo berries 
\_Shepherdia argentea\ Mr. Culbertson killed a buck, 
and we have sent men to bring it entire. The Beavers 
in this lodge are not residents, but vagrant Beavers. The 
buck was brought in ; it is of the same kind as at Fort 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS l6l 

Union, having a longer tail, we think, than the kind found 
East. Its horns were very small, but it is skinned and in 
brine. We removed our camp about a hundred yards 
lower down, but the place as regards wood is very bad. 
Provost and I went to set traps for Beaver ; he first cut two 
dry sticks eight or nine feet long ; we reached the river by 
passing through the tangled woods ; he then pulled off his 
breeches and waded about with a pole to find the depth 
of the water, and having found a fit spot he dug away the 
mud in the shape of a half circle, placed a bit of willow 
branch at the bottom and put the trap on that. He had 
two small willow sticks in his mouth; he split an end of 
one, dipped it in his horn of castoreum, or " medicine," 
as he calls his stuff, and left on the end of it a good mass 
of it, which was placed in ffont of the jaws of the trap 
next the shore; he then made the chain of the trap se- 
cure, stuck in a few untrimmed branches on each side, and 
there the business ended. The second one was arranged 
in the same way, except that there was no bit of willow 
under it. Beavers when caught in shallow water are often 
attacked by the Otter, and in doing this the latte/ some- 
times lose their own lives, as they are very frequently 
caught in the other trap placed close by. Mr. Culbertson 
and Bell returned without having shot, although we heard 
one report whilst setting the traps. Elks are very numer- 
ous here, but the bushes crack and make so much noise 
that they hear the hunters and fly before them. Bell shot 
five Pigeons at once. Harris and Squires are both poorly, 
having eaten too indulgently of Buffalo brains. We are 
going to move six or seven hundred yards lower down, to 
spend the night in a more sheltered place. I hope I may 
have a large Beaver to-morrow. 

Tuesday, Bth. At daylight, after some discussion about 
Beaver lodges, Harris, Bell, Provost, and I, with two men, 
went to the traps — nothing caught. We now had the 
lodge demolished outwardly, namely, all the sticks removed, 

VOL. II. — 11 



1 62 AUDUBON 



under which was found a hole about two and a half feet in 
diameter, through which Harris, Bell, and Moncr^vier (who 
had followed us) entered, but found nothing within, as the 
Beaver had gone to the river. Harris saw it, and also the 
people at the boat. I secured some large specimens of 
the cuttings used to build the lodge, and a pocketful of the 
chips. Before Beavers fell the tree they long for, they 
cut down all the small twigs and saplings around. The 
chips are cut above and below, and then split off by the 
animal; the felled trees lay about us in every direction. 
We left our camp at half-past five ; I again examined the 
lodge, which was not finished, though about six feet in di- 
ameter. We saw a Pigeon Hawk giving chase to a Spotted 
Sandpiper on the wing. When the Hawk was about to 
seize the little fellow it dcTve under water and escaped. 
This was repeated five or six times ; to my great surprise 
and pleasure, the Hawk was obliged to relinquish the prey. 
As the wind blew high, we landed to take breakfast, on a 
fine beach, portions of which appeared as if paved by the 
hand of man. The canoe men killed a very poor cow, 
which had been wounded, and so left alone. The wind fell 
suddenly, and we proceeded on our route till noon, when 
it rose, and we stopped again. Mr. Culbertson went hunt- 
ing, and returned having killed a young buck Elk. Dined, 
and walked after the meat and skin, and took the measure- 
ments. Returning, saw two Elks driven to the hills by 
Mr. Culbertson and Bell. Met Harris, and started a mon- 
strous buck Elk from its couch in a bunch of willows ; shot 
at it while running about eighty yards off, but it was not 
touched. Meantime Provost had heard us from our dinner 
camp ; loading his rifle he came within ten paces, when his 
gun snapped. We yet hope to get this fine animal. Harris 
found a Dove's nest with one young one, and an egg just 
cracked by the bird inside ; the nest was on the ground. 
Curious all this at this late late season, and in a woody 
part of the country. Saw a Bat. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 163 

Wednesday, 6th. Wind blowing harder. Ransacked the 
point and banks both below and above, but saw only two 
Wolves ; one a dark gray, the largest I have yet seen. Har- 
ris shot a young of the Sharp-tailed Grouse; Bell, three 
Pigeons ; Provost went off to the second point below, about 
four miles, after Elks; Sprague found another nest of 
Doves on the ground, with very small young. The com- 
mon Bluebird was seen, also a Whip-poor-will and a 
Night-Hawk. Wind high and from the south. 

Thursday, 7th. About eleven o'clock last night the wind 
shifted suddenly to northwest, and blew so violently that 
we all left the boat in a hurry. Mrs. Culbertson, with her 
child in her arms, made for the willows, and had a shelter 
for her babe in a few minutes. Our guns and ammunition 
were brought on shore, as we were afraid of our boat 
sinking. We returned on board after a while ; but I could 
not sleep, the motion making me very sea-sick ; I went 
back to the shore and lay down after mending our fire. 
It rained hard for about two hours ; the sky then became 
clear, and the wind wholly subsided, so I went again to the 
boat and slept till eight o'clock. A second gale now arose ; 
the sky grew dark; we removed our boat to a more secure 
position, but I fear we are here for another day. Bell shot 
a Caprimulgus} so small that I have no doubt it is the one 
found on the Rocky Mountains by Nuttall, after whom I 
have named it. These birds are now travelling south. 
Mr. Culbertson and I walked up the highest hills of the 
prairie, but saw nothing. The river has suddenly risen 
two feet, the water rises now at the rate of eight inches in 
two and a half hours, and the wind has somewhat moder- 
ated. The little Whip-poor-will proves an old male, but it 
is now in moult. Left our camp at five, and went down 
rapidly to an island four miles below. Mr. Culbertson, 
Bell, Harris, and Provost went off to look for Elks, but I 

1 Nuttall's Poor-will, now known as Phaleenoptilus nuttalli, which has a 
two-syllabled note, rendered " oh-will " in the text beyond. — E. C. 



1 64 AUDUBON 



fear fruitlessly, as I see no tracks, nor do I find any of 
their beds. About ten o'clock Harris called me to hear 
the notes of the new Whip-poor-will ; we heard two at 
once, and the sound was thus : " Oh-will, oh-will," repeated 
often and quickly, as in our common species. The night 
was beautiful, but cold. 

Friday, 8th. Cloudy and remarkably cold ; the river 
has risen 6]/^ feet since yesterday, and the water is muddy 
and thick. Started early. The effect of sudden rises in 
this river is wonderful upon the sand-bars, which are no 
sooner covered by a foot or so of water than they at once 
break up, causing very high waves to run, through which 
no small boat could pass without imminent danger. The 
swells are felt for many feet as if small waves at sea. 
Appearances of rain. The current very strong; but we 
reached Fort Pierre at half-past five, and found all well. 

Saturday, 9th. Rain all night. Breakfasted at the fort. 
Exchanged our boat for a larger one. Orders found here . 
obliged Mr. Culbertson to leave us and go to the Platte 
River establishment, much to my regret. 

Sunday, 10th. Very cloudy. Mr. Culbertson gave me 
a parfleche'^ which had been presented to him by " L'Ours 
de Fer," the Sioux chief. It is very curiously painted, and 
is a record of a victory of the Sioux over their eftemies, 
the Gros Ventres. Two rows of horses with Indians 
dressed in full war rig are rushing onwards ; small black 
marks everywhere represent the horse tracks; round 
green marks are shields thrown away by the enemy in 
their flight, and red spots on the horses, like wafers, de- 
note wounds. 

Monday, 11th. Cloudy ; the men at work fitting up our 
new boat. Rained nearly all day, and the wind shifted to 
every point of the compass. Nothing done. 

1 A parfliche is a hide, usually a Buffalo bull's, denuded of hair, dressed 
and stretched to the desired shape. All articles made from this hide are 
also called paril^che, such as wallets, pouches, etc. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 165 

Tuesday, 12th. Partially clear this morning early, but 
rained by ten o'clock. Nothing done. 

Wednesday, ISth. Rainy again. Many birds were seen 
moving southwest. Our boat is getting into travelling 
shape. I did several drawings of objects in and about the 
fort. 

Thursday, Uj-th. Cloudy and threatening. Mr. Laidlow 
making ready to leave for Fort Union, and ourselves for 
our trip down the river. Mr. Laidlow left at half-past 
eleven, and we started at two this afternoon ; landed at the 
farm belonging to the fort, and procured a few potatoes, 
some corn, and a pig. 

Friday, 15th. A foggy morning. Reached Fort George. 
Mr. Illingsworth left at half-past ten. Wind ahead, and 
we were obliged to stop on this account at two. Fresh 
signs of both Indians and Buffaloes, but nothing killed. 

Saturday, 16th. Windy till near daylight. Started early ; 
passed Ebbett's new island. Bell heard Parrakeets. The 
day was perfectly calm. Found Arvicola pennsylvanica. 
Landed at the Great Bend for Black-tailed Deer and wood. 
Have seen nothing worthy our attention. Squires put up 
a board at our old camp the " Six Trees," which I hope to 
see again. The Deer are lying down, and we shall not go 
out to hunt again till near sunset. The note of the Meadow 
Lark here is now unheard. I saw fully two hundred flying 
due south. Collected a good deal of the Yucca plant. 

Sunday, 17th. We had a hard gale last night with rain 
for about an hour. This morning was beautiful ; we started 
early, but only ran for two hours, when we were forced to 
stop by the wind, which blew a gale. Provost saw fresh 
signs of Indians, and we were told that there were a few 
lodges at the bottom of the Bend, about two miles below 
us. The wind is north and quite cold, and the contrast 
between to-day and yesterday is great. Went shooting, 
and killed three Sharp-tailed Grouse. Left our camp 
about three o'clock as the wind abated. Saw ten or twelve 



1 66 AUDUBON 



Antelopes on the prairie wliere the Grouse were. We 
camped about a mile from the spot where we landed in 
May last, at the end of the Great Bend. The evening calm 
and beautiful. 

Monday, 18th. The weather cloudy and somewhat 
windy. Started early; saw a Fish Hawk, two Gulls, two 
White-headed Eagles and abundance of Golden Plovers. 
The Sharp-tailed Grouse feeds on rose-berries and the 
seeds of the wild sunflower and grasshoppers. Stopped at 
twenty minutes past nine, the wind was so high, and warmed 
some coffee. Many dead Buffaloes are in the ravines and 
on the prairies. Harris, Bell, and Sprague went hunting, 
but had no show with such a wind. Sprague outlined a 
curious hill. The wind finally shifted, and then lulled 
down. Saw Say's Flycatcher, with a Grosbeak. Saw two 
of the common Titlark. Left again at two, with a better 
prospect. Landed at sunset on the west side. Signs of 
Indians. Wolves howling, and found one dead on the 
shore, but too far gone to be skinned ; I was sorry> as it 
was a beautiful gray one. These animals feed on wild 
plums in great quantities. Tried to shoot some Doves for 
my Fox and Badger, but without success. Pea-vines very 
scarce. 

Tuesday, 19th. Dark and drizzly. Did not start until 
six. Reached Cedar Island, and landed for wood to use 
on the boat. Bell went off hunting. Wind north. Found 
no fit trees and left. Passed the burning cliffs and got on 
a bar. The weather fine, and wind behind us. Wolves 
will even eat the frogs found along the shores of this river. 
Saw five, all gray. At three o'clock we were obliged to 
stop on account of the wind, under a poor point. No 
game. 

Wednesday, 20th. Wind very high. Tracks of Wild 
Cats along the shore. The motion of the boat is so great 
it makes me sea-sick. Sprague saw a Sharp-tailed Grouse. 
We left at half-past twelve. Saw immense numbers of 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 167 

Pin-tailed Ducks, but could not get near them. Stopped 
on an island to procure pea-vines for my young Deer, and 
found plenty. Our camp of last night was only two miles 
and a half below White River. Ran on a bar and were 
delayed nearly half an hour. Shot two Blue-winged Teal. 
Camped opposite Bijou's Hill. 

Thursday, 21st. Wind and rain most of the night. 
Started early. Weather cloudy and cold. Landed to ex- 
amine Burnt Hills, and again on an island for pea-vines. 
Fresh signs of Indians. Saw many Antelopes and Mule 
Deer. At twelve saw a bull on one side of the river, 
and in a few moments after a herd of ten cattle on the other 
side. Landed, and Squires, Harris, Bell, and Provost have 
gone to try to procure fresh meat ; these are the first Buf- 
faloes seen since we left Fort Pierre. The hunters only 
killed one bull; no cows among eleven bulls, and this is 
strange at this season. Saw three more bulls in a ravine. 
Stopped to camp at the lower end of great Cedar Island at 
five o'clock. Fresh signs of Buffaloes and Deer. We cut 
some timber for oars. Rain set in early in the evening, 
and it rained hard all night. 

Friday, 22d. Raining ; left at a quarter past eight, with 
the wind ahead. Distant thunder. Everything wet and 
dirty after a very uncomfortable night. We went down 
the river about a mile, when we were forced to come to on 
the opposite side by the wind and the rain. Played cards 
for a couple of hours. No chance to cook or get hot 
coffee, on account of the heavy storm. We dropped down 
a few miles and finally camped till next day in the mud, 
but managed to make a roaring fire. Wolves in numbers 
howling all about us, and Owls hooting also. Still raining 
heavily. We played cards till nine o'clock to kill time. 
Our boat a quagmire. 

Saturday, ^Sd. A cloudy morning ; we left at six o'clock. 
Five Wolves were on a sand-bar very near us. Saw Red- 
shafted Woodpeckers, and two House Swallows. Have 



1 68 AUDUBON 



made a good run of about sixty miles. At four this after- 
noon we took in three men of the steamer " New Haven " 
belonging to the Opposition, which was fast on the bar, 
eight miles below. We reached Ponca Island and landed 
for the night. At dusk the steamer came up, and landed 
above us, and we found Messrs. Cutting and Taylor, and 
I had the gratification of a letter from Victor and Johnny, 
of July 22d. 

Sunday, 2 Jfth. Cloudy.windy, and cold. Both the steamer 
and ourselves left as soon as we could see. Saw a Wolf on 
a bar, and a large flock of White Pelicans, which we took 
at first for a keel-boat. Passed the Poncas, L'Eau qui Court, 
Manuel, and Basil rivers by ten o'clock.^ Landed just 
below Basil River, stopped by wind. Hunted and shot one 
Raven, one Turkey Buzzard, and four Wood-ducks. Ripe 
plums abound, and there are garfish in the creek. Found 
feathers of the Wild Turkey. Signs of Indians, Elks, and 
Deer. Provost and the men made four new oars. Went 
to bed early. 

Monday, 25th. Blowing hard all night, and began raining 
before day. Cold, wet, and misty. Started at a quarter 
past ten, passed Bonhomme Island at four, and landed for 
the night at five, fifteen miles below. 

Tuesday, 26th. Cold and cloudy ; started early. Shot a 
Pelican. Passed Jack's River at eleven. Abundance of 
Wild Geese. Bell killed a young White Pelican. Weather 
fairer but coldish. Sprague killed a Goose, but it was lost. 
Camped a few miles above the Vermilion River. Harris 
saw Raccoon tracks on Basil River. 

Wednesday, 27th. Cloudy but calm. Many Wood-ducks, 
and saw Raccoon tracks again this morning. Passed the 
Vermilion River at half-past seven. My Badger got out 
of his cage last night, and we had to light a candle to secure 
it. We reached the Fort of Vermilion at twelve, and met 

1 Niobrara River ; for which, and for others here named, see the previous 
note, date of May 20. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 169 

with a kind reception from Mr. Pascal. Previous to this 
we met a barge going up, owned and commanded by Mr. 
Tybell, and found our good hunter Michaux. He asked me 
to take him down, and I promised him $20 per month to 
St. Louis. We bought two barrels of superb potatoes, two 
of corn, and a good fat cow. For the corn and potatoes I 
paid no less than $16.00. 

Thursday, 28th. A beautiful morning, and we left at 
eight. The young man who brought me the calf at Fort 
George has married a squaw, a handsome girl, and she is 
here with him. Antelopes are found about twenty-five 
miles from this fort, but not frequently. Landed fifteen 
miles below on Elk Point. Cut up and salted the cow. 
Provost and I went hunting, and saw three female Elks, but 
the order was to shoot only bucks; a large one started 
below us, jumped into the river, and swam across, carrying 
his horns flat down and spread on each side of his back ; 
the neck looked to me about the size of a flour-barrel. 
Harris killed a hen Turkey, and Bell and the others saw 
plenty but did not shoot, as Elks were the order of the 
day. I cannot eat beef after being fed on Buffaloes. I am 
getting an old man, for this evening I missed my footing 
on getting into the boat, and bruised my knee and my 
elbow, but at seventy and over I cannot have the spring of 
seventeen. 

Friday, 29th. Rained most of the night, and it is 
raining and blowing at present. Crossed the river and 
have encamped at the mouth of the Iowa River,^ the 
boundary line of the Sioux and Omahas. Harris shot a 
Wolf. My knee too sore to allow me to walk. Stormy 
all day. 

Saturday, 30th. Hard rain all night, the water rose four 

1 On the south side of the Missouri, in present Nebraska, n short dis- 
tance above the mouth of the Big Sioux. This small stream is Roloje Creek 
of Lewis and Clark, Ayoway River of Nicollet, appearing by error as " Nor- 
way " and " Nioway " Creek on General Land Office maps. — E. C. 



170 AUDUBON 



inches. Found a new species of large bean in the Wild 
Turkey. Mosquitoes rather troublesome. The sun shining 
by eight o'clock, and we hope for a good dry day. Whip- 
poor-wills heard last night, and Night-hawks seen flying. 
Saw a Long-tailed Squirrel that ran on the shore at the 
cry of our Badger. Michaux had the boat landed to bring 
on a superb set of Elk-horns that he secured last week. 
Abundance of Geese and Ducks. Weather clouding over 
again, and at two we were struck by a heavy gale of wind, 
and were obliged to land on the weather shore ; the wind 
continued heavy, and the motion of the boat was too much 
for me, so I slipped on shore and with Michaux made a 
good camp, where we rolled ourselves in our blankets and 
slept soundly. 

Sunday, October 1. The wind changed, and lulled before 
morning, so we left at a quarter past six. The skies looked 
rather better, nevertheless we had several showers. Passed 
the [Big] Sioux River at twenty minutes past eleven. 
Heard a Pileated Woodpecker, and saw Fish Crows. Geese 
very abundant. Landed below the Sioux River to shoot 
Turkeys, having seen a large male on the bluffs. Bell 
killed a hen, and Harris two young birds; these will keep 
us going some days. Stopped again by the wind opposite 
Floyd's grave ; started again and ran about four miles, 
when we were obliged to land in a rascally place at twelve 
o'clock. Had hail and rain at intervals. Camped at the 
mouth of the Omaha River, six miles from the village. 
The wild Geese are innumerable. The wind has ceased 
and stars are shining. 

Monday, 2d. Beautiful but cold. The water has risen 
nine inches, and we travel well. Started early. Stopped 
at eight by the wind at a vile place, but plenty of Jerusalem 
artichokes, which we tried and found very good. Started 
again at three, and made a good run till sundown, when 
we found a fair camping-place and made our supper from 
excellent young Geese. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS \J\ 

Tuesday, 3d. A beautiful, calm morning; we started 
early. Saw three Deer on the bank. A Prairie Wolf 
travelled on the shore beside us for a long time before he 
found a place to get up on the prairie. Plenty of Sand- 
hill Cranes were seen as we passed the Little Sioux River. 
Saw three more Deer, another Wolf, two Swans, several 
Pelicans, and abundance of Geese and Ducks. Passed 
Soldier River at two o'clock. We were caught by a snag 
that scraped and tore us a little. Had we been two feet 
nearer, it would have ruined our barge. We passed 
through a very swift cut-off, most difficult of entrance. 
We have run eighty-two miles and encamped at the mouth 
of the cut-off, near the old bluffs. Killed two Mallards; 
the Geese and Ducks are abundant beyond description. 
Brag, Harris' dog, stole and hid all the meat that had 
been cooked for our supper. 

Wednesday, Jfth. Cloudy and coldish. Left early and 
can't find my pocket knife, which I fear I have lost. We 
were stopped by the wind at Caband Bluffs, about twenty 
miles above Fort Croghan ; we all hunted, with only fair 
results. Saw some hazel bushes, and some black walnuts. 
Wind-bound till night, and nothing done. 

Thursday, 5th. Blew hard all night, but a clear and 
beautiful sunrise. Started early, but stopped by the wind 
at eight. Bell, Harris, and Squires have started off for 
Fort Croghan. As there was every appearance of rain we 
left at three and reached the fort about half-past four. 
Found all well, and were most kindly received. We were 
presented with some green corn, and had a quantity of 
bread made, also bought thirteen eggs from an Indian for 
twenty-five cents. Honey bees are found here, and do 
well, but none are seen above this place. I had an unex- 
pected slide on the bank, as it had rained this afternoon ; 
and Squires had also one at twelve in the night, when he 
and Harris with Sprague came to the boat after having 
played whist up to that hour. 



172 AUDUBON 



Friday, 6th. Some rain and thunder last night. A 
tolerable day. Breakfast at the camp, and left at half- 
past eight. Our man Michaux was passed over to the 
officer's boat, to steer them down to Fort Leavenworth, 
where they are ordered, but we are to keep in company, 
and he is to cook for us at night. The whole station here 
is broken up, and Captain Burgwin ^ leaves in a few hours 
by land with the dragoons, horses, etc. Stopped at Belle 
Vue at nine, and had a kind reception; bought 6 lbs. 
coffee, 13 eggs, 2 lbs. butter, and some black pepper. 
Abundance of Indians, of four different nations. Major 
Miller, the agent, is a good man for this place. Left again 
at eleven. A fine day. Passed the Platte and its hun- 
dreds of snags, at a quarter past one, and stopped for the 
men to dine. The stream quite full, and we saw some 
squaws on the bar, the village was in sight. Killed two 
Pelicans, but only got one. Encamped about thirty miles 
below Fort Croghan. Lieutenant Carleton supped with 
us, and we had a rubber of whist. 

Saturday, 7th. Fine night, and fine morning. Started 
too early, while yet dark, and got on a bar. Passed 
McPherson's, the first house in the State of Missouri, at 
eight o'clock. Bell skinned the young of Fringilla har- 
risi. Lieutenant Carleton came on board to breakfast 
with us — a fine companion and a perfect gentleman. In- 
dian war-whoops were heard by him and his men whilst 
embarking this morning after we left. We encamped at 
the mouth of Nishnebottana, a fine, clear stream. Went 
to the house of Mr. Beaumont, who has a pretty wife. 
We made a fine run of sixty or seventy miles. 

Sunday, 8th. Cloudy, started early, and had rain by 
eight o'clock. Stopped twice by the storm, and played 
cards to relieve the dulness. Started at noon, and ran 
till half-past four. The wind blowing hard we stopped 
at a good place for our encampment. Presented a plate 
^ J. H. K. Burgwin. See a previous note, date of May 10. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 1 73 

of the quadrupeds to Lieut. James Henry Carleton,^ and 
he gave me a fine Black Bear skin, and has promised me 
a set of Elk horns. Stopped on the east side of the river 
in the evening. Saw a remarkably large flock of Geese 
passing southward. 

Monday, 9th. Beautiful and calm ; started early. Bell 
shot a Gray Squirrel, which was divided and given to my 
Fox and my Badger. Squires, Carleton, Harris, Bell, 
and Sprague walked across the Bend to the Black Snake 
Hills, and killed six Gray Squirrels, four Parrakeets, and 
two Partridges. Bought butter, eggs, and some whiskey 
for the men; exchanged knives with the lieutenant. 
Started and ran twelve miles to a good camp on the In- 
dian side. 

Tuesday, 10th. Beautiful morning, rather windy; started 
early. Great flocks of Geese and Pelicans; killed two of 
the latter. Reached Fort Leavenworth at four, and, as 
usual everywhere, received most kindly treatment and 
reception from Major Morton. Lieutenant Carleton gave 
me the Elk horns. Wrote to John Bachman, Gideon B. 
Smith, and a long letter home. 

Wednesday, 11th. Received a most welcome present of 
melons, chickens, bread, and butter from the generous 
major. Lieutenant Carleton came to see me off, and we 
parted reluctantly. Left at half -past six; weather calm 
and beautiful. Game scarce, paw-paws plentiful. Stopped 
at Madame Chouteau's, where I bought three pumpkins. 
Stopped at Liberty Landing and delivered the letters of 
Laidlow to Black Harris. Reached Independence Land- 
ing at sundown ; have run sixty miles. Found no letters. 
Steamer " Lebanon " passed upwards at half-past eight. 

Thursday, 12th. Beautiful and calm; stopped and 
bought eggs, etc., at a Mr. Shivers', from Kentucky. Ran 

1 Of Maine; in 1843 a second lieutenant of the First Dragoons. He 
rose during tlie Civil War to be lieutenant-colonel of the Fourth Cavalry, 
and Brevet Major-General of Volunteers j died Jan. 7, 1873. 



174 AUDUBON 



well to Lexington, where we again stopped for provisions ; 
ran sixty miles to-day. 

Friday, 13th. Heavy white frost, and very foggy. 
Started early and ran well. Tried to buy butter at sev- 
eral places, but in vain. At Greenville bought coffee. 
Abundance of Geese and White Pelicans; many Sand- 
hill Cranes. Harris killed a Wood-duck. Passed Grand 
River; stopped at New Brunswick, where we bought ex- 
cellent beef at 2\ cents a pound, but very inferior to Buf- 
falo. Camped at a deserted wood yard, after running 
between sixty and seventy miles. 

Saturday, Ufth. A windy night, and after eight days' 
good run, I fear we shall be delayed to-day. Stopped by 
a high wind at twelve o'clock. We ran ashore, and I 
undertook to push the boat afloat, and undressing for the 
purpose got so deep in the mud that I had to spend a 
much longer time than I desired in very cold water. 
Visited two farm houses, and bought chickens, eggs, and 
butter; very little of this last. At one place we pro- 
cured com bread. The squatter visited our boat, and we 
camped near him. He seemed a good man; was from 
North Carolina, and had a fine family. Michaux killed 
two Hutchins' Geese,^ the first I ever saw in the flesh. 
Ran about twenty miles ; steamer " Lebanon " passed us 
going downwards, one hour before sunset. Turkeys and 
Long-tailed Squirrels very abundant. 

Sunday, 15th. Cold, foggy, and cloudy ; started early. 
Passed Chariton River and village, and Glasgow ; bought 
bread, and oats for ray Deer. Abundance of Geese and 
Ducks. Passed Arrow Rock at eleven. Passed Boones- 
ville, the finest country on this river; Rocheport, with 
high, rocky cliffs; six miles below which we encamped, 
having run sixty miles. 

Monday, 16th. Beautiful autumnal morning, a heavy 
white frost and no wind. Started early, before six. The 

1 Branta hutchinsi. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 1 75 

current very strong. Passed Nashville, Marion, and 
steamer " Lexington " going up. Jefferson City at twelve. 
Passed the Osage River and saw twenty-four Deer oppo- 
site Smith Landing; camped at sundown, and found 
Giraud, the " strong man. " Ran sixty-one miles. Met 
the steamer " Satan," badly steered. Abundance of Geese 
and Ducks everywhere. 

Tuesday, 17th. Calm and very foggy. Started early 
and floated a good deal with the strong current. Saw 
two Deer. The fog cleared off by nine o'clock. Passed 
the Gasconade River at half-past nine. Landed at Pinck- 
ney to buy bread, etc. Buffaloes have been seen mired, 
and unable to defend themselves, and the Wolves actually 
eating their noses while they struggled, but were event- 
ually killed by the Wolves. Passed Washington and 
encamped below it at sundown; a good run. 

Wednesday, 18th. Fine and calm ; started very early. 
Passed Mount Pleasant. Landed at St. Charles to pur- 
chase bread, etc. Provost became extremely drunk, and 
went off by land to St. Louis. Passed the Charbonniere 
River, and encamped about one mile below. The steamer 
" Tobacco Plant " landed on the shore opposite. Bell and 
Harris killed a number of Gray Squirrels. 

Thursday, 19th. A heavy white frost, foggy, but calm. 
We started early, the steamer after us. Forced by the 
fog to stop on a bar, but reached St. Louis at three in 
the afternoon. Unloaded and sent all the things to 
Nicholas Berthoud's warehouse. Wrote home. 

Left St. Louis October 22, in steamer " Nautilus " for 
Cincinnati. 

Reached home at 3 p. m., November 6th, 1843, and 
thank God, found all my family quite well.^ 

' Audubon's daughter-in-law, Mrs. V. G. Audubon, writes : " He returned 
on the 6th of November, 1843. It was a bright day, and the whole family, 
with his old friend Captain Cummings, were on the piazza waiting for the 
carriage to come from Harlem [then the only way of reaching New York by 



\^6 AUDUBON 



[Copied from Bell's Journal/] 

"August 2. Started at half -past seven this morning; 
saw several Yellow-legs (Godwits), and some young Blue- 
winged Teal in the pond in the first prairie. Shot two 
Curlews ; saw two very fine male Elks ; they were lying 
down quite near us, under a bank where they got the wind of 
us. The Sharp-tailed Grouse are first-rate eating now, as 
they feed entirely on grasshoppers, and berries of different 
kinds. Owen climbed a tree to a White-headed Eagle's 
nest, and drove a young one out, which fell to the ground 
and was caught alive, and brought to the fort. Is it not 
very remarkable that Eagles of this species should have 
their young in the nest at this late season, when in the 
Floridas I have shot them of the same size in February.? 
Shot at a Wolf, which being wounded, went off about one 
hundred yards, and yelled like a dog ; a very remarkable 
instance, as all we have killed or wounded, and they have 
been many, rarely make any sound, and if they do it is 
simply a snapping at their pursuer. As we went up the 
Missouri on the 7th instant, I found numbers of Cliff 
Swallow's nests, with the old ones feeding their young. 
This is also very late and uncommon at this season. Saw 
a Peregrine Falcon feeding its young. La Fleur shot two 
bucks of the White-tailed Deer with two shots, and the 
meat, which we brought home, proved fat and good. Saw 
Beaver tracks, and young Green-winged Teals. We saw 
hills impregnated with sulphur and coal, some of them 

rail] . There were two roads, and hearing wheels, some ran one way and 
some another, each hoping to be the first to see him ; but he had left the 
carriage at the top of the hill, and came on foot straight down the steepest 
part, so that those who remained on the piazza had his first kiss. He 
kissed his sons as well as the ladies of the party. He had on a green 
blanket coat with fur collar and cuffs ; his hair and beard were very long, 
and he made a fine and striking appearance. In this dress his son John 
painted his portrait." 
1 See page 126. 




MRS. AU DU l;ON, 1854. 

FROM A UAC;UERRH(rr',-]'l^_, 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 1 77 

on fire, and now and then portions of them gave way, by 
hundreds of tons at a time. In one place I saw a vein of 
coal on fire ; we were following a path close to the foot of 
a high hill, and at a turn as we looked ahead, we found 
the way suddenly blocked by the earth falling down from 
above us, and looking up saw a line of coal, or other dark 
substance; it was about two feet thick, and about sev- 
enty-five feet from the bottom and forty from the top. It 
was burning very slowly, and in several places, for about 
fifty yards, emitting whitish smoke, something like sul- 
phur when burning, and turning the earth or rock above, 
quite red, or of a brick color. It would undermine the 
earth above, which then fell in large masses, and this was 
the cause of the obstruction in the path before us. It 
must have been burning for a long time, as it had already 
burned some distance along the hill, and hundreds of tons 
of earth had fallen. In some places I saw banks of clay 
twenty feet high, quite red, hard in some parts, and in 
others very scaly and soft, even crumbling to pieces. 
Where the fire was burning, the clay was red, varying 
from one to three feet in thickness ; no appearance of coal 
presented itself where the fire had passed along and was 
extinguished, but very distinct above the fire, and I have 
no doubt there is a small quantity of sulphur mixed with 
this coal, or whatever the substance may be. In another 
place a short distance from these hills, and in a ravine, I 
also saw some red stones which looked very much as if 
the corners of a house which had once been there still 
remained, with the remnants of two sides yet straight. 
These stones varied from six to twenty inches in thick- 
ness, and many of them were square and about eighteen 
or twenty feet high; we had not time to remain and 
examine and measure as carefully as I should have liked 
to do." 



VOL. II. — 12 



178 AUDUBON 



Extracts from Mr. Culbertson's Journal, kept at Fort 
McKenzie, Blackfeet Indian Country in 1834.^ 

"Friday, June 13. Blood Indians started this morning 
to go to war against the Crows. They had not left long, 
when the ' Old Bull's Backfat's' son, with his sister, 
brother, and brother-in-law, returned to the fort, saying 
they must go back to the camp. After I had given them 
tobacco and ammunition they all started, but did not get 
more than two miles from the fort before they were all 
killed by the Crows, except one, who by some means 
leaped on one of the Crow horses and fled to the fort. 
The squaw no doubt was taken prisoner, as in the even- 
ing I went out and found the bodies of her husband and 
brother, but she was not there. On Saturday, the 14th, I 
went out and brought in the bodies, and had them de- 
cently interred. The young man who had escaped was 
only slightly wounded, and started again for the camp 
with three Gros Ventres. 

" Tuesday, 2lj.th. We were all surprised this evening 
at the arrival of the squaw who had been taken prisoner, 
and who had been carried to the Crow village where she 
was kept tied every night until the one in which she made 
her escape. During the previous day having it in con- 
templation to escape, she took the precaution of hiding a 
knife under her garment of skins, but most unfortunately 
she went out with one of the Crow squaws, and in stoop- 
ing, the knife fell out ; this was reported, and as a punish- 
ment she was stripped of every particle of clothing, and 
when night came was not tied, as it was not imagined she 
would leave the cover of the tent. However, she decided 
nothing should keep her from availing herself of the only 

1 These extracts, as well as the descriptions by Mr. Denig and Mr. Cul- 
bertson, of Forts Union and McKenzie, which follow, are in Audubon's 
writing, at the end of one of the Missouri River journals, and are given as 
descriptions of the life and habitations of those early western pioneers and 
fur-traders. 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 179 

opportunity she might ever have; she started with abso- 
lutely no covering of any kind, and in this plight she trav- 
elled across the prairies, almost without stopping to rest, 
and with little food, iox four days and three nights ; unfor- 
tunately the weather was unusually cold for the season, 
as well as wet. She arrived at the fort in a most wretched 
and pitiable condition, but greatly to the joy and consola- 
tion of her relations and friends. She said that after her 
arrival at the Crow village, they made her dance with the 
scalps of her brother and husband tied to her hair, and 
clothed in the bloody shirt of the latter. On Wednes- 
day, 2Sth, a band of four hundred Crows arrived with 
the intention of taking the fort by stratagem if they 
could get the opportunity; but they failed in this, as I 
would not allow one of them inside the fort, or to come 
within firing distance of their arms. They used every 
artifice in their power to persuade me to let in a few of 
them to smoke the pipe of peace, assuring me that their 
intentions were good, and that they loved the white peo- 
ple. Finding all this of no avail, they brought their best 
horses to give to me, for which they did not wish to re- 
ceive anything more than the privilege of letting some of 
them come in; but all this was in vain, as I was well 
aware of their treacherous intentions. I divided my men 
in the two bastions, with orders to fire upon the first one 
that might approach during the night, and warned them 
of my having given such orders, telling them that I did 
not wish to strike the first blow, but that if they com- 
menced they would go off with small numbers, and sore 
hearts. There was an American with them who now 
told me of their intentions, and that they were deter- 
mined to take the fort. I sent them word by him that 
we were ready for them if they thought themselves able 
to do so, and to come and try; but when they saw our 
cannon pointed towards them, they were not so anxious 
to make a rush. On the 26th the Crows made another 



l8o AUDUBON 



attempt to get in, but after a long and persuasive talk, 
they found that it would not do. They then crossed the 
river and came on the high bank opposite to the fort, and 
fired upon us, and while some of them were yet crossing 
the river I let loose a cannon ball among them, which, if 
it did no harm, made them move at a quick pace, and 
after a while they all went off, leaving us without food of 
any sort ; but fortunately on Monday the 30th, a party of 
Blood Indians came in from the Crows with fifteen horses 
and considerable meat. The Crows had taken all our 
horses shortly before, and promised to return them in a 
few days if I would let them in. I was also informed 
that they had even brought pack-horses to carry off the 
goods from the fort after having accomplished the de- 
struction of the building and the massacre of ourselves." 

From these extracts the nature of the Indians of these 
regions may be exemplified a thousand times better, be- 
cause true, than by all the trashy stuff written and pub- 
lished by Mr. Catlin. 



DESCRIPTION OF FORT UNION 

By EDWIN T. DENIG. July 30, 1843 

" Fort Union, the principal and handsomest trading-post 
on the Missouri River, is situated on the north side, about 
six and a half miles above the mouth of the Yellowstone 
River; the country around it is beautiful, and well chosen 
for an establishment of the kind. The front of the fort is 
but a few steps, say twenty-five, from the bank of the 
Missouri. Behind the fort is a prairie with an agreeable 
ascent to the commencement of the bluffs, about one and 
a half miles in width, and two in length, surrounded at the 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS \%\ 

borders with high hills, or bluffs. Above and below, at 
the distance of two hundred yards commence the points, 
or bottoms, of the Missouri, which contain great quantities 
of Cottonwood, ash, and elm, supplying the fort with fuel, 
boat and building timber. The fort itself was begun in 
the fall of 1829, under the superintendence of Kenneth 
McKenzie, Esq., an enterprising and enlightened Scotch- 
man, and now a well known and successful merchant in 
St. Louis. As the immense deal of work about such an 
undertaking had but few men to accomplish it, it was not 
wholly completed till after the expiration of four years, 
and indeed since then has been greatly improved by the 
other gentlemen who subsequently took charge of the 
fort. The plan of the fort is laid nearly due north and 
south, fronting 220 feet and running back 240 feet. This 
space is enclosed by pickets or palisades of twenty feet 
high, made of large hewn Cottonwood, and founded upon 
stone. The pickets are fitted into an open framework in 
the inside, of sufficient strength to counterbalance their 
weight, and sustained by braces in the form of an X, 
which reaches in the inside from the pickets to the frame, 
so as to make the whole completely solid and secure, 
from either storm or attack. On the southwest and north- 
east corners, are bastions, built entirely out of stone, and 
measuring 24 feet square, over 30 feet high, and the wall 
three feet thick ; this is whitewashed. Around the tops of 
the second stories are balconies with railings, which serve 
for observatories, and from the tops of the roofs are two 
flag-staffs 25 feet high, on which wave the proud Eagle of 
America. Two weathercocks, one a Buffalo bull, the 
other an Eagle, complete the outsides. In the interior of 
the northeast bastion are placed opposite their port-holes 
one three-pounder iron cannon and one brass swivel, both 
mounted, and usually kept loaded, together with a dozen 
muskets in case of a sudden attack from the Indians. 
Balls, cartridges, and other ammunition are always in readi- 



1 82 AUDUBON 



ness for the use of the same. The contents of the south- 
east bastion are similar to those of the other, with the 
exception of the cannon, having but one small swivel. 
These and other preparations render the place impregnable 
to any force without, not furnished with artillery. The prin- 
cipal building in the establishment, and that of the gentle- 
man in charge, or Bourgeois, is now occupied by Mr. 
Culbertson, one of the partners of the Company. It is 
78 feet front by 24 feet depth, and a story and a half high. 
The front has a very imposing appearance, being neatly 
weather-boarded, and painted white, and with green win- 
dow-shutters ; it is roofed with shingle, painted red to pre- 
serve the wood. In the roof in front are four dormer 
windows, which serve to give light to the attic. The piazza 
in front adds much to the comfort and appearance, the 
posts are all turned, and painted white. It serves as a 
pleasant retreat from the heat of the day, and is a refresh- 
ing place to sleep at night when mosquitoes are plenty. 
Mr. Audubon, the naturalist, now here upon scientific 
researches, together with his secretary, Mr. Squires, prefer 
this hard bed to the more luxurious comforts of feathers 
and sheets. The interior of this building is handsomely 
papered and ornamented with portraits and pictures, and 
portioned off in the following manner. Mr. Culbertson 
has the principal room, which is large, commodious, and 
well-furnished ; from it he has a view of all that passes 
within the fort. Next to this is the office, which is 
devoted exclusively to the business of the Company, which 
is immense. This department is now under my super- 
vision (viz., E. T. Denig). These two rooms occupy 
about one-half the building. In the middle is a hall, 
eight feet wide, which separates these rooms from the 
other part. In this is the mess-room, which is nearly 
equal in size to that of Mr. Culbertson. Here the Bour- 
geois, taking his seat at the head of the table, attends to 
its honors, and serves out the luxmies this wilderness 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 1 83 

produces to his visitors and clerks, who are seated in their 
proper order and rank. The mechanics of the fort eat at 
the second table. Adjoining this room is the residence 
of Mr. Denig. In the upper story are at present located 
Mr. Audubon and his suite. Here from the pencils of 
Mr. Audubon and Mr. Sprague emanate the splendid 
paintings and drawings of animals and plants, which are 
the admiration of all; and the Indians regard them as 
marvellous, and almost to be worshipped. In the room 
next to this is always kept a selection of saddlery and 
harness, in readiness for rides of pleasure, or for those 
rendered necessary for the protection of the horses which 
are kept on the prairie, and which suffer from frequent 
depredations on the part of the Indians, which it is the 
duty of the men at the fort to ward off as far as possible. 
The next apartment is the tailor's shop, so placed as to 
be out of the way of the Indian visitors as much as pos- 
sible, who, were it at all easy of access, would steal some 
of the goods which it is necessary to have always on hand. 
So much for the principal house. On the east side of the 
fort, extending north and south, is a building, on range, 
all under one roof, 127 ft. long by 25 ft. deep, and used 
for the following purposes. A small room at the north 
end for stores and luggage; then the retail store, in which 
is kept a fair supply of merchandise, and where all white 
persons buy or sell. The prices of all goods are fixed by 
a tariff or stationary value, so that no bargaining or cheat- 
ing is allowed; this department is now in charge of Mr. 
Larpenteur. Adjoining this is the wholesale warehouse, 
in which is kept the principal stock of goods intended for 
the extensive trade; this room is 57 ft. in length. Next 
is a small room for the storage of meat and other sup- 
plies. At the end is the press room, where all robes, 
furs, and peltries are stored. The dimensions extend to 
the top of the roof inside, which roof is perfectly water- 
proof. It will contain from 2800 to 3000 packs of Buf- 



1 84 AUDUBON 



falo robes. All this range is very strongly put together, 
weather-boarded outside, and lined with plank within. It 
has also cellar and garret. Opposite this, on the other 
side of the fort enclosure, is a similar range of buildings 
119 ft. long by 21 ft. wide, perhaps not quite so strongly 
built, but sufficiently so to suit all purposes. The height 
of the building is in proportion to that of the pickets; 
it is one large story high, and shingle-roofed. This 
is partitioned off into six different apartments of nearly 
equal size. The first two are appropriated to the use of 
the clerks who may be stationed at the post. The next 
is the residence of the hunters, and the remaining three 
the dwellings of the men in the employ of the Company. 
An ice-house 24 by 21 ft. is detached from this range, and 
is well filled with ice during the winter, which supply 
generally lasts till fall. Here is put all fresh meat in 
the hot weather, and the fort in the summer season is usu- 
ally provisioned for ten days. The kitchen is behind the 
Bourgeois' house on the north side, and about two steps 
from the end of the hall, — so situated for convenience in 
carrying in the cooked victuals to the mess-room. Two 
or three cooks are usually employed therein, at busy 
times more. The inside frame-work of the fort, which 
sustains the pickets, forms all around a space about eight 
feet wide described by the braces or X, and about fifteen 
feet high. A balcony is built on the top of this, having 
the summit of the X for its basis, and is formed of sawed 
plank nailed to cross beams from one brace to another. 
This balcony affords a pleasant walk all round the inside 
of the fort, within five feet of the top of the pickets ; from 
here also is a good view of the surrounding neighborhood, 
and it is well calculated for a place of defence. It is a 
favorite place from which to shoot Wolves after nightfall, 
and for standing guard in time of danger. The openings 
that would necessarily follow from such a construction, 
under the gallery, are fitted in some places with small 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 185 

huts or houses. Behind the kitchen there are five of such 
houses, leaving at the same time plenty of space between 
them and the other buildings. The first of these is a 
stable for Buffalo calves, which are annually raised here, 
being caught during the severe storms of winter ; the sec- 
ond a hen-house, well lined, plastered, and filled with 
chickens ; third, a very pleasant room intended as an art- 
ist's work-room, fourth, a cooper's shop, and then the 
milk house and dairy. Several houses of the same kind 
and construction are also built on the west and south 
sides; one contains coal for the blacksmith, and ten 
stables, in all 117 ft. long, and 10 ft. wide, with space 
enough to quarter fifty horses. These are very useful, as 
the Company have always a number of horses and cattle 
here. These buildings, it will be understood, do not inter- 
fere with the Area or Parade of the fort, and are hardly 
noticed by a casual observer, but occupy the space under 
the balcony that would otherwise be useless and void. 
Fifty more of the same kind could be put up without in- 
truding upon any portion of the fort used for other pur- 
poses. On the front side, and west of the gate, is a house 
50 by 21 feet, which, being divided into two parts, one half 
opening into the fort, is used as a blacksmith's, gun- 
smith's, and tinner's shop; the other part is used as a 
reception-room for Indians, and opens into the passage, 
which is made by the double gate. There are two large 
outside gates to the fort, one each in the middle of the 
front and rear, and upon the top of the front one is a 
painting of a treaty of peace between the Indians and 
whites executed by J. B. Moncr^vier, Esq. These gates 
are 12 ft. wide, and 14 ft. high. At the front there is an 
inside gate of the same size at the inner end of the Indian 
reception room, which shuts a passage from the outside 
gate of 32 ft. in length, and the same width as the gate ; 
the passage is formed of pickets. The outside gate can 
be left open, and the inside one closed, which permits the 



1 86 AUDUBON 



Indians to enter the reception room without their having 
any communication with the fort. Into this room are 
brought all trading and war parties, until such time as 
their business is ascertained; there is also behind this 
room a trade shop, and leading into it a window through 
which the Indians usually trade, being secure from rain 
or accident; there is also another window through the 
pickets to the outside of the fort, which is used in trad- 
ing when the Indians are troublesome, or too numerous. 
The Powder Magazine is perhaps the best piece of work, 
as regards strength and security, that could be devised 
for a fort like this. The dimensions are 25 by 1 8 ft. ; it 
is built out of stone, which is a variety of limestone with 
a considerable quantity of sand in its composition. The 
walls are 4 ft. thick at the base, and increasing with the 
curve of the arch become gradually thicker as they rise, 
so that near the top they are about 6 ft. in thickness. 
The inside presents a complete semicircular arch, which 
is covered on the top with stones and gravel to the depth 
of 18 inches. The whole is covered with a shingle roof 
through which fire may burn yet with no danger to the 
powder within. There are two doors, one on the out- 
side, the other a few feet within ; the outer one is covered 
with tin. There are several other small buildings under 
the balcony, which are used for harness, tool-houses, meat, 
etc. The space behind the warehouse between that and 
the pickets, being free from buildings, affords a good 
horse yard, and some shelter to the horses in bad weather. 
The area of the fort within the fronts of the houses is 
189 ft. long, and 141 ft. wide. In the centre of this 
arises a flag-staff 63 ft. high. This is surrounded at the 
base by a railing and panel work in an octagonal form, 
enclosing a portion of ground 12 ft. in diameter, in which 
are planted lettuce, radishes, and cress, and which presents 
at the same time a useful and handsome appearance. By 
the side of this stands a mounted four-pounder iron can- 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 1 87 

non. This flag-staff is the glory of the fort, for on high, 
seen from far and wide, floats the Star Spangled Banner, an 
immense flag which once belonged to the United States 
Navy, and gives the certainty of security from dangers, 
rest to the weary traveller, peace and plenty to the fa- 
tigued and hungry, whose eyes are gladdened by the sight 
of it on arriving from the long and perilous voyages usual 
in this far western wild. It is customary on the arrivals 
and departures of the Bourgeois, or of the boats of 
gentlemen of note, to raise the flag, and by the firing of 
the cannon show them a welcome, or wish them a safe 
arrival at their point of destination. When interest and 
affection are as circumscribed as here, they must neces- 
sarily be more intense, and partings are more regretted, 
being accompanied by dangers to the departing friends, 
and meetings more cordial, those dangers having been 
surmounted. The casualties of the country are common 
to all, and felt the more by the handful, who, far from 
civilization, friends, or kindred, are associated in those 
risks and excitements which accrue from a life among 
savages. About two hundred feet east of Fort Union is 
an enclosure about 1 50 ft. square, which is used for hay 
and other purposes. Two hundred and fifty good cart-loads 
of hay are procured during the summer and stacked up in 
this place for winter use of horses and cattle, the winter 
being so severe and long, and snow so deep that little 
food is to be found for them on the prairies at that sea- 
son. There are, at present, in this place thirty head of 
cattle, forty horses, besides colts, and a goodly number 
of hogs. A garden on a small scale is attached to the 
' old fort ' as it is called, which supplies the table with 
peas, turnips, radishes, lettuce, beets, onions, etc. The 
large garden, half a mile off and below the fort, contains 
one and a half acres, and produces most plentiful and ex- 
cellent crops of potatoes, corn, and every kind of vege- 
table, but has not been worked this year. In the summer 



AUDUBON 



of 1838, Mr. Culbertson had from it 520 bushels of pota- 
toes, and as many other vegetables as he required for the 
use of the fort. Rainy seasons prove most favorable in 
this climate for vegetation, but they rarely occur. It is 
indeed pleasant to know that the enterprising men who 
commenced, and have continued with untiring persever- 
ance, the enlargement of the Indian trade, and labored 
hard for the subordination, if not civilization, of the In- 
dians, should occasionally sit down under their own vine 
and fig-tree, and enjoy at least the semblance of living 
like their more quiet, though not more useful brothers in 
the United States." 



FORT Mckenzie 

By ALEXANDER CULBERTSON, Esq. August 7, 1843 

" The American Fur Company, whose untiring persever- 
ance and enterprise have excited the wonder and admira- 
tion of many people, both in this and other countries, and 
who have already acquired a well-earned fame for their 
labors among the aborigines of this wilderness, and who 
are now an example of the energy of the American people, 
had, until the year 1832, no stations among the Blackfeet, 
Piegans, Blood Indians, or Gros Ventres de Prairie, these 
tribes being so hostile and bloodthirsty as to make the 
trading, or the erecting of a fort among them too danger- 
ous to be attempted. At last, however, these dangers 
and difficulties were undertaken, commenced, and sur- 
mounted, and Fort McKenzie was erected in the very 
heart of these tribes. The fort was begun in 1832, under 
the superintendence of David D. Mitchell, then one of the 
clerks of the Company, now U. S. Superintendent of 
Indian Affairs. The fort was completed by me, Alexander 
Culbertson, then a clerk of the Company, now one of the 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 189 

partners. During the first year, owing to the exigencies 
of the occasion, a temporary, though substantial fort was 
erected, which, however, served to protect the daring few 
who undertook and accomplished the perilous task. To 
those who are quietly sitting by their firesides in the heart 
of civilized life, enjoying all its luxuries, pleasures, and 
comforts, and who are far removed from the prairie land 
and the red men, the situation of this party can hardly be 
pictured. They were surrounded by dangers of all kinds, 
but more especially from the tribes of Indians before 
mentioned. Two thousand lodges of Blackfeet were near 
them, waiting only until an opportunity should offer to 
satisfy their thirst for blood, to fall upon and kill them. 
Apart from this tribe the others were loitering around 
them for the same purpose ; add to this, privations, fatigues, 
hardships, and personal ills which have to be encountered 
in a country like this. All, however, was met coura- 
geously; undaunted by appearances, unintimidated by 
threats, not unmanned by hardships and fatigues, they 
pushed ahead, completed the fort, and at last accom- 
plished their object of establishing a trade with the tribes 
above mentioned; and they now enjoy a comparative 
peace, and are living upon fairly friendly terms with their 
late most violent enemies. During the following year 
another fort was commenced and completed, and retained 
its former name of Fort McKenzie, being named after 
Kenneth McKenzie, Esq., one of the partners of the Com- 
pany. The fort is situated on the north side of the 
Missouri, about six miles above the mouth of the Maria, 
and about forty miles below the 'Great Falls' of the 
Missouri, on a beautiful prairie, about fifteen feet above 
the highest-water mark, and about 225 feet from the river. 
The prairie rises gradually from the water's edge to the 
hills in the rear, about half a mile from the river. It is 
about a mile long, terminating at a ' c6te qui trompe de 
I'eau ' on the lower end, and in a point at the upper end, 



190 AUDUBON 



formerly heavily covered with timber, but now entirely 
destitute. Opposite the fort is a high perpendicular bank 
of black clay, rising from the river to the height of 150 
feet ; from this all that takes place within the walls of the 
fort can be seen, which would seem to have rendered the 
placing of the fort in such a position extremely inju- 
dicious. But not through carelessness was this done ; it is 
simply the sole place in this section of country, near the 
river, where a fort can be built, as the land is so rough 
and uneven as to render the erection of a fort at any 
other spot impossible. From this bank little or no danger 
is apprehended, as the river is about one hundred yards 
wide, and a ball fired by the Indians from this height, 
and at this distance, with the weapons that they have, 
would be incapable of doing any execution. Timber in 
this country has become very scarce ; points which a few 
years ago were covered with heavy forests of the different 
kinds of wood of the district have by some law of nature 
become entirely destitute, especially a point below the 
island called by the voyageurs the ' Grand Isle ' (which 
is situated at the commencement of the Mauvaises 
Terres), where it has dwindled to a few scattering cotton- 
woods and box elders ; and this is the only wood now to 
be found in this section of the country between ' Grand 
Isle ' and the ' Great Falls ' of the Missouri. It is with 
the greatest difficulty and economy that from the little 
wood to be found the fort is supplied with the necessary 
fuel; this is dealt out as a ration, allowing a certain 
quantity to each room, sufficient, however, to do the cook- 
ing, and warm the inmates. At all times, except when 
serving the ration, the wood is kept closely locked. This 
is one of the privations of the country, and, indeed the 
country affords very little which adds to the comfort of 
the trader who makes these wilds his home, except such 
as can be procured from the wild animals. Three sides 
of the fort are built of pickets of hewn cottonwood, 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 191 

squared, placed close together, eighteen feet long, planted 
three feet deep in the earth, leaving fifteen feet above 
ground. The pickets are connected at the top by a 
strong piece pinned to them. The fourth side, facing 
the northeast, is built of pickets framed in wooden sills 
lying in the ground, similar to those at Fort Union. 
The fort is two hundred feet square, ranging north and 
south and facing south. On the northeast and southwest 
corners are bastions built of cottonwood timber, ball proof, 
rising about eight feet above the pickets, twenty feet square 
and divided into two stories. In each bastion is a cannon, 
loaded muskets, cartridges, balls, and every requisite ne- 
cessary to prevent and repel any attack that may take place, 
and which is hourly expected, from the surrounding tribes 
of Indians. In each bastion are port and loop holes for 
the cannon and muskets, and these command the four 
sides of pickets, and an extensive range over the prairie. 
Along the rear line of pickets, and about twenty-five feet 
from them, is the principal range of buildings in the fort. 
These are occupied by the Bourgeois, clerks, and inter- 
preters. It is divided into three apartments ; the principal 
room, with every comfort that this dreary place affords, 
belongs to the Bourgeois and is twenty feet square ; and 
here, to partially remove the ennui of dull times, is a 
library of such books as time and opportunity have per- 
mitted the dwellers in the fort to collect; this is at the 
command of those who choose to ' drive dull care away,' 
and contains a little of everything, science, history, poetry, 
and fiction. Adjoining this room is a hall or passage 
eight feet wide, running from front to rear of the building, 
with a door opening into the Bourgeois's room, another 
opening into the clerk's room ; the clerk's room is also 
used as a mess-room and is the same size as that of the 
Bourgeois. Adjoining the clerk's room is the one be- 
longing to the interpreters ; it is twenty-four by twenty feet 
and is also used as a council room, and reception room for 



192 AUDUBON 



the chiefs that may arrive at the fort. The chiefs only are 
admitted within the walls ; not that any danger is appre- 
hended now from them, but to prevent any trouble that 
might possibly occur were numbers permitted to enter. 
The house is of Cottonwood logs, with a plank roof cov- 
ered with earth, chimneys of mud, two windows and 
doors in the Bourgeois's room, one each in the other 
rooms. The interior is ceiled and walled with plank. In 
the Bourgeois's room are two doors made of pine plank 
which was sawed in the Rocky Mountains. The house is 
75 by 20 ft. Most of the buildings in the fort are made 
in a similar manner. Above the three rooms described is 
a garret extending the whole length of the building. 
About three feet back of this edifice is the kitchen, a 
neat building twenty feet square, in which everything be- 
longing to this most important and useful apartment is 
to be found, always in good order, clean and bright, as it 
is the imperative duty of the cook, or person in charge, to 
have all connected with this department in perfect order. 
From this room all persons are excluded, unless duty or 
business requires them to be there. Adjoining this, on the 
same line north, is a house of the same dimensions as the 
kitchen, which is used for salting and preserving tongues, 
one of the delicacies of the civilized world ; when not thus 
used it answers the purpose of a wash-house. In these 
buildings are bedrooms occupied by the persons having 
charge of these departments. Extending along the west 
line of pickets, and about three feet from them, leaving a 
space between the range and the Bourgeois's house is a line 
of buildings divided in four apartments ; one used for a 
blacksmith's and tinner's shop, another for a carpenter's 
shop, one for the tailor, and the other for the men. In 
the square formed by the pickets and ends of the Bour- 
geois's and men's houses, is a yard for sawing timber, a 
quantity of which is necessarily required about the fort. 
A house running from the south bastion to the passage, 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 193 

twenty-four feet square, is used as a reception room for 
war and trading parties; a door leads from this to the 
passage formed by the double gates, thereby cutting off 
all communication with the interior of the fort. In this 
room all parties are received by the interpreter, who is 
always ready to smoke and talk with the Indians. Next 
to this room is a passage formed by the double gates, and 
two parallel lines of pickets extending inwards, making the 
passage about thirty feet long and twelve wide ; at the ends 
are two large gates, about twelve feet wide and the same 
height. Opposite the room last described is a similar one 
20 by 15 ft., in which the Indians bring their robes to trade. 
Next this is a trade store, where are kept goods, trinkets, 
etc., to be traded with the Indians. The trading is done 
through a window or wicket two feet square, and a foot 
thick, strongly hinged to the picket; this opening is at 
the command of the trader, who can open or close it, as 
the Indians may appear friendly or otherwise, thereby 
completely cutting off, if necessary, all communication be- 
tween the Indians and the trade store ; and it is through 
this opening only that trade is carried on. Next this is a 
room twenty-four feet square, where all goods obtained 
from the Indians are placed as soon as the trade is fin- 
ished ; and adjoining the trade shop is a room, between it 
and the pickets, about ten feet square, with a window and 
door opening into the trade shop, with a chimney, fire- 
place, and stove used only for warming the trader when off 
duty, or when awaiting the arrival of Indians. Along the 
east line of pickets, and about forty feet from them, is 
another range of buildings, about a hundred feet long and 
twenty deep, divided into five apartments. The first 
three are for storing packs of robes, furs, peltries, etc., and 
will hold eighteen hundred packs of robes; the fourth 
room is a retail store, 15 by 20 ft., in which is always a 
good assortment of stores, the prices fixed by a regular 
tariff, so no cheating is possible. All whites buy and sell 

TOL. II. — 13 



194 AUDUBON 



here. Fifth, is the wholesale warehouse, in which are 
boxes, bales, and all goods kept in quantity till required. 
Within a few feet of this, and northeast, is the meat house, 
twenty-four feet square, in which all meat traded from the 
Indians is kept till needed for use. Near the meat house 
south is a powder magazine, a hole dug in the ground ten 
feet square, walled ' with timber to the surface, covered 
with a timber roof four feet above the surface in the centre, 
and this is covered to the depth of three feet with earth ; 
in the roof is an outer door three feet square, opening 
upon another of the same size ; this is so arranged that in 
case of fire the whole can be covered in a few minutes, and 
rendered fire-proof. In the southeast corner is a large 
barn, 60 by 50 ft, capable of containing sufficient hay for all 
the cattle and horses during the long, cold, tedious winters 
of this country. Adjoining is a range of large and warm 
stables for the horses of the fort, and some extra ones if 
required, providing them with a good shelter from the 
piercing cold and severe storms. Extending from the 
stables is a range of small buildings used for keeping sad- 
dlery, harness, boat-rigging, tools, etc., thereby providing 
' a place for everything,' and it is required that every- 
thing shall be in its place. Over this is a gallery extend- 
ing along this line of pickets, answering the purposes of a 
promenade, observatory, guard station, and place of de- 
fence. In the southeast corner in front of the barn is a 
yard 30 by 60 ft., used for receiving carts, wagons, wood, 
and so forth. At the end of the yard in the rear of the 
dry-goods warehouse is an ice house, that will contain 
nearly forty loads of ice ; meat placed here will keep sev- 
eral days in the heat of summer, and thus save the hunter 
from a daily ride over the burning prairies. The stock 
belonging to the fort consists of thirty to forty horses, ten 
or twelve cattle, and a number of hogs. Fort McKenzie 
boasts of one of the most splendid Durham bulls that can 
be found in the United States or Territories. The area in 



THE MISSOURI RIVER JOURNALS 195 

front of the buildings is about a hundred feet square ; from 
the centre rises a flag-staff fifty feet high; from this wave 
the glorious folds of the starry banner of our native land, 
made more beautiful by its situation in the dreary wilder- 
ness around it. The wanderer, as he sees the bright folds 
from afar, hails them with gladness, as it means for him a 
place of safety. No sight is more welcome to the voya- 
geur, the hunter, or the trapper. That flag cheers all 
who claim it as theirs, and it protects all, white men or 
red. Here in the wilderness all fly to , it for refuge, and 
depend on it for security. Upon the arrival or departure 
of the Bourgeois, men of note, or arrival and departure of 
the boats, the flag is raised, and salutes fired. Here, 
where but few are gathered together, undying attachments 
are formed, a unanimity of feeling exists, to be found per- 
haps only in similar situations. When the hour of parting 
comes it is with regret, for amid the common dangers, so 
well known, none know when the meeting again will be, 
and when the hour of meeting comes, the joy is honest 
and unfeigned that the dangers are safely surmounted. 
Such is Fort McKenzie, suqh are its inmates. Removed 
as they are from civilization and its pleasures, home and 
friends, they find in each other friends and brothers: 
friends that forsake not in the hour of danger, but cling 
through all changes ; brothers in feeling and action, and 
'though there be many, in heart they are one.'" 



EPISODES 



EPISODES^ 



These Episodes were introduced in the letterpress of the first three vol- 
umes of the " Ornithological Biographies," but are not in the octavo edition 
of the " Birds of America," and I believe no entire reprint of them has been 
made before. So far as possible they have been arranged chronologically. 



Louisville, in Kentucky. 1808. 

The Ohio. 18 lo. 

Fishing in the Ohio. 1810. 

A Wild Horse. 1811. 

Breaking up of the Ice. 181 1. 

The Prairie. 1812. 

The Regulators, 

The Earthqualce. 181 2. 

The Hurricane. 1814. 

Colonel Boone. 1815. 

Natchez in 1820. 

The Lost Portfolio. 1820. 

The Original Painter. 1821, 

The Cougar. 1821, 

The Runaway. 1821. 

A Tough Walk for a Youth. 1822. 

Hospitality in the Woods. 1822. 

Niagara. 1824. 

Meadville. 1824. 

The Burning of the Forests. 1824. 

A Long Calm at Sea. 1826. 

Still Becalmed. 1826. 

Great Egg Harbor. 1829. 

The Great Pine Swamp. 1829. 

The Lost One. 1832. 

The Live-Oakers. 1832. 

Spring Garden. 1832. 

Death of a Pirate. 1832. 

Wreckers of Florida. 1832. 

St. John's River, in Florida. 1832. 



-r 



The Florida Keys, No. 1. 1832. 

The Florida Keys, No. z. 1832. ■ 

The Turtlers. 1832. ,1 

The Form of the Waters. 1833. 

Journey in New Brunswick and Maine 

•833- 
A Moose Hunt. 1833. 
Labrador. 1833. 
The Eggers of Labrador. 1833. 
The Squatters of Labrador. 1833 
Cod-Fishing. 1833. 
A Ball in Newfoundland. 1833. 
The Bay of Fundy. 1833. 
.A Flood. 

The Squatters of the Mississippi. 
Improvements in the Navigation of 

Mississippi. 
Kentucky Sports. 
The Traveller and the Pole-cat. 
Deer-Hunting. ..^ ^% ^ 
The Eccentric Naturalist. 
Scipio and the Bear. 
A Kentucky Barbecue. 
A Raccoon Hunt in Kentucky. 
The Pitting of Wolves. 
The Opossum. 
A Maple-Sugar Camp. 
The White Perch. 
The American Sun-Perch. 
My Style of drawing Birds. 



the 



^ One episode has been added, — "My Style of drawing Birds,*' — and three have been 
omitted, that on Bewick being in the " Journal of England and France," and the others not of 
general interest. 



EPISODES 



LOUISVILLE IN KENTUCKY 

LOUISVILLE in Kentucky has always been a favorite 
place of mine. The beauty of its situation on the 
banks of La Belle Riviere, just at the commencement of 
the famed rapids, commonly called the Falls of the Ohio, 
had attracted my notice, and when I removed to it, im- 
mediately after my marriage, I found it more agreeable 
than ever. The prospect from the town is such that it 
would please even th^ eye of a Swiss. It extends along 
the river for seven or eight miles, and is bounded on the 
opposite side by a fine range of low mountains, known by 
the name of the Silver Hills. The rumbling sound of the 
waters as they tumble over the rock-paved bed of the 
rapids is at all times soothing to the ear. Fish and game 
are abundant. But, above all, the generous hospitality of 
the inhabitants, and the urbanity of their manners, had 
induced me to fix upon it as a place of residence ; and I 
did so with the more pleasure when I found that my wife 
was as much gratified as myself by the kind attentions 
which were shown to us, utter strangers as we were, on our 
arrival. 

No sooner had we landed, and made known our inten- 
tion of remaining, than we were introduced to the prin- 
cipal inhabitants of the place and its vicinity, although we 
had not brought a single letter of introduction, and could 
not but see, from their unremitting kindness, that the 
Virginian spirit of hospitahty displayed itself in all the 



200 AUDUBON 



words and actions of our newly formed friends. I wish 
here to name those persons who so unexpectedly came 
forward to render our stay among them agreeable, but 
feel at a loss with whom to begin, so equally deserving are 
they of our gratitude. The Croghans, the Clarks (our 
great traveller included), the Berthouds, the Gaits, -the 
Maupins, the Tarascons, the Beals, and the Booths, form 
but a small portion of the long hst which I could give. 
The matrons acted like mothers to my wife, the daughters 
proved agreeable associates, and the husbands and sons 
were friends and companions to me. If I absented myself 
on business, or otherwise, for any length of time, my wife 
was removed to the hospitable abode of some friend in the 
neighborhood until my return, and then, kind reader, I 
was several times obliged to spend a week or more with 
these good people before they could be prevailed upon to 
let us return to our own residence. We lived for two years 
at Louisville, where we enjoyed many of the best pleasures 
which this life can afford; and whenever we have since 
chanced to pass that way, we have found the kindness of 
our former friends unimpaired. 

During my residence at Louisville, much of my time 
was employed in my ever favorite pursuits. I drew and 
noted the habits of everything which I procured, and my 
collection was daily augmenting, as every individual who 
carried a gun always sent me such birds or quadrupeds 
as he thought might prove useful to me. My portfolios 
already contained upwards of two hundred drawings. 
Dr. W. C. Gait being a botanist, was often consulted by 
me, as well as his friend. Dr. Ferguson. Mr. Gilly drew 
beautifully, and was fond of my pursuits. So was my 
friend, and now relative, N. Berthoud. As I have already 
said, our time was spent in the most agreeable manner, 
through the hospitable friendship of our acquaintance. 

One fair morning I was surprised by the sudden en- 
trance into our counting-room of Mr. Alexander Wilson, 



EPISODES 20 1 

the celebrated author of the " American Ornithology," of 
whose existence I had never until that moment been ap- 
prised. This happened in March, 18 10. How well do I 
remember him, as he walked up to me ! His long, rather 
hooked nose, the keenness of his eyes, and his prominent 
cheek bones, stamped his countenance with a peculiar 
character. His dress, too, was of a kind not usually seen 
in that part of the country, — a short coat, trousers, and a 
waistcoat of gray cloth. His stature was not above the 
middle size. He had two volumes under his arm, and as 
he approached the table at which I was working, I thought 
I discovered something like astonishment in his counte- 
nance. He, however^ immediately proceeded to disclose 
the object of his visit, which was to procure subscriptions 
for his work. He opened his hooks, explained the nature 
of his occupations, and requested my patronage. 

I felt surprised and gratified at the sight of his volumes, 
turned over a few of the plates, and had already taken a 
pen to write my name in his favor, when my partner, rather 
abruptly, said to me in French, " My dear Audubon, what 
induces you to subscribe to this work? Your drawings 
are certainly far better, and again, you must know as 
much of the habits of American birds as this gentlemen." 
Whether Mr. Wilson understood French or not, or if the 
suddenness with which I paused disappointed him, I can- 
not tell ; but I clearly perceived he was not pleased. Van- 
ity and the encomiums of my friend prevented me from 
subscribing. Mr. Wilson asked me if I had many draw- 
ings of birds. I rose, took down a large portfolio, laid it 
on the table, and showed him, as I would show you, kind 
reader, or any other person fond of such subjects, the 
whole of the contents, with the same patience with which 
he had shown me his own engravings. 

His surprise appeared great, as he told me he never had 
the most distant idea that any other individual than him- 
self had been engaged in forming such a collection. He 



202 AUDUBON 



asked me if it was my intention to publish, and when I 
answered in the negative, his surprise seemed to increase. 
And, truly, such was not my intention ; for until long after, 
when I meet the Prince of Musignano in Philadelphia, I had 
not the least idea of presenting the fruits of my labors to* 
the world. Mr. Wilson now examined my drawings with 
care, asked if I should have any objections to lending him 
a few during his stay, to which I replied that I had none ; 
he then bade me good-morning, not, however, until I had 
made an arrangement to explore the woods in the vicinity 
with him, and had promised to procure for him some birds 
of which I had drawings in my collection, but which he 
had never seen. 

It happened that he lodged in the same house with us, 
but his retired habits, I thought, exhibited either a strong 
feeling of discontent or a decided melancholy. The 
Scotch airs which he played sweetly on his flute made me 
melancholy too, and I felt for him. I presented him to 
my wife and friends, and seeing that he was all enthusiasm, 
exerted myself as much as was in my power to procure 
for him the specimens which he wanted. We hunted to- 
gether, and obtained birds which he had never before seen ; 
but, reader, I did not subscribe to his work, for, even at 
that time, my collection was greater than his. Thinking 
that perhaps he might be pleased to publish the results of 
my researches, I offered them to him, merely on condition 
that what I had drawn, or might afterwards draw and send 
to him, should be mentioned in his work as coming from 
my pencil. I, at the same time, offered to open a corres- 
pondence with him, which I thought might prove beneficial 
to us both. He made no reply to either proposal, and be- 
fore many days had elapsed, left Louisville, on his way to 
New Orleans, little knowing how much his talents were 
appreciated in our little town, at least by myself and my 
friends. 

Some time elapsed, during which I never heard of him. 



EPISODES 203 

or of his work. At length, having occasion to go to Phil- 
adelphia, I, immediately after my arrival there, inquired 
for him, and paid him a visit. He was then drawing a 
White-headed Eagle. He received me with civility, and 
took me to the exhibition rooms of Rembrandt Peale, the 
artist, who had then portrayed Napoleon crossing the 
Alps. Mr. Wilson spoke not of birds nor drawings. Feel- 
ing, as I was forced to do, that my company was not agree- 
able, I parted from him ; and after that I never saw him 
again. But judge of my astonishment sometime after, 
when, on reading the thirty-ninth page of the ninth volume 
of " American Ornithology," I found in it the following 
paragraph : — 

" March 23, 1810. I bade adieu to Louisville, to which 
place I had four letters of recommendation, and was taught 
to expect much of everything there ; but neither received 
one act of civility from those to whom I was recommended, 
one subscriber nor one new bird; though I delivered my 
letters, ransacked the woods repeatedly, and visited all the 
characters likely to subscribe. Science or hterature has 
not one friend in this place." 



THE OHIO 

When my wife, my eldest son (then an infant), and myself 
were returning from Pennsylvania to Kentucky, we found 
it expedient, the waters being unusually low, to provide 
ourselves with a skiff, to enable us to proceed to our abode 
at Henderson. I purchased a large, commodious, and 
light boat of that denomination. We procured a mat- 
tress, and our friends furnished us with ready prepared 
viands. We had two stout negro rowers, and in this 
trim we left the village of Shippingport, in expectation 
of reaching the place of our destination in a very few 
days. 



204 AUDUBON 



It was in the month of October. The autumnal tints 
already decorated the shores of that queen of rivers, the 
Ohio. Every tree was hung with long and flowing fes- 
toons of different species of vines, many loaded with 
clustered fruits of varied brilliancy, their rich bronzed 
carmine mingling beautifully with the yellow foliage, 
which now predominated over the yet green leaves, re- 
flecting more lively tints from the clear stream than ever 
landscape painter portrayed, or poet imagined. 

The days were yet warm. The sun had assumed the 
rich and glowing hue which at that season produces the 
singular phenomenon called there the "Indian Summer." 
The moon had rather passed the meridian of her grandeur. 
We glided down the river, meeting no other ripple of the 
water than that formed by the propulsion of our boat. 
Leisurely we moved along, gazing all day on the grandeur 
and beauty of the wild scenery around us. 

Now and then a large catfish rose to the surface of the 
water, in pursuit of a shoal of fry, which, starting simul- 
taneously from the liquid element like so many silver 
arrows, produced a shower of light, while the pursuer 
with open jaws seized the stragglers, and, with a splash 
of his tail, disappeared from our view. Other fishes we 
heard, uttering beneath our bark a rumbling noise, the 
strange sound of which we discovered to proceed from the 
white perch, for on casting our net from the bow, we 
caught several of that species, when the noise ceased for 
a time. 

Nature, in her varied arrangements, seems to have felt 
a partiality towards this portion of our country. As the 
traveller ascends or descends the Ohio, he cannot help 
remarking that alternately, nearly the whole length of the 
river, the margin, on one side, is bounded by lofty hills 
and a rolling surface, while on the other, extensive plains 
of the richest alluvial land are seen as far as the eye can 
command the view. Islands of varied size and form 



EPISODES 205 

rise here and there from the bosom of the water, and the 
winding course of the stream frequently brings you to 
places where the idea of being on a river of great length 
changes to that of floating on a lake of moderate extent. 
Some of these islands are of considerable size and value; 
while others, small and insignificant, seem as if intended 
for contrast, and as serving to enhance the general inter- 
est of the scenery. These little islands are frequently 
overflowed during great freshets or floods, and receive at 
their heads prodigious heaps of drifted timber. We fore- 
saw with great concern the alterations that cultivation 
would soon produce along those delightful banks. 

As night came, sinking in darkness the broader portions 
of the river, our minds became affected by strong emo- 
tions, and wandered far beyond the present moments. 
The tinkling of bells told us that the cattle which bore 
them were gently roving from valley to valley in search 
of food, or returning to their distant homes. The hoot- 
ing of the Great Owl, or the muflfled noise of its wings, 
as it sailed smoothly over the stream, were matters of in- 
terest to us; so was the sound of the boatman's horn, as 
it came winding more and more softly from afar. When 
daylight returned, many songsters burst forth with echo- 
ing notes, more and more mellow to the listening ear. 
Here and there the lonely cabin of a squatter struck the 
eye, giving note of commencing civilization. The cross- 
ing of the stream by a Deer foretold how soon the hills 
would be covered with snow. 

Many sluggish flatboats we overtook and passed ; some 
laden with produce from the different head-waters of the 
small rivers that pour their tributary streams into the 
Ohio ; others, of less dimensions, crowded with emigrants 
from distant parts, in search of a new home. Purer 
pleasures I never felt ; nor have you, reader, I ween, un- 
less indeed you have felt the like, and in such company. 

The margins of the shores and of the river were, at this 



206 AUDUBON 



season, amply supplied with game. A Wild Turkey, a 
Grouse, or a Blue-winged Teal, could be procured in a 
few moments ; and we fared well, for, whenever we pleased 
we landed, struck up a fire, and provided as we were with 
the necessary utensils, procured a good repast. 

Several of these happy days passed, and we neared our 
home, when, one evening, not far from Pigeon Creek (a 
small stream which runs into the Ohio from the State of 
Indiana), a loud and strange noise was heard, so like the 
yells of Indian warfare, that we pulled at our oars, and 
made for the opposite side as fast and as quietly a pos- 
sible. The sounds increased, we imagined we heard cries 
of "murder; " and as we knew that some depredations had 
lately been committed in the country by dissatisfied par- 
ties of aborigines, we felt for a while extremely uncom- 
fortable. Ere long, however, our minds became more 
calmed, and we plainly discovered that the singular up- 
roar was produced by an enthusiastic set of Methodists, 
who had wandered thus far out of the common way for 
the purpose of holding one of their annual camp-meetings, 
under the shade of a beech forest. Without meeting with 
any other interruption, we reached Henderson, distant 
from Shippingport, by water, about two hundred miles. 

When I think of these times, ^ and call back to my 
mind the grandeur and beauty of those almost uninhab- 
ited shores ; when I picture to myself the dense and lofty 
summits of the forests, that everywhere spread along the 
hills and overhung the margins of the stream, unmo- 
lested by the axe of the settler ; when I know how dearly 
purchased the safe navigation of that river has been, by 
the blood of many worthy Virginians ; when I see that no 
longer any aborigines are to be found there, and that the 
vast herds of Elk, Deer, and Buffaloes which once pas- 
tured on these hills, and in these valleys, making for them- 
selves great roads to the several salt-springs, have ceased 

1 This was in 1810 or i8ii. 



EPISODES 207 

to exist ; when I reflect that all this grand portion of our 
Union, instead of being in a state of nature, is now more 
or less covered with villages, farms, and towns, where the 
din of hammers and machinery is constantly heard; that 
the woods are fast disappearing under the axe by day, and 
the fire by night ; that hundreds of steamboats are gliding 
to and fro, over the whole length of the majestic river, 
forcing commerce to take root and to prosper at every 
spot ; when I see the surplus population of Europe com- 
ing to assist in the destruction of the forest, and trans- 
planting civilization into its darkest recesses; when I 
remember that these extraordinary changes have all taken 
place in the short period of twenty years, I pause,' won- 
der, and although I know all to be fact, can scarcely be- 
lieve its reality. 

Whether these changes are for the better or for the 
worse, I shall not pretend to say ; but in whatever way my 
conclusions may incline, I feel with regret that there are 
on record no satisfactory accounts of the state of that por- 
tion of the country, from the time when our people first 
settled in it. This has not been because no one in 
America is able to accomplish such an undertaking. 
Our Irvings and our Coopers have proved themselves 
fully competent for the task. It has more probably been 
because the changes have succeeded each other with such 
rapidity as almost to rival the movements of their pens. 
However, it is not too late yet ; and I sincerely hope that 
either or both of them will ere long furnish the genera- 
tions to come with those delightful descriptions which 
they are so well qualified to give, of the original state of 
a country that has been so rapidly forced to change her 
form and attire under the influence of increasing popula- 
tion. Yes, I hope to read, ere I close my earthly career, 
accounts from those delightful writers of the progress of 
civilization in our Western Country. They will speak of 
the Clarks, the Croghans, the Boones, and many other men 



208 AUDUBON 



of great and daring enterprise. They will analyze, as it 
were, into each component part, the country as it once 
existed, and will render the picture, as it ought to be, 
immortal. 



FISHING IN THE OHIO 

It ,is with mingled feelings of pleasure and regret that 
I recall to my mind the many pleasant days I have 
spent on the shores of the Ohio. The visions of former 
years crowd on my view, as I picture to myself the fer- 
tile soil and genial atmosphere of our great western gar- 
den, Kentucky, and view the placid waters of the fair 
stream that flows along its western boundary. Methinks 
I am now on the banks of the noble river. Twenty years 
of my life have returned to me; my sinews are strong, 
and the "bowspring of my spirit is not slack;" bright 
visions of the future float before me, as I sit on a grassy 
bank, gazing on the glittering waters. Around me are 
dense forests of lofty trees and thickly tangled under- 
growth, amid which are heard the songs of feathered 
choristers, and from whose boughs hang clusters of glow- 
ing fruits and beautiful flowers. Reader, I am very 
happy. But now the dream has vanished, and here I am 
in the British Athens, penning an episode for my Orni- 
thological Biography, and having before me sundry well- 
thumbed and weather-beaten folios, from which I expect to 
be able to extract some interesting particulars respecting 
the methods employed in those days in catching catfish. 

But before entering on my subject I will present you 
with a brief description of the place of my residence on 
the banks of the Ohio. When I first landed at Hender- 
son in Kentucky, my family, like the village, was quite 
small. The latter consisted of six or eight houses, the 
former of my wife, myself, and a young child. Few as 



EPISODES 209 



the houses were, we fortunately found one empty. It was 
a log cabin, not a log house; but as better could not be 
had, we were pleased. Well, then, we were located. 
The country around was thinly peopled, and all purchas- 
able provisions rather scarce; but our neighbors were 
friendly, and we had brought with us flour and bacon- 
hams. Our pleasures were those of young people not 
long married, and full of life and merriment; a single 
smile from our infant was, I assure you, more valued by 
us than all the treasure of a modern Croesus would have 
been. The woods were amply stocked with game, the 
river with fish ; and now and then the hoarded sweets of 
the industrious bees were brought from some hollow tree 
to our little table. Our child's cradle was our richest 
piece of furniture, our guns and fishing-lines our most 
serviceable implements, for although we began to culti- 
vate a garden, the rankness of the soil kept the seeds we 
planted far beneath the tall weeds that sprung up the first 
year. I had then a partner, a "man of business," and 
there was also with me a Kentucky youth, who much pre- 
ferred the sports of the forest and river to either day-book 
or ledger. He was naturally, as I may say, a good woods- 
man, hunter, and angler, and, like me, thought chiefly of 
procuring supplies of fish and fowl. To the task accord- 
ingly we directed all our energies. 

Quantity as well as quality was an object with us, and 
although we well knew that three species of catfish ex- 
isted in the Ohio, and that all were sufficiently good, we 
were not sure as to the best method of securing them. 
We determined, however, to work on a large scale, and 
immediately commenced making a famous "trot-line." 
Now, reader, as you may probably know nothing about 
this engine, I shall describe it to you. 

A trot-line is one of considerable length and thickness, 
both qualities, however, varying according to the extent 
of water, and the size of the fish you expect to catch. As 

TOL. II — 14 



2IO AUDUBON 



the Ohio, at Henderson, is rather more than half a mile 
in breadth, and as catfishes weigh from one to an hun- 
dred pounds, we manufactured a line which measured 
about two hundred yards in length, as thick as the little 
finger of some fair one yet in her teens, and as white as 
the damsel's finger well could be, for it was wholly of 
Kentucky cotton, just, let me tell you, because that sub- 
stance stands the water better than either hemp or flax. 
The main line finished, we made a hundred smaller ones, 
about five feet in length, to each of which we fastened a 
capital hook of Kirby and Co. 's manufacture. Now for 
the bait ! 

It was the month of May. Nature had brought abroad 
myriads of living beings ; they covered the earth, glided 
through the water, and swarmed in the air. The catfish 
is a voracious creature, not at all nice in feeding, but one 
who, like the Vulture, contents himself with carrion when 
nothing better can be had. A few experiments proved to 
us that, of the dainties with which we tried to allure them 
to our hooks, they gave a decided preference, at that sea- 
son, to live toads. These animals were very abundant 
about Henderson. They ramble or feed, whether by in- 
stinct or reason, during early or late twilight more than 
at any other time, especially after a shower, and are un- 
able to bear the heat of the sun's rays for several hours 
before and after noon. We have a good number of these 
crawling things in America, particularly in the western 
and southern parts of the Union, and are very well sup- 
plied with frogs, snakes, lizards, and even crocodiles, 
which we call alligators ; but there is enough of food for 
them all, and we generally suffer them to creep about, to 
leap or to flounder as they please, or in accordance with 
the habits which have been given them by the great Con- 
ductor of all. 

During the month of May, and indeed until autumn, we 
found an abundant supply of toads. Many "fine ladies," 



EPISODES 211 

no doubt, would have swooned, or at least screamed and 
gone into hysterics, had they seen one of our baskets 
filled with these animals, all alive and plump. Fortu- 
nately we had no tragedy queen or sentimental spinster at 
Henderson. Our Kentucky ladies mind their own affairs, 
and seldom meddle with those of others farther than to do 
all they can for their comfort. The toads, collected one 
by one, and brought home in baskets, were deposited in a 
barrel for use. And now that night is over, and as it 
is the first trial we are going to give our trot-line, just 
watch our movements from that high bank beside the 
stream. There sit down under the large cotton-wood tree. 
You are in no danger of catching cold at this season. 

My assistant follows me with a gaff hook, while I carry 
the paddle of our canoe ; a boy bears on his back a hun- 
dred toads as good as ever hopped. Our line — oh, I 
forgot to inform you that we had set it last night, but 
without the small ones you now see on my arm. Fasten- 
ing one end to yon sycamore, we paddled our canoe, with 
the rest nicely coiled in the stern, and soon reached its 
extremity, when I threw over the side the heavy stone 
fastened to it as a sinker. All this was done that it 
might be thoroughly soaked, and without kinks or snarls 
in the morning. Now, you observe, we launch our light 
bark, the toads in the basket are placed next to my feet 
in the bow; I have the small lines across my knees 
already looped at the end. Nat, with the paddle, and 
assisted by the current, keeps the stern of our boat 
directly down stream ; and David fixes by the skin of the 
back and hind parts, the living bait to the hook. I hold 
the main line all the while, and now, having fixed one 
linelet to it, over goes the latter. Can you see the poor 
toad kicking and flouncing in the water ? " No .? " — well, 
I do. You observe at length that all the lines, one after 
another, have been fixed, baited, and dropped. We now 
return swiftly to the shore. 



212 AUDUBON 



"What a delightful thing is fishing! " have I more than 
once heard some knowing angler exclaim, who, with " the 
patience of Job," stands or slowly moves along some rivu- 
let twenty feet wide, and three or four feet deep, with a 
sham fly to allure a trout, which, when at length caught, 
weighs half a pound. Reader, I never had such patience. 
Although I have waited ten years, and yet see only three- 
fourths of the " Birds of America " engraved, although some 
of the drawings of that work were patiently made so long 
ago as 1805, and although I have to wait with patience 
two years more before I see the end of it, I never could 
hold a line or a rod for many minutes, unless I had — not 
a "nibble" but a hearty bite, and could throw the fish at 
once over my head on the ground. No, no — if I fish for 
trout, I must soon give up, or catch as I have done in 
Pennsylvania's Lehigh, or the streams of Maine, fifty or 
more in a couple of hours. But the trot-line is in the 
river, and there it may patiently wait, until I visit it 
towards night. Now I take up my gun and note-book, 
and accompanied by my dog, intend to ramble through 
the woods until breakfast. Who knows but I may shoot 
a turkey or a deer? It is barely four o'clock, and see 
what delightful mornings we have at this season in 
Kentucky ! 

Evening has returned. The heavens have already 
opened their twinkling eyes, although the orb of day has 
yet scarcely withdrawn itself from our view. How calm 
is the air! The nocturnal insects and quadrupeds are 
abroad; the Bear is moving through the dark cane-brake, 
the land Crows are flying towards their roosts, their aquatic 
brethren towards the interior of the forests, the Squirrel 
is barking his adieu, and the Barred Owl glides silently 
and swiftly from his retreat to seize upon the gay and 
noisy animal. The boat is pushed off from the shore; 
the main line is in my hands ; now it shakes, surely some 
fish have been hooked. Hand over hand I proceed to the 



EPISODES 213 

first hook. Nothing there! but now I feel several jerks, 
stronger and more frequent than before. Several hooks I 
pass; but see, what a fine catfish is twisting round and 
round the little line to which he is fast ! Nat, look to 
your gaff — hook him close to the tail. Keep it up, my 
dear fellow! — there now, we have him. More are on, 
and we proceed. When we have reached the end many 
goodly fishes are lying in the bottom of our skiff. New 
bait has been put on, and, as we return, I congratulate 
myself and my companions on the success of our efforts; 
for there lies fish enough for ourselves and our neighbors. 

A trot- line at this period was perfectly safe at Hender- 
son, should I have allowed it to remain for weeks at a 
time. The navigation was mostly performed by flat- 
bottomed boats, which during calm nights floated in the 
middle current of the river, so that the people on board 
could not observe the fish that had been hooked. Not a 
single steamer had as yet ever gone down the Ohio ; now 
and then, it is true, a barge or a keel-boat was propelled 
by poles and oars, but the nature of the river is such at 
that place, that these boats when ascending were obliged 
to keep near the Indiana shore, until above the landing 
of the village (below which I always fixed my lines), 
when they pulled across the stream. 

Several species or varieties of catfish are found in the 
Ohio, namely, the Blue, the White, and the Mud Cats, 
which differ considerably in their form and color, as well 
as in their habits. The Mud Cat is the best, although 
it seldom attains so great a size as the rest. The Blue 
Cat is the coarsest, but when not exceeding from four 
to six pounds it affords tolerable eating. The White 
Cat is preferable to the last, but not so common; and 
the Yellow Mud Cat is the best and rarest. Of the 
Blue kind some have been caught that weighed a hun- 
dred pounds. Such fish, however, are looked upon as 
monsters. 



214 AUDUBON 



The form in all the varieties inclines to the conical, 
the head being disproportionately large, while the body 
tapers away to the root of the tail. The eyes, which are 
small, are placed far apart, and situated as it were on the 
top of the forehead, but laterally. Their mouth is wide 
and armed with numerous small and very sharp teeth, 
while it is defended by single-sided spines, which, when 
the fish is in the agonies of death, stand out at right 
angles, and are so firmly fixed as sometimes to break be- 
fore you can loosen them. The catfish has also feelers 
of proportionate length, apparently intended to guide its 
motions over the bottom, whilst its eyes are watching the 
objects passing above. 

Trot-lines cannot be used with much success unless 
during the middle stages of the water. When very low, 
it is too clear, and the fish, although extremely voracious, 
will rarely risk its life for a toad. When the waters are 
rising rapidly, your trot-lines are likely to be carried 
away by one of the numerous trees that float in the 
stream. A " happy medium " is therefore best. 

When the waters are rising fast and have become 
muddy, a single line is used for catching catfish. It is 
fastened to the elastic branch of some willow several feet 
above the water, and must be twenty or thirty feet in 
length. The entrails of a Wild Turkey, or a piece of 
fresh venison furnish good bait; and if, when you visit 
your line the next morning after you have set it, the 
water has not risen too much, the swinging of the willow 
indicates that a fish has been hooked, and you have only 
to haul the prize ashore. 

One evening I saw that the river was rising at a great 
rate, although it was still within its banks. I knew that 
the white perch were running, that is, ascending the 
river from the sea, and, anxious to have a tasting of that 
fine fish, I baited a line with a crayfish, and fastened it 
to the bough of a tree. Next morning as I pulled in the 



EPISODES 21$ 

line, it felt as if fast at the bottom, yet on drawing it 
slowly I found that it came. Presently I felt a strong 
pull, the line slipped through my fingers, and next in- 
stant a large catfish leaped out of the water. I played 
it for a while until it became exhausted, when I drew it 
ashore. It had swallowed the hook, and I cut off the line 
close to its head. Then passing a stick through one of 
the gills, I and a servant tugged the fish home. On cut- 
ting it open, we, to our surprise, found in its stomach a 
fine white perch, dead, but not in the least injured. The 
perch had been lightly hooked, and the catfish, after 
swallowing it, had been hooked in the stomach, so that, 
although the instrument was small, the torture caused by 
it no doubt tended to disable the catfish, The perch we 
ate, and the cat, which was fine, we divided into four 
parts, and distributed among our neighbors. My most 
worthy friend and relative, Nicholas Berthoud, Esq., who 
formerly resided at Shippingport in Kentucky, but now 
in New York, a better fisher than whom I never knew, 
once placed a trot-line in the basin below "Tarascon's 
Mills," at the foot of the Rapids of the Ohio. I cannot 
recollect the bait which was used ; but on taking up the 
line we obtained a remarkably fine catfish, in which was 
found the greater part of a sucking pig, 

I may here add that I have introduced a figure of the 
catfish in Plate XXXI. of the first volume of my illus- 
trations, in which I have represented the White-headed 
Eagle. 



A WILD HORSE 

While residing at Henderson in Kentucky, I became 
acquainted with a gentleman who had just returned 
from the country in the neighborhood of the head- 
waters of the Arkansas River, where he had purchased 



2l6 AUDUBON 



a newly caught "Wild Horse," a descendant of some 
of the horses originally brought from Spain, and set at 
liberty in the vast prairies of the Mexican lands. The 
animal was by no means handsome; he had a large head, 
with a considerable prominence in its frontal region, his 
thick and unkempt mane hung along his neck to the 
breast, and his tail, too scanty to be called flowing, almost 
reached the ground. But his chest was broad, his legs 
clean and sinewy, and his eyes and nostrils indicated 
spirit, vigor, and endurance. He had never been, shod, 
and although he had been ridden hard, and had per- 
formed a long journey, his black hoofs had suffered no 
damage. His color inclined to bay, the legs of a deeper 
tint, and gradually darkening below until they became 
nearly black. I inquired what might be the value of 
such an animal among the Osage Indians, and was an- 
swered that, the horse being only four years old, he had 
given for him, with the tree and the buffalo-tug fastened 
to his head, articles equivalent to about thirty-five dol- 
lars. The gentleman added that he had never mounted 
a better horse, and had very little doubt that, if well fed, 
he could carry a man of ordinary weight from thirty-five 
to forty miles a day for a month, as he had travelled at 
that rate upon him, without giving him any other food 
than the grass of the prairies, or the canes of the bottom 
lands, until he had crossed the Mississippi at Natchez, 
when he fed him with corn. Having no farther use for 
him, now that he had ended his journey, he said he was 
anxious to sell him, and thought he might prove a good 
hunting-horse for me, as his gaits were easy, and he stood 
fire as well as any charger he had seen. Having some 
need of a horse possessed of qualities similar to those 
represented as belonging to the one in question, I asked 
if I might be allowed to try him. "Try him, sir, and 
welcome ; nay, if you will agree to feed him and take care 
of him, you may keep him for a month if you choose." 
So I had the horse taken to the stable and fed. 



EPISODES 217 

About two hours afterwards, I took my gun, mounted 
the prairie nag, and went to the woods. I was not long 
in finding him very sensible to the spur, and as I observed 
that he moved with great ease, both to himself and his 
rider, I thought of leaping o\yer a log several feet in diam- 
eter, to judge how far he might prove serviceable in deer- 
driving or bear-hunting. So I gave him the reins, and 
pressed my legs to his belly without using the spur, on 
which, as if aware that I wished to try his mettle, he 
bounded off, and cleared the log as lightly as an elk. I 
turned him, and made him leap the same log several 
times, which he did with equal ease, so that I was satis-" 
fied of his ability to clear any impediment in the woods. 
I next determined to try his strength, for which purpose 
I took him to a swamp, which I knew was muddy and 
tough. He entered it with his nose close to the water, 
as if to judge of its depth, at which I was well pleased, 
as he thus evinced due caution. I then rode through the 
swamp in different directions, and found him prompt, 
decided, and unflinching. Can he swim well .■' thought I, 
— for there are horses, which, although excellent, cannot 
swim at all, but will now and then lie on their side, as if 
contented to float with the current, when the rider must 
either swim and drag them to the shore, or abandon them. 
To the Ohio then I went, and rode into the water. He 
made off obliquely against the current, his head well raised 
above the surface, his nostrils expanded, his breathing 
free, and without any of the grunting noise emitted by 
many horses on such occasions. I turned him down the 
stream, then directly against it, and finding him quite to 
my mind, I returned to the shore, on reaching which he 
stopped of his own accord, spread his legs, and almost 
shook me off my seat. After this, I put him to a gallop, 
and returning home through the woods, shot from the 
saddle a Turkey-cock, which he afterwards approached as 
if he had been trained to the sport, and enabled me to 
take it up without dismounting. 



2l8 AUDUBON 



As soon as I reached the house of Dr. Rankin, where 
I then resided, I sent word to the owner of the horse that 
I should be glad to see him. When he came, I asked 
him what price he would take; he said, fifty dollars in 
silver was the lowest. So I paid the money, took a bill 
of sale, and became master of the horse. The doctor, 
who was an excellent judge, said smiling to me, " Mr. 
Audubon, when you are tired of him, I will refund you 
the fifty dollars, for depend upon it he is a capital horse." 
The mane was trimmed, but the tail left untouched; the 
doctor had him shod "all round," and for several weeks 
he was ridden by my wife, who was highly pleased with 
him. 

Business requiring that I should go to Philadelphia, 
Barro (he was so named after his former owner) was put 
up for ten days, and well tended. The time of my de- 
parture having arrived, I mounted him, and set off at the 
rate of four miles an hour — but here I must give you 
the line of my journey, that you may, if you please, fol- 
low my course on some such map as that of Tanner's. 
From Henderson through Russellville, Nashville, and 
Knoxville, Abingdon in Virginia, the Natural Bridge, 
Harrisonburg, Winchester, and Harper's Ferry, Frederick, 
and Lancaster, to Philadelphia. There I remained four 
days, after which I returned by way of Pittsburgh, Wheel- 
ing, Zanesville, Chillicothe, Lexington, and Louisville, to 
Henderson. But the nature of my business was such as 
to make me deviate considerably from the main roads, 
and I computed the whole distance at nearly two thousand 
miles, the post roads being rather more than sixteen hun- 
dred. I travelled not less than forty miles a day, and it 
was allowed by the doctor that my horse was in as good 
condition on my return as when I set out. Such a jour- 
ney on a single horse may seem somewhat marvellous in 
the eyes of a European ; but in these days almost every 
merchant had to perform the like, some from all parts of 



EPISODES 219 



the western country, even from St. Louis on the Mis- 
souri, although the travellers not unfrequently, on their 
return, sold their horses at Baltimore, Philadelphia, or 
Pittsburg, at which latter place they took boat. My wife 
rode on a single horse from Henderson to Philadelphia, 
travelling at the same rate. The country was then com- 
paratively new; few coaches travelled, and in fact the 
roads were scarcely fit for carriages. About twenty days 
were considered necessary for performing a journey on 
horseback from Louisville to Philadelphia, whereas now 
the same distance may be travelled in six or seven days, 1 
or even sometimes less, this depending on the height of 
the water in the Ohio. 

It may not be uninteresting to you to know the treat- 
ment which the horse received on those journeys. I rose 
every morning before day, cleaned my horse, pressed his 
back with my hand, to see if it had been galled, and 
placed on it a small blanket folded double, in such a man- 
ner that when the saddle was put on, half of the cloth was 
turned over it. The surcingle, beneath which the saddle- 
bags were placed, confined the blanket to the seat, and 
to the pad behind was fastened the great coat or cloak, 
tightly rolled up. The bridle had a snaffle bit ; a breast- 
plate was buckled in front to each skirt, to render the seat 
secure during an ascent ; but my horse required no crup- 
per, his shoulders being high and well-formed. On start- 
ing he trotted off at the rate of four miles an hour, which 
he continued. I usually travelled from fifteen to twenty 
miles before breakfast, and after the first hour allowed 
my horse to drink as much as he would. When I halted 
for breakfast, I generally stopped two hours, cleaned the 
horse, and gave him as much corn-blades as he could eat. 
I then rode on until within half an hour of sunset, when 
I watered him well, poured a bucket of cold water over 
his back, had his skin well rubbed, his feet examined and 

1 This was written in 1833. 



220 AUDUBON 



cleaned. The rack was filled with blades, the trough with 
corn, a good-sized pumpkin or some hen's-eggs, whenever 
they could be procured, were thrown in, and if oats were 
to be had, half a bushel of them was given in preference 
to corn, which is apt to heat some horses. In the morn- 
ing, the nearly empty trough and rack afforded sufficient 
evidence of the state of his health. 

I had not ridden him many days before he became so 
attached to me that on coming to some limpid stream in 
which I had a mind to bathe, I could leave him at liberty 
to graze, and he would not drink if told not to do so. He 
was ever sure-footed, and in such continual good spirits 
that now and then, when a Turkey happened to rise from 
a dusting-place before me, the mere inclination of my 
body forward was enough to bring him to a smart canter, 
which he would continue until the bird left the road for 
the woods, when he never failed to resume his usual trot. 
On my way homeward I met at the crossings of the Juni- 
ata River a gentleman from New Orleans, whose name is 
Vincent Nolte.^ He was mounted on a superb horse, 
for which he had paid three hundred dollars, and a ser- 
vant on horseback led another as a change. I was then 

1 Vincent Nolte, in " Fifty Years in Both Hemispheres," gives an account 
of his meeting on this occasion with Audubon, part of which is as follows: 
" About ten o'clock I arrived at a small inn, close by the falls of the Juniata 
River. The landlady showed me into a room and said I perhaps would 
not mind taking my meal with a strange gentleman, who was already there. 
This personage struck me as an odd fish. He was sitting at a table before 
the fire, with a Madras handkerchief wound around his head, exactly in the 
style of the French mariners of a seaport town. . . . He showed himself to 
be an original throughout, but admitted he was a Frenchman by birth, and 
a native of La Rochelle. However, he had come in his early youth to 
Louisiana, had grown up in the sea-service, and had gradually become a 
thorough American. This man, who afterwards won for himself so great 
a name in natural history, particularly in ornithology, was Audubon." It 
is needless to say that the personal history of Audubon as here given is 
entirely erroneous ; but as the meeting was in 1811, and the book written 
from memory in 1854, Mr. Nolte must be pardoned for his misstatements, 
which were doubtless unintentional. 



EPISODES 221 

an utter stranger to him, and as I approached and praised 
his horse, he not very courteously observed that he wished 
I had as good a one. Finding that he was going to Bed- 
ford to spend the night, I asked him at what hour he 
would get there. " Just soon enough to have some trout 
ready for our supper, provided you will join when you 
get there." I almost imagined that Barro understood our 
conversation; he pricked up his ears, and lengthened his 
pace, on which Mr. Nolte caracoled his horse, and then 
put him to a quick trot ; but all in vain, for I reached the 
hotel nearly a quarter of an hour before him, ordered the 
trout, saw to the putting away of my good horse, and 
stood at the door ready to welcome my companion. From 
that day Vincent Nolte has been a friend to me. It was 
from him I received letters of introduction to the Rath- 
bones of Liverpool, for which I shall ever be grateful to 
him. We rode together as. far as Shippingport, where 
my worthy friend Nicholas Berthoud, Esq., resided, and 
on parting with me he repeated what he had many times 
said before, that he never had seen so serviceable a creat- 
ure as Barro. 

If I recollect rightly, I gave a short verbal account of 
this journey, and of the good qualities of my horse, to my 
learned friend J. Skinner, Esq., of Baltimore, who, I be- 
lieve, has noticed them in his excellent Sporting Maga- 
zine. We agreed that the importation of horses of this 
kind from the Western prairies might improve our breeds 
generally; and judging from those which I have seen, I 
am inclined to think that some of them may prove fit for 
the course. A few days after reaching Henderson, I 
parted with Barro, not without regret, for a hundred and 
twenty dollars. 



222 AUDUBON 



BREAKING UP OF THE ICE 

While proceeding up the Mississippi above its junction 
with the Ohio.i I found to my great mortification that 
its navigation was obstructed by ice. The chief con- 
ductor of my bark, who was a French Canadian, was 
therefore desired to take us to a place suitable for winter 
quarters, which he accordingly did, bringing us into a great 
bend of the river called Tawapatee Bottom. The waters 
were unusually low, the thermometer indicated excessive 
cold, the earth all around was covered with snow, dark 
clouds were spread over the heavens, and as all appear- 
ances were unfavorable to the hope of a speedy prosecution 
of our voyage, we quietly set to work. Our bark, which 
was a large keel-boat, was moored close to the shore, the 
cargo was conveyed to the woods, large trees were felled 
over the water, and were so disposed as to keep off the 
pressure of the floating masses of ice. In less than two 
days, our stores, baggage, and ammunition were deposited 
in a great heap under one of the magnificent trees of 
which the forest was here composed, our sails were spread 
over all, and a complete camp was formed in the wilder- 
ness. Everything around us seemed dreary and dismal, 
and had we not been endowed with the faculty of deriving 
pleasure from the examination of nature, we should have 
made up our minds to pass the time in a state similar to 
that of Bears during their time of hibernation. We soon 
found employment, however, for the woods were full of 
game ; and Deer, Turkeys, Raccoons, and Opossums might 
be seen even around our camp ; while on the ice that now 
covered the broad stream rested flocks of Swans, to sur- 

1 This was on the journey made by Audubon and his partner, Ferdinand 
Rozier, from Louisville to St. Geneviive, then in Upper Louisiana. They 
left Louisville in the autumn of 1810, and Audubon returned in the spring 
of 181 1. 



EPISODES 223 

prise which the hungry Wolves were at times seen to make 
energetic but unsuccessful efforts. It was curious to see 
the snow-white birds all lying flat on the ice, but keenly 
intent on watching the motions of their insidious enemies, 
until the latter advanced within the distance of a few 
hundred yards, when the Swans, sounding their trumpet- 
notes of alarm, would all rise, spread out their broad 
wings, and after running some yards and battering the 
ice until the noise was echoed like thunder through 
the woods, rose exultingly into the air, leaving their 
pursuers to devise other schemes for gratifying their 
craving appetites. 

The nights being extremely cold, we constantly kept 
up a large fire, formed of the best wood. Fine trees of ash 
and hickory were felled, cut up into logs of convenient 
size, and rolled into a pile, on the top of which, with the 
aid of twigs, a fire was kindled. There were about fifteen 
of us, some hunters, others trappers, and all more or less 
accustomed to living in the woods. At night, when all 
had returned from their hunting grounds, some successful 
and others empty-handed, they presented a picture in the 
strong glare of the huge fire that illuminated the forest, 
which it might prove interesting to you to see, were it 
copied by a bold hand on canvas. Over a space of thirty 
yards or more, the snow was scraped away, and piled up 
into a circular wall, which protected us from the cold blast. 
Our cooking utensils formed no mean display, and before 
a week had elapsed. Venison, Turkeys, and Raccoons hung 
on the branches in profusion. Fish, too, and that of ex- 
cellent quality, often graced our board, having been obtained 
by breaking holes in the ice of the lakes. It was observed 
that the Opossums issued at night from holes in the banks 
of the river, to which they returned about daybreak ; and 
having thus discovered their retreat, we captured many of 
them by means of snares. 

At the end of a fortnight our bread failed, and two of the 



224 AUDUBON 



party were directed to proceed across the bend, towards a 
village on the western bank of the Mississippi, in quest of 
that commodity; for although we had a kind of substitute 
for it in the dry white flesh of the breast of the wild Turkey, 
bread is bread after all, and more indispensable to civilized 
man than any other article of food. The expedition left 
the camp early one morning; one of the party boasted 
much of his knowledge of woods, while the other said 
nothing, but followed. They walked on all day, and 
returned next morning to the camp with empty wallets. 
The next attempt, however, succeeded, and they brought 
on a sledge a barrel of flour, and some potatoes. After 
a while we were joined by many Indians, the observation 
of whose manners afforded us much amusement. 

Six weeks were spent in Tawapatee Bottom, The 
waters had kept continually sinking, and our boat lay on 
her side high and dry. On both sides of the stream, the 
ice had broken into heaps, forming huge walls. Our pilot 
visited the river daily, to see what prospect there might be 
of a change. One night, while, excepting himself, all were 
sound asleep, he suddenly roused us with loud cries of 
" The ice is breaking ! Get up, get up ! Down to the boat, 
lads! Bring out your axes ! Hurryon, or we may lose her! 
Here, let us have a torch ! " Starting up as if we had been 
attacked by a band of savages, we ran pell-mell to the bank. 
The ice was indeed breaking up ; it split with reports like 
those of heavy artillery, and as the water had suddenly 
risen from an overflow of the Ohio, the two streams seemed 
to rush against each other with violence ; in consequence 
of which the congealed mass was broken into large frag- 
ments, some of which rose nearly erect here and there, 
and again fell with thundering crash, as the wounded 
whale, when in the agonies of death, springs up with 
furious force and again plunges into the foaming waters. 
To our surprise the weather, which in the evening had been 
calm and frosty, had become wet and blowy. The water 



EPISODES 225 

gushed from the fissures formed in the ice, and the prospect 
was extremely dismal. When day dawned, a spectacle 
strange and fearful presented itself: the whole mass of 
water was violently agitated, its covering was broken into 
small fragments, and although not a foot of space was 
without ice, not a step could the most daring have ventured 
to make upon it. Our boat was in imminent danger, for 
the trees which had been placed to guard it from the ice 
were cut or broken into pieces, and were thrust against her. 
It was impossible to move her ; but our pilot ordered every 
man to bring down great bunches of cane, which were 
lashed along her sides ; and before these were destroyed 
by the ice, she was afloat and riding above it. While we 
were gazing on the scene a tremendous crash was heard, 
which seemed to have taken place about a mile below, 
when suddenly the great dam of ice gave way. The cur- 
rent of the Mississippi had forced its way against that of 
the Ohio, and in less than four hours we witnessed the 
complete breaking up of the ice. 

During that winter the ice was so thick on the Missis- 
sippi that, opposite St. Louis, horses and heavy wagons 
crossed the river. Many boats had been detained in the 
same manner as our own, so that provisions and other 
necessary articles had become very scarce, and sold at a 
high price. This was the winter of 1810-11. 



THE PRAIRIE 

On my return from the Upper Mississippi I found 
myself obliged to cross one of the wide prairies which, 
in that portion of the United States, vary the appear- 
ance of the country. The weather was fine; all around 
me was as fresh and blooming as if it had just issued 
from the bosom of Nature. My knapsack, my gun, 

VOL. II. — 15 



226 AUDUBON 



and my dog were all I had for baggage and com- 
pany. But, although well moccasined, I moved slowly 
along, attracted by the brilliancy of the flowers, and the 
gambols of the fawns around their dams, to all appearance 
as thoughtless of danger as I felt myself 

My march was of long duration ; I saw the sun sinking 
below the horizon long before I could perceive any 
appearance of woodland, and nothing in the shape of 
man had I met with that day. The track which I fol- 
lowed was only an old Indian trace, and as darkness over- 
shadowed the prairie I felt some desire to reach at least 
a copse, in which I might lie down to rest. The Night 
Hawks were skimming over and around me, attracted by 
the buzzing wings of the beetles which form their food, 
and the distant howling of wolves gave me some hope 
that I should soon arrive at the skirts of some woodlands. 

I did so, and almost at the same instant, a firelight 
attracting my eye, I moved towards it, full of confidence 
that it proceeded from the camp of some wandering 
Indians. I was mistaken : I discovered by its glare that 
it was from the hearth of a small log cabin, and that a 
tall figure passed and repassed between it and me, as if 
busily engaged in household arrangements. 

I reached the spot, and presenting myself at the door, 
asked the tall figure, which proved to be a woman, if I 
might take shelter under her roof for the night. Her 
voice was gruff, and her attire negligently thrown about 
her. She answered in the affirmative. I walked in, took 
a wooden stool, and quietly seated myself by the fire. 
The next object that attracted my notice was a finely 
formed young Indian, resting his head between his hands, 
with his elbows on his knees. A long bow rested against 
the log wall near him, while a quantity of arrows and two 
or three Raccoon skins lay at his feet. He moved not ; he 
apparently breathed not. Accustomed to the habits of 
Indians, and knowing that they pay little attention to the 



EPISODES 227 

approach of civilized strangers (a circumstance which in 
some countries is considered as evincing the apathy of 
their character), I addressed him in French, a language 
not infrequently partially known to the people in that 
neighborhood. He raised his head, pointed to one of 
his eyes with his finger, and gave me a significant glance 
with the other. His face was covered with blood. The 
fact was that an hour before this, as he was in the act of 
discharging an arrow at a Raccoon in the top of a tree, the 
arrow had split upon the cord, and sprung back with such 
violence into his right eye as to destroy it forever. 

Feeling hungry, I inquired what sort of fare I might 
expect. Such a thing as a bed was not to be seen, but 
many large untanned Bear and Buffalo hides lay piled in 
a corner. I drew a fine time-piece from my breast, and 
told the woman that it was late, and that I was fatigued. 
She had espied my watch, the richness of which seemed 
to operate upon her feelings with electric quickness. She 
told me there was plenty of venison and jerked buffalo 
meat, and that on removing the ashes I should find a 
cake. But my watch had struck her fancy, and her curi- 
osity had to be gratified by an immediate sight of it. I 
took off the gold chain that secured it, from around my 
neck, and presented it to her; she was all ecstasy, spoke 
of its beauty, asked me its value, and put the chain round 
her brawny neck, saying how happy the possession of 
such a watch would make her. Thoughtless, and as I 
fancied myself in so retired a spot secure, I paid little 
attention to her talk or her movements. I helped my 
dog to a good supper of venison, and was not long in 
satisfying the demands of my own appetite. 

The Indian rose from his seat, as if in extreme suffer- 
ing. He passed and repassed me several times, and once 
pinched me on the side so yiolently that the pain nearly 
brought forth an exclamation of anger. I looked at him. 
His eye met mine, but his look was so forbidding that it 



228 AUDUBON 



struck a chill into the more nervous part of my system. 
He again seated himself, drew his butcher-knife from its 
greasy scabbard, examined its edge, as I would do that of 
a razor suspected dull, replaced it, and again taking his 
tomahawk from his back, filled the pipe of it with tobacco, 
and sent me expressive glances, whenever our hostess 
chanced to have her back towards us. 

Never until that moment had my senses been awakened 
to the danger which I now suspected to be about me. I 
returned glance for glance to my companion, and rested 
well assured that, whatever enemies I might have, he was 
not of their number. 

I asked the woman for my watch, wound it up, and 
under pretence of wishing to see how the weather might 
probably be on the morrow, took up my gun, and walked 
out of the cabin. I slipped a ball into each barrel, scraped 
the edges of my flints, renewed the primings, and return- 
ing to the hut gave a favorable report of my observations. 
I took a few Bear skins, made a pallet of them, and calling 
my faithful dog to my side, lay down, with my gun close 
to my body, and in a few minutes was, to all appearance, 
fast asleep. 

A short time had elapsed when some voices were heard, 
and from the corner of my eye I saw two athletic youths 
making their entrance, bearing a dead stag on a pole. 
They disposed of their burden, and asking for whiskey, 
helped themselves freely to it. Observing me and the 
wounded Indian, they asked who I was, and why the 
devil that rascal (meaning the Indian, who, they knew, 
understood not a word of English) was in the house. 
The mother — for so she proved to be — bade them speak 
less loudly, made mention of my watch, and took them to 
a corner, where a conversation took place, the purport of 
which it required little shrewdness in me to guess. I 
tapped my dog gently. He moved his tail, and with 
indescribable pleasure I saw his fine eyes alternately fixed' 



EPISODES 229 

on me, and raised towards the trio in the corner. I felt 
that he perceived danger in my situation. The Indian 
exchanged a last glance with me. 

The lads had eaten and drunk themselves into such a 
condition that I already looked upon them as hors de com- 
bat ; and the frequent visits of the whiskey bottle to the 
ugly mouth of their dam, I hoped would soon reduce her 
to a like state. Judge of my astonishment, reader, when 
I saw this incarnate fiend take a large carving-knife, and 
go to the grindstone to whet its edge ; I saw her pour the 
water on the turning machine, and watched her working 
away with the dangerous instrument, until the cold sweat 
covered every part of my body, in despite of my determi- 
nation to defend myself to the last. Her task finished, 
she walked to her reeling sons, and said: "There, that'll 

soon settle him ! Boys, kill yon , and then for 

the watch." 

I turned, cocked my gun-locks silently, touched my 
faithful companion, and lay ready to start up and shoot 
the first who might attempt my life. The moment was 
fast approaching, and that night might have been my last 
in this world, had not Providence made preparations for 
my rescue. All was ready. The infernal hag was advanc- 
ing slowly, probably contemplating the best way of de- 
spatching me, whilst her sons should be engaged with the 
Indian. I was several times on the eve of rising and 
shooting her on the spot; but she was not to be pun- 
ished thus. The door was suddenly opened, and there 
entered two stout travellers, each with a long rifle on his 
shoulder. I bounced up on my feet, and making them 
most heartily welcome, told them how well it was for me 
that they should have arrived at that moment. The tale 
was told in a minute. The drunken sons were secured, 
and the woman, in spite of her defence and vociferations, 
shared the same fate. The Indian fairly danced with 
joy, and gave us to understand that, as he could not sleep 



230 AUDUBON 



for pain, he would watch over us. You may suppose we 
slept much less than we talked. The two strangers gave 
me an account of their once having been themselves in a 
somewhat similar situation. Day came, fair and rosy, and 
with it the punishment of our captives. 

They were now quite sobered. Their feet were un- 
bound, but their arms were still securely tied. We 
marched them into the woods off the road, and having 
used them as Regulators were wont to use such delin- 
quents, we set fire to the cabin, gave all the skins and 
implements to the young Indian warrior, and proceeded, 
well pleased, towards the settlements. 

During upwards of twenty-five years, when my wander- 
ings extended to all parts of our country, this was the only 
time at which my life was in danger from my fellow-crea- 
tures. Indeed, so little risk do travellers run in the United 
States that no one born there ever dreams of any to be 
encountered on the road ; and I can only account for this 
occurrence by supposing that the inhabitants of the cabin 
were not Americans. 

Will you believe, good-natured reader, that not many 
miles from the place where this adventure happened, and 
where fifteen years ago, no habitation belonging to civil- 
ized man was expected, and very few ever seen, large 
roads are now laid out, cultivation has converted the woods 
into fertile fields, taverns have been erected, and much of 
what we Americans call comfort is to be met with? So 
fast does improvement proceed in our abundant and free 
country.-' 

^ This incident occurred during Audubon's return trip to St. Genevifeve 
in the early spring of 1812. 



EPISODES 23 1 



THE REGULATORS 

The population of many parts of America is derived 
from the refuse of every other country. I hope I shall 
elsewhere prove to you, kind reader, that even in this we 
have reason to feel a certain degree of pride, as we often 
see our worst denizens becoming gradually freed from 
error, and at length changing to useful and respectable 
citizens. The most depraved of these emigrants are forced 
to retreat farther and farther from the society of the vir- 
tuous, the restraints imposed by whom they find incom- 
patible with their habits and the gratification of their un- 
bridled passions. On the extreme verge of civilization, 
however, their evil propensities find more free scope, and 
the dread of punishments for their deeds, or the infliction 
of that punishment, are the only means that prove effectual 
in reforming them. 

In those remote parts, no sooner is it discovered that an 
individual has conducted himself in a notoriously vicious 
manner, or has committed some outrage upon society, 
than a conclave of the honest citizens takes place, for the 
purpose of investigating the case, with a rigor without 
which no good result could be expected. These honest 
citizens, selected from among the most respectable per- 
sons in the district, and vested with power suited to the 
necessity of preserving order on the frontiers, are named 
Regulators. The accused person is arrested, his con- 
duct laid open, and if he is found guilty of a first crime, 
he is warned to leave the country, and go farther from 
society, within an appointed time. Should the individual 
prove so callous as to disregard the sentence, and remain 
in the same neighborhood, to- commit new crimes, then 
woe be to him ; for the Regulators, after proving him 
guilty a second time, pass and execute a sentence which, 
if not enough to make him perish under the infliction, is 



232 A UDUBON 



at least forever impressed upon his memory. The punish- 
ment inflicted is usually a severe castigation, and the 
destruction by fire of his cabin. Sometimes, in cases of 
reiterated theft or murder, death is considered necessary ; 
and, in some instances, delinquents of the worst species 
have been shot, after which their heads have been stuck 
on poles, to deter others from following their example. I 
shall give you an account of one of these desperadoes, as 
I received it from a person who had been instrumental 
in bringing him to punishment. 

The name of Mason is still familiar to many of the navi- 
gators of the Lower Ohio and Mississippi. By dint of 
industry in bad deeds, he became a notorious horse-stealer, 
formed a line of worthless associates from the eastern 
part of Virginia (a State greatly celebrated for its fine 
breed of horses) to New Orleans, and had a settlement on 
Wolf Island, not far from the confluence of the Ohio and 
Mississippi, from which he issued to stop the flatboats, 
and rifle them of such provisions and other articles as he 
and his party needed. His depredations became the talk 
of the whole Western country ; and to pass Wolf Island 
was not less to be dreaded than to anchor under the walls 
of Algiers. The horses, the negroes, and the cargoes, his 
gang carried off and sold. At last, a body of Regulators 
undertook, at great peril, and for the sake of the country, 
to bring the villain to punishment. 

Mason was as cunning and watchful as he was active 
and daring. Many of his haunts were successively found 
out and searched, but the numerous spies in his employ 
enabled him to escape in time. One day, however, as he 
was riding a beautiful horse in the woods he was met by 
one of the Regulators, who immediately recognized him, 
but passed him as if an utter stranger. Mason, not dream- 
ing of danger, pursued his way leisurely, as if he had met 
no one. But he was dogged by the Regulator, and in such 
a manner as proved fatal to him. At dusk, Mason, having 



EPISODES 233 

reached the lowest part of a ravine, no doubt well known 
to him, hoppled (tied together the fore-legs of) his stolen 
horse, to enable it to feed during the night without chance 
of straying far, and concealed himself in a hollow log to 
spend the night. The plan was good, but proved his 
ruin. 

The Regulator, who knew every hill and hollow of the 
woods, marked the place and the log with the eye of an 
experienced hunter, and as he remarked that Mason was 
most efficiently armed, he galloped off to the nearest house 
where he knew he should find assistance. This was easily 
procured, and the party proceeded to the spot. Mason, 
on being attacked, defended himself with desperate valor; 
and as it proved impossible to secure him alive he was 
brought to the ground with a rifle ball. His head was cut 
off, and stuck on the end of a broken branch of a tree, by 
the nearest road to the place where the affray happened. 
The gang soon dispersed, in consequence of the loss of 
their leader, and this infliction of merited punishment 
proved beneficial in deterring others from following a 
similar predatory life. 

The punishment by castigation is performed in the fol- 
lowing manner. The individual convicted of an offence is 
led to some remote part of the woods, under the escort 
of some forty or fifty Regulators. When arrived at the 
chosen spot, the criminal is made fast to a tree, and a few 
of the Regulators remain with him, while the rest scour the 
forest to assure themselves that no strangers are within 
reach, after which they form 'an extensive ring, arranging 
themselves on their horses, well armed with rifles and 
pistols, at equal distances and in each other's sight. At a 
given signal that " all 's ready," those about the culprit, 
having provided themselves with young twigs of hickory, 
administer the number of lashes prescribed by the sen- 
tence, untie the sufferer, and order him to leave the 
country immediately. 



234 AUDUBON 



One of these castigations, which took place more within 
my personal knowledge, was performed on a fellow who 
was neither a thief nor a murderer, but who had misbe- 
haved otherwise sufficiently to bring himself under the 
sentence with mitigation. He was taken to a place where 
nettles were known to grow in great luxuriance, completely 
stripped and so lashed with them that, although not mate- 
rially hurt, he took it as a hint not to be neglected, left the 
country, and was never again heard of by any of tlie party 
concerned. 

Probably at the moment when I am copying these notes 
rf ^jccting the early laws of our frontier people, few or no 
Regulating Parties exist, the terrible examples that were 
made having impressed upon the new settlers a salutary 
dread, which restrains them from the commission of 
flagrant crimes. 



THE EARTHQUAKE 

Travelling through the Barrens of Kentucky (of which 
I shall give you an account elsewhere) in the month 
of November, I was jogging on one afternoon, when 
I remarked a sudden and strange darkness rising from 
the western horizon. Accustomed to our heavy storms 
of thunder and rain I took no more notice of it, as I 
thought the speed of my horse might enable me to get 
under shelter of the roof of an acquaintance, who lived 
not far distant, before it should come up. I had proceeded 
about a mile, when I heard what I imagined to be the 
distant rumbhng of a violent tornado, on which I spurred 
my steed, with a wish to gallop as fast as possible to a 
place of shelter; but it would not do, the animal knew 
better than I what was forthcoming, and instead of going 
faster, so nearly stopped that I remarked he placed one 
foot after another on the ground, with as much precautioa 




AL^DUBON, TS39. 



rAiN'TED IN f,dim;urg!1 bv J. \\'. Ai;m'riON'. 



EPISODES 23 s 

as if walking on a smooth sheet of ice. I thought he had 
suddenly foundered, and, speaking to him, was on the 
point of dismounting and leading him, when he all of a 
sudden fell a-groaning piteously, hung his head, spread 
out his four legs, as if to save himself from falling, and 
stood stock still, continuing to groan. I thought my horse 
was about to die, and would have sprung from his back 
had a minute more elapsed, but at that instant all the 
shrubs and trees began to move from their very roots, the 
ground rose and fell in successive furrows, like the ruffled 
waters of a lake, and I became bewildered in my ideas, as 
I too plainly discovered that all this awful commotion in 
nature was the result of an earthquake. 

I had never witnessed anything of the kind before, 
although, like every other person, I knew of earthquakes 
by description. But what is description compared with the 
reality? Who can tell of the sensations which I expe- 
rienced when I found myself rocking as it were on my 
horse, and with hi^n moved to and fro like a child in a 
cradle, with the most imminent danger around, and ex- 
pecting the ground every moment to open and present to 
my eye such an abyss as might engulf myself and all 
around me? The fearful convulsion, however, lasted only 
a few minutes, and the heavens again brightened as quickly 
as they had become obscured ; my horse brought his feet 
to their natural position, raised his head, and galloped 
off as if loose and frolicking without a rider. 

I was not, however, without great apprehension respect- 
ing my family, from which I was yet many miles distant, 
fearful that where they were the shock might have caused 
greater havoc than I had witnessed. I gave the bridle to 
my steed, and was glad to see him appear as anxious to 
get home as myself. The pace at which he galloped 
accomplished this sooner than I had expected, and I found 
with much pleasure that hardly any greater harm had taken 
place than the apprehension excited for my own safety. 



236 AUDUBON 



Shock succeeded shock almost every day or night for 
several weeks, diminishing, however, so gradually as to 
dwindle away into mere vibrations of the earth. Strange 
to say, I for one became so accustomed to the feeling as 
rather to enjoy the fears manifested by others. I never 
can forget the effects of one of the slighter shocks which 
took place when I was at a friend's house, where I had 
gone to enjoy the merriment that, in our Western country, 
attends a wedding. The ceremony being performed, sup- 
per over, and the fiddles tuned, dancing became the order 
of the moment. This was merrily followed up to a late 
hour, when the party retired to rest. We were in what 
is called, with great propriety, a log-house, one of large 
dimensions, and solidly constructed. The owner was a 
physician, and in one corner were not only his lancets, 
tourniquets, amputating knives, and other sanguinary ap- 
paratus, but all the drugs which he employed for the relief 
of his patients, arranged in jars and phials of different 
sizes. These had some days before had a narrow escape 
from destruction, but had been fortunately preserved by 
closing the doors of the cases in which they were contained. 

As I have said, we had all retired to rest, some to dream 
of sighs or smiles, some to sink into oblivion. Morning 
was fast approaching, when the rumbling noise that pre- 
cedes the earthquake, began so loudly as to waken and 
alarm the whole party, and drive them out of bed in the 
greatest consternation. The scene which ensued it is im- 
possible for me to describe, and it would require the 
humorous pencil of Cruikshank to do justice to it. Fear 
knows no restraint. Every person, young and old, filled 
with alarm at the creaking of the log-house, and appre- 
hending instant destruction, rushed wildly out to the grass 
enclosure fronting the building. The full moon was slowly 
descending from her throne, covered at times by clouds 
that rolled heavily along, as if to conceal from her view 
the scenes of terror which prevailed on the earth below. 



EPISODES 237 

On the grass-plat we all met, in such condition as rendered 
it next to impossible to discriminate any of the party, all 
huddled together in a state of great dishabille. The earth 
waved like a field of corn before the breeze ; the birds left 
their perches, and flew about, not knowing whither ; and 
the doctor, recollecting the danger of his gallipots, ran to 
his shop room, to prevent their dancing off the shelves to 
the floor. Never for a moment did he think of closing 
the doors, but, spreading his arms, jumped about the front 
of the cases, pushing back here and there the falling jars ; 
with so little success, however, that before the shock was 
over he had lost nearly all he possessed. 

The shock at length ceased, and the frightened women 
now sensible of their undress, fled to their several apart- 
ments. The earthquake produced more serious con- 
sequences in other places. ^ Near New Madrid and for 
some distance on the Mississippi, the earth was rent asun- 
der in several places, one or two islands sunk forever, 
and the inhabitants fled in dismay towards the eastern 
shore. 



THE HURRICANE 

Various portions of our country have at different periods 
suffered severely from the influence of violent storms of 
wind, some of which have been known to traverse nearly 
the whole extent of the United States, and to leave such 
deep impressions in their wake as will not easily be for- 
gotten. Having witnessed one of these awful phenomena, 
in all its grandeur, I shall attempt to describe it for 
your sake, kind reader, and for your sake only; the 
recollection of that astonishing revolution of the ethereal 
element even now bringing with it so disagreeable a sen- 
sation that I feel as if about to be affected by a sudden 
stoppage of the circulation of my blood. 



238 AUDUBON 



I had left the village of Shawanee, situated on the banks 
of the Ohio, on my return from Henderson, which is also 
situated on the banks of the same beautiful stream. The 
weather was pleasant, and I thought not warmer than 
usual at that season. My horse was jogging quietly along, 
and my thoughts were, for once at least in tlie course of 
my life, entirely engaged in commercial speculations. I 
had forded Highland Creek, and was on the eve of enter- 
ing a tract of bottom land or valley that lay between it 
and Canoe Creek, when on a sudden I remarked a great 
difference in the aspect of the heavens. A hazy thickness 
had overspread the country, and I for some time expected 
an earthquake ; but my horse exhibited no propensity to 
stop and prepare for such an occurrence. I had nearly 
arrived at the verge of the valley, when I thought fit to 
stop near a brook, and dismounted to quench the thirst 
which had come upon me. 

I was leaning on my knees, with my lips about to touch 
the water, when, from my proximity to the earth, I heard 
a distant murmuring sound of an extraordinary nature. I 
drank, however, and as I rose on my feet, looked towards 
the southwest, where I observed a yellowish oval spot, 
the appearance of which was quite new to me. Little 
time was left me for consideration, as the next moment a 
smart breeze began to agitate the taller trees. It increased 
to an unexpected height, and already the smaller branches 
and twigs were seen falling in a slanting direction towards 
the ground. Two minutes had scarcely elapsed, when 
the whole forest before me was in fearful motion. Here 
and there, where one tree pressed against another, a 
creaking noise was produced, similar to that occasioned 
by the violent gusts which sometimes sweep over the 
country. Turning instinctively towards the direction from 
which the wind blew, I saw to my great astonishment that 
the noblest trees of the forest bent their lofty heads for a 
while, and, unable to stand against the blast, were falling 



EPISODES 239 



into pieces. First the branches were broken off with a 
crackling noise ; then went the upper parts of the massy 
trunks ; and in many places whole trees of gigantic size were 
falling entire to the ground. So rapid was the progress 
of the storm that before I could think of taking measures 
to insure my safety the hurricane was passing opposite the 
place where I stood. Never can I forget the scene which 
at that moment presented itself. The tops of the trees 
were seen moving in the strangest manner, in the central 
current of the tempest, which carried along with it a min- 
gled mass of twigs and foliage that completely obscured 
the view. Some of the largest trees were seen bending 
and writhing under the gale; others suddenly snapped 
across ; and many, after a momentary resistance, fell up- 
rooted to the earth. The mass of branches, twigs, foliage, 
and dust that moved through the air was whirled onwards 
like a cloud of feathers, and on passing disclosed a wide 
space filled with fallen trees, naked stumps, and heaps of 
shapeless ruins which marked the path of the tempest. 
This space was about a fourth of a mile in breadth, and to 
my imagination resembled the dried up bed of the Mis- 
sissippi, with its thousands of planters and sawyers strewed 
in the sand and inclined in various degrees. The horrible 
noise resembled that of the great cataracts of Niagara, and, 
as it howled along in the track of the desolating tempest, 
produced a feeling in my mind which it were impossible 
to describe. 

The principal force of the hurricane was now over, 
although millions of twigs and small branches that had 
been brought from a great distance were seen following 
the blast, as if drawn onwards by some mysterious power. 
They even floated in the air for some hours after, as if 
supported by the thick mass of dust that rose high above 
the ground. The sky had now a greenish lurid hue, and 
an extremely disagreeable sulphurous odor was diffused 
in the atmosphere. I waited in amazement, having sus- 



240 AUDUBON 



tained no material injury, until nature at length resumed 
her wonted aspect. For some moments I felt undeter- 
mined whether I should return to Morgantown, or attempt 
to force my way through the wrecks of the tempest. My 
business, however, being of an urgent nature, I ventured 
into the path of the storm, and after encountering innu- 
merable difficulties, succeeded in crossing it. I was 
obliged to lead my horse by the bridle, to enable him to 
leap over the fallen trees, whilst I scrambled over or under 
them in the best way I could, at times so hemmed in by 
the broken tops and tangled branches as almost to become 
desperate. On arriving at my house, I gave an account 
of what I had seen, when, to my astonishment, I was 
told there had been very little wind in the neighbor- 
hood, although in the streets and gardens many branches 
and twigs had fallen in a manner which excited great 
surprise. 

Many wondrous accounts of the devastating effects of 
this hurricane were circulated in the country after its oc- 
currence. Some log houses, we were told, had been over- 
turned and their inmates destroyed. One person informed 
me that a wire sifter had been conveyed by the gust to a 
distance of many miles. Another had found a cow lodged 
in the fork of a large half-broken tree. But, as I am dis- 
posed to relate only what I have myself seen, I shall not 
lead you into the region of romance, but shall content 
myself with saying that much damage was done by this 
awful visitation. The valley is yet a desolate place, over- 
grown with briers and bushes, thickly entangled amidst 
the tops and trunks of the fallen trees, and is the resort of 
ravenous animals, to which they betake themselves when 
pursued by man, or after they have committed their 
depredations on the farms of the surrounding district. I 
have crossed the path of the storm at a distance of a 
hundred miles from the spot where I witnessed its fury, 
and again, four hundred miles farther off, in the State of 



EPISODES 241 

Ohio. Lastly, I observed traces of its ravages on the sum- 
mits of the mountains connected with the Great Pine 
Forest of Pennsylvania, three hundred miles beyond the 
place last mentioned. In all these different parts it ap- 
peared to me not to have exceeded a quarter of a mile in 
breadth. 



COLONEL BOONE 

Daniel Boone, or, as he was usually called in the West- 
ern country. Colonel Boone, happened to spend a night 
with me under the same roof, more than twenty years 
ago. We had returned from a shooting excursion, in 
the course of which his extraordinary skill in the man- 
agement of the rifle had been fully displayed. On retir- 
ing to the room appropriated to that remarkable indi- 
vidual and myself for the night, I felt anxious to know 
more of his exploits and adventures than I did, and accord- 
ingly took the liberty of proposing numerous questions to 
him. The stature and general appearance of this wan- 
derer of the western forests approached the gigantic. His 
chest was broad and prominent; his muscular powers 
displayed themselves in every limb ; his countenance gave 
indication of his great courage, enterprise, and persever- 
ance ; and when he spoke, the very motion of his lips 
brought the impression that whatever he uttered could 
not be otherwise than strictly true. I undressed, whilst 
he merely took off his hunting shirt, and arranged a few 
folds of blankets on the floor, choosing rather to lie there, 
as he observed, than on the softest bed. When we had 
both disposed of ourselves, each after his own fashion, 
he related to me the following account of his powers of 
memory, which I lay before you, kind reader, in his own 
words, hoping that the simplicity of his style may prove 
interesting to you. 

VOL. II. — 16 



242 AUDUBON 



" I was once," said he, " on a hunting expedition on the 
banks of the Green River, when the lower parts of this 
State (Kentucky) were still in the hands of nature, and 
none but the sons of the soil were looked upon as its 
lawful proprietors. We Virginians had for some time 
been waging a war of intrusion upon them, and I, amongst 
the rest, rambled through the woods in pursuit of their 
race as I now would follow the tracks of any ravenous 
animal. The Indians outwitted me one dark night, and 
I was as unexpectedly as suddenly made a prisoner by 
them. The trick had been managed with great skill ; for 
no sooner had I extinguished the fire of my camp, and 
laid me down to rest, in full security as I thought, than 
I felt myself seized by an indistinguishable number of 
hands, and was immediately pinioned, as if about to be 
led to the scaffold for execution. To have attempted 
to be refractory would have proved useless and danger- 
ous to my life ; and I suffered myself to be removed from 
my camp to theirs, a few miles distant, without uttering 
even a word of complaint. You are aware, I dare say, 
that to act in this manner was the best policy, as you 
understand that, by so doing, I proved to the Indians at 
once that I was born and bred as fearless of death as any 
of themselves. 

"When we reached the camp, great rejoicings were 
exhibited. Two squaws and a few pappooses appeared 
particularly delighted at the sight of me, and I was 
assured, by very unequivocal gestures and words, that, 
on the morrow, the mortal enemy of the Red-skins would 
cease to live. I never opened my lips, but was busy con- 
triving some scheme which might enable me to give the 
rascals the slip before dawn. The women immediately 
fell a-searching about my hunting-shirt for whatever they 
might think valuable, and, fortunately for me, soon found 
my flask filled with monongakela (that is, reader, strong 
whiskey). A terrific grin was exhibited on their murder- 



EPISODES 243 

ous countenances, while my heart throbbed with joy at 
the anticipation of their intoxication. The crew immedi- 
ately began to beat their bellies and sing, as they passed 
the bottle from mouth to mouth. How often did I wish 
the flask ten times its size, and filled with aqua-fortis ! I 
observed that the squaws drank more freely than the 
warriors, and again my spirits were about to be depressed, 
when the report of a gun was heard at a distance. The 
Indians all jumped on their feet. The singing and drink- 
ing were both brought to a stand, and I saw, with inex- 
pressible joy, the men walk off to some distance and talk to 
the squaws. I knew that they were consulting about me, 
and I foresaw that in a few moments the warriors would 
go to discover the cause of the gun having been fired so 
near their camp. I expected that the squaws would be 
left to guard me. Well, sir, it was just so. They 
returned ; the men took up their guns and walked away. 
The squaws sat down again, and in less than five minutes 
had my bottle up to their dirty mouths, gurgling down 
their throats the remains of the whiskey. 

"With what pleasure did I see them becoming more 
and more drunk, until the liquor took such hold of them 
that it was quite impossible for these women to be of any 
service. They tumbled down, rolled about, and began to 
snore : when I, having no other chance of freeing myself 
from the cords that fastened me, rolled over and over 
towards the fire, and, after a short time, burned them asun- 
der. I rose on my feet, stretched my stiffened sinews, 
snatched up my rifle, and, for once in my life, spared that 
of Indians. I now recollect how desirous I once or twice 
felt to lay open the skulls of the wretches with my toma- 
hawk; but when I again thought upon killing beings 
unprepared and unable to defend themselves, it looked 
like murder without need, and I gave up the idea. 

" But, sir, I felt determined to mark the spot, and walk- 
ing to a thrifty ash sapling, I cut out of it three large 



244 AUDUBON 



chips, and ran off. I soon reached the river, soon crossed 
it, and threw myself deep into the cane-brakes, imitating 
the tracks of an Indian with my feet, so that no chance might 
be left for those from whom I had escaped to overtake me. 

" It is now nearly twenty years since this happened, and 
more than five since I left the Whites' settlements, which 
I might probably never have visited again had I not been 
called on as a witness in a law-suit that was pending in 
Kentucky, and which I really believe would never have 
been settled had I not come forward and established the 
beginning of a certain boundary line. This is the story, sir. 

" Mr. moved from Old Virginia into Kentucky, 

and having a large tract granted to him in the new State, 
laid claim to a certain parcel of land adjoining Green 
River, and, as chance would have it, took for one of his 
corners the very ash-tree on which I had made my mark, 
and finished his survey of some thousands of acres, begin- 
ning, as it is expressed in the deed, ' at an Ash marked by 
three distinct notches of the tomahawk of a white man.' 

" The tree had grown much, and the bark had covered 

the marks ; but, somehow or other, Mr. heard from 

some one all that I have already said to you, and thinking 
that I might remember the spot alluded to in the deed, 
but which was no longer discoverable, wrote for me to 
come and try at least to find the place or the tree. His 
letter mentioned that all my expenses should be paid, and 
not caring much about once more going back to Ken- 
tucky, I started and met Mr. . After some conver- 
sation, the affair with the Indians came to my recollection. 
I considered for a while, and began to think that after 
all I could find the very spot, as well as the tree, if it was 
yet standing. 

" Mr. and I mounted our horses, and off we went 

to the Green River Bottoms. After some difficulties, for 
you must be aware, sir, that great changes have taken 
place in those woods, I found at last the spot where I 



EPISODES 245 

had crossed the river, and, waiting for the moon to rise, 
made for the course in which I thought the ash-tree grew. 
On approaching the place, I felt as if the Indians were 
there still, and as if I was still a prisoner among them. 

Mr. and I camped near what I conceived the spot, 

and waited until the return of day. 

" At the rising of the sun I was on foot, and, after a 
good deal of musing, thought that an ash-tree then in 
sight must be the very one on which I had made my 
mark. I felt as if there could be no doubt of it, and 

mentioned my thought to Mr. . ' Well, Colonel 

Boone,' said he, ' if you think so, I hope it may prove 
true, but we must have some witnesses ; do you stay here 
about, and I will go and bring some of the settlers whom 

I know.' I agreed. Mr. trotted off, and I, to pass 

the time, rambled about to see if a Deer was still living in 
the land. But ah ! sir, what a wonderful difference thirty 
years makes in the country ! Why, at the time when I was 
caught by the Indians, you would not have walked out in 
any direction for more than a mile without shooting a buck 
or a Bear. There were then thousands of Buffaloes on the 
hills in Kentucky; the land looked as if it never would 
become poor; and to hunt in those days was a pleasure 
indeed. But when I was left to myself on the banks of 
Green River, I dare say for the last time in my life, a few 
signs only of Deer were to be seen, and as to a Deer itself, 
I saw none. 

" Mr. returned, accompanied by three gentlemen. 

They looked upon me as if I had been Washington him- 
self, and walked to the ash-tree, which I now called my 
own, as if in quest of a long-lost treasure. I took an axe 
from one of them, and cut a few chips off the bark. Still 
no signs were to be seen. So I cut again until I thought 
it was time to be cautious, and I scraped and worked 
away with my but6her knife until I did come to where 
my tomahawk had left an impression in the wood. We 



246 AUDUBON 



now went regularly to work, and scraped at the tree with 
care, until three hacks as plain as any three notches ever 

were, could be seen. Mr. and the other gentlemen 

were astonished, and, I must allow, I was as much sur- 
prised as pleased myself. I made affidavit of this remark- 
able occurrence in presence of these gentlemen. Mr. 

gained his cause. I left Green River forever, and came to 
where we now are ; and, sir, I wish you a good night." 

I trust, kind reader, that when I again make my appear- 
ance with another volume of Ornithological Biography, I 
shall not have to search in vain for the impression which 
I have made, but shall have the satisfaction of finding its 
traces still unobliterated. I now withdraw, and, in the 
words of the noted wanderer of the Western wilds, " wish 
you a good night." 



NATCHEZ IN 1820 

One clear, frosty morning in December I approached in 
my flatboat the city of Natchez. The shores were crowded 
with boats of various kinds, laden with the produce of 
the Western country ; and there was a bustle about them 
such as you might see at a general fair, each person 
being intent on securing the advantage of a good market. 
Yet the scene was far from being altogether pleasing, 
for I was yet " under the hill ; " but on removing from 
the Lower Town I beheld the cliffs on which the city, 
properly so called, has been built. Vultures unnumbered 
flew close along the ground on expanded pinions, search- 
ing for food ; large pines and superb magnolias here and 
there raised their evergreen tops towards the skies ; while 
on the opposite shores of the Mississippi vast alluvial 
beds stretched along, and the view terminated with the 
dense forest. Steamers moved rapidly on the broad 
waters of the great stream ; the sunbeams fell with a 



EPISODES 247 



peculiarly pleasant effect on the distant objects ; and as I 
watched the motions of the White-headed Eagle while 
pursuing the Fishing Hawk, I thought of the wonderful 
ways of that Power to whom I too owe my existence. 

Before reaching the land I had observed that several 
saw-mills were placed on ditches or narrow canals, along 
which the water rushed from the inner swamps towards 
the river, and by which the timber is conveyed to the 
shore ; and, on inquiring afterwards, I found that one of 
those temporary establishments had produced a net profit 
of upwards of six thousand dollars in a single season. 

There is much romantic scenery about Natchez. The 
Lower Town forms a most remarkable contrast with the 
Upper; for in the former the houses were not regularly 
built, being generally dwellings formed of the abandoned 
flatboats, placed in rows, as if with the view of forming a 
long street. The inhabitants formed a medley which it is 
beyond my power to describe; hundreds of laden carts 
and other vehicles jogged along the declivity between the 
two towns ; but when, by a very rude causeway, I gained 
the summit, I was relieved by the sight of an avenue of 
those beautiful trees called here the Pride of China. In 
the Upper Town I found the streets all laid off at right 
angles to each other, and tolerably well lined with build- 
ings constructed with painted bricks or boards. 

The agricultural richness of the surrounding country 
was shown by the heaps of cotton bales and other produce 
that encumbered the streets. The churches, however, did 
not please me ; but as if to make up for this, I found my- 
self unexpectedly accosted by my relative, Mr. Berthoud, 
who presented me with letters from my wife and sons. 
These circumstances put me in high spirits, and we pro- 
ceeded towards the best hotel in the place, that of Mr. 
Garnier. The house, which was built on the Spanish plan, 
and of great size, was surrounded by large verandas over- 
looking a fine garden, and stood at a considerable distance 



248 AUDUBON 



from any other. At this period the city of Natchez had a 
population not exceeding three thousand individuals. I 
have not visited it often since, but I have no doubt that, 
like all the other towns in the western district of our coun- 
try, it has greatly increased. It possessed a bank, and 
the mail arrived there thrice in the week from all parts of 
the Union. 

The first circumstance that strikes a stranger is the 
mildness of the temperature. Several vegetables as pleas- 
ing to the eye as agreeable to the palate, and which are 
seldom seen in our Eastern markets before May, were here 
already in perfection. The Pewee Fly-catcher had chosen 
the neighborhood of the city for its winter quarters, and 
our deservedly famed Mocking-bird sang and danced 
gratis to every passer by. I was surprised to see the im- 
mense number of Vultures that strode along the streets 
or slumbered on the roofs. The country for many miles 
inland is gently undulated. Cotton is produced abun- 
dantly, and wealth and happiness have taken up their abode 
under most of the planters' roofs, beneath which the 
weaned traveller or the poor wanderer in search of a rest- 
ing-place is sure to meet with comfort and relief Game 
is abundant, and the free Indians were wont in those days 
to furnish the markets with ample supplies of vension and 
Wild Turkey. The Mississippi, which bathes the foot of 
the hill some hundred feet below the town, supplies the 
inhabitants with fish of various kinds. The greatest de- 
ficiency is that of water, which for common purposes is 
dragged on sledges or wheels from the river, while that 
used for drinking is collected in tanks from the roofs, and 
becomes very scarce during protracted droughts. Until 
of late years the orange-tree bore fruit in the open air; 
but, owing to the great change that has taken place in the 
temperature, severe though transient frosts occasionally 
occur, which now prevent this plant from coming to per- 
fection in the open air. 



EPISODES 249 

The remains of an old Spanish fort are still to be seen 
at a short distance from the city. If I am correctly in- 
formed, about two years previous to this visit of mine a 
large portion of the hill near it gave way, sank about 
a hundred feet, and carried many of the houses of the 
Lower Town into the river. This, it would appear, was 
occasioned by the quicksand running springs that flow 
beneath the strata of mixed pebbles and clay of which the 
hill is composed. The part that has subsided presents 
the appearance of a basin or bowl, and is used as a depot 
for the refuse of the town, on which the Vultures feed 
when they can get nothing better. There it was that I 
saw a White-headed Eagle chase one of those filthy birds, 
knock it down, and feast on the entrails of a horse which 
the Carrion Crow had partly swallowed. 

I did not meet at Natchez many individuals fond of 
ornithological pursuits, but the hospitality with which I 
was received was such as I am not likely to forget. Mr. 
Garnier subsequently proved an excellent friend to me, as 
you may find elsewhere recorded. Of another individual, 
whose kindness to me is indelibly impressed on my heart, 
I would say a few words, although he was such a man as 
Fenelon alone could describe. Charles Carrd was of 
French origin, the son of a nobleman of the old regime. 
His acquirements and the benevolence of his disposition 
were such that when I first met him I could not help 
looking upon him as another Mentor. Although his few 
remaining locks were gray, his countenance still expressed 
the gayety and buoyant feelings of youth. He had the 
best religious principles; for his heart and his purse were 
ever open to the poor. Under his guidance it was that I 
visited the whole neighborhood of Natchez; for he was 
acquainted with all its history, from the period at which it 
had first come under the power of the Spaniards to that 
of their expulsion from the country, its possession by the 
French, and subsequently by ourselves. He was also well 



250 AUDUBON 



versed in the Indian languages, spoke French with the 
greatest purity, and was a religious poet. Many a pleas- 
ant hour have I spent in his company ; but alas ! he has 
gone the way of all the earth ! 



THE LOST PORTFOLIO 

While I was at Natchez, on the 31st of December, 1820, 
my kind friend, Nicholas Berthoud, Esq., proposed to me 
to accompany him in his keel-boat to New Orleans. At 
one o'clock the steam-boat "Columbus" hauled off 
from the landing and took our bark in tow. The 
steamer was soon ploughing along at full speed, and 
little else engaged our minds than the thought of our soon 
arriving at the emporium of the commerce of the Missis- 
sippi. Towards evening, however, several inquiries were 
made respecting particular portions of the luggage, among 
which ought to have been one of my portfolios, containing 
a number of drawings made by me while gliding down the 
Ohio and Mississippi from Cincinnati to Natchez, and of 
which some were to me peculiarly valuable, being of birds 
previously unfigured, and perhaps undescribed. The port- 
folio was nowhere to be found, and I recollected that I 
had brought it under my arm to the margin of the stream, 
and there left it to the care of one of my friend's ser- 
vants, who, in the hurry of our departure, had neglected 
to take it on board. Besides the drawings of birds, there 
was in this collection a sketch in black chalk to which I 
always felt greatly attached while from home. It is true 
the features which it represented were indelibly engraved 
in my heart ; but the portrait of her to whom I owe so 
much of the happiness that I have enjoyed was not the 
less dear to me. When I thought during the following 
night of the loss I had sustained in consequence of my 



EPISODES 25 1 

own negligence, imagined the possible fate of the collec- 
tion, and saw it in the hands of one of the numerous boat- 
men lounging along the shores, who might paste the 
drawings to the walls of his cabin, nail them to the steer- 
ing-oars of his flatboat, or distribute them among his fel- 
lows, I felt little less vexed than I did some years before 
when the rats, as you know, devoured a much larger 
collection. 

It was useless to fret myself, and so I began to devise 
a scheme for recovering the drawings. I wrote to Mr. 
Gamier and my venerable friend Charles Carr6. Mr. 
Berthoud also wrote to a mercantile acquaintance. The 
letters were forwarded to Natchez from the first landing- 
place at which we stopped, and in the course of time we 
reached the great eddy running by the levee, or artificial 
embankment, at New Orleans. But before I present you 
with the answers to the letters sent to our acquaintances 
at Natchez, allow me to offer a statement of our adven- 
tures upon the Mississippi. 

After leaving the eddy at Natchez, we passed a long 
file of exquisitely beautiful bluffs. At the end of twenty 
hours we reached Bayou Sara, where we found two brigs 
at anchor, several steamers, and a number of flatboats, 
the place being of considerable mercantile importance. 
Here the " Columbus " left us to shift for ourselves, her 
commander being anxious to get to Baton Rouge by a 
certain hour, in order to secure a good cargo of cotton. 
We now proceeded along the great stream, sometimes 
floating and sometimes rowing. The shores gradually 
became lower and flatter, orange-trees began to make 
their appearance around the dwellings of the wealthy 
planters, and the verdure along the banks assumed a 
brigBter tint. The thermometer stood at 68° in the 
shade at noon ; Butterflies fluttered among the flowers, of 
which many were in full blow; and we expected to have 
seen Alligators half awake floating on the numberless logs 



252 AUDUBON 



that accompanied us in our slow progress. The eddies, 
were covered with Ducks of various kinds, more especially 
with the beautiful species that breeds by preference on 
the great sycamores that every now and then present 
themselves along our southern waters. Baton Rouge is 
a very handsome place, but at present I have no time to 
describe it. Levees now began to stretch along the river, 
and wherever there was a sharp point on the shore, negroes 
were there amusing themselves by raising shrimps, and 
now and then a catfish, with scooping-nets. 

The river increased in breadth and depth, and the saw- 
yers and planters, logs so called, diminished in number 
the nearer we drew towards the famed city. At every 
bend we found the plantations increased, and now the 
whole country on both sides became so level and desti- 
tute of trees along the water's edge that we could see 
over the points before us, and observe the great stream 
stretching along for miles. Within the levees the land is 
much lower than the surface of the river when the water 
is high ; but at this time we could see over the levee 
from the deck of our boat only the upper windows of the 
planters' houses, or the tops of the trees about them, and 
the melancholy-looking cypresses covered with Spanish 
moss forming the background. Persons rode along the 
levees at full speed; Pelicans, Gulls, Vultures, and Car- 
rion Crows sailed over the stream, and at times there 
came from the shore a breeze laden with the delicious 
perfume of the orange-trees, which were covered with 
blossoms and golden fruits. 

Having passed Bayou Lafourche, our boat was brought 
to on account of the wind, which blew with violence. 
We landed, and presently made our way to the swamps, 
where we shot a number of those beautiful birds called 
Boat-tailed Grakles. The Mocking-birds on the fence 
stakes saluted us with so much courtesy and with such 
delightful strains that we could not think of injuring 



EPISODES 253 

them ; but we thought it no harm to shoot a whole covey 
of Partridges. In the swamps we met with warblers of 
various kinds, lively and beautiful, waiting in these their 
winter retreats for the moment when Boreas should retire 
to his icy home, and the gentle gales of the South should 
waft them toward their breeding-places in the North. 
Thousands of Swallows flew about us, the Cat-birds 
mewed in answer to their chatterings, the Cardinal Gros- 
beak elevated his glowing crest as he stood perched on the 
magnolia branch, the soft notes of the Doves echoed among 
the woods, nature smiled upon us, and we were happy. 

On the fourth of January we stopped at Bonnet Carre, 
where I entered a house to ask some questions about 
birds. I was received by a venerable French gentleman, 
whom I found in charge of about a dozen children of both 
sexes, and who was delighted to hear that I was a student 
of nature. He was well acquainted with my old friend 
Charles Carrd, and must, I thought, be a good man, for 
he said he never suffered any of his pupils to rob a bird 
of her eggs or young, although, said he with a smile, 
"they are welcome to peep at them and love them." 
The boys at once surrounded me, and from them I re- 
ceived satisfactory answers to most of my queries respect- 
ing birds. 

The 6th of January was so cold that the thermometer 
fell to 30°, and we had seen ice on the running-boards of 
our keel-boat. This was quite unlooked for, and we felt 
uncomfortable; but before the middle of the day, all 
nature was again in full play. Several beautiful steamers 
passed us. The vegetation seemed not to have suffered 
from the frost; green peas, artichokes, and other vege- 
tables were in prime condition. This reminds me that 
on one of my late journeys I ate green peas in December 
in the Floridas, and had them once a week at least in my 
coufse over the whole of the Union, until I found myself 
and my family feeding on the same vegetable more than 



254 AUDUBON 



a hundred miles to the north of the St. John's River in 
New Brunswick. 

Early on the 7th, thousands of tall spars, called masts 
by the mariners, came in sight ; and as we drew nearer, 
we saw the port filled with ships of many nations, each 
bearing the ilag of its country. At length we reached 
the levee, and found ourselves once more at New 
Orleans. In a short time my companions dispersed, and 
I commenced a search for something that might tend to 
compensate me for the loss of my drawings. 

On the i6th of March following, I had the gratification 
of receiving a letter from Mr. A. P. Bodley, of Natchez, 
informing me that my portfolio had been found and de- 
posited at the office of the "Mississippi Republican," 
whence an order from me would liberate it. Through 
the kindness of Mr. Garnier, I received it on the sth of 
April. So very generous had been the finder of it, that 
when I carefully examined the drawings in succession, I 
found them all present and uninjured, save one, which 
had probably been kept by way of commission. 



THE ORIGINAL PAINTER 

As I was lounging one fair and very warm morning on 
the levee at New Orleans, I chanced to observe a gen- 
tleman whose dress and other accompaniments greatly 
attracted my attention. I wheeled about, and followed 
him for a short space, when, judging by everything about 
him that he was a true original, I accosted him. 

But here, kind reader, let me give you some idea of his 
exterior. His head was covered by a straw hat, the brim 
of which might cope with those worn by the fair sex in 
1830; his neck was exposed to the weather; the broad 
frill of a shirt, then fashionable, flapped about his breast, 



EPISODES 255 

whilst an extraordinary collar, carefully arranged, fell 
over the top of his coat. The latter was of a light green 
color, harmonizing well with a pair of flowing yellow 
nankeen trousers, and a pink waistcoat, from the bosom 
of which, amidst a large bunch of the splendid flowers of 
the magnolia, protruded part of a young Alligator, which 
seemed more anxious to glide through the muddy waters 
of some retired swamp than to spend its life swinging to 
and fro among folds of the finest lawn. The gentleman 
held in one hand a cage full of richly-plumed Nonpareils, 
whilst in the other he sported a silk umbrella, on which 
I could plainly read, " Stolen from I," these words being 
painted in large white characters. He walked as if con- 
scious of his own importance — that is, with a good deal of 
pomposity, singing, "My love is but a lassie yet," and 
that with such thorough imitation of the Scotch emphasis 
that had not his physiognomy brought to my mind a 
denial of his being from "within a mile of Edinburgh," 
I should have put him down in my journal for a true Scot. 
But no : his tournure, nay, the very shape of his visage, 
pronounced him an American from the farthest parts of 
our eastern Atlantic shores. 

All this raised my curiosity to such a height that I 
accosted him with, " Pray, sir, will you allow me to exam- 
ine the birds yo,u have in that cage } " The gentleman 
stopped, straightened his body, almost closed his left 
eye, then spread his legs apart, and, with a look alto 
gether quizzical, answered, "Birds, sir; did you say 
birds .? " I nodded, and he continued, " What the devil 
do you know about birds, sir.? " 

Reader, this answer brought a blush into my face. I 
felt as if caught in a trap ; for I was struck by the force of 
the gentleman's question — which, by the way, was not 
much in discordance with a not unusual mode of granting 
an answer in the United States. Sure enough, thought 
I, little or perhaps nothing do I know of the nature of 



256 AUDUBON 



those beautiful denizens of the air; but the next moment 
vanity gave me a pinch, and urged me to conceive that I 
knew at least as much about birds as the august personage 
in my presence. "Sir," replied I, "I am a student of 
Nature, and admire her works, from the noblest figure of 
man to the crawling reptile which you have in your 
bosom." — "Ah!" replied he, "a-a-a naturalist, I pre- 
sume!"— "Just so, my good sir," was my answer. The 
gentleman gave me the cage; and I observed, from the 
corner of one of my eyes, that his were cunningly inspect- 
ing my face. I examined the pretty Finches as long as I 
wished, returned the cage, made a low bow, and was 
about to proceed on my walk, when this odd sort of being 
asked me a question quite accordant with my desire of 
knowing more of him: "Will you come with me, sir.' 
If you will, you shall see some more curious birds, some 
of which are from different parts of the world. I keep 
quite a collection." I assured him I should feel grati- 
fied, and accompanied him to his lodgings. 

We entered a long room, where, to my surprise, the 
first objects that attracted my attention were a large 
easel with a full-length unfinished portrait upon it, a 
table with palettes and pencils, and a number of pictures 
of various sizes placed along the walls. Several cages 
containing birds were hung near the windows, and two 
young gentlemen were busily engaged in copying some 
finished portraits. I was delighted with all I saw. Each 
picture spoke for itself: the drawing, the coloring, the 
handling, the composition, and the keeping — all proved, 
that, whoever was the artist, he certainly was possessed 
of superior talents. 

I did not know if my companion was the painter of the 
picture, but, as we say in America, I strongly guessed, 
and, without waiting any longer, paid him the compli- 
ments which I thought he fairly deserved. "Ay," said 
he, "the world is pleased with my work. I wish I were so 



EPISODES 257 

too ; but time and industry are required, as well as talents, 
to make a good artist. If you will examine the birds, 
I'll to my labor." So saying, tlie artist took up his 
palette, and was searching for a rest-stick; but not finding 
the one with which he usually supported his hand, he 
drew the rod of a gun, and was about to sit, when he sud- 
denly threw down his implements on the table, and, tak- 
ing the gun, walked to me and asked if " I had ever seen 
a percussion-lock." I had not, for that improvement was 
not yet in vogue. He not only explained the superiority 
of the lock in question, but undertook to prove that it was 
capable of acting effectually under water. The bell was 
rung, a flat basin of water was produced, the gun was 
charged with powder, and the lock fairly immersed. The 
report terrified the birds, causing them to beat against 
the gilded walls of their prisons. I remarked this to the 
artist. He replied, "The devil take the birds! — more 
of them in the market ; why, sir, I wish to show you that 
I am a marksman as well as a painter." The easel was 
cleared of the large picture, rolled to the further end of 
the room, and placed against the wall. The gun was 
loaded in a trice, and the painter, counting ten steps from 
the easel, and taking aim at the supporting-pin on the 
left, fired. The bullet struck the head of the wooden pin 
fairly, and sent the splinters in all directions. " A bad 
shot, sir, " said this extraordinary person. " The ball ought 
to have driven the pin farther into the hole, but it struck 
on one side; I '11 try at the hole itself." After reloading 
his piece, the artist took aim again, and fired. The 
bullet this time had accomplished its object, for it had 
passed through the aperture and hit the wall behind. 

"Mr. , ring the bell and close the windows," said the 

painter, and, turning to me, continued, " Sir, I will show 
you the ne plus ultra of shooting." I was quite amazed, 
and yet so delighted that I bowed my assent. A servant 
having appeared, a lighted candle was ordered. When it 

VOL. II. — 17 



258 AUDUBON 



arrived, the artist placed it in a proper position, and re- 
tiring some yards, put out the light with a bullet, in the 
manner which I have elsewhere in this volume described. 
When light was restored, I observed the uneasiness of the 
poor little Alligator, as it strove to effect its escape from 
the artist's waistcoat. I mentioned this to him. "True, 
true," he replied. "I had quite forgot the reptile; he 
shall have a dram ; " and unbuttoning his vest, unclasped 
a small chain, and placed the Alligator in the basin of 
water on the table. 

Perfectly satisfied with the acquaintance which I had 
formed with this renowned artist, I wished to withdraw, 
fearing I might inconvenience him by my presence. But 
my time was not yet come. He bade me sit down, and 
paying no more attention to the young pupils in the room 
than if they had been a couple of cabbages, said, " If you 
have leisure and will stay awhile, I will show you how I 
paint, and will relate to you an incident of my life which 
will prove to you how sadly situated an artist is at times. " 
In full expectation that more eccentricities were to be 
witnessed, or that the story would prove a valuable one, 
even to a naturalist, who is seldom a painter, I seated my- 
self at his side, and observed with interest how adroitly 
he transferred the colors from his glistening palette to the 
canvas before him. I was about to compliment him on 
his facility of touch, when he spoke as follows : — 

"This is, sir, or, I ought to say rather, this will be the 
portrait of one of our best navy officers — a man as brave 
as Caesar, and as good a sailor as ever walked the deck of a 
seventy -four. Do you paint, sir ? " I replied, " Not yet." 
— " Not yet ! what do you mean ? " — " I mean what I say : 
I intend to paint as soon as I can draw better than I do at 
present." — "Good," said he; "you are quite right. To 
draw is the first object ; but, sir, if you should ever paint, 
and paint portraits, you will often meet with difficulties. 
For instance, the brave Commodore of whom this is the 



EPISODES 259 

portrait, although an excellent man at everything else, is 
the worst sitter I ever saw; and the incident I promised 
to relate to you, as one curious enough, is connected with 
his bad mode of sitting. Sir, I forgot to ask if you would 
take any refreshment — a glass of wine, or — " I assured 
him I needed nothing more than his agreeable company, 
and he proceeded. " Well, sir, the first morning that the 
Commodore came to sit, he was in full uniform, and with 
-his sword at his side. After a few moments of conversa- 
tion, and when all was ready on my part, I bade him 
ascend this throne, place himself in the attitude which I 
contemplated, and assume an air becoming an officer of 
the navy. He mounted, placed himself as I had desired, 
but merely looked at me as if I had been a block of stone. 
I waited a few minutes, when, observing no change on 
his placid countenance, I ran the chalk over the canvas 
to form a rough outline. This done, I looked up to his 
face again, and opened a conversation which I thought 
would warm his warlike nature; but in vain. I waited 
and waited, talked and talked, until, my patience — sir, 
you must know I am not overburdened with phlegm — 
being almost run out, I rose, threw my palette and brushes 
on the floor, stamped, walking to and fro about the room, 
and vociferated such calumnies against our navy that I 
startled the good Commodore. He still looked at me 
with a placid countenance, and, as he has told me since, 
thought I had lost my senses. But I observed him all 
the while, and, fully as determined to carry my point as 
he would be to carry off an enemy's ship, I gave my oaths 
additional emphasis, addressed him as a representative of 
the navy, and, steering somewhat clear of personal insult, 
played off my batteries against the craft. The Commo- 
dore walked up to me, placed his hand on the hilt of his 
sword, and told me, in a resolute manner, that if I in- 
tended to insult the navy, he would instantly cut off my 
ears. His features exhibited all the spirit and animation 



26o AUDUBON 



of his noble nature, and as I had now succeeded in rous- 
ing the lion, I judged it time to retreat. So, changing 
my tone, I begged his pardon, and told him he now looked 
precisely as I wished to represent him. He laughed, and, 
returning to his seat, assumed a bold countenance. And 
now, sir, see the picture ! " 

At some future period I may present you with other 
instances of the odd ways in which this admired artist 
gave animation to his sitters. For the present, kind 
reader, we shall leave him finishing the Commodore, 
while we return to our proper studies. 



THE COUGAR 

There is an extensive swamp in the section of the State 
of Mississippi which lies partly in the Choctaw territory. 
It commences at the borders of the Mississippi, at no 
great distance from a Chickasaw village situated near 
the mouth of a creek known by the name of Vanconnah, 
and partly inundated by the swellings of several large 
bayous, the principal of which, crossing the swamp 
in its whole extent, discharges its waters not far from 
the mouth of the Yazoo River. This famous bayou 
is called False River. The swamp of which I am speak- 
ing follows the windings of the Yazoo, until the latter 
branches off to the northeast, and at this point forms the 
stream named Cold Water River, below which the Yazoo 
receives the draining of another bayou inclining towards 
the northwest and intersecting that known by the name 
of False River at a short distance from the place where 
the latter receives the waters of the Mississippi. This 
tedious account of the situation of the swamp is given 
with the view of pointing it out to all students of nature 
who may happen to go that way, and whom I would ear- 
nestly urge to visit its interior, as it abounds in rare and 



EPISODES 261 

interesting productions, —birds, quadrupeds, and reptiles, 
as well as molluscous animals, many of which, I am per- 
suaded, have never been described. 

In the course of one of my rambles, I chanced to meet 
with a squatter's cabin on the banks of the Cold Water 
River. In the owner of this hut, like most of those 
adventurous settlers in the uncultivated tracts of our 
frontier districts, I found a person well versed in the 
chase, and acquainted with the habits of some of the larger 
species of quadrupeds and birds. As he who is desirous 
of instruction ought not to disdain listening to any one 
who has knowledge to communicate, however humble may 
be his lot, or however limited his talents, I entered the 
squatter's cabin, and immediately opened a conversation 
with him respecting the situation of the swamp, and its 
natural productions. He told me he thought it the very 
place I ought to visit, spoke of the game which it con- 
tained, and pointed to some Bear and Deer skins, adding 
that the individuals to which they had belonged formed 
but a small portion of the number of those animals which 
he had shot within it. My heart swelled with delight, 
and on asking if he would accompany me through the 
great morass, and allow me to become an inmate of his 
humble but hospitable mansion, I was gratified to find 
that he cordially assented to all my proposals. So I im- 
mediately unstrapped my drawing materials, laid up my 
gun, and sat down to partake of the homely but whole- 
some fare intended for the supper of the squatter, his 
wife, and his two sons. 

The quietness of the evening seemed in perfect accord- 
ance with the gentle demeanor of the family. The wife 
and children, I more than once thought, seemed to look 
upon me as a strange sort of person, going about, as I told 
them I was, in search of birds and plants; and were I 
here to relate the many questions which they put to me 
in return for those I addressed to them, the catalogue 



262 A UDUBON 



would occupy several pages. The husband, a native of 
Connecticut, had heard of the existence of such men as 
myself, both in our own country and abroad, and seemed 
greatly pleased to have me under his roof. Supper over, 
I asked my kind host what had induced him to remove to 
this wild and solitary spot. "The people are growing 
too numerous now to thrive in New England," was his 
answer. I thought of the state of some parts of Europe, 
and calculating the denseness of their population com- 
pared with that of New England, exclaimed to myself, 
" How much more difficult must it be for men to thrive 
in those populous countries ! " The conversation then 
changed, and the squatter, his sons and myself, spoke of 
hunting and fishing until at length, tired, we laid our- 
selves down on pallets of Bear skins, and reposed in 
peace on the floor of the only apartment of which the hut 
consisted. 

Day dawned, and the squatter's call to his hogs, which, 
being almost in a wild state, were suffered to seek the 
greater portion of their food in the woods, awakened me. 
Being ready dressed I was not long in joining him. The 
hogs and their young came grunting at the well known 
call of their owner, who threw them a few ears of corn, 
and counted them, but told me that for some weeks their 
number had been greatly diminished by the ravages com- 
mitted upon them by a large Panther, by which name the 
Cougar is designated in America, and that the ravenous 
animal did not content himself with the flesh of his pigs, 
but now and then carried off one of his calves, notwith- 
standing the many attempts he had made to shoot it. 
The Painter, as he sometimes called it, had on several 
occasions robbed him of a dead Deer ; and to these exploits 
the squatter added several remarkable feats of audacity 
which it had performed, to give me an idea of the formi- 
dable character of the beast. Delighted by his descrip- 
tion, I offered to assist him in destroying the enemy, at 



EPISODES 263 

which he was highly pleased, but assured me that unless 
some of his neighbors should join us with their dogs and 
his own, the attempt would prove fruitless. Soon after, 
mounting a horse, he went off to his neighbors several of 
whom lived at a distance of some miles, and appointed a 
day of meeting. 

The hunters, accordingly, made their appearance, one 
fine morning, at the door of the cabin, just as the sun was 
emerging from beneath the horizon. They were five in 
number, and fully equipped for the chase, being mounted 
on horses which in some parts of Europe might appear 
sorry nags, but which in strength, speed, and bottom, are 
better fitted for pursuing a Cougar or a Bear through 
woods and morasses than any in that country. A pack of 
large, ugly curs were already engaged in making acquaint- 
ance with those of the squatter. He and myself mounted 
his two best horses, whilst his sons were bestriding others 
of inferior quality. 

Few words were uttered by the party until we had 
reached the edge of the swamp, where it was agreed that 
all should disperse and seek for the fresh track of the 
Painter, it being previously settled that the discoverer 
should blow his horn, and remain on the spot, until the 
rest should join him. In less than an hour, the sound of 
the horn was clearly heard, and, sticking close to the 
squatter, off we went through the thick woods, guided 
only by the now and then repeated call of the distant 
huntsmen. We soon reached the spot, and in a short 
time the rest of the party came up. The best dog was 
sent forward to track the Cougar, and in a few moments 
the whole pack were observed diligently trailing, and 
bearing in their course for the interior of the Swamp. 
The rifles were immediately put in trim, and the party 
followed the dogs, at separate distances, but in sight of 
each other, determined to shoot at no other game than 
the Panther. 



264 AUDUBON 



The dogs soon began to mouth, and suddenly quickened 
their pace. My companion concluded that the beast was 
on the ground, and putting our horses to a gentle gallop, 
we followed the curs, guided by their voices. The noise 
of the dogs increased, when, all of a sudden their mode 
of barking became altered, and the squatter, urging me 
to push on, told me that the beast was treed, by which he 
meant that it had got upon some low branch of a large 
tree to rest for a few moments, and that should we not 
succeed in shooting him when thus situated, we might 
expect a long chase of it. As we approached the spot, 
we all by degrees united into a body, but on seeing the 
dogs at the foot of a large tree, separated again, and gal- 
loped off to surround it. 

Each hunter now moved with caution, holding his gun 
ready, and allowing the bridle to dangle on the neck of 
his horse, as it advanced slowly towards the dogs. A 
shot from one of the party was heard, on which the 
Cougar was seen to leap to the ground, and bound off 
with such velocity as to show that he was very unwilling 
to stand our fire longer. The dogs set off in pursuit with 
great eagerness and a deafening cry. The hunter who 
had fired came up and said that his ball had hit the mon- 
ster, and had probably broken one of his fore-legs near 
the shoulder, the only place at which he could aim. A 
slight trail of blood was discovered on the ground, but 
the curs proceeded at such a rate that we merely noticed 
this, and put spurs to our horses, which galloped on 
towards the centre of the Swamp. One bayou was 
crossed, then another still larger and more muddy; but 
the dogs were brushing forward, and as the horses began 
to pant at a furious rate, we judged it expedient to leave 
them and advance on foot. These determined hunters 
knew that the Cougar being wounded, would shortly 
ascend another tree, where in all probability he would 
remain for a considerable time, and that it would be easy 



EPISODES 265 



to follow the track of the dogs. We dismounted, took off 
the saddles and bridles, set the bells attached to the 
horses' necks at liberty to jingle, hoppled the animals, 
and left them to shift for themselves. 

Now, kind reader, follow the group marching through 
the swamp, crossing muddy pools, and making the 
best of their way over fallen trees and amongst the 
tangled rushes that rrow and then covered acres of 
ground. If you are a hunter yourself, all this will 
appear nothing to you; but if crowded assemblies of 
"beauty and fashion," or the quiet enjoyment of your 
"pleasure grounds" alone delight you, I must mend my 
pen before I attempt to give you an idea of the pleasure 
felt on such an expedition. 

After marching for a couple of hours, we again heard 
the dogs. Each of us pressed forward, elated at the 
thought of terminating the career of the Cougar. Some 
of the dogs were heard whining, although the greater 
number barked vehemently. We felt assured that the 
Cougar was treed, and that he would rest for some time 
to recover from his fatigue. As we came up to the dogs, 
we discovered the ferocious animal lying across a large 
branch, close to the trunk of a cotton-wood tree. His 
broad breast lay towards us; his eyes were at one time 
bent on us and again on the dogs beneath and around him ; 
one of his fore-legs hung loosely by his side, and he lay 
crouched, with his ears lowered close to his head, as if 
he thought he might remain undiscovered. Three balls 
were fired at him, at a given signal, on which he sprang 
a few feet from the branch, and tumbled headlong to 
the ground. Attacked on all sides by the enraged curs, 
the infuriated Cougar fought with desperate valor; but the 
squatter, advancing in front of the party, and almost in 
the midst of the dogs, shot him immediately behind and 
beneath the left shoulder. The Cougar writhed for a 
moment in agony, and in another lay dead. 



266 AUDUBON 



The sun was now sinking in the west. Two of the 
hunters separated from the rest to procure venison, whilst 
the squatter's sons were ordered to make the best of their 
way home, to be ready to feed the hogs in the morning. 
The rest of the party agreed to camp on the spot. The 
Cougar was despoiled of its skin, and its carcass left to 
the hungry dogs. Whilst engaged in preparing our camp, 
we heard the report of a gun, and soon after one of our 
hunters returned with a small Deer. A fire was lighted, 
and each hunter displayed his pone of bread, along with a 
flask of whiskey. The deer was skinned in a trice, and 
slices placed on sticks before the fire. These materials 
afforded us an excellent meal, and as the night grew 
darker, stories and songs went round, until my compan- 
ions, fatigued, laid themselves down, close under the 
smoke of the fire, and soon fell asleep. 

I walked for some minutes round the camp, to contem- 
plate the beauties of that nature from which I have cer- 
tainly derived my greatest pleasures. I thought of the 
occurrences of the day, and glancing my eye around, re- 
marked the singular effects produced by the phosphores- 
cent qualities of the large decayed trunks which lay in all 
directions around me. How easy, I thought, would it be 
for the confused and agitated mind of a person bewil- 
dered in a swamp like this, to imagine in each of these 
luminous masses some wondrous and fearful being, the 
very sight of which might make the hair stand erect on 
his head. The thought of being myself placed in such a 
predicament burst over my mind, and I hastened to join 
my companions, beside whom I laid me down and slept, 
assured that no enemy could approach us without first 
rousing the dogs, which were growling in fierce dispute 
over the remains of the Cougar. 

At daybreak we left our camp, the squatter bearing on 
his shoulder the skin of the late destroyer of his stock, 
and retraced our steps until we found our horses, which 



EPISODES 267 

had ndt strayed far from the place where we had left 
them. These we soon saddled, and jogging along, in a 
direct course, guided by the sun, congratulating each 
other on the destruction of so formidable a neighbor as 
the Panther had been, we soon arrived at my hpst's cabin. 
The five neighbors partook of such refreshment as the 
house could afford, and dispersing, returned to their 
homes, leaving me to follow my favorite pursuits. 



THE RUNAWAY 

Never shall I forget the impression made on my mind 
by the rencontre which forms the subject of this article, 
and I even doubt if the relation of it will not excite in 
that of my reader emotions of varied character. 

Late in the afternoon of one of those sultry days which 
render the atmosphere of the Louisiana swamps pregnant 
with baneful effluvia, I directed my course towards my 
distant home, laden with a pack, consisting of five or six 
Wood Ibises, and a heavy gun, the weight of which, even 
in those days, when my natural powers were unimpaired, 
prevented me from moving with much speed. Reaching 
the banks of a miry bayou, only a few yards in breadth, 
but of which I could not ascertain the depth, on account 
of the muddiness of its waters, I thought it might be 
dangerous to wade through it with my burden, for which 
reason, throwing to the opposite side each of my heavy 
birds in succession, together with my gun, powder-flask, 
and shot-bag, and drawing my hunting-knife from its 
scabbard, to defend myself, if need should be, against 
Alligators, I entered the water, followed by my faithful 
dog. As I advanced carefully, and slowly, " Plato " 
swam around me, enjoying the refreshing influence of the 
liquid element that cooled his fatigued and heated frame. 



268 AUDUBON 



The water deepened, as did the mire of its bed ; but with 
a stroke or two I gained the shore. 

Scarcely had I stood erect on the opposite bank, when 
my dog ran to me, exhibiting marks of terror; his eyes 
seeming ready to burst from their sockets, and his mouth 
grinning with the expression of hatred, while his feelings 
found vent in a stifled growl. Thinking that all this was 
produced by the scent of a Wolf or Bear, I stooped to take 
up my gun, when a stentorian voice commanded me to 
" stand still, or die ! " Such a qui vive in these woods was 
as unexpected as it was rare. I instantly raised and cocked 
my gun ; and although I did not yet perceive the individual 
who had thus issued so peremptory a mandate, I felt de- 
termined to combat with him for the free passage of the 
grounds. Presently a tall, firmly built negro emerged from 
the bushy underwood, where until that moment he must 
have been crouched, and in a louder voice repeated his 
injunction. Had I pressed a trigger, his life would have 
instantly terminated ; but observing that the gun which he 
aimed at my breast, was a wretched, rusty piece, from 
which fire could not readily be produced, I felt little fear, 
and therefore did not judge it necessary to proceed at once 
to extremities. I laid my gun at my side, tapped my dog 
quietly, and asked the man what he wanted. 

My forbearance, and the stranger's long habit of sub- 
mission, produced the most powerful effect on his mind. 
" Master," said he, " I am a runaway ; I might perhaps 
shoot you down ; but God forbids it, for I feel just now as 
if I saw him ready to pass his judgment against me for such a 
foul deed, and I ask mercy at your hands. For God's sake, 
do not kill me, master ! " " And why," answered I, " have 
you left your quarters, where certainly you must have fared 
better than in these unwholesome swamps? " " Master, my 
story is a short, but a sorrowful one. My camp is close 
by, and, as I know you cannot reach home this night, if 
you will follow me there, depend upon my honor you shall 



EPISODES 269 

be safe until the morning, when I will carry your birds, if 
you choose, to the great road." 

The large, intelligent eyes of the negro, the complacency 
of his manners, and the tones of his voice, I thought in- 
vited me to venture ; and as I felt that I was at least his 
equal, while moreover, I had my dog to second me, I 
answered that I would follow him. He observed the em- 
phasis laid on the words, the meaning of which he seemed 
to understand so thoroughly that, turning to me, he said, 
" There, master, take my butcher's knife, while I throw 
away the flint and priming from my gun ! " Reader, I felt 
confounded : this was too much for me : I refused the 
knife, and told him to keep his piece ready, in case we 
might accidentally meet a Cougar or a Bear. 

Generosity exists everywhere. The greatest monarch 
acknowledges its impulse, and all around him, from the 
lowliest menial to the proud nobles that encircle his throne, 
at times experience that overpowering sentiment. I offered 
to shake hands with the runaway. " Master," said he, " I 
beg you thanks," and with this he gave me a squeeze that 
alike impressed me with the goodness of his heart and his 
great physical strength. From that moment we proceeded 
through the woods together. My dog smelt at him several 
times, but as he heard me speak in my usual tone of voice, 
he soon left us and rambled around as long as my whistle 
was unused. As we proceeded, I observed that he was 
guiding me towards the setting of the sun, and quite con- 
trary to my homeward course. I remarked this to him, 
when he with the greatest simplicity replied, " Merely for 
our security." 

After trudging along for some distance, and crossing 
several bayous, at all of which he threw his gun and knife 
to the opposite bank, and stood still until I had got over, 
we came to the borders of an immense cane-brake, from 
which I had, on former occasions, driven and killed several 
Deer. We entered, as I had frequently done before, now 



270 AUDUBON 



erect, then on " all fours." He regularly led the way, 
divided here and there the tangled stalks, and, whenever 
we reached a fallen tree, assisted me in getting over it, 
with all possible care. I saw that he was a perfect Indian 
in his knowledge of the woods, for he kept a direct course 
as precisely as any " Red-skin " I ever travelled with. All 
of a sudden he emitted a loud shriek, not unlike that of an 
Owl, which so surprised me, that I once more instantly 
levelled my gun. " No harm, master, I only give notice 
to my wife and children I am coming." A tremulous 
answer of the same nature gently echoed through the tree 
tops. The runaway's lips separated with an expression of 
gentleness and delight, when his beautiful set of ivory 
teeth seemed to smile through the dusk of evening that 
was thickening around us. " Master," said he, " my 
wife, though black, is as beautiful to me as the President's 
wife is to him ; she is my queen, and I look on our young 
ones as so many princes ; but you shall see them all, for 
here they are, thank God." 

There, in the heart of the cane-brake, I found a regular 
camp. A small fire was lighted, and on its embers lay 
gridling some large slices of venison. A lad nine or ten 
years old was blowing the ashes from some fine sweet 
potatoes. Various articles of household furniture were 
carefully disposed around, and a large pallet of Bear and 
Deer skins, seemed to be the resting-place of the whole 
family. The wife raised not her eyes towards mine, and 
the little ones, three in number, retired into a corner, like 
so many discomfited Raccoons; but the Runaway, bold, 
and apparently happy, spoke to them in such cheering 
words, that at once one and all seemed to regard me as 
one sent by Providence to relieve them from all their 
troubles. My clothes were hung up by them to dry, and 
the negro asked if he might clean and grease my gun, 
which I permitted him to do, while the wife threw a large 
piece of Deer's flesh to my dog, which the children were 
already caressing. 



EPISODES 271 

Only think of my situation, reader! Here I was, ten 
miles at least from home, and four or five from the nearest 
plantation, in the camp of runaway slaves, and quite at 
their mercy. My eyes involuntarily followed their motions, 
but as I thought I perceived in them a strong desire to 
make me their confidant and friend, I gradually relin- 
quished all suspicions. The venison and potatoes looked 
quite tempting, and by this time I was in a condition to 
relish much less savory fare ; so, on being humbly asked 
to divide the viands before us, I partook of as hearty a 
meal as I had ever done in my life. 

Supper over, the fire was completely extinguished,' and 
a small lighted pine-knot placed in a hollowed calabash. 
Seeing that both the husband and the wife were desirous 
of communicating something to me, I at once and fear- 
lessly desired them to unburden their minds, when the 
Runaway told me a tale of which the following is the 
substance. 

About eighteen months before, a planter, residing not 
very far off, having met with some losses, was obliged to 
expose his slaves at a public sale. The value of his negroes 
was well known, and on the appointed day the auctioneer 
laid them out in small lots, or offered them singly, in the 
manner which he judged most advantageous to their owner. 
The Runaway, who was well known as being the most 
valuable next to his wife, was put up by himself for sale, 
and brought an immoderate price. For his wife, who came 
next, and alone, eight hundred dollars were bidden and 
paid down. Then the children were exposed, and, on 
account of their breed, brought high prices. The rest 
of the slaves went off at rates corresponding to their 
qualifications. 

The Runaway chanced to be bought by the overseer of 
the plantation ; the wife was bought by an individual re- 
siding about a hundred miles off, and the children went to 
different places along the river. The heart of the husband 



272 AUDUBON 



and father failed him under this dire calamity. For a while 
he pined in sorrow under his new master; but having 
marked down in his memory the names of the different 
persons who had purchased each dear portion of his family, 
he feigned illness, if indeed, he whose affections had been 
so grievously blasted could be said to feign it, refrained 
from food for several days, and was little regarded by the 
overseer, who felt himself disappointed in what he had 
considered a bargain. 

On a stormy night, when the elements raged with all 
the fury of a hurricane, the poor negro made his escape, 
and' being well acquainted with all the neighboring 
swamps, at once made directly for the cane-brake in the 
centre of which I found his camp. A few nights after- 
wards he gained the abode of his wife, and the very next 
after their meeting, he led her away. The children, one 
after another, he succeeded in stealing, until at last the 
whole of the objects of his love were under his care. 

To provide for five individuals was no easy task in those 
wilds, which after the first notice was given of the wonder- 
ful disappearance of this extraordinary family, were daily 
ransacked by armed planters. Necessity, it is said, will 
bring the Wolf from the forest. The Runaway seems to 
have well understood the maxim, for under the cover of 
night he approached his first master's plantation, where he 
had ever been treated with the greatest kindness. The 
house-servants knew him too well not to aid him to the 
best of their power, and at the approach of each morning 
he returned to his camp with an ample supply of provisions. 
One day, while in search of wild fruits, he found a Bear dead 
before the muzzle of a gun that had been set for the pur- 
pose. Both articles he carried to his home. His friends 
at the plantation managed to supply him with some am- 
munition, and on damp and cloudy days he first ventured 
to hunt around his camp. Possessed of courage and 
activity, he gradually became more careless, and rambled 



EPISODES 273 

farther in search of game. It was on one of his excursions 
that I met him, and he assured me the noise which I made 
in passing the bayou had caused him to lose the chance of 
killing a fine Deer, " although," said he, " my old musket 
misses fire sadly too often." 

The Runaways, after disclosing their secret to me, both 
rose from their seat, with eyes full of tears. " Good 
master, for God's sake, do something for us and our 
children," they sobbed forth with one accord. Their little 
ones lay sound asleep in the fearlessness of their innocence. 
Who could have heard such a tale without emotion? I 
promised them my most cordial assistance. They both 
sat up that night to watch my repose, and I slept close to 
their urchins, as if on a bed of the softest down. 

Day broke so fair, so pure, and so gladdening that I 
told them such heavenly appearances were ominous of 
good, and that I scarcely doubted of obtaining their 
full pardon. I desired them to take their children with 
them, and promised to accompany them to the plantation 
of their first master. They gladly obeyed. ^ My Ibises 
were hung round their camp, and, as a memento of my 
having been there, I notched several trees ; after which I 
bade adieu, perhaps for the last time, to that cane-brake. 
We soon reached the plantation, the owner of which, with 
whom I was well acquainted, received me with all the 
generous kindness of a Louisiana planter. Ere an hour 
had elapsed, the Runaway and his family were looked 
upon as his own. He afterwards repurchased them from 
their owners, and treated them with his former kindness ; 
so that they were rendered as happy as slaves generally 
are in that country, and continued to cherish that attach- 
ment to each other which had led to their adventures. 
Since this event happened, it has, I have been informed, 
become illegal to separate slave families without their 
consent. 



■18 



274 AUDUBON 



A TOUGH WALK FOR A YOUTH 

About twelve years ago I was conveyed, along with my 
son Victor, from Bayou Sara to the mouth of the Ohio, 
on board the steamer " iVlagnet," commanded by Mr. 
McKnight, to whom I here again offer my best thanks 
for his attentions. The very sight of the waters of that 
beautiful river filled me with joy as we approached the 
little village of Trinity, where we were landed along with 
several other passengers, the water being too low to enable 
the vessel to proceed to Louisville. No horses could be 
procured, and as I was anxious to continue my journey 
without delay, I consigned my effects to the care of the 
tavern-keeper, who engaged to have them forwarded by 
the first opportunity. My son, who was not fourteen, with 
all the ardor of youth, considered himself able to accom- 
plish, on foot, the long journey which we contemplated. . 
Two of the passengers evinced a desire to accompany us, 
" provided," said the tallest and stoutest of them, " the lad 
can keep up. My business," he continued, " is urgent, 
and I shall push for Frankfort pretty fast." pinner, to 
which we had contributed some fish from the river, beit^ 
over, my boy and I took a ramble along the shores of 
Cash Greek, on which, some years before, I had been 
detained several weeks by ice. We slept at the tavern, 
and next morning prepared for our journey, and were 
joined by our companions, although it was past twelve 
before we crossed the creek. 

One of our fellow-travellers, named Rose, who was a 
delicate and gentlemanly person, acknowledged that he 
was not a good walker, and said he was glad that my son 
was with us, as he might be able to keep up with the lively 
youth. The other, a burly personage, at once pushed 
forwards. We walked in Indian file along the narrow 
track cut through the canes, passed a wood-yard, and 



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VICTOR GIFFORD AUDUBON. 

FAINTED BY AUDUKO-N ABOUT 1S23. 



EPISODES 275 

entered the burnt forest, in which we met with so many- 
logs and briers that we judged it better to make for the 
river, the course of which we followed over a bed of peb- 
bles, my son sometimes ahead, and again falling bacl?, 
until we reached America, a village having a fine situation, 
but with a shallow approach to the shore. Here we halted 
at the best house, as every traveller ought to do, whether 
pedestrian or equestrian, for he is there sure of being well 
treated, and will not have to pay more than in an inferior 
place. Now we constituted Mr. Rose purser. We had 
walked twelve miles over rugged paths and pebbly shores, 
and soon proceeded along the edge of the river. Seven 
tough miles ended, we found a house near the bank, and 
in it we determined to pass the night. The first person we 
met with was a woman picking cotton in a small field. On 
asking her if we might stay in her cabin for the night, she 
answered we might, and hoped we could make shift with 
the fare on which she and her husband lived. While 
she went to the house to prepare supper, I took my son 
and Mr. Rose to the water, knowing how much we should 
be refreshed by a bath. Our fellow-traveller refused, and 
stretched himself on a bench by the door. The sun was 
setting ; thousands of Robins were flying southward in the 
calm and clear air ; the Ohio was spread before us smooth 
as a mirror, and into its waters we leaped with pleasure. 
In a short time the good man of the hut called us to sup- 
per, and in a trice we were at his heels. He was a tall, 
raw-boned fellow, with an honest, bronzed face. After our 
frugal meal we all four lay down on a large bed, spread 
on the floor, while the good people went up to a loft. 

The woodsman, having, agreeably to our instructions, 
roused us at daybreak, told us that about seven miles 
farther we should meet with a breakfast much better than 
the last supper we had. He refused any pecuniary com- 
pensation, but accepted from me a knife. So we again 
started. My dear boy appeared very weak at first, but 



2/6 A UDUBON 



soon recovered, and our stout companion, whom I shall 
call S., evidently showed symptoms of lassitude. On 
arriving at the cabin of a lazy man, blessed with an indus- 
trious wife and six healthy children, all of whom labored 
for his support, we were welcomed by the woman, whose 
motions and language indicated her right to belong to a 
much higher class. Better breakfast I never ate: the 
bread was made of new corn, ground on a tin grater by 
the beautiful hands of our blue-eyed hostess ; the chickens 
had been prepared by one of her lovely daughters ; some 
good coffee was added, and my son had fresh milk. The 
good woman, who now held a babe to her bosom, seemed 
pleased to see how heartily we all ate ; the children went 
to work, and the lazy husband went to the door to smoke a 
corn-cob pipe. A dollar was put into the ruddy hand of the 
chubby urchin, and we bade its mother farewell. Again 
we trudged along the beach, but after a while betook our- 
selves to the woods. My son became faint. Dear boy ! 
never can I forget how he lay exhausted on a log, large 
tears rolling down his cheeks. I bathed his temples, spoke 
soothingly to him, and chancing to see a fine Turkey Cock 
run close by, directed his attention to it, when, as if suddenly 
refreshed, he got up and ran a few yards towards the bird. 
From that moment he seemed to acquire new vigor, and at 
length we reached Wilcox's, where we stopped for the night. 
We were reluctantly received at the house, and had little 
attention paid to us, but we had a meal and went to bed. 

The sun rose in all its splendor, and the Ohio reflected 
its ruddy beams. A finer view of that river can scarcely 
be obtained than that from the house which we were leav- 
ing. Two miles through intricate woods brought us to 
Belgrade, and having passed Fort Massacre, we halted and 
took breakfast. S. gave us to understand that the want of 
roads made travelling very unpleasant; he was not, he 
added, in the habit of " skulking through the bushes, of 
tramping over stony bars in the full sunshine ; " but how 



EPISODES 277 

else he had travelled was not explained. Mr. Rose kept 
up about as well as Victor, and I now led the way. 
Towards sunset we reached the shores of the river, op- 
posite the mouth of the Cumberland. On a hill, the 
property of a Major B., we found a house, and a solitary 
woman, wretchedly poor, but very kind. She assured us 
that if we could not cross the river, she would give us food 
and shelter for the night, but said that, as the moon was 
up, she could get us put over when her skiff came back. 
Hungry and fatigued, we laid us down on the brown grass, 
waiting either a scanty meal or the skiff that was to con- 
vey us across the river. I had already grated the corn for 
our supper, run down the chickens, and made a fire, when 
a cry of " Boat coming ! " roused us all. We crossed half 
of the Ohio, walked over Cumberland Isle, and after a short 
ferry found ourselves in Kentucky, the native land of my 
beloved sons. I was now within a few miles of the spot 
where, some years before, I had a horse killed under me 
by lightning. 

It is unnecessary to detain you with a long narrative, 
and state every occurrence till we reached the banks of 
Green River. We had left Trinity at twelve o'clock of the 
15th of October, and on the morning of the i8th four 
travellers, descending a hill, were admiring the reflection 
of the sun's rays on the forest-margined horizon. The frost, 
which lay thick on the ground and the fences, glittered in 
the sheen, and dissolved away; all nature seemed beautiful 
in its calm repose ; but the pleasure which I felt in gazing 
on the scene was damped by the fatigue of my son, who 
now limped like a lamed Turkey, although, as the rest of 
the party were not much better off, he smiled, straightened 
himself, and strove to keep up with us. Poor S. was pant- 
ing many yards behind, and was talking of purchasing a 
horse. We had now, however, a tolerably good road, and 
in the evening got to a house, where I inquired if we could 
have a supper and beds. When I came out, Victor was 



278 AUDUBON 



asleep on the grass, Mr. Rose looking at his sore toes, and 
S. just finishing a jug of monongahela. Here we resolved 
that, instead of going by Henderson, we should take a cut 
across to the right, and make direct for Smith's Ferry, by 
way of Highland Lick Creek. 

Next day we trudged along, but nothing very remarkable 
occurred excepting that we saw a fine black Wolf, quite 
tame and gentle, the owner of which refused a hundred 
dollars for it. Mr. Rose, who was an engineer, and a man 
of taste, amused us with his flageolet, and frequently spoke 
of his wife, his children, and his fireside, which increased 
my good opinion of him. At an orchard we filled our 
pockets with October peaches, and when we came to Trade 
Water River we found it quite low. The acorns were 
already drifted on its shallows, and the Wood Ducks were 
running about picking them up. Passing a flat bottom, we 
saw a large Buffalo Lick. Where now are the bulls which 
erst scraped its earth away, bellowing forth their love or 
their anger? 

Good Mr. Rose's feet became sorer and sorer each suc- 
ceeding day ; Mr. S. at length nearly gave up ; my son had 
grown brisker. The 20th was cloudy, and we dreaded 
rain, as we knew the country to be flat and clayey. In 
Union County, we came to a large opening, and found the 
house of a justice, who led us kindly to the main road, and 
accompanied us for a mile, giving us excellent descriptions 
of brooks, woods, and barrens ; notwithstanding which we 
should have been much puzzled, had not a neighbor on 
horseback engaged to show us the way. The rain now fell 
in torrents and rendered us very uncomfortable, but at 
length we reached Highland Lick, where we stumbled on 
a cabin, the door of which we thrust open, overturning a 
chair that had been placed behind it. On a dirty bed lay 
a man, a table with a journal or perhaps a ledger before 
him, a small cask in a corner near him, a brass pistol on 
a nail over his head, and a long Spanish dagger by his 



EPISODES 279 

side. He rose and asked what was wanted. " The way 
to a better place, the road to Suggs's." " Follow the road, 
and you '11 get to his house in about five miles ! " My 
party were waiting for me, warming themselves by the 
fires of the salt-kettles. The being I had seen was an over- 
seer. By and by we crossed a creek ; the country was 
hilly, clayey, and slippery; Mr. S. was cursing, Rose 
limped like a lame Duck, but Victor kept up like a 
veteran. ' 

Another day, kind reader, and I shall for a while shut 
my journal. The morning of the 21st was beautiful; we 
had slept comfortably at Suggs's, and we soon found our- 
selves on pleasant barrens, with an agreeable road. Rose 
and S. were so nearly knocked up that they proposed to us 
to go on without them. We halted and talked a few minutes 
on the subject, when our companions stated their resolu- 
tion to proceed at a slower pace. So we bade them 
adieu. I asked my son how he felt; he laughed and 
quickened his steps ; and in a short time our former as- 
sociates were left out of sight. In about two hours we 
were seated in the Green River Ferry-boat, with our legs 
hanging in the water. At Smith's Ferry this stream looks 
like a deep lake ; and the thick cane on its banks, the large 
overhanging willows, and its dark, green waters, never fail 
to form a fine picture, more especially in the calm of an 
autumnal evening. Mr. Smith gave us a good supper, 
sparkling cider, and a comfortable bed. It was arranged 
that he should drive us to Louisville in his dearborn ; and 
so ended our walk of two hundred and fifty miles. Should 
you wish to accompany us during the remainder of our 
journey I have only to refer you to the article " Hospitality 
in the Woods." 



28o AUDUBON 



HOSPITALITY IN THE WOODS 

Hospitality is a virtue the exercise of which, although 
always agreeable to the stranger, is not always duly 
appreciated. The traveller who has acquired celebrity 
is not unfrequently received with a species of hospi- 
tality which is much alloyed by the obvious attention 
of the host to his own interest; and the favor con- 
ferred upon the stranger must have less weight when it 
comes mingled with almost interminable questions as to 
his perilous adventures. Another receives hospitality at 
the hands of persons who, possessed of all the comforts of 
life, receive the way-worn wanderer with pomposity, lead 
him from one part of their spacious mansion to another, 
and bidding him good-night, leave him to amuse himself 
in his solitary apartment, because he is thought unfit to 
be presented to a party of friends. A third stumbles on 
a congenial spirit, who receives him with open arms, offers 
him servants, horses, perhaps even his purse, to enable 
him to pursue his journey, and parts from him with regret. 
In all these cases the traveller feels more or less under 
obligation, and is accordingly grateful. But, kind reader, 
the hospitality received from the inhabitant of the forest, 
who can offer only the shelter of his humble roof and 
the refreshment of his homely fare, remains more deeply 
impressed on the memory of the bewildered traveller 
than any other. This kind of hospitality I have myself 
frequently experienced in our woods, and now proceed 
to relate an instance of it. 

I had walked several hundred miles, accompanied by my 
son, then a stripling, and, coming upon a clear stream, 
observed a house on the opposite shore. We crossed in a 
canoe, and finding that we had arrived at a tavern, deter- 
mined upon spending the night there. As we were both 
greatly fatigued, I made an arrangement with our host to be 



EPISODES 281 

conveyed in a light Jersey wagon a distance of a hundred 
miles, the period of our departure to be determined by 
the rising of the moon. Fair Cynthia, with her shorn 
beams, peeped over the forest about two hours before 
dawn, and our conductor, provided with a long twig of 
hickory, took his station in the fore-part of the wagon. 
Off we went at a round trot, dancing in the cart like peas 
in a sieve. The road, which was just wide enough to allow 
us to pass, was full of deep ruts, and covered here and 
there with trunks and stumps, over all which we were 
hurried. Our conductor, Mr. Flint, the landlord of the 
tavern, boasting of his perfect knowledge of the country, 
undertook to drive us by a short cut, and we willingly 
confided ourselves to his management. So we jogged 
along, now and then deviating to double the fallen timber. 
Day commenced with promise of fine weather, but several 
nights of white frost having occurred, a change was ex- 
pected. To our sorrow, the change took place long 
before we got to the road again. The rain fell in torrents ; 
the thunder bellowed ; the lightning blazed. It was now 
evening, but the storm had brought perfect night, black 
and dismal. Our cart had no cover. Cold and wet, we 
sat silent and melancholy, with no better expectation than 
that of passing the night under the little shelter the cart 
could afford us. 

To stop was considered worse than to proceed. So we 
gave the reins to the horses, with some faint hope that they 
would drag us out of our forlorn state. Of a sudden the 
steeds altered their course, and soon after we perceived 
the glimmer of a faint light in the distance, and almost at 
the same moment heard the barking of dogs. Our horses 
stopped by a high fence and fell a-neighing, while I 
hallooed at such a rate that an answer was speedily 
obtained. The next moment a flaming pine torch crossed 
the gloom, and advanced to the spot where we stood. 
The negro boy who bore it, without waiting to question 



282 AUDUBON 



us, enjoined us to follow the fence, and said that Master 
had sent him to show the strangers to the house. We 
proceeded, much relieved, and soon reached the gate of a 
little yard, in which a small cabin was perceived. 

A tall, fine-looking young man stood in the open door, 
and desired us get out of the cart and walk in. We did 
so, when the following conversation took place. "A bad 
night this, strangers ; how came you to be along the fence ? 
You certainly must have lost your way, for there is no 
public road within twenty miles." " Ay," answered Mr. 
Flint, " sure enough we lost our way; but, thank God ! we 
have got to a house ; and thank you for your reception." 
" Reception ! " replied the woodsman ; " no very great 
thing after all; you are all here safe, and that's enough. 
Eliza," turning to his wife, " see about some victuals for 
the strangers, and you, Jupiter," addressing the negro lad, 
" bring some wood and mend the fire. Eliza, call the 
boys up, and treat the strangers the best way you can. 
Come, gentlemen, pull off your wet clothes, and draw to 
the fire. Eliza, bring some socks and a shirt or two." 

For my part, kind reader, knowing my countrymen as I 
do, I was not much struck at all this ; but my son, who 
had scarcely reached the age of thirteen, drew near to 
me, and observed how pleasant it was to have met with 
such good people. Mr. Flint bore a hand in getting 
his horses put under a shed. The young wife was already 
stirring with so much liveliness that to have doubted for 
a moment that all she did was a pleasure to her would 
have been impossible. Two negro lads made their 
appearance, looked at us for a moment, and going out, 
called the dogs. Soon after the cries of the poultry in- 
formed us that good cheer was at hand. Jupiter brought 
more wood, the blaze of which illumined the cottage. Mr. 
Flint and our host returned, and we already began to feel 
the comforts of hospitality. The woodsman remarked 
that it was a pity we had not chanced to come that day 



EPISODES 283 

three weeks ; " for," said he, " it was our wedding-day, 
and father gave us a good house-warming, and you might 
have fared better; but, however, if you can eat bacon 
and eggs, and a broiled chicken, you shall have that. 
I have no whiskey in the house, but father has some 
capital cider, and I '11 go over and bring a keg of it." 
I asked how far off his father lived. " Only three miles, 
sir, and I '11 be back before Eliza has cooked your sup- 
per." Off he went accordingly, and the next moment the 
galloping of his horse was heard. The rain fell in tor- 
rents, and now I also became struck with the kindness of 
our host. 

To all appearance the united ages of the pair under 
whose roof we had found shelter did not exceed two 
score. Their means seemed barely sufficient to render 
them comfortable, but the generosity of their young 
hearts had no limits. The cabin was new. The logs 
of which it was formed were all of the tulip-tree, and 
were nicely pared. Every part was beautifully clean. 
Even the coarse slabs of wood that formed the floor 
looked as if newly washed and dried. Sundry gowns 
and petticoats of substantial homespun hung from the 
logs that formed one of the sides of the cabin, while 
the other was covered with articles of male attire. A 
large spinning-wheel, with rolls of wool and cotton, oc- 
cupied one corner. In another was a small cupboard, 
containing the little stock of new dishes, cups, plates, 
and tin pans. The table was small also, but quite new, 
and as bright as polished walnut could be. The only 
bed that I saw was of domestic manufacture, and the 
counterpane proved how expert the young wife was at 
spinning and weaving. A fine rifle ornamented the 
chimney-piece. The fireplace w^is of such dimensions 
that it looked as if it had been purposely constructed 
for holding the numerous progeny expected to result 
from the happy union. 



284 AUDUBON 



The black boy was engaged in grinding some coffee. 
Bread was prepared by the fair hands of the bride, and 
placed on a flat board in front of the fire. The bacon 
and eggs already murmured and spluttered in the frying- 
pan, and a pair of chickens puffed and swelled on a grid- 
iron over the embers, in front of the hearth. The cloth 
was laid, and everything arranged, when the clattering 
of hoofs announced the return of the husband. In he 
came, bearing a two-gallon keg of cider. His eyes 
sparkled with pleasure as he said, " Only think, Eliza ; 
■father wanted to rob us of the strangers, and was for 
coming here to ask them to his own house, just as if we 
could not give them enough ourselves; but here's the 
drink. Come, gentlemen, sit down and help yourselves." 
We did so, and 1, to enjoy the repast, took a chair of the 
husband's making, in preference to one of those called 
Windsor, of which there were six in the cabin. This 
chair was bottomed with a piece of Deer's skin tightly 
stretched, and afforded a very comfortable seat. 

The wife now resumed her spinning, and the husband 
filled a jug with the sparkling cider, and, seated by the 
blazing fire, was drying his clothes. The happiness he 
enjoyed beamed from his eye, as at my request he 
proceeded to give us an account of his affairs and 
prospects, which he did in the following words : " I shall 
be twenty-two next Christmas-day," said our host. " My 
father came from Virginia when young, and settled on the 
large tract of land where he yet lives, and where with 
hard working he has done well. There were nine chil- 
dren of us. Most of them are married and settled in the 
neighborhood. The old man has divided his lands among 
some of us, and bought others for the rest. The land 
where I am he gave me two years ago, and a finer piece 
is not easily to be found. I have cleared a couple of 
fields, and planted an orchard. Father gave me a stock 
of cattle, some hogs, and four horses, with two negro 



EPISODES 285 

boys. I camped here for most of the time when clearing 
and planting ; and when about to marry the young woman 
you see at the wheel, father helped me in raising this 
hut. My wife, as luck would have it, had a negro also, 
and we have begun the world as well off as most folks, 
and, the Lord willing, may — But, gentlemen, you don't 
eat; do help yourselves. Eliza, maybe the strangers 
would like some milk." The wife stopped her work, and 
kindly asked if we preferred sweet or sour milk ; for you 
must know, reader, that sour milk is by some of our 
farmers considered a treat. Both sorts were produced, 
but, for my part, I chose to stick to the cider. 

Supper over, we all neared the fire, and engaged in 
conversation. At length our kind host addressed his wife 
as follows : " Eliza, the gentlemen would like to lie down, 
I guess. What sort of bed can you fix for them? " Eliza 
looked up with a smile, and said : " Why, Willy, we will 
divide the bedding, and arrange half on the floor, on 
which we can sleep very well, and the gentlemen will have 
the best we can spare them." To this arrangement I im- 
mediately objected, and proposed lying on a blanket by 
the fire; but neither Willy nor Eliza would listen. So 
they arranged a part of their bedding on the floor, on 
which, after some debate, we at length settled. The 
negroes were sent to their own cabin, the young couple 
went to bed, and Mr. Flint lulled us all asleep with a long 
story intended to show us how passing strange it was that 
he should have lost his way. 

" Tired nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep," and so 
forth. But Aurora soon turned her off. Mr. Speed, our 
host, rose, went to the door, and returning assured us that 
the weather was too bad for us to attempt proceeding. 
I really believe he was heartily glad of it; but anxious to 
continue our journey, I desired Mr. Flint to see about his 
horses. Eliza by this time was up too, and I observed her 
whispering to her husband, when he immediately said 



286 AUDUBON 



aloud, " To be sure, the gentlemen will eat breakfast be- 
fore they go, and I will show them the way to the road." 
Excuses were of no avail. Breakfast was prepared and 
eaten. The weather brightened a little, and by nine we 
were under way. Willy, on horseback, headed us. In a 
few hours our cart arrived at a road, by following which we 
at length got to the main one, and parted from our woods- 
man with the greater regret that he would accept nothing 
from any of us. On the contrary, telling Mr. Flint, with 
a smile, that he hoped he might some time again follow 
the longest track for a short cut, he bade us adieu, and 
trotted back to his fair Eliza and his happy home. 



NIAGARA 

After wandering on some of our great lakes for many 
months, I bent my course towards the celebrated Falls 
of Niagara, being desirous of taking a sketch of them. 
This was not my first visit to them, and I hoped it should 
not be the last. 

Artists (I know not if I can be called one) too often 
imagine that what they produce must be excellent, and 
with that foolish idea go on spoiling much paper and can- 
vas, when their time might have been better employed in 
a different manner. But, digressions aside, I directed 
my steps towards the Falls of Niagara, with the view of 
representing them on paper, for the amusement of my 
family. 

Returning as I then was from a tedious journey, and 
possessing little more than some drawings of rare birds 
and plants, I reached the tavern at Niagara Falls in such 
plight as might have deterred many an individual from 
obtruding himself upon a circle of well-clad and perhaps 
well-bred society. Months had passed since the last of 
my linen had been taken from my body, and used to clean 



EPISODES 287 

that useful companion, my gun. I was in fact covered 
just like one of the poorer class of Indians, and was ren- 
dered even more disagreeable to the eye of civilized man 
by not having, like them, plucked my beard, or trimmed 
my hair in any way. Had Hogarth been living, and there 
when I arrived, he could not have found a fitter subject 
for a Robinson Crusoe. My beard covered my neck in 
front, my hair fell much lower at my back, the leather 
dress which I wore had for months stood in need of repair, 
a large knife hung at my side, a rusty tin-box containing 
my drawings and colors, and wrapped up in a worn-out 
blanket that had served me for a bed, was buckled to my 
shoulders. To every one I must have seemed immersed 
in the depths of poverty, perhaps of despair. Neverthe- 
less, as I cared little about my appearance during those 
happy rambles, I pushed into the sitting-room, unstrapped 
my little burden, and asked how soon breakfast would be 
ready. 

In America, no person is ever refused entrance to the 
inns, at least far from cities. We know too well how 
many poor creatures are forced to make their way from 
other countries in search of employment or to seek un- 
cultivated land, and we are ever ready to let them have 
what they may call for. No one knew who I was, and the 
landlord, looking at me with an eye of close scrutiny, 
answered that breakfast would be on the table as soon 
as the company should come down from their rooms. I 
approached this important personage, told him of my 
avocations, and convinced him that he might feel safe as 
to remuneration. From this moment I was, with him at 
least, on equal footing with every other person in his 
house. He talked a good deal of the many artists who 
had visited the Falls that season, from different parts, and 
offered to assist me by giving such accommodations as I 
might require to finish the drawings I had in contempla- 
tion. He left me, and as I looked about the room I saw 



288 AUDUBON 



several views of the Falls, by which I was so disgusted 
that I suddenly came to my better senses. " What ! " 
thought I, " have I come here to mimic nature in her 
grandest enterprise, and add my caricature of one of the 
wonders of the world to those which I here see? No; 
I give up the vain attempt. I shall look on these mighty 
cataracts and imprint them, where alone they can be 
represented — on my mind ! " 

Had I taken a view, I might as well have given you 
what might be termed a regular account of the form, the 
height, the tremendous roar of these Falls ; might have 
spoken of people perilling their lives by going between the 
rock and the sheet of water, calculated the density of the 
atmosphere in that strange position, related wondrous 
tales of Indians and their canoes having been precipitated 
the whole depth — might have told of the narrow, rapid, 
and rockbound river that leads the waters of the Erie into 
those of Ontario, remarking en passant the Devil's Hole 
and sundry other places or objects. But, supposing you 
had been there, my description would prove useless, and 
quite as puny as my intended view would have been for 
my family; and should you not have seen them, and are 
fond of contemplating the more magnificent of the Crea- 
tor's works, go to Niagara, reader ; for all the pictures you 
may see, all the descriptions you may read, of these 
mighty Falls, can only produce in your mind the faint 
glimmer of a glow-worm compared with the overpowering 
glory of the meridian sun. 

I breakfasted amid a crowd of strangers, who gazed and 
laughed at me, paid my bill, rambled about and admired 
the Falls for a while, saw several young gentlemen sketch- 
ing on cards the mighty mass of foaming waters, and 
walked to Buffalo, where I purchased new apparel and 
sheared my beard. I then enjoyed civilized life as much 
as, a month before, I had enjoyed the wildest solitudes 
and the darkest recesses of mountain and forest. 



EPISODES 289 



MEADVILLE 

The incidents that occur in the life of a student of 
nature are not all of the agreeable kind; in proof of 
which I shall present you, good reader, with an extract 
from one of my journals. 

My money was one day stolen from me, by a person 
who perhaps imagined that to a naturalist it was of little 
importance. This happened on the shores of Upper 
Canada. The affair was as unexpected as it well could be, 
and as adroitly managed as if it had been planned and 
executed in Cheapside. To have repined when the thing 
could not be helped would certes not have been acting 
manfully. I therefore told my companion to keep a good 
heart, for I felt satisfied that Providence had some relief in 
store for us. The whole amount of cash left with two 
individuals fifteen hundred miles from home was just seven 
dollars and a half. Our passage across the lake had for- 
tunately been paid for. We embarked and soon got to the 
entrance of Presque Isle Harbor, but could not pass the 
bar, on account of a violent gale which came on as we 
approached it. The anchor was dropped, and we remained 
on board during the night, feeling at times very disagree- 
able, under the idea of having taken so little care of our 
money. How long we might have remained at anchor I 
cannot tell, had not that Providence on whom I have never 
ceased to rely come to our aid. Through some means to 
me quite unknown, Captain Judd, of the U. S. Navy, then 
probably commandant at Presque Isle, sent a gig with six 
men to our relief. It was on the 29th of August, 1824, and 
never shall I forget that morning. My drawings were put 
into the boat with the greatest care. We shifted into it, 
and seated ourselves according to directions politely given 
us. Our brave fellows pulled hard, and every moment 
brought us nearer to the American shore. I leaped upon 

VOL. II. — 19 



290 AUDUBON 



it with elated heart. My drawings were safely landed, and 
for anything else I cared little at the moment. I searched 
in vain for the officer of our navy, to whom I still feel 
grateful, and gave one of our dollars to the sailors to drink 
the " freedom of the waters ; " after which we betook our- 
selves to a humble inn to procure bread and milk, and 
consider how we were to proceed. 

Our plans were soon settled, for to proceed was decidedly 
the best. Our luggage was rather heavy, so we hired a 
cart to take it to Meadville, for which we offered five 
dollars. This sum was accepted, and we set off. The 
country through which we passed might have proved 
favorable to our pursuits, had it not rained nearly the 
whole day. At night we alighted and put up at a house 
belonging to our conductor's father. It was Sunday night. 
The good folks had not yet returned from a distant meeting- 
house, the grandmother of our driver being the only indi- 
vidual about the premises. We found her a cheerful dame, 
who bestirred herself as actively as age would permit, got 
up a blazing fire to dry our wet clothes, and put as much 
bread and milk on the table as might have sufficed for sev- 
eral besides ourselves. 

Being fatigued by the jolting of the cart, we asked for a 
place in which, to rest, and were shown into a room in 
which were several beds. We told the good woman that I 
should paint her portrait next morning for the sake of 
her children. My companion and myself were quickly in 
bed, and soon asleep, in which state we should probably 
have remained till morning, had we not been awakened 
by a light, which we found to be carried by three young 
damsels, who, having observed where we lay, blew it out, 
and got into a bed opposite to ours. As we had not 
spoken, it is probable the girls supposed us sound asleep, 
and we heard them say how delighted they would be to 
have their portraits taken, as well as that of their grand- 
mother. My heart silently met their desire, and we fell 



EPISODES 291 

asleep without further disturbance. In our backwoods 
it is frequently the case that one room suffices for all 
the members of a family. 

Day dawned, and as we were dressing we discovered that 
we were alone in the apartment, the good country girls 
having dressed in silence, and left us before we had awak- 
ened. We joined the family and were kindly greeted. No 
sooner had I made known my intentions as to the portraits 
than the young folks disappeared, and soon after returned 
attired in their Sunday clothes. The black chalk was at 
work in a few minutes, to their great delight, and as the 
fumes of the breakfast that was meantime preparing 
reached my sensitive nose, I worked with redoubled 
ardor. The sketches were soon finished, and soon too was 
the breakfast over. I played a few airs on my flageolet, 
while our guide was putting the horses to the cart, and by 
ten o'clock we were once more under way towards Mead- 
ville. Never shall I forget Maxon Randell and his hos- 
pitable family. My companion was as pleased as myself, 
and as the weather was now beautiful we enjoyed our jour- 
ney with all that happy thoughtlessness best suited to our 
character. The country now became covered with heavy 
timber, principally evergreens, the pines and the cucumber 
trees loaded with brilliant fruits, and the spruces throwing 
a shade over the land in good keeping for a mellow pic- 
ture. The lateness of the crops was the only disagreeable 
circumstance that struck us ; hay was yet standing, prob- 
ably, however, a second crop ; the peaches were quite small 
and green, and a few persons here and there, as we passed 
the different farms, were reaping oats. At length we came 
in sight of French Creek, and soon after reached Mead- 
ville. Here we paid the five dollars promised to our 
conductor, who instantly faced about, and applying the 
whip to his nags, bade us adieu, and set off". 

We had now only one hundred and fifty cents. No time 
was to be lost. We put our baggage and ourselves under 



292 AUDUBON 



the roof of a tavern keeper known by the name of J. E. 
Smith, at the sign of the Traveller's Rest, and soon after 
took a walk to survey the little village that was to be laid 
under contribution for our further support. Its appear- 
ance was rather dull, but, thanks to God, I have never 
despaired while rambling thus for the sole purpose of 
admiring his grand and beautiful works. I had opened the 
case that contained my drawings, and putting my portfolio 
under my arm, and a few good credentials in my pocket, 
walked up Main Street, looking to the right and left, exam- 
ining the different heads which occurred, until I fixed my 
eyes on a gentleman in a store who looked as if he might 
want a sketch. I begged him to allow me to sit down. 
This granted, I remained purposely silent until he very 
soon asked me what was " in that portfolio." These three 
words sounded well, and without waiting another instant, I 
opened it to his view. This was a Hollander, who compli- 
mented me much on the execution of the drawings of birds 
and flowers in my portfolio. Showing him a sketch of the 
best friend I have in the world at present, I asked him if 
he would like one in the same style of himself He not 
only answered in the affirmative, but assured me that he 
would exert himself in procuring as many more customers 
as he could. I thanked him, be assured, kind reader ; and 
having fixed upon the next morning for drawing the sketch, 
I returned to the Traveller's Rest, with a hope that to- 
morrow might prove propitious. Supper was ready, and 
as in America we generally have but one sort of table 
d'hote, we sat down, when, every individual looking upon 
me as a missionary priest, on account of my hair, which in 
those days flowed loosely on my shoulders, I was asked 
to say grace, which I did with a fervent spirit. 

Daylight returned. I visited the groves and woods 
around with my companion, returned, breakfasted, and 
went to the store, where, notwithstanding my ardent desire 
to begin my task, it was ten o'clock before the sitter was 
ready. But, reader, allow me to describe the artists room. 



EPISODES 293 

See me ascending a crazy flight of steps, from the back 
part of a store room into a large garret extending over the 
store and counting room, and mark me looking round to 
see how the light could be stopped from obtruding on me 
through no less than four windows facing each other at 
right angles. Then follow me scrutinizing the corners, and 
finding in one a cat nursing her young among a heap of 
rags intended for the paper mill. Two hogsheads filled 
with oats, a parcel of Dutch toys carelessly thrown on the 
floor, a large drum and a bassoon in another part, fur 
caps hanging along the wall, and the portable bed of the 
merchant's clerk swinging like a hammock near the centre, 
together with some rolls of sole leather, made up the pic- 
ture. I saw all this at a glance, and closing the extra 
windows with blankets, I soon procured 2^ painter's light. 

A young gentleman sat to try my skill. I finished his 
phiz, which was approved of. The merchant then took 
the chair, and I had the good fortune to please him also. 
The room became crowded with the gentry of the village. 
Some laughed, while others expressed their wonder; but 
my work went on, notwithstanding the observations which 
were made. My sitter invited me to spend the evening 
with him, which I did, and joined him in some music on 
the flute and violin. I returned to my companion with 
great pleasure, and you may judge how much that pleasure 
was increased when I found that he also had made two 
sketches. Having written a page or two of our journals, 
we retired to rest. 

The following day was spent much in the same manner. 
I felt highly gratified that from under my gray coat my 
talents had made their way, and I was pleased to discover 
that industry and moderate abilities prove at least as valu- 
able as first-rate talents without the former of these qualities. 
We left Meadville on foot, having forwarded our baggage 
by wagon. Our hearts were light, our pockets replenished, 
and we walked in two days to Pittsburgh, as happy as 
circumstances permitted us to be. 



294 AUDUBON 



THE BURNING OF THE FORESTS. 

With what pleasure have I seated myself by the blaz- 
ing fire of some lonely cabin, when, faint with fatigue, 
and chilled with the piercing blast, I had forced my 
way to it through the drifted snows that covered the 
face of the country as with a mantle. The affectionate 
mother is hushing her dear babe to repose, while a group 
of sturdy children surround their father, who has just re- 
turned from the chase, and deposited on the rough floor- 
ing of his hut the varied game which he has procured. 
The great back-log, that with some difficulty has been 
rolled into the ample chimney, urged, as it were, by lighted 
pieces of pine, sends forth a blaze of light over the happy 
family. The dogs of the hunter are already licking away 
the trickling waters of the thawing icicles that sparkle 
over their shaggy coats, and the comfort-loving cat is 
busied in passing her furry paws over each ear, or with 
her rough tongue smoothing her glossy coat. 

How delightful to me has it been when, kindly received 
and hospitably treated under such a roof, by persons 
whose means were as scanty as their generosity was great, 
I have entered into conversation with them respecting 
subjects of interest to me, and received gratifying informa- 
tion. When the humble but plentiful repast was ended, 
the mother would take from the shelf the Book of books, 
and mildly request the attention of her family, while the 
father read aloud a chapter. Then to Heaven would 
ascend their humble prayers, and a good-night would be 
bidden to all friends far and near. How comfortably have 
I laid my wearied frame on the Buffalo hide, and covered 
me with the furry skin of some huge Bear ! How pleasing 
have been my dreams of home and happiness, as I there 
lay, secure from danger and sheltered from the inclemency 
of the weather. 



EPISODES 295 

I recollect that once while in the State of Maine, I 
passed such a night as I have described. Next morning 
the face of nature was obscured by the heavy rains that 
fell in torrents, and my generous host begged me to re- 
main, in such pressing terms that I was well content to 
accept his offer. Breakfast over, the business of the day 
commenced; the spinning-wheels went round, and the 
boys employed themselves, one in searching for knowl- 
edge, another in attempting to solve some ticklish arith- 
metical problem. In a corner lay the dogs, dreaming of 
plunder, while close to the ashes stood grimalkin, seriously 
purring in concert with the wheels. The hunter and I 
seated ourselves each on a stool, while the matron looked 
after her domestic arrangements. 

"Puss," quoth the dame, "get away; you told me last 
night of this day's rain, and I fear you may now give us 
worse news with tricky paws." Puss accordingly went off, 
leaped on a bed, and rolling herself in a ball, composed 
herself for a comfortable nap. I asked the husband what 
his wife meant by what she had just said. " The good 
woman," said he, " has some curious notions at times, 
and she believes, I think, in the ways of animals of all 
kinds. Now, her talk to the cat refers to the fires of the 
woods around us, and although they have happened long 
ago, she fears them quite as much as ever, and, indeed, she 
and I and all of us have good reason to dread them, as 
they have brought us many calamities." Having read of 
the great fires to which my host alluded, and frequently 
observed with sorrow the mournful state of the forests, I 
felt anxious to know something of the causes by which 
these direful effects had been produced. I therefore re- 
quested him to give me an account of the events resulting 
from those fires which he had witnessed. Willingly he 
at once went on, nearly as follows : — 

" About twenty-five years ago the larch, or hackmatack, 
trees were nearly all killed by insects. This took place in 



296 AUDUBON 



what hereabouts is called the ' black soft growth ' land, 
that is, the spruce, pine, and all other firs. The destruction 
of the trees was effected by the insects cutting the leaves, 
and you must know that, although other trees are not 
killed by the loss of their leaves, the evergreens always 
are. Some few years after this destruction of the larch, 
the isame insects attacked the spruces, pines, and other 
firs, in such a manner that, before half a dozen years were 
over, they began to fall, and, tumbling in all directions, 
they covered the whole country with matted masses. 
You may suppose that when partially dried or seasoned, 
they would prove capital fuel, as well as supplies for 
the devouring flames, which accidentally, or perhaps by 
intention, afterwards raged over the country, and con- 
tinued burning at intervals for years, in many places stop- 
ping all communication by the roads ; the resinous nature 
of the firs being of course best fitted to insure and keep 
up the burning of the deep beds of dry leaves or of the 
other trees." Here I begged him to give me some idea 
of the form of the insects which had caused such havoc. 

" The insects," said he, " were, in their caterpillar form, 
about three quarters of an inch in length, and as green as 
the leaves of the trees they fed on, when they committed 
their ravages. I must tell you also that, in most of the 
places over which the fire passed, a new growth of wood 
has already sprung up, of what we lumberers call hard 
wood, which consists of all other sorts but pine or fir; and 
I have always remarked that wherever the first natural 
growth of a forest is destroyed, either by the axe, the 
hurricane, or the fire, there springs up spontaneously an- 
other of quite a different kind." I again stopped my host 
to inquire if he knew the method or nature of the first 
kindling of the fires. 

" Why, sir," said he, " there are different opinions 
about this. Many believe that the Indians did it, either to 
be the better able to kill the game, or to punish their 



EPISODES 297 



enemies the Pale-faces. My opinion, however, is differ- 
ent ; and I derive it from my experience in the woods as a 
lumberer. I have always thought that the fires began by 
the accidental fall of a dry trunk against another, when 
their rubbing together, especially as many of them are 
covered with resin, would produce fire. The dry leaves 
on the ground are at once kindled, next the twigs 
and branches, when nothing but the intervention of the 
Almighty could stop the progress of the fire. 

" In some instances, owing to the wind, the destructive 
element approached the dwellings of the inhabitants of 
the woods so rapidly that it was difficult for them to es- 
cape. In some parts, indeed, hundreds of families were 
obliged to flee from their homes, leaving all they had 
behind them, and here and there some of the affrighted 
fugitives were burnt alive." 

At this moment a rush of wind came down the chimney, 
blowing the blaze of the fire towards the room. The wife 
and daughter, imagining for a moment that the woods were 
again on fire, made for the door, but the husband explain- 
ing the cause of their terror, they resumed their work. 

" Poor things," said the lumberer, " I dare say that 
what I have told you brings sad recollections to the minds 
of my wife and eldest daughter, who, with myself, had to 
fly from our home, at the time of the great fires." I felt 
so interested in his relation of the causes of the burnings 
that I asked him to describe to me the particulars of his 
misfortunes at the time. " If Prudence and Polly," said 
he, looking towards his wife and daughter, " will promise 
to sit still should another puff of smoke come down the 
chimney, I will do so." The good-natured smile with 
which he made this remark elicited a return from the 
women and he proceeded : — 

" It is a difficult thing, sir, to describe, but I will do my 
best to make your time pass pleasantly. We were sound 
asleep one night in a cabin about a hundred miles from 



298 AUDUBON 



this, when, about two hours before day, the snorting 
of the horses and lowing of the cattle which I had rang- 
ing in the woods suddenly awakened us. I took yon rifle 
and went to the door, to see what beast had caused the 
hubbub, when I was struck "by the glare of light reflected 
on all the trees before me, as far as I could see through 
the woods. My horses were leaping about, snorting 
loudly, and the cattle ran among them with their tails 
raised straight over their backs. On going to the back of 
the house, I plainly heard the crackhng made by the burn- 
ing brushwood, and saw the flames coming towards us in 
a far extended line. I ran to the house, told my wife 
to dress herself and the child as quick as possible, and 
take the little money we had, while I managed to catch 
and saddle the two best horses. All this was done in a 
very short time, for I guessed that every moment was 
precious to us. 

" We then mounted, and made off from the fire. My 
wife, who is an excellent rider, stuck close to me; my 
daughter, who was then a small child, I took in one arm. 
When making off as I said, I looked back and saw that 
the frightful blaze was close upon us, and had already laid 
hold of the house. By good luck, there was a horn at- 
tached to my hunting-clothes, and I blew it, to bring after 
us, if possible, the remainder of my live stock, as well as 
the dogs. The cattle followed for a while ; but, before an 
hour had elapsed, they all ran as if mad through the 
woods, and that, sir, was the last of them. My dogs, too, 
although at other times extremely tractable, ran after the 
Deer that in bodies sprung before us, as if fully aware of 
the death that was so rapidly approaching. 

" We heard blasts from the horns of our neighbors as 
we proceeded, and knew that they were in the same pre- 
dicament. Intent on striving to the utmost to preserve 
our lives, I thought of a large lake some miles off, which 
might possibly check the flames ; and, urging my wife to 



EPISODES 299 

whip up her horse, we set off at full speed, making the 
best way we could over the fallen trees and brush-heaps, 
which lay like so many articles placed on purpose to keep 
up the terrific fires that advanced with a broad front 
upon us. 

"By this time we could feel the heat; and we were afraid 
that our horses would drop every instant. A singular 
kind of breeze was passing over our heads, and the glare 
of the atmosphere shone over the daylight. I was sensible 
of a slight faintness, and my wife looked pale. The heat 
had produced such a flush in the child's face that when 
she turned towards either of us, our grief and perplexity 
were greatly increased. Ten miles, you know, are soon 
gone over on swift horses ; but, notwithstanding this, when 
we reached the borders of the lake, covered with sweat 
and quite exhausted, our hearts failed us. The heat of 
the smoke was insufferable, and sheets of blazing fire flew 
over us in a manner beyond belief. We reached the 
shores, however, coasted the lake for a while, and got 
round to the lee side. There we gave up our horses, 
which we never saw again. Down among the rushes we 
plunged by the edge of the water, and laid ourselves flat, 
to wait the chance of escaping from being burnt or 
devoured. The water refreshed us, and we enjoyed the 
coolness. 

" On went the fire, rushing and crashing through the 
woods. Such a sight may we never see ! The heavens, 
themselves, I thought were frightened, for all above us 
was a red glare mixed with clouds of smoke, rolling and 
sweeping away. Our bodies were cool enough, but our 
heads were scorching, and the child, who now seemed to 
understand the matter, cried so as nearly to break our 
hearts. 

" The day passed on, and we became hungry. Many 
wild beasts came plunging into the water beside us, and 
others swam across to our side and stood still. Although 



300 AUDUBON 



faint and weary, I managed to shoot a Porcupine, and we 
all tasted its flesh. The night passed, I cannot tell you 
how. Smouldering fires covered the ground, and trees 
stood like pillars of fire, or fell across each other. The 
stifling and sickening smoke still rushed over us, and the 
burnt cinders and ashes fell thick about us. How we got 
through that night I really cannot tell, for about some of 
it I remember nothing." Here the hunter paused, and 
took breath. The recital of his adventure seemed to have 
exhausted him. His wife proposed that we should have 
a bowl of milk, and the daughter having handed it to us, 
we each took a draught. 

" Now," said he, " I will proceed. Towards morning, 
although the heat did not abate, the smoke became less, 
and blasts of fresh air sometimes made their way to us. 
When morning came, all was calm, but a dismal smoke 
still filled the air, and the smell seemed worse than ever. 
We were now cooled enough, and shivered as if in an ague 
fit; so we removed from the water, and went up to a burn- 
ing log, where we warmed ourselves. What was to be- 
come of us, I did not know. My wife hugged the child to 
her breast, and wept bitterly; but God had preserved us 
through the worst of the danger, and the flames had gone 
past, so I thought it would be both ungrateful to him 
and unmanly to despair now. Hunger once more pressed 
upon us, but this was easily remedied. Several Deer were 
still standing in the water, up to the head, and I shot one 
of them. Some of its flesh was soon roasted ; and after 
eating it we felt wonderfully strengthened. 

" By this time the blaze of the fire was beyond our 
sight, although the ground was still burning in many 
places, and it was dangerous to go among the burnt trees. 
After resting awhile, and trimming ourselves, we prepared 
to commence our march. Taking up the child, I led the 
way over the hot ground and rocks; and, after two weary 
days and nights, during which we shifted in the best 



EPISODES 301 

manner we could, we at last reached the ' hard woods ' 
which had been free of the fire. Soon after we came to a 
house, where we were kindly treated for a while. Since 
then, sir, I have worked hard and constantly as a lum- 
berer; but, thanks be to God, here we are safe, sound, 
and happy ! " 



A LONG CALM AT SEA 

On the 17th of May, 1826, I left New Orleans on 
board the ship "Deles/' commanded by Joseph Hatch, 
Esq., of Kennebunk, bound for Liverpool. The steamer 
"Hercules," which towed the ship, left us several miles 
outside of the Balize, about ten hours after our de- 
parture ; but there was not a breath of wind, the waters 
were smoother than the prairies of the Opelousas, and 
notwithstanding our great display of canvas, we lay like 
a dead whale, floating at the mercy of the currents. The 
weather was uncommonly fair, and the heat excessive; 
and in this helpless state we continued for many days. 
About the end of a week we had lost sight of the Balize, 
although I was assured by the commander that all this 
while the ship had rarely answered the helm. The sail- 
ors whistled for wind, and raised their hands in all direc- 
tions, anxious as they were to feel some motion in the 
air; but all to no purpose; it was a dead calm, and we 
concluded that ".^olus" had agreed with "Neptune" to 
detain us, until our patience should be fairly tried, or 
our sport exhausted ; for sport we certainly had, both on 
board and around the ship. I doubt if I can better con- 
tribute to your amusement at present than by giving you 
a short account of the occurrences that took place during 
this sleepy fit of the being on whom we depended for our 
progress toward merry England. 



302 AUDUBON 



Vast numbers of beautiful Dolphins glided by the side 
of the vessel, glancing like burnished gold through the 
day, and gleaming like meteors by night. The captain 
and his mates were expert at alluring them with baited 
hooks, and not less so at piercing them with five-pronged 
instruments, which they called grains; and I was de- 
lighted with the sport, because it afforded me an oppor- 
tunity of observing and noting some of the habits of this 
beautiful fish, as well as several other kinds. 

On being hooked, the Dolphin flounces vigorously, 
shoots off with great impetuosity to the very end of the 
line, when, being suddenly checked, it ofteii rises perpen- 
dicularly several feet out of the water, shakes itself vio- 
lently in the air, gets disentangled, and thus escapes. 
But when well secured, it is held in play for a while by 
the experienced fisher, soon becomes exhausted, and is 
hauled on board. Some persons prefer pulling them in 
at once, but they seldom succeed, as the force with which 
the fish shakes itself on being raised out of the water is 
generally sufficient to enable it to extricate itself. Dol- 
phins move in shoals, varying from four or five to twenty 
or more, hunting in packs in the waters, as Wolves pursue 
their prey on land. The object of their pursuit is gener- 
ally the Flying-fish, now and then the Bonita ; and when 
nothing better can be had, they will follow the little 
Rudder-fish, and seize it immediately under the stern of 
the ship. The Flying-fishes after having escaped for a 
while by dint of their great velocity, on being again ap- 
proached by the Dolphin, emerge from the waters, and 
spreading their broad wing-like fins, sail through the air 
and disperse in all directions, like a covey of timid Par- 
tridges before the rapacious Falcon. Some pursue a 
direct course, others diverge on either side; but in a 
short time they all drop into their natural element. 
While they are travelling in the air, their keen and 
hungry pursuer, like a greyhound, follows in their wake, 



EPISODES 303 



and performing a succession of leaps, many feet in extent, 
rapidly gains upon the quarry, which is often seized just 
as it falls into the sea. 

Dolphins manifest a very remarkable sympathy with 
each other. The moment one of them is hooked or 
grained, those in company make up to it, and remain 
around until the unfortunate fish is pulled on board, when 
they generally move off together, seldom biting at any- 
thing thrown out to them. This, however, is the case 
only with the larger individuals, which keep apart from 
the young, in the same manner as is observed in several 
species of birds; for when the smaller Dolphins are in 
large shoals, they all remain under the bows of a ship, 
and bite in succession at any sort of line, as if determined 
to see what has become of their lost companions, in con- 
sequence of which they are often all caught. 

You must not suppose that the Dolphin is without its 
enemies. Who, in this world, man or fish, has not enough 
of them.' Often it conceives itself on the very eve of 
swallowing a fish, which, after all, is nothing but a piece 
of lead, with a few feathers fastened to it, to make it look 
like a Flying-fish, when it is seized and severed in two by 
the insidious Balacouda, which I have once seen to carry 
off by means of its sharp teeth, the better part of a 
Dolphin that was hooked, and already hoisted to the sur- 
face of the water. 

The Dolphins caught in the Gulf of Mexico during this 
calm were suspected to be poisonous; and to ascertain 
whether this was really the case, our cook, who was an 
African negro, never boiled or fried one without placing 
beside it a dollar. If the silver was not tarnished by the 
time the Dolphin was ready for the table, the fish was 
presented to the passengers, with an assurance that it was 
perfectly good. But as not a single individual of the 
hundred that we caught had the property of converting 
silver into copper, I suspect that our African sage was no 
magician. 



304 AUDUBON 



One morning, that of the 22d of June, the weather 
sultry, I was surprised on getting out of my hammock, 
which was slung on deck, to find the water all around 
swarming with Dolphins, which were sporting in great 
glee. The sailors assured me that this was a certain 
"token of wind," and, as they watched the movements 
of the fishes,, added, "ay, and of a fair breeze too." I 
caught several Dolphins in the course of an hour, after 
Which scarcely any remained about the ship. Not a 
breath of air came to our relief all that day, no, nor even 
the next. The sailors were in despair, and I should prob- 
ably have become despondent also, had not my spirits 
been excited by finding a very large Dolphin on my hook. 
When I had hauled it on board, I found it to be the larg- 
est I had ever caught. It was a magnificent creature. 
See how it quivers in the agonies of death ! its tail flaps 
the hard deck, producing a sound like the rapid roll of a 
drum. How beautiful the changes of its colors ! Now it 
is blue, now green, silvery, golden, and burnished cop- 
per ! Now it presents a blaze of all the hues of the rain- 
bow intermingled; but, alack! it is dead, and the play 
of its colors is no longer seen. It has settled into the 
deep calm that has paralyzed the energies of the blus- 
tering winds, and smoothed down the proud waves of the 
ocean. 

The best bait for the Dolphin is a long strip of Shark's 
flesh. I think it generally prefers this to the semblance 
of the Flying-fish, which indeed it does not often seize un- 
less when the ship is under way, and it is made to rise 
to the surface. There are times, however, when hunger 
and the absence of their usual food will induce the Dol- 
phins to dash at any sort of bait ; and I have seen some 
caught by means of a piece of white linen fastened to a 
hook. Their appetite is as keen as that of the Vulture, 
and whenever a good opportunity occurs, they gorge 
themselves to such a degree that they become an easy 



EPISODES 305 

prey to their enemies the Balacouda and the Bottle-nosed 
Porpoise. One that had been grained while lazily swim- 
ming immediately under the stern of our ship, was found 
to have its stomach completely crammed with Flying-fish, 
all regularly disposed side by side, with their tails down- 
wards — by which I mean to say that the Dolphin always 
swallows its prey tail-foremost. They looked in fact like 
so many salted Herrings packed in a box, and were to 
the number of twenty-two, each six or seven inches in 
length. 

The usual length of the Dolphins caught in the Gulf of 
Mexico is about three feet, and I saw none that exceeded 
four feet two inches. The weight of one of the latter size 
was only eighteen pounds ; for this fish is extremely nar- 
row in proportion to its length, although rather deep in 
its form. When just caught, the upper fin, which reaches 
from the forehead to within a short distance of the tail, is 
of a fine dark blue. The upper part of the body in its 
whole length is azure, and the lower parts are of a golden 
hue, mottled irregularly with deep-blue spots. It seems 
that they at times enter very shallow water, as in the 
course of my last voyage along the Florida coast, some 
were caught in a seine, along with their kinsman the 
"Cavalier," of which I shall speak elsewhere. 

The flesh of the Dolphin is rather firm, very white, and 
lies in flakes when cooked. The first caught are gener- 
ally eaten with great pleasure, but when served many 
days in succession, they become insipid. It is not, as an 
article of food, equal to the Balacouda, which is perhaps 
as good as any fish caught in the waters of the Gulf of 
Mexico. 



VOL. II. — 20 



306 A UDUBON 



STILL BECALMED 

On the 4th of June, we were still in the same plight, 
although the currents of the Gulf had borne us to a 
great distance from the place where, as I have informed 
you, we had amused ourselves with catching Dolphins. 
These currents are certainly very singular, for they car- 
ried us hither and thither, at one time rendering us appre- 
hensive of drifting on the coast of Florida, at another 
threatening to send us to Cuba. Sometimes a slight 
motion in the air revived our hopes, swelled our sails a 
little, and carried us through the smooth waters like a 
skater gliding on ice; but in a few hours it was again 
a dead calm. 

One day several small birds, after alighting on the 
spars, betook themselves to the deck. One of them, a 
female Rice Bunting, drew our attention more particu-,, 
larly, for, a few moments after her arrival, there came 
down, as if in her wake, a beautiful Peregrine Falcon. 
The plunderer hovered about for a while, then stationed 
himself on the end of one of the yard-arms, and suddenly 
pouncing on the little gleaner of the meadows, clutched 
her and carried her off in exultation. But, reader, mark 
the date, and judge besides of my astonishment when I 
saw the Falcon feeding on the Finch while on wing, pre- 
cisely with the same ease and composure as the Missis- 
sippi Kite might show while devouring high in air a 
Red-throated Lizard, swept from one of the magnificent 
trees of the Louisiana woods. 

There was a favorite pet on board belonging to our 
captain, and which was nothing more nor less than the 
female companion of a cock — in other words, a common 
hen. Some liked her because she now and then dropped 
a fresh egg — a rare article at sea, even on board the 
"Delos;" others, because she exhibited a pleasing sim- 



EPISODES 307 

plicity of character; others again, because, when they 
had pushed her overboard, it gave them pleasure to see 
the poor thing in terror strike with her feet, and strive to 
reach her floating home, which she would never have 
accomplished, however, had it not been for the humane 
interference of our captain, Mr. Joseph Hatch, of Kenne- 
bunk. Kind, good-hearted man! when, several weeks 
after, the same pet hen accidentally flew overboard, as we 
were scudding along at a furious rate, I thought I saw a 
tear stand in his eye, as she floated panting in our wake. 
But as yet we are becalmed, and heartily displeased at 
old ".^olus" for overlooking us. 

One afternoon we caught two Sharks. In one of them, 
a female, about seven feet long, we found ten young ones, 
all alive, and quite capable of swimming, as we proved 
by experiment ; for, on casting one of them into the sea, 
it immediately made off, as if it had been accustomed 
to shift for itself. Of another, that had been cut in 
two, the head half swam off out of our sight. The 
rest were cut in pieces, as was the old shark, as bait 
for the Dolphins, which I have already said are fond of 
such food. 

Our captain, who was much intent on amusing me, in- 
formed me that the Rudder-fishes were plentiful astern, 
and immediately set to dressing hooks for the purpose of 
catching them. There was now some air above us, the 
cotton sheets aloft bulged out, the ship moved through 
the water, and the captain and I repaired to the cabin 
window. I was furnished with a fine hook, a thread line, 
and some small bits of bacon, as was the captain, and we 
dropped our bait among the myriads of delicate little 
fishes below. Up they came, one after another, so fast 
in succession that, according to my journal, we caught 
three hundred and seventy in about two hours. What a 
mess ! and how delicious when roasted ! If ever I am 
again becalmed in the Gulf of Mexico, I shall not forget 



308 AUDUBON 



the Rudder-fish. The little things scarcely measured 
three inches in length ; they were thin and deep in form, 
and afforded excellent eating. It was curious to see them 
keep to the lee of the rudder in a compact body ; and so 
voracious were they that they actually leaped out of the 
water at the sight of the bait, as " sunnies " are occasion- 
ally wont to do in our rivers. But the very instant that 
the ship became still, they dispersed around her sides, 
and would no longer bite. I made a figure of one of 
them, as indeed I tried to do of every other species that 
occurred during this deathlike calm. Not one of these 
fishes did I ever see when crossing the Atlantic, although 
many kinds at times come close to the stern of any vessel 
in the great sea, and are called by the same name. 

Another time we caught a fine Porpoise, which meas- 
ured about two yards in length. This took place at night, 
when the light of the moon afforded me a clear view of 
the spot. The fish, contrary to custom, was grained, in- 
stead of being harpooned ; but in such a way and so effect- 
ually, through the forehead, that it was thus held fast, 
and allowed to flounce and beat about the bows of the 
ship, until the person who had struck it gave the line 
holding the grains to the captain, slid down upon the bob- 
stays with a rope, and after a while managed to secure it 
by the tail. Some of the crew then hoisted it on board. 
When it arrived on deck, it gave a deep groan, flapped 
with great force, and soon expired. On opening it next 
morning, eight hours after death, we found its intestines 
still warm. They were arranged in the same manner as 
those of a pig; the paunch contained several cuttle-fishes 
partially digested. The lower jaw extended beyond the 
upper about three-fourths of an inch, and both were fur- 
nished with a single row of conical teeth, about half an 
inch long, and just so far separated as to admit those of 
one jaw between the corresponding ones of the other. 
The animal might weigh about four hundred pounds ; its 



EPISODES 309 

eyes were extremely small, its flesh was considered deli- 
cate by some on board; but in my opinion, if it be good, 
that of a large Alligator is equally so; and on neither do 
I intend to feast for some time. The captain told me 
that he had seen these Porpoises leap at times perpendic- 
ularly out of the water to the height of several feet, and 
that small boats have now and then been sunk by their 
falling into them when engaged with their sports. 

During all this time flocks of Pigeons were crossing 
the Gulf, between Cuba and the Floridas ; many a Rose- 
breasted Gull played around by day; Noddies alighted 
on the rigging by night; and now and then the Frigate 
bird was observed ranging high over head in the azure of 
the cloudless sky. 

The directions of the currents were tried, and our cap- 
tain, who had an extraordinary genius for mechanics, was 
frequently employed in turning powder-horns and other 
articles. So calm and sultry was the weather that we 
had a large awning spread, under which we took our 
meals and spent the night. At length we got so wea- 
ried of it that the very sailors, I thought, seemed disposed 
to leap overboard and swim to land. But at length, on 
the thirty-seventh day after our departure, a smart breeze 
overtook us. Presently there was an extraordinary bustle 
on board; about twelve the Tortugas light-house bore 
north of us, and in a few hours more we gained the Atlan- 
tic, ^olus had indeed awakened from his long sleep; 
and on the nineteenth day after leaving the Capes of 
Florida, I was landed at Liverpool. 



3IO AUDUBON 



GREAT EGG HARBOR 

Some years ago, after having spent the spring in oh- 
serving the habits of the migratory Warblers and other 
land birds, which arrived in vast numbers in the 
vicinity of Camden in New Jersey, I prepared to visit 
the sea shores of that State, for the purpose of making 
myself acquainted with their feathered inhabitants. June 
had commenced, the weather was pleasant, and the coun- 
try seemed to smile in the prospect of bright days and 
gentle gales. Fishermen-gunners passed daily between 
Philadelphia and the various small seaports, with Jersey 
wagons, laden with fish, fowls, and other provisions, or 
with such articles as were required by the families of 
those hardy boatmen ; and I bargained with one of them 
to take myself and my baggage to Great Egg Harbor. 

One afternoon, about sunset, the vehicle halted at my 
lodgings, and the conductor intimated that he was anx- 
ious to proceed as quickly as possible. A trunk, a 
couple of guns, and such other articles as are found ne- 
cessary by persons whose pursuits are similar to mine, 
were immediately thrust into the wagon, and were fol- 
lowed by their owner. The conductor whistled to his 
steeds, and off we went at a round pace over the loose 
and deep sand that in almost every part of this State forms 
the basis of the roads. After a while we overtook a whole 
caravan of similar vehicles, moving in the same direction, 
and when we got near them our horses slackened their 
pace to a regular walk, the driver leaped from his seat, I 
followed his example, and we presently found ourselves 
in the midst of a group of merry wagoners, relating their 
adventures of the week, it being now Saturday night. 
One gave intimation of the number of " Sheep-heads " he 
had taken to town, another spoke of the Curlews which 
yet remained on the sands, and a third boasted of having 




JOHN WOODIIOUSE AUDUBOX. 



pAiiN"i[-;iJ I;^" Ai.'uruuN aijol' r 1&3. 



EPISODES 3 1 1 

gathered so many dozens of Marsh Hens' eggs. I in- 
quired if the Fish Hawks were plentiful near Great Egg 
Harbor, and was answered by an elderly man, who with a 
laugh asked if I had ever seen the " Weak fish " along the 
coast without the bird in question. Not knowing the ani- 
mal he had named, I confessed my ignorance, when the 
whole party burst into a loud laugh, in which, there being 
nothing better for it, I joined. 

About midnight the caravan reached a half-way house, 
where we rested a while. Several roads diverged from 
this spot, and the wagons separated, one only keeping us 
company. The night was dark and gloomy, but the sand 
of the road indicated our course very distinctly. Sud- 
denly the galloping of horses struck my ear, and on look- 
ing back we perceived that our wagon must in an instant 
be in imminent danger. The driver leaped off, and drew 
his steeds aside, barely in time to allow the runaways to 
pass without injuring us. Off they went at full speed, 
and not long after their owner came up panting, and in- 
formed us that they had suddenly taken fright at some 
noise proceeding from the woods, but hoped they would 
soon stop. Immediately after we heard a crack; then for 
a few moments all was silent ; but the neighing of horses 
presently assured us that they had broken loose. On 
reaching the spot we found the wagon upset, and a few 
yards farther on were the horses, quietly browsing by the 
roadside. 

The first dawn of morn in the Jerseys in the month of 
June is worthy of a better description than I can furnish, 
and therefore I shall only say that the moment the sun- 
beams blazed over the horizon, the loud and mellow notes 
of the Meadow Lark saluted our ears. On each side of 
the road were open woods, on the tallest trees of which I 
observed at intervals the nest of a Fish Hawk, far above 
which the white-breasted bird slowly winged its way, as 
it commenced its early journey to the sea, the odor of 



312 AUDUBON 



which filled me with delight. In half an hour more we 
were in the centre of Great Egg Harbor. 

There I had the good fortune to be received into the 
house of a thoroughbred fisherman-gunner, who, besides 
owning a comfortable cot only a few hundred yards from 
the shore, had an excellent woman for a wife, and a little 
daughter as playful as a kitten, though as wild as a Sea- 
Gull. In less than half an hour I was quite at home, and 
the rest of the day was spent in devotion. 

Oysters, though reckoned out of season at this period, 
are as good as ever when fresh from their beds, and my 
first meal was of some as large and white as any I have 
eaten. The sight of them placed before me on a clean 
table, with an honest and industrious family in my com- 
pany, never failed to afford more pleasure than the most 
sumptuous fare under different circumstances; and our 
conversation being simple and harmless, gayety shone in 
every face. As we became better acquainted, I had to 
answer several questions relative to the object of my visit. 
The good man rubbed his hands with joy, as I spoke of 
shooting and fishing, and of long excursions through the 
swamps and marshes around. 

My host was then, and I hope still is, a tall, strong- 
boned, muscular man, of dark complexion, with eyes as 
keen as those of the Sea-Eagle. He was a tough walker, 
laughed at difficulties, and could pull an oar with any 
man. As to shooting, I have often doubted whether he 
or Mr. Egan, the worthy pilot of Indian Isle, was best ; 
and rarely indeed have I seen either of them miss a shot. 

At daybreak on Monday, I shouldered my double-bar- 
relled gun, and my host carried with him a long fowling- 
piece, a pair of oars, and a pair of oyster-tongs, while the 
wife and daughter brought along a seine. The boat was 
good, the breeze gentle, and along the inlets we sailed 
for parts well known to my companions. To such natu- 
ralists as are qualified to observe many different objects 



EPISODES 313 

at the same time, Great Egg Harbor would probably 
afford as ample a field as any part of our coast, excepting 
the Florida Keys. Birds of many kinds are abundant, as 
are fishes and testaceous animals. The forests shelter 
many beautiful plants, and even on the driest sand-bar 
you may see insects of the most brilliant tints. Our 
principal object, however, vsras to procure certain birds 
known there by the name of Lawyers, and to accomplish 
this we entered and followed for several miles a winding 
inlet or bayou, which led us to the interior of a vast 
marsh, where after some search we found the birds and 
their nests. Our seine had been placed across the chan- 
nel, and when we returned to it the tide had run out, and 
left in it a number of fine fish, some of which we cooked 
and ate on the spot. One, which I considered as a curi- 
osity, was saved, and transmitted to Baron Cuvier. Our 
repast ended, the seine was spread out to dry, and we 
again betook ourselves to the marshes to pursue our re- 
searches until the return of the tide. Having collected 
enough to satisfy us, we took up our oars, and returned to 
the shore in front of the fisherman's house, where we 
dragged the seine several times with success. 

In this manner I passed several weeks along those de- 
lightful and healthy shores, one day going to the woods, 
to search the swamps in which the Herons bred, passing 
another amid the joyous cries of the Marsh Hens, and on 
a third carrying slaughter among the White-breasted Sea- 
Gulls ; by way of amusement sometimes hauling the fish 
called the Sheep's-head from an eddy along the shore, or 
watching the gay Terns as they danced in the air, or 
plunged into the waters to seize the tiny fry. Many a 
drawing I made at Great Egg Harbor, many a pleasant 
day I spent along its shores; and much pleasure would it 
give me once more to visit the good and happy family in 
whose house I resided there. 



314 AUDUBON 



THE GREAT PINE SWAMP 

I LEFT Philadelphia, at four of the morning, by the coach, 
with no other accoutrements than I knew to be absolutely 
necessary for the jaunt which I intended to make. These 
consisted of a wooden box, containing a small stock of 
linen, drawing-paper, my journal, colors, and pencils, to- 
gether with twenty-five pounds of shot, some flints, the 
due quantum of cash, my gun Tear-jacket, and a heart as 
true to Nature as ever. 

Our coaches are none of the best, nor do they move 
with the velocity of those of some other countries. It 
was eight, and a dark night, when I reached Mauch 
Chunk, now so celebrated in the Union for its rich coal- 
mines, and eighty-eight miles distant from Philadelphia. 
I had passed through a very diversified country, part of 
which was highly cultivated, while the rest was yet in a state 
of nature, and consequently much more agreeable to me. 
On alighting, I was shown to the traveller's room, and on 
asking for the landlord, saw coming towards me a fine- 
looking young man, to whom I made known my wishes. 
He spoke kindly, and ofifered to lodge and board me 
at a much lower rate than travellers who go there for 
the very simple pleasure of being dragged on the railway. 
In a word, I was fixed in four minutes, and that most 
comfortably. 

No sooner had the approach of day been announced by 
the cocks of the little village, than I marched out with my 
gun and note-book, to judge for myself of the wealth of 
the country. After traversing much ground, and crossing 
many steep hills, I returned, if not wearied, at least much 
disappointed at the extraordinary scarcity of birds. So 
I bargained to be carried in a cart to the central parts of 
the Great Pine Swamp, and, although a heavy storm was 
rising, ordered my conductor to proceed. We winded 



EPISODES 315 

round many a mountain and at last crossed the highest. 
The storm had become tremendous, and we were thor- 
oughly drenched, but, my resolution being fixed, the 
boy was obliged to continue his driving. Having already 
travelled about fifteen miles or so, we left the turnpike, 
and struck up a narrow and bad road, that seemed merely 
cut out to enable the people of the Swamp to receive the 
necessary supplies from the village which I had left. 
Some mistakes were made, and it was almost dark when 
a post directed us to the habitation of a Mr. Jediah Irish, 
to whom I had been recommended. We now rattled 
down a steep declivity, edged on one side by almost per- 
pendicular rocks, and on the other by a noisy stream, 
which seemed grumbling at the approach of strangers. 
The ground was so overgrown by laurels and tall pines of 
different kinds that the whole presented only a mass of 
darkness. 

At length we reached the house, the door of which was 
already opened, the sight of strangers being nothing un- 
common in our woods, even in the most remote parts. 
On entering, I was presented with a chair, while my con- 
ductor was shown the way to the stable, and on express- 
ing a wish that I should be permitted to remain in the 
house for some weeks, I was gratified by receiving the 
sanction of the good woman to my proposal, although her 
husband was then from home. As I immediately began 
to talk about the nature of the country, and inquired if 
birds were numerous in the neighborhood, Mrs. Irish, 
more au fait in household affairs than ornithology, sent 
for a nephew of her husband's, who soon made his appear- 
ance, and in whose favor I became at once prepossessed. 
He conversed like an educated person, saw that I was 
comfortably disposed of, and finally bade me good-night 
in such a tone as made me quite happy. 

The storm had rolled away before the first beams of the 
morning sun shone brightly on the wet foliage, displaying 



3l6 AUDUBON 



all its richness and beauty. My ears were greeted by the 
notes, always sweet and mellow, of the Wood Thrush and 
other songsters. Before I had gone many steps, the woods 
echoed to the report of my gun, and I picked from among 
the leaves a lovely Sylvia,^ long sought for, but until then 
sought for in vain. I needed no more, and standing still 
for a while, I was soon convinced that the Great Pine 
Swamp harbored many other objects as valuable to me. 

The young man joined me, bearing his rifle, and offered 
to accjompany me through the woods, all of which he well 
knew. But I was anxious to transfer to paper the form 
and beauty of the little bird I had in my hand ; and re- 
questing him to break a twig of blooming laurel, we returned 
to the house, speaking of nothing else than the picturesque 
beauty of the country around. 

A few days passed, during which I became acquainted 
with my hostess and her sweet children, and made occa- 
sional rambles, but spent the greater portion of my time 
in drawing. One morning, as I stood hear the window of 
my room, I remarked a tall and powerful man alight from 
his horse, loose the girth of the saddle, raise the latter with 
one hand, pass the bridle over the head of the animal with 
the other, and move towards the house, while the horse be- 
took himself to the little brook to drink. I heard some 
movements in the room below, and again the same tall 
person walked towards the mill and stores, a few hun- 
dred yards from the house. In America business is the 
first object in view at all times, and right it is that it 
should be so. Soon after my hostess entered my room, 
accompanied by the fine-looking woodsman, to whom, as 
Mr. Jediah Irish, I was introduced. Reader, to describe 
to you the qualities of that excellent man were vain ; you 
should know him, as I do, to estimate the value of such men 
in our sequestered forests. He not only made me welcome, 
but promised all his assistance in forwarding my views. 
1 Sylvia parus, Hemlock Warbler; Ornith. Biog. vol. ii. page 205. 



EPISODES 317 

The long walks and long talks we have had together 
I can never forget, nor the many beautiful birds which we 
pursued, shot, and admired. The juicy venison, excellent 
Bear flesh, and delightful trout that daily formed my food, 
methinks I can still enjoy. And. then, what pleasure I 
had in listening to him as he read his favorite poems of 
Burns, while my pencil was occupied in smoothing and 
softening the drawing of the bird before me ! Was not 
this enough to recall to my mind the early impressions 
that had been made upon it by the description of the 
golden age, which I here found realized? 

The Lehigh about this place forms numerous short 
turns between the mountains,, and aHords frequent falls, 
as well as below the falls deep pools, which render this 
stream a most valuable one for mills of any kind. Not 
many years before this date, my host was chosen by the 
agent of the Lehigh Coal Company, as their mill-wright, 
and manager for cutting down the fine trees which cov- 
ered the mountains around. He was young, robust, active, 
industrious, and persevering. He marched to the spot 
where his abode now is, with some workmen, and by dint 
of hard labor first cleared the road mentioned above, and 
reached the river at the centre of a bend, where he fixed 
on erecting various mills. The pass here is so narrow 
that it looks as if formed by the bursting asunder of the 
mountain, both sides ascending abruptly, so that the place 
where the settlement was made is in many parts difficult 
of access, and the road then newly cut was only sufficient 
to permit men and horses to come to the spot where 
Jediah and his men were at work. So great, in fact, were 
the difficulties of access that, as he told me, pointing to 
a spot about one hundred and fifty feet above us, they for 
many months slipped from it their barrelled provisions, 
assisted by ropes, to their camp below. But no sooner 
was the first saw-mill erected than the axe-men began 
their devastations. Trees, one after another, were, and 



3l8 AUDUBON 



are yet, constantly heard falling during the days ; and in 
calm nights, the greedy mills told the sad tale that in a 
century the noble forests around should exist no more. 
Many mills were erected, many dams raised, in defiance of 
the impetuous Lehigh. One full third of the trees have 
already been culled, turned into boards, and floated as 
far as Philadelphia. 

In such an undertaking the cutting of the trees is not 
all. They have afterwards to be hauled to the edge of the 
mountains bordering the river, launched into the stream, 
and led to the mills over many shallows and difficult 
places. Whilst I was in the Great Pine Swamp, I fre- 
quently visited one of the principal places for the launch- 
ing of logs. To see them tumbling from such a height, 
touching here and there the rough angle of a projecting 
rock, bouncing from it with the elasticity of a foot-ball, 
and at last falling with an awful crash into the river, 
forms a sight interesting in the highest degree, but im- 
possible for me to describe. Shall I tell you that I have 
seen masses of these logs heaped above each other to the 
number of five thousand? I may so tell you, for such I 
have seen. My friend Irish assured me that at some sea- 
sons, these piles consisted of a much greater number, the 
river becoming in those places completely choked up. 

Whtn freshets (or floods) take place, then is the time 
chosen for forwarding the logs to the different mills. This 
is called a Frolic. Jediah Irish, who is generally the 
leader, proceeds to the upper leap with his men, each 
provided with a strong wooden handspike, and a short- 
handled axe. They all take to the water, be it summer 
or winter, like so many Newfoundland spaniels. The logs 
are gradually detached, and, after a time, are seen floating 
down the dancing stream, here striking against a rock and 
whirling many times round, there suddenly checked in 
dozens by a shallow, over which they have to be forced 
with the handspikes. Now they arrive at the edge of a 



EPISODES 319 

dam, and are again pushed over. Certain numbers are 
left in each dam, and when the party has arrived at the 
last, which lies just where my friend Irish's camp was first 
formed, the drenched leader and his men, about sixty in 
number, make their way home, find there a healthful 
repast, and spend the evening and a portion of the night 
in dancing and frolicking, in their own simple manner, in 
the most perfect amity, seldom troubling themselves with 
the idea of the labor prepared for them on the morrow. 

That morrow now come, one sounds a horn from the 
door of the store-house, at the call of which each returns 
to his work. The sawyers, the millers, the rafters, and 
raftsmen are all immediately busy.' The mills are all 
going, and the logs, which a few months before were the 
supporters of broad and leafy tops, are now in the act of 
being split asunder. The boards are then launched into 
the stream, and rafts are formed of them for market. 

During the months of summer and autumn, the Lehigh, 
a small river of itself, soon becomes extremely shallow, 
and to float the rafts would prove impossible, had not art 
managed to provide a supply of water for this express 
purpose. At the breast of the lower dam is a curiously 
constructed lock, which is opened at the approach of the 
rafts. They pass through this lock with the rapidity of 
lightning, propelled by the water that had been accumu- 
lated in the dam, and which is of itself generally sufficient 
to float them to Mauch Chunk, after which, entering 
regular canals, they find no other impediments, but are 
conveyed to their ultimate destination. 

Before population had greatly advanced in this part of 
Pennsylvania, game of all description found within that 
range was extremely abundant. The Elk itself did not 
disdain to browse on the shoulders of the mountains near 
the Lehigh. Bears and the common Deer must have been 
plentiful, as, at the moment when I write, many of both 
are seen and killed by the resident hunters. The Wild 



320 AUDUBON 



Turkey, the Pheasant, and the Grouse, are also tolerably 
abundant, and as to trout in the streams — ah, reader, if 
you are an angler, do go there and try for yourself. For 
my part, I can only say that I have been made weary 
with pulling up from the rivulets the sparkling fish, al- 
lured by the struggles of the common grasshopper. 

A comical affair happened with the Bears, which I shall 
relate to you, good reader. A party of my friend Irish's 
raftsmen, returning from Mauch Chunk one afternoon, 
through sundry short-cuts over the mountains, at the sea- 
son when the huckleberries are ripe and plentiful, were 
suddenly apprised of the proximity of some of these ani- 
mals by their snuffing the air. No sooner was this per- 
ceived than, to the astonishment of the party, not fewer 
than eight Bears, I was told, made their appearance. 
Each man, being provided with his short-handled axe, 
faced about, and willingly came to the scratch ; but the 
assailed soon proved the assailants, and with claw and 
tooth drove the men off in a twinkling. Down they all 
rushed from the mountain; the noise spread quickly; 
rifles were soon procured and shouldered ; but when the 
spot was reached, no Bears were to be found ; night forced 
the hunters back to their homes, and a laugh concluded 
the affair. 

I spent six weeks in the Great Pine Forest — Swamp it 
cannot be called — where I made many a drawing. Wish- 
ing to leave Pennsylvania, and to follow the migratory 
flocks of our birds to the South, I bade adieu to the excel- 
lent wife and rosy children of my friend, and to his kind 
nephew. Jediah Irish, shouldering his heavy rifle, accom- 
panied me, and trudging directly across the mountains, 
we arrived at Mauch Chunk in good time for dinner. 
Shall I ever have the pleasure of seeing that good, that 
generous man again? ^ 

1 Audubon and Mr. Irish met many times afterwards, the last being, I 
believe, in Philadelphia, on the eve of Audubon's departure for his Missouri 
River trip. 



EPISODES 321 

At Mauch Chunk, where we both spent the night, Mr. 
White, the civil engineer, visited me, and looked at the 
drawings which I had made in the Great Pine Forest. 
The news he gave me of my sons, then in Kentucky, made 
me still more anxious to move in their direction ; and long 
before daybreak, I shook hands with the good man of the for- 
est, and found myself moving towards the capital of Penn- 
sylvania,^ having as my sole companion a sharp, frosty 
breeze. Left to my thoughts, I felt amazed that such a 
place as the Great Pine Forest should be so little known 
to the Philadelphians, scarcely any of whom could direct 
me towards it. How much it is to be regretted, thought 
I, that the many young gentlemen who are there, so much 
at a loss how to employ their leisure days, should not visit 
these wild retreats, valuable as they are to the student of 
nature. How differently would they feel, if, instead of 
spending weeks in smoothing a useless bow, and walking 
out in full dress, intent on displaying the make of their 
legs, to some rendezvous where they may enjoy their 
wines, they were to occupy themselves in contemplating 
the rich profusion which nature has poured around them, 
or even in procuring some desiderated specimen for their 
Peale's Museum, once so valuable, and so finely arranged ! 
But, alas, no ! they are none of them aware of the richness 
of the Great Pine Swamp, nor are they likely to share the 
hospitality to be found there. 



THE LOST ONE 

A "live-oaker" employed on the St. John's River, in 

East Florida, left his cabin, situated on the banks of that 

stream, and, with his axe on his shoulder, proceeded 

towards the swamp in which he had several times before 

plied his trade of felling and squaring the giant trees 

1 Then Philadelphia. 
VOL. II. — 21 



322 AUDUBON 



that afford the most valuable timber for naval architec- 
ture and other purposes. 

At the season which is the best for this kind of labor, 
heavy fogs not unfrequently cover the country, so as to 
render it difficult for one to see farther than thirty or 
forty yards in any direction. The wo6ds, too, present so 
little variety that every tree seems the mere counterpart 
of every other ; and the grass, when it has not been burnt, 
is so tall that a man of ordinary stature cannot see over 
it, whence it is necessary for him to proceed with great 
caution, lest he should unwittingly deviate from the ill- 
defined trail which he follows. To increase the difficulty, 
several trails often meet, in which case, unless the ex- 
plorer be perfectly acquainted with the neighborhood, it 
would be well for him to lie down, and wait until the fog 
should disperse. Under such circumstances, the best 
woodsmen are not unfrequently bewildered for a while; 
and I well remember that such an occurrence happened 
to myself, at a time when I had imprudently ventured to 
pursue a wounded quadruped, which led me some distance 
from the track. 

The live-oaker had been jogging onwards for several 
hours, and became aware that he must have travelled con- 
siderably more than the distance between his cabin and 
the "hummock" which he desired to reach. To his 
alarm, at the moment when the fog dispersed, he saw the 
sun at its meridian height, and could not recognize a 
single object around him. 

Young, healthy, and active, he imagined he had walked 
with more than usual speed, and had passed the place to 
which he was bound. He accordingly turned his back 
upon the sun, and pursued a different route, guided by a 
small trail. Time passed, and the sun headed his course; 
he saw it gradually descend in the west ; but all around 
him continued as if enveloped with mystery. The huge 
gray trees spread their giant boughs over him, the rank 



EPISODES 323 

grass extended on all sides, not a living being crossed his 
path; all was silent and still, and the scene was like a 
dull and dreary dream of the land of oblivion. He wan- 
dered like a forgotten ghost that had passed into the land 
of spirits, without yet meeting one of his kind with whom 
to hold converse. 

The condition of a man lost in the woods is one of the 
most perplexing that could be imagined by a person who 
has not himself been in a like predicament. Every ob- 
ject he sees, he at first thinks he recognizes, and while 
his whole mind is bent on searching for more that may 
gradually lead to his extrication, he goes on committing 
greater errors the farther he proceeds. This was the case 
with the live-oa:ker. The sun was now setting with a fiery 
aspect, and by degrees it sunk in its full circular form, as 
if giving warning of a sultry morrow. Myriads of insects, 
delighted at its departure, now filled the air on buzzing 
wings. Each piping frog arose from the muddy pool in 
which it had concealed itself; the Squirrel retired to its 
hole, the Crow to its roost, and, far above, the harsh, 
croaking voice of the Heron announced that, full of anxi- 
ety, it was wending its way towards the miry interior of 
some distant swamp. Now the woods began to resound 
to the shrill cries of the Owl ; and the breeze, as it swept 
among the columnar stems of the forest trees, came laden 
with heavy and chilling dews. Alas ! no moon with her 
silvery light shone on the dreary scene, and the Lost 
One, wearied and vexed, laid himself down on the damp 
ground. Prayer is always consolatory to man in every 
difficulty or danger, and the woodsman fervently prayed to 
his Maker, wished his family a happier night than it was 
his lot to experience, and with a feverish anxiety waited 
the return of day. 

You may imagine the length of that dull, cold, moon- 
less night. With the dawn of day came the usual fogs of 
those latitudes. The poor man started on his feet, and 



324 AUDUBON 



with a sorrowful heart, pursued a course which he thought 
might lead him to some familiar object, although, indeed, 
he scarcely knew what he was doing. No longer had he 
the trace of a track to guide him, and yet, as the sun rose, 
he calculated the many hours of daylight he had before 
him, and the farther he went, the faster he walked. But 
vain were all his hopes ; that day was spent in fruitless 
endeavors to regain the path that led to his home, and 
when night again approached, the terror that had been 
gradually spreading over his mind, together with the ner- 
vous debility produced by fatigue, anxiety, and hunger, 
rendered him almost frantic. He told me that at this 
moment he beat his breast, tore his hair, and, had it not 
been for the piety with which his parents had in early life 
imbued his mind, and which had become habitual, would 
have cursed his existence. Famished as he now was, he 
laid himself on the ground, and fed on the weeds and 
grasses that grew around him. That night was spent in 
the greatest agony and terror. " I knew my situation, " 
he said to me. " I was fully aware that unless Almighty 
God came to my assistance, I must perish in those unin- 
habited woods. I knew that I had walked more than fifty 
miles, although I had not met with a brook, from which 
I could quench my thirst, or even allay the burning heat 
of my parched lips and bloodshot eyes. I knew that if I 
should not meet with some stream I must die, for my axe 
was my only weapon, and although Deer and Bears now 
and then started within a few yards, or even feet of me, 
not one of them could I kill ; and although I was m the 
midst of abundance, not a mouthful did I expect to pro- 
cure, to satisfy the cravings of my empty stomach. Sir, 
may God preserve you from ever feeling as I did the 
whole of that day." 

For several days after, no one can imagine the condi- 
tion in which he was, for when he related to me this 
painful adventure, he assured me that he had lost all 



EPISODES 325 

recollection of what had happened. "God," he contin- 
ued, " must have taken pity on me one day, for, as I ran 
wildly through those dreadful pine barrens, I met with a 
tortoise. I gazed upon it with amazement and delight, 
and, although I knew that were I to follow it undisturbed, 
it would lead me to some water, my hunger and thirst 
would not allow me to refrain from satisfying both, by 
eating its flesh, and drinking its blood. With one stroke 
of my axe the beast was cut in two, and in a few moments 
I had despatched all but the shell. Oh, sir, how much I 
thanked God, whose kindness had put the Tortoise in my 
way! I felt greatly renewed. I sat down at the foot of 
a pine, gazed on the heavens, thought of my poor wife 
and children, and again and again thanked my God for 
my life; for now I felt less distracted in mind, and more 
assured that before long I must recover my way, and get 
back to my home. " 

The Lost One remained and passed the night, at the 
foot of the same tree under which his repast h|ad been 
made. Refreshed by a sound sleep, he started at dawn 
to resume his weary march. The sun rose bright, and he 
followed the direction of the shadows. Still the dreari- 
ness of the woods was the same, and he was on the point 
of giving up in despair, when he observed a Raccoon lying 
squatted in the grass. Raising his axe, he drove it with 
such violence through the helpless animal that it expired 
without a struggle. What he had done with the tortoise, 
he now did with the Raccoon, the greater part of which he 
actually devoured at one meal. With more comfortable 
feelings he then resumed his wanderings — his journey, I 
cannot say — for although in the possession of all his 
faculties, and in broad daylight, he was worse off than a 
lame man groping his way in the dark out of a dungeon, 
of which he knew not where the doors stood. 

Days, one after another, passed — nay, weeks in suc- 
cession. He fed now on cabbage-trees, then on frogs 



326 AUDUBON 



and snakes. All that fell in his way was welcome and 
savory. Yet he became daily more emaciated, until at 
length he could scarcely crawl. Forty days had elapsed, 
by his own reckoning, when he at last reached the banks 
of the river. His clothes in tatters, his once bright axe 
dimmed with rust, his face begrimed with beard, his 
hair matted, and his feeble frame little better than a 
skeleton covered with parchment, there he laid himself 
down to die. Amid the perturbed dreams of his fevered 
fancy, he thought he heard the noise of oars far away on 
the silent river. He listened, but the sounds died away 
on his ear. It was, indeed, a dream, the last glimmer of 
expiring hope, and now the light of life was about to be 
quenched forever. But again the sound of oars woke him 
from his lethargy. He listened so eagerly that the hum 
of a fly could not have escaped his ear. They were, in- 
deed, the measured beats of oars. And now, joy to the 
forlorn soul ! the sound of human voices thrilled to his 
heart, and awoke the tumultuous pulses of returning hope. 
On his knees did the eye of God see that poor man by the 
broad, still stream that glittered in the sunbeams, and 
human eyes soon saw him too, for round that headland 
covered with tangled brushwood, boldly advances the lit- 
tle boat, propelled by its lusty rowers. The Lost One 
raises his feeble voice on high; it was a loud, shrill 
scream of joy and fear. The rowers pause, and look 
around. Another, but feebler scream, and they observe 
him. It comes, his heart flutters, his sight is dimmed, 
his brain reels, he gasps for breath. It comes — ■ it has 
run upon the beach, and the Lost One is found. 

This is no tale of fiction, but the relation of an actual 
occurrence, which might be embellished, no doubt, but 
which is better in the plain garb of truth. The notes by 
which I recorded it were written in the cabin of the once 
lost live-oaker, about four years after the painful incident 
occurred. His amiable wife, and loving children, were 



EPISODES 327 

present at the recital, and never shall I forget the tears 
that flowed from their eyes as they listened to it, albeit 
it had long been more familiar to them than a tale thrice 
told. Sincerely do I wish, good reader, that neither you 
nor I may ever elicit such sympathy by having under- 
gone such sufferings, although no doubt, such sympathy 
would be a rich recompense for them. 

It only remains for me to say that the distance between 
the cabin and the live-oak hummock to which the woods- 
man was bound, scarcely exceeded eight miles, while the 
part of the river where he was found was thirty-eight 
miles from his house. Calculating his daily wanderings 
at ten miles, we may believe they amounted in all to 
four hundred. He must therefore have rambled in a 
circuitous direction, which people generally do in such 
circumstances. Nothing but the great strength of his 
constitution, and the merciful aid of his Maker, could 
have supported him for so long a time. 



THE LIVE-OAKERS 

The greater part of the forests of East Florida consist 
principally of what in that country are called "pine 
barrens. " In these districts, the woods are rather thin, 
and the only trees that are seen in them are tall pines 
of indifferent quality, beneath which is a growth of rank 
grass, here and there mixed with low bushes, and sword- 
palmettoes. The soil is of a sandy nature, mostly flat, 
and consequently either covered with water during the 
rainy season, or parched in the summer or autumn, al- 
though you meet at times with ponds of stagnant water, 
where the cattle, which are abundant, allay their thirst, 
and around which resort the various kinds of game found 
in these wilds. 



328 AUDUBON 



The traveller, who has pursued his course for many 
miles over the barrens, is suddenly delighted to see in 
the distance the appearance of a dark "hummock" of 
live-oaks and other trees, seeming as if they had been 
planted in the wilderness. As he approaches, the air 
feels cooler and more salubrious, the song of numerous 
birds delights his ear, the herbage assumes a more luxu- 
riant appearance, the flowers become larger and brighter, 
and a grateful fragrance is diffused around. These ob- 
jects contribute to refresh his mind, as much as the sight 
of the waters of some clear spring gliding among the 
undergrowth seems already to allay his thirst. Overhead 
festoons of innumerable vines, jessamines, and bignonias, 
link each tree with those around it, their slender stems 
being interlaced as if in mutual affection. No sooner, in 
the shade of these beautiful woods, has the traveller fin- 
ished his mid-day repast than he perceives small parties 
of men lightly accoutred, and each bearing an axe, ap- 
proaching towards his resting-place. They exchange the 
usual civilities, and immediately commence their labors, 
for they too have just finished their meal. 

I think I see them proceeding to their work. Here 
two have stationed themselves on the opposite sides of 
the trunk of a noble and venerable live-oak. Their keen- 
edged and well-tempered axes seem to make no impres- 
sion on it, so small are the chips that drop at each 
blow around the mossy and wide-spreading roots. There, 
one is ascending the stem of another, of which, in its fall, 
the arms have stuck among the tangled tops of the neigh- 
boring trees. See how cautiously he proceeds, barefooted, 
and with a handkerchief around his head. Now he has 
climbed to the height of about forty feet from the ground ; 
he stops, and squaring himself with the trunk on which 
he so boldly stands, he wields with sinewy arms his trusty 
blade, the repeated blows of which, although the tree be 
as tough as it is large, will soon sever it in two. He has 



EPISODES 329 

changed sides, and his back is turned to you. The trunk 
now remains connected only by a thin strip of wood. He 
places his feet on the part which is lodged, and shakes it 
with all his might. Now swings the huge log under his 
leaps, now it suddenly gives way, and as it strikes upon 
the ground its echoes are repeated through the hummock, 
and every Wild Turkey within hearing utters his gobble 
of recognition. The wood-cutter however, remains col- 
lected and composed; but the next moment, he throws 
his axe to the ground, and, assisted by the nearest grape- 
vine, slides down and reaches the earth in an instant. 

Several men approach and examine the prostrate trunk. 
They cut at both its extremities, and sound the whole of 
its bark, to enable them to judge if the tree has been 
attacked by the white rot. If such has unfortunately been 
the case, there, for a century or more, this huge log will 
remain until it gradually crumbles ; but if not, and if it 
is free of injury or "wind-shakes," while there is no 
appearance of the sap having already ascended, and its 
pores are altogether sound, they proceed to take its meas- 
urement. Its shape ascertained, and the timber that is 
fit for use laid out by the aid of models, which, like frag- 
ments of the skeleton of a ship, show the forms and sizes 
required, the "hewers" commence their labors. Thus, 
reader, perhaps every known hummock in the Floridas is 
annually attacked, and so often does it happen that the 
white rot or some other disease has deteriorated the qual- 
ity of the timber, that the woods may be seen strewn with 
trunks that have been found worthless, so that every year 
these valuable oaks are becoming scarcer. The destruc- 
tion of the young trees of this species caused by the fall 
of the great trunks is of course immense, and as there are 
no artificial plantations of these trees in our country, 
before long a good -sized live-oak will be so valuable that 
its owner will exact an enormous price for it, even while 
it yet stands in the wood. In my opinion, formed on per- 



330 AUDUBON 



sonal observation) live-oak hummocks are not quite so 
plentiful as they are represented to be, and of this I will 
give you one illustration. 

On the 25th of February, 1832, I happened to be far 
up the St. John's River in East Florida, in the company 
of a person employed by our government in protecting the 
live-oaks of that section of the country, and who received 
a good salary for his trouble. While we were proceeding 
along one of the banks of that most singular stream, my 
companion pointed out some large hummocks of dark- 
leaved trees on the opposite side, which he said were 
entirely formed of live-oaks. I thought differently, and 
as our controversy on the subject became a little warm, I 
proposed that our men should row us to the place, where 
we might examine the leaves and timber, and so decide 
the point. We soon landed, but after inspecting the 
woods, not a single tree of the species did we find, 
although there were thousands of large "swamp-oaks." 
My companion acknowledged his mistake, and I contin- 
ued to search for birds. 

One dark evening as I was seated on the banks of this 
same river, considering what arrangements I should make 
for the night, as it began to rain in torrents, a man who 
happened to see me, came up and invited me to go to his 
cabin, which he said was not far off. I accepted his kind 
offer, and followed him to his humble dwelling. There 
I found his wife, several children, and a number of men, 
who, as my host told me, were, like himself, live-oakers. 
Supper was placed on a large table, and on being desired 
to join the party, I willingly assented, doing my best to 
diminish the contents of the tin pans and dishes set be- 
fore the company by the active and agreeable housewife. 
We then talked of the country, its climate and produc- 
tions, until a late hour, when we laid ourselves down on 
Bears' skins, and reposed till daybreak. 

I longed to accompany these hardy woodcutters to the 



EPISODES 331 

hummock where they were engaged in preparing live-oak 
timber for a man-of-war. Provided with axes and guns, 
we left the house to the care of the wife and children, and 
proceeded for several miles through a pine-barren, such 
as I have attempted to describe. One fine Wild Turkey 
was shot, and when we arrived at the shanty put up near 
the hummock, we found another party of wood-cutters 
waiting our arrival, before eating their breakfast, already 
prepared by a negro man, to whom the Turkey was con- 
signed to be roasted for part of that day's dinner. 

Our repast was an excellent one, and vied with a Ken- 
tucky breakfast ; beef, fish, potatoes, and other vegetables, 
were served up, with coffee in tin cups, and plenty of bis- 
cuit. Every man seemed hungry and happy, and the con- 
versation assumed the most humorous character. The sun 
now rose above the trees, and all, excepting the cook, 
proceeded to the hummock, on which I had been gazing 
with great delight, as it promised rare sport. My host, 
I found, was the chief of the party ; and although he also 
had an axe, he made no other use of it than for stripping 
here and there pieces of bark from certain trees which he 
considered of doubtful soundness. He was not only well 
versed in his profession, but generally intelligent, and 
from him I received the following account, which I noted 
at the time. 

The men who are employed in cutting the live-oak, 
after having discovered a good hummock, build shanties 
of small logs, to retire to at night, and feed in by day. 
Their provisions consist of beef, pork, potatoes, biscuit, 
flour, rice and fish, together with excellent whiskey. 
They are mostly hale, strong, and active men, from the 
eastern parts of the Union, and receive excellent wages, 
according to their different abilities. Their labors are 
only of a few months' duration. Such hummocks as are 
found near navigable streams are first chosen, and when 
it is absolutely necessary, the timber is sometimes hauled 



332 AUDUBON 



five or six miles to the nearest water-course, where, al- 
though it sinks, it can with comparative ease, be shipped 
to its destination. The best time for cutting the live-oak 
is considered to be from the first of December to the begin- 
ning of March, or while the sap is completely down. 
When the sap is flowing, the tree is "bloom," and more 
apt to be "shaken." The white-rot, which occurs so fre- 
quently in the live-oak, and is perceptible only by the 
best judges, consists of round spots, about an inch and a 
half in diameter, on the outside of the bark, through 
which, at that spot, a hard stick may be driven several 
inches, and generally follows the heart up or down the 
trunk of the tree. So deceiving are these spots and trees 
to persons unacquainted with this defect, that thousands 
of trees are cut, and afterwards abandoned. The great 
number of trees of this sort strewn in the woods would 
tend to make a stranger believe that there is much more 
good oak in the country than there really is; and per-" 
haps, in reality, not more than one-fourth of the quantity 
usually reported, is to be procured. 

The live-oakers generally revisit their distant homes 
in the Middle and Eastern Districts, where they spend 
the summer, returning to the Floridas at the approach of 
winter. Some, however, who have gone there with their 
families, remain for years in succession; although they 
suffer much from the climate, by which their once good 
constitutions are often greatly impaired. This was the 
case with the individual above mentioned, from whom I 
subsequently received much friendly assistance in my 
pursuits. 



EPISODES 333 



SPRING GARDEN 

Having heard many wonderful accounts of a certain 
spring near the sources of the St. John's River in 
East Florida, I resolved to visit it, in order to judge for 
myself. On the 6th of January, 1832, I left the planta- 
tion of my friend John Bulow, accompanied by an ami- 
able and accomplished Scotch gentleman, an engineer 
employed by the planters of those districts in erecting 
their sugar-house establishments. We were mounted on 
horses of the Indian breed, remarkable for their activity 
and strength, and were provided with guns and some pro- 
visions. The weather was pleasant, but not so our way, 
for no sooner had we left the "King's Road," which had 
been cut by the Spanish government for a goodly dis- 
tance, than we entered a thicket of scrubby oaks, suc- 
ceeded by a still denser mass of low palmettoes, which 
extended about three miles, and among the roots of which 
our nags had great difficulty in making good their footing. 
After this we entered the pine barrens, so extensively 
distributed in this portion of the Floridas. The sand 
seemed to be all sand and nothing but sand, and the pal- 
mettoes at times so covered the narrow Indian trail which 
we followed, that it required all the instinct or sagacity 
of ourselves and our horses to keep it. It seemed to us 
as if we were approaching the end of the world. The 
country was perfectly flat, and, so far as we could survey 
it, presented the same wild and scraggy aspect. My com- 
panion, who had travelled there before, assured me that, 
at particular seasons of the year, he had crossed the bar- 
rens when they were covered with water fully knee-deep, 
when, according to his expression, they " looked most 
awful ; " and I readily believed him, as we now and then 
passed through' muddy pools, which reached the saddle- 
girths of our horses. Here and there large tracts covered 



334 AUDUBON 



with tall grasses, and resembling the prairies of the wes- 
tern wilds, opened to our view. Wherever the country 
happened to be sunk a little beneath the general level, it 
was covered with cypress trees, whose spreading arms 
were hung with a profusion of Spanish moss. The soil 
in such cases consisted of black mud, and was densely 
covered with bushes, chiefly of the Magnolia family. 

We crossed in succession the heads of three branches 
of Haw Creek, of which the waters spread from a quarter 
to half a mile in breadth, and through which we made 
our way with extreme difficulty. While in the middle of 
one, my companion told me that once, when in the very 
spot where we then stood, his horse chanced to place his 
fore-feet on the back of a large alligator, which, not well 
pleased at being disturbed in his repose, suddenly raised 
his head, opened his monstrous jaws, and snapped off part 
of the lips of the affrighted pony. You may imagine 
the terror of the poor beast, which, however, after a few 
plunges, resumed its course, and succeeded in carrying 
its rider through in safety. As a reward for this achieve- 
ment, it was ever after honored with the appellation of 
"Alligator," 

We had now travelled about twenty miles, and, the sun 
having reached the zenith, we dismounted to partake of 
some refreshment. From a muddy pool we contrived to 
obtain enough of tolerably clear water to mix with the 
contents of a bottle, the like of which I would strongly 
recommend to every traveller in these swampy regions; 
our horses, too, found something to grind among the herb- 
age that surrounded the little pool; but as little time was 
to be lost, we quickly remounted, and resumed our dis- 
agreeable journey, during which we had at no time pro- 
ceeded at a rate exceeding two miles and a half in the 
hour. 

All at once, however, a wonderful change took place: 
— the country became more elevated and undulating ; the 



EPISODES 335 

timber was of a different nature, and consisted of red and 
live-oaks, magnolias, and several kinds of pine. Thou- 
sands of "Mole-hills," or the habitations of an animal 
here called "the Salamander," and "Gopher's burrows" 
presented themselves to the eye, and greatly annoyed 
our horses, which now and then sank to the depth of a 
foot, and stumbled at the risk of breaking their legs, and 
what we considered fully as valuable, our necks. We 
now saw beautiful lakes of the purest water, and passed 
along a green space, having a series of them on each side 
of us. These sheets of water became larger and more 
numerous the farther we advanced — some of them extend- 
ing to a length of several miles, and having a depth of 
from two to twenty feet of clear water; but their shores 
being destitute of vegetation, we observed no birds near 
them. Many tortoises, however, were seen basking in 
the sun, and all, als we approached, plunged into the 
water. Not a trace of man did we observe during our 
journey, scarcely a bird, and not a single quadruped, not 
even a Rat ; nor can one imagine a poorer and more deso- 
late country than that which lies between the Halifax 
River, which we had left in the morning, and the undu- 
lating grounds at which we had now arrived. 

But at length we perceived the tracks of living beings, 
and soon after saw the huts of Colonel Rees's negroes. 
Scarcely could ever African traveller have approached the 
city of Timbuctoo with more excited curiosity than we 
felt in approaching this plantation. Our Indian horses 
seemed to participate in our joy, and trotted at a smart 
rate towards the principal building, at the door of which 
we leaped from our saddles, just as the sun was withdraw- 
ing his ruddy light. Colonel Rees was at home, and 
received us with great kindness. Refreshments were 
immediately placed before us, and we spent the evening 
in agreeable conversation. 

The next day I walked over the; plantation, and exam- 



336 AUDUBON 



ining the country around, found the soil of good quality, 
it having been reclaimed from swampy ground of a black 
color, rich, and very productive. The greater part of the 
cultivated land was on the borders of a lake, which com- 
municates with others, leading to the St. John's River, 
distant about seven miles, and navigable so far by vessels 
not exceeding fifty or sixty tons. After breakfast, our 
amiable host showed us the way to the celebrated spring, 
the sight of which afforded me pleasure sufficient to coun- 
terbalance the tediousness of my journey. 

This spring presents a circular basin, having a diame- 
ter of about sixty feet, from the centre of which the water 
is thrown up with great force, although it does not rise 
to a height of more than a few inches above the general 
level. A kind of whirlpool is formed, on the edges of 
which are deposited vast quantities of shells, with pieces 
of wood, gravel, and other substances, which have coa- 
lesced into solid inasses, having a very curious appear- 
ance. The water is quite transparent, although of a dark 
color, but so impregnated with sulphur that it emits an 
odor which to me was highly nauseous. Its surface lies 
fifteen or twenty feet below the level of the woodland 
lakes in the neighborhood, and its depth, in the autumnal 
months, is about seventeen feet, when the water is low- 
est. In all the lakes, the same species of shell as those 
thrown up by the spring, occur in abundance, and it seems 
more than probable that it is formed of the water col- 
lected from them by infiltration, or forms the subterra- 
nean outlet of some of them. The lakes themselves are 
merely reservoirs, containing the residue of the waters 
which fall during the rainy seasons, and contributing to 
supply the waters of the St. John's River, with which they 
all seem to communicate by similar means. This spring 
pours its waters into "Rees's Lake," through a deep and 
broad channel called Spring Garden Creek. This chan- 
nel is said to be in some places fully sixty feet deep, but 



EPISODES 337 

it becomes more shallow as you advance towards the en- 
trance of the lake, at which you are surprised to find your- 
self on a mud-flat covered only by about fifteen inches of 
water, under which the depositions from the spring lie to 
a depth of four or five feet in the form of the softest mud, 
while under this again is a bed of fine white sand. When 
this mud is stirred up by the oars of your boat or other- 
wise, it appears of a dark-green color, and smells strongly 
of sulphur. At all times it sends up numerous bubbles 
of air, which probably consist of suphuretted hydrogen 
gas. 

The mouth of this curious spring is calculated to be 
two and a half feet square ; and the velocity of its water, 
during the rainy season, is three feet per second. This 
would render the discharge per hour about 499, 500 gal- 
lons. Colonel Rees showed us the remains of another 
spring of the same kind, which had dried up from some 
natural cause. 

My companion, the engineer, having occupation for 
another day, I requested Colonel Rees to accompany me 
in his boat towards the river St. John's, which I was desir- 
ous of seeing, as well as the curious country in its neigh- 
borhood. He readily agreed, and after an early breakfast 
next morning, we set out, accompanied by two servants 
to manage the boat. As we crossed Rees's Lake, I ob- 
served that its northeastern shores were bounded by a 
deep swamp, covered by a rich growth of tall cypresses, 
while the opposite side presented large marshes and 
islands ornamented by pines, live-oaks, and orange-trees. 
With the exception of a very narrow channel, the creek 
was covered with nymphese, and in its waters swam 
numerous Alligators, while Ibises, Gallinules, Anhingas, 
Coots, and Cormorants were seen pursuing their avoca- 
tions on its surface or along its margins. Over our heads 
the Fish Hawks were sailing, and on the broken trees 
around we saw many of their nests. 
VOL. II. — 22 



338 AUDUBON 



We followed Spring Garden Creek for about two miles 
and a half, and passed a mud bar, before we entered 
"Dexter's Lake." The bar was stuck full of unios, in 
such profusion that each time the negroes thrust their 
hands into the mud they took up several. According to 
their report these shell-fish are quite unfit for food. In 
this lake the water had changed its hue, and assumed 
a dark chestnut color, although it was still transparent. 
The depth was very uniformly five feet, and the extent of 
the lake was about eight miles by three. Having crossed 
it we followed the creek, and soon saw the entrance of 
Woodruff's Lake, which empties its still darker waters 
into the St. John's River. 

I here shot a pair of curious Ibises, which you will find 
described in my fourth volume, and landed on a small 
island covered with wild orange trees, the luxuriance and 
freshness of which were not less pleasing to the sight 
than the perfume of their flowers was to the smell. Th© 
group seemed to me like a rich bouquet formed by nature 
to afford consolation to the weary traveller, cast down by 
the dismal scenery of swamps and pools and rank grass 
around him. Under the shade of these beautiful ever- 
greens, and amidst the golden fruits that covered the 
ground, while the Humming-birds fluttered over our 
heads, we spread our cloth on the grass, and with a happy 
and thankful heart, I refreshed myself with the bountiful 
gifts of an ever-careful Providence. Colonel Rees in- 
formed me that this charming retreat was one of the 
numerous terrce incognitce of this region of lakes, and that 
it should henceforth bear the name of "Audubon's Isle." 
In conclusion, let me inform you that the spring has 
been turned to good account by my generous host. Colonel 
Rees, who, aided by my amiable companion, the engin- 
eer, has directed its current so as to turn a mill, which 
suffices to grind the whole of his sugar-cane. 



EPISODES 339 



DEATH OF A PIRATE 

In the calm of a fine moonlight night, as I was admir- 
ing the beauty of the clear heavens, and the broad glare 
of light that glanced from the trembling surface of the 
waters around, the officer on watch came up and entered 
into conversation with me. He had been a turtler in 
other years, and a great hunter to boot, and although of 
humble birth and pretensions, energy and talent, aided 
by education, had raised him to a higher station. Such 
a man could not fail to be an agreeable companion, and 
we talked on various subjects, principally, you may be 
sure, birds and other natural productions. He told me 
he once had a disagreeable adventure, when looking out 
for game, in a certain cove on the shores of thfe Gulf of 
Mexico; and, on my expressing a desire to hear it, he 
willingly related to me the following particulars, which I 
give you, not, perhaps, precisely in his own words, but as 
nearly so as I can remember. 

"Towards evening, one quiet summer day, I chanced to 
be paddling along a sandy shore, which I thought well 
fitted for my repose, being covered with tall grass, and as 
the sun was not many degrees above the horizon, I felt 
anxious to pitch my mosquito bar or net, and spend the 
night in this wilderness. The bellowing notes of thou- 
sands of bull-frogs in a neighboring swamp might lull me 
to rest, and I looked upon the flocks of Blackbirds that 
were assembling as sure companions in this secluded 
retreat. 

" I proceeded up a little stream, to insure the safety 
of ray canoe from any sudden storm, when, as I gladly 
advanced, a beautiful yawl came unexpectedly in view. 
Surprised at such a sight in a part of the country then 
scarcely known, I felt a sudden check in the circulation 



340 AUDUBON 



of my blood. My paddle dropped from my hands, and 
fearfully indeed, as I picked it up, did I look towards the 
unknown boat. On reaching it, I saw its sides marked 
with stains of blood, and looking with anxiety over the 
gunwale, I perceived, to my horror, two human bodies 
covered with gore. Pirates or hostile Indians, I was per- 
suaded, had perpetrated the foul deed, and my alarm nat- 
urally increased ; my heart fluttered, stopped, and heaved 
with unusual tremors, and I looked towards the setting 
sun in consternation and despair. How long my reveries 
lasted I cannot tell ; I can only recollect that I was roused 
from them by the distant groans of one apparently in mor- 
tal agony. I felt as if refreshed by the cold perspiration 
that oozed from every pore, and I reflected that though 
alone, I was well armed, and might hope for the protec- 
tion of the Almighty. 

" Humanity whispered to me that, if not surprised and 
disabled, I might render assistance to some sufferer, or 
even be the means of saving a useful life. Buoyed up by 
this thought, I urged my canoe on shore, and seizing it by 
the bow, pulled it at one spring high among the grass. 

" The groans of the unfortunate person fell heavy on my 
ear as I cocked and reprimed my gun, and I felt deter- 
mined to shoot the first that should rise from the grass. 
As I cautiously proceeded, a hand was raised over the 
weeds, and waved in the air in the most supplicating 
manner. I levelled my gun about a foot below it, when 
the next moment the head and breast of a man covered 
with blood were convulsively raised, and a faint hoarse 
voice asked me for mercy and help ! A deathlike silence 
followed his fall to the ground. I surveyed every object 
around with eyes intent, and ears impressible by the 
slightest sound, for my situation that moment I thought 
as critical as any I had ever been in. The croaking of 
the frogs, and the last Blackbirds alighting on their 
roosts, were the only sounds or sights; and I now pro- 



EPISODES 341 

ceeded towards the object of my mingled alarm and 
commiseration. 

" Alas ! the poor being who lay prostrate at my feet was 
so weakened by loss of blood that I had nothing to fear 
from him. My first impulse was to run back to the 
water, and having done so, I returned with my cap filled 
to the brim. I felt at his heart, washed his face and 
breast, and rubbed his temples with the contents of a 
phial which I kept about me as an antidote for the bites 
of snakes. His features, seamed by the ravages of time, 
looked frightful and disgusting; but he had been a pow- 
erful man, as the breadth of his chest plainly showed. 
He groaned in the most appalling manner, as his breath 
struggled through the mass of blood that seemed to fill 
his throat. His dress plainly disclosed his occupation. 
A large pistol he had thrust into his bosom, a naked cut- 
lass lay near him on the ground, a red silk handkerchief 
was bound over his projecting brows, and over a pair of 
loose trousers he wore fisherman's boots. He was, in 
short, a pirate. 

" My exertions were not in vain, for as I continued to 
bathe his temples he revived, his pulse resumed some 
strength, and I began to hope that he might perhaps sur- 
vive the deep wounds he had received. Darkness, deep 
darkness, now enveloped us. I spoke of making a fire. 
'Oh! for mercy's sake,' he exclaimed, 'don't' Know- 
ing, however, that under existing circumstances it was 
expedient for me to do so, I left him, went to his boat, 
and brought the rudder, the benches, and the oars, which 
with my hatchet I soon splintered. I then struck a light, 
and presently stood in the glare of a blazing fire. The 
pirate seemed struggling between terror and gratitude 
for my assistance; he desired me several times in half 
English and Spanish to put out the flames; but after I had 
given him a draught of strong spirits, he at length be- 
came more composed. I tried to stanch the blood that 



342 AUDUBON 



flowed from the deep gashes in his shoulders and side. I 
expressed my regret that I had no food about me, but 
when I spoke of eating he sullenly waved his head. 

" My situation was one of the most extraordinary that I 
have ever been placed in. I naturally turned my talk 
towards religious subjects, but, alas, the dying man hardly 
believed in the existence of a God. ' Friend, ' said he, 
' for friend you seem to be, I have never studied the ways 
of Him of whom you talk. I am an outlaw, perhaps you 
will say a wretch — I have been for many years a pirate. 
The instructions of my parents were of no avail to me, 
for I have always believed that I was born to be a most 
cruel man. I now lie here, about to die in the weeds, 
because I long ago refused to listen to their many admo- 
nitions. Do not shudder when I tell you — these now 
useless hands murdered the mother whom they had em- 
braced. I feel that I have deserved the pangs of the 
wretched death that hovers over me; and I am thankfui* 
that one of my kind will alone witness my last gaspings. ' 

" A fond but feeble hope that I might save his life, and 
perhaps assist in procuring his pardon, induced me to 
speak to him on the subject. ' It is all in vain, friend 
— I have no objection to die — I am glad that the villains 
who wounded me were not my conquerors — I want no 
pardon from any one. Give me some water, and let me 
die alone. ' With the hope that I might learn from his 
conversation something that might lead to the capture of 
his guilty associates, I returned from the creek with an- 
other capful of water, nearly the whole of which I man- 
aged to introduce into his parched mouth, and begged 
him, for the sake of his future peace, to disclose his his- 
tory to me. ' It is impossible, ' said he ; ' there will not 
be time, the beatings of my heart tell me so. Long be- 
fore day these sinewy limbs will be motionless. Nay, 
there will hardly be a drop of blood in my body ; and that 
blood will only serve to make the grass grow. My 



EPISODES 343 

wounds are mortal, and I must and will die without what 
you call confession.' 

" The moon rose in the east. The majesty of her placid 
beauty impressed me with reverence. I pointed towards 
her, and asked the pirate if he could not recognize God's 
features there. ' Friend, I see what you are driving at, ' 
was his answer; 'you, like the rest of our enemies, feel 
the desire of murdering us all. Well — be it so. To die 
is, after all, nothing more than a jest; and were it not 
for the pain, no one, in my opinion, need care a jot about 
it. But, as you really have befriended me, I will tell you 
all that is proper.' 

"Hoping his mind might take a useful turn, I again 
bathed his temples, and washed his lips with spirits. 
His sunk eyes seemed to dart fire at mine; a heavy and 
deep sigh swelled his chest, and struggled through his 
blood-choked throat, and he asked me to raise him for a 
little. I did so, when he addressed me somewhat as fol- 
lows ; for, as I have told you, his speech was a mixture of 
Spanish, French, and English, forming a jargon the like 
of which I had never heard before, and which I am utterly 
unable to imitate. However, I shall give you the sub- 
stance of his declaration. 

" ' First, tell me how many bodies you found in the boat, 
and what sort of dresses they had on.' I mentioned their 
number and described their apparel. 'That's right,' 
said he; ' they are the bodies of the scoundrels who fol- 
lowed me in that infernal Yankee barge. Bold rascals 
they were, for when they found the water too shallow for 
their craft, they took to it, and waded after me. All my 
companions had been shot, and to lighten my own boat I 
flung them overboard ; but as I lost time in this, the two 
ruffians caught hold of my gunwale, and struck on my 
head and body in such a manner that after I had disabled 
and killed them both in the boat, I was scarce able to 
inove. The other villains carried off our schooner and 



344 AUDUBON 



one of our boats, and perhaps ere now have hung all my 
companions whom they did not kill at the time. I have 
commanded my beautiful vessel many years, captured 
many ships, and sent many rascals to the devil. I always 
hated the Yankees, and only regret that I have not killed 
more of them. — I sailed from Matanzas. — I have often 
been in concert with others. I have money without 
counting, but it is buried where it will never be found, 
and it would be useless to tell you of it.' His throat 
filled with blood, his voice failed, the cold hand of death 
was laid on his brow ; feebly and hurriedly he muttered, 
' I am a dying man. Farewell ! ' 

" Alas ! it is painful to see death in any shape ; in this 
it was horrible, for there was no hope. The rattling of 
his throat announced the moment of dissolution, and 
already did the body fall on my arms with a weight that 
was insupportable. I laid him on the ground. A mass 
of dark blood poured from his mouth ; then came a fright- 
ful groan, the last breathing of that foul spirit ; and what 
now lay at my feet in the wild desert .' — a mangled mass 
of clay ! 

" The remainder of that night was passed in no enviable 
mood ; but my feelings cannot be described. At dawn 
I dug a hole with the paddle of my canoe, rolled the 
body into it, and covered it. On reaching the boat I 
found several buzzards feeding on the bodies, which I in 
vain attempted to drag to the shore. I therefore covered 
them with mud and weeds, and launching my canoe, 
paddled from the cove with a secret joy for my escape, 
overshadowed with the gloom of mingled dread and 
abhorrence." 



EPISODES 345 



THE WRECKERS OF FLORIDA 

Long before I reached the lovely islets that border the 
southeastern shores of the Floridas, the accounts I had 
heard of " The Wreckers " had deeply prejudiced me 
against them. Often had I been informed of the cruel and 
cowardly methods which it was alleged they employed to 
allure vessels of all nations to the dreaded reefs, that they 
might plunder their cargoes, and rob their crews and pas- 
sengers of their effects. I therefore could have little desire 
to meet with such men under any circumstances, much less 
to become liable to receive their aid; and with the name 
of Wreckers there were associated in my mind ideas of 
piratical depredations, barbarous usage, and even murder. 
One fair afternoon, while I was standing on the polished 
deck of the United States revenue cutter, the " Marion," a 
sail hove in sight, bearing in an opposite course, and close- 
hauled to the wind. The gentle rake of her masts, as she 
rocked to and fro in the breeze, brought to my mind the 
wavings of the reeds on the fertile banks of the Mississippi. 
By and by the vessel, altering her course, approached us. 
The " Marion," like a sea-bird with extended wings, swept 
through the waters, gently inclining to either side, while 
the unknown vessel leaped as it were, from wave to wave, 
like the dolphin in eager pursuit of his prey. In a short 
time we were gliding side by side, and the commander 
of the strange schooner saluted our captain, who promptly 
returned the compliment. What a beautiful vessel ! we 
all thought; how trim, how clean rigged, and how well 
manned ! She swims like a duck ; and now with a broad 
sheer, off she makes for the reefs a few miles under our 
lee. There, in that narrow passage, well known to her 
commander, she rolls, tumbles, and dances, like a giddy 
thing, her copper sheathing now gleaming and again dis- 
appearing under the waves. But the passage is thridded, 



346 AUDUBON 



and now, hauling on the wind, she resumes her former 
course, and gradually recedes from the view. Reader, it 
was a Florida Wrecker. 

When at the Tortugas, I paid a visit to several vessels of 
this kind, in company with my excellent friend Robert 
Day, Esq. We had observed the regularity and quickness 
of the men then employed at their arduous tasks, and as 
we approached the largest schooner, I admired her form, so 
well adapted to her occupation, her great breadth of beam, 
her light draught, the correctness of her water-line, the 
neatness of her painted sides, the smoothness of her well- 
greased masts, and the beauty of her rigging. We were 
welcomed on board with all the frankness of our native 
tars. Silence and order prevailed on her decks. The 
commander and the second officer led us into a spa- 
cious cabin, well-lighted, and furnished with every con- 
venience for fifteen or more passengers. The former 
brought me his collection of marine shells, and when- 
ever I pointed to one that I had not seen before, offered 
it with so much kindness that I found it necessary to be 
careful in expressing my admiration of any particular shell. 
He had also many eggs of rare birds, which were all handed 
over to me, with an assurance that before the month should 
expire, a new set could easily be procured ; " for," said he, 
"we have much idle time on the reefs at this season." 
Dinner was served, and we partook of their fare, which con- 
sisted of fish, fowl, and other materials. These rovers, 
who were both from " down east," were stout, active men, 
cleanly and smart in their attire. In a short time we were 
all extremely social and merry. They thought my visit to 
the Tortugas, in quest of birds, was rather a " curious 
fancy; " but, notwithstanding, they expressed their plea- 
sure while looking at some of my drawings, and offered 
their services in procuring specimens. Expeditions far 
and near were proposed, and on settling that one of them 
was to take place on the morrow, we parted friends. 



EPISODES 347 

Early next morning, several of these kind men accom- 
panied me to a small Key called Booby Island, about ten 
miles distant from the lighthouse. Their boats were well- 
manned, and rowed with ilong and steady strokes, such as 
whalers and men-of-war's men are wont to draw. The 
captain sang, and at times, by way of frolic, ran a race 
with our own beautiful bark. The Booby Isle was soon 
reached, and our sport there was equal to any we had else- 
where. They were capital shots, had excellent guns, and 
knew more about Boobies and Noddies than nine-tenths of 
the best naturalists in the world. But what will you say 
when I tell you the Florida Wreckers are excellent at a 
Deer hunt, and that at certain seasons, " when business is 
slack," they are wont to land on some extensive Key, and 
in a few hours procure a supply of delicious venison. 

Some days afterwards, the same party took me on an 
expedition in quest of sea shells. There we were all in 
water, at times to the waist, and now and then much 
deeper. Now they would dip, like ducks, and on emerg- 
ing would hold up a beautiful shell. This occupation they 
seemed to enjoy above all others. 

The duties of the " Marion," having been performed, inti- 
mation of our intended departure reached the Wreckers. 
An invitation was sent to me to go and see them on board 
their vessels, which I accepted. Their object on this occa- 
sion was to present me with some superb corals, shells, live 
Turtles of the Hawk-bill species, and a great quantity of 
eggs. Not a " picayune " would they receive in return, but 
putting some letters in my hands, requested me " to be so 
good as to put them in the mail at Charleston," adding that 
they were for their wives " down east." So anxious did 
they appear to be to do all they could for me, that they 
proposed to sail before the " Marion," and meet her under 
way, to give me some birds that were rare on the coast, 
and of which they knew the haunts. Circumstances con- 
nected with "the service" prevented this, however, and 



348 AUDUBON 



with sincere regret, and a good portion of friendship, I 
bade these excellent fellows adieu. How different, thought 
I, is often the knowledge of things acquired by personal 
observation from that obtained by report ! 

I had never before seen Florida Wreckers, nor has it 
since been my fortune to fall in with any ; but my good 
friend Dr. Benjamin Strobel, having furnished me with a 
graphic account of a few days which he spent with them, 
I shall present you with it in his own words : — 

"On the I2th day of September, while lying in harbor 
at Indian Key, we were joined by five wrecking vessels. 
Their licenses having expired, it was necessary to go to Key 
West to renew them. We determined to accompany them 
the next morning ; and here it will not be amiss for me to 
say a few words respecting these far-famed Wreckers, their 
captains and crews. From all that I had heard, I expected 
to see a parcel of dirty, pirate-looking vessels, officered and 
manned by a set of black-whiskered fellows, who carried 
murder in their very looks. I was agreeably surprised 
on discovering the vessels were fine large sloops and 
schooners, regular clippers, kept in first-rate order. The 
captains generally were jovial, good-natured sons of Nep- 
tune who manifested a disposition to be polite and hos- 
pitable, and to afford every facility to persons passing up 
and down the Reef. The crews were hearty, well-dressed 
and honest-looking men. 

" On the 13th, at the appointed hour, we all set sail to- 
gether ; that is, the five Wreckers and the schooner ' Jane.^ 
As our vessel was not noted for fast sailing, we accepted an 
invitation to go on board of a Wrecker. The fleet got 
under way about eight o'clock in the morning, the wind 
light but fair, the water smooth, the day fine. I can 
scarcely find words to express the pleasure and gratifica- 
tion which I this day experienced. The sea was of a 
beautiful, soft, pea-green color, smooth as a sheet of glass, 
and as transparent, its surface agitated only by our vessels 



EPISODES 349 

as they parted its bosom, or by the Pelican in pursuit of 
his prey, which rising for a considerable distance in the air, 
would suddenly plunge down with distended mandibles, 
and secure his food. The vessels of our little fleet with 
every sail set that could catch a breeze, and the white foam 
curling round the prows, glided silently along, like islands 
of flitting shadows, on an immovable sea of light. Several 
fathoms below the surface of the water, and under us, we 
saw great quantities of fish diving and sporting among the 
sea-grass, sponges, sea-feathers, and corals, with which the 
bottom was covered. On our right hand were the Florida 
Keys, which, as we made them in the distance, looked like 
specks upon the surface of the water, but as we neared 
them, rose to view as if by enchantment, clad in the richest 
livery of spring, each variety of color and hue rendered 
soft and delicate by a clear sky and a brilliant sun over- 
head. All was like a fairy scene ; my heart leaped up in 
delighted admiration, and I could not but exclaim, in the 
language of Scott, — 

' Those seas behold 
Round thrice an hundred islands rolled. 

The trade wind played round us with balmy and refresh- 
ing sweetness ; and, to give life and animation to the scene, 
we had a contest for the mastery between all the vessels of 
the fleet, while a deep interest was excited in favor of this 
or that vessel, as she shot ahead, or fell astern. 

" About three o'clock in the afternoon, we arrived off 
the Bay of Honda. The wind being light and no prospect 
of reaching Key West that night, it was agreed that we 
should make a harbor here. We entered a beautiful basin, 
and came to anchor about four o'clock. Boats were got 
out, and several hunting parties formed. We landed, and 
were soon on the scent, some going in search of shells, 
others of birds. An Indian, who had been picked up 
somewhere along the coast by a Wrecker, and who was 



350 AUDUBON 



employed as a hunter, was sent ashore in search of venison. 
Previous to his leaving the vessel, a rifle was loaded with a 
single ball and put into his hands. After an absence of 
several hours, he returned with two Deer, which he had 
killed at a single shot. He watched until they were both 
in range of his gun, side by side, when he fired and brought 
them down. 

"All hands having returned, and the fruits of our excur- 
sion being collected, we had wherewithal to make an abun- 
dant supper. Most of the game was sent on board the largest 
vessel, where we proposed supping. Our vessels were all 
lying within hail of each other, and as soon as the moon 
arose, boats were seen passing from vessel to vessel, and 
all were busily and happily engaged in exchanging civili- 
ties. One could never have supposed that these men were 
professional rivals, so apparent was the good feeling that 
prevailed among them. About nine o'clock we started for 
supper ; a number of persons had already collected, and as 
soon as we arrived on board the vessel, a German sailor, 
who played remarkably well on the violin, was summoned 
on the quarter-deck, when all hands, with a good will, 
cheerily danced to lively airs until supper was ready. The 
table was laid in the cabin, and groaned under its load of 
venison, Wild Ducks, Pigeons, Curlews, and fish. Toasting 
and singing succeeded the supper, and among other curious 
matters introduced, the following song was sung by the 
German fiddler, who accompanied his voice with his instru- 
ment. He is said to be the author of the song. I say 
nothing of the poetry, but merely give it as it came on my 
ear. It is certainly very characteristic : — 

THE WRECKERS' SONG. 

Come, ye good people, one and all, i 

Come listen to my song ; 

A few remarks I have to make, 

Which won't be very long. 



EPISODES 351 

'T is of our vessel, stout and good 
As ever yet was built of wood, 
Along the reef where the breakers roar, 
The Wreckers on the Florida shore 1 

Key Tavernier 's our rendezvous ; 

At anchor there we lie, 

And see-the vessels in the Gulf, 

Carelessly passing by. 

When night comes on we dance and sing, 

Whilst the current some vessel is floating in ; 

When daylight comes, a ship 's on shore. 

Among the rocks where the breakers roar. 

When daylight dawns we 're under way, 

And every sail is set. 

And if the wind it should prove light. 

Why, then our sails we wet. 

To gain her first each eager strives, 

To save the cargo and the people's lives, 

Amongst the rocks where the breakers roar, 

The Wreckers on the Florida shore. 

When we get 'longside we find she 's bilged; 

We know well what to do. 

Save the cargo that we can, 

The sails and rigging too ; 

Then down to Key West we soon will go, 

When quickly our salvage we shall know ; 

When everything it is fairly sold, 

Our money down to us it is told. 

Then one week's cruise we '11 have on shore, 

Before we do sail again. 

And drink success to the sailor lads 

That are ploughing of the main. 

And when you are passing by this way, 

On the Florida reef should you chance to stray. 

Why we will come to you on the shore, 

Amongst the rocks where the breakers roar. 

Great emphasis was laid upon particular words by the 
singer, who had a broad German accent. Between the 



352 AUDUBON 



verses he played an interlude, remarking, ' Gentlemen, I 
makes dat myself.' The chorus was trolled by twenty 
or thirty voices, which, in the stillness of the night, 
produced no unpleasant effect." 



ST. JOHN'S RIVER IN FLORIDA 

Soon after landing at St. Augustine, in East Florida, I 
formed acquaintance with Dr. Simmons, Dr. Porcher, 
Judge Smith, the Misses Johnson, and other individuals, 
my intercourse with whom was as agreeable as benefi- 
cial to me. Lieutenant Constantine Smith, of the United 
States army, I found of a congenial spirit, as was the 
case with my amiable but since deceased friend. Dr. 
Bell of Dublin. Among the planters who extended their 
hospitality to me, I must particularly mention General 
Hernandez, and my esteemed friend John Bulow, Esq. 
To all these estimable individuals I offer my sincere 
thanks. 

While in this part of the peninsula I followed my usual 
avocation, although with little success, it then being winter. 
I had letters from the Secretaries of the Navy and Treas- 
ury of the United States, to the commanding officers of 
vessels of war of the revenue service, directing them to 
afford me any assistance in their power ; and the schooner 
" Spark" having come to St. Augustine, on her way to the 
St. John's River, I presented my credentials to her com- 
mander Lieutenant Piercy, who readily and with polite- 
ness received me and my assistants on board. We soon 
after set sail with a fair breeze. The strict attention to duty 
on board even this small vessel of war, afforded matter of 
surprise to me. Everything went on with the regularity 
of a chronometer: orders were given, answered to, and 
accomplished, before they had ceased to vibrate on the 




Q 



D 

W 

u 



Q 
W 



o 



EPISODES 353 

ear. The neatness of the crew equalled the cleanliness of 
the white planks of the deck; the sails were in perfect 
condition ; and, built as the " Spark " was, for swift sailing, 
on she went, gambolling from wave to wave. 

I thought that, while thus sailing, no feeling but that of 
pleasure could exist in our breasts ; but, alas ! how fleet- 
ing are our enjoyments. When we were almost at the 
entrance of the river, the wind changed, the sky became 
clouded, and, before many minutes had elapsed, the little 
bark was lying to " like a Duck," as her commander ex- 
pressed himself It blew a hurricane — let it blow, 
reader. At break of day we were again at anchor within 
the bar of St. Augustine. 

Our next attempt was successful. Not many hours 
after we had crossed the bar, we perceived the star-like 
glimmer of the light in the great lantern at the entrance 
of the St. John's River. This was before daylight; and, 
as the crossing of the sand-banks or bars, which occur at 
the mouths of all the streams of this peninsula is difficult, 
and can be accomplished only when the tide is up, one of 
the guns was fired as a signal for the government pilot. 
The good man, it seemed, was unwilling to leave his 
couch, but a second gun brought him in his canoe along- 
side. The depth of the channel was barely sufficient. 
My eyes, however, were not directed towards the waters, 
but on high, where flew some thousands of snowy Peli- 
cans, which had fled affrighted from their resting-grounds. 
How beautifully they performed their broad gyrations, and 
how matchless, after a while, was the marshalling of their 
files, as they flew past us. 

On the tide we proceeded apace. Myriads of Cormo- 
rants covered the face of the waters, and over it Fish- 
Crows innumerable were already arriving from their dis- 
tant roosts. We landed at one place to search for the 
birds whose charming melodies had engaged our atten- 
tion, and here and there some young Eagles we shot, to 
VOL. II — 23 



354 AUDUBON 



add to our store of fresh provisions. The river did not 
seem to me equal in beauty to the fair Ohio ; the shores 
were in many places low and swampy, to the great delight 
of the numberless Herons that moved along in graceful- 
ness, and the grim Alligators that swam in sluggish sullen- 
ness. In going up a bayou, we caught a great number of 
the young of the latter for the purpose of making experi- 
ments upon them. 

After sailing a considerable way, during which our com- 
mander and officers took the soundings, as well as the 
angles and bearings of every nook and crook of the sinu- 
ous stream, we anchored one evening at a distance of 
fully one hundred miles from the mouth of the river. 
The weather, although it was the 12th of February, was 
quite warm, the thermometer on board standing at 75°, 
and on shore at 90°. The fog was so thick that neither of 
the shores could be seen, and yet the river was not a mile in 
breadth. The " blind mosquitoes " covered every object, 
even in the cabin, and so wonderfully abundant were these 
tormentors that they more than once fairly extinguished 
the candles whilst I was writing my journal, which I 
closed in despair, crushing between the leaves more than 
a hundred of the little wretches. Bad as they are, how- 
ever, these blind mosquitoes do not bite. As if purposely 
to render our situation doubly uncomfortable, there was 
an establishment for jerking beef on the nearer shores, to 
the windward of our vessel, from which the breeze came 
laden with no sweet odors. 

In the morning when I arose, the country was still 
covered with thick fogs, so that although I could plainly 
hear the notes of the birds on shore, not an object could 
I see beyond the bowsprit, and the air was as close and 
sultry as on the previous evening. Guided by the scent 
of the jerkers' works we went on shore, where we found 
the vegetation already far advanced. The blossoms of 
the jessamine, ever pleasing, lay steeped in dew, the 



EPISODES 355 

humming bee was collecting her winter's store from the 
snowy flowers of the native orange ; and the little warblers 
frisked along the twigs of the smilax. Now, amid the 
tall pines of the forest, the sun's rays began to force their 
way, and as the dense mists dissolved in the atmosphere, 
the bright luminary at length shone forth. We explored 
the woods around, guided by some friendly live-oakers 
who had pitched their camp in the vicinity. After a while 
the " Spark" again displayed her sails, and as she silently 
glided along, we spied a Seminole Indian approaching 
us in his canoe. The poor, dejected son of the woods, 
endowed with talents of the highest order, although rarely 
acknowledged by the proud usurpers of his native soil, 
has spent the night in fishing, and the morning in procur- 
ing the superb feathered game of the swampy thickets ; 
and with both he comes to offer them for our acceptance. 
Alas ! thou fallen one, descendant of an ancient line of 
freeborn hunters, would that I could restore to thee thy 
birthright, thy natural independence, the generous feel- 
ings that were once fostered in thy brave bosom. But 
the irrevocable deed is done, and I can merely admire 
the perfect symmetry of his frame, as he dexterously 
throws on our deck the Trout and Turkeys which he has 
captured. He receives a recompense, and without smile 
or bow, or acknowledgment of any kind, off he starts 
with the speed of an arrow from his own bow. 

Alligators were extremely abundant, and the heads of 
the fishes which they had snapped off, lay floating around 
on the dark waters. A rifle bullet was now and then sent 
through the eye of one of the largest, which, with a tre- 
mendous .splash of its tail, expired. One morning we 
saw a monstrous fellow lying on the shore. I was desir- 
ous of obtaining him to make an accurate drawing of his 
head, and accompanied by my assistant and two of the 
sailors, proceeded cautiously towards him. When within 
a few yards, one of us fired, and sent through his side an 



356 AUDUBON 



ounce ball which tore open a hole large enough to receive 
a man's hand. He slowly raised his head, bent himself 
upwards, opened his huge jaws, swung his tail to and fro, 
rose on his legs, blew in a frightful manner, and fell to the 
earth. My assistant leaped on shore, and, contrary to 
my injunctions, caught hold of the animal's tail, when 
the alligator, awakening from its trance, with a last effort 
crawled slowly towards the water, and plunged heavily 
into it. Had he thought of once flourishing his tremen- 
dous weapon, there might have been an end of his assail- 
ant's life, but he fortunately went in peace to his grave, 
where we left him, as the water was too deep. The same 
morning, another of equal size was observed swimming 
directly for the bows of our vessel, attracted by the gentle 
rippling of the water there. One of the officers, who had 
watched him, fired, and scattered his brain through the air, 
when he tumbled and rolled at a fearful rate, blowing all 
the while most furiously. The river was bloody for yards 
around, but although the monster passed close by the 
vessel, we could not secure him, and after a while he 
sunk to the bottom. 

Early one morning, I hired a boat and two men, with 
the view of returning to St. Augustine by a short-cut. 
Our baggage being placed on board, I bade adieu to the 
officers, and off we started. About four in the afternoon 
we arrived at the short-cut, forty miles distant from our 
point of departure, and where we had expected to procure 
a wagon, but were disappointed. So we laid our things 
on the bank, and leaving one of my assistants to look after 
them, I set out accompanied by the other and my New- 
foundland dog. We had eighteen miles to go ; and as the 
sun was only two hours high, we struck off at a good rate. 
Presently we entered a pine-barren. The country was as 
level as a floor; our path, although narrow, was well- 
beaten, having been used by the Seminole Indians for 
ages, and the weather was calm and beautiful. Now and 



EPISODES 357 

then a rivulet occurred, from which we quenched our 
thirst, while the magnolias and other flowering plants 
on its banks relieved the dull uniformity of the woods. 
When the path separated into two branches, both seem- 
ingly leading the same way, I would follow one, while 
my companion took the other, and unless we met again 
in a short time, one of us would go across the intervening 
forest. 

The sun went down behind a cloud, and the southeast 
breeze that sprung up at this moment, sounded dolefully 
among the tall pines. Along the eastern horizon lay a 
bed of black vapor, which gradually rose, and soon cov- 
ered the heavens. The air felt hot and oppressive, and 
we knew that a tempest was approaching. Plato was now 
our guide, the white spots on his coat being the only 
objects that we could discern amid the darkness, and as 
if aware of his utility in this respect, he kept a short way 
before us on the trail. Had we imagined ourselves more 
than a few miles from the town, we should have made 
a camp, and remained under its shelter for the night; 
but conceiving that the distance could not be great, we 
resolved to trudge along. 

Large drops began to fall from the murky mass over- 
head ; thick impenetrable darkness surrounded us, and to 
my dismay, the dog refused to proceed. Groping with 
my hands on the ground, I discovered that several trails 
branched out at the spot where he lay down ; and when 
I had selected one, he went on. Vivid flashes of lightning 
streamed across the heavens, the wind increased to a gale, 
and the rain poured down upon us like a torrent. The 
water soon rose on the level ground so as almost to cover 
our feet, and we slowly advanced, fronting the tempest. 
Here and there a tall pine on fire presented a magnificent 
spectacle, illumining the trees around it, and surrounding 
them with a halo of dim light, abruptly bordered with the 
deep black of the night. At one time we passed through 



3S8 AUDUBON 



a tangled thicket of low trees, at another crossed a stream 
flushed by the heavy rain, and again proceeded over the 
open barrens. 

How long we thus, half lost, groped our way is more 
than I can tell you; but at length the tempest passed 
over, and suddenly the clear sky became spangled with 
stars. Soon after, we smelt the salt marshes, and walking 
directly towards them, like pointers advancing on a covey 
of partridges, we at last to our great joy descried the light 
of the beacon near St. Augustine. My dog began to run 
briskly around, having met with ground on which he had 
hunted before, and taking a direct course, led us to the 
great causeway that crosses the marshes at the back of 
the town. We refreshed ourselves with the produce of 
the first orange-tree that we met with, and in half an hour 
more arrived at our hotel. Drenched with rain, steaming 
with perspiration, and covered to the knees with mud, you 
may imagine what figures we cut in the eyes of the good 
people whom we found snugly enjoying themselves in 
the sitting-room. Next morning, Major Gates, who had 
received me with much kindness, sent a wagon with mules 
and two trusty soldiers for my companion and luggage. 



THE FLORIDA KEYS 



As the " Marion " neared the Inlet called " Indian Key," 
which is situated on the eastern coast of the peninsula of 
F'lorida, my heart swelled with uncontrollable delight. Our 
vessel once over the coral reef that everywhere .stretches 
along the shore like a great wall reared by an army of 
giants, we found ourselves in safe anchoring grounds, 
within a few furlongs of the land. The next moment 
saw the oars of a boat propelling us towards the shore, 



EPISODES 359 

and in brief time we stood on the desired beach. With 
what dehghtful feelings did we gaze on the objects around 
us ! — the gorgeous flowers, the singular and beautiful 
plants, the luxuriant trees. The balmy air which we 
breathed filled us with animation, so pure and salubri- 
ous did it seem to be. The birds which we saw were 
almost all new to us ; their lovely forms appeared to be 
arrayed in more brilliant apparel than I had ever seen 
before, and as they fluttered in happy playfulness among 
the bushes, or glided over the light green waters, we 
longed to form a more intimate acquaintance with them. 

Students of nature spend little time in introductions, es- 
pecially when they present themselves to persons who feel 
an interest in their pursuits. This was the case with Mr. 
Thruston, the deputy collector of the island, who shook 
us all heartily by the hand, and in a trice had a boat 
manned, and at our service. Accompanied by him, his 
pilot and fishermen, off we went, and after a short pull 
landed on a large key. Few minutes had elapsed when 
shot after shot might be heard, and down came whirling 
through the air the objects of our desire. One thrust 
himself into the tangled groves that covered all but the 
beautiful coral beach that in a continued line bordered the 
island, while others gazed on the glowing and diversified 
hues of the curious inhabitants of the deep. I saw one of 
my party rush into the limpid element to seize on a crab, 
that, with claws extended upward, awaited his approach, 
as if determined not to give way. A loud voice called 
him back to the land, for sharks are as abundant along 
these shores as pebbles, and the hungry prowlers could 
not have found a more savory dinner. 

The pilot, besides being a first-rate shot, possessed a 
most intimate acquaintance with the country. He had 
been a " conch diver," and no matter what number of 
fathoms measured the distance between the surface of the 
water and its craggy bottom, to seek for curious shells in 



36o AUDUBON 



their retreat seemed to him more pastime than toil. Not 
a Cormorant or Pelican, a Flamingo, an Ibis, or Heron 
had ever in his days formed its nest without his having 
marked the spot ; and as to the Keys to which the Doves 
are wont to resort, he was better acquainted with them 
than many fops are with the contents of their pockets. 
In a word, he positively knew every channel that led to 
these islands, and every cranny along their shores. For 
years his employment/"had been to hunt those singular 
animals called Sea-cows or Manatees, and he had con- 
quered hundreds of them, " merely," as he said, because 
the flesh and hide bring " a fair price " at Havana. He 
never went anywhere to land without " Long Tom," which 
proved indeed to be a wonderful gun, and which made smart 
havoc when charged with " groceries " a term by which he 
designated the large shot he used. In like manner, he never 
paddled his light canoe without having by his side the 
trusty javelin with which he unerringly transfixed such 
fishes as he thought fit either for market or for his own 
use. In attacking Turtles, netting, or overturning them, I 
doubt if his equal ever lived on the Florida coast. No 
sooner was he made acquainted with my errand, than he 
freely offered his best services, and from that moment until 
I left Key West he was seldom out of my hearing. 

While the young gentlemen who accompanied us were 
engaged in procuring plants, shells, and small birds, he 
tapped me on the shoulder, and with a smile said to me, 
" Come along, I '11 show you something better worth your 
while." To the boat we betook ourselves, with the cap- 
tain and only a pair of tars, for more he said would not 
answer. The yawl for a while was urged at a great rate, 
but as we approached a point, the oars were taken in, and 
the pilot alone sculling desired us to make ready, for in a 
few minutes we should have " rare sport." As we ad- 
vanced, the more slowly did we move, and the most pro- 
found silence was maintained, until suddenly coming 



EPISODES 361 

almost in contact with a thick shrubbery of mangroves, 
we beheld, right before us, a multitude of Pelicans. A 
discharge of artillery seldom produced more effect; the 
dead, the dying, and the wounded, fell from the trees upon 
the water, while those unscathed flew screaming through 
the air in terror and dismay. " There," said he, " did not 
I tell you so; is it not rare sport? " The birds, one after 
another, were lodged under the gunwales, when the pilot 
desired the captain to order the lads to pull away. Within 
about half a mile we reached the extremity of the Key. 
" Pull away," cried the pilot, " never mind them on the 
wing, for those black rascals don't mind a little firing — 
now, boys, lay her close under the nests." And there we 
were with four hundred Cormorant's nests over our heads. 
The birds were sitting, and when we fired, the number that 
dropped as if dead, and plunged into the water was such, 
that I thought by some unaccountable means or other we 
had killed the whole colony. You would have smiled at 
the loud laugh and curious gestures of the pilot. " Gentle- 
men," said he, " almost a blank shot ! " And so it was, 
for, on following the birds as one after another peeped up 
from the water, we found only a few unable to take to 
wing. " Now," said the pilot, " had you waited until / had 
spoken to the black villains, you might have killed a score 
or more of them." On inspection, we found that our 
shots had lodged in the tough dry twigs of which these 
birds form their nests, and that we had lost the more favor- 
able opportunity of hitting them, by not waiting until they 
rose. " Never mind," said the pilot, " if you wish it, you 
may load The Lady of the Green Mantle ^ with them in less 
than a week. Stand still, my lads ; and now, gentlemen, in 
ten minutes you and I will bring down a score of them." 
And so we did. As we rounded the island, a beautiful 
bird of the species called Peale's Egret came up, and was 
shot. We now landed, took in the rest of our party, and 
1 The name given by the wreckers and smugglers to the " Marion." 



362 AUDUBON 



returned to Indian Key, where we arrived three hours 
before sunset. 

The sailors and other individuals to whom my name and 
pursuits had become known, carried our birds to the pilot's 
house. His good wife had a room ready for me to draw 
in, and my assistant might have been seen busily engaged 
in skinning, while George Lehman was making a sketch 
of the lovely isle. 

Time is ever precious to the student of nature. I placed 
several birds in their natural attitudes, and began to out- 
line them. A dance had been prepared also, and no sooner 
was the sun lost to our eye, than males and females, in- 
cluding our captain and others from the vessel, were seen 
advancing gayly towards the house in full apparel. The 
birds were skinned, the sketch was on paper, and I told 
my young men to amuse themselves. As to myself, I could 
not join in the merriment, for, full of the remembrance of 
you, reader, and of the patrons of my work both in 
America and in Europe, I went on "grinding" — not on 
an organ, like the Lady of Bras d'Or, but on paper, to the 
finishing not merely of my outlines, but of my notes re- 
specting the objects seen this day. 

The room adjoining that in which I worked was soon 
filled. Two miserable fiddlers screwed their screeching, 
silken strings, — not an inch of catgut graced their instru- 
ments, — and the bouncing of brave lads and fair lasses 
shook the premises to the foundation. One with a slip 
came down heavily on the floor, and the burst of laughter 
that followed echoed over the isle. Diluted claret was 
handed round to cool the ladies, while a beverage of more 
potent energies warmed their partners. After supper our 
captain returned to the " Marion," and I, with my young 
men, slept in light swinging hammocks under the eaves of 
the piazza. 

It was the end of April, when the nights were short, and 
the days therefore long. Anxious to turn every moment 



EPISODES 363 

to account, we were on board Mr. Thruston's boat at three 
next morning. Pursuing our way through the deep and 
tortuous channels that everywhere traverse the immense 
muddy soap-like flats that stretch from the outward Keys 
to the Main, we proceeded on our voyage of discovery. 
Here and there we met with great beds of floating sea- 
weeds, which showed us that Turtles were abundant there, 
these masses being the refuse of their feeding. On talking 
to Mr. Thruston of the nature of these muddy flats, he 
mentioned that he had once been lost amongst their nar- 
row channels for several days and nights, when in pursuit 
of some smugglers' boat, the owners of which were better 
acquainted with the place than the men who were along 
with him. Although in full sight of several of the Keys, 
as well as of the main land, he was unable to reach either 
until a heavy gale raised the water, when he sailed directly 
over the flats, and returned home almost exhausted with 
fatigue and hunger. His present pilot often alluded to the 
circumstance afterwards, ending with a great laugh, and 
asserting that had he " been there, the rascals would not 
have escaped." 

Coming under a Key on which multitudes of Frigate 
Pelicans had begun to form their nests, we shot a good 
number of them, and observed their habits. The boastings 
of our pilot were here confirmed by the exploits which he 
performed with his long gun, and on several occasions he 
brought down a bird from a height of fully a hundred 
yards. The poor bird, unaware of the range of our artil- 
lery, sailed calmly along, so that it was not difficult for 
" Long Tom," or rather for his owner, to furnish us with 
as many as we required. The day was spent in this man- 
ner, and towards night we returned, laden with booty, to 
the hospitable home of the pilot. 

The next morning was delightful. The gentle sea- 
breeze glided over the flowery isle, the horizon was clear, 
and all was silent, save the long breakers that rushed over 



364 AUDUBON 



the distant reefs. As we were proceeding towards some 
Keys seldom visited by men, the sun rose from the bosom 
of the waters with a burst of glory that flashed on my soul 
the idea of that power which called into existence so mag- 
nificent an object. The moon, thin and pale, as if ashamed 
to show her feeble light, concealed herself in the dim west. 
The surface of the waters shone in its tremulous smooth- 
ness, and the deep blue of the clear heavens was pure as the 
world that lies beyond them. The Heron heavily flew 
towards the land, like a glutton retiring at daybreak, with 
well lined paunch, from the house of some wealthy patron 
of good cheer. The Night Heron and the Owl, fearful of 
day, with hurried flight sought safety in the recesses of 
the deepest swamps ; while the Gulls and Terns, ever 
cheerful, gambolled over the water, exulting in the pros- 
pect of abundance. I also exulted in hope, my whole 
frame seemed to expand ; and our sturdy crew showed by 
their merry faces that nature had charms for them too. 
How much of beauty and joy is lost to them who never 
view the rising sun, and of whose waking existence, the 
best half is nocturnal. 

Twenty miles our men had to row before we reached 
" Sandy Island," and as on its level shores we all leaped, 
we plainly saw the southernmost cape of the Foridas. The 
flocks of birds that covered the shelly beaches, and those 
hovering overhead, so astonished us that we could for a 
while scarcely believe our eyes. The first volley procured 
a supply of food sufficient for two days' consumption. 
Such tales, you have already been told, are well enough 
at a distance from the place to which they refer; but you 
will doubtless be still more surprised when I tell you that 
our first fire among a crowd of the Great Godwits laid 
prostrate sixty-five of these birds. Rose-colored Curlews 
stalked gracefully beneath the mangroves. Purple Herons 
rose at almost every step we took, and each cactus sup- 
ported the nest of a White Ibis. The air was darkened by 



EPISODES 365 

whistling wings, while, on the waters, floated Gallinules 
and other interesting birds. We formed a kind of shed 
with sticks and grass, the sailor cook commenced his 
labors, and ere long we supplied the deficiencies of our 
fatigued frames. The business of the day over, we se- 
cured ourselves from insects by means of mosquito-nets, 
and were lulled to rest by the cacklings of the beautiful 
Purple Gallinules ! 

In the morning we rose from our sandy beds, and — 



THE FLORIDA KEYS 
II 

I LEFT you abruptly, perhaps uncivilly, reader, at the 
dawn of day, on Sandy Island, which lies just six miles 
from the extreme point of South Florida. I did so be- 
cause I was amazed at the appearance of things around 
me, which in fact looked so different then from what they 
seemed at night, that it took some minutes' reflection to 
account for the change. When we laid ourselves down in 
the sand to sleep, the waters almost bathed our feet; when 
we opened our eyes in the morning, they were at an im- 
mense distance. Our boat lay on her side, looking not 
unlike a whale reposing on a mud bank. The birds in 
myriads were probing their exposed pasture-ground. 
There great flocks of Ibises fed apart from equally large 
collections of Godwits, and thousands of Herons gracefully 
paced along, ever and anon thrusting their javelin bills into 
the body of some unfortunate fish confined in a small pool 
of water. Of Fish-Crows, I could not estimate the number, 
but from the havoc they made among the crabs, I con- 
jecture that these animals must have been scarce by the 
time of next ebb. Frigate Pelicans chased the Jager, 
which himself had just robbed a poor Gull of its prize, 
and all the Gallinules, ran with spread wings from the 



366 AUDUBON 



mud-banks to the thickets of the island, so timorous had 
they become when they perceived us. 

Surrounded as we were by so many objects that allured 
us, not one could we yet attain, so dangerous would it 
have been to venture on the mud ; and our pilot, having 
assured us that nothing could be lost by waiting, spoke of 
our eating, and on this hint told us that he would take us 
to a part of the island where " our breakfast would be 
abundant although uncooked." Off we went, some of the 
sailors carrying baskets, others large tin pans and wooden 
vessels, such as they use for eating their meals in. Enter- 
ing a thicket of about an acre in extent, we found on every 
bush several nests of the Ibis, each containing three large 
and beautiful eggs, and all hands fell to gathering. The 
birds gave way to us, and ere long we had a heap of eggs 
that promised delicious food. Nor did we stand long in 
expectation, for, kindling a fire, we soon prepared in one 
way or other enough to satisfy the cravings of our hungry 
maws. Breakfast ended, the pilot, looking at the gorgeous 
sunrise, said : " Gentlemen, prepare yourselves for fun ; the 
tide is coming." 

Over these enormous mud-flats, a foot or two of water is 
quite sufficient to drive all the birds ashore, even the tallest 
Heron or Flamingo, and the tide seems to flow at once 
over the whole expanse. Each of us, provided with a gun, 
posted himself behind a bush, and no sooner had the water 
forced the winged creatures to approach the shore than 
the work of destruction commenced. When it at length 
ceased, the collected mass of birds of different kinds 
looked not unlike a small haycock. Who could not with 
a little industry have helped himself to a few of their skins? 
Why, reader, surely no one as fond of these things as I am. 
Every one assisted in this, and even the sailors themselves 
tried their hand at the work. 

Our pilot, good man, told us he was no hand at such 
occupations and would go after something else. So taking 



EPISODES 367 

" Long Tom " and his fishing-tackle, he marched off quietly 
along the shores. About an hour afterwards we saw him 
returning, when he looked quite exhausted, and on our 
inquiring the cause said, " There is a dewfish yonder, and 
a few balacoudas, but I am not able to bring them, or even 
to haul them here; please send the sailors after them." 
The fishes were accordingly brought, and as I had never 
seen a dewfish, I examined it closely, and took an outline 
of its form, which some days hence you may perhaps see. 
It exceeded a hundred pounds in weight, and afforded ex- 
cellent eating. The balacouda is also a good fish, but at 
times a dangerous one, for, according to the pilot, on more 
than one occasion " some of these gentry " had followed 
him when waist-deep in the water, in pursuit of a more 
valuable prize, until in self-defence, he had to spear them, 
fearing that " the gentlemen " might at one dart cut off his 
legs, or some other nice bit, with which he was unwilling 
to part. i 

Having filled our cask from a fine well, long since dug 
in the sand of Cape Sable, either by Seminole Indians or 
pirates, no matter which, we left Sandy Isle about full 
tide, and proceeded homeward, giving a call here and there 
at different Keys, with the view of procuring rare birds, 
and also their nests and eggs. We had twenty miles to 
go, " as the birds fly," but the tortuosity of the channels 
rendered our course fully a third longer. The sun was 
descending fast, when a black cloud suddenly obscured 
the majestic orb. Our sails swelled by a breeze that was 
scarcely felt by us ; and the pilot, requesting us to sit on 
the weather gunwale, told us that we were " going to get 
it." One sail was hauled in and secured, and the other was 
reefed, although the wind had not increased. A low 
murmuring noise was heard, and across the cloud that now 
rolled along in tumultuous masses shot vivid flashes of 
lightning. Our experienced guide steered directly across 
a flat towards the nearest land. The sailors passed their 



368 AUDUBON 



quids from one cheek to the other, and our pilot having 
covered himself with his oil jacket, we followed his ex- 
ample. " Blow, sweet breeze," cried he at the tiller, and 
" we '11 reach the land before the blast overtakes us, for, 
gentlemen, it is a furious cloud yon." 

A furious cloud indeed was the one which now, like an 
eagle on outstretched wings, approached so swiftly that 
one might have deemed it in haste to destroy us. We 
were not more than a cable's length from the shore, when, 
with an imperative voice, the pilot calmly said to us, " Sit 
quite still, gentlemen, for I should not like to lose you 
overboard just now; the boat can't upset, my word for that, 
if you will but sit still — Here we have it !" 

Reader, persons who have never witnessed a hurricane, 
such as not unfrequently desolates the sultry climates of 
the South, can scarcely form an idea of their terrific gran- 
deur. One would think that, not content with laying 
waste all on land, it must needs sweep the waters of the 
shallows quite dry, to quench its thirst. No respite for an 
instant does it afford to the objects within the reach of its 
furious current. Like the scythe of the destroying angel, 
it cuts everything by the roots, as it were, with the careless 
ease of the experienced mower. Each of its revolving 
sweeps collects a heap that might be likened to the full- 
sheaf which the husbandman flings by his side. On it 
goes with a wildness and fury that are indescribable, and 
when at last its frightful blasts have ceased. Nature, weep- 
ing and disconsolate, is left bereaved of her beauteous off- 
spring. In some instances, even a full century is required 
before, with all her powerful energies, she can repair her 
loss. The planter has not only lost his mansion, his crops, 
and his flocks, but he has to clear his lands anew, covered 
and entangled as they are with the trunks and branches 
of trees that are everywhere strewn. The bark, overtaken 
by the storm, is cast on the lee-shore, and if any are left to 
witness the fatal results, they are the " wreckers " alone, 



EPISODES 369 

who, with inward delight, gaze upon the melancholy 
spectacle. 

Our light bark shivered like a leaf the instant the blast 
reached her sides. We thought she had gone over; but 
the next instant she was on the shore. And now in con- 
templation of the sublime and awful storm, I gazed around 
me. The waters drifted like snow; the tough mangroves 
hid their tops amid their roots, and the loud roaring of the 
waves driven among them blended with the howl of the 
tempest. It was not rain that fell ; the masses of water 
flew in a horizontal direction, and where a part of my body 
was exposed I felt as if a smart blow had been given me on 
it. But enough — in half an hour it was over. The pure 
blue sky once more embellished the heavens, and although 
it was now quite night, we considered our situation a 
good one. 

The crew and some of the party spent the night in the 
boat. The pilot, myself, and one of my assistants took to 
the heart of the mangroves, and having found high land, 
we made a fire as well as we could, spread a tarpauling, 
and fixing our insect bars over us, soon forgot in sleep the 
horrors that had surrounded us. 

Next day the " Marion " proceeded on her cruise, and 
in a few more days, having anchored in another safe har- 
bor, we visited other Keys, of which I will, with your leave, 
give you a short account. 

The deputy-collector of Indian Isle gave me the use of 
his pilot for a few weeks, and I was the more gratified by 
this, that besides knowing him to be a good man, and a 
perfect sailor, I was now convinced that he possessed a 
great knowledge of the habits of birds, and could without 
loss of time lead me to their haunts. We were a hundred 
miles or so farther to the south. Gay May, like a playful 
babe, gambolled on the bosom of his mother Nature, and 
everything was replete with life and joy. The pilot had 
spoken to me of some birds which I was very desirous of 
VOL. n. — 24 



37° AUDUBON 



obtaining. One morning, therefore, we went in two boats 
to some distant isle, where they were said to breed. Our 
difficulties in reaching that Key might to some seem more 
imaginary than real, were I faithfully to describe them. 
Suffice it for me to tell you that after hauling our boats 
and pushing them with our hands, for upwards of nine 
miles, over the flats, we at last reached the deep channel 
that usually surrounds each of the mangrove islands. We 
were much exhausted by the labor and excessive heat, 
but we were now floating on deep water, and by resting a 
short while under the shade of some mangroves, we were 
soon refreshed by the breeze that gently blew from the 
Gulf We further repaired our strength by taking some 
food ; and I may as well tell you here that, during all the 
time I spent in that part of the Floridas, my party re- 
stricted themselves to fish and soaked biscuit, while our 
only and constant beverage was molasses and water. I 
found that in these warm latitudes, exposed as we con- 
stantly were to alternate heat and. moisture, ardent spirits 
and more substantial food would prove dangerous to us. 
The officers, and those persons who from time to time 
kindly accompanied us, adopted the same regimen, and 
not an individual of us had ever to complain of so much 
as a headache. 

But we were under the mangroves ; at a great distance 
on one of the flats, the Heron which I have named Ardea 
occidentalis'^ -was seen moving majestically in great numbers. 
The tide rose and drove them away, and as they came 
towards us, to alight and rest for a time on the tallest trees, 
we shot as many as I wished. I also took under my 
charge several of their young alive. 

At another time we visited the " Mule Keys." There 

the prospect was in many respects dismal in the extreme. 

As I followed their shores, I saw bales of cotton floating 

in all the coves, while spars of every description lay on 

1 Plate cclxxxi., ed. 1827-1839 ; plate ccclxvlil, ed. 1843. 



EPISODES 371 

the beach, and far off on the reefs I could see the last 
remains of a lost ship, her dismantled hulk. Several 
schooners were around her ; they were wreckers. I turned 
me from the sight with a heavy heart. Indeed, as I slowly 
proceeded, I dreaded to meet the floating or cast-ashore 
bodies of some of the unfortunate crew. Our visit to the 
Mule Keys was in no way profitable, for besides meeting 
with but a few birds, in two or three instances I was, 
whilst swimming in the deep channel of a mangrove isle, 
much nearer a large shark than I wish ever to be again. 

" The service " requiring all the attention, prudence, and 
activity of Captain Day and his gallant officers, another 
cruise took place, of which you will find some account in 
the sequel; and while I rest a little on the deck of the 
"Lady of the Green Mantle," let me offer my humble 
thanks to the Being who has allowed me the pleasure of 
thus relating to you, kind reader, a small part of my 
adventures. 



THE TURTLERS 

The Tortugas are a group of islands lying about eighty 
miles from Key West, and the last of those that seem 
to defend the peninsula of the Floridas. They consist 
of five or six extremely low, uninhabitable banks, formed 
of shelly sand, and are resorted to principally^ by that 
class of men called wreckers and turtlers. Between 
these islands are deep channels, which, although extremely 
intricate, are well known to those adventurers, as well as to 
the commanders of the revenue cutters, whose duties call 
them to that dangerous coast. The great coral reef, or 
wall, lies about eight miles from these inhospitable isles, 
in the direction of the Gulf, and on it many an ignorant 
or careless navigator has suffered shipwreck. The whole 
ground around them is densely covered with corals, sea- 



3/2 AUDUBON 



fans, and other productions of the deep, amid which crawl 
innumerable testaceous animals, while shoals of curious 
and beautiful fishes fill the limpid waters above them. 
Turtles of different species resort to these banks, to de- 
posit their eggs in the burning sand, and clouds of sea- 
fowl arrive every spring for the same purpose. These are 
followed by persons called " eggers," who, when their 
cargoes are completed, sail to distant markets, to exchange 
their ill-gotten ware for a portion of that gold on the 
acquisition of which all men seem bent. 

The " Marion" having occasion to visit the Tortugas, I 
gladly embraced the opportunity of seeing those cele- 
brated islets. A few hours before sunset the joyful cry 
of " Land ! " announced our approach to them ; but as the 
breeze was fresh, and the pilot was well acquainted with 
all the windings of the channels, we held on, and dropped 
anchor before twilight. If you have never seen the sun 
setting in those latitudes, I would recommend to you to 
make a voyage for the purpose, for I much doubt if, in 
any other portion of the world, the departure of the orb 
of day is accompanied with such gorgeous appearances. 
Look at the great red disk, increased to triple its ordi- 
nary dimensions ! Now it has partially sunk beneath 
the distant line of waters, and with its still remaining half 
irradiates the whole heavens with a flood of golden light, 
purpling the far-off clouds that hover over the western 
horizon. A blaze of refulgent glory streams through the 
portals of the west, and the masses of vapor assume the 
semblance of mountains of molten gold. But the sun has 
now disappeared, and from the east slowly advances the 
gray curtain which night draws over the world. 

The Night-hawk is flapping its noiseless wings in the 
gentle sea-breeze ; the Terns, safely landed, have settled 
on their nests; the Frigate Pelicans are seen wending their 
way to distant mangroves; and the Brown Gannet, in 
search of a re_sting-place, has perched on the yard of the 



EPISODES 373 

vessel. Slowly advancing landward, their heads alone 
above the water, are observed the heavily laden Turtles, 
anxious to deposit their eggs in the well-known sands. 
On the surface of the gently rippling stream, I dimly see 
their broad forms, as they toil along, while at intervals 
may be heard their hurried breathings, indicative of sus- 
picion and fear. The moon with her silvery light now 
illumines the scene, and the Turtle, having landed, slowly 
and laboriously drags her heavy body over the sand, her 
"flippers" being better adapted for motion in the water 
than on shore. Up the slope, however, she works her 
way ; and see how industriously she removes the sand be- 
neath her, casting it out on either side. Layer after layer 
she deposits her eggs, arranging them in the most careful 
manner, and with her hind paddles brings the sand over 
them. The business is accomplished, the spot is covered 
over, and with a joyful heart the Turtle swiftly retires 
towards the shore, and launches into the deep. 

But the Tortugas are not the only breeding places of 
the Turtles ; these animals, on the contrary, frequent many 
other Keys, as well as various parts of the coast of the 
mainland. There are four different species, which are 
known by the names of the Green Turtle, the Hawk-billed 
Turtle, the Logger-head Turtle, and the Trutik Turtle. 
The first is considered the best as an article of food, in 
which capacity it is well known to most epicures. It ap- 
proaches the shores, and enters the bays, inlets, and rivers, 
early in the month of April, after having spent the winter 
in the deep waters. It deposits its eggs in convenient 
places, at two different times in May, and once again in 
June. The first deposit is the largest, and the last the 
least, the total quantity being, at an average, about two 
hundred and forty. The Hawk-billed Turtle, whose shell 
is so valuable as an article of commerce, being used for 
various purposes in the arts, is the next with respect to 
the quality of its flesh. It resorts to the outer Keys only, 



374 AUDUBON 



where it deposits its eggs in two sets, first in July, and 
again in August, although it " crawls " the beaches of 
these Keys much earlier in the season, as if to look for a 
safe place. The average number of its eggs is about three 
hundred. The Logger-head visits the Tortugas in April, 
and lays from that period until late in June three sets of 
eggs, each set averaging one hundred and seventy. The 
Trunk Turtle, which is sometimes of an enormous size, and 
which has a pouch like a Pelican, reaches the shores latest. 
The shell and flesh are so soft that one may push his finger 
into them, almost as into a lump of butter. This species 
is therefore considered as the least valuable, and, indeed, 
is seldom eaten, unless by the Indians, who, ever alert 
when the Turtle season commences, first carry off the 
eggs, and afterwards catch the Turtles themselves. The 
average number of eggs which it lays in the season, 
in two sets, may be three hundred and fifty. 

The Logger-head and the Trunk Turtles are the least 
cautious in choosing the places in which to deposit their 
eggs, whereas the two other species select the wildest and 
most secluded spots. The Green Turtle resorts either 
to the shores of the Main, between Cape Sable and Cape 
Florida, or enters Indian, Halifax, and other large rivers 
or inlets, from which it makes its retreat as speedily as 
possible, and betakes itself to the open sea. Great num- 
bers, however, are killed by the turtlers and Indians, as 
well as by various species of carnivorous animals, as 
Cougars, Lynxes, Bears, and Wolves. The Hawk-bill, 
which is still more wary, and is always the most difficult 
to surprise, keeps to the sea-islands. All the species 
employ nearly the same method in depositing their eggs 
in the sand, and as I have several times observed them in 
the act, I am enabled to present you with a circumstantial 
account of it. 

On first nearing .the shores, and mostly on fine, calm, 
moonlight nights, the Turtle raises her head above the 



EPISODES 17 S 

water, being still distant thirty or forty yards from the 
beach, looks around her, and attentively examines the 
objects on the shore. Should she observe nothing likely 
to disturb her intended operations, she emits a loud hiss- 
ing sound, by which such of her many enemies as are 
unaccustomed to it are startled, and so are apt to re- 
move to another place, although unseen by her. Should 
she hear any noise, or perceive indications of danger, 
she instantly sinks, and goes off to a considerable dis- 
tance; but should everything be quiet, she advances 
slowly towards the beach, crawls over it, her head raised 
to the full stretch of her neck, and when she has reached 
a place fitted for her purpose, she gazes all round in 
silence. Finding " all well" she proceeds to form a hole 
in the sand, which she effects by removing it from un- 
der her body with her hind flippers, scooping it out 
with so much dexterity that the sides seldom if ever fall 
in. The sand is raised alternately with each flipper, as 
with a large ladle, until it has accumulated behind her, 
when, supporting herself with her head and fore part on 
the ground fronting her body, she, with a spring from 
each flipper, sends the sand around her, scattering it to the 
distance of several feet. In this manner the hole is dug to 
the depth of eighteen inches, or sometimes more than two 
feet. This labor I have seen performed in the short 
period of nine minutes. The eggs are then dropped one 
by one, and disposed in regular layers, to the number of a 
hundred and fifty, or sometimes nearly two hundred. The 
whole time spent in this part of the operation may be 
about twenty minutes. She now scrapes the loose sand 
back over the eggs, and so levels and smooths the surface 
that few persons on seeing the spot could imagine any- 
thing had been done to it. This accomplished to her 
mind, she retreats to the water with all possible despatch, 
leaving the hatching of the eggs to the heat of the sand. 
When a Turtle, a Logger-head for example, is in the act 



376 AUDUBON 



of dropping her eggs, she will not move, although one 
should go up to her, or even seat himself on her back, 
for it seems that at this moment she finds it necessary to 
proceed at all events, and is unable to intermit her labor. 
The moment it is finished, however, off she starts; nor 
would it then be possible for one, unless he were as strong 
as a Hercules, to turn her over and secure her. 

To upset a Turtle on the shore, one is obliged to fall on 
his knees, and placing his shoulder behind her fore-arm, 
gradually raise her up by pushing with great force, and 
then with a jerk throw her over. Sometimes it requires 
the united strength of several men to accomplish this; 
and, if the Turtle should be of very great size, as often 
happens on that coast, even handspikes are employed. 
Some turtlers are so daring as to swim up to them while 
lying asleep on the surface of the water, and turn them 
over in their own element, when, however, a boat must be 
at hand, to enable them to secure their prize. Few 
Turtles can bite beyond the reach of their fore-legs, and 
few, when once turned over, can, without assistance, regain 
their natural position; but, notwithstanding this, their 
flippers are generally secured by ropes so as to render 
their escape impossible. 

Persons who search for Turtles' eggs, are provided with 
a light stiff cane or a gun-rod, with which they go along the 
shores probing the sand near the tracks of the animals, 
which, however, cannot always be seen, on account of the 
winds and heavy rains that often obliterate them. The 
nests are discovered not only by men, but also by beasts of 
prey, and the eggs are collected, or destroyed on the spot, 
in great numbers, as on certain parts of the shores hun- 
dreds of Turtles are known to deposit their eggs within the 
space of a mile. They form a new hole each time they lay, 
and the second is generally dug near the first, as if the 
animal were quite unconscious of what had befallen it. It 
will readily be understood that the numerous eggs seen 



EPISODES 377 

in a Turtle on cutting it up, could not be all laid the same 
season. The whole number deposited by an individual in 
one summer may amount to four hundred, whereas, if the 
animal is caught on or near her nest, as I have witnessed, 
the remaining eggs, all small, without shells, and as it were 
threaded like so many large beads, exceed three thousand. 
In an instance where I found that number, the Turtle 
weighed nearly four hundred pounds. The young, soon 
after being hatched, and when yet scarcely larger than a 
dollar, scratch their way through their sandy covering, 
and immediately betake themselves to the water. 

The food of the Green Turtle consists chiefly of marine 
plants, more especially the Grasswrack {Zostera marina) 
which they cut near the roots to procure the most tender 
and succulent parts. Their feeding-grounds, as I have 
elsewhere said, are easily discovered by floating masses 
of these plants on the flats, or along the shores to 
which they resort. The Hawk-billed species feeds on 
sea-weeds, crabs, various kinds of shell-fish and fishes; 
the Logger-head mostly on the fish of conch-shells of 
large size, which they are enabled, by means of their 
powerful beak, to crush to pieces with apparently as much 
ease as a man cracks a walnut. One which was brought 
on board the " Marion," and placed near the fluke of one 
of her anchors, made a deep indentation in that hammered 
piece of iron, which quite surprised me. The Trunk 
Turtle feeds on moUusca, fish, Crustacea, sea urchins, and 
various marine plants. 

All the species move through the water with surprising 
speed ; but the Green and Hawk-billed, in particular, re- 
mind you, by their celerity and the ease of their motions, 
of the progress of a bird in the air. It is, therefore, no 
easy matter to strike one with a spear, and yet this is 
often done by an accomplished turtler. 

While at Key West, and other islands on the coast, 
where I made the observations here presented to you, I 



378 AUDUBON 



chanced to have need to purchase some Turtles, to feed 
my friends on board " The Lady of the Green Mantle " — 
not my friends her gallant officers, or the brave tars who 
formed her crew, for all of them had already been satiated 
with Turtle soup, but my friends the Herons, of which 
I had a goodly number alive in coops, intending to carry 
them to John Bachman of Charleston, and other persons 
for whom I ever feel a sincere regard. So I went to a 
" crawl " accompanied by Dr. Benjamin Strobel, to in- 
quire about prices, when, to my surprise, I found that 
the smaller the Turtles above ten-pounds weight, the 
dearer they were, and that I could have purchased one of 
the Logger-head kind that weighed more than seven hun- 
dred pounds, for little more money than another of only 
thirty pounds. While I gazed on the large one, I thought 
of the soups the contents of its shell would have furnished 
for a "Lord Mayor's dinner," of the numerous eggs which 
its swollen body contained, and of the curious carriage 
which might be made of its shell — a car in which Venus 
herself might sail over the Caribbean Sea, provided her 
tender Doves lent their aid in drawing the divinity, and 
provided no shark or hurricane came to upset it. The 
turtler assured me that although the " great monster " 
was, in fact, better meat than any other of a less size, 
there was no disposing of it, unless, indeed, it had been 
in his power to have sent it to some very distant market. 
I would willingly have purchased it, but I knew that if 
killed, its flesh could not keep much longer than a day, 
and on that account I bought eight or ten small ones, 
which " my friends " really relished exceedingly, and 
which served to support them for a long time. 

Turtles, such as I have spoken of, are caught in various 
ways on the coasts of the Floridas, or in estuaries and 
rivers. Some turtlers are in the habit of setting great 
nets across the entrance of streams, so as .to answer the 
purpose either at the flow or at the ebb of the waters. 



EPISODES 379 

These nets are formed of very large meshes, into which 
the Turtles partially enter, when, the more they attempt 
to extricate themselves, the more they get entangled. 
Others harpoon them in the usual manner; but in my 
estimation no method is equal to that employed by Mr. 
Egan, the pilot of Indian Isle. 

That extraordinary turtler had an iron instrument 
which he called a peg, and which at each end had a point 
not unlike what nail-makers call a brad, it being four- 
cornered but flattish, and of a shape somewhat resem- 
bling the beak of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, together 
with a neck and shoulder. Between the two shoulders 
of this instrument a fine tough-line, fifty or more fathoms 
in length, was fastened by one end being passed through 
a hole in the centre of the peg and the line itself was 
carefully coiled up, and placed in a convenient part of the 
canoe. One extremity of this peg enters a sheath of iron 
that loosely attaches it to a long wooden spear, until 
a Turtle has been pierced through the shell by the other 
extremity. He of the canoe paddles away as silently 
as possible whenever he spies a Turtle basking on the 
water, until he gets within a distance of ten or twelve 
yards, when he throws the spear so as to hit the animal 
about the place which an entomologist would choose, 
were it a large insect, for pinning it to a piece of cork. 
As soon as the Turtle is struck, the wooden handle separ- 
ates from the peg, in consequence of the looseness of its 
attachment. The smart of the wound urges on the 
animal as if distracted, and it appears that the longer 
the peg remains in its shell, the more firmly fastened it 
is, so great a pressure is exercised upon it by the shell of 
the Turtle, which, being suffered to run like a whale, soon 
becomes fatigued, and is secured by hauling in the line 
with great care. In this manner, as the pilot informed 
me, eight hundred Green Turtles were caught by one man 
in twelve months. 



38o AUDUBON 



Each turtler has his crawl, which is a square wooden 
building or pen formed of logs, which are so far separated 
as to allow the tide to pass freely through, and stand erect 
in the mud. The Turtles are placed in this enclosure, fed 
and kept there until sold. If the animals thus confined 
have not laid their eggs previous to their seizure, they 
drop them in the water, so that they are lost. The price 
of Green Turtles, when I was at Key West, was from four 
to six cents per pound. 

The loves of the Turtles are conducted in the most 
extraordinary manner; but as the recital of them must 
prove out of place here, I shall pass them over. There is, 
however, a circumstance relating to their habits which I 
cannot omit, although I have it not from my own ocular 
evidence, but from report. When I was in the Floridas 
several of the turtlers assured me that any Turtle taken 
from the depositing ground, and carried on the deck 
of a vessel several hundred miles, would, if then let 
loose, certainly be met with at the same spot, either 
immediately after, or in the following breeding season. 
Should this prove true, and it certainly may, how much 
will be enhanced the belief of the student in the uniformity 
and solidity of Nature's arrangements, when he finds that 
the Turtle, like a rhigratory bird, returns to the same 
locality, with perhaps a delight similar to that experienced 
by the traveller, who, after visiting distant countries,, once 
more returns to the bosom of his cherished family. 



THE FORCE OF THE WATERS 

The men who are employed in cutting down the trees, 
and conveying the logs to the saw-mills or the places for 
shipping, are, in the State of Maine, called " lumberer.s." 
Their labors may be said to be continual. Before winter 
has commenced, and while the ground is yet uncovered 



EPISODES 381 

with a great depth of snow, they leave their homes to pro- 
ceed to the interior of the pine forests, which in that part 
of the country are truly magnificent, and betake themselves 
to certain places already well known to them. Their pro- 
visions, axes, saws, and other necessary articles, together 
with provender for their cattle, are conveyed by oxen in 
heavy sledges. Almost at the commencement of their 
march, they are obliged to enter the woods, and they have 
frequently to cut a way for themselves for considerable 
spaces, as the ground is often covered with the decaying 
trunks of immense trees, which have fallen either from age, 
or in consequence of accidental burnings. These trunks, and 
the undergrowth which lies entangled in their tops render 
many places almost impassable even to men on foot. Over 
miry ponds they are sometimes forced to form causeways, 
this being, under all circumstances, the easiest mode of 
reaching the opposite side. Then, reader, is the time for 
witnessing the exertions of their fine large cattle. No 
rods do their drivers use to pain their flanks ; no oaths or 
imprecations are ever heard to fall from the lips of these 
most industrious and temperate men, for in them, as in 
most of the inhabitants of our Eastern States, education 
and habit have tempered the passions, and reduced the 
moral constitution to a state of harmony. Nay, the sobriety 
that exists in many of the villages of Maine, I acknowledge, 
I have often considered as carried to excess, for on asking 
for brandy, rum, or whiskey, not a drop could I obtain, and 
it is probable there was an equal lack of spirituous liquors 
of every other kind. Now and then I saw some good old 
wines, but they were always drunk in careful moderation. 
But to return to the management of the oxen. Why, 
reader, the lumbermen speak to them as if they were 
rational beings. Few words seem to suffice, and their 
whole strength is applied to the labor, as if in gratitude 
to those who treat them with so much gentleness and 
humanity. 



382 AUDUBON 



While present on more than one occasion at what 
Americans call " ploughing matches," which they have 
annually in many of the States, I have been highly grati- 
fied, and in particular at one, of which I have still a strong 
recollection, and which took place a few miles from the fair 
and hospitable city of Boston. There I saw fifty or more 
ploughs drawn by as many pairs of oxen, which performed 
their work with so much accuracy and regularity — without 
the infliction of whip or rod, but merely guided by the 
verbal mandates of the ploughmen — that I was perfectly 
astonished. 

After surmounting all obstacles, the lumberers with their 
stock arrive at the spot which they have had in view, and 
immediately commence building a camp. The trees around 
soon fall under the blows of their axes, and before many 
days have elapsed a low habitation is reared and fitted 
within for the accommodation of their cattle, while their 
provender is secured on a kind of loft covered with broad 
shingles or boards. Then their own cabin is put up ; 
rough bedsteads, manufactured on the spot, are fixed in 
the corners; a chimney composed of a frame of sticks 
plastered with mud leads away the smoke ; the skins of 
Bears or Deer, with some blankets, form their bedding, and 
around the walls are hung their changes of homespun 
clothing, guns, and various necessaries of life. Many 
prefer spending the night on the sweet-scented hay and 
corn blades of their cattle, which are laid on the ground. 
All arranged within, the lumberers set their " dead falls," 
large " steel traps," and " spring guns," in suitable places 
round their camps, to procure some of the Bear-s that ever 
prowl around such establishments. 

Now the heavy clouds of November, driven by the 
northern blasts, pour down the snow in feathery flakes. 
The winter has fairly set in, and seldom do the sun's glad- 
dening rays fall on the wood-cutter's hut. In warm flannels 
his body is enveloped, the skin of a Raccoon covers his 



EPISODES 383 

head and brows, his Moose-skin leggings reach the girdle 
that secures them around his waist, while on broad mocca- 
sins, or snow-shoes, he stands from the earliest dawn until 
night, hacking away at majestic pines, that for a century- 
past have embellished the forest. The fall of these valu- 
able trees no longer resounds on the ground; and, as they 
tumble here and there nothing is heard but the rustling and 
cracking of their branches, their heavy trunks sinking into 
the deep snows. Thousands of large pines thus cut down 
every winter afford room for younger trees, which spring 
up profusely to supply the wants of man. 

Weeks and weeks have elapsed ; the earth's pure white 
covering has become thickly and firmly crusted by the in- 
creasing intensity of the cold, the fallen trees have all been 
sawn into measured logs, and the long repose of the oxen 
has fitted them for hauling them to the nearest frozen 
streams. The ice gradually becomes covered with the 
accumulating mass of timber, and, their task completed, 
the lumberers wait impatiently for the breaking up of 
the winter. 

At this period they pass the time in hunting the Moose, 
the Deer, and the Bear, for the benefit of their wives and 
children ; and as these men are most excellent woodsmen 
great havoc is made among the game. Many skins of 
Sables, Martens, and Musk-Rats they have procured during 
the intervals of their labor, or under night. The snows 
are now giving way, as the rains descend in torrents, and 
the lumberers collect their utensils, harness their cattle, 
and prepare for their return. This they accomplish in 
safety. 

From being lumberers they now become millers, and with 
pleasure each applies the grating file to his saws. Many 
logs have already reached the dams on the swollen waters 
of the rushing streams, and the task commences, which is 
carried on through the summer, of cutting them up into 
boards. 



384 AUDUBON 



The great heats of the dog-days have parched the ground ; 
every creek has become a shallow, except here and there 
where in a deep hole the salmon and the trout have found 
a retreat ; the sharp, slimy angles of multitudes of rocks 
project, as if to afford resting-places to the Wood-ducks 
and Herons that breed on the borders of these streams. 
Thousands of " saw-logs " remain in every pool, beneath 
and above each rapid or fall. The miller's dam has been 
emptied of its timber, and he must now resort to some 
expedient to procure a fresh supply. 

It was my good fortune to witness the method employed 
for the purpose of collecting the logs that had not reached 
their destination, and I had the more pleasure that it was 
seen in company with my little family. I wish, for your 
sake, reader, that I could describe in an adequate manner 
the scene which I viewed ; but, although not so well quali- 
fied as I could wish, rely upon it that the desire which I 
feel to gratify you will induce me to use all my endeavors 
to give you an idea of it. 

It was the month of September. At the upper extremity 
of Dennysville, which is itself a pretty village, are the saw- 
mills and ponds of the hospitable Judge Lincoln and other 
persons. The creek that conveys the logs to these ponds, 
and which bears the name of the village, is interrupted in 
its course by many rapids and narrow embanked gorges. 
One of the latter is situated about half a mile above the 
mill-dams, and is so rocky and rugged in its bottom and 
sides as to preclude the possibility of the trees passing 
along it at low water, while, as I conceived, it would have 
given no slight labor to an army of woodsmen or millers to 
move the thousands of large logs that had accumulated 
in it. They lay piled in confused heaps to a great height 
along an extent of several hundred yards, and were in some 
places so close as to have formed a kind of dam. Above 
the gorge there is a large natural reservoir, in which the 
head-waters of the creek settle, while only a small portion 



EPISODES 385 

of them ripples through the gorge below, during the later 
weeks of summer and in early autumn, when the streams 
are at their lowest. 

At the neck of this basin the lumberers raised a tempo- 
rary barrier with the refuse of their sawn logs. The boards 
were planted nearly upright, and supported at their tops 
by a strong tree extending from side to side of the creek, 
which might there be about forty feet in breadth. It was 
prevented from giving way under pressure of the rising 
waters by having strong abutments of wood laid against 
its centre, while the ends of these abutments were secured 
by wedges, which could be knocked off when necessary. 

The temporary dam was now finished. Little or no 
water escaped through the barrier, and that in the creek 
above it rose in the course of three weeks to its top, which 
was about ten feet high, forming a sheet that extended 
upwards fully a mile from the dam. My family was invited 
early one morning to go and witness the extraordinary 
effect which would be produced by the breaking down of 
the barrier, and we all accompanied the lumberers to the 
place. Two of the men, on reaching it, threw off their 
jackets, tied handkerchiefs round their heads, and fastened 
to their bodies a long rope, the end of which was held by 
three or four others, who stood ready to drag their com- 
panions ashore, in case of danger or accident. The two 
operators, each bearing an axe, walked along the abutments, 
and at a given signal knocked out the wedges. A second 
blow from each sent off the abutments themselves, and the 
men, leaping with extreme dexterity from one cross log to 
another, sprung to the shore with almost the quickness of 
thought. 

Scarcely had they effected their escape from the frightful 
peril which threatened them, when the mass of waters burst 
forth with a horrible uproar. All eyes were bent towards 
the huge heaps of logs in the gorge below. The tumultuous 
burst of the waters instantly swept away every object that 
VOL. II. — 25 



386 AUDUBON 



opposed their progress, and rushed in foaming waves 
among the timbers that everywhere blocked up the pas- 
sage. Presently a slow, heavy motion was perceived in 
the mass of logs; one might have imagined that some 
mighty monster lay convulsively writhing beneath them, 
struggling with a fearful energy to extricate himself from 
the crushing weight. As the waters rose, this movement 
increased ; the mass of timber extended in all directions, 
appearing to become more and more entangled each mo- 
ment ; the logs bounced against each other, thrusting aside, 
demersing, or raising into the air those with which they 
came in contact ; it seemed as if they were waging a war 
of destruction, such as ancient authors describe the efforts 
of the Titans, the foamings of whose wrath might to the 
eye of the painter have been represented by the angry 
curlings of the waters, while the tremulous and rapid 
motions of the logs, which at times reared themselves 
almost perpendicularly, might by the poet have been 
taken for the shakings of the confounded and discomfited 
giants. 

Now the rushing element filled up the gorge to its brim. 
The logs, once under way, rolled, reared, tossed, and tum- 
bled amid the foam, as they were carried along. Many 
of the smaller trees broke across, from others great splinters 
were sent up, and all were in some degree seamed and 
scarred. Then in tumultuous majesty swept along the 
mingled wreck, the current being now increased to such a 
pitch that the logs, as they were dashed against the rocky 
shores, resounded like the report of distant artillery, or the 
angry rumbhngs of the thunder. Onward it rolls, the 
emblem of wreck and ruin, destruction and chaotic strife. 
It seemed to me as if I witnessed the rout of a vast army, 
surprised, overwhelmed, and overthrown. The roar of 
the cannon, the groans of the dying, and the shouts of the 
avengers were thundering through my brain, and amid the 
frightful confusion of the scene, there came over my spirit 



EPISODES 387 

a melancholy feeling, which had not entirely vanished at 
the end of many days. 

In a few hours almost all the timber that had lain heaped 
in the rocky gorge, was floating in the great pond of the 
millers ; and as we walked homeward we talked of the 
Force of the Waters. 



JOURNEY IN NEW BRUNSWICK AND MAINE 

The morning after that which we had spent with Sir 
Archibald Campbell and his delightful family, saw us 
proceeding along the shores of the St. John River, in 
the British Province of New Brunswick. As we passed 
the Government House, our hearts bade its generous in- 
mates adieu ; and as we left Fredericton behind, the 
recollection of the many acts of kindness which we had 
received from its inhabitants came powerfully on our 
minds. Slowly advancing over the surface of the trans- 
lucent stream, we still fancied our ears saluted by the 
melodies of the unrivalled band of the 43d Regiment. 
In short, with the remembrance of kindness experienced, 
the feeling of expectations gratified, the hope of adding 
to our knowledge, and the possession of health and vigor, 
we were luxuriating in happiness. 

The "Favorite," the bark in which we were, contained 
not only my whole family, but nearly a score and a half 
of individuals of all descriptions, so that the crowded state 
of the cabin soon began to prove rather disagreeable. The 
boat itself was a mere scow, commanded by a person of 
rather uncouth aspect and rude manners. Two sorry nags 
he had fastened to the end of a long tow-line, on the 
nearer of which rode a negro youth, less than half clad, 
with a long switch in one hand, and the joined bridles in 
the other, striving with all his might to urge them on at 



388 AUDUBON 



the rate of something more than two miles an hour. How 
fortunate it is for one to possess a little of the knowledge 
of a true traveller! Following the advice of a good and 
somewhat aged one, we had provided ourselves with a 
large basket, which was not altogether empty when we 
reached the end of our aquatic excursion. Here and there 
the shores of the river were delightful, the space between 
them and the undulating hills that bounded the prospect 
being highly cultivated, while now and then the abrupt 
and rocky banks assumed a most picturesque appearance. 
Although it was late in September, the movwers were still 
engaged in cutting the grass, and the gardens of the 
farmers showed patches of green peas. The apples were 
still green, and the vegetation in general reminded us 
that we were in a northern latitude. 

Gradually and slowly we proceeded, until in the after- 
noon we landed to exchange our jaded horses. We saw a 
house on an eminence, with groups of people assembled 
round it, but there no dinner could be obtained, because, 
as the landlord told us, an election was going on. So the 
basket was had recourse to, and on the greensward we 
refreshed ourselves with its contents. This done, we re- 
turned to the scow, and resumed our stations. As usual 
in such cases, in every part of the world that I have vis- 
ited, our second set of horses was worse than the first. 
However, on we went ; to tell you how often the tow-line 
gave way would not be more amusing to you than it was 
annoying to us. Once our commander was in consequence 
plunged into the stream, but after some exertion he suc- 
ceeded in regaining his gallant bark, when he consoled 
himself by giving utterance to a volley of blasphemies, 
which it would as ill become me to repeat, as it would be 
disagreeable to you to hear. We slept somewhere that 
night ; it does not suit my views of travelling to tell you 
where. 

Before day returned to smile on the "Favorite" we 



EPISODES 389 

proceeded. Some rapids we came to, when every one, 
glad to assist her, leaped on shore, and tugged d la cor- 
delle. Some miles farther we passed a curious cataract, 
formed by the waters of the Pokioke. There Sambo led 
his steeds up the sides of a high bank, when, lo! the 
whole party came tumbling down, like so many hogsheads 
of tobacco rolled from a store-house to the banks of the 
Ohio. He at the steering oar hoped " the black rascal " 
had broken his neck, and congratulated himself in the 
same breath for the safety of the horses, which presently 
got on their feet. Sambo, however, alert as an Indian 
chief, leaped on the naked back of one, and showing his 
teeth, laughed at his master's curses. Shortly after this 
we found our boat very snugly secured on the top of a 
rock, midway in the stream, just opposite the mouth of 
Eel River. 

Next day at noon, none injured, but all chop-fallen, we 
were landed at Woodstock village, yet in its infancy. 
After dining there we procured a cart, and an excellent 
driver, and proceeded along an execrable road to Houlton 
in Maine, glad enough, after all our mishaps, at finding 
ourselves in our own country. But before I bid farewell 
to the beautiful river of St. John, I must tell you that 
its navigation seldom exceeds eight months each year, 
the passage during the rest being performed on the ice, 
of which we were told that last season there was an un- 
usual quantity, so much, indeed, as to accumulate, by 
being jammed at particular spots, to the height of nearly 
fifty feet above the ordinary level of the river, and that 
when it broke loose in spring, the crash was awful. All 
the low grounds along the river were suddenly flooded, 
and even the elevated plain on which Fredericton stands 
was covered to the depth of four feet. Fortunately, how 
ever, as on the greater streams of the Western and South- 
ern Districts, such an occurrence seldom takes place. 

Major Clarke, commander of the United States garri- 



390 AUDUBON 



son, received us with remarkable kindness. Tiie next 
day was spent in a long though fruitless ornithological 
excursion, for although we were accompanied by officers 
and men from the garrison, not a bird did any of our party 
procure that was of any use to us. We remained a few 
days, however, after which, hiring a cart, two horses, and 
a driver, we proceeded in the direction of Bangor. 

Houlton is a neat village, consisting of some fifty 
houses. The fort is well situated, and commands a fine 
view of Mars' Hill, which is about thirteen miles distant. 
A custom-house has been erected here, the place being 
on the boundary line of the United States and the British 
Provinces. The road which was cut by the soldiers of this 
garrison, from Bangor to Houlton, through the forests, is 
at this moment a fine turnpike, of great breadth, almost 
straight in its whole length, and perhaps the best now in 
the Union. It was incomplete, however, for some miles, 
so that our travelling over that portion was slow and dis- 
agreeable. The rain, which fell in torrents, reduced the 
newly raised earth to a complete bed of mud, and at one 
time our horses became so completely mired that, had 
we not been extricated by two oxen, we must have spent 
the night near the spot. Jogging along at a very slow 
pace, we were overtaken by a gay wagoner, who had ex- 
cellent horses, two of which a little "siller" induced him 
to join to ours, and we were taken to a tavern, at the 
"Cross Roads," where we spent the night in comfort. 
While supper was preparing, I made inquiries respecting 
birds, quadrupeds, and fishes, and was pleased to hear 
that many of these animals abounded in the neighborhood. 
Deer, Bears, Trout, and Grouse were quite plentiful, as 
was the Great Gray Owl. 

When we resumed our journey next morning Nature 
displayed all her loveliness, and Autumn with her mel- 
low tints, her glowing fruits, and her rich fields of com, 
smiled in placid beauty. Many of the fields had not yet 



EPISODES 391 

been reaped, the fruits of the forests and orchards hung 
clustering around us, and as we came in view of the 
Penobscot River, our hearts thrilled with joy. Its broad 
transparent waters here spread out their unruffled surface, 
there danced along the rapids, while canoes filled with 
Indians glided swiftly in every direction, raising before 
them the timorous waterfowl that had already flocked in 
from the north. Mountains, which you well know are 
indispensable in a beautiful landscape, reared their ma- 
jestic crests in the distance. The Canada Jay leaped 
gaily from branch to twig; the Kingfisher, as if vexed at 
being suddenly surprised, rattled loudly as it swiftly flew 
off; and the Fish Hawk and Eagle spread their broad 
wings over the waters. All around was beautiful, and we 
gazed on the scene with delight, as seated on a verdant 
bank, we refreshed our frames from our replenished stores. 
A few rare birds were procured here, and the rest of 
the road being level and firm, we trotted on at a good 
pace for several hours, the Penobscot keeping company 
with us. 

Now we came to a deep creek, of which the bridge was 
undergoing repairs, and the people saw our vehicle ap- 
proach with much surprise. They, however, assisted us 
with pleasure, by placing a few logs across, along which 
our horses one after the other were carefully led, and 
the cart afterwards carried. These good fellows were so 
averse to our recompensing them for their labor that after 
same altercation we were obliged absolutely to force what 
we" deemed a suitable reward upon them. 

Next day we continued our journey along the Penob- 
scot, the country changing its aspect at every mile, and 
when we first descried Old Town, that village of saw- 
mills looked like an island covered with manufactories. 
The people here are noted for their industry and perse- 
verance, and any one possessing a mill, and attending to 
his saws, and the floating of the timber into his dams, is 



392 AUDUBON 



sure to obtain a competency in a few years. Speculations 
in land covered with pine, lying to the north of this 
place, are carried on to a great extent, and to discover a 
good tract of such ground many a miller of Old Town 
undertakes long journeys. Reader, with your leave, I 
will here introduce one of them. 

Good luck brought us into acquaintance with Mr. Gillies, 
whom we happened to meet in the course of our travels, 
as he was returning from an exploring tour. About the 
first of August he formed a party of sixteen persons, each 
carrying a knapsack and an axe. Their provisions con- 
sisted of two hundred and fifty pounds of pilot bread, one 
hundred and fifty of salt pork, four of tea, two large 
loaves of sugar, and some salt. They embarked in light 
canoes twelve miles north of BangOr, and followed the 
Penobscot as far as Wassataquoik River, a branch leading 
to the northwest, imtil they reached the Seboois Lakes, 
the principal of which lie in a line, with short portages* 
between them. Still proceeding northwest they navi- 
gated these lakes, and then turning west, carried their 
canoes to the great lake Baamchenunsgamook ; thence 
north to Wallaghasquegantook Lake, then along a small 
stream to the upper Umsaskiss Pond, when they reached 
the Albagash River which leads into the St. John in 
about latitude 47°. Many portions of that country had 
not been visited before even by the Indians, who assured 
Mr. Gillies of this fact. They continued their travels 
down the St. John to the Grand Falls, where they met 
with a portage of half a mile, and having reached Medux- 
mekeag Creek, a little above Woodstock, the party walked 
to Houlton, having travelled twelve hundred miles, and 
described almost an oval over the country by the time 
they returned to Old Town, on the Penobscot. 

While anxiously looking for "lumber-lands," they as- 
cended the eminences around, then climbed the tallest 
trees, and by means of a good telescope, inspected the 



EPISODES 393 

pine woods in the distance. And such excellent judges 
are these persons of the value of the timber which they 
thus observe, when it is situated at a convenient distance 
from water, that they never afterwards forget the differ- 
ent spots at all worthy of their attention. They had 
observed only a few birds and quadrupeds, the latter 
principally Porcupines. The borders of the lakes and 
rivers afforded them fruits of various sorts, and abundance 
of cranberries, while the uplands yielded plenty of wild 
white onions, and a species of black plum. Some of the 
party continued their journey in canoes down the St. 
John, ascended Eel River, and the lake of the same 
name to Matanemheag River, due southwest of the St. 
John, and after a few portages fell into the Penobscot. 

I had made arrangements to accompany Mr. Gillies on 
a journey of this kind, when I judged it would be more 
interesting as well as useful to me to visit the distant 
country of Labrador. 

The road which we followed from Old Town to Bangor 
was literally covered with Penobscot Indians returning 
from market. On reaching the latter beautiful town, we 
found very comfortable lodging in an excellent hotel, and 
next day we proceeded by the mail to Boston. 



A MOOSE HUNT 

In the spring of 1833 the Moose were remarkably abun- 
dant in the neighborhood of the Schoodiac Lakes; and, 
as the snow was so deep in the woods as to render it 
almost impossible for them to escape, many of them were 
caught. About the ist of March, 1833, three of us set 
off on a hunt, provided with snow-shoes, guns, hatchets, 
and provisions for a fortnight. On the first day we went 
fifty miles, in a sledge drawn by one horse, to the nearest 



394 AUDUBON 



lake, where we stopped for the night, in the hut of an 
Indian named Lewis, of the Passamaquoddy tribe, who 
had abandoned the wandering life of his race, and turned 
his attention to farming and lumbering. Here we saw 
the operation of making snow-shoes, which requires more 
skill than one might imagine. The men generally make 
the bows to suit themselves, and the women weave in 
the threads, which are usually made of the skin of the 
Caribou Deer. 

The next day we went on foot sixty-two miles farther, 
when a heavy rain-storm coming on, we were detained a 
whole day. The next morning we put on snow-shoes, 
and proceeded about thirteen miles, to the head of the 
Musquash Lake, where we found a camp, which had been 
erected by some lumberers in the winter; and here we 
established our headquarters. In the afternoon an Indian 
had driven a female Moose-deer, and two young ones of 
the preceding year, within a quarter of a mile of our 
camp, when he was obliged to shoot the old one. We 
undertook to procure the young alive, and after much ex- 
ertion succeeded in getting one of them, and shut it up 
in the shed made for the oxen; but as the night was fall- 
ing, we were compelled to leave the other in the woods. 
The dogs having killed two fine Deer that day, we feasted 
upon some of their flesh, and upon Moose, which cer- 
tainly seemed to us the most savory meat we had ever 
eaten, although a keen appetite is very apt to warp one's 
'judgment in such a case. After supper we laid ourselves 
down before the huge fire we had built up, and were soon 
satisfied that we had at last discovered the most comfort- 
able mode of sleeping. 

In the morning we started off on the track of a Moose, 
which had been driven from its haunt, or yard, by the 
Indians the day before; and although the snow was in 
general five feet deep, and in some places much deeper, 
we travelled three miles before we came to the spot where 



EPISODES 395 

the Moose had rested for the night. He had not left this 
place more than an hour, when we came to it. So we 
pushed on faster than before, trusting that ere long we 
should overtake him. We had proceeded about a mile 
and a half farther, when he took a sudden turn, which 
threw us off his track, and when we again found it, we 
saw that an Indian had taken it up, and gone in pursuit 
of the harassed animal. In a short time we heard the 
report of a gun, and immediately running up, we saw the 
Moose, standing in a thicket, wounded, when we brought 
him down. The animal finding himself too closely pur- 
sued, had turned upon the Indian, who fired, and instantly 
ran into the bushes to conceal himself. It was three 
years old, and consequently not nearly grown, although 
already about six feet and a half in height. 

It is difficult to conceive how an animal could have 
gone at such a rate when the snow was so deep, with a 
thick crust at top. In one place, he had followed the 
course of a brook, over which the snow had sunk consid- 
erably on account of the higher temperature of the water, 
and we had an opportunity of seeing evidence of the great 
power which the species possess in leaping over objects 
that obstruct his way. There were places in which the 
snow had drifted to so great a height that you would have 
imagined it impossible for any animal to leap over it, and 
yet we found that he had done so at a single bound, with- 
out leaving the least trace. As I did not measure these 
snow-heaps, I cannot positively say how high they were, 
but I am well persuaded that some of them were ten feet. 

We proceeded to skin and dress the Moose, and buried 
the flesh under the snow, where it will keep for weeks. 
On opening the animal we were surprised to see the great 
size of the heart and lungs, compared with the contents 
of the abdomen. The heart was certainly larger than that 
of any animal which I had seen. The head bears a great 
resemblance to that of a horse, but the " muffle " is more 



396 AUDUBON 



than twice as large, and when the animal is irritated or 
frightened, it projects that part much farther than usual. 
It is stated in some descriptions of the Moose that he is 
short-winded and tender-footed, but he certainly is ca- 
pable of long continued and very great exertion, and his 
feet, for anything that I have seen to the contrary, are as 
hard as those of any other quadruped. The young Moose 
was so exhausted and fretted that it offered no opposi- 
tion to us as we led it to the camp; but in the middle of 
the night we were awakened by a great noise in the hovel, 
and found that as it had in some measure recovered from 
its terror and state of exhaustion, it began to think of get- 
ting home, and was now much enraged at finding itself so 
securely imprisoned. We were unable to do anything 
with it, for if we merely approached our hands to the 
openings of the but, it would spring at us with the great- 
est fury, roaring and erecting its mane, in a manner that 
convinced us of the futility of all attempts to save it 
alive. We threw to it the skin of a Deer, which it tore 
to pieces in a moment. This individual was a yearling, 
and about six feet high. When we went to look for the 
other, which we had left in the woods, we found that he 
had "taken his back-track" or retraced his steps, and 
gone to the "beat," about a mile and a half distant, and 
which it may be interesting to describe. 

At the approach of winter, parties of Moose-deer, from 
two to fifty in number, begin to lessen their range, and 
proceed slowly to the south side of some hill, where they 
feed within still narrower limits, as the snow begins to 
fall. When it accumulates on the ground, the snow, for 
a considerable space, is divided into well trodden, irreg- 
ular paths, in which they keep, and browse upon the 
bushes at the sides, occasionally striking out a new path, 
so that, by the spring, many of those made at the begin- 
ning of winter are obliterated. A "yard" for half a 
dozen Moose, would probably contain about twenty acres. 



EPISODES 397 



A good hunter, although still a great way off, will not 
only perceive that there is a yard in the vicinity, but can 
tell the direction in which it lies, and even be pretty sure 
of the distance. It is by the marks on the trees that he 
discovers this circumstance; he finds the young maple, 
and especially the moose-wood and birch, with the bark 
gnawed off to the height of five or six feet on one side, 
and the twigs bitten, with the impression of the teeth left 
in such a manner, that the position of the animal when 
browsing on them, may be ascertained. Following the 
course indicated by these marks, the hunter gradually 
finds them more distinct and frequent, until at length he 
arrives at the yard ; but there he finds no Moose, for long 
before he reaches the place, their extremely acute smell 
and hearing warn them of his approach, when they leave 
the yard, generally altogether, the strongest leading in 
one track, or in two or three parties. When pursued 
they usually separate, except the females, which keep with 
their young, and go before to break the track for them ; 
nor will they leave them under any circumstances until 
brought down by their ruthless pursuers. The males, 
especially the old ones, being quite lean at this season, 
go off at great speed, and unless the snow is extremely 
deep, soon outstrip the hunters. They usually go in the 
direction of the wind, making many short turns to keep 
the scent, or to avoid some bad passage; and although 
they may sink to the bottom at every step, they cannot be 
overtaken in less than three or four days. The females, 
on the contrary, are remarkably fat, and it is not at all 
unfrequent to find in one of them a hundred pounds of 
raw tallow. But let us return to the young buck, which 
had regained the yard. 

We found him still more untractable than the female 
we had left in the hovel ; he had trodden down the snow 
for a small space around him, which he refused to leave, 
and would spring with great fury at any one who ap- 



398 AUDUBON 



preached the spot too near; and as turning on snow-shoes 
is not an easy operation, we were content to let him 
alone, and try to find one in a better situation for cap- 
ture, knowing that if we did eventually secure him, he 
would probably, in the struggle injure himself too much 
to live. I have good reason to believe that the only 
practicable mode of taking them uninjured, except when 
they are very young, . is, when they are exhausted and 
completely defenceless, to bind them securely, and keep 
them so till they have become pacified, and convinced of 
the uselessness of any attempt at resistance. If allowed\ 
to exert themselves as they please, they almost always 
kill themselves, as we found by experience. 

On the following day we again set out, and coming 
across the tracks of two young bucks, which had been 
started by the Indians, we pursued them, and in two or 
three miles, overtook them. As it was desirable to ob- 
tain them as near the camp as possible, we attempted to 
steer them that way. For a while we succeeded very well 
in our scheme, but at last one of them, after making many 
ineffectual attempts to get another way, turned upon his 
pursuer, who, finding himself not very safe, felt obliged 
to shoot him. His companion, who was a little more 
tractable, we drove on a short way, but as he had con- 
trived to take many turnings, he could approach us on 
his back-track too swiftly, so that we were compelled to 
shoot him also. We "dressed" them, taking with us 
the tongues and muffles, which are considered the most 
delicate parts. 

We had not walked more than a quarter of a mile, 
when we perceived some of the indications before men- 
tioned, which we followed for half a mile, when we came 
across a yard, and going round it, we found where the 
Moose had left it, though we afterwards learned that we 
had missed a fine buck, which the dogs, however, discov- 
ered later. We soon overtook a female with a young one, 



EPISODES 399 



and were not long in sight of them when they stood at 
bay. It is really wonderful how soon they beat down a 
hard space in the snow to stand upon, when it is impos- 
sible for a dog to touch them, as they stamp so violently 
with their fore-feet that it is certain death to approach 
them. This Moose had only one calf with her, though 
the usual number is two, almost invariably a male and a 
female. We shot them with a ball through the brain. 

The Moose bears a considerable resemblance to the 
horse in his conformation, and in his disposition a still 
greater, having much of the sagacity as well as vicious- 
ness of that animal. We had an opportunity of observ- 
ing the wonderful acuteness of its hearing and smelling. 
As we were standing by one, he suddenly erected his ears, 
and put himself on the alert, evidently aware of the ap- 
proach of some person. About ten minutes after, one of 
our party came up, who must have been at the time at 
least half a mile off, and the wind was from the Moose 
towards him. 

This species of Deer feeds on the hemlock, cedar, fir, 
or pine, but will not touch the spruce. It also eats the 
twigs of the maple, birch, and soft shoots of other trees. 
In the autumn they may be enticed by imitating their 
peculiar cry, which is described as truly frightful. The 
hunter gets up into a tree, or conceals himself in some 
other secure place, and imitates this cry by means of a 
piece of birch-bark rolled up to give the proper tone. 
Presently he hears the Moose come dashing along, and 
when he gets near enough, takes a good aim, and soon 
despatches him. It is very unsafe to stand within reach 
of the animal, for he would certainly endeavor to demol- 
ish you. 

A full-grown male Moose is said to measure nine feet 
in height, and with his immense branching antlers pre- 
sents a truly formidable appearance. Like the Virginia 
Deer, and the male Caribou, they shed their horns every 



40O AUDUBON 



year about the beginning of December. The first year 
their horns are not dropped in spring. When irritated 
the Moose makes a great grinding with his teeth, erects 
his mane, lays back his ears, and stamps with violence. 
When disturbed he makes a hideous whining noise, much 
in the manner of the Camel. 

In that wild and secluded part of the country, seldom 
visited but by the Indians, the common Deer were with- 
out number, and it was with great difficulty that we kept 
the dogs with us, as they were continually meeting with 
" beats. " In its habits that species greatly resembles the 
Moose. The Caribou has a very broad, flat foot, and can 
spread it on the snow to the fetlock, so as to be able to 
run on a crust scarcely hard enough to bear a dog. When 
the snow is soft, they keep in immense droves around the 
margins of the large lakes to which they betake them- 
selves when pursued, the crust being much harder there 
than elsewhere. When it becomes more firm, they strike 
into the woods. As they possess such facility of running 
on snow, they do not require to make any yards, and con- 
sequently have no fixed place in the winter. The speed 
of this animal is not well known, but I am inclined to 
believe it much greater than that of the fleetest horse. 

In our camp we saw great numbers of Crossbills, Gros- 
beaks, and various other small birds. Of the first of 
these were two species which were very tame, and alighted 
on our hut with the greatest familiarity. We caught five 
or six at once, under a snow-shoe. The Pine-Martin and 
Wild Cat were also very abundant.^ 

1 The " Moose Hunt " was communicated to me by my young friend, 
Thomas Lincoln, of Dennysville in Maine. 



EPISODES 401 



LABRADOR 



When I look back upon the many pleasant hours that I 
spent with the young gentlemen who composed my party, 
during our excursions along the coast of sterile and 
stormy Labrador, I think that a brief account of our 
employments may prove not altogether uninteresting to 
my readers. 

We had purchased our stores at Boston, with the aid of 
my generous friend. Dr. Parkman of that city; but un- 
fortunately many things necessary on an expedition like 
ours were omitted. At Eastport in Maine we therefore 
laid in these requisites. No traveller, let me say, ought 
to neglect anything that is calculated to insure the suc- 
cess of his undertaking, or to contribute to his personal 
comfort, when about to set out on a long and perhaps 
hazardous voyage. Very few opportunities of replenish- 
ing stores of provisions, clothing, or ammunition, occur 
in such a country as Labrador; and yet, we all placed 
too much confidence in the zeal and foresight of our pur- 
veyors at Eastport. We had abundance of ammunition, 
excellent bread, meat, and potatoes; but the butter was 
quite rancid, the oil only fit to grease our guns, the vine- 
gar too liberally diluted with cider, the mustard and pep- 
per deficient in due pungency. All this, however, was 
not discovered until it was too late to be remedied. Sev- 
eral of the young men were not clothed as hunters should 
be, and some of the guns were not so good as we could 
have wished. We were, however, fortunate with respect 
to our vessel, which was a notable sailer, did not leak, 
had a good crew, and was directed by a capital seaman. 

The hold of the schooner was floored, and an entrance 
made to it from the cabin, so that in it we had a very 
good parlor, dining-room, drawing-room, library, etc., all 
those apartments, however, being comprised in one. An 

VOL. II. — 26 



402 AUDUBON 



extravagantly elongated deal table ranged along the cen- 
tre ; one of the party had slung his hammock at one end, 
and in its vicinity slept the cook and a lad who acted as 
armorer. The cabin was small ; but being fitted in the 
usual manner with side berths, was used for a dormitory. 
It contained a small table and a stove, the latter of dimin- 
utive size, but smoky enough to discomfit a host. We 
had adopted in a great measure the clothing worn by the 
American fishermen on that coast, namely, thick blue 
cloth trousers, a comfortable waistcoat, and a pea-jacket 
of blanket. Our boots were large, round-toed, strong, 
and well studded with large nails to prevent sliding on 
the rocks. Worsted comforters, thick mittens, and round 
broad-brimmed hats, completed our dress, which was more 
picturesque than fashionable. As soon as we had an 
opportunity, the boots were exchanged for Esquimaux 
mounted moccasins of Seal-skin, impermeable to water, 
light, easy, and fastening at top about the middle of the 
thigh to straps, which when buckled over the hips secured 
them well. To complete our equipment, we had several 
good boats, one of which was extremely light and adapted 
for shallow water. 

No sooner had we reached the coast and got into har- 
bor, than we agreed to follow certain regulations in- 
tended for the general benefit. Every morning the cook 
was called before three o'clock. At half -past three, 
breakfast was on the table, and everybody equipped. The 
guns, ammunition, botanical boxes, and baskets for eggs 
or minerals were all in readiness. Our breakfast con- 
sisted of coffee, bread, and various other materials. At 
four, all except the cook, and one seaman, went off in 
different directions, not forgetting to carry with them a 
store of cooked provisions. Some betook themselves to 
the islands, others to the deep bays ; the latter on land- 
ing wandered over the country till noon, when laying 
themselves down on the rich moss, or sitting on the gran- 



EPISODES 403 

ite rock, they would rest for an hour, eat their dinner, 
and talk of their successes or disappointments. I often 
regret that I did not take sketches of the curious groups 
formed by my young friends on such occasions, and when, 
after returning at night, all were engaged in measuring, 
weighing, comparing, and dissecting the birds we had 
procured; operations which were carried on with the aid 
of a number of candles thrust into the necks of bottles. 
Here one examined the flowers and leaves of a plant, 
there another explored the recesses of a Diver's gullet, 
while a third skinned a Gull or a Grouse. Nor was one 
journal forgotten. Arrangements were made for the mor- 
row, and at twelve we left matters to the management of 
the cook, and retired to our roosts. 

If the wind blew hard, all went on shore, and, except- 
ing on a few remarkably rainy days, we continued our 
pursuits, much in the same manner during our stay in the 
country. The physical powers of the young men were 
considered in making our arrangements. Shattuck and 
Ingalls went together; the captain and Coolidge were 
fond of each other, the latter having also been an officer; 
Lincoln and my son being the strongest and most deter- 
mined hunters, generally marched by themselves ; and I 
went with one or other of the parties, according to cir- 
cumstances, although it was by no means my custom to 
do so regularly, as I had abundance of work on hand in 
the vessel. 

The return of my young companions and the sailors was 
always looked for with anxiety. On getting on board, 
they opened their budgets, and laid their contents on the 
deck, amid much merriment, those who had procured most 
specimens being laughed at by those who had obtained 
the rarest, and the former joking the latter in return. A 
substantial meal always awaited them, and fortunate we 
,were in having a capital cook, although he was a little too 
fond of the bottle. 



404 AUDUBON 



Our " Fourth of July " was kept sacred, and every Satur- 
day night the toast of " wives and sweethearts " was the 
first given, "parents and friends" the last. Never was 
tliere a more merry set. Some with the violin and flute 
accompanied the voices of the rest, and few moments 
were spent in idleness. Before a month had elapsed, the 
spoils of many a fine bird hung around the hold; shrubs 
and flowers were in the press, and I had several drawings 
finished, some of which you have seen, and of which I 
hope you will ere long see the remainder. Large jars 
were filling apace with the bodies of rare birds, fishes, 
quadrupeds and reptiles, as well as molluscous animals. 
We had several pets too. Gulls, Cormorants, Guillemots, 
Pufiins, Hawks, and a Raven. In some of the harbors, 
curious fishes were hooked in our sight, so clear was the 
water. 

We found that camping out at night was extremely un- 
comfortable, on account of the annoyance caused by flies 
and mosquitoes, which attacked the hunters in swarms at 
all times, but more especially when they lay down, unless 
they enveloped themselves in thick smoke, which is not 
much more pleasant. Once when camping the weather 
became very bad, and the party was twenty miles distant 
from Whapatigan as night threw her mantle over the 
earth. The rain fell in torrents, the northeast wind blew 
furiously, and the air was extremely cold. The oars of 
the boats were fixed so as to support some blankets, and 
a small fire was with difficulty kindled, on the embers of 
which a scanty meal was cooked. How different from a 
camp on the shores of the Mississippi, where wood is 
abundant, and the air generally not lacking heat, where 
mosquitoes, although plentiful enough, are not accom- 
panied by Caribou flies, and where the barkings of a joyful 
Squirrel, or the notes of the Barred Owl, that grave buf- 
foon of our western woods, never fail to gladden the 
camper as he cuts to the right and left such branches and 



EPISODES 405 

canes as most easily supply materials for forming a lodg- 
ing for the night. On the coast of Labrador there are no 
such things ; granite and green moss are spread around, 
silence like that of the grave envelops all, and when 
night has closed the dreary scene from your sight, the 
Wolves, attracted by the scent of the remains of your 
scanty repast, gather around you. Cowards as they are 
they dare not venture on a charge; but their bowlings 
effectually banish sleep. You must almost roast your 
feet to keep them warm, while your head and shoulders 
are chilled by the blast. When morning comes, she 
smiles not on you with rosy cheeks, but appears muffled 
in a gray mantle of cold mist, which shows you that there 
is no prospect of a fine day. The object of the expedi- 
tion, which was to procure some Owls that had been 
observed there by day, was entirely frustrated. At early 
dawn the party rose stiffened and dispirited, and glad 
were they to betake themselves to their boats, and return 
to their floating home. 

Before we left Labrador, several of my young friends 
began to feel the want of suitable clothing. The sailor's 
ever-tailoring system, was, believe me, fairly put to the 
test. Patches of various colors ornamented knees and 
elbows ; our boots were worn out ; our greasy garments 
and battered hats were in harmony with our tanned and 
weather-beaten faces; and, had you met with us, you 
might have taken us for a squad of wretched vagrants; 
but we were joyous in the expectation of a speedy re- 
turn, and exulted at the thoughts of our success. 

As the chill blast that precedes the winter's tempest 
thickened the fogs on the hills and ruffled the dark waters, 
each successive day saw us more anxious to leave the 
dreary wilderness of grim rocks and desolate moss-clad 
valleys. Unfavorable winds prevented us for a while 
from spreading our white sails; but at last one fair morn- 
ing smiled on the wintry world, the "Ripley" was towed 



4o6 A UDUBON 



from the harbor, her tackle trimmed, and as we bounded 
over the billows, we turned our eyes towards the wilds of 
Labrador, and heartily bade them farewell forever! 



THE EGGERS OF LABRADOR 

The distinctive appellation of " eggers " is given to cer- 
tain persons who follow, principally or exclusively, the 
avocation of procuring the eggs of wild birds, with the 
view of disposing of them at some distant port. Their 
great object is to plunder every nest, wherever they can 
find it, no matter where, and at whatever risk. They 
are the pest of the feathered tribes, and their brutal pro- 
pensity to destroy the poor creatures after they have 
robbed them, is abundantly gratified whenever an oppor- 
tunity presents itself. 

Much had been said to me respecting these destructive 
pirates before I visited the coast of Labrador, but I could 
not entirely credit all their cruelties until I had actually 
witnessed their proceedings, which were such as to in- 
spire no small degree of horror. But you shall judge for 
yourself. 

See yon shallop, shyly sailing along; she sneaks like 
a thief wishing, as it were, to shun the very light of 
heaven. Under the lee of every rocky isle some one at 
the tiller steers her course. Were his trade an honest 
one, he would not think of hiding his back behind the 
terrific rocks that seem to have been placed there as a 
resort to the myriads of birds that annually visit this 
desolate region of the earth, for the purpose of rearing 
their young at a distance from all disturbers of their 
peace. How unlike the open, the bold, the honest mar- 
iner, whose face needs no mask, who scorns to skulk 
under any circumstances. The vessel herself is a shabby 




AUDUBON, 1850. 

FROM A DAGUEKKHUll'PE. UWNliD li\ M K^i. liLlZABEiH UER 1 HUUD (^RJMSHAW. 



EPISODES 407 

thing; her sails are patched with stolen pieces of better 
canvas, the owners of which have probably been stranded 
on some inhospitable coast, and have been plundered, 
perhaps murdered, by the wretches before us. Look at 
her again ! Her sides are neither painted, nor even 
pitched ; no, they are daubed over, plastered and patched 
with strips of Seal-skins laid along the seams. Her deck 
has never been washed or sanded ; her hold — for no cabin 
has she — though at present empty, sends forth an odor 
pestilential as that of a charnel house. The crew, eight 
in number, lie sleeping at the foot of their tottering 
mast, regardless of the repairs needed in every part of 
her rigging. But see ! she scuds along, and as I suspect 
her crew to be bent on the commission of some evil deed, 
let us follow her to the first harbor. 

There rides the filthy thing! The afternoon is half 
over. Her crew have thrown their boat overboard, they 
enter and seat themselves, each with a rusty gun. One 
of them sculls the skiff towards an island for a century 
past the breeding-place of myriads of Guillemots, which 
are now to be laid under contribution. At the approach 
of the vile thieves, clouds of birds rise from the rock and 
fill the air around, wheeling and screaming over their 
enemies. Yet thousands remain in an erect posture, each 
covering its single egg, the hope of both parents. The 
reports of several muskets loaded with heavy shot are 
now heard, while several dead and wounded birds fall 
heavily on the rock, or into the water. Instantly all the 
sitting birds rise and fly off affrighted to their compan- 
ions above, and hover in dismay over their assassins, who 
walk forward exultingly, and with their shouts mingljng 
oaths and execrations. Look at them! See how they 
crush the chick within its shell, how they trample on 
every egg in their way with their huge and clumsy boots. 
Onward they go, and when they leave the isle, not an 
egg that they can find is left entire. The dead birds they 



4o8 AUDUBON 



collect and carry to their boat. Now they have regained 
their filthy shallop; they strip the birds by a single jerk, 
of their feathery apparel while the flesh is yet warm, and 
throw them on some coals, where in a short time they are 
broiled. The rum is produced when the Guillemots are 
fit for eating, and after stuffing themselves with this oily 
fare, and enjoying the pleasure of beastly intoxication, 
over they tumble on the deck of their crazed craft, where 
they pass the short hours of night in turbid slumber. 

The sun now rises above the snow-clad summit of the 
eastern mount. "Sweet is the breath of morn," even in 
this desolate land. The gay Bunting erects his white 
crest, and gives utterance to the joy he feels in the pres- 
ence of his brooding mate. The Willow Grouse on the 
rock crows his challenge aloud. Each floweret chilled by 
the night air expands its pure petals. The gentle breeze 
shakes from the blades of grass the heavy dew-drops. On 
the Guillemot isle the birds have again settled, and now 
renew their loves. Startled by the light of day, one of 
the eggers springs to his feet and rouses his companions, 
who stare around them for a while, endeavoring to collect 
their senses. Mark them, as with clumsy fingers they 
clear their drowsy eyes ! Slowly they rise on their feet. 
See how the filthy lubbers stretch out their arms, and 
yawn; you shrink back, for verily "that throat might 
frighten a shark." 

But the master soon recollecting that so many eggs are 
worth a dollar or a crown, casts his eye towards the rock, 
marks the day in his memory and gives orders to depart. 
The light breeze enables them to reach another harbor a 
few miles distant, one which, like the last, lies concealed 
from the ocean by some other rocky isle. Arrived there, 
they re-act the scene of yesterday, crushing every egg 
they can find. For a week each night is passed in drunk- 
enness and brawls, until, having reached the last breed- 
ing-place on the coast, they return, touch at every isle in 



EPISODES 409 

succession, shoot as many birds as they need, collect the 
fresh eggs, and lay in a cargo. At every step each ruf- 
fian picks up an egg so beautiful that any man with a feel- 
ing heart would pause to consider the motive which could 
induce him to carry it off. But nothing of this sort oc- 
curs to the egger, who gathers and gathers until he has 
swept the rock bare. The dollars alone chink in his sor- 
did mind, and he assiduously plies the trade which no 
man would ply who had the talents and industry to pro- 
cure subsistence by honorable means. 

With a bark nearly half filled with fresh eggs they pro- 
ceed to the principal rock, that on which they first landed. 
But what is their surprise when they find others there 
helping themselves as industriously as they can! In 
boiling rage they charge their guns and ply their oars. 
Landing on the rock they run up to the eggers, who, like 
themselves, are desperadoes. The first question is a dis- 
charge of musketry, the answer another. Now, man to 
man, they fight like tigers. One is carried to his boat 
with a fractured skull, another limps with a shot in his 
leg, and a third feels how many of his teeth have been 
driven through the hole in his cheek. At last, however, 
the quarrel is settled ; the booty is to be equally divided ; 
and now see them all drinking together. Oaths and 
curses and filthy jokes are all that you hear; but see, 
stuffed with food, and reeling with drink, down they drop 
one by one; groans and execrations from the wounded 
mingle with the snoring of the heavy sleepers. There 
let the brutes lie. 

Again it is dawn, but no one stirs. The sun is high ; 
one by one they open their heavy eyes, stretch their 
limbs, yawn, and raise themselves from the deck. But 
see, here comes a goodly company. A hundred honest 
fishermen, who for months past have fed on salt meat, 
have felt a desire to procure some eggs. Gallantly their 
boats advance, impelled by the regular pull of their long 



4IO AUDUBON 



oars. Each buoyant bark displays the flag of its nation. 
No weapons do they bring, nor anything that can be used 
as such save their oars and their fists. Cleanly clad in 
Sunday attire, they arrive at the desired spot, and at once 
prepare to ascend the rock. The eggers, now number- 
ing a dozen, all armed with guns and bludgeons, bid defi- 
ance to the fishermen. A few angry words pass between 
the parties. One of the eggers, still under the influence 
of drink, pulls his trigger, and an unfortunate sailor is 
seen to reel in agony. Three loud cheers fill the air. 
All at once rush on the malefactors; a horrid fight en- 
sues, the result of which is that every egger is left on 
the rock beaten and bruised. Too frequently the fisher- 
men man their boats, row to the shallops, and break every 
egg in the hold. 

The eggers of Labrador not only rob the birds in this 
cruel manner, but also the fishermen, whenever they can 
find an opportunity; and the quarrels they excite are 
numberless. While we were on the coast, none of our 
party ever ventured on any of the islands which these 
wretches call their own, without being well provided with 
means of defence. On one occasion, when I was present, 
we found two eggers at their work of destruction. I 
spoke to them respecting my visit, and offered them pre- 
miums for rare birds and some of their eggs; but although 
they made fair promises, not one of the gang ever came 
near the "Ripley." 

These people gather all the eider-down they can find; 
yet so inconsiderate are they, that they kill every bird 
which comes in their way. The eggs of Gulls, Guillemots, 
and Ducks are searched for with care ; and the Puffins and 
some other birds they massacre in vast numbers for the 
sake of their feathers. So constant and persevering are 
their depredations that these species, which, according 
to the accounts of the few settlers I saw in the country, 
were exceedingly abundant twenty years ago, have aban- 



EPISODES 41 1 

doned their ancient breeding places, and removed much 
farther north in search of peaceful security. Scarcely, in 
fact, could I procure a young Guillemot before the eggers 
left the coast, nor was it until late in July that I suc- 
ceeded, after the birds had laid three or four eggs each, 
instead of one, and when, nature having been exhausted, 
and the season nearly spent, thousands of these birds left 
the country without having accomplished the purpose for 
which they had visited it. This war of extermination 
cannot last many years more. The eggers themselves 
will be the first to repent the entire disappearance of the 
myriads of birds that made the coast of Labrador their 
summer residence, and unless they follow the persecuted 
tribes to the northward, they must renounce their trade. 



THE SQUATTERS OF LABRADOR 

Go where you will, if a shilling can there be procured, 
you may expect to meet with individuals in search of it. 

In the course of last summer, I met with several per- 
sons, as well as families, whom I could not compare to 
anything else than what in America we understand by the 
appellation of " squatters. " The methods they employed 
to accumulate property form the subject of the observa- 
tions which I now lay before you. 

Our schooner lay at anchor in a beautiful basin on the 
coast of Labrador, surrounded by uncouth granitic rocks, 
partially covered with stunted vegetation. While search- 
ing for birds and other objects I chanced one morning to 
direct my eye towards the pinnacle of a small island, 
separated from the mainland by a very narrow channel, 
and presently commenced inspecting it with my telescope. 
There I saw a man on his knees with clasped hands, and 
face inclined heavenwards. Before him was a small mon- 



412 AUDUBON 



ument of unhewn stones, supporting a wooden cross. In 
a word, reader, the person whom I thus unexpectedly dis- 
covered was engaged in prayer. Such an incident in that 
desolate land was affecting, for there one seldom finds 
traces of human beings; and the aid of the Almighty, 
although necessary everywhere, seems there peculiarly 
required to enable them to procure the means of subsis- 
tence. My curiosity having been raised, I betook my- 
self to my boat, landed on the rock, and scrambled to the 
place, where I found the man still on his knees. When 
his devotions were concluded, he bowed to me, and ad- 
dressed me in very indifferent French. I asked him why 
he had chosen so dreary a spot for his prayers. "Be- 
cause," answered he, "the sea lies before me, and from 
it I receive my spring and summer sustenance. When 
winter approaches, I pray fronting the mountains on the 
main, as at that period the Caribous come towards the 
shore, and I kill them, feed on their flesh, and form my 
bedding of their skins." I thought the answer reason- 
able, and as I longed to know more of him, followed him 
to his hut. It was low, and very small, formed of stones 
plastered with mud to a considerable thickness. The 
roof was composed of a sort of thatching made of weeds 
and moss. A large Dutch stove filled nearly one half the 
place ; a small port -hole then stuffed with old rags, served 
at times instead of a window ; the bed was a pile of Deer- 
skins; a bowl, a jug, and an iron pot were placed on a 
rude shelf ; three old and rusty muskets, their locks fas- 
tened by thongs, stood in a corner; and his buckshot, 
powder, and flints, were tied up in bags of skin. Eight 
Esquimaux dogs yelled and leaped about us. The strong 
smell that emanated from them, together with the smoke 
and filth of the apartment, rendered my stay in it ex- 
tremely disagreeable. 

Being a native of France, the good man showed much 
politeness, and invited me to take some refreshment, 



EPISODES 413 

when, without waiting for my assent, he took up his 
bowl, and went off I knew not whither. No sooner had 
he and his strange dogs disappeared than I went out also, 
to breathe the pure air, and gaze on the wild and majes- 
tic scenery around. I was struck with the extraordinary 
luxuriance of the plants and grasses that had sprung up 
on the scanty soil in the little valley which the squatter 
had chosen for his home. Their stalks and broad blades 
reached' my waist. June had come, and the flies, mos- 
quitoes, and other insects filled the air, and were as 
troublesome to me as if I had been in a Florida swamp. 

The squatter returned, but he was chop-fallen; nay, 
I thought his visage had assumed a cadaverous hue. 
Tears ran down his cheeks, and he told me that his bar- 
rel of rum had been stolen by the "eggers" or some fish- 
ermen. He said that he had been in the habit of hiding 
it in the bushes, to prevent its being carried away by 
those merciless thieves, who must have watched him in 
some of his frequent walks to the spot. " Now," said he, 
" I can expect none till next spring, and God knows what 
will become of me in the winter. " 

Pierre Jean Baptiste Michaux had resided in that part 
of the world for upwards of ten years. He had run away 
from the fishing-smack that had brought him from his fair 
native land, and expected to become rich some day by the 
sale of the furs. Seal-skins, eider-down, and other articles, 
which he collected yearly, and sold to the traders who 
regularly visited his dreary abode. He was of moderate 
stature, firmly framed, and as active as a Wild Cat. He 
told me that excepting the loss of his rum, he had never 
experienced any other cause of sorrow, and that he felt as 
"happy as a lord." 

Before parting with this fortunate mortal, I inquired 
how his dogs managed to find sufficient food. "Why, sir, 
during spring and summer they ramble along the shores, 
where they meet with abundance of dead fish, and in win- 



414 AUDUBON 



ter they eat the flesh of the Seals which I kill late in 
autumn, when these animals return from the north. As 
to myself, everything eatable is good, and when hard 
pushed, I relish the fare of my dogs, I assure you, as 
much as they do themselves." 

Proceeding along the rugged indentations of the bay 
with my companions, I reached the settlement of another 
person, who, like the iirst, had come to Labrador with 
the view of making his fortune. We found him after 
many difficulties; but as our boats turned a long point 
jutting out into the bay, we were pleased to see several 
small schooners at anchor, and one lying near a sort of 
wharf. Several neat-looking houses enlivened the view, 
and on landing, we were kindly greeted with a polite wel- 
come from a man who proved to be the owner of the 
establishment. For the rude simplicity of him of the 
rum-cask, we found here the manners and dress of a man 
of the world. A handsome fur cap covered his dark brow, 
his clothes were similar to our own, and his demeanor 
was that of a gentleman. On my giving my name to 
him, he shook me heartily by the hand, and on introduc- 
ing each of my companions to him, he extended the like 
courtesy to them also. Then, to my astonishment, he 
addressed me as follows : " My dear sir, I have been 
expecting you these three weeks, having read in the papers 
your intention to visit Labrador; and some fishermen told 
me of your arrival at Little Natasquam. Gentlemen, 
walk in." 

Having followed him to his neat and comfortable man- 
sion, he introduced us to his wife and children. Of the 
latter there were six, all robust and rosy. The lady, 
although a native of the country, was of French extrac- 
tion, handsome, and suificiently accomplished to make 
an excellent companion to a gentleman. A smart girl 
brought us a luncheon, consisting of bread, cheese, and 
good port wine, to which, having rowed fourteen or fif- 



EPISODES 415 

teen miles that morning, we helped ourselves in a manner 
that seemed satisfactory to all parties. Our host gave us 
newspapers from different parts of the world, and showed 
us his small, but choice collection of books. He inquired 
after the health of the amiable Captain Bayfield of the 
Royal Navy, and the officers under him, and hoped they 
would give him a call. 

Having refreshed ourselves, we walked out with him, 
when he pointed to a very small garden, where a few vege- 
tables sprouted out, anxious to see the sun. Gazing on 
the desolate country around, I asked him how he had thus 
secluded himself from the world. For it he had no relish, 
and although he had received a liberal education, and had 
mixed with society, he never intended to return to it. 
"The country around," said he, "is all my own, much 
farther than you can see. No fees, no lawyers, no taxes 
are here. I do pretty much as I choose. My means are 
ample through my own industry. These vessels come 
here for Seal-skins, Seal-oil, and salmon, and give me in 
return all the necessaries, and indeed comforts, of the life 
I love to follow; and what else could the world afford 
me ? " I spoke of the education of his children. " My 
wife and I teach them all that is useful for them to know, 
and is not that enough ? My girls will marry their coun- 
trymen, my sons the daughters of my neighbors, and I 
• hop.e all of them will live and die in the country!" I 
said no more, but by way of compensation for the trouble 
I had given him, purchased from his eldest child a beau- 
tiful Fox's skin. 

Few birds, he said, came round him in summer, but in 
winter thousands of Ptarmigans were killed, as well as 
great numbers of Gulls. He had a great dislike to all 
fishermen and eggers, and I really believe was always 
glad to see the departure even of the hardy navigators 
who annually visited him for the sake of his salmon. Seal- 
skins, and oil. He had more than forty Esquimaux 



4l6 AUDUBON 



dogs; and as I was caressing one of them he said, "Tell 
my brother-in-law at Bras d'Or, that we are all well here, 
and that, after visiting my wife's father, I will give him 
a call." 

Now, reader, his wife's father resided at the distance 
of seventy miles down the coast, and, like himself, was a 
recluse. He of Bras d'Or, was at double that distance; 
but, when the snows of winter have thickly covered the 
country, the whole family, in sledges drawn by dogs, 
travel with ease, and pay their visits, or leave their cards. 
This good gentleman had already resided there more than 
twenty years. Should he ever read this article, I desire 
him to believe that I shall always be grateful to him and 
his wife for their hospitable welcome. 

When our schooner, the "Ripley," arrived at Bras 

d'Or, I paid a visit to Mr. , the brother-in-law, who 

lived in a house imported from Quebec, which fronted the 
strait of Belle Isle, and overlooked a small island, over 
which the eye reached the coast of Newfoundland, when- 
ever it was the wind's pleasure to drive away the fogs 
that usually lay over both coasts. The gentleman and 
his wife, we were told, were both out on a walk, but 
would return in a very short time, which they in fact did, 
when we followed them into the house, which was yet 
unfinished. The usual immense Dutch stove formed a 
principal feature of the interior. The lady had once, 
visited the metropolis of Canada, and seemed desirous of 
acting the part of a blue-stocking. Understanding that I 
knew something of the fine arts, she pointed to several of 
the vile prints hung on the bare walls, which she said 
were elegant Italian pictures, and continued her encomi- 
ums upon them, assuring me that she had purchased them 
from an Italian, who had come there with a trunk full of 
them. She had paid a shilling sterling for each, frame 
included. I could give no answer to the good lady on 
this subject, but I felt glad to find that she possessed a 



EPISODES 417 

feeling heart, for one of her children had caught a Siskin, 
and was tormenting the poor bird, when she rose from her 
seat, took the little fluttering thing from the boy, kissed 
it, and gently launched it into the air. This made me 
quite forget the tattle about the fine arts. 

Some excellent milk was poured out for us in clean 
glasses. It was a pleasing sight, for not a cow had we 
yet seen in the country. The lady turned the conversa- 
tion on music, and asked me if I played on any instru- 
ment. I answered that I did, but very indifferently. 
Her forte, she said, was music, of which she was indeed 
immoderately fond. Her instrument had been sent to 
Europe to be repaired, but would return that season, 
when the whole of her children would again perform 
many beautiful airs ; for in fact anybody could use it with 
ease, as when she or the children felt fatigued, the ser- 
vant played on it for them. Rather surprised at the ex- 
traordinary powers of this family of musicians, I asked 
what sort of an instrument it was, when she described it 
as follows: "Gentlemen, my instrument is large, longer 
than broad, and stands on four legs, like a table. At 
one end is a crooked handle, by turning which round, 
either fast or slow, I do assure you we make most excel- 
lent music." The lips of my young friends and compan- 
ions instantly curled, but a glance from me as instantly 
recomposed their features. Telling the fair one that it 
must be a hand-organ she used, she laughingly said, " Ah, 
that is it ; it is a hand-organ, but I had forgot the name, 
and for the life of me could not recollect it. " 

The husband had gone out to work, and was in the 
harbor calking an old schooner. He dined with me on 
board the "Ripley," and proved to be also an excellent 
fellow. Like his brother-in-law, he had seen much of 
the world, having sailed nearly round it; and, although 
no scholar like him, too, he was disgusted with it. He 
held his land on the same footing as his neighbors, caught 

VOL. II — 27 



4l8 AUDUBON 



Seals without number, lived comfortably and happily, 
visited his father-in-law and the scholar, by the aid of 
his dogs, of which he kept a great pack, bartered or sold 
his commodities, as his relations did, and cared about 
nothing else in the world. Whenever the weather was 
fair, he walked with his dame over the moss-covered rocks 
of the neighborhood; and during winter killed Ptarmi- 
gans and Caribous, while his eldest son attended to the 
traps, and skinned the animals caught in them. He had 
the only horse that was to be found in that part of the 
country, as well as several cows; but, above all, he was 
kind to every one, and every one spoke well of him. The 
only disagreeable thing about his plantation or settle- 
ment, was a heap of fifteen hundred carcasses of skinned 
Seals, which, at the time when we visited the place, in 
the month of August, notwithstanding the coolness of the 
atmosphere, sent forth a stench that, according to the 
ideas of some naturalists, might have sufficed to attract 
all the Vultures in the United States. 

During our stay at Bras d'Or, the kind-hearted and 

good Mrs. daily sent us fresh milk and butter, for 

which we were denied the pleasure of making any return. 



COD FISHING 

Although I had seen, as I thought, abundance of fish 
along the coasts of the Floridas, the numbers which I 
found in Labrador quile astonished me. Should your sur- 
prise while reading the following statements be as great 
as mine was while observing the facts related, you will 
conclude, as I have often done, that Nature's means of 
providing small animals for the use of larger ones, and 
vice versa, are as ample as is the grandeur of that world 
which she has so curiously constructed. 



EPISODES 419 

The coast of Labrador is visited by European as well as 
American fishermen, all of whom are, I believe, entitled 
to claim portions of fishing-ground assigned to each na- 
tion by mutual understanding. For the present, however, 
I shall confine my observations to those of our own coun- 
try, who, after all, are probably the most numerous. The 
citizens of Boston, and many others of our eastern sea- 
ports, are those who chiefly engage in this department of 
our commerce. Eastport in Maine sends out every year 
a goodly fleet of schooners and " pickaxes " to Labrador, 
to procure Cod, Mackerel, Hahbut, and sometimes Her- 
ring, the latter being caught in the intermediate space. 
The vessels from that port, and others in Maine and 
Massachusetts, sail as soon as the warmth of spring has 
freed the gulf of ice, that is, from the beginning of May 
to that of June. 

A vessel of one hundred tons or so is provided with a 
crew of twelve men, who are equally expert as sailors and 
fishers, and for every couple of these hardy tars, a Hamp- 
ton boat is provided, which is lashed on the deck, or hung 
in stays. Their provision is simple, but of good quality, 
and it is very seldom that any spirits are allowed, beef, 
pork and biscuit with water being all they take with them. 
The men are supplied with warm clothing, waterproof 
oiled jackets and trousers, large boots, broad-brimmed 
hats with a round crown, and stout mittens, with a few 
shirts. The owner or captain furnishes them with lines, 
hooks, and nets, and also provides the bait best adapted 
to insure success. The hold of the vessel is filled with 
casks, of various dimensions, some containing salt, and 
others for the oil that may be procured. 

The bait generally used at the beginning of the season 
consists of mussels salted for the purpose; but as soon 
as the capelings reach the coast they are substituted to 
save expense, and in many instances the flesh of Gannets 
and other sea-fowl is employed. The wages of fishermen 



420 AUDUBON 



vary from sixteen to thirty dollars per month, according 
to the qualifications of the individual. 

The labor of these men is excessively hard, for, unless 
on Sunday, their allowance of rest in the twenty-four hours 
seldom exceeds three. The cook is the only person who 
fares better in this respect, but he must also assist in cur- 
ing the fish. He has breakfast, consisting of coffee, bread, 
and meat, ready for the captain and the whole crew, by 
three o'clock every morning, excepting Sunday. Each 
person carries with him his dinner ready cooked, which is 
commonly eaten on the fishing-grounds. 

Thus, at three in the morning, the crew are prepared 
for their day's labor, and ready to betake themselves to 
their boats, each of which has two oars and lugsails. 
They all depart at once, and either by rowing or sailing, 
reach the banks to which the fishes are known to resort. 
The little squadron drop their anchors at short distances 
from each other, in a depth of from ten to twenty feet, 
and the business is immediately commenced. Each man 
has two lines, and each stands in one end of the boat, the 
niiddle of which is boarded off, to hold the fish. The 
baited lines have been dropped into the water, one on 
each side of the boat; their leads have reached the bottom, 
a fish has taken the hook, and after giving the line a slight 
jerk, the fisherman hauls up his prize with a continued 
pull, throws the fish athwart a small round bar of iron 
placed near his back, which forces open the mouth, while 
the weight of the body, however small the fish may be, 
tears out the hook. The bait is still good, and over the 
side the line again goes, to catch another fish, while that 
on the left is now drawn up, and the same course pursued. 
In this manner, a fisher busily plying at each end, the 
operation is continued until the boat is so laden that her 
gunwale is brought within a few inches of the surface, 
when they return to the vessel in harbor, seldom distant 
more than eight miles from the banks. 



EPISODES 421 

During the greater part of the day the fishermen have 
kept up a constant conversation, of which the topics are 
the pleasure of finding a good supply of cod, their domes- 
tic affairs, the political prospects of the nation, and other 
matters similarly connected. Now the repartee of one 
elicits a laugh from the other; this passes from man to 
man, and the whole flotilla enjoy the joke. The men of 
one boat strive to outdo those of the others in hauling up 
the greatest quantity of fish in a given time, and this forms 
another, source of merriment. The boats are generally 
filled about the same time, and all return together. 

Arrived at the vessel, each man employs a pole armed 
with a bent iron, resembling the prong of a hay-fork, with 
which he pierces the fish, and throws it with a jerk on 
deck, counting the number thus discharged with a loud 
voice. Each cargo is thus safely deposited, and the 
boats instantly return to the fishing-ground, when, after 
anchoring, the men eat their dinner, and begin anew. 
There, good reader, with your leave, I will let them pur- 
sue their avocations for a while, as I am anxious that you 
should witness what is doing on board the vessel. 

The captain, four men, and the cook have, in the 
course of the morning, erected long tables fore and aft 
the main hatchway ; they have taken to the shore most of 
the salt barrels, and have placed in a row their large 
empty casks, to receive the livers. The hold of the vessel 
is quite clear, except a corner where is a large heap of salt. 
And now the men, having dined precisely at twelve, are 
ready with their large knives. One begins with breaking 
off the head of the fish, a slight pull of the hand and a gash 
with the knife, effecting this in a moment. He slits up its 
belly, with one hand pushes it aside to his neighbor, then 
throws overboard the head, and begins to doctor another. 
The next man tears out the entrails, separates the liver, 
which he throws into a cask, and casts the rest overboard. 
A third person dexterously passes his knife beneath the 



422 AUDUBON 



vertebrae of the fish, separates them from the flesh, heaves 
the latter through the hatchway, and the former into the 
water. 

Now, if you will peep into the hold, you will see the 
last stage of the process, the salting and packing. Six 
experienced men generally manage to head, clean, bone, 
salt, and pack all the fish caught in the morning by the 
return of the boats with fresh cargoes, when all hands set 
to work, and clear the deck of the fish. Thus their labors 
continue till midnight, when they wash their faces and 
hands, put on clean clothes, hang their fishing apparel on 
the shrouds, and, betaking themselves to the forecastle, 
are soon in a sound sleep. 

At three the next morning, comes the captain from his 
berth, rubbing his eyes, and in a loud voice calling, " All 
hands, ho ! " Stiffened in limb, and but half awake, the 
crew quickly appear on the deck. Their fingers and hands 
are so cramped and swollen by pulling the lines that it 
is difficult for them to straighten even a thumb ; but this 
matters little at present, for the cook, who had a good nap 
yesterday, has risen an hour before them, and prepared 
their coffee and eatables. Breakfast despatched, they 
exchange their clean clothes for the fishing apparel, 
and leap into their boats, which had been washed the pre- 
vious night, and again the flotilla bounds to the fishing-r 
grounds. 

As there may not be less than one hundred schooners 
or pickaxes in the harbor, three hundred boats resort to 
the banks each day, and, as each boat may procure two 
thousand Cods per diem, when Saturday night comes 
about six hundred thousand fishes have been brought to 
the harbor. This having caused some scarcity on the 
fishing-grounds, and Sunday being somewhat of an idle 
day, the captain collects the salt ashore, and sets sail for 
some other convenient harbor, which he expects to reach 
long before sunset. If the weather be favorable, the men 



EPISODES 423 

get a good deal of rest during the voyage, and on Monday 
things go on as before. 

I must not omit to tell you, reader, that, while proceed- 
ing from one harbor to another, the vessel has passed near 
a rock which is the breeding-place of myriads of Puffins. 
She has laid to for an hour or so, while part of the crew 
have landed, and collected a store of eggs, excellent as a 
substitute for cream, and not less so when hard boiled as 
food for the fishing-grounds. I may as well inform you 
also how these adventurous fellows distinguish the fresh 
eggs from the others. They fill up some large tubs with 
water, throw in a quantity of eggs, and allow them to 
remain a minute or so, when those which come to the sur- 
face are tossed overboard, and even those that manifest 
any upward tendency share the same treatment. All 
that remain at bottom, you may depend upon it, good 
reader, are perfectly sound, and not less palatable than 
any that you have ever eaten, or that your best guinea 
fowl has just dropped in your barn-yard. But let us re- 
turn to the Codfish. 

The fish already procured and salted is taken ashore at 
the new harbor by part of the crew, whom the captain has 
marked as the worst hands at fishing. There, on the bare 
rocks, or on elevated scaffolds of considerable extent, the 
salted Cod are laid side by side to dry in the sun. They 
are turned several times a day, and in the intervals the 
men bear a hand on board at clearing and stowing away 
the daily produce of the fishing-banks. Towards evening 
they return to the drying-grounds, and put up the fish in 
piles resembling so many hay-stacks, disposing those to- 
wards the top in such a manner that the rain cannot injure 
them, and placing a heavy stone on the summit to prevent 
their being thrown down should it blow hard during the 
night. You see, reader, that the life of a Labrador fisher- 
man is not one of idleness. 

The capelings have approached the shores, and in 



424 AUDUBON 



myriads enter every basin and stream, to deposit their 
spawn, for now July is arrived. The Cods follow them 
as the bloodhound follows his prey, and their compact 
masses literally line the shores. The fishermen now adopt 
another method ; they have brought with them long and 
deep seines, one end of which is by means of a line 
fastened to the shore, while the other is, in the usual 
manner, drawn out in a broad sweep, to inclose as great 
a space as possible, and hauled on shore by means of a 
capstan. Some of the men, in boats, support the corked 
part of the net, and beat the water to frighten the fishes 
within towards the land, while others, armed with poles, 
enter the water, hook the fishes, and fling them on the 
beach, the net being gradually drawn closer as the number 
of fish diminishes. What do. you think, reader, as to the 
number of Cod secured in this manner in a single haul? 
Thirty, or thirty thousand? You may form some notion 
of the matter when I tell you that the young gentlemen of 
my party, while going along the shores, caught Codfish 
alive with their hands, and trout of many pounds' weight 
with a piece of twine and a mackerel-hook hung to their 
gun-rods; and that, if two of them walked knee-deep 
along the rocks, holding a handkerchief by the corners, 
they swept it full of capelings. Should you not trust me 
in this, I refer you to the fishermen themselves, or rec- 
ommend you to go to Labrador, where you will give 
credit to the testimony of your eyes. 

The seining of the Codfish, I believe, is not quite lawful, 
for a great proportion of the codlings which are dragged 
ashore at last are so small as to be considered useless; 
and, instead of being returned to the water, as they ought 
to be, are left on the shore, where they are ultimately 
eaten by Bears, Wolves, and Ravens. The fish taken along 
the coast, or on fishing stations only a few miles off, are of 
small dimensions ; and I believe I am correct in saying 
that few of them weigh more than two pounds when per- 



EPISODES 425 

fectly cured, or exceed six when taken out of the water. 
The fish are liable to several diseases, and at times are 
annoyed by parasitic animals, which in a short time render 
them lean and unfit for use. 

Some individuals, from laziness or other causes, fish 
with naked hooks, and thus frequently wound the Cod, 
without securing them ; in consequence of which the shoals 
are driven away, to the detriment of the other fishers. 
Some carry their cargoes to other parts before drying 
them, while others dispose of them to agents from distant 
shores. Some have only a pickaxe of fifty tons, while 
others are owners of seven or eight vessels of equal or 
larger burden ; but whatever be their means, should the 
season prove favorable, they are generally well repaid for 
their labor. I have known instances of men who, on 
their first voyage, ranked as " boys," and in ten years 
after, were in independent circumstances, although they 
still continue to resort to the fishing ; for, said they to me, 
" How could we be content to spend our time in idleness 
at home? " I know a person of this class who has carried 
on the trade for many years, and who has quite a little 
fleet of schooners, one of which, the largest and most 
beautifully built, has a cabin as neat and comfortable as 
any that I have ever seen in a vessel of the same size. 
This vessel took fish on board only when perfectly cured, 
or acted as pilot to the rest, and now and then would 
return home with an ample supply of halibute or a cargo 
of prime mackerel. On another occasion, I will offer 
some remarks on the improvements which I think might 
be made in the Cod-fisheries of the coast of Labrador. 



426 AUDUBON 



A BALL IN NEWFOUNDLAND 

On our return from the singularly wild and interesting 
country of Labrador, the " Ripley " sailed close along the 
northern coast of Newfoundland. The weather was mild 
and clear, and, while my young companions amused them- 
selves on the deck with the music of various instruments, 
I gazed on the romantic scenery spread along the bold 
and often magnificent shores. Portions of the wilds ap- 
peared covered with a luxuriance of vegetable growth, 
far surpassing that of the regions which we had just left, 
and in some of the valleys I thought I saw trees of mod- 
erate size. The number of habitations increased apace, 
and many small vessels and boats danced on the waves of 
the coves which we passed. Here a precipitous shore 
looked like the section of a great mountain, of which the lost 
half had sunk into the depths of the sea, and the dashing of 
the waters along its base was such as to alarm the most dar- 
ing seaman. The huge masses of broken rock impressed 
my mind with awe and reverence, as I thought of the power 
that still gave support to the gigantic fragments which 
everywhere hung, as if by magic, over the sea, awaiting, 
as it were, the proper moment to fall upon and crush 
the impious crew of some piratical vessel. There, again, 
gently swelling hills reared their heads towards the sky, 
as if desirous of existing within the influence of its azure 
purity; and I thought the bleatings of Reindeer came on 
my ear. Dark clouds of Curlews were seen winging their 
way towards the south, and thousands of Larks and Warblers 
were flitting through the air. The sight of these birds 
excited in me a wish that I also had wings to fly back to 
my country and friends. 

Early one morning our vessel doubled the northern cape 
of the Bay of St. George, and, as the wind was light, the 
sight of that magnificent expanse of water, which extends 



EPISODES 427 

inward to the length of eighteen leagues, with a breadth 
of thirteen, gladdened the hearts of all on board. A long 
range of bold shores bordered it on one side, throwing a 
deep shadow over the water, which added greatly to the 
beauty of the scene. On the other side, the mild beams 
of the autumnal sun glittered on the water, and whitened 
the sails of the little barks that were sailing to and fro, 
like so many silvery Gulls. The welcome sight of cattle 
feeding in cultivated meadows, and of people at their 
avocations, consoled us for the labors which we had under- 
gone, and the privations which we had suffered ; and, as 
the "Ripley" steered her course into a snug harbor that 
suddenly opened to our view, the number of vessels that 
were anchored there, and a pretty village that presented 
itself increased our delight. 

Although the sun was fast approaching the western 
horizon when our anchor was dropped, no sooner were the 
sails furled than we all went ashore. There appeared a 
kind of curious bustle among the people, as if they 
were anxious to know who we were ; for our appearance, 
and that of our warlike looking schooner showed that we 
were not fishermen. As we bore our usual arms and 
hunting accoutrements, which were half Indian and half 
civilized, the individuals we met on shore manifested con- 
siderable suspicion, which our captain observing, he in- 
stantly made a signal, when the star-spangled banner glided 
to the mast-head, and saluted the flags of France and Britain 
in kindly greeting. We were welcomed and supplied with 
abundance of fresh provisions. Glad at once more stand- 
ing on something like soil, we passed through the village, 
and walked round it, but as night was falling were quickly 
obliged to return to our floating home, where, after a 
hearty supper, we serenaded with repeated glees the 
peaceful inhabitants of the village. 

At early dawn I was on deck admiring the scene of in- 
dustry that presented itself. The harbor was already cov- 



428 AUDUBON 



ered with fishing-boats employed in procuring mackerel, 
some of which we appropriated to ourselves. Signs of 
cultivation were observed on the slopes of the hills, the 
trees seemed of goodly size, a river made its way between 
two ranges of steep rocks, and here and there a group 
of Micmac Indians were searching along the shores for 
lobsters, crabs, and eels, all of which we found abundant 
and delicious. A canoe laden with Reindeer meat came 
alongside, paddled by a pair of athletic Indians, who ex- 
changed their cargo for some of our stores. You would 
have been amused to see the manner in which these men, 
and their families on shore cooked the lobsters; they 
threw them alive into a great wood fire, and as soon as 
they were broiled devoured them, while yet so hot that 
none of us could have touched them. When properly 
cooled, I tasted these roasted lobsters, and found them 
infinitely better flavored than boiled ones. The country 
was represented as abounding in game. The temperature 
was higher by twenty degrees than that of Labrador, and 
yet I was told that the ice in the bay seldom broke up 
before the middle of May, and that few vessels attempted 
to go to Labrador before the loth of June, when the cod- 
fishery at once commences. 

One afternoon we were visited by a deputation from the 
inhabitants of the village, inviting our whole party to a 
ball which was to take place that night, and requesting us 
to take with us our musical instruments. We unanimously 
accepted the invitation, which had been made from friendly 
feelings ; and finding that the deputies had a relish for 
" old Jamaica " we helped them pretty freely to some, 
which soon showed that it had lost nothing of its energies 
by having visited Labrador. At ten o'clock, the appointed 
hour, we landed, and were lighted to the dancing-hall by 
paper lanterns, one of us carrying a flute, another a violin, 
and I with a flageolet stuck into my waistcoat pocket. 

The hall proved nothing else than the ground-floor of 



EPISODES 429 

a fisherman's house. We were presented to his wife, who, 
like her neighbors, was an adept in the piscatory art. 
She courtesied, not a la Taglioni, it is true, but with a 
modest assurance, which to me was quite as pleasing as 
the airiness with which the admired performer just men- 
tioned might have paid her respects. The good woman 
was rather unprepared, and quite en negligee, as was the 
apartment, but full of activity, and anxious to arrange 
things in becoming style. In one hand she held a bunch 
of candles, in the other a lighted torch, and distribut- 
ing the former at proper intervals along the walls, she 
applied the latter to them in succession. This done, she 
emptied the contents of a large tin vessel into a number of 
glasses, which were placed on a tea-tray on the only table 
in the room. The chimney, black and capacious, was em- 
bellished with coffee-pots, milk-jugs, cups and saucers, 
knives and forks, and all the paraphernalia necessary on 
so important an occasion. A set of primitive wooden 
stools and benches w^as placed around, for the reception 
of the belles of the village, some of whom now dropped in, 
flourishing in all the rosy fatness produced by an invigor- 
ating northern climate, and in decoration vying with the 
noblest Indian queen of the West. Their stays seemed 
ready to burst open, and their shoes were equally pressed. 
Around their necks, brilliant beads mingled with ebony 
tresses, and their naked arms might have inspired appre- 
hension had they not been constantly employed in arrang- 
ing flowing ribbons, gaudy flowers, and muslin flounces. 

Now arrived one of the beaux, just returned from the 
fishing, who, knowing all, and being equally known, leaped 
without ceremony on the loose boards that formed a kind 
of loft overhead, where he soon exchanged his dripping 
apparel for a dress suited to the occasion, when he dropped 
upon the floor, and strutting up and down, bowed and 
scraped to the ladies, with as much ease, if not elegance, 
as a Bond Street highly scented exquisite. Others came 



43° AUDUBON 



in by degrees, ready dressed, and music was called for. 
My son, by way of overture, played " Hail Columbia, 
happy land," then went on with " La Marseillaise," and 
ended with " God save the King." Being merely a spec- 
tator, I ensconced myself in a corner, by the side of an 
old European gentleman, whom I found an agreeable and 
well informed companion, to admire the decorum of the 
motley assemblage. 

The dancers stood in array, little time having been spent 
in choosing partners, and a Canadian accompanying my son 
on his Cremona, mirth and joy soon abounded. Dancing 
is certainly one of the most healthful and innocent amuse- 
ments ; I have loved it a vast deal more than watching for 
the nibble of a trout, and I have sometimes thought the 
enjoyment of it softened my nature as much as the pale, 
pure light of the moon softens and beautifies a winter 
night. A maiden lady who sat at my side, and who was 
the only daughter of my talkative companion, relished my 
remarks on the subject so much that the next set saw her 
gracing the floor with her tutored feet. 

At each pause of the musicians refreshments were 
handed round by the hostess and her son, and I was not 
a little surprised to see all the ladies, maids and matrons, 
swallow, like their sweethearts and husbands, a full glass of 
pure rum, with evident pleasure. I should perhaps have 
recollected that, in cold climates, a glass of ardent spirits is 
not productive of the same effects as in burning latitudes, 
and that refinement had not yet induced these healthy and 
robust dames to affect a delicacy foreign to their nature. 

It was now late, and knowing how much I had to ac- 
complish next day, I left the party and proceeded to the 
shore. My men were sound asleep in the boat, but in a 
few moments I was on board the " Ripley." My young 
friends arrived towards daylight, but many of the fisher- 
men's sons and daughters kept up the dance, to the music 
of the Canadian, until after our breakfast was over. 



EPISODES 431 



THE BAY OF FUNDY 

It was in the month of May that I sailed in the United 
States revenue cutter, the "Swiftsure," engaged in a 
cruise in the Bay of Fundy. Our sails were quickly un- 
furled and spread out to the breeze. The vessel seemed 
to fly over the surface of the liquid element, as the sun 
rose in full splendor, while the clouds that floated here 
and there formed, with their glowing hues, a rich contrast 
with the pure azure of the heavens above us. We ap- 
proached apace the island of Grand Menan, of which the 
stupendous cliffs gradually emerged from the deep with 
the majestic boldness of her noblest native chief. Soon 
our bark passed beneath its craggy head, covered with 
trees, which, on account of the height, seemed scarcely 
larger than shrubs. The prudent Raven spread her pin- 
ions, launched from the cliff, and flew away before us; 
the Golden Eagle, soaring aloft, moved majestically along 
in wide circles; the Guillemots sat on their eggs upon 
the shelving precipices, or plunging into the water, dived, 
and rose again at a great distance; the broad-breasted 
Eider Duck covered her eggs among the grassy tufts ; on 
a naked rock the Seal lazily basked, its sleek sides glis- 
tening in the sunshine; while shoals of porpoises were 
swiftly gliding through the waters around us, showing by 
their gambols that, although doomed to the deep, their 
life was not devoid of pleasure. Far away stood the bold 
shores of Nova Scotia, gradually fading in the distance, 
of which the gray tints beautifully relieved the wing-like 
sails of many a fishing bark. 

Cape after cape, forming eddies and counter currents 
far too terrific to be described by a landsman, we passed 
in succession, until we reached a deep cove, near the 
shores of White Head Island, which is divided from 
Grand Menan by a narrow strait, where we anchored se- 



432 AUDUBON 



cure from every blast that could blow. In a short time 
we found ourselves under the roof of Captain Frankland, 
the sole owner of the isle, of which the surface contains 
about fifteen hundred acres. He received us all with 
politeness and gave us permission to seek out its treas- 
ures, which we immediately set about doing, for I was 
anxious to study the habits of certain Gulls that breed 
there in great numbers. As Captain Coolidge, our worthy 
commander, had assured me, we found them on their 
nests on almost every tree of a wood that covered several 
acres. What a treat, reader, was it to find birds of this 
kind lodged on fir-trees, and sitting comfortably on their 
eggs ! Their loud cackling notes led us to their place of 
resort, and ere long we had satisfactorily observed their 
habits, and collected as many of themselves and their 
eggs as we considered sufScient. In our walks we noticed 
a Rat, the only quadruped found on the island, and ob- 
served abundance of gooseberries, currants, raspberries, 
strawberries, and huckleberries. Seating ourselves on 
the summit of the rocks, in view of the vast Atlantic, we 
spread out our stores, and refreshed ourselves with our 
simple fare. 

Now we followed the objects of our pursuit through the 
tangled woods, now carefully picked our steps over the 
spongy grounds. The air was filled with the melodious 
concerts of birds, and all Nature seemed to smile in quiet 
enjoyment. We wandered about until the setting sun 
warned us to depart, when, returning to the house of the 
proprietor, we sat down to an excellent repast, and amused 
ourselves with relating anecdotes and forming arrange- 
ments for the morrow. Our captain complimented us on 
our success, when we reached the "Swiftsure," and in 
due time we betook ourselves to our hammocks. 

The next morning, a strange sail appearing in the dis- 
tance, preparations were instantly made to pay her com- 
mander a visit. The signal staff of White Head Island 



EPISODES 433 

displayed the British flag, while Captain Frankland and 
his men stood on the shore, and as we gave our sails to 
the wind, three hearty cheers filled the air, and were in- 
stantly responded to by us. The vessel was soon ap- 
proached, but all was found right with her, and squaring 
our yards, onward we sped, cheerily bounding over the 
gay billows, until our captain sent us ashore at Eastport. 

At another time my party was received on board the 
revenue cutter's tender, the "Fancy," — a charming 
name for so beautiful a craft. We set sail towards even- 
ing. The cackling of the "old wives" that covered the 
bay filled me with delight, and thousands of Gulls and 
Cormorants seemed as if anxious to pilot us into Head 
Harbor Bay, where we anchored for the night. Leaping 
on the rugged shore, we made our way to the lighthouse, 
where we found Mr. Snelling, a good and honest English- 
man from Devonshire. His family consisted of three 
wild-looking lasses, beautiful, like the most finished pro- 
ductions of nature. In his lighthouse snugly ensconced, 
he spent his days in peaceful forgetfulness of the world, 
subsisting principally on the fish of the bay. 

When day broke, how delightful it was to see fair 
Nature open her graceful eyelids, and present herself 
arrayed in all that was richest and purest before her Cre- 
ator. Ah, reader, how indelibly are such moments en- 
graved on my soul ! With what ardor have I at such times 
gazed around me, full of the desire of being enabled to 
comprehend all that I saw ! How often have I longed to 
converse with the feathered inhabitants of the forest, all 
of which seemed then intent on offering up their thanks 
to the object of my own adoration ! But the wish could 
not be gratified, although I now feel satisfied that I have 
enjoyed as much of the wonders and beauties of nature as 
it was proper for me to enjoy. The delightful trills of 
the Winter Wren rolled through the underwood, the Red 
Squirrel smacked time with his chops, the loud notes of 

VOL. II. — 28 



434 AUDUBON 



the Robin sounded clearly from the tops of the trees, the 
rosy Grosbeak nipped the tender blossoms of the maples, 
and high overhead the Loons passed in pairs, rapidly 
wending their way towards far distant shores. Would 
that I could have followed in their wake! The hour of 
our departure had come; and, as we sailed up the bay, 
our pilot, who had been fishing for cod, was taken on 
board. A few of his fish were roasted on a plank before 
the embers, and formed the principal part of our break- 
fast. The breeze was light, and it was not until after- 
noon that we arrived at Point Lepreaux Harbor, where 
every one, making choice of his course, went in search of 
curiosities and provender. 

Now, reader, the little harbor in which, if you wish it, 
we shall suppose we still are, is renowned for a circum- 
stance which I feel much inclined to endeavor to explain 
to you. Several species of Ducks, that in myriads cover 
the waters of the Bay of Fundy, are at times destroyed in 
this particular spot in a very singular manner. When 
July has come, all the water birds that are no longer cap- 
able of reproducing, remain like so many forlorn bach- 
elors and old maids, to renew their plumage along the 
shores. At the period when these poor birds are unfit 
for flight, troops of Indians make their appearance in 
light bark canoes, paddled by their squaws and papooses. 
They form their flotilla into an extended curve, and drive 
before them the birds, not in silence, but with simultan- 
eous horrific yells, at the same time beating the surface 
of the water with long poles and paddles. Terrified by 
the noise, the birds swim a long way before them, en- 
deavoring to escape with all their might. The tide is 
high, every cove is filled, and into the one where we now 
are, thousands of Ducks are seen entering. The Indians 
have ceased to shout, and the canoes advance side by side. 
Time passes on, the tide swiftly recedes as it rose, and 
there are the birds left on the beach. See with what 



EPISODES 435 

pleasure each wild inhabitant of the forest seizes his 
stick, the squaws and younglings following with similar 
weapons ! Look at them rushing on their prey, falling 
on the disabled birds, and smashing them with their cud- 
gels, until all are destroyed ! In this manner upwards of 
five hundred wild fowls have often been procured in a 
few hours. 

Three pleasant days were spent at Point Lepreaux, 
when the " Fancy " spread her wings to the breeze. In 
one harbor we fished for shells with a capital dredge, and 
in another searched along the shore for eggs. The Pas- 
samaquoddy chief is seen gliding swiftly over the deep 
in his fragile bark. He has observed a porpoise breath- 
ing. Watch him, for now he is close upon the unsuspect- 
ing dolphin. He rises erect, aims his musket; smoke 
rises curling from the pan, and rushes from the iron tube, 
when soon after the report comes on the ear. Meantime 
the porpoise has suddenly turned back downwards, — it is 
dead. The body weighs a hundred pounds or more, but 
this to the tough-fibred son of the woods is nothing; he 
reaches it with his muscular arms, and at a single jerk, 
while with his legs he dexterously steadies the canoe, he 
throws it lengthwise at his feet. Amidst the highest 
waves of the Bay of Fundy, these feats are performed by 
the Indians during the whole of the season when the por- 
poises resort thither. 

You have often, no doubt, heard of the extraordinary 
tides of this bay; so had I, but, like others, I was loath 
to believe the reports were strictly true. So I went to 
the pretty town of Windsor in Nova Scotia, to judge for 
myself. But let us leave the " Fancy " for a while, and 
imagine ourselves at Windsor. Late one day in August 
my companions and I were seated on the grassy and ele- 
vated bank of the river, about eighty feet or so above its 
bed, which was almost dry, and extended for nine miles 
below like a sandy wilderness. Many vessels lay on 



436 AUDUBON 



the high banks taking in their lading of gypsum. We 
thought the appearance very singular, but we were too 
late to watch the tide that evening. Next morning we 
resumed our station, and soon perceived the water flow- 
ing towards us, and rising with a rapidity of which we 
had previously seen no example. We planted along the 
steep declivity of the bank a number of sticks, each three 
feet long, the base of one being placed on a level with 
the top of that below it, and when about half flow the tide 
reached their tops, one after another, rising three feet in 
ten minutes, or eighteen in the hour; and, at high water 
the surface was sixty-five feet above the bed of the river ! 
On looking for the vessels which we had seen the preced- 
ing evening, we were told most of them were gone with 
the night tide. 

But now we are again on board the "Fancy;" Mr. 
Claredge stands near the pilot, who sits next to the man 
at the helm. On we move swiftly for the breeze has 
freshened ; many islands we pass in succession ; the wind 
increases to a gale ; with reefed sails we dash along, and 
now rapidly pass a heavily laden sloop gallantly running 
across our course with undiminished sail ; when suddenly 
we see her upset. Staves and spars are floating around, 
and presently we observe three men scrambling up her 
sides, and seating themselves on the keel, where they 
make signals of distress to us. By this time we have run 
to a great distance; but Claredge, cool and prudent, as 
every seaman ought to be, has already issued his orders 
to the helmsman and crew, and now near the wind we 
gradually approach the sufferers. A line is thrown to 
them, and the next moment we are alongside the vessel. 
A fisher's boat, too, has noticed the disaster; and, with 
long strokes of her oars, advances, now rising on the 
curling wave, and now sinking out of sight. By our mut- 
ual efforts the men are brought on board, and the sloop is 
slowly towed into a safe harbor. An hour later my party 



EPISODES 437 

was safely landed at Eastport, where, on looking over the 
waters, and observing the dense masses of vapor that 
veiled the shores, we congratulated ourselves at having 
escaped from the Bay of Fundy. 



A FLOOD 

Many of our larger streams, such as the Mississippi, the 
Ohio, the Illinois, the Arkansas, and the Red River, ex- 
hibit at certain seasons the most extensive overflowings 
of their waters, to which the name oi floods is more appro- 
priate than the term freshets, usually applied to the sud- 
den risings of smaller streams. If we consider the vast 
extent of country through which an inland navigation is 
afforded by the never-failing supply of water furnished by 
these wonderful rivers, we cannot suppose them exceeded 
in magnitude by any other in the known world. It will 
easily be imagined what a wonderful spectacle must pre- 
sent itself to the eye of the traveller who for the first 
time views the enormous mass of waters, collected from 
the vast central regions of our continent, booming along, 
turbid and swollen to overflowing, in the broad channels 
of the Mississippi and Ohio, the latter of which has a 
course of more than a thousand miles, and the former of 
several thousands. 

To give you some idea of a Booming Flood of these 
gigantic streams, it is necessary to state the causes which 
give rise to it. These are, the sudden melting of the 
snows on the mountains, and heavy rains continued for 
several weeks. When it happens that, during a severe 
winter, the Alleghany Mountains have been covered with 
snow to the depth of several feet, and the accumulated 
mass has remained unmelted for a length of time, the 
materials of a flood are thus prepared. It now and then 



438 AUDUBON 



happens that the winter is hurried off by a sudden in- 
crease of temperature, when the accumulated snows melt 
away simultaneously over the whole country, and the 
southeasterly wind, which then usually blows, brings 
along with it a continued fall of heavy rain, which, min- 
gling with the dissolving snow, deluges the alluvial por- 
tions of the western country, filling up the rivulets, 
ravines, creeks, and small rivers. These delivering their 
waters to the great streams, cause the latter not merely 
to rise to a surprising height, but to overflow their banks, 
wherever the land is low. On such occasions the Ohio 
itself presents a splendid, and at the same time, an ap- 
palling spectacle; but when its waters mingle with those 
of the Mississippi, then, kind reader, is the time to view 
an American flood in all its astonishing magnificence. 

At the foot of the Falls of the Ohio, the water has 
been known to rise upwards of sixty feet above its lowest 
level. The river, at this point, has already run a course 
of nearly seven hundred miles from its origin at Pittsburgh 
in Pennsylvania, during which it has received the waters 
of its numberless tributaries, and overflowing all the bot- 
tom lands or valleys, has swept along the fences and 
dwellings which have been unable to resist its violence. 
I could relate hundreds of incidents which might prove 
to you the dreadful effects of such an inundation, and 
which have been witnessed by thousands besides myself. 
I have known, for example, of a cow swimming through a 
window, elevated at least seven feet from the ground, and 
sixty-two feet above low-water mark. The house was 
then surrounded by water from the Ohio, which runs in 
front of it, while the neighboring country was overflowed ; 
yet, the family did not remove from it, but remained in 
its upper portion, having previously taken off the sashes 
of the lower windows, and opened the doors. But let us 
return to the Mississippi. 

There the overflow is astonishing, for no sooner has the 



EPISODES 439 

water reached the upper part of the banks than it rushes 
out and overspreads the whole of the neighboring swamps, 
presenting an ocean overgrown with stupendous forest- 
trees. So sudden is the calamity that every individual, 
whether man or beast, has to exert his utmost ingenuity 
to enable him to escape from the dreaded element. The 
Indian quickly removes to the hills of the interior, the 
cattle and game swim to the different strips of land that 
remain uncovered in the midst of the flood, or attempt to 
force their way through the waters until they perish from 
fatigue. Along the banks of the river, the inhabitants 
have rafts ready made, on which they remove themselves, 
their cattle, and their provisions, and which they then 
fasten with ropes or grape-vines to the larger trees, while 
they contemplate the melancholy spectacle presented by 
the current, as it carries off their houses and wood-yards 
piece by piece. Some who have nothing to lose, and are 
usually known by the name of squatters, take this oppor- 
tunity of traversing the woods in canoes, for the purpose 
of procuring game, and particularly the skins of animals, 
such as the Deer and Bear, which may be converted into 
money. They resort to the low ridges surrounded by the 
waters, and destroy thousands of Deer, merely for their 
skins, leaving the flesh to putrefy. 

The river itself, rolling its swollen waters along, pre- 
sents a spectacle of the most imposing nature. Although 
no large vessel, unless propelled by steam, can now make 
its way against the current, it is seen covered by boats, 
laden with produce, which, running out from all the 
smaller streams, float silently towards the city of New 
Orleans, their owners meanwhile not very well assured of 
finding a landing-place even there. The water is covered 
with yellow foam and pumice, the latter having floated 
from the Rocky Mountains of the Northwest. The 
eddies are larger and more powerful than ever. Here 
and there tracts of forest are observed undermined, the 



440 AUDUBON 



trees gradually giving way, and falling into the stream. 
Cattle, horses. Bears, and Deer are seen at times attempt- 
ing to swim across the impetuous mass of foaming and 
boiling water; whilst here and there a Vulture or an Eagle 
is observed perched on a bloated carcass, tearing it up in 
pieces, as regardless of the flood as on former occasions 
it would have been of the numerous sawyers and planters 
with which the surface of the river is covered when the 
water is low. Even the steamer is frequently distressed. 
The numberless trees and logs that float along break its 
paddles, and retard its progress. Besides, it is on such 
occasions difficult to procure fuel to maintain its fires; 
and it is only at very distant intervals that a wood-yard 
can be found which the water has not carried off. 

Following the river in your canoe, you reach those 
parts of the shores that are protected against the overflow- 
ings of the waters, and are called levees. There you find 
the whole population of the district at work repairing and 
augmenting those artificial barriers, which are several 
feet above the level of the fields. Every person appears 
to dread the opening of a crevasse, by which the waters 
may rush into his fields. In spite of all exertions, how- 
ever, the crevasse opens, the water bursts impetuously 
over the plantations, and lays waste the crops which so 
lately were blooming in all the luxuriance of spring. It 
opens up a new channel, which, for aught I know to the 
contrary, may carry its waters even to the Mexican Gulf. 
I have floated on the Mississippi and Ohio when thus 
swollen, and have in different places visited the sub- 
mersed lands of the interior, propelling a light canoe by 
the aid of a paddle. In this manner I have traversed im- 
mense portions of the country overflowed by the waters of 
these rivers, and particularly when floating over the Mis- 
sissippi bottom-lands I have been struck with awe at the 
sight. Little or no current is met with, unless when the 
canoe passes over the bed of a bayou. All is silent and 



EPISODES 441 

melancholy, unless when the mournful bleating of the 
hemmed-in Deer reaches your ear, or the dismal scream 
of an Eagle or a Raven is heard, as the foul bird rises, dis- 
turbed by your approach, from the carcass on which it 
was allaying its craving appetite. Bears, Cougars, Lynxes, 
and all other quadrupeds that can ascend the trees are 
observed crouched among their top branches. Hungry 
in the midst of abundance, although they see floating 
around them the animals on which they usually prey, 
they dare not venture to swim to them. Fatigued by the 
exertions which they have made to reach the dry land, 
they will there stand the hunter's fire, as if to die by a 
ball were better than to perish amid the waste of waters. 
On occasions like this, all these animals are shot by 
hundreds. 

Opposite the city of Natchez, which stands on a bluff 
bank of considerable elevation, the extent of inundated 
land is immense, the greater portion of the tract lying 
between the Mississippi and the Red River, which is 
more than thirty miles in breadth, being under water. 
The mail-bag has often been carried through the im- 
mersed forests, in a canoe, for even a greater distance, in 
order to be forwarded to Natchitochez. 

But now, kind reader, observe this great flood gradually 
subsiding, and again see the mighty changes which it has 
effected. The waters have now been carried into the dis- 
tant ocean. The earth is everywhere covered by a deep 
deposit of muddy loam, which in drying splits into deep 
and narrow chasms, presenting a reticulated appearance, 
and from which, as the weather becomes warmer, disa- 
greeable, and at times noxious, exhalations arise, and fill 
the lower stratum of the atmosphere as with a dense fog. 
TJie banks of the river have almost everywhere been 
broken down in a greater or less degree. Large streams 
are now found to exist, where none were formerly to be 
seen, having forced their way in direct lines from the 



442 AUDUBON 



upper parts of the bends. These are by the navigator 
called short-cuts. Some of them have proved large enough 
to produce a change in the navigation of the Mississippi. 
If I mistake not, one of these, known by the name of the 
Grand Cut-off, and only a few miles in length, has di- 
verted the river from its natural course, and has shortened 
it by fifty miles. The upper parts of the islands present 
a bulwark consisting of an enormous mass of floated trees 
of all kinds, which have lodged there. Large sand-banks 
have been completely removed by the impetuous whirls 
of the waters, and have been deposited in other places. 
Some appear quite new to the eye of the navigator, who 
has to mark their situation and bearings in his log-book. 
The trees on the margins of the banks have in many parts 
given way. They are seen bending over the stream, like 
the grounded arms of an overwhelmed army of giants. 
Everywhere are heard the lamentations of the farmer and 
planter, whilst their servants and themselves are busily 
employed in repairing the damages occasioned by the 
floods. At one crevasse -an old ship or two, dismantled 
for the purpose, are sunk, to obstruct the passage opened 
by the still rushing waters, while new earth is brought 
to fill up the chasms. The squatter is seen shouldering 
his rifle, and making his way through the morass, in 
search of his lost stock, to drive the survivors home, and 
save the skins of the drowned. New fences have every- 
where to be formed ; even new houses must be erected, to 
save which from a like disaster, the settler places them 
on an elevated platform supported by pillars made by the 
trunks of trees. The land must be ploughed anew, and 
if the season is not too far advanced, a crop of corn and 
potatoes may yet be raised. But the rich prospects of 
the planter are blasted. The traveller is impeded in his 
journey, the creeks and smaller streams having broken up 
their banks in a degree proportionate to their size. A 
bank of sand, which seems firm and secure, suddenly 



EPISODES 443 

gives way beneath the traveller's horse, and the next 
moment the animal has sunk in the quicksand, either to 
the chest in front, or over the crupper behind, leaving its 
master in a situation not to be envied. 

Unlike the mountain torrents and small rivers of other 
parts of the world, the Mississippi rises but slowly dur- 
ing these floods, continuing for several weeks to increase 
at the rate of about an inch a day. When zX. its height, 
it undergoes little fluctuation for some days, and after 
this, subsides as slowly as it rose. The usual duration of 
a flood is from four to six weeks, although, on some occa- 
sions, it is protracted to two months. 

Every one knows how largely the idea of floods and 
cataclysms enters into the speculations of the geologist. 
If the streamlets of the European continent afford illus- 
trations of the formation of strata, how much more must 
the Mississippi, with its ever-shifting sand-banks, its 
crumbling shores, its enormous masses of drift timber, 
the source of future beds of coal, its extensive and varied 
alluvial deposits, and its mighty mass of waters rolling 
sullenly along, like the flood of eternity. 



THE SQUATTERS OF THE MISSISSIPPI 

Although every European traveller who has glided down 
the Mississippi, at the rate of ten miles an hour, has told 
his tale of the squatters, yet none has given any other 
account of them, than that they are "a sallow, sickly 
looking sort of miserable beings," living in swamps, and 
subsisting on pig-nuts, Indian-corn, and Bear's-flesh. It 
is obvious, however, that none but a person acquainted 
with their history, manners, and condition, can give any 
real information respecting them. 

The individuals who become squatters, choose that sort 



444 AUDUBON 



of life of their own free will. They mostly remove from 
other parts of the United States, after finding that land 
has become too high in price, and they are persons who, 
having a family of strong and hardy children, are anxious 
to enable them to provide for themselves. They have 
heard from good authorities that the country extending 
along the great streams of the West, is of all parts of the 
Union, the richest in its soil, the growth of its timber, 
and the abundance of its game; that, besides, the Missis- 
sippi is the great road to and from all the markets in the 
world ; and that every vessel borne by its waters affords 
to settlers some chance of selling their commodities, or 
of exchanging them for others. To these recommenda- 
tions is added another, of even greater weight with per- 
sons of the above denomination, namely, the prospect of 
being able to settle on land, and perhaps to hold it for 
a number of years, without purchase, rent or tax of any 
kind. How many thousands of individuals in all parts of 
the globe would gladly try their fortune with such pros- 
pects, I leave to you, reader, to determine. 

As I am not disposed too highly to color the picture 
which I am about to submit to your inspection, instead 
of pitching on individuals who have removed from our 
eastern boundaries, and of whom certainly there are a 
good number, I shall introduce to you the members of a 
family from Virginia, first giving you an idea of their 
condition in that country, previous to their migration to 
the west. The land which they and their ancestors have 
possessed for a hundred years, having been constantly 
forced to produce crops of one kind or another, is now 
completely worn out. It exhibits only a superficial layer 
of red clay, cut up by deep ravines, through which much 
of the soil has been conveyed to some more fortunate 
neighbor, residing in a yet rich and beautiful valley. 
Their strenuous efforts to render it productive have 
failed. They dispose of everything too cumbrous or ex- 



EPISODES 445 

pensive for them to remove, retaining only a few horses, 
a servant or two, and such implements of husbandry and 
other articles as may be necessary on their journey, or 
useful when they arrive at the spot of their choice. 

I think I see them at this moment harnessing their 
horses, and attaching them to their wagons, which are 
already filled with bedding, provisions, and the younger 
children, while on their outside are fastened spinning- 
wheels and looms, and a bucket filled with tar and tallow 
swings between the hind wheels. Several axes are se- 
cured to the bolster, and the feeding-trough of the horses 
contains pots, kettles, and pans. The servant, now be- 
come a driver, rides the near saddled horse, the wife is 
mounted on another, the worthy husband shoulders his 
gun, and his sons, clad in plain substantial homespun, 
drive the cattle ahead, and lead the procession, followed 
by the hounds and other dogs. Their day's journey is 
short, and not agreeable; the cattle, stubborn or wild, 
frequently leave the road for the woods, giving the travel- 
lers much trouble; the harness of the horses here and 
there gives way, and needs immediate repair; a basket, 
which has accidentally dropped, must be gone after, for 
nothing that they have can be spared; the roads are bad, 
and now and then all hands are called to push on the 
wagon, or prevent it from upsetting. Yet by sunset they 
have proceeded perhaps twenty miles. Rather fatigued, 
all assemble round the fire, which has been lighted, sup- 
per is prepared, and a camp being erected, there they 
pass the night. 

Days and weeks, nay months, of unremitting toil, pass 
before they gain the end of their journey. They have 
crossed both the Carolinas, Georgia, and Alabama. They 
have been travelling from the beginning of May to that 
of September, and with heavy hearts they traverse the 
State of Mississippi. But now, arrived on the banks of 
the broad stream, they gaze in amazement on the dark 



446 AUDUBON 



deep woods around them. Boats of various kinds they 
see gliding downwards with the current, while others 
slowly ascend against it. A few inquiries are made at 
the nearest dwelling, and assisted by the inhabitants with 
their boats, and canoes, they at once cross the Missis- 
sippi, and select their place of habitation. 

The exhalations arising from the swamps and morasses 
around them have a powerful effect on these new settlers, 
but all are intent on preparing for the winter. A small 
patch of ground is cleared by the axe and the fire, a tem- 
porary cabin is erected, to each of the cattle is attached 
a jingling bell before it is let loose into the neighboring 
cane-brake, and the horses remain about the house, where 
they find sufficient food at that season. The first trading- 
boat that stops at their landing, enables them to provide 
themselves with some flour, fish-hooks, and ammunition, 
as well as other commodities. The looms are mounted, 
the spinning-wheels soon furnish some yarn, and in a few 
weeks the family throw off their ragged clothes, and array 
themselves in suits adapted to the climate. The father 
and sons meanwhile have sown turnips and other vegeta- 
bles; and from some Kentucky flatboat, a supply of live 
poultry has been procured. 

October tinges the leaves of the forest, the morning 
dews are heavy, the days hot, the nights chill, and the 
unacclimated family in a few days are attacked with ague. 
The lingering disease almost prostrates their whole facul- 
ties, and one seeing them at such a period might well 
call them sallow and sickly. Fortunately the unhealthy 
season soon passes over, and the hoar-frosts make their 
appearance. Gradually each individual recovers strength. 
The largest ash-trees are felled; their trunks are cut, 
split, and corded in front of the building ; a large fire is 
lighted at night on the edge of the water, and soon a 
steamer calls to purchase the wood, and thus add to their 
comforts during the winter. 



EPISODES 447 

The first fruit of their industry imparts new courage to 
them ; their exertions multiply, and when spring returns, 
the place has a cheerful look. Venison, Bear's-flesh, 
Wild Turkeys, Ducks and Geese, with now and then some 
fish, have served to keep up their strength, and now their 
enlarged field is planted with corn, potatoes, and pump- 
kins. Their stock of cattle, too, has augmented; the 
steamer, which now stops there as if by preference, buys 
a calf or a pig, together with the whole of their wood. 
Their store of provisions is renewed, and brighter rays of 
hope enliven their spirits. 

Who is he of the settlers on the Mississippi that cannot 
realize some profit.? Truly none who is industrious. 
When the autumnal months return, all are better pre- 
pared to encounter the ague which then prevails. Sub- 
stantial food, suitable clothing, and abundant firing, repel 
its attacks ; and before another twelvemonth has elapsed 
the family is naturalized. The sons have by this time 
discovered a swamp covered with excellent timber, and 
as they have seen many great rafts of saw logs, bound for 
the mills of New Orleans, floating past their dwelling, 
they resolve to try the success of a little enterprise. 
Their industry and prudence have already enhanced their 
credit. A few cross-saws are purchased, and some broad- 
wheeled " carry-logs " are made by themselves. Log after 
log, is hauled to the bank of the river, and in a short 
time their first raft is made on the shore, and loaded with 
cord-wood. When the next freshet sets it afloat, it is 
secured by long grape-vines or cables, until the proper 
time being arrived, the husband and sons embark on it, 
and float down the mighty stream. 

After encountering many difficulties, they arrive in 
safety at New Orleans, where they dispose of their stock, 
the money obtained for which may be said to be all profit, 
supply themselves with such articles as may add to their 
convenience or comfort, and with light hearts procure a 



448 AUDUBON 



passage on the upper deck of a steamer, at a very cheap 
rate, on account of the benefit of their labor in taking in 
wood or otherwise. 

And now the vessel approaches their home. See the 
joyous mother and daughters as they stand on the bank ! 
A store of vegetables lies around them, a large tub of 
fresh milk is at their feet, and in their hands are plates, 
filled with rolls of butter. As the steamer stops, three 
broad straw hats are waved from the upper deck, and soon 
husband and wife, brothers and sisters, are in each other's 
embrace. The boat carries off the provisions for which 
value has been left, and as the captain issues his orders 
for putting on the steam, the happy family enter their 
humble dwelling. The husband gives his bag of dollars 
to the wife, while the sons present some token of affec- 
tion to the sisters. Surely, at such a moment, the squat- 
ters are richly repaid for all their labors. 

Every successive year has increased their savings." 
They now possess a large stock of horses, cows, and hogs, 
with abundance of provisions, and domestic comfort of 
every kind. The daughters have been married to the 
sons of neighboring squatters, and have gained sisters to 
themselves by the marriage of their brothers. The gov- 
ernment secures to the family the lands on which, 
twenty years before, they settled in poverty and sickness. 
Larger buildings are erected on piles, secure from the 
inundations; where a single cabin once stood, a neat 
village is now to be seen ; warehouses, stores, and work- 
shops increase the importance of the place. The squat- 
ters live respected, and in due time die regretted by all 
who knew them. 

Thus are the vast frontiers of our country peopled, and 
thus does cultivation, year after year, extend over the 
western wilds. Time will no doubt be, when the great 
valley of the Mississippi, still covered with primeval for- 
ests interspersed with swamps, will smile with corn-fields 



EPISODES 449 

and orchards, while crowded cities will rise at intervals 
along its banks, and enlightened nations will rejoice in 
the bounties of Providence. 



IMPROVEMENTS IN THE NAVIGATION OF 
THE MISSISSIPPI 

I HAVE so frequently spoken of the Mississippi that an 
account of the progress of navigation on that extraordinary 
stream may be interesting even to the student of nature. 
I shall commence with the year 1808, at which time a 
great portion of the western country, and the banks of 
the Mississippi River, from above the city of Natchez 
particularly, were little more than a waste, or to use words 
better suited to my feelings, remained in their natural 
state. To ascend the great stream against a powerful 
current, rendered still stronger wherever islands occurred, 
together with the thousands of sand-banks, as liable to 
changes and shiftings as the alluvial shores themselves, 
which at every deep curve or bendvf&rQ seen giving way, 
as if crushed down by the weight of the great forests that 
everywhere reached to the very edge of the water, and 
falling and sinking in the muddy stream by acres at a 
time, was an adventure of no small difficulty and risk, and 
which was rendered more so by the innumerable logs, 
called sawyers and planters, that everywhere raised their 
heads above the water, as if bidding defiance to all in- 
truders. Few white inhabitants had yet marched towards 
its shores, and these few were of a class little able to 
assist the navigator. Here and there a solitary encamp- 
ment of native Indians might be seen, but its inmates were 
as likely to prove foes as friends, having from their birth 
been made keenly sensible of the encroachments of the 
white men upon their lands. 

VOL. II. — 29 



45 O AUDUBON 



Such was then the nature of the Mississippi and its 
shores. That river was navigated, principally in the di- 
rection of the current, in small canoes, pirogues, keel- 
boats, some flatboats, and a few barges. The canoes 
and pirogues, being generally laden with furs from the 
different heads of streams that feed the great river, were 
of little worth after reaching the market of New Orleans, 
and seldom reascended, the owners making their way 
home through the woods, amidst innumerable difficulties. 
The flatboats were demolished and used as fire-wood. 
The keel-boats and barges were employed in conveying 
produce of different kinds besides furs, such as lead, 
flour, pork, and other articles. These returned laden with 
sugar, coffee, and dry goods suited for the markets of 
St. Genevieve and St. Louis on the upper Mississippi, or 
branched off and ascended the Ohio to the foot of the 
Falls near Louisville in Kentucky. But, reader, follow 
their movements, and judge for yourself of the fatigues, 
troubles, and risks of the men employed in that navigation. 
A keel-boat was generally manned by ten hands, principally 
Canadian French, and a patroon or master. These boats 
seldom carried more than from twenty to thirty tons. 
The barges frequently had forty or fifty men, with a pa- 
troon, and carried fifty or sixty tons. Both these kinds of 
vessels were provided with a mast, a square sail, and coils 
of cordage known by the name of cordelles. Each boat 
or barge carried its own provisions. We shall suppose 
one of these boats under way, and, having passed Natchez, 
entering upon what were the difficulties of their ascent. 
Wherever a point projected, so as to render the course or 
bend below it of some magnitude, there was an eddy, the 
returning current of which was sometimes as strong as 
that of the middle of the great stream. The bargemen 
therefore rowed up pretty close under the bank, and had 
merely to keep watch in the bow, lest the boat should run 
against a planter or sawyer. But the boat has reached the 



EPISODES 45 1 

point, and there the current is to all appearance of double 
strength, and right against it. The men, who have all 
rested a few minutes, are ordered to take their stations, 
and lay hold of their oars, for the river must be crossed, 
it being seldom possible to double such a point, and pro- 
ceed along the same shore. The boat is crossing, its 
head slanting to the current, which is, however, too strong 
for the rowers, and when the other side of the river has 
been reached, it has drifted perhaps a quarter of a mile. 
The men are by this time exhausted, and, as we shall 
suppose it to be twelve o'clock, fasten the boat to the 
shore or to a tree. A small glass of whiskey is given to 
each, when they cook and eat their dinner, and after re- 
pairing their fatigue by an hour's repose, recommence 
their labors. The boat is again seen slowly advancing 
against the stream. It has reached the lower end of a 
large sand-bar, along the edge of which it is propelled by 
means of long poles, if the bottom be hard. Two men 
called bowsmen remain at the prow, to assist, in concert 
with the steersman, in managing the boat, and keeping its 
head right against the current. The rest place themselves 
on the land side of the footway of the vessel, put one end 
of their poles on the ground, the other against their 
shoulders, and push with all their might. As each of the 
men reaches the stern, he crosses to the other side, runs 
along it, and comes again to the landward side of the 
bow, when he recommences operations. The barge in 
the meantime is ascending at a rate not exceeding one 
mile in the hour. 

The bar is at length passed, and as the shore in sight 
is straight on both sides of the river, and the current 
uniformly strong, the poles are laid aside, and the men 
being equally divided, those on the river side take to 
their oars, whilst those on the land side lay hold of the 
branches of willows, or other trees, and thus slowly propel 
the boat. Here and there however, the trunk of a fallen 



452 AUDUBON 



tree, partly lying on the bank, and partly projecting be- 
yond it, impedes their progress, and requires to be doubled. 
This is performed by striking it with the iron points of the 
poles and gaff-hooks. The sun is now quite low, and the 
barge is again secured in the best harbor within reach. 
The navigators cook their supper, and betake themselves 
to their blankets or Bear skins to rest, or perhaps light a 
large fire on the shore, under the smoke of which they 
repose, in order to avoid the persecutions of the myriads 
of mosquitoes which are found along the river during 
the whole summer. Perhaps, from dawn to sunset, the 
boat may have advanced fifteen miles. If so, it has done 
well. The next day, the wind proves favorable, the sail 
is set, the boat takes all advantages, and meeting with 
no accident, has ascended thirty miles, perhaps double 
that distance. The next day comes with a very different 
aspect. The wind is right ahead, the shores are with- 
out trees of any kind, and the canes on the bank are so 
thick and stout that not even the cordelles can be used. 
This occasions a halt. The time is not altogether lost, as 
most of the men, being provided with rifles, betake them- 
selves to the woods, and search for the Deer, the Bears, or 
the Turkeys that are generally abundant there. Three 
days may pass before the wind changes, and the advan- 
tages gained on the previous fine day are forgotten. 
Again the boat proceeds, but in passing over a shallow 
place, runs on a log, swings with the current, but hangs 
fast, with her lee side almost under water. Now for the 
poles ! All hands are on deck, bustling and pushing. At 
length, towards sunset, the boat is once more afloat, and is 
again taken to the shore, where the wearied crew pass 
another night. 

I shall not continue this account of diflSculties, it having 
already become painful in the extreme. I could tell you 
of the crew abandoning the boat and cargo, and of number- 
less accidents and perils; but be it enough to say that 



EPISODES 453 

advancing in this tardy manner, the boat that left New 
Orleans on the first of March often did not reach the Falls 
of the Ohio until the month of July, — nay, sometimes 
not until October; and after all this immense trouble, it 
brought only a few bags of coffee, and at most one hun- 
dred hogsheads of sugar. Such was the state of things 
in 1808. The number of barges at that period did not 
amount to more than twenty-five or thirty, and the largest 
probably did not exceed one hundred tons burden. To 
make the best of this fatiguing navigation, I may con- 
clude by saying that a barge which came up in three 
months had done wonders, for, I believe, few voyages were 
performed in that time. 

If I am not mistaken, the first steamboat that went 
down out of the Ohio to New Orleans was named the 
" Orleans," and, if I remember right, was commanded by 
Captain Ogden. This voyage, I believe, was performed in 
the spring of 18 10. It was, as you may suppose, looked 
upon as the ne plus ultra of enterprise. Soon after, an- 
other vessel came from Pittsburgh, and before many years 
elapsed, to see a vessel so propelled had become a com- 
mon occurrence. In 1826, after a lapse of time that 
proved sufficient to double the population of the United 
States of America, the navigation of the Mississippi had 
so improved, both in respect to facility and quickness, that 
I know no better way of giving you an idea of it than by 
presenting you with an extract from a letter written by my 
eldest son, which was taken from the books of N. Berthoud, 
Esq., with whom he at that time resided. 

" You ask me in your last letter for a list of the arrivals 
and departures here. I give you an abstract from our 
list of 1826, showing the number of boats which plied 
each year, their tonnage, the trips they performed, and 
the quantity of goods landed here from New Orleans and 
intermediate places : — 



454 


AUDUBON 










Boats. 


Tons. 


Trips. 


Tons. 


1823, from Jan. 


I to Dec. 31, 42 


7860 


98 


19.453 


1824, " " 


" Nov. 25, 36 


6393 


118 


20,291 


1825, " " 


" Aug. 15, 42 


7484 


140 


24,102 


1826, " " 


« Dec. 31, SJ 


9386 


182 


28,914 



The amount for the present year will be much greater than 
any of the above. The number of flatboats and keel- 
boats is beyond calculation. The number of steamboats 
above the Falls I cannot say much about, except that one 
or two arrive at and leave Louisville every day. Their 
passage from Cincinnati is commonly fourteen or sixteen 
hours. The " Tecumseh," a boat which runs between this 
place and New Orleans, which is of 210 tons, arrived here 
on the loth inst. in nine days, seven hours, from port to 
port; and the "Philadelphia," of 300 tons, made the 
passage in nine days, nine and a half hours, the computed 
distance being 1650 miles. These are the quickest trips 
made. There are now in operation on the waters west 
of the Alleghany Mountains 140 or 150 boats. We had 
last spring (1826) a very high freshet, which came four 
and a half feet deep in the counting-room. The rise was 
57 feet 3 inches perpendicular." 

All the steamboats of which this is an account did not 
perform voyages to New Orleans only, but to all points 
on the Mississippi, and other rivers which fall into it. I 
am certain that since the above date the number has 
increased, but to what extent I cannot at present say. 

When steamboats first plied between Shippingport and 
New Orleans, the cabin passage was a hundred dollars, 
and a hundred and fifty dollars on the upward voyage. 
In 1829, I went down to Natchez from Shippingport for 
twinty-five dollars, and ascended from New Orleans on 
board the "Philadelphia," in the beginning of January, 
1830, for sixty dollars, having taken two state-rooms for 
my wife and myself. On that voyage we met with a tri- 
fling accident, which protracted it to fourteen days, the 



EPISODES 4SS 

computed distance being, as mentioned above, 1650 miles, 
although the real distance is probably less. I do not 
remember to have spent a day without meeting with a 
steamboat, and some days we met several. I might here 
be tempted to give you a description of one of these 
steamers of the western waters, but the picture having 
been often drawn by abler hands, I shall desist. 



KENTUCKY SPORTS 

It may not be amiss, kind reader, before I attempt to 
give you some idea of the pleasures experienced by the 
sportsmen of Kentucky, to introduce the subject with a 
slight description of that State. 

Kentucky was formerly attached to Virginia, but in 
those days the Indians looked upon that portion of the 
western wilds as their own, and abandoned the district 
only when forced to do so, moving with disconsolate 
hearts farther into the recesses of the unexplored forests. 
Doubtless the richness of its soil, and the beauty of its 
borders, situated as they are along one of the most beauti- 
ful rivers in the world, contributed as much to attract the 
Old Virginians as the desire, so generally experienced in 
America, of spreading over the uncultivated tracts, and 
bringing into cultivation lands that have for unknown ages 
teemed with the wild luxuriance of untamed nature. The 
conquest of Kentucky was not performed without many 
difficulties. The warfare that long existed between the 
intruders and the Redskins was sanguinary and protracted ; 
but the former at length made good their footing, and 
the latter drew off their shattered bands, dismayed by the 
mental superiority and indomitable courage of the white 
men. 

This region was probably discovered by a daring hunter, 
the renowned Daniel Boone. The richness of its soil, its 



456 AUDUBON 



magnificent forests, its numberless navigable streams, its 
salt springs and licks, its saltpetre caves, its coal strata, 
and the vast herds of Buffaloes and Deer that browsed on 
its hills and amidst its charming valleys, afforded ample 
inducements to the new settler, who pushed forward with 
a spirit far above that of the most undaunted tribes which 
for ages had been the sole possessors of the soil. 

The Virginians thronged towards the Ohio. An axe, a 
couple of horses, and a heavy rifle, with store of ammuni- 
tion, were all that were considered necessary for the equip- 
ments of the man, who, with his family, removed to the 
new State, assured that, in that land of exuberant fertility, 
he could not fail to provide amply for all his wants. To 
have witnessed the industry and perseverance of these 
emigrants must at once have proved the vigor of their 
minds. Regardless of the fatigue attending every move- 
ment which they made, they pushed through an unexplored 
region of dark and tangled forests, guiding themselves by 
the sun alone, and reposing at night on the bare ground. 
Numberless streams they had to cross on rafts, with their 
wives and children, their cattle and their luggage, often 
drifting to considerable distances before they could effect 
a landing on the opposite shores. Their cattle would 
often stray amid the rice pasturage of these shores, and 
occasion a delay of several days. To these troubles add 
the constantly impending danger of being murdered, while 
asleep in their encampments, by the prowling and ruthless 
Indians; while they had before them a distance of hun- 
dreds of miles to be traversed, before they could reach 
certain places of rendezvous called Stations. To encounter 
difficulties like these must have required energies of no 
ordinary kind ; and the reward which these veteran 
settlers enjoy was doubtless well merited. 

Some removed from the Atlantic shores to those of the 
Ohio in more comfort and security. They had their wag- 
ons, their negroes, and their families. Their way was 




VICTOR GIFFORD AUDUBON, 1853. 



EPISODES 457 

cut through the woods by their own axemen, the day be- 
fore their advance, and when night overtook them, the 
hunters attached to the party came to the place pitched 
upon for encamping, loaded with the dainties of which the 
forest yielded an abundant supply, the blazing light of a 
huge fire guiding tlieir steps as they approached, and the 
sounds of merriment that saluted their ears assuring them 
that all was well. The flesh of the Buffalo, the Bear, and 
the Deer soon hung, in large and deHcious steaks, in front 
of the embers ; the cakes already prepared were deposited 
in their proper places, and under the rich drippings of the 
juicy roasts were quickly baked. The wagons contained 
the bedding, and whilst the horses which had drawn them 
were turned loose to feed on the luxuriant undergrowth of 
the woods — some perhaps hoppled, but the greater num- 
ber merely with a light bell hung to their neck, to guide 
their owners in the morning to the spot where they might 
have rambled — the party were enjoying themselves after 
the fatigues of the day. 

In anticipation all is pleasure; and these migrating 
bands feasted in joyous sociality, unapprehensive of any 
greater difficulties than those to be encountered in forcing 
their way through the pathless woods to the land of abun- 
dance; and although it took months to accomplish the 
journey, and a skirmish now and then took place between 
them and the Indians, who sometimes crept unperceived 
into their very camp, still did the Virginians cheerfully 
proceed towards the western horizon, until the various 
groups all reached the Ohio, when, struck with the beauty 
of that magnificent stream, they at once commenced the 
task of clearing land, for the purpose of establishing a 
permanent residence. 

Others, perhaps encumbered with too much luggage, 
preferred descending the stream. They prepared arks 
pierced with port-holes, and glided on the gentle current, 
more annoyed, however, than those who marched by land 



45 8 AUDUBON 



by the attacks of the Indians who watched their motions. 
Many travellers have described these boats, formerly called 
arks, but now named Jlatboats. But have they told you, 
kind reader, that in those times a boat thirty or forty feet 
in length, by ten or twelve in breadth, was considered a 
stupendous fabric; that this boat contained men, women 
and children, huddled together, with horses, cattle, hogs 
and poultry for their companions, while the remaining 
portion was crammed with vegetables and packages of 
seeds? The roof or deck of the boat was not unlike a 
farm-yard, being covered with hay, ploughs, carts, wagons, 
and various agricultural implements, together with nu- 
merous others, among which the spinning-wheels of the 
matrons were conspicuous. Even the sides of the floating- 
mass were loaded with the wheels of the different vehicles, 
which themselves lay on the roof. Have they told you 
that these boats contained the little all of each family of 
venturous emigrants, who, fearful of being discovered by 
the Indians under night moved in darkness, groping their 
way from one part to another of these floating habitations, 
denying themselves the comfort of fire or Hght, lest the 
foe that watched them from the shore should rush upon 
them and destroy them? Have they told you that this 
boat was used, after the tedious voyage was ended, as the 
first dwelling of these new settlers ? No, kind reader, such 
things have not been related to you before. The travellers 
who have visited our country have had other objects in 
view. 

I shall not describe the many massacres which took 
place among the different parties of white and red men, 
as the former moved down the Ohio ; because I have 
never been very fond of battles, and indeed have always 
wished that the world were more peaceably inclined than 
it is ; and shall merely add that, in one way or other, 
Kentucky was wrested from the original owners of the 
soil. Let us, therefore, turn our attention to the sports 



EPISODES 459 

still enjoyed in that now happy portion of the United 
States. 

We have individuals in Kentucky, kind reader, that 
even there are considered wonderful adepts in the manage- 
ment of the rifle. To drive a nail is a common feat, not 
more thought off by the Kentuckians than to cut off a 
Wild Turkey's head, at a distance of a hundred yards. 
Others will bark off Squirrels one after another, until satis- 
fied with the number procured. Some, less intent on 
destroying game, may be seen under night snuffing a 
candle at the distance of fifty yards, off-hand, without ex- 
tinguishing it. I have been told that some have proved 
so expert and cool as to make choice of the eye of a foe 
at a wonderful distance, boasting beforehand of the sure- 
ness of their piece, which has afterwards been fully proved 
when the enemy's head has been examined ! 

Having resided some years in Kentucky, and having 
more than once been witness of rifle sport, I shall present 
you with the results of my observation, leaving you to 
judge how far rifle-shooting is understood in that State. 

Several individuals who conceive themselves expert in 
the management of the gun are often seen to meet for the 
purpose of displaying their skill, and betting a trifling 
sum, put up a target, in the centre of which a common- 
sized nail is hammered for about two-thirds of its length. 
The marksmen make choice of what they consider a proper 
distance, which may be forty paces. Each man cleans 
the interior of his tube, which is called wiping it, places 
a ball in the palm of his hand, pouring as much powder 
from his horn upon it as will cover it. This quantity is 
supposed to be sufficient for any distance within a hundred 
yards. A shot which comes very close to the nail is 
considered as that of an indifferent marksman ; the bend- 
ing of the nail is, of course, somewhat better; but nothing 
less than hitting it right on the head is satisfactory. Well, 
kind reader, one out of three shots generally hits the nail, 



46o AUDUBON 



and should the shooters amount to half a dozen, two nails 
are frequently needed before each can have a shot. Those 
who drive the nail have a further trial amongst themselves, 
and the two best shots out of these generally settle the 
affair, when all the sportsmen adjourn to some house, and 
spend an hour or two in friendly intercourse, appointing, 
before they part, a day for another trial. This is technically 
termed driving the nail. 

Barking off Squirrels is delightful sport, and in my 
opinion requires a greater degree of accuracy than any 
other. I first witnessed this manner of procuring Squirrels 
whilst near the town of Frankfort. The performer was 
the celebrated Daniel Boone. We walked out together, 
and followed the rocky margins of the Kentucky River, 
until we reached a piece of flat land thickly covered with 
black walnuts, oaks, and hickories. As the general mast 
was a good one that year. Squirrels were seen gambolling 
on every tree around us. My companion, a stout, hale, 
and athletic man, dressed in a homespun hunting-shirt, 
bare-legged and moccasined, carried a long and heavy rifle, 
which, as he was loading it, he said had proved efficient 
in all his former undertakings, and which he hoped would 
not fail on this occasion, as he felt proud to show me his 
skill. The gun was wiped, the powder measured, the ball 
patched with six-hundred-thread linen, and the charge 
sent home with a hickory rod. We moved not a step from 
the place, for the Squirrels were so numerous that it was 
unnecessary to go after them. Boone pointed to one of 
these animals which had observed us, and was crouched 
on a branch about fifty paces distant, and bade me mark 
well the spot where the ball should hit. He raised his 
piece gradually, until the bead (that being the name given 
by the Kentuckians to the sight) of the barrel was brought 
to a line with the spot which he intended to hit. The 
whip-like report resounded through the woods and along 
the hills, in repeated echoes. Judge of my surprise when 



EPISODES 461 

I perceived that the ball had hit the piece of the bark 
immediately beneath the Squirrel, and shivered it into 
splinters, the concussion produced by which had killed the 
animal, and sent it whirling through the air, as if it had 
been blown up by the explosion of a powder magazine. 
Boone kept up his firing, and, before many hours had 
elapsed, we had procured as many Squirrels as we wished ; 
for you must know, kind reader, that to load a rifle re- 
quires only a moment, and that if it is wiped once after 
each shot, it will do duty for hours. Since that first in- 
terview with our veteran Boone I have seen many other 
individuals perform the same feat. 

The snuffing of a candle with a ball, I first had an 
opportunity of seeing near the banks of Green River, not 
far from a large Pigeon-roost to which I had previously 
made a visit. I heard many reports of guns during the 
early part of a dark night, and knowing them to be those 
of rifles, I went towards the spot to ascertain the cause. 
On reaching the place, I was welcomed by a dozen of tall 
stout men, who told me they were exercising, for the 
purpose of enabling them to shoot under night at the 
reflected light from the eyes of a Deer or Wolf, by torch- 
light, of which I shall give you an account somewhere 
else. A fire was blazing near, the smoke of which rose 
curling among the thick foliage of the trees. At a distance 
which rendered it scarcely distinguishable, stood a burning 
candle, as if intended for an offering to the goddess of 
night, but which in reality was only fifty yards from 
the spot on which we all stood. One man was within a 
few yards of it, to watch the effects of the shots, as well as 
to light the candle should it chance to go out, or to 
replace it should the shot cut it across. Each marksman 
shot in his turn. Some never hit either the snuff or the 
candle, and were congratulated with a loud laugh ; while 
others actually snuffed the candle without putting it out, 
and were recompensed for their dexterity by numerous 



462 AUDUBON 



hurrahs. One of them, who was particularly expert, was 
very fortunate, and snuffed the candle three times out of 
seven, whilst all the other shots either put out the candle 
or cut it immediately under the light. 

Of the feats performed by the Kentuckians with the 
rifle, I could say more than might be expedient on the 
present occasion. In every thinly peopled portion of the 
State, it is rare to meet one without a gun of that descrip- 
tion, as well as a tomahawk. By way of recreation, they 
often cut off a piece of the bark of a tree, make a target of 
it, using a little powder wetted with water or saliva, for the 
bull's-eye, and shoot into the mark all the balls they have 
about them, picking them out of the wood again. 

After what I have said, you may easily imagine with 
what ease a Kentuckian procures game, or despatches an 
enemy, more especially when I tell you that every one in 
the State is accustomed to handle the rifle from the time 
when he is first able to shoulder it until near the close of 
his career. That murderous weapon is the means of pro- 
curing them subsistence during all their wild and extensive 
rambles, and is the source of their principal sports and 
pleasures. 



THE TRAVELLER AND THE POLE-CAT 

On a journey from Louisville to Henderson in Kentucky, 
performed during very severe winter weather, in company 
with a foreigner, the initials of whose name are D. T., my 
companion, spying a beautiful animal, marked with black 
and pale yellow, and having a long and bushy tail, ex- 
claimed, " Mr. Audubon, is not that a beautiful Squirrel? " 
" Yes," I answered, " and of a kind that will suffer you to 
approach it and lay hold of it, if you are well gloved." 
Mr. D. T., dismounting, took up a dry stick, and advanced 
towards the pretty animal, with his large cloak floating in 



EPISODES 463 

the breeze. I think I see him approach, and laying the 
stick gently across the body of the animal, try to secure it ; 
and I can yet laugh almost as heartily as I did then, when 
I plainly saw the discomfiture of the traveller. The Pole- 
cat (for a true Pole-cat it was, the Mephitis americana of 
zoologists) raised its fine bushy tail, and showered such a 
discharge of the fluid given him by nature as a defence 
that my friend, dismayed and infuriated, began to belabor 
the poor animal. The swiftness and good management of 
the Pole-cat, however, saved its bones, and as it made its 
retreat towards its hole, it kept up at every step a continued 
ejectment, which fully convinced the gentleman that the 
pursuit of such Squirrels as these was at the best an un- 
profitable employment. 

This was not all, however. I could not suffer his ap- 
proach, nor could my horse; it was with difficulty he 
mounted his own; and we were forced to continue our 
journey far asunder, and he much to leeward. Nor did the 
matter end here. We could not proceed much farther that 
night ; as, in the first place, it was nearly dark when we 
saw the Pole-cat, and as, in the second place, a heavy 
snow-storm began, and almost impeded our progress. We 
were forced to make for the first cabin we saw. Having 
asked and obtained permission to rest for the night, we 
dismounted and found ourselves amongst a crowd of men 
and women who had met for the purpose of corn-shucking. 

To a European who has not visited the western parts of 
the United States, an explanation of this corn-shucking 
may not be unacceptable. Corn (or you may prefer calling 
it maize) is gathered in the husk, that is, by breaking each 
large ear from the stem. These ears are first thrown into 
heaps in the field, and afterwards carried in carts to the 
barn, or, as in this instance, and in such portions of Ken- 
tucky, to a shed made of the blades or long leaves that 
hang in graceful curves from the stalk, and which, when 
plucked and dried, are used instead of hay as food for 



464 AUDUBON 



horses and cattle. The husk consists of several thick leaves 
rather longer than the corn-ear itself, and which secure it 
from the weather. It is quite a labor to detach these leaves 
from the ear when thousands of bushels of the corn are 
gathered and heaped together. For this purpose, however, 
and in the western country more especially, several neigh- 
boring families join alternately at each other's plantations, 
and assist in clearing away the husks, thus preparing the 
maize for the market or for domestic use. 

The good people whom we met with at this hospitable 
house were on the point of going to the barn (the farmer 
here being in rather good condition) to work until towards 
the middle of the night. When we had stood the few stares 
to which strangers must accustom themselves, no matter 
where, even in a drawing-room, we approached the fire. 
What a shock for the whole party ! The scent of the Pole- 
cat, that had been almost stifled on my companion's vest- 
ments by the cold of the evening air, now recovered its 
primitive strength. The cloak was put out of the house, 
but its owner could not well be used in the same way. The 
company, however, took to their heels, and there only 
remained a single black servant, who waited on us till 
supper was served. 

I felt vexed with myself, as I saw the good traveller dis- 
pleased. But he had so much good-breeding as to treat 
this important affair with great forbearance, and merely 
said he was sorry for his want of knowledge in zoology. 
The good gentleman, however, was not only deficient in 
zoological lore, but, fresh as he was from Europe, felt more 
than uneasy in this out-of-the-way house, and would have 
proceeded towards my own home that night, had I not at 
length succeeded in persuading him that he was in perfect 
security. 

We were shown to bed. As I was almost a stranger to 
him, and he to me, he thought it a very awkward thing to 
be obliged to lie in the same bed with me, but afterwards 



EPISODES 465 

spoke of it as a happy circumstance, and requested that I 
should suffer him to be placed next the logs, thinking, no 
doubt, that there he should run no risk. 

We started by break of day, taking with us the frozen 
cloak, and after passing a pleasant night in my own house, 
we parted. Some years after, I met my Kentucky com- 
panion in a far distant land, when he assured me that 
whenever the sun shone on his cloak or it was brought 
near a fire, the scent of the Pole-cat became so perceptible 
that he at last gave it to a poor monk in Italy. 

The animal commonly known in America by the name 
of the Pole-cat is about a foot and a half in length, with a 
large bushy tail, nearly as long as the body- The color is 
generally brownish-black, with a large white patch on the 
back of the head ; but there are many varieties of coloring, 
in some of which the broad white bands of the back are 
very conspicuous. The Pole-cat burrows, or forms a sub- 
terranean habitation among the roots of trees, or in rocky 
places. It feeds on birds, young Hares, Rats, Mice, and 
other animals, and commits great depredations on poultry. 
The most remarkable peculiarity of this animal is the power, 
alluded to above, of squirting for its defence a most nau- 
seously scented fluid contained in a receptacle situated 
under the tail, which it can do to a distance of several yards. 
It does not, however, for this purpose sprinkle its tail with 
the fluid, as some allege, unless when extremely harassed 
by its enemies. The Pole-cat is frequently domesticated. 
The removal of the glands prevents the secretion of the 
nauseous fluid, and when thus improved, the animal be- 
comes a great favorite, and performs the offices of the 
common cat with great dexterity. 



VOL. II. — 30 



466 AUDUBON 



DEER HUNTING 

The different modes of Deer hunting are probably too 
well understood, and too successfully practised in the 
United States ; for, notwithstanding the almost incredible 
abundance of these beautiful animals in our forests and 
prairies, such havoc is carried on amongst them that, in a 
few centuries, they will probably be as scarce in America 
as the Great Bustard now is in Britain. 

We have three modes of hunting Deer, each varying 
in some slight degree in the different States and districts. 
The first is termed still hunting, and is by far the most 
destructive. The second is called fire-light hunting, and 
is next in its exterminating effects. The third, which may 
be looked upon as a mere amusement, is named driving. 
Although many Deer are destroyed by this latter method, 
it is not by any means so pernicious as the others. These 
methods I shall describe separately. 

Still hunting is followed as a kind of trade by most of 
our frontier-men. To be practised with success it requires 
great activity, an expert management of the rifle, and a 
thorough knowledge of the forest, together with an inti- 
mate acquaintance with the habits of the Deer, not only at 
different seasons of the year, but also at every hour of the 
day, as the hunters must be aware of the situations which 
the game prefers, and in which it is most likely to be found 
at any particular time. I might here present you with a 
full account of the habits of our Deer, were it not my 
intention to lay before you, at some future period, in 
the form of a distinct work, the observations which I 
have made on the various quadrupeds of our extensive 
territories. 

Illustrations of any kind require to be presented in the 
best possible light. We shall therefore suppose that we 
are now about to follow the true hunter, as the " still 



EPISODES 467 

hunter " is also called, through the interior of the tangled 
woods, across morasses, ravines, and such places, where 
the game may prove more or less plentiful, even should 
none be found there in the first instance. We shall allow 
our hunter all the agility, patience, and care which his 
occupation requires, and will march in his rear, as if we 
were spies, watching all his motions. 

His dress, you observe, consists of a leather hunting- 
shirt, and a pair of trousers of the same material. His 
feet are well moccasined ; he wears a belt round his waist ; 
his heavy rifle is resting on his brawny shoulder; on one 
side hangs his ball pouch, surmounted by the horn of an 
ancient Buffalo, once the terror of the herd, but now con- 
taining a pound of the best gunpowder; his butcher knife 
is scabbarded in the same strap ; and behind is a toma- 
hawk, the handle of which has been thrust through his 
girdle. He walks with so rapid a step that probably few 
men, beside ourselves, that is, myself and my kind reader, 
could follow him, unless for a short distance, in their 
anxiety to witness his ruthless deeds. He stops, looks to 
the flint of his gun, its priming, and the leather cover of 
the lock, then glances his eye towards the sky, to judge 
of the course most likely to lead him to the game. 

The heavens are clear, the red glare of the morning 
sun gleams through the lower branches of the lofty trees, 
the dew hangs in pearly drops at the top of every leaf. 
Already has the emerald hue of the foliage been converted 
into the more glowing tints of our autumnal months. A 
slight frost appears on the fence-rails of his little corn- 
field. As he proceeds he looks to the dead foliage under 
his feet, in search of the well-known traces of a buck's 
hoof. Now he bends towards the ground, on which some- 
thing has attracted his attention. See ! he alters his course, 
increases his speed, and will soon reach the opposite hill. 
Now he moves with caution, stops at almost every tree, 
and peeps forward, as if already within shooting distance 



468 AUDUBON 



of the game. He advances again, but how very slowly ! 
He has reached the declivity, upon which the sun shines 
in all its growing splendor; but mark him! he takes the 
gun from his shoulder, has already thrown aside the 
leathern cover of the lock, and is wiping the edge of the 
flint with his tongue. Now he stands like a monumental 
figure, perhaps measuring the distance that lies between 
him and the game which he has in view. His rifle is 
slowly raised, the report follows, and he runs. Let us run 
also. Shall I speak to him, and ask him the result of this 
first essay? Assuredly, reader, for I know him well. 

" Pray, friend, what have you killed? " for to say, " What 
have you shot at?" might imply the possibility of having 
missed, and so might hurt his feelings. " Nothing but a 
buck." "And where is it? " " Oh, it has taken a jump or 
so, but I settled it, and will soon be with it. My ball 
struck, and must have gone through his heart." We ar- 
rive at the spot where the animal had laid itself down 
among the grass in a thicket of grape-vines, sumach, and 
spruce bushes, where it intended to repose during the 
middle of the day. The place is covered with blood, the 
hoofs of the Deer have left deep prints in the ground, as 
it bounced in the agonies produced by its wound ; but the 
blood that has gushed from its side discloses the course 
which it has taken. We soon reach the spot. There lies 
the buck, its tongue out, its eye dim, its breath exhausted ; 
it is dead. The hunter draws his knife, cuts the buck's 
throat almost asunder, and prepares to skin it. For this 
purpose he hangs it upon the branch of a tree. When the 
skin is removed, he cuts off the hams, and abandoning the 
rest of the carcass to the Wolves and Vultures, reloads his 
gun, flings the venison, enclosed by the skin, upon his back, 
secures it with a strap, and walks off in search of more 
game, well knowing that, in the immediate neighborhood, 
another at least is to be found. 

Had the weather been warmer, the hunter would have 



EPISODES 469 

sought for the buck along the shadowy side of the hills. 
Had it been the. spring season, he would have led us 
through some thick cane-brake, to the margin of some 
remote lake, where you would have seen the Deer im- 
mersed to his head in the water, to save his body from the 
tormenting attacks of mosquitoes. Had winter overspread 
the earth with a covering of snow, he would have searched 
the low, damp woods, where the mosses and lichens, on 
which at that period the Deer feeds, abound ; the trees 
being generally crusted with them for several feet from the 
ground. At one time he might have marked the places 
where the Deer clears the velvet from his horns by rubbing 
them against the low stems of bushes, and where he fre- 
quently scrapes the earth with his fore-hoofs ; at another 
he would have betaken himself to places where persim- 
mons and crab-apples abound, as beneath these trees the 
Deer frequently stops to munch their fruits. During early 
spring our hunter would imitate the bleating of 'the doe, 
and thus frequently obtain both her and the fawn, or,. like 
some tribes of Indians, he would prepare a Deer's head, 
placed on a stick, and creeping with it amongst the tall 
grass of the prairies, would decoy Deer in reach of his rifle. 
But, kind reader, you have seen enough of the still hunter. 
Let it suffice for me to add that by the mode pursued by 
him thousands of Deer are annually killed, many individ- 
uals shooting these animals merely for the skin, not caring 
for even the most valuable portions of the flesh, unless 
hunger, or a near market, induce them to carry off" the 
hams. 

The mode of destroying deer by fire-light, or, as it is 
named in some parts of the country, forest-light, never fails 
to produce a very singular feeling in him who witnesses it 
for the first time. There is something in it which at times 
appears awfully grand. At other times a certain degree 
of fear creeps over the mind, and even affects the physical 
powers of him who follows the hunter through the thick 



470 AUDUBON 



undergrowth of our woods, having to leap his horse over 
hundreds of huge fallen trunks, at one time impeded by 
a straggling grape-vine crossing his path, at another 
squeezed between two stubborn saplings, whilst their twigs 
come smack in his face, as his companion has forced his 
way through them. Again, he now and then runs the risk 
of breaking his neck, by being suddenly pitched headlong 
on the ground, as his horse sinks into a hole covered over 
with moss. But I must proceed in a more regular manner, 
and leave you, kind reader, to judge whether such a mode 
of hunting would suit your taste or not. 

The hunter has returned to his camp or his house, has 
rested and eaten of his game. He waits impatiently for 
the return of night. He has procured a quantity of pine 
knots filled with resinous matter, and has an old frying- 
pan, that, for aught I know to the contrary, may have 
been used by his great-grandmother, in which the pine- 
knots are to be placed when lighted. The horses stand 
saddled at the door. The hunter comes forth, his rifle 
slung on his shoulder, and springs upon one of them, 
while his son, or a servant, mounts the other with the fry- 
ing-pan and the pine-knots. Thus accoutred, they proceed 
towards the interior of the forest. When they have arrived 
at the spot where the hunt is to begin, they strike fire with 
a flint and steel, and kindle the resinous wood. The person 
who carries the fire moves in the direction judged to be 
the best. The blaze illuminates the near objects, but the 
distant parts seem involved in deepest obscurity. The 
hunter who bears the gun keeps immediately in front, and 
after a while discovers before him two feeble lights, which 
are produced by the reflection of the pine-fire from the 
eyes of an animal of the Deer or Wolf kind. The animal 
stands quite still. To one unacquainted with this strange 
mode of hunting, the glare from its eyes might bring to 
his imagination some lost hobgoblin that had strayed from 
its usual haunts. The hunter, however, nowise intimidated, 



EPISODES ATI 

approaches the object, sometimes so near as to discern its 
form, when, raising the rifle to his shoulder, he fires ancf 
kills it on the spot. He then dismounts, secures the skin 
and such portions of the flesh as he may want, in the man- 
ner already described, and continues his search through 
the greater part of the night, sometimes until the dawn of 
day, shooting from five to ten Deer, should these animals 
be plentiful. This kind of hunting proves fatal, not to the 
Deer alone, but also sometimes to Wolves, and now and 
then to a horse or cow, which may have straggled far into 
the woods. 

Now, kind reader, prepare to mount a generous, full- 
blood Virginian hunter. See that your gun is in complete 
order, for hark to the sound of the bugle and horn, and 
the mingled clamor of a pack of harriers! Your friends 
are waiting for you, under the shade of the wood, and we 
must together go driving the light-footed Deer. The dis- 
tance over which one has to travel is seldom felt when 
pleasure is anticipated as the result ; so galloping we go 
pell-mell through the woods, to some well-known place 
where many a fine buck has drooped its antlers under the 
ball of the hunter's rifle. The servants, who are called the 
drivers, have already begun their search. Their voices are 
heard exciting the hounds, and unless we put spurs to our 
steeds, we may be too late at our stand, and thus lose the 
first opportunity of shooting the fleeting game as it passes 
by. Hark again ! The dogs are in chase, the horn sounds 
louder and more clearly. Hurry, hurry on, or we shall be 
sadly behind ! 

Here we are at last ! Dismount, fasten your horse to 
this tree, place yourself by the side of that large yellow 
poplar, and mind you do not shoot me ! The Deer is fast 
approaching ; I will to my own stand, and he who shoots 
him dead wins the prize. 

The Deer is heard coming. It has inadvertently cracked 
a dead stick with its hoof, and the dogs are now so near 



472 AUDUBON 



that it will pass in a moment. There it comes ! How 
beautifully it bounds over the ground ! What a splendid 
head of horns ! How easy its attitudes, depending, as it 
seems to do, on its own swiftness for safety ! All is in vain, 
however; a gun is fired, the animal plunges and doubles 
with incomparable speed. There he goes ! He passes 
another stand, from which a second shot, better directed 
than the first, brings him to the ground. The dogs, the 
servants, the sportsmen are now rushing forward to the 
spot. The hunter who has shot it is congratulated on his 
skill or good luck, and the chase begins again in some 
other part of the woods. 

A few lines of explanation may be required to convey 
a clear idea of this mode of hunting. Deer are fond of 
following and retracing paths which they have formerly 
pursued, and continue to do so even after they have been 
shot at more than once. These tracks are discovered by 
persons on horseback in the woods, or a Deer is observed 
crossing a road, a field, or a small stream. When this has 
been noticed twice, the deer may be shot from the places 
called stands by the sportsman, who is stationed there, and 
waits for it, a line of stands being generally formed so as 
to cross the path which the game will follow. The person 
who ascertains the usual pass of the game, or discovers the 
parts where the animal feeds or lies down during the day, 
gives intimation to his friends, who then prepare for the 
chase. The servants start the Deer with the hounds, and 
by good management generally succeed in making it run 
the course that will soonest bring it to its death. But, 
should the Deer be cautious, and take another course, the 
hunters, mounted on swift horses, gallop through the woods 
to intercept it, guided by the sound of the horns and the 
cry of the dogs, and frequently succeed in shooting it. This 
sport is extremely agreeable, and proves successful on 
almost every occasion. 

Hoping that this account will be sufficient to induce you, 



EPISODES 473 

kind reader, to go driving in our western and southern 
woods, I now conclude my chapter on Deer Hunting by 
informing you that the species referred to above is the 
Virginia Deer, Cervus virginianus ; and tliat, until I be able 
to present you with a full account of its habits and history, 
you may consult for information respecting it the excellent 
"Fauna Americana" of my esteemed friend Dr. Harlan, of 
Philadelphia. 



THE ECCENTRIC NATURALIST 

" What an odd-looking fellow ! " said I to myself, as, 
while walking by the river, I observed a man landing from 
a boat, with what I thought a bundle of dried clover on his 
back ; " how the boatmen stare at him ! sure he must be 
an original ! " He ascended with a rapid step, and ap- 
proaching me asked if I could point out the house in 
which Mr. Audubon resided. " Why, I am the man," said 
I, " and will gladly lead you to my dwelling." 

The traveller rubbed his hands together with delight, 
and drawing a letter from his pocket handed it to me 
without any remark. I broke the seal and read as fol- 
lows : " My dear Audubon, I send you an odd fish, which 
you may prove to be undescribed, and hope you will do 
so in your next letter. Believe, me always your friend 
B." With all the simplicity of a woodsman I asked the 
bearer where the odd fish was, when M. de T. (for, kind 
reader, the individual in my presence was none else than 
that renowned naturalist) smiled, rubbed his hands, and 
with the greatest good- humor said, " I am that odd fish 
I presume, Mr. Audubon." I felt confounded and blushed, 
but contrived to stammer an apology. 

We soon reached the house, when I presented my 
learned guest to my family, and was ordering a servant to 
go to the boat for M. de T.'s luggage, when he told me he 



47 A AUDUBON 



had none but what he brought on his back. He then 
loosened the pack of weeds which had first drawn my 
attention. The ladies were a little surprised, but I checked 
their critical glances for the moment. The naturalist 
pulled off his shoes, and while engaged in drawing his 
stockings, not up, but down, in order to cover the holes 
about the heels, told us in the gayest mood imaginable 
that he had walked a great distance, and had only taken a 
passage on board the ark, to be put on this shore, and that 
he was sorry his apparel had suffered so much from his 
late journey. Clean clothes were offered, but he would 
not accept them, and it was with evident reluctance that 
he performed the lavations usual on such occasions before 
he sat down to dinner. 

At table, however, his agreeable conversation made us 
all forget his singular appearance ; and, indeed, it was only 
as we strolled together in the garden that his attire struck 
me as exceedingly remarkable. A long loose coat of 
yellow nankeen, much the worse for the many rubs it had 
got in its time, and stained all over with the juice of plants, 
hung loosely about him like a sac. A waistcoat of the 
same, with enormous pockets, and buttoned up to his chin, 
reached below over a pair of tight pantaloons, the lower 
parts of which were buttoned down to the ankles. His 
beard was as long as I have known my own to be during 
some of my peregrinations, and his lank black hair hung 
loosely over his shoulders. His forehead was so broad 
and prominent that any tyro in phrenology would instantly 
have pronounced it the residence of a mind of strong 
powers. His words impressed an assurance of rigid truth, 
and as he directed the conversation to the study of the 
natural sciences, I listened to him with as much delight as 
Telemachus could have listened to Mentor. He had come 
to visit me, he said, expressly for the purpose of seeing my 
drawings, having been told that my representations of 
birds were accompanied with those of shrubs and plants, 



EPISODES 475 

and he was desirous of knowing whether I might chance 
to have in my collection any with which he was un- 
acquainted. I observed some degree of impatience in his 
request to be allowed at once to see what I had. We re- 
turned to the house, when I opened my portfolios and 
laid them before him. 

He chanced to turn over the drawing of a plant quite 
new to him. After inspecting it closely, he shook his 
head, and told me no such plant existed in nature; for, 
kind reader, M. de T., although a highly scientific man, 
was suspicious to a fault, and believed such plants only to 
exist as he had himself seen, or such as, having been dis- 
covered of old, had, according to Father Malebranche's 
expression, acquired a "venerable beard." I told my 
guest that the plant was common in the immediate neigh- 
borhood, and that I should show it him on the morrow. 
"And why to-morrow, Mr. Audubon? Let us go now." 
We did so, and on reaching the bank of the river I 
pointed to the plant. M. de T., I thought, had gone mad. 
He plucked the plants one after another, danced, hugged 
me in his arms, and exultingly told me that he had got 
not merely a new species, but a new genus. When we 
returned home, the naturalist opened the bundle which he 
had brought on his back, and took out a journal rendered 
water-proof by means of a leather case, together with a 
small parcel of linen, examined the new plant, and wrote 
its description. The examination of my drawings then 
went on. You would be pleased, kind reader, to hear his 
criticisms, which were of the greatest advantage to me, for, 
being well acquainted with books as well as with nature, 
he was well fitted to give me advice. 

It was summer, and the heat was so great that the 
windows were all open. The light of the candles attracted 
many insects, among which was observed a large species of 
Scarabaeus. I caught one, and, aware of his inclination 
to believe only what he should himself see, I showed him 



4/6 AUDUBON 



the insect, and assured him it was so strong that it would 
crawl on the table with the candlestick on its back. " I 
should like to see the experiment made, Mr. Audubon," 
he replied. It was accordingly made, and the insect 
moved about, dragging its burden so as to make the 
candlestick change its position as if by magic, until coming 
upon the edge of the table, it dropped on the floor, took 
to wing, and made its escape. 

When it waxed late, I showed him to the apartment 
intended for him during his stay, and endeavored to render 
him comfortable, leaving him writing materials in abun- 
dance. I was indeed heartily glad to have a naturalist 
under my roof We had all retired to rest. Every person 
I imagined was in deep slumber save myself, when of a 
sudden I heard a great uproar in the naturalist's room. I 
got up, reached the place in a few moments, and opened 
the door, when to my astonishment, I saw my guest run- 
ning about the room naked, holding the handle of my 
favorite violin, the body of which he had battered to 
pieces against the walls in attempting to kill the bats 
which had entered by the open window, probably at- 
tracted by the insects flying around his candle. I stood 
amazed, but he continued jumping and running round and 
round, until he was fairly exhausted, when he begged me 
to procure one of the animals for him, as he felt convinced 
they belonged to " a new species." Although I was con- 
vinced of the contrary, I took up the bow of my demolished 
Cremona, and administering a smart tap to each of the 
bats as it came up, soon got specimens enough. The 
war ended, I again bade him good-night, but could not 
help observing the state of the room. It was strewed with 
plants, which it would seem he had arranged into groups, 
but which were now scattered about in confusion. " Never 
mind, Mr. Audubon," quoth the eccentric naturalist, 
" never mind, I '11 soon arrange them again. I have the 
bats, and that 's enough." 



EPISODES 477 

Some days passed, during which we followed our several 
occupations. M. de T. searched the woods for plants, and 
I for birds. He also followed the margins of the Ohio, 
and picked up many shells, which he greatly extolled. 
With us, I told him, they were gathered into heaps to 
be converted into lime. " Lime ! Mr. Audubon ; why, 
they are worth a guinea apiece in any part of Europe." 
One day, as I was returning from a hunt in a cane-brake, 
he observed that I was wet and spattered with mud, and 
desired me to show him the interior of one of these places, 
which he said he had never visited. 

The cane, kind reader, formerly grew spontaneously 
over the greater portions of the State of Kentucky 
and other western districts of our Union, as well as in 
many farther south. Now, however, cultivation, the in- 
troduction of cattle and horses, and other circumstances 
connected with the progress of civilization, have greatly 
altered the face of the country, and reduced the cane 
within comparatively small limits. It attains a height of 
from twelve to thirty feet, and a diameter of from one to 
two inches, and grows in great patches resembling osier- 
holts, in which occur plants of all sizes. The plants fre- 
quently grow so close together, and in course of time 
become so tangled, as to present an almost impenetrable 
thicket. A portion of ground thus covered with canes is 
called a cane-brake. 

If you picture to yourself one of these cane-brakes grow- 
ing beneath the gigantic trees that form our western forests, 
interspersed with vines of many species, and numberless 
plants of every description, you may conceive how difficult 
it is for one to make his way through it, especially after a 
heavy shower of rain or a fall of sleet, when the traveller, 
in forcing his way through, shakes down upon himself 
such quantities of water as soon reduce him to a state of 
the utmost discomfort. The hunters often cut little paths 
through the thickets with their knives, but the usual mode 



478 AUDUBON 



of passing through them is by pushing one's self back- 
ward, and wedging a way between the stems. To follow a 
Bear or a Cougar pursued by dogs through these brakes is 
a task the accomplishment of which may be imagined, but 
of the difficulties and dangers accompanying which I can- 
not easily give an adequate representation. 

The canes generally grow on the richest soil, and are 
particularly plentiful along the margins of the great western 
rivers. Many of our new settlers are fond of forming 
farms in their immediate vicinity, as the plant is much 
relished by all kinds of cattle and horses, which feed upon 
it at all seasons, and again because these brakes are plenti- 
fully stocked with game of various kinds. It sometimes 
happens that the farmer clears a portion of the brake. 
This is done by cutting the stems — which are fistular and 
knotted, like those of other grasses — with a large knife or 
cutlass. They are afterwards placed in heaps, and when 
partially dried set fire to. The moisture contained be-^ 
tween the joints is converted into steam, which causes the 
cane to burst with a smart report, and when a whole mass 
is crackling, the sounds resemble discharges of musketry. 
Indeed, I have been told that travellers floating down the 
rivers, and unacquainted with these circumstances, have 
been induced to pull their oars with redoubled vigor, 
apprehending the attack of a host of savages, ready to 
scalp every one of the party. 

A day being fixed, we left home after an early break- 
fast, crossed the Ohio, and entered the woods. I had 
determined that my companion should view a cane-brake 
in all its perfection, and after leading him several miles in 
a direct course, came upon as fine a sample as existed in 
that part of the country. We entered, and for some time 
proceeded without much difficulty, as I led the way, and 
cut down the canes which were most likely to incommode 
him. The difficulties gradually increased, so that we were 
presently obliged to turn our backs to the foe, and push 



EPISODES 479 

ourselves on the best way we could. My companion 
stopped here and there to pick up a plant and examine it. 
After a while we chanced to come upon the top of a fallen 
tree, which so obstructed our passage that we were on the 
eve of going round, instead of thrusting ourselves through 
amongst the branches, when, from its bed in the centre of 
the tangled mass, forth rushed a Bear, with such force, and 
snuffing the air in so frightful a manner, that M. de T. 
became suddenly terror-struck, and, in his haste to escape, 
made a desperate attempt to run, but fell amongst the 
canes in such a way that he looked as if pinioned. Per- 
ceiving him jammed in between the stalks, and thoroughly 
frightened, I could not refrain from laughing at the ridi- 
culous exhibition which he made. My gayety, however, 
was not very pleasing to the savant, who called out for 
aid, which was at once administered. Gladly would he 
have retraced his steps, but I was desirous that he should 
be able to describe a cane-brake, and enticed him to follow 
me by telling him that our worst difficulties were nearly 
over. We proceeded, for by this time the Bear was out 
of hearing. 

The way became more and more tangled. I saw with 
delight that a heavy cloud, portentous of a thunder gust, 
was approaching. In the mean time, I kept my companion 
in such constant difficulties that he now panted, perspired, 
and seemed almost overcome by fatigue. The thunder 
began to rumble, and soon after a dash of heavy rain 
drenched us in a few minutes. The withered particles of 
leaves and bark attached to the canes stuck to our clothes. 
We received many scratches from briers, and now and 
then a switch from a nettle. M. de T. seriously inquired 
if we should ever get alive out of the horrible situation in 
which we were. I spoke of courage and patience, and told 
him I hoped we should soon get to the margin of the 
brake, which, however, I knew to be two miles distant. I 
made him rest, and gave him a mouthful of brandy from 



480 AUDUBON 



my flask'; after which, we proceeded on our slow and 
painful march. He threw away all his plants, emptied his 
pockets of the fungi, lichens, and mosses which he had 
thrust into them, and finding himself much lightened, went 
on for thirty or forty yards with a better grace. But, kind 
reader, enough — I led the naturalist first one way, then 
another, until I had nearly lost myself in the brake, although 
I was well acquainted with it, kept him tumbling and 
crawling on his hands and knees until long after mid-day, 
when we at length reached the edge of the river. I blew 
my horn, and soon showed my companion a boat coming 
to our rescue. We were ferried over, and on reaching the 
house, found more agreeable occupation in replenishing 
our empty coffers. 

M. de T. remained with us for three weeks, and collected 
multitudes of plants, shells, bats, and fishes, but never 
again expressed a desire of visiting a cane-brake. We 
were perfectly reconciled to his oddities, and, finding him 
a most agreeable and intelligent companion, hoped that 
his sojourn might be of long duration. But, one evening 
when tea was prepared, and we expected him to join the 
family, he was nowhere to be found. His grasses and 
other valuables were all removed from his room. The 
night was spent in searching for him in the neighborhood. 
No eccentric naturahst could be discovered. Whether he 
had perished in a swamp, or had been devoured by a Bear 
or a Gar-fish, or had taken to his heels, were matters of 
conjecture ; nor was it until some weeks after that a letter 
from him, thanking us for our attention, assured me of 
his safety. 



EPISODES 481 



SCIPIO AND THE BEAR 

The Black Bear (Urstts americanus), however clumsy in 
appearance, is active, vigilant, and persevering; possesses 
great strength, courage, and address ; and undergoes with 
little injury the greatest fatigues and hardships in avoiding 
the pursuit of the hunter. Like the Deer, it changes its 
haunts with the seasons, and for the same reason, namely, 
the desire of obtaining suitable food, or of retiring to the 
more inaccessible parts, where it can pass the time in 
security, unobserved by man, the most dangerous of its 
enemies. During the spring months, it searches for food 
in the low rich alluvial lands that border the rivers, or by 
the margins of such inland lakes as, on account of their 
small size, are called by us ponds. There it procures 
abundance of succulent roots, and of the tender juicy 
.stems of plants, upon which it chiefly feeds at that season. 
During the summer heat, it enters the gloomy swamps, 
passes much of its time in wallowing in the mud, like a 
hog, and contents itself with crayfish, roots, and nettles, 
now and then, when hard pressed by hunger, seizing on a 
young pig, or perhaps a sow, or even a calf. As soon as 
the different kinds of berries which grow on the mountains 
begin to ripen, the Bears betake themselves to the high 
grounds, followed by their cubs. In such retired parts of 
the country where there are no hilly grounds, it pays visits 
to the maize fields, which it ravages for a while. After 
this, the various species of nuts, acorns, grapes, and other 
forest fruits, that form what in the western country is 
called mast, attract its attention. The Bear is then seen 
rambling singly through the woods to gather this harvest, 
not forgetting meanwhile to rob every Bee-tree it meets 
with. Bears being, as you well know, expert at this oper- 
ation. You also know that they are good climbers, and 

VOL. II. — 31 



482 AUDUBON 



may have been told, or at least may now be told, that the 
Black Bear now and then houses itself in the hollow trunks 
of the larger trees for weeks together, when it is said to 
suck its paws. You are probably not aware of a habit in 
which it indulges, and which, being curious, must be inter- 
esting to you. 

At one season, the Black Bear may be seen examining 
the lower part of the trunk of a tree for several minutes 
with much attention, at the same time looking around, and 
snuffing the air, to assure itself that no enemy is near. It 
then raises itself on its hind-legs, approaches the trunk, 
embraces it with its fore-legs, and scratches the bark with 
its teeth and claws for several minutes in continuance. Its 
jaws clash against each other, until a mass of foam runs 
down on both sides of the mouth. After this it con- 
tinues its rambles. 

In various portions of our country, many of our woods- 
men and hunters who have seen the Bear performing the 
singular operation just described, imagine that it does so 
for the purpose of leaving behind it an indication of its 
size and power. They measure the height at which the 
scratches are made, and in this manner can, in fact, form 
an estimate of the magnitude of the individual. My own 
opinion, however, is different. It seems to me that the 
Bear scratches the trees, not for the purpose of shewing 
its size or its strength, but merely for that of sharpening 
its teeth and claws, to enable it better to encounter a rival 
of its own species during the amatory season. The Wild 
Boar of Europe clashes its tusks and scrapes the earth with 
its feet, and the Deer rubs its antlers against the lower 
part of the stems of young trees or bushes, for the same 
purpose. 

Being one night sleeping in the house of a friend, I 
was wakened by a negro servant bearing a light, who gave 
me a note, which he said his master had just received. 
I ran my eye over the paper, and found it to be a com- 



EPISODES 483 

munication from a neighbor, requesting my friend and 
myself to join him as soon as possible, and assist in kill- 
ing some Bears at that moment engaged in destroying his 
corn. I was not long in dressing, you may be assured, 
and, on entering the parlor, found my friend equipped 
and only waiting for some bullets, which a negro was 
employed in casting. The overseer's horn was heard 
calling up the negroes from their different cabins. Some 
were already engaged in saddling our horses, whilst others 
were gathering all the cur-dogs of the plantation. All 
was bustle. Before half an hour had elapsed, four stout 
negro men, armed with axes and knives, and mounted on 
strong nags of their own (for you must know, kind reader, 
that many of our slaves rear horses, cattle, pigs, and poul- 
try, which are exclusively their own property), were fol- 
lowing us at a round gallop through the woods, as we 
made directly for the neighbor's plantation, a little more 
than five miles off. 

The night was none of the most favorable, a drizzling 
rain rendering the atmosphere thick and rather sultry; 
but as we were well acquainted with the course, we soon 
reached the house, where the owner was waiting our 
arrival. There were now three of us armed with guns, 
half a dozen servants, and a good pack of dogs of all 
kinds. We jogged on towards the detached field in which 
the Bears were at work. The owner told us that for some 
days several of these animals had visited his corn, and 
that a negro who was sent every afternoon to see at what 
part of the enclosure they entered, had assured him there 
were at least five in the field that night. A plan of attack 
was formed : the bars at the usual gap of the fence were 
to be put down without noise; the men and dogs were 
to divide, and afterwards proceed so as to surround the 
Bears, when, at the sounding of our horns, every one was 
to charge towards the centre of the field, and shout as 
loudly as possible, which it was judged would so intimi- 



484 AUDUBON 



date the animals as to induce them to seek refuge upon 
the dead trees with which the field was still partially 
covered. 

The plan succeeded. The horns sounded, the horses 
galloped forward, the men shouted, the dogs barked and 
howled. The shrieks of the negroes were enough to 
frighten a legion of Bears, and those in the field took to 
flight, so that by the time we reached the centre they 
were heard hurrying towards the tops of the trees. Fires 
were immediately lighted by the negroes. The drizzling 
rain had ceased, the sky cleared, and the glare of the 
crackling fires proved of great assistance to us. The 
Bears had been so terrified that we now saw several of 
them crouched at the junction of the larger boughs with 
the trunks. Two were immediately shot down. They 
were cubs of no great size, and being already half dead, 
we left them to the dogs, which quickly despatched 
them. 

We were anxious to procure as much sport as possible, 
and having observed one of the Bears, which from its size 
we conjectured to be the mother, ordered the negroes to 
cut down the tree on which it was perched, when it was 
intended the dogs should have a tug with it, while we 
should support them, and assist in preventing the Bear 
from escaping by wounding it in one of the hind-legs. 
The surrounding woods now echoed to the blows of the 
axemen. The tree was large and tough, having been 
girded more than two years, and the operation of fell- 
ing it seemed extremely tedious. However, it began to 
vibrate at each stroke ; a few inches alone now supported 
it ; and in a short time it came crashing to the ground, in 
so awful a manner that Bruin must doubtless have felt the 
shock as severe as we should feel a shake of the globe 
produced by the sudden collision of a comet. 

The dogs rushed to the charge, and harassed the Bear 
on all sides. We had remounted, and now surrounded 



EPISODES 48 s 

the poor animal. As its life depended upon its courage 
and strength, it exercised both in the most energetic man- 
ner. Now and then it seized a dog, and killed him by a 
single stroke. At another time, a well administered blow 
of one of its fore-legs sent an assailant- off yelping so 
piteously that he might be looked upon as hors de combat. 
A cur had daringly ventured to seize the Bear by the 
snout, and was seen hanging to it, covered with blood, 
whilst a dozen or more scrambled over its back. Now 
and then the infuriated animal was seen to cast a re- 
vengeful glance at some of the party, and we had already 
determined to despatch it, when, to our astonishment, it 
suddenly shook off all the dogs, and, before we could fire, 
charged upon one of the negroes, who was mounted on a 
pied horse. The Bear seized the steed with teeth and 
claws, and clung to its breast. The terrified horse snorted 
and plunged. The rider, an athletic young man, and a 
capital horseman, kept his seat, although only saddled on 
a sheep' s-skin tightly girthed, and requested his master 
not to fire at the Bear. Notwithstanding his coolness 
and courage, our anxiety for his safety was raised to the 
highest pitch, especially when in a moment we saw rider 
and horse come to the ground together; but we were 
instantly relieved on witnessing the masterly manner in 
which Scipio despatched his adversary, by laying open 
his skull with a single well-directed blow of his axe, 
when a deep growl announced the death of the Bear, and 
the valorous negro sprung to his feet unhurt. 

Day dawned, and we renewed our search. Two of the 
remaining Bears were soon discovered, lodged in a tree 
about a hundred yards from the spot where the last one 
had been overpowered. On approaching them in a circle, 
we found that they manifested no desire to come down, 
and we resolved to try smoking. We surrounded the tree 
with a pile of brushwood and large branches. The flames 
ascended and caught hold of the dry bark. At length the 



486 A UDUBON 



tree assumed the appearance of a pillar of flame. The 
Bears mounted to the top branches. When they had 
reached the uppermost, they were seen to totter, and soon 
after, the branch cracking and snapping across, they came 
to the ground, bringing with them a mass of broken 
twigs. They were cubs, and the dogs soon worried them 
to death. 

The party returned to the house in triumph. Scipio's 
horse, being severely wounded, was let loose in the field, 
to repair his strength by eating the corn. A cart was 
afterwards sent for the game. But before we had left the 
field, the horses, dogs, and Bears, together with the fires, 
had destroyed more corn within a few hours than the poor 
Bear and her cubs had during the whole of their visits. 



A KENTUCKY BARBECUE 

Beargrass Creek, which is one of the many beautiful 
streams of the highly cultivated and happy State of Ken- 
tucky, meanders through a deeply shaded growth of 
majestic beechwoods, in which are interspersed various 
species of walnut, oak, elm, ash, and other trees, extend- 
ing on either side of its course. The spot on which I wit- 
nessed the celebration of an anniversary of the glorious 
proclamation of our independence is situated on its banks 
near the city of Louisville. The woods spread their dense 
tufts towards the shores of the fair Ohio on the west, and 
over the gently rising grounds to the south and east. 
Every open spot forming a plantation was smiling in the 
luxuriance of a summer harvest. The farmer seemed to 
stand in admiration of the spectacle; the trees of his 
orchards bowed their branches, as if anxious to restore to 
their mother earth the fruit with which they were laden ; 
the flocks leisurely ruminated as they lay on their grassy 




JOHN WOODHOUSE AUDUBON', 1S53. 



EPISODES A^7 



beds; and the genial warmth of the season seemed in- 
clined to favor their repose. 

The free, single-hearted Kentuckian, bold, erect, and 
proud of his Virginian descent, had, as usual, made arrange- 
ments for celebrating the day of his country's independence. 
The whole neighborhood joined with one consent. No 
personal invitation was required where every one was wel- 
comed by his neighbor, and from the governor to the 
guider of the plough, all met with light hearts and merry 
faces. 

It was indeed a beautiful day; the bright sun rode in 
the clear blue heavens ; the gentle breezes wafted around 
the odors of the gorgeous flowers; the little birds sang 
their sweetest songs in the woods, and the fluttering insects 
danced in the sunbeams. Columbia's sons and daughters 
seemed to have grown younger that morning. For a whole 
week or more many servants and some masters had been 
busily engaged in clearing an area. The undergrowth had 
been carefully cut down, the low boughs lopped off", and 
the grass alone, verdant and gay, remained to carpet the syl- 
van pavilion. Now the wagons were seen slowly moving 
along under their load of provisions which had been pre- 
pared for the common benefit. Each denizen had freely 
given his ox, his ham, his venison, his Turkeys and other 
fowls. Here were to be seen flagons of every beverage used 
in the country; "la belle riviere" had opened her finny 
stores, the melons of all sorts, peaches, plums, and pears, 
would have sufficed to stock a market. In a word, Ken- 
tucky, the land of abundance, had supplied a feast for her 
children. A purling stream gave its waters freely, while 
the grateful breezes cooled the air. Columns of smoke 
from the newly kindled fires rose above the trees; fifty 
cooks or more moved to and fro as they plied their trade ; 
waiters of all qualities were disposing the dishes, the glasses 
and the punch-bowls, amid vases filled with rich wines. 
" Old Monongahela " filled many a barrel for the crowd. 



488 AUDUBON 



And now the roasting viands perfume the air, and all ap- 
pearances conspire to predict the speedy commencement 
of a banquet such as may suit the vigorous appetite of 
American woodsmen. Every steward is at his post ready 
to receive the joyous groups that at this moment begin to 
emerge from the dark recesses of the woods. 

Each comely fair one, clad in pure white, is seen advanc- 
ing under the protection of her sturdy lover, the neighing 
of their prancing steeds proclaiming how proud they are of 
their burden. The youthful riders leap from their seats, 
and the horses are speedily secured by twisting their 
bridles round a branch. As the youth of Kentucky lightly 
and gayly advanced towards the barbecue, they resembled a 
procession of nymphs and disguised divinities. Fathers and 
mothers smiled upon them as they followed the brilliant cor- 
tege. In a short time the ground was alive with merriment. 
A great wooden cannon bound with iron hoops was now 
crammed with home-made powder ; fire was conveyed to 
it by means of a train, and as the explosion burst forth, 
thousands of hearty huzzas mingled with its echoes. From 
the most learned a good oration fell in proud and gladden- 
ing words on eveiy ear, and although it probably did not 
equal the eloquence of a Clay, an Everett, a Webster, or 
a Preston, it served to remind every Kentuckian present of 
the glorious name, the patriotism, the courage, and the 
virtue of our immortal Washington. Fifes and drums 
sounded the march which had ever led him to glory; and 
as they changed to our celebrated " Yankee-Doodle," the 
air again rang, with acclamations. 

Now the stewards invited the assembled throngs to the 
feast. The fair led the van, and were first placed around 
the tables, which groaned under the profusion of the best 
productions of the country that had been heaped upon 
them. On each lovely nymph attended her gay beau, who 
in her chance or sidelong glances ever watched an oppor- 
tunity of reading his happiness. How the viands dimin- 



EPISODES 489 

ished under the action of so many agents of destruction, I 
need not say, nor is it necessary that you should listen to 
the long recital. Many a national toast was offered and 
accepted, many speeches were delivered, and many essayed 
in amicable reply. The ladies then retired to booths that 
had been erected at a little distance, to which they were 
conducted by their partners, who returned to the table, and 
having thus cleared for action, recommenced a series of 
hearty rounds. However, as Kentuckians are neither slow 
nor long at their meals, all were in a few minutes replen- 
ished, and after a few more draughts from the bowl, they 
rejoined the ladies and prepared for the dance. 

Double lines of a hundred fair ones extended along the 
ground in the most shady part of the woods, while here 
and there smaller groups awaited the merry trills of reels 
and cotillons. A burst of music from violins, clarionets, 
and bugles gave the welcome notice, and presently the 
whole assemblage seemed to be gracefully moving through 
the air. The " hunting-shirts " now joined in the dance, 
their fringed skirts keeping time with the gowns of the 
ladies, and the married people of either sex stepped in and 
mixed with their children. Every countenance beamed 
with joy, every heart leaped with gladness ; no pride, no 
pomp, no affectation were there; their spirits brightened 
as they continued their exhilarating exercise, and care and 
sorrow were flung to the winds. During each interval of 
rest refreshments of all sorts were handed round, and while 
the fair one cooled her lips with the grateful juice of the 
melon, the hunter of Kentucky quenched his thirst with 
ample draughts of well-tempered punch. 

I know, reader, that had you been with me on that day 
you would have richly enjoyed the sight of this national 
fite champitre. You would have listened with pleasure to 
the ingenuous tale of the lover, the wise talk of the elder 
on the affairs of the State, the accounts of improvement in 
stock and utensils, and the hopes of continued prosperity 



490 AUDUBON 



to the country at large, and to Kentucky in particular. 
You would have been pleased to see those who did not 
join in the dance shooting at distant marks with their 
heavy rifles, or watched how they showed off the superior 
speed of their high bred "Old Virginia" horses, while 
others recounted their hunting exploits, and at intervals 
made the woods ring with their bursts of laughter. With 
me the time sped like an arrow in its flight, and although 
more than twenty years have elapsed since I joined a Ken- 
tucky barbecue, my spirit is refreshed every Fourth of 
July by the recollection of that day's merriment. 

But now the sun has declined, and the shades of evening 
creep over the scene. Large fires are lighted in the woods, 
casting the long shadows of the live columns far along the 
trodden ground, and flaring on the happy groups loath to 
separate. In the still, clear sky, begin to sparkle the dis- 
tant lamps of heaven. One might have thought that Na- 
ture herself smiled on the joy of her children. Supper now 
appeared on the tables, and after all had again refreshed 
themselves, preparations were made for departure. The 
lover hurried for the steed of his fair one, the hunter seized 
the arm of his friend, families gathered into loving groups, 
and all returned in peace to their happy homes. 

And now, reader, allow me also to take my leave, and 
wish you good-night, trusting that when I again appear 
with another volume,' you will be ready to welcome me 
with a cordial greeting. 



A RACCOON HUNT IN KENTUCKY 

The Raccoon, which is a cunning and crafty animal, is 
found in all our woods, so that its name is familiar to 
every child in the Union. The propensity which it 
evinces to capture all kinds of birds accessible to it in its 
• The last Episode in vol. ii. of the " Ornithological Biographies." 



EPISODES 491 

nightly prowlings, for the purpose of feasting on their 
flesh, induces me to endeavor to afford you some idea of 
the pleasure which our western hunters feel in procuring 
it. With your leave, then, reader, I will take you to a 
"Coon Hunt." 

A few hours ago the sun went down far beyond the 
" far west. " The woodland choristers have disappeared, 
the matron has cradled her babe, and betaken herself to 
the spinning-wheel; the woodsman, his sons, and "the 
stranger," are chatting before a blazing fire, making wise 
reflections on past events, and anticipating those that are 
to come. Autumn, sallow and sad, prepares to bow her 
head to the keen blast of approaching winter; the corn, 
though still on its stalk, has lost its blades; the wood- 
pile is as large as the woodsman's cabin; the nights have 
become chill, and each new morn has effected a gradual 
change in the dews, which now crust the withered herb- 
age with a coat of glittering white. The sky is still 
cloudless; a thousand twinkling stars reflect their light 
from the tranquil waters; all is silent and calm in the 
forest, save the nightly prowlers that roam in its recesses. 
In the cheerful cabin all is happiness ; its inmates gener- 
ously strive to contribute to the comfort of the stranger 
who has chanced to visit them ; and, as Raccoons are abun- 
dant in the neighborhood, they propose a hunt. The 
offer is gladly accepted. The industrious woman leaves 
her wheel, for she has listened to her husband's talk; 
now she approaches the fire, takes up the board shovel, 
stirs the embers, produces a basket filled with sweet pota- 
toes, arranges its contents side by side in front of the 
hearth, and covers them with hot ashes and glowing coals. 
All this she does because she "guesses" that hungry 
stomachs will be calling for food when the sport is over. 
Ah! reader, what "homely joys" there are in such 
scenes, and how you would enjoy them ! The rich may 
produce a better, or a more sumptuous meal, but his feel- 



492 AUDUBON 



ings can never be like those of the poor woodsman. Poor, 
I ought not to call him, for nature and industry bounti- 
fully supply all his wants ; the woods and rivers produce 
his chief dainties, and his toils are his pleasures. 

Now mark him ! the bold Kentuckian is on his feet ; 
his sons and the stranger prepare for the march. Horns 
and rifles are in requisition. The good man opens the 
wooden-hinged door, and sends forth a blast loud enough 
to scare a Wolf. The Raccoons scamper away from the 
corn-fields, break through the fences, and hie to the 
woods. The hunter has taken an axe from the wood-pile, 
and returning, assures us that the night is fine, and that 
we shall have rare sport. He blows through his rifle to 
ascertain that it is clear, examines his flint, and thrusts 
a feather into the touch-hole. To a leathern bag swung 
at his side is attached a powder-horn ; his sheath-knife is 
there also; below hangs a narrow strip of homespun 
linen. He takes from his bag a bullet, pulls with his ' 
teeth the wooden stopper from his powder-horn, lays the 
ball on one hand, and with the other pours the powder 
upon it until it is just overtopped. Raising the horn to 
his mouth, he again closes it with the stopper, and re- 
stores it to its place. He introduces the powder into the 
tube; springs the box of his gun, greases the "patch" 
over with some melted tallow, or damps it; then places 
it on the honey-combed muzzle of his piece. The bullet 
is placed on the patch over the bore, and pressed with the 
handle of the knife, which now trims the edge of the 
linen. The elastic hickory rod, held with both hands, 
smoothly pushes the ball to its bed ; once, twice, thrice has 
it rebounded. The rifle leaps as it were into the hunter's 
arms, the feather is drawn from the touch-hole, the powder 
fills the pan, which is closed. "Now I'm ready," cries 
the woodsman. His companions say the same. Hardly 
more than a minute has elapsed. I wish, reader, you had 
seen this fine fellow — but hark! the dogs are barking. 



EPISODES 493 

All is now bustle within and without ; a servant lights 
a torch, and off we march to the woods. "Don't mind 
the boys, my dear sir," says the woodsman, "follow me 
close, for the ground is covered with logs, and the grape- 
vines hang everywhere across. Toby, hold up the light, 
man, or we'll never see the gullies. Trail your gun, 
sir, as General Clark used to say — not so, but this way 
— that's it; now then, no danger, you see; no fear of 
snakes, poor things! They are stiff enough, I'll be 
bound. The dogs have treed one. Toby, you old fool, 
why don't you turn to the right .^ — not so much; there — 
go ahead, and give us light. What 's that .' Who 's there .' 
Ah, you young rascals ! you 've played us a trick, have 
you? It 's all well enough, but now just keep behind, or 
I'll — " And, in fact, the boys, with eyes good enough 
to see in the dark, although not quite so well as an Owl's, 
had cut directly across the dogs, which had surjjrised a 
Raccoon on the ground, and bayed it until the lads knocked 
it on the head. " Seek him, boys ! " cried the hunter. The 
dogs, putting their noses to the ground, pushed off at a 
good rate. " Master, they 're making for the creek," says 
old Toby. On towards it therefore we push. What 
woods, to be sure! No gentleman's park this, I assure 
you, reader. We are now in a low flat ; the soil thinly 
covers the hard clay ; nothing but beech-trees hereabouts, 
unless now and then a maple. Hang the limbs! say I — 
hang the supple-jacks too — here I am, fast by the neck; 
cut it with your knife. My knee has had a tremendous 
rub against a log; now my foot is jammed between two 
roots; and here I stick. "Toby, come back; don't you 
know the stranger is not up to the woods ? Halloo, Toby, 
Toby!" There I stood perfectly shackled, the hunter 
laughing heartily, and the lads glad of an opportunity of 
slipping off. Toby arrived, and held the torch near the 
ground, on which the hunter, cutting one of the roots with 
his hatchet, set me free. "Are you hurt, sir?" — "No, 



494 AUDUBON 



not in the least. " Off we start again. The boys had got 
up with the dogs, which were baying a Raccoon in a small 
puddle. We soon joined them with the light. " Now, 
stranger, watch and see ! " The Raccoon was all but 
swimming, and yet had hold of the bottom of the pool 
with his feet. The glare of the lighted torch was doubt- 
less distressing to him; his coat was ruffled, and his 
rounded tail seemed thrice its ordinary size; his eyes 
shone like emeralds; with foaming jaws he watched the 
dogs, ready to seize each by the snout if it came within 
reach. They kept him busy for several minutes; the 
water became thick with mud ; his coat now hung drip- 
ping, and his draggled tail lay floating on the surface. 
His guttural growlings, in place of intimidating his as- 
sailants excited them the more; and they very uncere- 
moniously closed upon him, curs as they were, and 
without the breeding of gentle dogs. One seized him by 
the rump, and tugged, but was soon forced to let go ; an- 
other stuck to his side, but soon taking a better directed 
bite of his muzzle than another dog had just done of his 
tail. Coon made him yelp; and pitiful were the cries of 
luckless Tyke. The Raccoon would not let go, but in the 
mean time the other dogs seized him fast, and worried him 
to death, yet to the last he held by his antagonist's snout. 
Knocked on the head by an axe, he lay gasping his last 
breath, and the heaving of his chest was painful to see. 
The hunters stood gazing at him in the pool, while all 
around was by the flare of the torch rendered trebly dark 
and dismal. It was a good scene for a skilful painter. 

We had now two Coons, whose furs were worth two 
quarters of a dollar, and whose bodies, which I must not 
forget, as Toby informed us, were worth two more. 
" What now ? " I asked. " What now ? " quoth the father ; 
"why, go after more, to be sure." So we did, the dogs 
ahead, and I far behind. In a short time the curs treed 
another, and when we came up, we found them seated on 



EPISODES 49S 

their haunches, looking upwards, and barking. The 
hunters now employed their axes, and sent the chips 
about at such a rate that one of them coming in contact 
with my cheek, marked it so that a week after several of 
my friends asked me where, in the name of wonder, I had 
got that black eye. At length the tree began to crack, 
and slowly leaning to one side, the heavy mass swung 
rustling through the air, and fell to the earth with a 
crash. It was not one Coon that was surprised here, but 
three — ay, three of them, one of which, more crafty 
than the rest, leaped fairly from the main top while the 
tree was staggering. The other two stuck to the hollow 
of a branch, from which they were soon driven by one of 
the dogs. Tyke and Lion, having nosed the cunning old 
one, scampered after him, not mouthing like the well- 
trained hounds of our southern Fox-hunters, but yelling 
like furies. The hunter's sons attacked those on the tree, 
while the woodsman and I, preceded by Toby, made after 
the other; and busy enough we all were. Our animal 
was of extraordinary size, and after some parley, a rifle- 
ball was sent through his brain. He reeled once only; 
next moment he lay dead. The rest were despatched by 
the axe and the club, for a shot in those days was too val- 
uable to be spent when it could be saved. It could pro- 
cure a Deer, and therefore was worth more than a Coon's 
skin. 

Now, look at the moon ! how full and clear has she 
risen on the Raccoon hunters ! Now is the time for sport ! 
Onward we go, one following the long shadow of his pre- 
cursor. The twigs are no impediment, and we move at a 
brisker pace, as we return to the hills. What a hue and 
cry! here are the dogs. Overhead and all around, on the 
forks of each tree, the hunter's keen eye searches for 
something round, which is likely to prove a coiled-up 
Raccoon. There's one! Between me and the moon I 
spied the cunning thing crouched in silence. After tak- 



496 AUDUBON 



ing aim, I raise my barrel ever so little, the trigger is 
pressed ; down falls the Raccoon to the ground. Another 
and another are on the same tree. Off goes a bullet, 
then a second ; and we secure the prey. " Let us go 
home, stranger," says the woodsman; and contented with 
our sport, towards his cabin we trudge. On arriving 
there, we find a cheerful fire. Toby stays without, pre- 
pares the game, stretches the skins on a frame of cane, 
and washes the bodies. The table is already set; the 
cake and the potatoes are all well done; four bowls of 
buttermilk are ranged in order, and now the hunters 
fall to. 

The Raccoon is a cunning animal, and makes a pleasant 
pet. Monkey-like, it is quite dexterous in the use of its 
fore-feet, and it will amble after its master, in tKe man- 
ner of a Bear, and even follow him into the street. It is 
fond of eggs, but prefers them raw, and it matters not 
whether it be morning, noon, or night when it finds a 
dozen in the pheasant's nest, or one placed in your pocket 
to please him. He knows the habits of mussels better 
than most conchologists. Being an expert climber he 
ascends to the hole of the Woodpecker, and devours the 
young birds. He knows, too, how to watch the soft- 
shelled Turtle's crawl, and, better still, how to dig up her 
eggs. Now, by the edge of the pond, grimalkin-like, 
he lies seemingly asleep, until the Summer-Duck comes 
within reach. No negro knows better when the corn is 
juicy and pleasant to eat ; and although Squirrels and 
Woodpeckers know this too, the Raccoon is found in the 
corn-field longer in the season than any of them, the havoc 
he commits there amounting to a tithe. His fur is good 
in winter, and many think his flesh good also ; but for my 
part, I prefer a live Raccoon to a dead one ; and should 
find more pleasure in hunting one than in eating him. 



EPISODES 497 



PITTING OF WOLVES 

There seems to be a universal feeling of hostility among 
men against the Wolf, whose strength, agility, and cun- 
ning, which latter is scarcely inferior to that of his rela- 
tive. Master Reynard, tend to render him an object of 
hatred, especially to the husbandman, on whose flocks he 
is ever apt to commit depredations. In America, where 
this animal was formerly abundant, and in many parts of 
which it still occurs in considerable numbers, it is not 
more mercifully dealt with than in other parts of the 
world. Traps and snares of all sorts are set for catching 
it, while dogs and horses are trained for hunting the Fox. 
The Wdlf, however, unless ih some way injured, being 
more powerful and perhaps better winded than the Fox, 
is rarely pursued with hounds or any other dogs in open 
chase ; but as his depredations are at times extensive and 
highly injurious to the farmer, the greatest exertions have 
been used to exterminate his race. Few instances have 
occurred among us of any attack made by Wolves on man, 
and only one has come under my own notice. 

Two young negroes who resided near the banks of the 
Ohio, in the lower part of the state of Kentucky, about 
twenty-three years ago, had sweethearts living on a plan- 
tation ten miles distant. After the labors of the day 
were over, they frequently visited the fair ladies of their 
choice, the nearest way to whose dwelling lay directly 
across a great cane-brake. As to the lover every moment 
is precious, they usually took this route to save time. 
Winter had commenced, cold, dark, and forbidding, and 
after sunset scarcely a glimpse of light or glow of warmth, 
one might imagine, could be found in that dreary swamp, 
excepting in the eyes and bosoms of the ardent youths, or 
the hungry Wolves that prowled about. The snow cov- 
ered the earth, and rendered them more easy to be scented 

vol.. II. — 32 



498 AUDUBON 



from a distance by the famished beasts. Prudent in a cer- 
tain degree, the young lovers carried their axes on their 
shoulders, and walked as briskly as the narrow path would 
allow. Some transient glimpses of light now and then 
met their eyes, but so faint were they that they believed 
them to be caused by their faces coming in contact with 
the slender reeds covered with snow. Suddenly, however, 
a long and frightful howl burst upon them, and they in- 
stantly knew that it proceeded from a troop of hungry, 
perhaps desperate Wolves. They stopped, and putting 
themselves in an attitude of defence, awaited the result. 
All around was dark, save a few feet of snow, and the 
silence of night was dismal. Nothing could be done to 
better their situation, and after standing a few minutes 
in expectation of an attack, they judged it best to resume 
their march ; but no sooner had they replaced their axes 
on their shoulders and begun to move, than the foremost 
found himself assailed by several foes. His legs were 
held fast as if pressed by a powerful screw, and the tor- 
ture inflicted by the fangs of the ravenous animal was for 
a moment excruciating. Several Wolves in the mean- 
time sprung upon the breast of the other negro, and 
dragged him to the ground. Both struggled manfully 
against their foes; but in a short time one of them ceased 
to move, and the other, reduced in strength, and perhaps 
despairing of maintaining his ground, still more of aiding 
his unfortunate companion, sprung to the branch of a tree, 
and speedily gained a place of safety near the top. The 
next morning the mangled remains of his comrade lay 
scattered around on the snow, which was stained with 
blood. Three dead Wolves lay around, but the rest of 
the pack had disappeared, and Scipio, sliding to the 
ground, took up the axes, and made the best of his way 
home, to relate the sad adventure. 

About two years after this occurrence, as I was travel- 
ling between Henderson and Vincennes, I chanced to stop 



EPISODES 499 

for the night at a farmer's house by the side of the road. 
After putting up my horse and refreshing myself, I en- 
tered into conversation with mine host, who askfed if I 
should like to pay a visit to the Wolf-pits, which were 
about half a mile distant. Glad of the opportunity I 
accompanied him across the fields to the neighborhood of 
a deep wood, and soon saw the engines of destruction. 
He had three pits, within a few hundred yards of each 
other. They were about eight feet deep and broader at 
bottom, so as to render it impossible for the most active 
animal to escape from them. The aperture was covered 
with a revolving platform of twigs attached to a central 
axis. On either surface of the platform was fastened a 
large piece of putrid venison, with other matters by no 
means pleasing to my olfactory nerves, although no doubt 
attractive to the Wolves. My companion wished to visit 
them that evening, merely as he was in the habit of doing 
so daily, for the purpose of seeing that all was right. He 
said that Wolves were very abundant that autumn, and 
had killed nearly the whole of his sheep and one of his 
colts, but that he was now "paying them off in full ; " and 
added that if I would tarry a few hours with him next 
morning, he would beyond a doubt show me some sport 
rarely seen in those parts. We retired to rest in due 
time, and were up with the dawn. 

"I think," said my host, "that all 's right, for I see the 
dogs are anxious to get away to the pits, and although 
they are nothing but curs, their noses are none the worse 
for that." As he took up his gun, an axe, and a large 
knife, the dogs began to howl and bark, and whisked 
around us, as if full of joy. When we reached the first 
pit, we found the bait all gone, and the platform much 
injured; but the animal that had been entrapped had 
scraped a subterranean passage for himself, and so es- 
caped. On peeping into the next, he assured me that 
"three famous fellows were safe enough" in it. I also 



500 AUDUBON 



peeped in and saw the Wolves, two black, and the other 
brindled, all of goodly size, sure enough. They lay flat 
on the earth, their ears laid close over the head, their 
eyes indicating fear more than anger. " But how are we 
to get them out?" "How, sir?" said the farmer; "why, 
by going down, to be sure, and hamstringing them. " Be- 
ing a novice in these matters, I begged to be merely a 
looker-on. "With all my heart," quoth the farmer; 
" stand here and look at me through the brush. " Where- 
upon he glided down, taking with him his axe and knife, 
and leaving his rifle to my care. I was not a little sur- 
prised to see the cowardice of the Wolves. He pulled 
out successively their hind legs, and with a side stroke of 
the knife cut the principal tendon above the joint, exhib- 
iting as little fear as if he had been marking lambs. 

" Lo ! " exclaimed the farmer, when he had got out, 
"we have forgotten the rope; I'll go after it." Off he 
went accordingly, with as much alacrity as any youngster 
could show. In a short time he returned out of breath, 
and wiping his forehead with the back of his hand — 
"Now for it." I was desired to raise and hold the plat- 
form on its central balance, whilst he, with all the dex- 
terity of an Indian, threw a noose over the neck of one of 
the Wolves. We hauled it up motionless with fright, as 
if dead, its disabled legs swinging to and fro, its jaws 
wide open, and the gurgle in its throat alone indicating 
that it was alive. Letting him drop on the ground, the 
farmer loosened the rope by means of a stick, and left 
him to the dogs, all of which set upon him with great fury 
and soon worried him to death. The second was dealt 
with in the same manner; but the third, which was prob- 
ably the oldest, as it was the blackest, showed some spirit 
the moment it was left loose to the mercy of the curs. 
This Wolf, which we afterwards found to be a female, 
scufifled along on its fore-legs at a surprising rate, giving 
a snap every now and then to the nearest dog, which went 



EPISODES SOI 

off howling dismally, with a mouthful of skin torn from 
its side. And so well did the furious beast defend itself, 
that apprehensive of its escape, the farmer levelled his 
rifle at it, and shot it through the heart, on which the curs 
rushed upon it, and satiated their vengeance on the de- 
stroyer of their master's flock. 



THE OPOSSUM 

This singular animal is found more or less abundant in 
most parts of the Southern, Western, and Middle States 
of the Union. It is the Didelphis virginiana of Pennant, 
Harlan, and other authors who have given some accounts 
of its habits ; but as none of them, so far as I know, have 
illustrated its propensity to dissimulate, and as I have had 
opportunities of observing its manners, I trust that a few 
particulars of its biography will prove amusing. 

The Opossum is fond of secluding itself during the 
day, although it by no means confines its predatory rang- 
ings to the night. Like many other quadrupeds which 
feed principally on flesh, it is also both frugivorous and 
herbivorous, and, when very hard pressed by hunger, it 
seizes various kinds of insects and reptiles. Its gait, 
while travelling, and at a time when it supposes itself 
unobserved, is altogether ambling; in other words, it, 
like a young foal, moves the two legs of one side forward 
at once. The Newfoundland dog manifests a similar pro- 
pensity. Having a constitution as hardy as that of the 
most northern animals, it stands the coldest weather, and 
does not hibernate, although its covering of fur and hair 
may be said to be comparatively scanty even during win- 
ter. The defect, however, seems to be compensated by 
a skin of considerable thickness, and a general subcuta- 
neous layer of fat. Its movements are usually rather 



502 AUDUBON 



slow, and as it walks or ambles along, its curious prehen- 
sile tail is carried just above the ground, its rounded ears 
are directed forward, and at almost every step its pointed 
nose is applied to the objects beneath it, in order to dis- 
cover what sort of creatures may have crossed its path. 
Methinks I see one at this moment slowly and cautiously 
trudging over the melting snows by the side of an unfre- 
quented pond, nosing as it goes for the fare its ravenous 
appetite prefers. Now it has come upon the fresh track 
of a Grouse or Hare, and it raises its snout and snuffs the 
keen air. At length it has decided on its course, and it 
speeds onward at the rate of a man's ordinary walk. It 
stops and seems at a loss in what direction to go, for the 
object of its pursuit has either taken a considerable leap 
or has cut backwards before the Opossum entered its 
track. It raises itself up, stands for a while on its hind 
feet, looks around, snuffs the air again, and then proceeds ; 
but now, at the foot of a noble tree, it comes to a full 
stand. It walks round the base of the huge trunk, over 
the snow-covered roots, and among them finds an aperture 
which it at once enters. Several minutes elapse, when 
it re-appears, dragging along a Squirrel already deprived 
of life, with which in its mouth it begins to ascend the 
tree. Slowly it climbs. The first fork does not seem to 
suit it, for perhaps it thinks it might there be too openly 
exposed to the view of some wily foe; and so it proceeds, 
until it gains a cluster of branches intertwined with grape- 
vines, and there composing itself, it twists its tail round 
one of the twigs, and with its sharp teeth demolishes the 
unlucky Squirrel, which it holds all the while with its 
fore-paws. 

The pleasant days of spring have arrived, and the trees 
vigorously shoot forth their buds; but the Opossum is 
almost bare, and seems nearly exhausted by hunger. It 
visits the margins of creeks, and is pleased to see the 
young frogs, which afford it a tolerable repast. Gradually 



EPISODES 503 / 

the poke-berry and the nettle shoot up, and on their ten- 
der and juicy stems it gladly feeds. The matin calls of 
the Wild Turkey Cock delight the ear of the cunning 
creature, for it well knows that it will soon hear the 
female and trace her to her nest, when it will suck the 
eggs with delight. Travelling through the woods, per- 
haps on the ground, perhaps aloft, from tree to tree, it 
hears a cock crow, and its heart swells as it remembers 
the savory food on which it regaled itself last summer in 
the neighboring farm-yard. With great care, however, it 
advances, and at last conceals itself in the very hen-house. 
Honest farmer ! why did you kill so many Crows last 
winter.' ay and Ravens too? Well, you have had your 
own way of it ; but now hie to the village and procure a 
store of ammunition, clean your rusty gun, set your traps, 
and teach your lazy curs to watch the Opossum. There 
it comes. The sun is scarcely down, but the appetite of 
the prowler is keen ; hear the screams of one of your best 
chickens that has been seized by him ! The cunning 
beast is off with it, and nothing can now be done, unless 
you stand there to watch the Fox or the Owl, now exulting 
in the thought that you have killed their enemy and your 
own friend, the poor Crow. That precious hen under 
which you last week placed a dozen eggs or so is now 
deprived of them. The Opossum, notwithstanding her 
angry outcries and rufflings of feathers, has removed them 
one by one, and now look at the poor bird as she moves 
across your yard; if not mad, she is at least stupid, for 
she scratches here and there, calling to her chickens all 
the while. All this comes from your shooting Crows. 
Had you been more merciful or more prudent, the Opos- 
sum might have been kept within the woods, where it 
would have been satisfied with a Squirrel, a young Hare, 
the eggs of a Turkey, or the grapes that so profusely 
adorn the boughs of our forest trees. But I talk to you 
in vain. 



504 AUDUBON 



There cannot be a better exemplification of maternal 
tenderness than the female Opossum. Just peep into 
that curious sack in which the young are concealed, each 
attached to a teat. The kind mother not only nourishes 
them with care, but preserves them from their enemies ; 
she moves with them as the shark does with its progeny, 
and now, aloft on the tulip-tree, she hides among the 
thick foliage. By the end of two months they begin to 
shift for themselves ; each has been taught its particular 
lesson, and must now practise it. 

But suppose the farmer has surprised an Opossum in 
the act of killing one of his best fowls. His angry feel- 
ings urge him to kick the poor beast, which, conscious of 
its inability to resist, rolls off like a ball. The more the 
farmer rages, the more reluctant is the animal to manifest 
resentment ; at last there it lies, not dead, but exhausted, 
its jaws open, its tongue extended, its eye dimmed ; and 
there it would lie until the bottle-fly should come to de- 
posit its eggs, did not its tormentor at length walk off. 
"Surely," says he to himself, "the beast must be dead." 
But no, reader, it is only " 'possuming," and no sooner 
has its enemy withdrawn than it gradually gets on its 
legs, and once more makes for the woods. 

Once, while descending the Mississippi, in a sluggish 
flat-bottomed boat, expressly for the purpose of studying 
those objects of nature more nearly connected with my 
favorite pursuits, I chanced to meet with two well-grown 
Opossums, and brought them alive to the "ark." The 
poor things were placed on the roof or deck, and were 
immediately assailed by the crew, when, following their 
natural instinct, they lay as if quite dead. An experi- 
ment was suggested, and both were thrown overboard. 
On striking the water, and for a few moments after, 
neither evinced the least disposition to move ; but finding 
their situation desperate, they began to swim towards our 
uncouth rudder, which was formed of a long slender tree, 
extending from the middle of the boat thirty feet beyond 



EPISODES 505 

its stern. They both got upon it, were taken up, and 
afterwards let loose in their native woods. 

In the year 1829, I was in a portion of lower Louisiana, 
where the Opossum abounds at all seasons, and having 
been asked by the President and the Secretary of the Zoo- 
logical Society of London, to forward live animals of this 
species to them, I offered a price a little above the com- 
mon, and soon found myself plentifully supplied, twenty- 
five having been brought to me. I found them excessively 
voracious, and not less cowardly. They were put into a 
large box, with a great quantity of food, and conveyed to 
a steamer bound for New Orleans. Two days afterwards, 
I went to that city, to see about sending them off to 
Europe ; but, to my surprise, I found that the old males 
had destroyed the younger ones, and eaten off their heads, 
and that only sixteen remained alive. A separate box 
was purchased for each, and some time after they reached 
my friends, the Rathbones of Liverpool, who, with their 
usual attention, sent them off to London, where, on my 
return, I saw a good number of them in the Zoological 
Gardens. 

' This animal is fond of grapes, of which a species now 
bears its name. Persimmons are greedily eaten by it, and 
in severe weather I have observed it eating lichens. 
Fowls of every kind, and quadrupeds less powerful than 
itself, are also its habitual prey. 

The flesh of the Opossum resembles that of a young 
pig, and would perhaps be as highly prized, were it not 
for the prejudice generally entertained against it. Some 
"very particular" persons, to my knowledge, have pro- 
nounced it excellent eating. After cleaning its body, 
suspend it for a whole week in the frosty air, for it is not 
eaten in summer; then place it on a heap of hot wood 
embers; sprinkle it when cooked with gunpowder; and 
now tell me, good reader, does it not equal the famed 
Canvas-back Duck? Should you visit any of our mar- 
kets, you may see it there in company with the best game. 



S06 AUDUBON 



A MAPLE-SUGAR CAMP 

While advancing the best way I could through the mag- 
nificent woods that cover the undulating grounds in the 
vicinity of the Green River in Kentucky, I was overtaken 
by night. With slow and cautious steps I proceeded, 
feeling some doubt as to my course, when the moon came 
forth, as if purposely to afford me her friendly light. 
The air I thought was uncommonly keen, and the gentle 
breeze that now and then shook the tops of the tall trees 
more than once made me think of halting for the night, 
and forming a camp. At times I thought of the cam- 
paigns of my old friend, Daniel Boone, his strange ad- 
ventures in these very woods, and the extraordinary walk 
which he performed to save his fellow creatures at Fort 
Massacre from the scalping knives of the irritated In- 
dians.i Now and then a Raccoon or Opossum, causing the 
fallen leaves to rustle, made me pause for a moment ; and 
thus I was forcing my way, thinking on many things dis- 
mal as well as pleasing, when the glimmer of a distant 
fire suddenly aroused me from my reveries, and inspired 
me with fresh animation. As I approached it, I observed 
forms of different kinds moving to and fro before it, like 
spectres; and ere long, bursts of laughter, shouts, and 
songs apprised me of some merry-making. I thought at 
first I had probably stumbled upon a camp meeting ; but 
I soon perceived that the mirth proceeded from a band of 
sugar-makers. Every man, woman, and child stared as I 
passed them, but all were friendly, and, without more 
ceremony than was needful, I walked up to the fire, at 
which I found two or three old women, with their hus- 

1 " On the i6th [June, 1778], before sunrise, I departed in the most secret 
manner, and arrived at Boonesborough on the 20th, after a journey of 160 
miles, during which I had but one meal." (Letter of Daniel Boone, who 
was then forty-three.) 



EPISODES 507 

bands, attending to the kettles. Their plain dresses of 
Kentucky homespun were far more pleasing to my sight 
than the ribboned turbans of city dames, or the powdered 
wigs and embroidered waistcoats of antique beaux. I was 
heartily welcomed, and supplied with a goodly pone of 
bread, a plate of molasses, and some sweet potatoes. 

Fatigued with my long ramble, I lay down under the 
lee of the smoke, and soon fell into a sound sleep. When 
day returned, the frost lay thick around; but the party 
arose cheerful and invigorated, and after performing 
their orisons, resumed their labor. The scenery was 
most pleasing; the ground all round looked as if it had 
been cleared of underwood ; the maples, straight and tall, 
seemed as if planted in rows; between them meandered 
several rills, which gently murmured as they hastened 
toward the larger stream; and as the sun dissolved the 
frozen dews the few feathered songsters joined the chorus 
of the woodsmen's daughters. Whenever a burst of 
laughter suddenly echoed through the woods, an Owl or 
Wild Turkey would respond to it, with a signal welcome 
to the young men of the party. With large ladles the 
sugar-makers stirred the thickening juice of the maple; 
pails of sap were collected from the trees and brought in 
by the young people, while here and there some sturdy 
fellow was seen first hacking a cut in a tree, and after- 
wards boring with an auger a hole, into which he intro- 
duced a piece of hollow cane, by which the sap was to be 
drained off. About half a dozen men had felled a noble 
yellow poplar, and sawed its gregt trunk into many pieces, 
which, after being split, they were scooping into troughs 
to be placed under the cane-cocks, to receive the maple 
juice. 

Now, good reader, should you ever chance to travel 
through the maple grounds that lie near the banks of that 
lovely stream the Green River of Kentucky, either in 
January or in March, or through those on the broader 



5o8 AUDUBON 



Monongahela in April; nay, should you find yourself by 
the limpid streamlets that roll down the declivities of the 
Pocano Mountains to join the Lehigh, and there meet 
with a sugar camp, take my advice and tarry for a while. 
If you be on foot or on horseback, and are thirsty, you 
can nowhere find a more wholesome or more agreeable 
beverage than the juice of the maple. A man when in 
the Floridas may drink molasses diffused in y/ater; in 
Labrador he may drink what he can get; and at New 
York or Philadelphia he may drink what he chooses ; but 
in the woods a draught from the sugar maple is delicious 
and most refreshing. How often, when travelling, have 
I quenched my thirst with the limpid juice of the receiv- 
ing-troughs, from which I parted with regret; nay, even 
my horse, I have thought, seemed to desire to linger as 
long as he could. 

But let me endeavor to describe to you the manner in 
which the sugar is obtained. The trees that yield it 
{Acer sacckarinum) are found more or less abundantly in 
all parts of the United States from Louisiana to Maine, 
growing on elevated rich grounds. An incision is made 
into the trunk at a height of from two to six feet ; a pipe 
of cane or of any other kind is thrust into the aperture, 
a trough is placed beneath and receives the juice, which 
trickles by drops, and is as limpid as the purest spring 
water. When all the trees of a certain space have been 
tapped, and the troughs filled, the people collect the 
juice, and pour it into large vessels. A camp has already 
been pitched in the midst of a grove ; several iron boilers 
have been fixed on stone or brick supports, and the busi- 
ness proceeds with vigor. At times several neighboring 
families join, and enjoy the labor, as if it were a pastime, 
remaining out day and night for several weeks; for the 
troughs and kettles must be attended to from the moment 
when they are first put in requisition until the sugar is 
produced. The men and boys perform the most laborious 



EPISODES 509 

part of the business, but the women and girls are not less 
busy. 

It takes ten gallons of sap to produce a pound of fine- 
grained sugar ; but an inferior kind in lumps, called cake 
sugar, is obtained in greater quantity. When the season 
is far advanced, the juice will no longer grain by boiling, 
and only produces a syrup. I have seen maple sugar so 
good, that some months after it was manufactured it re- 
sembled candy; and well do I remember the time when 
it was an article of commerce throughout Kentucky, 
where, twenty-five or thirty years ago, it sold at from 6J 
to 12^ cents per pound, according to its quality, and was 
daily purchased in the markets or stores. 

Trees that have been thus bored rarely last many years ; 
for the cuts and perforations made in their trunks injure 
their health, so that after some years of weeping they be- 
come sickly, exhibit monstrosities about their lower parts, 
gradually decay, and at length die. I have no doubt, 
however, that, with proper care, the same quantity of sap 
might be obtained with less injury to the trees; and it is 
now fully time that the farmers and land-owners should 
begin to look to the preservation of their sugar-maples. 



THE WHITE PERCH AND THE FAVORITE 

BAIT 

No sooner have the overflowing waters of early spring 
subsided within their banks, and the temperature become 
pleasant, than the trees of our woods are seen to unfold 
their buds and blossoms, and the White Perch which during 
the winter has lived in the ocean, rushes up our streams, 
to seek the well-known haunts in which it last year depos- 
ited its spawn. With unabating vigor it ascends the tur- 
bulent current of the Mississippi, of which, however, the 



5IO AUDUBON 



waters are too muddy to suit its habits ; and glad no doubt 
it is to enter one of the numberless tributaries whose 
limpid waters are poured into the mighty river. Of these 
subsidiary waters the Ohio is one in whose pure stream 
the White Perch seems to deHght; and towards its head- 
springs the fish advance in numerous shoals, following the 
banks with easy progress. Over many a pebbly or grav- 
elly bar does it seek its food. Here the crawling Mussel 
it crunches and devours; there, with the speed of an 
arrow, it darts upon the minnow ; again, at the edge of a 
shelving rock, or by the side of a stone, it secures a cray- 
fish. No impure food will " the Growler " touch ; there- 
fore, reader, never make use of such to allure it, otherwise 
not only will your time be lost, but you will not enjoy the 
gratification of tasting this delicious fish. Should you 
have no experience in fishing for Perch I would recommend 
to you to watch the men you see on that shore, for they 
are excellent anglers. 

Smooth are the waters, clear is the sky, and gently does 
the stream move — perhaps its velocity does not exceed a 
mile in the hour. Silence reigns around you. See, each 
fisher has a basket or calabash, containing many a live 
Cray; and each line, as thick as a crowquill, measures 
scarce a furlong. At one end two Perch-hooks are so fas- 
tened that they cannot interfere with each other. A few 
inches beyond the reaching point of the farthest hook, the 
sinker, perhaps a quarter of a pound in weight, having a 
hole bored through its length, is passed upon the line, and 
there secured by a stout knot at its lower extremity. The 
other end of the line is fastened ashore. The tackle, you 
observe, is carefully coiled on the sand at the fisher's feet. 
Now on each hook he fixes a cray-fish, piercing the shell 
beneath the tail, and forcing the keen weapon to reach the 
very head of the suffering creature, while all its legs are left 
at liberty to move. Now each man, holding his line a yard 
or so from the hooks, whirls it several times overhead, and 



EPISODES 511 

sends it off to its full length directly across the stream. No 
sooner has it reached the. gravelly bed than, gently urged 
by the current, it rolls over and over, until the line and the 
water follow the same direction. Before this, however, I 
see that several of the men have had a bite, and that by a 
short jerk they have hooked the fish. Hand over hand 
they haul in their lines. Poor Perch, it is useless labor for 
thee to flounce and splash in that manner, for no pity will 
be shown thee, and thou shalt be dashed on the sand, and 
left there to quiver in the agonies of death. The lines are 
within a few yards of being in. I see the fish gasping on 
its side. Ah ! there are two on this line, both good ; on 
most of the others there is one; but I see some of the 
lines have been robbed by some cunning inhabitant of the 
water. What beautiful fishes these Perches are ! So sil- 
very beneath, so deeply colored above ! What a fine eye, 
too ! But, friend, I cannot endure their gaspings. Pray 
put them on this short line, and place them in the water 
beside you, until you prepare to go home. In a few hours 
each fisher has obtained as many as he wishes. He rolls 
up his line, fastens five or six Perches on each side of his 
saddle, mounts his horse, and merrily wends his way. 

In this manner the White Perch is caught along the 
sandy banks of the Ohio, from its mouth to its source. 
In many parts above Louisville some fishers prefer using 
the trot-line, which, however, ought to be placed upon, or 
very little above, the bottom of the stream. When this 
kind of line is employed, its hooks are more frequently 
baited with mussels than with cray-fish, the latter being, 
perhaps, not so easily procured there as farther down the 
stream. Great numbers of Perches are also caught in 
seines, especially during a transient rise of the water. Few 
persons fish for them with the pole, as they generally 
prefer following the edges of the sand-bars, next to deep 
water. Like all others of its tribe, the White Perch is fond 
of depositing its spawn on gravelly or sandy beds, but 



512 AUDUBON 



rarely at a depth of less than four or five feet. These beds 
are round, and have an elevated margin formed of the 
sand removed from their centre, which is scooped out 
for two or three inches. The fish, although it generally 
remains for some days over its treasure, is by no means so 
careful of it as the little " Sunny," but starts off at the least 
appearance of danger. I have more than once taken con- 
siderable pleasure in floating over their beds, when the 
water was sufficiently clear to admit of my seeing both the 
fish and its place of deposit ; but I observed that if the sun 
was shining, the very sight of the boat's shadow drove the 
Perches away. I am of opinion that most of them return 
to the sea about the beginning of November ; but of this 
I am not certain. 

The usual length of this fish, which on the Ohio is called 
the White Perch, and in the state of New York the Growler, 
is from fifteen to twenty inches. I have, however, seen 
some considerably larger. The weight varies from a pound 
and a half to four, and even six pounds. For the first six 
weeks of their arrival in fresh-water streams they are in 
season; the flesh is then white and firm, and affords 
excellent eating; but duritig the heats of summer they 
become poor, and are seldom very good. Now and then, 
in the latter days of September, I have eaten some that 
tasted as well as in spring. One of the most remarkable 
habits of this fish is that from which it has received the 
name of Growler. When poised in the water, close to the 
bottom of the boat, it emits a rough croaking noise, some- 
what resembling a groan. Whenever this sound is heard 
under a boat, if the least disturbance is made by knocking 
on the gunwale or bottom, it at once ceases ; but is renewed 
when everything is quiet. It is seldom heard, however, 
unless in fine, calm weather. 

The White Perch bites at the hook with considerable 
care, and very frequently takes oft" the bait without being 
caught. Indeed, it requires a good deal of dexterity to 



EPISODES 513 

hook it, for if this is not done the first time it touches the 
bait, you rarely succeed afterward ; and I have seen young 
hands at the game, who, in the course of a morning, sel- 
dom caught more than one or two, although they lost per- 
haps twenty crays. But now that I have afforded you 
some information respecting the habits of the White Perch, 
allow me to say a few words on the subject of its favorite 
bait. 

The Cray is certainly not a fish, although usually so 
styled ; but as every one is acquainted with its form and 
nature, I shall not inflict on you any disquisition regarding 
it. It is a handsome crustaceous animal certainly, and its 
whole tribe I consider as dainties of the first order. To 
me " Ecrevisses," whether of salt or fresh water, stripped 
of their coats and blended into a soup or a " Gombo," have 
always been most welcome. Boiled or roasted, too, they 
are excellent in my estimation, and mayhap in yours. 
The cray-fish, of which I here more particularly speak — 
for I shall not deprive them of their caudal appendage, lest, 
like a basha without his tail, they might seem of less con- 
sequence — are found most abundantly swimming, crawl- 
ing at the bottom or on shore, or working at their muddy 
burrows, in all the southern parts of the Union. If I mis- 
take not, we have two species at least, one more an inhabi- 
tant of rocky streamlets than the other, and that one by far 
the best, though the other is good too. Both species swim 
by means of rapid strokes of the tail, which propel them 
backwards to a considerable distance at each repetition. 
All that I regret concerning these animals is that they are 
absolutely little aquatic vultures — or, if you please, Crus- 
tacea with vulturine habits — for they feed on everything 
impure that comes in their way, when they cannot obtain 
fresh aliment. However this may be, the crays somehow 
fall in with this sort of food, and any person may catch as 
many as he may wish, by fastening a piece of flesh to a 
line, allowing it to remain under water for a while, and 

VOL. II. — 33 



SH AUDUBON 



drawing it up with care, when, with the aid of a hand-net, 
he may bring it ashore with a few! But although this is 
a good method of procuring cray-fish, it answers only for 
those that live in running waters. The form of these is 
delicate, their color a light olive, and their motions in the 
water are very lively. The others are larger, of a dark, 
greenish brown, less active in the water than on land, 
although they are most truly amphibious. The first con- 
ceal themselves beneath shelving rocks, stones, or water- 
plants ; the others form a deep burrow in the damp earth, 
depositing the materials drawn up as a man would do in 
digging a well. The manner in which they dispose of the 
mud you may see by glancing at the plate of the White 
Ibis, in my third volume of illustrations, where also you 
will find a tolerable portrait of one of these creatures. 

According to the nature of the ground, the burrows of 
this cray-fish are more or less deep. Indeed, this also 
depends partly on the increasing dryness of the soil, when 
influenced by the heat of summer, as well as on the tex- 
ture of the substratum. Thus, in some places, where the 
cray can reach the water after working a few inches, it rests 
contented during the day, but crawls out for food at night. 
Should it, however, be left dry, it renews its labors; and 
thus while one burrow may be only five or six inches 
deep, another may be two or three feet, and a third even 
more. They are easily procured when thus lodged in 
shallow holes ; but when the burrow is deep, a thread is 
used, with a small piece of flesh fastened to it. The cray 
eagerly seizes the bait, and is gently drawn up, and thrown 
to a distance, when he becomes an easy prey. You have 
read of the method used by the White Ibis in procuring 
crays,^ and I leave you to judge whether the bird or the 

' This bird [tlie Wiiite Ibis], to procure tlie Cray-fish, walks with re- 
raarlcable care to the mounds of mud which the latter throws up while 
forming its hole, and breaks up the upper part of the fabric, dropping the 
fragments into the deep cavity that has been made by the animal. Then 



EPISODES 515 

man is the best fisher. This species is most abundant 
round the borders of the stagnant lakes, bayous, or ponds 
of the Southern Districts ; and I have seen them caught 
even in the streets of the suburbs of New Orleans, after a 
heavy shower. They become a great pest by perforating 
embankments of all sorts, and many are the maledictions 
that are uttered against them, both by millers and planters, 
nay, even by the overseers of the levees along the banks 
of the Mississippi. But they are curious creatures, formed 
no doubt for useful purposes, and as such they are worthy 
of your notice. 



THE AMERICAN SUN PERCH 

Few of our smaller fresh-water fishes excel, either in 
beauty or in delicacy and flavor, the species which I have 
chosen as the subject of this article, and few afford more 
pleasure to young fishers. Although it occurs in all our 
streams, whether rapid or gentle, small or large, in the 
mill-dam overshadowed by tall forest trees, or in the open 
lake margined with reeds, you must never expect to find 
it in impure waters. Let the place be deep or shallow, 
broad or narrow, the water must be clear enough to allow 
the sun's rays to fall unimpaired on the rich coat of mail 
that covers the body of the Sunfish. Look at him as he 
poises himself under the lee of the protecting rock beneath 
our feet! See how steadily he maintains his position, 
and yet how many rapid motions of his fins are necessary 
to preserve it ! Now another is by his side glowing with 
equal beauty, and poising itself by equally easy and grace- 

the Ibis retires a single step, and patiently waits the result. The Cray-fish, 
incommoded by the load of earth, instantly sets to work anew, and at last 
reaches the entrance of its burrow ; but the moment it comes in sight the 
Ibis seizes it with his bill. (The White Ibis, Ibis Alba, Plate CCXXII., 
Ornith. Biog., vol. iii., p. 176). 



Si6 AUDUBON 



ful movements. The sun is shining, and under the lee of 
every stone, and sunk log, some of the little creatures are 
rising to the surface to enjoy the bright blaze, which en- 
hances all their beauty. The golden hues of some parts of 
the body, blend with the green of the emerald, while the 
coral tints of the lower parts and the red of its sparkling 
eye, render our little favorite a perfect gem of the waters. 

The rushing stream boils and gurgles as it forces its 
way over the obstacles presented by its bed, the craggy 
points, large stones and logs that are strewn along the 
bottom. Every one of these proves a place of rest, safety, 
and observation to the little things, whose eyes are ever 
anxiously watching their favorite prey as it passes. There 
an unfortunate moth, swept along by the current, labors in 
vain to extricate itself from the treacherous element; its 
body, indeed, at intervals, rises a little above the surface, 
but its broad wings, now wet and heavy, bear it down 
again to the water. The Sunfish has marked it, and as 
it passes his retreat, he darts towards it, with twenty of 
his fellows, all eager to seize the prize. The swiftest 
swallows it in a moment, and all immediately return to 
their lurking-places, where they fancy themselves secure. 
But, alas! the Sunfish is no more without enemies than 
the moth, or any other living creature. So has nature 
determined, evidently, to promote prudence and industry, 
without which none can reap the full advantage of life. 

On the top of yon miller's dam stands boldly erect the 
ardent fisher. Up to the knees and regardless of the dan- 
ger of his situation, he prepares his apparatus of destruc- 
tion. A keen hook attached to his grass line is now hid 
within the body of a worm or grasshopper. With a know- 
ing eye he marks one after another every surge of the 
water below. Observing the top of a rock scarcely cov- 
ered, he sends his hook towards it with gentleness and 
certainty; the bait now floats and anon sinks; his reel 
slowly lengthens the line, which is suddenly tightened, 



EPISODES 517 



and he feels that a fish is secured. Now whirls the reel 
again; thrice has the fish tried its utmost strength and 
speed, but soon, panting and exhausted, it is seen