Life On The Mississippi, Part 12.
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

Produced by David Widger



Part 12.

Chapter 56 A Question of Law

THE slaughter-house is gone from the mouth of Bear Creek and so is the
small jail (or 'calaboose') which once stood in its neighborhood. A
citizen asked, 'Do you remember when Jimmy Finn, the town drunkard, was
burned to death in the calaboose?'

Observe, now, how history becomes defiled, through lapse of time and the
help of the bad memories of men. Jimmy Finn was not burned in the
calaboose, but died a natural death in a tan vat, of a combination of
delirium tremens and spontaneous combustion. When I say natural death, I
mean it was a natural death for Jimmy Finn to die. The calaboose victim
was not a citizen; he was a poor stranger, a harmless whiskey-sodden
tramp. I know more about his case than anybody else; I knew too much of
it, in that bygone day, to relish speaking of it. That tramp was
wandering about the streets one chilly evening, with a pipe in his
mouth, and begging for a match; he got neither matches nor courtesy; on
the contrary, a troop of bad little boys followed him around and amused
themselves with nagging and annoying him. I assisted; but at last, some
appeal which the wayfarer made for forbearance, accompanying it with a
pathetic reference to his forlorn and friendless condition, touched such
sense of shame and remnant of right feeling as were left in me, and I
went away and got him some matches, and then hied me home and to bed,
heavily weighted as to conscience, and unbuoyant in spirit. An hour or
two afterward, the man was arrested and locked up in the calaboose by
the marshal--large name for a constable, but that was his title. At two
in the morning, the church bells rang for fire, and everybody turned
out, of course--I with the rest. The tramp had used his matches
disastrously: he had set his straw bed on fire, and the oaken sheathing
of the room had caught. When I reached the ground, two hundred men,
women, and children stood massed together, transfixed with horror, and
staring at the grated windows of the jail. Behind the iron bars, and
tugging frantically at them, and screaming for help, stood the tramp; he
seemed like a black object set against a sun, so white and intense was
the light at his back. That marshal could not be found, and he had the
only key. A battering-ram was quickly improvised, and the thunder of its
blows upon the door had so encouraging a sound that the spectators broke
into wild cheering, and believed the merciful battle won. But it was not
so. The timbers were too strong; they did not yield. It was said that
the man's death-grip still held fast to the bars after he was dead; and
that in this position the fires wrapped him about and consumed him. As
to this, I do not know. What was seen after I recognized the face that
was pleading through the bars was seen by others, not by me.

I saw that face, so situated, every night for a long time afterward; and
I believed myself as guilty of the man's death as if I had given him the
matches purposely that he might burn himself up with them. I had not a
doubt that I should be hanged if my connection with this tragedy were
found out. The happenings and the impressions of that time are burnt
into my memory, and the study of them entertains me as much now as they
themselves distressed me then. If anybody spoke of that grisly matter, I
was all ears in a moment, and alert to hear what might be said, for I
was always dreading and expecting to find out that I was suspected; and
so fine and so delicate was the perception of my guilty conscience, that
it often detected suspicion in the most purposeless remarks, and in
looks, gestures, glances of the eye which had no significance, but which
sent me shivering away in a panic of fright, just the same. And how sick
it made me when somebody dropped, howsoever carelessly and barren of
intent, the remark that 'murder will out!' For a boy of ten years, I was
carrying a pretty weighty cargo.

All this time I was blessedly forgetting one thing--the fact that I was
an inveterate talker in my sleep. But one night I awoke and found my
bed-mate--my younger brother--sitting up in bed and contemplating me by
the light of the moon. I said--

'What is the matter?'

'You talk so much I can't sleep.'

I came to a sitting posture in an instant, with my kidneys in my throat
and my hair on end.

'What did I say. Quick--out with it--what did I say?'

'Nothing much.'

'It's a lie--you know everything.'

'Everything about what?'

'You know well enough. About THAT.'

'About WHAT?--I don't know what you are talking about. I think you are
sick or crazy or something. But anyway, you're awake, and I'll get to
sleep while I've got a chance.'

He fell asleep and I lay there in a cold sweat, turning this new terror
over in the whirling chaos which did duty as my mind. The burden of my
thought was, How much did I divulge? How much does he know?--what a
distress is this uncertainty! But by and by I evolved an idea--I would
wake my brother and probe him with a supposititious case. I shook him
up, and said--

'Suppose a man should come to you drunk--'

'This is foolish--I never get drunk.'

'I don't mean you, idiot--I mean the man. Suppose a MAN should come to
you drunk, and borrow a knife, or a tomahawk, or a pistol, and you
forgot to tell him it was loaded, and--'

'How could you load a tomahawk?'

'I don't mean the tomahawk, and I didn't say the tomahawk; I said the
pistol. Now don't you keep breaking in that way, because this is
serious. There's been a man killed.'

'What! in this town?'

'Yes, in this town.'

'Well, go on--I won't say a single word.'

'Well, then, suppose you forgot to tell him to be careful with it,
because it was loaded, and he went off and shot himself with that
pistol--fooling with it, you know, and probably doing it by accident,
being drunk. Well, would it be murder?'


'No, no. I don't mean HIS act, I mean yours: would you be a murderer
for letting him have that pistol?'

After deep thought came this answer--

'Well, I should think I was guilty of something--maybe murder--yes,
probably murder, but I don't quite know.'

This made me very uncomfortable. However, it was not a decisive
verdict. I should have to set out the real case--there seemed to be no
other way. But I would do it cautiously, and keep a watch out for
suspicious effects. I said--

'I was supposing a case, but I am coming to the real one now. Do you
know how the man came to be burned up in the calaboose?'


'Haven't you the least idea?'

'Not the least.'

'Wish you may die in your tracks if you have?'

'Yes, wish I may die in my tracks.'

'Well, the way of it was this. The man wanted some matches to light his
pipe. A boy got him some. The man set fire to the calaboose with those
very matches, and burnt himself up.'

'Is that so?'

'Yes, it is. Now, is that boy a murderer, do you think?'

'Let me see. The man was drunk?'

'Yes, he was drunk.'

'Very drunk?'


'And the boy knew it?'

'Yes, he knew it.'

There was a long pause. Then came this heavy verdict--

'If the man was drunk, and the boy knew it, the boy murdered that man.
This is certain.'

Faint, sickening sensations crept along all the fibers of my body, and I
seemed to know how a person feels who hears his death sentence
pronounced from the bench. I waited to hear what my brother would say
next. I believed I knew what it would be, and I was right. He said--

'I know the boy.'

I had nothing to say; so I said nothing. I simply shuddered. Then he

'Yes, before you got half through telling about the thing, I knew
perfectly well who the boy was; it was Ben Coontz!'

I came out of my collapse as one who rises from the dead. I said, with

'Why, how in the world did you ever guess it?'

'You told it in your sleep.'

I said to myself, 'How splendid that is! This is a habit which must be

My brother rattled innocently on--

'When you were talking in your sleep, you kept mumbling something about
"matches," which I couldn't make anything out of; but just now, when you
began to tell me about the man and the calaboose and the matches, I
remembered that in your sleep you mentioned Ben Coontz two or three
times; so I put this and that together, you see, and right away I knew
it was Ben that burnt that man up.'

I praised his sagacity effusively. Presently he asked--

'Are you going to give him up to the law?'

'No,' I said; 'I believe that this will be a lesson to him. I shall keep
an eye on him, of course, for that is but right; but if he stops where
he is and reforms, it shall never be said that I betrayed him.'

'How good you are!'

'Well, I try to be. It is all a person can do in a world like this.'

And now, my burden being shifted to other shoulders, my terrors soon
faded away.

The day before we left Hannibal, a curious thing fell under my notice--
the surprising spread which longitudinal time undergoes there. I learned
it from one of the most unostentatious of men--the colored coachman of a
friend of mine, who lives three miles from town. He was to call for me
at the Park Hotel at 7.30 P.M., and drive me out. But he missed it
considerably--did not arrive till ten. He excused himself by saying--

'De time is mos' an hour en a half slower in de country en what it is in
de town; you'll be in plenty time, boss. Sometimes we shoves out early
for church, Sunday, en fetches up dah right plum in de middle er de
sermon. Diffunce in de time. A body can't make no calculations 'bout

I had lost two hours and a half; but I had learned a fact worth four.

Chapter 57 An Archangel

FROM St. Louis northward there are all the enlivening signs of the
presence of active, energetic, intelligent, prosperous, practical
nineteenth-century populations. The people don't dream, they work. The
happy result is manifest all around in the substantial outside aspect of
things, and the suggestions of wholesome life and comfort that
everywhere appear.

Quincy is a notable example--a brisk, handsome, well-ordered city; and
now, as formerly, interested in art, letters, and other high things.

But Marion City is an exception. Marion City has gone backwards in a
most unaccountable way. This metropolis promised so well that the
projectors tacked 'city' to its name in the very beginning, with full
confidence; but it was bad prophecy. When I first saw Marion City,
thirty-five years ago, it contained one street, and nearly or quite six
houses. It contains but one house now, and this one, in a state of ruin,
is getting ready to follow the former five into the river. Doubtless
Marion City was too near to Quincy. It had another disadvantage: it
was situated in a flat mud bottom, below high-water mark, whereas Quincy
stands high up on the slope of a hill.

In the beginning Quincy had the aspect and ways of a model New England
town: and these she has yet: broad, clean streets, trim, neat dwellings
and lawns, fine mansions, stately blocks of commercial buildings. And
there are ample fair-grounds, a well kept park, and many attractive
drives; library, reading-rooms, a couple of colleges, some handsome and
costly churches, and a grand court-house, with grounds which occupy a
square. The population of the city is thirty thousand. There are some
large factories here, and manufacturing, of many sorts, is done on a
great scale.

La Grange and Canton are growing towns, but I missed Alexandria; was
told it was under water, but would come up to blow in the summer.

Keokuk was easily recognizable. I lived there in 1857--an extraordinary
year there in real-estate matters. The 'boom' was something wonderful.
Everybody bought, everybody sold--except widows and preachers; they
always hold on; and when the tide ebbs, they get left. Anything in the
semblance of a town lot, no matter how situated, was salable, and at a
figure which would still have been high if the ground had been sodded
with greenbacks.

The town has a population of fifteen thousand now, and is progressing
with a healthy growth. It was night, and we could not see details, for
which we were sorry, for Keokuk has the reputation of being a beautiful
city. It was a pleasant one to live in long ago, and doubtless has
advanced, not retrograded, in that respect.

A mighty work which was in progress there in my day is finished now.
This is the canal over the Rapids. It is eight miles long, three
hundred feet wide, and is in no place less than six feet deep. Its
masonry is of the majestic kind which the War Department usually deals
in, and will endure like a Roman aqueduct. The work cost four or five

After an hour or two spent with former friends, we started up the river
again. Keokuk, a long time ago, was an occasional loafing-place of that
erratic genius, Henry Clay Dean. I believe I never saw him but once; but
he was much talked of when I lived there. This is what was said of him--

He began life poor and without education. But he educated himself--on
the curbstones of Keokuk. He would sit down on a curbstone with his
book, careless or unconscious of the clatter of commerce and the tramp
of the passing crowds, and bury himself in his studies by the hour,
never changing his position except to draw in his knees now and then to
let a dray pass unobstructed; and when his book was finished, its
contents, however abstruse, had been burnt into his memory, and were his
permanent possession. In this way he acquired a vast hoard of all sorts
of learning, and had it pigeon-holed in his head where he could put his
intellectual hand on it whenever it was wanted.

His clothes differed in no respect from a 'wharf-rat's,' except that
they were raggeder, more ill-assorted and inharmonious (and therefore
more extravagantly picturesque), and several layers dirtier. Nobody
could infer the master-mind in the top of that edifice from the edifice

He was an orator--by nature in the first place, and later by the
training of experience and practice. When he was out on a canvass, his
name was a lodestone which drew the farmers to his stump from fifty
miles around. His theme was always politics. He used no notes, for a
volcano does not need notes. In 1862, a son of Keokuk's late
distinguished citizen, Mr. Claggett, gave me this incident concerning

The war feeling was running high in Keokuk (in '61), and a great mass
meeting was to be held on a certain day in the new Athenaeum. A
distinguished stranger was to address the house. After the building had
been packed to its utmost capacity with sweltering folk of both sexes,
the stage still remained vacant--the distinguished stranger had failed
to connect. The crowd grew impatient, and by and by indignant and
rebellious. About this time a distressed manager discovered Dean on a
curb-stone, explained the dilemma to him, took his book away from him,
rushed him into the building the back way, and told him to make for the
stage and save his country.

Presently a sudden silence fell upon the grumbling audience, and
everybody's eyes sought a single point--the wide, empty, carpetless
stage. A figure appeared there whose aspect was familiar to hardly a
dozen persons present. It was the scarecrow Dean--in foxy shoes, down at
the heels; socks of odd colors, also 'down;' damaged trousers, relics of
antiquity, and a world too short, exposing some inches of naked ankle;
an unbuttoned vest, also too short, and exposing a zone of soiled and
wrinkled linen between it and the waistband; shirt bosom open; long
black handkerchief, wound round and round the neck like a bandage; bob-
tailed blue coat, reaching down to the small of the back, with sleeves
which left four inches of forearm unprotected; small, stiff-brimmed
soldier-cap hung on a corner of the bump of--whichever bump it was.
This figure moved gravely out upon the stage and, with sedate and
measured step, down to the front, where it paused, and dreamily
inspected the house, saying no word. The silence of surprise held its
own for a moment, then was broken by a just audible ripple of merriment
which swept the sea of faces like the wash of a wave. The figure
remained as before, thoughtfully inspecting. Another wave started--
laughter, this time. It was followed by another, then a third--this
last one boisterous.

And now the stranger stepped back one pace, took off his soldier-cap,
tossed it into the wing, and began to speak, with deliberation, nobody
listening, everybody laughing and whispering. The speaker talked on
unembarrassed, and presently delivered a shot which went home, and
silence and attention resulted. He followed it quick and fast, with
other telling things; warmed to his work and began to pour his words
out, instead of dripping them; grew hotter and hotter, and fell to
discharging lightnings and thunder--and now the house began to break
into applause, to which the speaker gave no heed, but went hammering
straight on; unwound his black bandage and cast it away, still
thundering; presently discarded the bob tailed coat and flung it aside,
firing up higher and higher all the time; finally flung the vest after
the coat; and then for an untimed period stood there, like another
Vesuvius, spouting smoke and flame, lava and ashes, raining pumice-stone
and cinders, shaking the moral earth with intellectual crash upon crash,
explosion upon explosion, while the mad multitude stood upon their feet
in a solid body, answering back with a ceaseless hurricane of cheers,
through a thrashing snowstorm of waving handkerchiefs.

'When Dean came,' said Claggett, 'the people thought he was an escaped
lunatic; but when he went, they thought he was an escaped archangel.'

Burlington, home of the sparkling Burdette, is another hill city; and
also a beautiful one; unquestionably so; a fine and flourishing city,
with a population of twenty-five thousand, and belted with busy
factories of nearly every imaginable description. It was a very sober
city, too--for the moment--for a most sobering bill was pending; a bill
to forbid the manufacture, exportation, importation, purchase, sale,
borrowing, lending, stealing, drinking, smelling, or possession, by
conquest, inheritance, intent, accident, or otherwise, in the State of
Iowa, of each and every deleterious beverage known to the human race,
except water. This measure was approved by all the rational people in
the State; but not by the bench of Judges.

Burlington has the progressive modern city's full equipment of devices
for right and intelligent government; including a paid fire department,
a thing which the great city of New Orleans is without, but still
employs that relic of antiquity, the independent system.

In Burlington, as in all these Upper-River towns, one breathes a
go-ahead atmosphere which tastes good in the nostrils. An opera-house has
lately been built there which is in strong contrast with the shabby dens
which usually do duty as theaters in cities of Burlington's size.

We had not time to go ashore in Muscatine, but had a daylight view of it
from the boat. I lived there awhile, many years ago, but the place,
now, had a rather unfamiliar look; so I suppose it has clear outgrown
the town which I used to know. In fact, I know it has; for I remember it
as a small place--which it isn't now. But I remember it best for a
lunatic who caught me out in the fields, one Sunday, and extracted a
butcher-knife from his boot and proposed to carve me up with it, unless
I acknowledged him to be the only son of the Devil. I tried to
compromise on an acknowledgment that he was the only member of the
family I had met; but that did not satisfy him; he wouldn't have any
half-measures; I must say he was the sole and only son of the Devil--he
whetted his knife on his boot. It did not seem worth while to make
trouble about a little thing like that; so I swung round to his view of
the matter and saved my skin whole. Shortly afterward, he went to visit
his father; and as he has not turned up since, I trust he is there yet.

And I remember Muscatine--still more pleasantly--for its summer sunsets.
I have never seen any, on either side of the ocean, that equaled them.
They used the broad smooth river as a canvas, and painted on it every
imaginable dream of color, from the mottled daintinesses and delicacies
of the opal, all the way up, through cumulative intensities, to blinding
purple and crimson conflagrations which were enchanting to the eye, but
sharply tried it at the same time. All the Upper Mississippi region has
these extraordinary sunsets as a familiar spectacle. It is the true
Sunset Land: I am sure no other country can show so good a right to the
name. The sunrises are also said to be exceedingly fine. I do not know.

Chapter 58 On the Upper River

THE big towns drop in, thick and fast, now: and between stretch
processions of thrifty farms, not desolate solitude. Hour by hour, the
boat plows deeper and deeper into the great and populous North-west; and
with each successive section of it which is revealed, one's surprise and
respect gather emphasis and increase. Such a people, and such
achievements as theirs, compel homage. This is an independent race who
think for themselves, and who are competent to do it, because they are
educated and enlightened; they read, they keep abreast of the best and
newest thought, they fortify every weak place in their land with a
school, a college, a library, and a newspaper; and they live under law.
Solicitude for the future of a race like this is not in order.

This region is new; so new that it may be said to be still in its
babyhood. By what it has accomplished while still teething, one may
forecast what marvels it will do in the strength of its maturity. It is
so new that the foreign tourist has not heard of it yet; and has not
visited it. For sixty years, the foreign tourist has steamed up and down
the river between St. Louis and New Orleans, and then gone home and
written his book, believing he had seen all of the river that was worth
seeing or that had anything to see. In not six of all these books is
there mention of these Upper River towns--for the reason that the five
or six tourists who penetrated this region did it before these towns
were projected. The latest tourist of them all (1878) made the same old
regulation trip--he had not heard that there was anything north of St.

Yet there was. There was this amazing region, bristling with great
towns, projected day before yesterday, so to speak, and built next
morning. A score of them number from fifteen hundred to five thousand
people. Then we have Muscatine, ten thousand; Winona, ten thousand;
Moline, ten thousand; Rock Island, twelve thousand; La Crosse, twelve
thousand; Burlington, twenty-five thousand; Dubuque, twenty-five
thousand; Davenport, thirty thousand; St. Paul, fifty-eight thousand,
Minneapolis, sixty thousand and upward.

The foreign tourist has never heard of these; there is no note of them
in his books. They have sprung up in the night, while he slept. So new
is this region, that I, who am comparatively young, am yet older than it
is. When I was born, St. Paul had a population of three persons,
Minneapolis had just a third as many. The then population of Minneapolis
died two years ago; and when he died he had seen himself undergo an
increase, in forty years, of fifty-nine thousand nine hundred and
ninety-nine persons. He had a frog's fertility.

I must explain that the figures set down above, as the population of St.
Paul and Minneapolis, are several months old. These towns are far
larger now. In fact, I have just seen a newspaper estimate which gives
the former seventy-one thousand, and the latter seventy-eight thousand.
This book will not reach the public for six or seven months yet; none of
the figures will be worth much then.

We had a glimpse of Davenport, which is another beautiful city, crowning
a hill--a phrase which applies to all these towns; for they are all
comely, all well built, clean, orderly, pleasant to the eye, and
cheering to the spirit; and they are all situated upon hills. Therefore
we will give that phrase a rest. The Indians have a tradition that
Marquette and Joliet camped where Davenport now stands, in 1673. The
next white man who camped there, did it about a hundred and seventy
years later--in 1834. Davenport has gathered its thirty thousand people
within the past thirty years. She sends more children to her schools
now, than her whole population numbered twenty-three years ago. She has
the usual Upper River quota of factories, newspapers, and institutions
of learning; she has telephones, local telegraphs, an electric alarm,
and an admirable paid fire department, consisting of six hook and ladder
companies, four steam fire engines, and thirty churches. Davenport is
the official residence of two bishops--Episcopal and Catholic.

Opposite Davenport is the flourishing town of Rock Island, which lies at
the foot of the Upper Rapids. A great railroad bridge connects the two
towns--one of the thirteen which fret the Mississippi and the pilots,
between St. Louis and St. Paul.

The charming island of Rock Island, three miles long and half a mile
wide, belongs to the United States, and the Government has turned it
into a wonderful park, enhancing its natural attractions by art, and
threading its fine forests with many miles of drives. Near the center of
the island one catches glimpses, through the trees, of ten vast stone
four-story buildings, each of which covers an acre of ground. These are
the Government workshops; for the Rock Island establishment is a
national armory and arsenal.

We move up the river--always through enchanting scenery, there being no
other kind on the Upper Mississippi--and pass Moline, a center of vast
manufacturing industries; and Clinton and Lyons, great lumber centers;
and presently reach Dubuque, which is situated in a rich mineral region.
The lead mines are very productive, and of wide extent. Dubuque has a
great number of manufacturing establishments; among them a plow factory
which has for customers all Christendom in general. At least so I was
told by an agent of the concern who was on the boat. He said--

'You show me any country under the sun where they really know how to
plow, and if I don't show you our mark on the plow they use, I'll eat
that plow; and I won't ask for any Woostershyre sauce to flavor it up
with, either.'

All this part of the river is rich in Indian history and traditions.
Black Hawk's was once a puissant name hereabouts; as was Keokuk's,
further down. A few miles below Dubuque is the Tete de Mort--Death's-
head rock, or bluff--to the top of which the French drove a band of
Indians, in early times, and cooped them up there, with death for a
certainty, and only the manner of it matter of choice--to starve, or
jump off and kill themselves. Black Hawk adopted the ways of the white
people, toward the end of his life; and when he died he was buried, near
Des Moines, in Christian fashion, modified by Indian custom; that is to
say, clothed in a Christian military uniform, and with a Christian cane
in his hand, but deposited in the grave in a sitting posture. Formerly,
a horse had always been buried with a chief. The substitution of the
cane shows that Black Hawk's haughty nature was really humbled, and he
expected to walk when he got over.

We noticed that above Dubuque the water of the Mississippi was olive-
green--rich and beautiful and semi-transparent, with the sun on it. Of
course the water was nowhere as clear or of as fine a complexion as it
is in some other seasons of the year; for now it was at flood stage, and
therefore dimmed and blurred by the mud manufactured from caving banks.

The majestic bluffs that overlook the river, along through this region,
charm one with the grace and variety of their forms, and the soft beauty
of their adornment. The steep verdant slope, whose base is at the
water's edge is topped by a lofty rampart of broken, turreted rocks,
which are exquisitely rich and mellow in color--mainly dark browns and
dull greens, but splashed with other tints. And then you have the
shining river, winding here and there and yonder, its sweep interrupted
at intervals by clusters of wooded islands threaded by silver channels;
and you have glimpses of distant villages, asleep upon capes; and of
stealthy rafts slipping along in the shade of the forest walls; and of
white steamers vanishing around remote points. And it is all as tranquil
and reposeful as dreamland, and has nothing this-worldly about it--
nothing to hang a fret or a worry upon.

Until the unholy train comes tearing along--which it presently does,
ripping the sacred solitude to rags and tatters with its devil's
warwhoop and the roar and thunder of its rushing wheels--and straightway
you are back in this world, and with one of its frets ready to hand for
your entertainment: for you remember that this is the very road whose
stock always goes down after you buy it, and always goes up again as
soon as you sell it. It makes me shudder to this day, to remember that
I once came near not getting rid of my stock at all. It must be an awful
thing to have a railroad left on your hands.

The locomotive is in sight from the deck of the steamboat almost the
whole way from St. Louis to St. Paul--eight hundred miles. These
railroads have made havoc with the steamboat commerce. The clerk of our
boat was a steamboat clerk before these roads were built. In that day
the influx of population was so great, and the freight business so
heavy, that the boats were not able to keep up with the demands made
upon their carrying capacity; consequently the captains were very
independent and airy--pretty 'biggity,' as Uncle Remus would say. The
clerk nut-shelled the contrast between the former time and the present,

'Boat used to land--captain on hurricane roof--mighty stiff and
straight--iron ramrod for a spine--kid gloves, plug tile, hair parted
behind--man on shore takes off hat and says--

'"Got twenty-eight tons of wheat, cap'n--be great favor if you can take

'Captain says--

'"'ll take two of them"--and don't even condescend to look at him.

'But nowadays the captain takes off his old slouch, and smiles all the
way around to the back of his ears, and gets off a bow which he hasn't
got any ramrod to interfere with, and says--

'"Glad to see you, Smith, glad to see you--you're looking well--haven't
seen you looking so well for years--what you got for us?"

'"Nuth'n", says Smith; and keeps his hat on, and just turns his back and
goes to talking with somebody else.

'Oh, yes, eight years ago, the captain was on top; but it's Smith's turn
now. Eight years ago a boat used to go up the river with every stateroom
full, and people piled five and six deep on the cabin floor; and a solid
deck-load of immigrants and harvesters down below, into the bargain. To
get a first-class stateroom, you'd got to prove sixteen quarterings of
nobility and four hundred years of descent, or be personally acquainted
with the nigger that blacked the captain's boots. But it's all changed
now; plenty staterooms above, no harvesters below--there's a patent
self-binder now, and they don't have harvesters any more; they've gone
where the woodbine twineth--and they didn't go by steamboat, either;
went by the train.'

Up in this region we met massed acres of lumber rafts coming down--but
not floating leisurely along, in the old-fashioned way, manned with
joyous and reckless crews of fiddling, song-singing, whiskey-drinking,
breakdown-dancing rapscallions; no, the whole thing was shoved swiftly
along by a powerful stern-wheeler, modern fashion, and the small crews
were quiet, orderly men, of a sedate business aspect, with not a
suggestion of romance about them anywhere.

Along here, somewhere, on a black night, we ran some exceedingly narrow
and intricate island-chutes by aid of the electric light. Behind was
solid blackness--a crackless bank of it; ahead, a narrow elbow of water,
curving between dense walls of foliage that almost touched our bows on
both sides; and here every individual leaf, and every individual ripple
stood out in its natural color, and flooded with a glare as of noonday
intensified. The effect was strange, and fine, and very striking.

We passed Prairie du Chien, another of Father Marquette's camping-
places; and after some hours of progress through varied and beautiful
scenery, reached La Crosse. Here is a town of twelve or thirteen
thousand population, with electric lighted streets, and with blocks of
buildings which are stately enough, and also architecturally fine
enough, to command respect in any city. It is a choice town, and we made
satisfactory use of the hour allowed us, in roaming it over, though the
weather was rainier than necessary.

Chapter 59 Legends and Scenery

WE added several passengers to our list, at La Crosse; among others an
old gentleman who had come to this north-western region with the early
settlers, and was familiar with every part of it. Pardonably proud of
it, too. He said--

'You'll find scenery between here and St. Paul that can give the Hudson
points. You'll have the Queen's Bluff--seven hundred feet high, and
just as imposing a spectacle as you can find anywheres; and Trempeleau
Island, which isn't like any other island in America, I believe, for it
is a gigantic mountain, with precipitous sides, and is full of Indian
traditions, and used to be full of rattlesnakes; if you catch the sun
just right there, you will have a picture that will stay with you. And
above Winona you'll have lovely prairies; and then come the Thousand
Islands, too beautiful for anything; green? why you never saw foliage so
green, nor packed so thick; it's like a thousand plush cushions afloat
on a looking-glass--when the water 's still; and then the monstrous
bluffs on both sides of the river--ragged, rugged, dark-complected--just
the frame that's wanted; you always want a strong frame, you know, to
throw up the nice points of a delicate picture and make them stand out.'

The old gentleman also told us a touching Indian legend or two--but not
very powerful ones.

After this excursion into history, he came back to the scenery, and
described it, detail by detail, from the Thousand Islands to St. Paul;
naming its names with such facility, tripping along his theme with such
nimble and confident ease, slamming in a three-ton word, here and there,
with such a complacent air of 't isn't-anything,-I-can-do-it-any-time-I-
want-to, and letting off fine surprises of lurid eloquence at such
judicious intervals, that I presently began to suspect--

But no matter what I began to suspect. Hear him--

'Ten miles above Winona we come to Fountain City, nestling sweetly at
the feet of cliffs that lift their awful fronts, Jovelike, toward the
blue depths of heaven, bathing them in virgin atmospheres that have
known no other contact save that of angels' wings.

'And next we glide through silver waters, amid lovely and stupendous
aspects of nature that attune our hearts to adoring admiration, about
twelve miles, and strike Mount Vernon, six hundred feet high, with
romantic ruins of a once first-class hotel perched far among the cloud
shadows that mottle its dizzy heights--sole remnant of once-flourishing
Mount Vernon, town of early days, now desolate and utterly deserted.

'And so we move on. Past Chimney Rock we fly--noble shaft of six
hundred feet; then just before landing at Minnieska our attention is
attracted by a most striking promontory rising over five hundred feet--
the ideal mountain pyramid. Its conic shape--thickly-wooded surface
girding its sides, and its apex like that of a cone, cause the spectator
to wonder at nature's workings. From its dizzy heights superb views of
the forests, streams, bluffs, hills and dales below and beyond for miles
are brought within its focus. What grander river scenery can be
conceived, as we gaze upon this enchanting landscape, from the uppermost
point of these bluffs upon the valleys below? The primeval wildness and
awful loneliness of these sublime creations of nature and nature's God,
excite feelings of unbounded admiration, and the recollection of which
can never be effaced from the memory, as we view them in any direction.

'Next we have the Lion's Head and the Lioness's Head, carved by nature's
hand, to adorn and dominate the beauteous stream; and then anon the
river widens, and a most charming and magnificent view of the valley
before us suddenly bursts upon our vision; rugged hills, clad with
verdant forests from summit to base, level prairie lands, holding in
their lap the beautiful Wabasha, City of the Healing Waters, puissant
foe of Bright's disease, and that grandest conception of nature's works,
incomparable Lake Pepin--these constitute a picture whereon the
tourist's eye may gaze uncounted hours, with rapture unappeased and

'And so we glide along; in due time encountering those majestic domes,
the mighty Sugar Loaf, and the sublime Maiden's Rock--which latter,
romantic superstition has invested with a voice; and oft-times as the
birch canoe glides near, at twilight, the dusky paddler fancies he hears
the soft sweet music of the long-departed Winona, darling of Indian song
and story.

'Then Frontenac looms upon our vision, delightful resort of jaded summer
tourists; then progressive Red Wing; and Diamond Bluff, impressive and
preponderous in its lone sublimity; then Prescott and the St. Croix; and
anon we see bursting upon us the domes and steeples of St. Paul, giant
young chief of the North, marching with seven-league stride in the van
of progress, banner-bearer of the highest and newest civilization,
carving his beneficent way with the tomahawk of commercial enterprise,
sounding the warwhoop of Christian culture, tearing off the reeking
scalp of sloth and superstition to plant there the steam-plow and the
school-house--ever in his front stretch arid lawlessness, ignorance,
crime, despair; ever in his wake bloom the jail, the gallows, and the
pulpit; and ever--'

'Have you ever traveled with a panorama?'

'I have formerly served in that capacity.'

My suspicion was confirmed.

'Do you still travel with it?'

'No, she is laid up till the fall season opens. I am helping now to
work up the materials for a Tourist's Guide which the St. Louis and St.
Paul Packet Company are going to issue this summer for the benefit of
travelers who go by that line.'

'When you were talking of Maiden's Rock, you spoke of the long-departed
Winona, darling of Indian song and story. Is she the maiden of the
rock?--and are the two connected by legend?'

'Yes, and a very tragic and painful one. Perhaps the most celebrated,
as well as the most pathetic, of all the legends of the Mississippi.'

We asked him to tell it. He dropped out of his conversational vein and
back into his lecture-gait without an effort, and rolled on as follows--

'A little distance above Lake City is a famous point known as Maiden's
Rock, which is not only a picturesque spot, but is full of romantic
interest from the event which gave it its name, Not many years ago this
locality was a favorite resort for the Sioux Indians on account of the
fine fishing and hunting to be had there, and large numbers of them were
always to be found in this locality. Among the families which used to
resort here, was one belonging to the tribe of Wabasha. We-no-na
(first-born) was the name of a maiden who had plighted her troth to a
lover belonging to the same band. But her stern parents had promised
her hand to another, a famous warrior, and insisted on her wedding him.
The day was fixed by her parents, to her great grief. She appeared to
accede to the proposal and accompany them to the rock, for the purpose
of gathering flowers for the feast. On reaching the rock, We-no-na ran
to its summit and standing on its edge upbraided her parents who were
below, for their cruelty, and then singing a death-dirge, threw herself
from the precipice and dashed them in pieces on the rock below.'

'Dashed who in pieces--her parents?'


'Well, it certainly was a tragic business, as you say. And moreover,
there is a startling kind of dramatic surprise about it which I was not
looking for. It is a distinct improvement upon the threadbare form of
Indian legend. There are fifty Lover's Leaps along the Mississippi from
whose summit disappointed Indian girls have jumped, but this is the only
jump in the lot hat turned out in the right and satisfactory way. What
became of Winona?'

'She was a good deal jarred up and jolted: but she got herself together
and disappeared before the coroner reached the fatal spot; and 'tis said
she sought and married her true love, and wandered with him to some
distant clime, where she lived happy ever after, her gentle spirit
mellowed and chastened by the romantic incident which had so early
deprived her of the sweet guidance of a mother's love and a father's
protecting arm, and thrown her, all unfriended, upon the cold charity of
a censorious world.'

I was glad to hear the lecturer's description of the scenery, for it
assisted my appreciation of what I saw of it, and enabled me to imagine
such of it as we lost by the intrusion of night.

As the lecturer remarked, this whole region is blanketed with Indian
tales and traditions. But I reminded him that people usually merely
mention this fact--doing it in a way to make a body's mouth water--and
judiciously stopped there. Why? Because the impression left, was that
these tales were full of incident and imagination--a pleasant impression
which would be promptly dissipated if the tales were told. I showed him
a lot of this sort of literature which I had been collecting, and he
confessed that it was poor stuff, exceedingly sorry rubbish; and I
ventured to add that the legends which he had himself told us were of
this character, with the single exception of the admirable story of
Winona. He granted these facts, but said that if I would hunt up Mr.
Schoolcraft's book, published near fifty years ago, and now doubtless
out of print, I would find some Indian inventions in it that were very
far from being barren of incident and imagination; that the tales in
Hiawatha were of this sort, and they came from Schoolcraft's book; and
that there were others in the same book which Mr. Longfellow could have
turned into verse with good effect. For instance, there was the legend
of 'The Undying Head.' He could not tell it, for many of the details had
grown dim in his memory; but he would recommend me to find it and
enlarge my respect for the Indian imagination. He said that this tale,
and most of the others in the book, were current among the Indians along
this part of the Mississippi when he first came here; and that the
contributors to Schoolcraft's book had got them directly from Indian
lips, and had written them down with strict exactness, and without
embellishments of their own.

I have found the book. The lecturer was right. There are several
legends in it which confirm what he said. I will offer two of them--
'The Undying Head,' and 'Peboan and Seegwun, an Allegory of the
Seasons.' The latter is used in Hiawatha; but it is worth reading in the
original form, if only that one may see how effective a genuine poem can
be without the helps and graces of poetic measure and rhythm--


An old man was sitting alone in his lodge, by the side of a frozen
stream. It was the close of winter, and his fire was almost out, He
appeared very old and very desolate. His locks were white with age, and
he trembled in every joint. Day after day passed in solitude, and he
heard nothing but the sound of the tempest, sweeping before it the new-
fallen snow.

One day, as his fire was just dying, a handsome young man approached and
entered his dwelling. His cheeks were red with the blood of youth, his
eyes sparkled with animation, and a smile played upon his lips. He
walked with a light and quick step. His forehead was bound with a
wreath of sweet grass, in place of a warrior's frontlet, and he carried
a bunch of flowers in his hand.

'Ah, my son,' said the old man, 'I am happy to see you. Come in. Come
and tell me of your adventures, and what strange lands you have been to
see. Let us pass the night together. I will tell you of my prowess and
exploits, and what I can perform. You shall do the same, and we will
amuse ourselves.'

He then drew from his sack a curiously wrought antique pipe, and having
filled it with tobacco, rendered mild by a mixture of certain leaves,
handed it to his guest. When this ceremony was concluded they began to

'I blow my breath,' said the old man, 'and the stream stands still. The
water becomes stiff and hard as clear stone.'

'I breathe,' said the young man, 'and flowers spring up over the plain.'

'I shake my locks,' retorted the old man, 'and snow covers the land. The
leaves fall from the trees at my command, and my breath blows them away.
The birds get up from the water, and fly to a distant land. The animals
hide themselves from my breath, and the very ground becomes as hard as

'I shake my ringlets,' rejoined the young man, 'and warm showers of soft
rain fall upon the earth. The plants lift up their heads out of the
earth, like the eyes of children glistening with delight. My voice
recalls the birds. The warmth of my breath unlocks the streams. Music
fills the groves wherever I walk, and all nature rejoices.'

At length the sun began to rise. A gentle warmth came over the place.
The tongue of the old man became silent. The robin and bluebird began to
sing on the top of the lodge. The stream began to murmur by the door,
and the fragrance of growing herbs and flowers came softly on the vernal

Daylight fully revealed to the young man the character of his
entertainer. When he looked upon him, he had the icy visage of
Peboan.{footnote [Winter.]} Streams began to flow from his eyes. As the
sun increased, he grew less and less in stature, and anon had melted
completely away. Nothing remained on the place of his lodge-fire but the
miskodeed,{footnote [The trailing arbutus.]} a small white flower, with
a pink border, which is one of the earliest species of northern plants.

'The Undying Head' is a rather long tale, but it makes up in weird
conceits, fairy-tale prodigies, variety of incident, and energy of
movement, for what it lacks in brevity.{footnote [See appendix D.]}

Chapter 60 Speculations and Conclusions

WE reached St. Paul, at the head of navigation of the Mississippi, and
there our voyage of two thousand miles from New Orleans ended. It is
about a ten-day trip by steamer. It can probably be done quicker by
rail. I judge so because I know that one may go by rail from St. Louis
to Hannibal--a distance of at least a hundred and twenty miles--in seven
hours. This is better than walking; unless one is in a hurry.

The season being far advanced when we were in New Orleans, the roses and
magnolia blossoms were falling; but here in St. Paul it was the snow, In
New Orleans we had caught an occasional withering breath from over a
crater, apparently; here in St. Paul we caught a frequent benumbing one
from over a glacier, apparently.

But I wander from my theme. St. Paul is a wonderful town. It is put
together in solid blocks of honest brick and stone, and has the air of
intending to stay. Its post-office was established thirty-six years
ago; and by and by, when the postmaster received a letter, he carried it
to Washington, horseback, to inquire what was to be done with it. Such
is the legend. Two frame houses were built that year, and several
persons were added to the population. A recent number of the leading St.
Paul paper, the 'Pioneer Press,' gives some statistics which furnish a
vivid contrast to that old state of things, to wit: Population, autumn
of the present year (1882), 71,000; number of letters handled, first
half of the year, 1,209,387; number of houses built during three-
quarters of the year, 989; their cost, $3,186,000. The increase of
letters over the corresponding six months of last year was fifty per
cent. Last year the new buildings added to the city cost above
$4,500,000. St. Paul's strength lies in her commerce--I mean his
commerce. He is a manufacturing city, of course--all the cities of that
region are--but he is peculiarly strong in the matter of commerce. Last
year his jobbing trade amounted to upwards of $52,000,000.

He has a custom-house, and is building a costly capitol to replace the
one recently burned--for he is the capital of the State. He has churches
without end; and not the cheap poor kind, but the kind that the rich
Protestant puts up, the kind that the poor Irish 'hired-girl' delights
to erect. What a passion for building majestic churches the Irish
hired-girl has. It is a fine thing for our architecture but too often we
enjoy her stately fanes without giving her a grateful thought. In fact,
instead of reflecting that 'every brick and every stone in this
beautiful edifice represents an ache or a pain, and a handful of sweat,
and hours of heavy fatigue, contributed by the back and forehead and
bones of poverty,' it is our habit to forget these things entirely, and
merely glorify the mighty temple itself, without vouchsafing one
praiseful thought to its humble builder, whose rich heart and withered
purse it symbolizes.

This is a land of libraries and schools. St. Paul has three public
libraries, and they contain, in the aggregate, some forty thousand
books. He has one hundred and sixteen school-houses, and pays out more
than seventy thousand dollars a year in teachers' salaries.

There is an unusually fine railway station; so large is it, in fact,
that it seemed somewhat overdone, in the matter of size, at first; but
at the end of a few months it was perceived that the mistake was
distinctly the other way. The error is to be corrected.

The town stands on high ground; it is about seven hundred feet above the
sea level. It is so high that a wide view of river and lowland is
offered from its streets.

It is a very wonderful town indeed, and is not finished yet. All the
streets are obstructed with building material, and this is being
compacted into houses as fast as possible, to make room for more--for
other people are anxious to build, as soon as they can get the use of
the streets to pile up their bricks and stuff in.

How solemn and beautiful is the thought, that the earliest pioneer of
civilization, the van-leader of civilization, is never the steamboat,
never the railroad, never the newspaper, never the Sabbath-school, never
the missionary--but always whiskey! Such is the case. Look history
over; you will see. The missionary comes after the whiskey--I mean he
arrives after the whiskey has arrived; next comes the poor immigrant,
with ax and hoe and rifle; next, the trader; next, the miscellaneous
rush; next, the gambler, the desperado, the highwayman, and all their
kindred in sin of both sexes; and next, the smart chap who has bought up
an old grant that covers all the land; this brings the lawyer tribe; the
vigilance committee brings the undertaker. All these interests bring the
newspaper; the newspaper starts up politics and a railroad; all hands
turn to and build a church and a jail--and behold, civilization is
established for ever in the land. But whiskey, you see, was the van-
leader in this beneficent work. It always is. It was like a foreigner--
and excusable in a foreigner--to be ignorant of this great truth, and
wander off into astronomy to borrow a symbol. But if he had been
conversant with the facts, he would have said--

Westward the Jug of Empire takes its way.

This great van-leader arrived upon the ground which St. Paul now
occupies, in June 1837. Yes, at that date, Pierre Parrant, a Canadian,
built the first cabin, uncorked his jug, and began to sell whiskey to
the Indians. The result is before us.

All that I have said of the newness, briskness, swift progress, wealth,
intelligence, fine and substantial architecture, and general slash and
go, and energy of St. Paul, will apply to his near neighbor,
Minneapolis--with the addition that the latter is the bigger of the two

These extraordinary towns were ten miles apart, a few months ago, but
were growing so fast that they may possibly be joined now, and getting
along under a single mayor. At any rate, within five years from now
there will be at least such a substantial ligament of buildings
stretching between them and uniting them that a stranger will not be
able to tell where the one Siamese twin leaves off and the other begins.
Combined, they will then number a population of two hundred and fifty
thousand, if they continue to grow as they are now growing. Thus, this
center of population at the head of Mississippi navigation, will then
begin a rivalry as to numbers, with that center of population at the
foot of it--New Orleans.

Minneapolis is situated at the falls of St. Anthony, which stretch
across the river, fifteen hundred feet, and have a fall of eighty-two
feet--a waterpower which, by art, has been made of inestimable value,
business-wise, though somewhat to the damage of the Falls as a
spectacle, or as a background against which to get your photograph

Thirty flouring-mills turn out two million barrels of the very choicest
of flour every year; twenty sawmills produce two hundred million feet of
lumber annually; then there are woolen mills, cotton mills, paper and
oil mills; and sash, nail, furniture, barrel, and other factories,
without number, so to speak. The great flouring-mills here and at St.
Paul use the 'new process' and mash the wheat by rolling, instead of
grinding it.

Sixteen railroads meet in Minneapolis, and sixty-five passenger trains
arrive and depart daily. In this place, as in St. Paul, journalism
thrives. Here there are three great dailies, ten weeklies, and three

There is a university, with four hundred students--and, better still,
its good efforts are not confined to enlightening the one sex. There are
sixteen public schools, with buildings which cost $500,000; there are
six thousand pupils and one hundred and twenty-eight teachers. There are
also seventy churches existing, and a lot more projected. The banks
aggregate a capital of $3,000,000, and the wholesale jobbing trade of
the town amounts to $50,000,000 a year.

Near St. Paul and Minneapolis are several points of interest--Fort
Snelling, a fortress occupying a river-bluff a hundred feet high; the
falls of Minnehaha, White-bear Lake, and so forth. The beautiful falls
of Minnehaha are sufficiently celebrated--they do not need a lift from
me, in that direction. The White-bear Lake is less known. It is a
lovely sheet of water, and is being utilized as a summer resort by the
wealth and fashion of the State. It has its club-house, and its hotel,
with the modern improvements and conveniences; its fine summer
residences; and plenty of fishing, hunting, and pleasant drives. There
are a dozen minor summer resorts around about St. Paul and Minneapolis,
but the White-bear Lake is the resort. Connected with White-bear Lake is
a most idiotic Indian legend. I would resist the temptation to print it
here, if I could, but the task is beyond my strength. The guide-book
names the preserver of the legend, and compliments his 'facile pen.'
Without further comment or delay then, let us turn the said facile pen
loose upon the reader--


Every spring, for perhaps a century, or as long as there has been a
nation of red men, an island in the middle of White-bear Lake has been
visited by a band of Indians for the purpose of making maple sugar.

Tradition says that many springs ago, while upon this island, a young
warrior loved and wooed the daughter of his chief, and it is said, also,
the maiden loved the warrior. He had again and again been refused her
hand by her parents, the old chief alleging that he was no brave, and
his old consort called him a woman!

The sun had again set upon the 'sugar-bush,' and the bright moon rose
high in the bright blue heavens, when the young warrior took down his
flute and went out alone, once more to sing the story of his love, the
mild breeze gently moved the two gay feathers in his head-dress, and as
he mounted on the trunk of a leaning tree, the damp snow fell from his
feet heavily. As he raised his flute to his lips, his blanket slipped
from his well-formed shoulders, and lay partly on the snow beneath. He
began his weird, wild love-song, but soon felt that he was cold, and as
he reached back for his blanket, some unseen hand laid it gently on his
shoulders; it was the hand of his love, his guardian angel. She took her
place beside him, and for the present they were happy; for the Indian
has a heart to love, and in this pride he is as noble as in his own
freedom, which makes him the child of the forest. As the legend runs, a
large white-bear, thinking, perhaps, that polar snows and dismal winter
weather extended everywhere, took up his journey southward. He at length
approached the northern shore of the lake which now bears his name,
walked down the bank and made his way noiselessly through the deep heavy
snow toward the island. It was the same spring ensuing that the lovers
met. They had left their first retreat, and were now seated among the
branches of a large elm which hung far over the lake. (The same tree is
still standing, and excites universal curiosity and interest.) For fear
of being detected, they talked almost in a whisper, and now, that they
might get back to camp in good time and thereby avoid suspicion, they
were just rising to return, when the maiden uttered a shriek which was
heard at the camp, and bounding toward the young brave, she caught his
blanket, but missed the direction of her foot and fell, bearing the
blanket with her into the great arms of the ferocious monster. Instantly
every man, woman, and child of the band were upon the bank, but all
unarmed. Cries and wailings went up from every mouth. What was to be
done'? In the meantime this white and savage beast held the breathless
maiden in his huge grasp, and fondled with his precious prey as if he
were used to scenes like this. One deafening yell from the lover
warrior is heard above the cries of hundreds of his tribe, and dashing
away to his wigwam he grasps his faithful knife, returns almost at a
single bound to the scene of fear and fright, rushes out along the
leaning tree to the spot where his treasure fell, and springing with the
fury of a mad panther, pounced upon his prey. The animal turned, and
with one stroke of his huge paw brought the lovers heart to heart, but
the next moment the warrior, with one plunge of the blade of his knife,
opened the crimson sluices of death, and the dying bear relaxed his

That night there was no more sleep for the band or the lovers, and as
the young and the old danced about the carcass of the dead monster, the
gallant warrior was presented with another plume, and ere another moon
had set he had a living treasure added to his heart. Their children for
many years played upon the skin of the white-bear--from which the lake
derives its name--and the maiden and the brave remembered long the
fearful scene and rescue that made them one, for Kis-se-me-pa and Ka-go-
ka could never forget their fearful encounter with the huge monster that
came so near sending them to the happy hunting-ground.

It is a perplexing business. First, she fell down out of the tree--she
and the blanket; and the bear caught her and fondled her--her and the
blanket; then she fell up into the tree again--leaving the blanket;
meantime the lover goes war-whooping home and comes back 'heeled,'
climbs the tree, jumps down on the bear, the girl jumps down after him--
apparently, for she was up the tree--resumes her place in the bear's
arms along with the blanket, the lover rams his knife into the bear, and
saves--whom, the blanket? No--nothing of the sort. You get yourself all
worked up and excited about that blanket, and then all of a sudden, just
when a happy climax seems imminent you are let down flat--nothing saved
but the girl. Whereas, one is not interested in the girl; she is not the
prominent feature of the legend. Nevertheless, there you are left, and
there you must remain; for if you live a thousand years you will never
know who got the blanket. A dead man could get up a better legend than
this one. I don't mean a fresh dead man either; I mean a man that's been
dead weeks and weeks.

We struck the home-trail now, and in a few hours were in that
astonishing Chicago--a city where they are always rubbing the lamp, and
fetching up the genii, and contriving and achieving new impossibilities.
It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with
Chicago--she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them. She
is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you
passed through the last time. The Pennsylvania road rushed us to New
York without missing schedule time ten minutes anywhere on the route;
and there ended one of the most enjoyable five-thousand-mile journeys I
have ever had the good fortune to make.




IT was nine o'clock Thursday morning when the 'Susie' left the
Mississippi and entered Old River, or what is now called the mouth of
the Red. Ascending on the left, a flood was pouring in through and over
the levees on the Chandler plantation, the most northern point in Pointe
Coupee parish. The water completely covered the place, although the
levees had given way but a short time before. The stock had been
gathered in a large flat-boat, where, without food, as we passed, the
animals were huddled together, waiting for a boat to tow them off. On
the right-hand side of the river is Turnbull's Island, and on it is a
large plantation which formerly was pronounced one of the most fertile
in the State. The water has hitherto allowed it to go scot-free in usual
floods, but now broad sheets of water told only where fields were. The
top of the protecting levee could be seen here and there, but nearly all
of it was submerged.

The trees have put on a greener foliage since the water has poured in,
and the woods look bright and fresh, but this pleasant aspect to the eye
is neutralized by the interminable waste of water. We pass mile after
mile, and it is nothing but trees standing up to their branches in
water. A water-turkey now and again rises and flies ahead into the long
avenue of silence. A pirogue sometimes flits from the bushes and
crosses the Red River on its way out to the Mississippi, but the sad-
faced paddlers never turn their heads to look at our boat. The puffing
of the boat is music in this gloom, which affects one most curiously. It
is not the gloom of deep forests or dark caverns, but a peculiar kind of
solemn silence and impressive awe that holds one perforce to its
recognition. We passed two negro families on a raft tied up in the
willows this morning. They were evidently of the well-to-do class, as
they had a supply of meal and three or four hogs with them. Their rafts
were about twenty feet square, and in front of an improvised shelter
earth had been placed, on which they built their fire.

The current running down the Atchafalaya was very swift, the Mississippi
showing a predilection in that direction, which needs only to be seen to
enforce the opinion of that river's desperate endeavors to find a short
way to the Gulf. Small boats, skiffs, pirogues, etc., are in great
demand, and many have been stolen by piratical negroes, who take them
where they will bring the greatest price. From what was told me by Mr.
C. P. Ferguson, a planter near Red River Landing, whose place has just
gone under, there is much suffering in the rear of that place. The
negroes had given up all thoughts of a crevasse there, as the upper
levee had stood so long, and when it did come they were at its mercy.
On Thursday a number were taken out of trees and off of cabin roofs and
brought in, many yet remaining.

One does not appreciate the sight of earth until he has traveled through
a flood. At sea one does not expect or look for it, but here, with
fluttering leaves, shadowy forest aisles, house-tops barely visible, it
is expected. In fact a grave-yard, if the mounds were above water,
would be appreciated. The river here is known only because there is an
opening in the trees, and that is all. It is in width, from Fort Adams
on the left bank of the Mississippi to the bank of Rapides Parish, a
distance of about sixty miles. A large portion of this was under
cultivation, particularly along the Mississippi and back of the Red.
When Red River proper was entered, a strong current was running directly
across it, pursuing the same direction as that of the Mississippi.

After a run of some hours, Black River was reached. Hardly was it
entered before signs of suffering became visible. All the willows along
the banks were stripped of their leaves. One man, whom your
correspondent spoke to, said that he had had one hundred and fifty head
of cattle and one hundred head of hogs. At the first appearance of water
he had started to drive them to the high lands of Avoyelles, thirty-five
miles off, but he lost fifty head of the beef cattle and sixty hogs.
Black River is quite picturesque, even if its shores are under water. A
dense growth of ash, oak, gum, and hickory make the shores almost
impenetrable, and where one can get a view down some avenue in the
trees, only the dim outlines of distant trunks can be barely
distinguished in the gloom.

A few miles up this river, the depth of water on the banks was fully
eight feet, and on all sides could be seen, still holding against the
strong current, the tops of cabins. Here and there one overturned was
surrounded by drift-wood, forming the nucleus of possibly some future

In order to save coal, as it was impossible to get that fuel at any
point to be touched during the expedition, a look-out was kept for a
wood-pile. On rounding a point a pirogue, skilfully paddled by a youth,
shot out, and in its bow was a girl of fifteen, of fair face, beautiful
black eyes, and demure manners. The boy asked for a paper, which was
thrown to him, and the couple pushed their tiny craft out into the swell
of the boat.

Presently a little girl, not certainly over twelve years, paddled out in
the smallest little canoe and handled it with all the deftness of an old
voyageur. The little one looked more like an Indian than a white child,
and laughed when asked if she were afraid. She had been raised in a
pirogue and could go anywhere. She was bound out to pick willow leaves
for the stock, and she pointed to a house near by with water three
inches deep on the floors. At its back door was moored a raft about
thirty feet square, with a sort of fence built upon it, and inside of
this some sixteen cows and twenty hogs were standing. The family did
not complain, except on account of losing their stock, and promptly
brought a supply of wood in a flat.

From this point to the Mississippi River, fifteen miles, there is not a
spot of earth above water, and to the westward for thirty-five miles
there is nothing but the river's flood. Black River had risen during
Thursday, the 23rd, 1{three-quarters} inches, and was going up at night
still. As we progress up the river habitations become more frequent, but
are yet still miles apart. Nearly all of them are deserted, and the
out-houses floated off. To add to the gloom, almost every living thing
seems to have departed, and not a whistle of a bird nor the bark of the
squirrel can be heard in this solitude. Sometimes a morose gar will
throw his tail aloft and disappear in the river, but beyond this
everything is quiet--the quiet of dissolution. Down the river floats now
a neatly whitewashed hen-house, then a cluster of neatly split fence-
rails, or a door and a bloated carcass, solemnly guarded by a pair of
buzzards, the only bird to be seen, which feast on the carcass as it
bears them along. A picture-frame in which there was a cheap lithograph
of a soldier on horseback, as it floated on told of some hearth invaded
by the water and despoiled of this ornament.

At dark, as it was not prudent to run, a place alongside the woods was
hunted and to a tall gum-tree the boat was made fast for the night.

A pretty quarter of the moon threw a pleasant light over forest and
river, making a picture that would be a delightful piece of landscape
study, could an artist only hold it down to his canvas. The motion of
the engines had ceased, the puffing of the escaping steam was stilled,
and the enveloping silence closed upon us, and such silence it was!
Usually in a forest at night one can hear the piping of frogs, the hum
of insects, or the dropping of limbs; but here nature was dumb. The dark
recesses, those aisles into this cathedral, gave forth no sound, and
even the ripplings of the current die away.

At daylight Friday morning all hands were up, and up the Black we
started. The morning was a beautiful one, and the river, which is
remarkably straight, put on its loveliest garb. The blossoms of the haw
perfumed the air deliciously, and a few birds whistled blithely along
the banks. The trees were larger, and the forest seemed of older growth
than below. More fields were passed than nearer the mouth, but the same
scene presented itself--smoke-houses drifting out in the pastures, negro
quarters anchored in confusion against some oak, and the modest
residence just showing its eaves above water. The sun came up in a
glory of carmine, and the trees were brilliant in their varied shades of
green. Not a foot of soil is to be seen anywhere, and the water is
apparently growing deeper and deeper, for it reaches up to the branches
of the largest trees. All along, the bordering willows have been denuded
of leaves, showing how long the people have been at work gathering this
fodder for their animals. An old man in a pirogue was asked how the
willow leaves agreed with his cattle. He stopped in his work, and with
an ominous shake of his head replied: 'Well, sir, it 's enough to keep
warmth in their bodies and that's all we expect, but it's hard on the
hogs, particularly the small ones. They is dropping off powerful fast.
But what can you do? It 's all we've got.'

At thirty miles above the mouth of Black River the water extends from
Natchez on the Mississippi across to the pine hills of Louisiana, a
distance of seventy-three miles, and there is hardly a spot that is not
ten feet under it. The tendency of the current up the Black is toward
the west. In fact, so much is this the case, the waters of Red River
have been driven down from toward the Calcasieu country, and the waters
of the Black enter the Red some fifteen miles above the mouth of the
former, a thing never before seen by even the oldest steamboatmen. The
water now in sight of us is entirely from the Mississippi.

Up to Trinity, or rather Troy, which is but a short distance below, the
people have nearly all moved out, those remaining having enough for
their present personal needs. Their cattle, though, are suffering and
dying off quite fast, as the confinement on rafts and the food they get
breeds disease.

After a short stop we started, and soon came to a section where there
were many open fields and cabins thickly scattered about. Here were seen
more pictures of distress. On the inside of the houses the inmates had
built on boxes a scaffold on which they placed the furniture. The bed-
posts were sawed off on top, as the ceiling was not more than four feet
from the improvised floor. The buildings looked very insecure, and
threatened every moment to float off. Near the houses were cattle
standing breast high in the water, perfectly impassive. They did not
move in their places, but stood patiently waiting for help to come. The
sight was a distressing one, and the poor creatures will be sure to die
unless speedily rescued. Cattle differ from horses in this peculiar
quality. A horse, after finding no relief comes, will swim off in
search of food, whereas a beef will stand in its tracks until with
exhaustion it drops in the water and drowns.

At half-past twelve o'clock a hail was given from a flat-boat inside the
line of the bank. Rounding to we ran alongside, and General York
stepped aboard. He was just then engaged in getting off stock, and
welcomed the 'Times-Democrat' boat heartily, as he said there was much
need for her. He said that the distress was not exaggerated in the
least. People were in a condition it was difficult even for one to
imagine. The water was so high there was great danger of their houses
being swept away. It had already risen so high that it was approaching
the eaves, and when it reaches this point there is always imminent risk
of their being swept away. If this occurs, there will be great loss of
life. The General spoke of the gallant work of many of the people in
their attempts to save their stock, but thought that fully twenty-five
per cent. had perished. Already twenty-five hundred people had received
rations from Troy, on Black River, and he had towed out a great many
cattle, but a very great quantity remained and were in dire need. The
water was now eighteen inches higher than in 1874, and there was no land
between Vidalia and the hills of Catahoula.

At two o'clock the 'Susie' reached Troy, sixty-five miles above the
mouth of Black River. Here on the left comes in Little River; just
beyond that the Ouachita, and on the right the Tensas. These three
rivers form the Black River. Troy, or a portion of it, is situated on
and around three large Indian mounds, circular in shape, which rise
above the present water about twelve feet. They are about one hundred
and fifty feet in diameter, and are about two hundred yards apart. The
houses are all built between these mounds, and hence are all flooded to
a depth of eighteen inches on their floors.

These elevations, built by the aborigines, hundreds of years ago, are
the only points of refuge for miles. When we arrived we found them
crowded with stock, all of which was thin and hardly able to stand up.
They were mixed together, sheep, hogs, horses, mules, and cattle. One of
these mounds has been used for many years as the grave-yard, and to-day
we saw attenuated cows lying against the marble tomb-stones, chewing
their cud in contentment, after a meal of corn furnished by General
York. Here, as below, the remarkable skill of the women and girls in
the management of the smaller pirogues was noticed. Children were
paddling about in these most ticklish crafts with all the nonchalance of

General York has put into operation a perfect system in regard to
furnishing relief. He makes a personal inspection of the place where it
is asked, sees what is necessary to be done, and then, having two boats
chartered, with flats, sends them promptly to the place, when the cattle
are loaded and towed to the pine hills and uplands of Catahoula. He has
made Troy his headquarters, and to this point boats come for their
supply of feed for cattle. On the opposite side of Little River, which
branches to the left out of Black, and between it and the Ouachita, is
situated the town of Trinity, which is hourly threatened with
destruction. It is much lower than Troy, and the water is eight and nine
feet deep in the houses. A strong current sweeps through it, and it is
remarkable that all of its houses have not gone before. The residents of
both Troy and Trinity have been cared for, yet some of their stock have
to be furnished with food.

As soon as the 'Susie' reached Troy, she was turned over to General
York, and placed at his disposition to carry out the work of relief more
rapidly. Nearly all her supplies were landed on one of the mounds to
lighten her, and she was headed down stream to relieve those below. At
Tom Hooper's place, a few miles from Troy, a large flat, with about
fifty head of stock on board, was taken in tow. The animals were fed,
and soon regained some strength. To-day we go on Little River, where the
suffering is greatest.


Saturday Evening, March 25.

We started down Black River quite early, under the direction of General
York, to bring out what stock could be reached. Going down river a flat
in tow was left in a central locality, and from there men poled her back
in the rear of plantations, picking up the animals wherever found. In
the loft of a gin-house there were seventeen head found, and after a
gangway was built they were led down into the flat without difficulty.
Taking a skiff with the General, your reporter was pulled up to a little
house of two rooms, in which the water was standing two feet on the
floors. In one of the large rooms were huddled the horses and cows of
the place, while in the other the Widow Taylor and her son were seated
on a scaffold raised on the floor. One or two dug-outs were drifting
about in the roam ready to be put in service at any time. When the flat
was brought up, the side of the house was cut away as the only means of
getting the animals out, and the cattle were driven on board the boat.
General York, in this as in every case, inquired if the family desired
to leave, informing them that Major Burke, of 'The Times-Democrat,' has
sent the 'Susie' up for that purpose. Mrs. Taylor said she thanked
Major Burke, but she would try and hold out. The remarkable tenacity of
the people here to their homes is beyond all comprehension. Just below,
at a point sixteen miles from Troy, information was received that the
house of Mr. Tom Ellis was in danger, and his family were all in it. We
steamed there immediately, and a sad picture was presented. Looking out
of the half of the window left above water, was Mrs. Ellis, who is in
feeble health, whilst at the door were her seven children, the oldest
not fourteen years. One side of the house was given up to the work
animals, some twelve head, besides hogs. In the next room the family
lived, the water coming within two inches of the bed-rail. The stove was
below water, and the cooking was done on a fire on top of it. The house
threatened to give way at any moment: one end of it was sinking, and, in
fact, the building looked a mere shell. As the boat rounded to, Mr.
Ellis came out in a dug-out, and General York told him that he had come
to his relief; that 'The Times-Democrat' boat was at his service, and
would remove his family at once to the hills, and on Monday a flat would
take out his stock, as, until that time, they would be busy.
Notwithstanding the deplorable situation himself and family were in, Mr.
Ellis did not want to leave. He said he thought he would wait until
Monday, and take the risk of his house falling. The children around the
door looked perfectly contented, seeming to care little for the danger
they were in. These are but two instances of the many. After weeks of
privation and suffering, people still cling to their houses and leave
only when there is not room between the water and the ceiling to build a
scaffold on which to stand. It seemed to be incomprehensible, yet the
love for the old place was stronger than that for safety.

After leaving the Ellis place, the next spot touched at was the Oswald
place. Here the flat was towed alongside the gin-house where there were
fifteen head standing in water; and yet, as they stood on scaffolds,
their heads were above the top of the entrance. It was found impossible
to get them out without cutting away a portion of the front; and so axes
were brought into requisition and a gap made. After much labor the
horses and mules were securely placed on the flat.

At each place we stop there are always three, four, or more dug-outs
arriving, bringing information of stock in other places in need.
Notwithstanding the fact that a great many had driven a part of their
stock to the hills some time ago, there yet remains a large quantity,
which General York, who is working with indomitable energy, will get
landed in the pine hills by Tuesday.

All along Black River the 'Susie' has been visited by scores of
planters, whose tales are the repetition of those already heard of
suffering and loss. An old planter, who has lived on the river since
1844, said there never was such a rise, and he was satisfied more than
one quarter of the stock has been lost. Luckily the people cared first
for their work stock, and when they could find it horses and mules were
housed in a place of safety. The rise which still continues, and was two
inches last night, compels them to get them out to the hills; hence it
is that the work of General York is of such a great value. From daylight
to late at night he is going this way and that, cheering by his kindly
words and directing with calm judgment what is to be done. One
unpleasant story, of a certain merchant in New Orleans, is told all
along the river. It appears for some years past the planters have been
dealing with this individual, and many of them had balances in his
hands. When the overflow came they wrote for coffee, for meal, and, in
fact, for such little necessities as were required. No response to these
letters came, and others were written, and yet these old customers, with
plantations under water, were refused even what was necessary to sustain
life. It is needless to say he is not popular now on Back River.

The hills spoken of as the place of refuge for the people and stock on
Black River are in Catahoula parish, twenty-four miles from Black River.

After filling the flat with cattle we took on board the family of T. S.
Hooper, seven in number, who could not longer remain in their dwelling,
and we are now taking them up Little River to the hills.


Troy: March 27, 1882, noon.

The flood here is rising about three and a half inches every twenty-four
hours, and rains have set in which will increase this. General York
feels now that our efforts ought to be directed towards saving life, as
the increase of the water has jeopardized many houses. We intend to go
up the Tensas in a few minutes, and then we will return and go down
Black River to take off families. There is a lack of steam
transportation here to meet the emergency. The General has three boats
chartered, with flats in tow, but the demand for these to tow out stock
is greater than they can meet with promptness. All are working night
and day, and the 'Susie' hardly stops for more than an hour anywhere.
The rise has placed Trinity in a dangerous plight, and momentarily it is
expected that some of the houses will float off. Troy is a little
higher, yet all are in the water. Reports have come in that a woman and
child have been washed away below here, and two cabins floated off.
Their occupants are the same who refused to come off day before
yesterday. One would not believe the utter passiveness of the people.

As yet no news has been received of the steamer 'Delia,' which is
supposed to be the one sunk in yesterday's storm on Lake Catahoula. She
is due here now, but has not arrived. Even the mail here is most
uncertain, and this I send by skiff to Natchez to get it to you. It is
impossible to get accurate data as to past crops, etc., as those who
know much about the matter have gone, and those who remain are not well
versed in the production of this section.

General York desires me to say that the amount of rations formerly sent
should be duplicated and sent at once. It is impossible to make any
estimate, for the people are fleeing to the hills, so rapid is the rise.
The residents here are in a state of commotion that can only be
appreciated when seen, and complete demoralization has set in,

If rations are drawn for any particular section hereabouts, they would
not be certain to be distributed, so everything should be sent to Troy
as a center, and the General will have it properly disposed of. He has
sent for one hundred tents, and, if all go to the hills who are in
motion now, two hundred will be required.



THE condition of this rich valley of the Lower Mississippi, immediately
after and since the war, constituted one of the disastrous effects of
war most to be deplored. Fictitious property in slaves was not only
righteously destroyed, but very much of the work which had depended upon
the slave labor was also destroyed or greatly impaired, especially the
levee system.

It might have been expected by those who have not investigated the
subject, that such important improvements as the construction and
maintenance of the levees would have been assumed at once by the several
States. But what can the State do where the people are under subjection
to rates of interest ranging from 18 to 30 per cent., and are also under
the necessity of pledging their crops in advance even of planting, at
these rates, for the privilege of purchasing all of their supplies at
100 per cent. profit?

It has needed but little attention to make it perfectly obvious that the
control of the Mississippi River, if undertaken at all, must be
undertaken by the national government, and cannot be compassed by
States. The river must be treated as a unit; its control cannot be
compassed under a divided or separate system of administration.

Neither are the States especially interested competent to combine among
themselves for the necessary operations. The work must begin far up the
river; at least as far as Cairo, if not beyond; and must be conducted
upon a consistent general plan throughout the course of the river.

It does not need technical or scientific knowledge to comprehend the
elements of the case if one will give a little time and attention to the
subject, and when a Mississippi River commission has been constituted,
as the existing commission is, of thoroughly able men of different walks
in life, may it not be suggested that their verdict in the case should
be accepted as conclusive, so far as any a priori theory of construction
or control can be considered conclusive?

It should be remembered that upon this board are General Gilmore,
General Comstock, and General Suter, of the United States Engineers;
Professor Henry Mitchell (the most competent authority on the question
of hydrography), of the United States Coast Survey; B. B. Harrod, the
State Engineer of Louisiana; Jas. B. Eads, whose success with the
jetties at New Orleans is a warrant of his competency, and Judge Taylor,
of Indiana.

It would be presumption on the part of any single man, however skilled,
to contest the judgment of such a board as this.

The method of improvement proposed by the commission is at once in
accord with the results of engineering experience and with observations
of nature where meeting our wants. As in nature the growth of trees and
their proneness where undermined to fall across the slope and support
the bank secures at some points a fair depth of channel and some degree
of permanence, so in the project of the engineer the use of timber and
brush and the encouragement of forest growth are the main features. It
is proposed to reduce the width where excessive by brushwood dykes, at
first low, but raised higher and higher as the mud of the river settles
under their shelter, and finally slope them back at the angle upon which
willows will grow freely. In this work there are many details connected
with the forms of these shelter dykes, their arrangements so as to
present a series of settling basins, etc., a description of which would
only complicate the conception. Through the larger part of the river
works of contraction will not be required, but nearly all the banks on
the concave side of the beds must be held against the wear of the
stream, and much of the opposite banks defended at critical points. The
works having in view this conservative object may be generally
designated works of revetment; and these also will be largely of
brushwood, woven in continuous carpets, or twined into wire-netting.
This veneering process has been successfully employed on the Missouri
River; and in some cases they have so covered themselves with sediments,
and have become so overgrown with willows, that they may be regarded as
permanent. In securing these mats rubble-stone is to be used in small
quantities, and in some instances the dressed slope between high and low
river will have to be more or less paved with stone.

Any one who has been on the Rhine will have observed operations not
unlike those to which we have just referred; and, indeed, most of the
rivers of Europe flowing among their own alluvia have required similar
treatment in the interest of navigation and agriculture.

The levee is the crowning work of bank revetment, although not
necessarily in immediate connection. It may be set back a short
distance from the revetted bank; but it is, in effect, the requisite
parapet. The flood river and the low river cannot be brought into
register, and compelled to unite in the excavation of a single permanent
channel, without a complete control of all the stages; and even the
abnormal rise must be provided against, because this would endanger the
levee, and once in force behind the works of revetment would tear them
also away.

Under the general principle that the local slope of a river is the
result and measure of the resistance of its bed, it is evident that a
narrow and deep stream should have less slope, because it has less
frictional surface in proportion to capacity; i.e., less perimeter in
proportion to area of cross section. The ultimate effect of levees and
revetments confining the floods and bringing all the stages of the river
into register is to deepen the channel and let down the slope. The first
effect of the levees is to raise the surface; but this, by inducing
greater velocity of flow, inevitably causes an enlargement of section,
and if this enlargement is prevented from being made at the expense of
the banks, the bottom must give way and the form of the waterway be so
improved as to admit this flow with less rise. The actual experience
with levees upon the Mississippi River, with no attempt to hold the
banks, has been favorable, and no one can doubt, upon the evidence
furnished in the reports of the commission, that if the earliest levees
had been accompanied by revetment of banks, and made complete, we should
have to-day a river navigable at low water, and an adjacent country safe
from inundation.

Of course it would be illogical to conclude that the constrained river
can ever lower its flood slope so as to make levees unnecessary, but it
is believed that, by this lateral constraint, the river as a conduit may
be so improved in form that even those rare floods which result from the
coincident rising of many tributaries will find vent without destroying
levees of ordinary height. That the actual capacity of a channel through
alluvium depends upon its service during floods has been often shown,
but this capacity does not include anomalous, but recurrent, floods.

It is hardly worth while to consider the projects for relieving the
Mississippi River floods by creating new outlets, since these
sensational propositions have commended themselves only to unthinking
minds, and have no support among engineers. Were the river bed cast-
iron, a resort to openings for surplus waters might be a necessity; but
as the bottom is yielding, and the best form of outlet is a single deep
channel, as realizing the least ratio of perimeter to area of cross
section, there could not well be a more unphilosophical method of
treatment than the multiplication of avenues of escape.

In the foregoing statement the attempt has been made to condense in as
limited a space as the importance of the subject would permit, the
general elements of the problem, and the general features of the
proposed method of improvement which has been adopted by the Mississippi
River Commission.

The writer cannot help feeling that it is somewhat presumptuous on his
part to attempt to present the facts relating to an enterprise which
calls for the highest scientific skill; but it is a matter which
interests every citizen of the United States, and is one of the methods
of reconstruction which ought to be approved. It is a war claim which
implies no private gain, and no compensation except for one of the cases
of destruction incident to war, which may well be repaired by the people
of the whole country.


Boston: April 14, 1882.



HAVING now arrived nearly at the end of our travels, I am induced, ere I
conclude, again to mention what I consider as one of the most remarkable
traits in the national character of the Americans; namely, their
exquisite sensitiveness and soreness respecting everything said or
written concerning them. Of this, perhaps, the most remarkable example I
can give is the effect produced on nearly every class of readers by the
appearance of Captain Basil Hall's 'Travels in North America.' In fact,
it was a sort of moral earthquake, and the vibration it occasioned
through the nerves of the republic, from one corner of the Union to the
other, was by no means over when I left the country in July 1831, a
couple of years after the shock.

I was in Cincinnati when these volumes came out, but it was not till
July 1830, that I procured a copy of them. One bookseller to whom I
applied told me that he had had a few copies before he understood the
nature of the work, but that, after becoming acquainted with it, nothing
should induce him to sell another. Other persons of his profession
must, however, have been less scrupulous; for the book was read in city,
town, village, and hamlet, steamboat, and stage-coach, and a sort of
war-whoop was sent forth perfectly unprecedented in my recollection upon
any occasion whatever.

An ardent desire for approbation, and a delicate sensitiveness under
censure, have always, I believe, been considered as amiable traits of
character; but the condition into which the appearance of Captain Hall's
work threw the republic shows plainly that these feelings, if carried to
excess, produce a weakness which amounts to imbecility.

It was perfectly astonishing to hear men who, on other subjects, were of
some judgment, utter their opinions upon this. I never heard of any
instance in which the commonsense generally found in national criticism
was so overthrown by passion. I do not speak of the want of justice, and
of fair and liberal interpretation: these, perhaps, were hardly to be
expected. Other nations have been called thin-skinned, but the citizens
of the Union have, apparently, no skins at all; they wince if a breeze
blows over them, unless it be tempered with adulation. It was not,
therefore, very surprising that the acute and forcible observations of a
traveler they knew would be listened to should be received testily. The
extraordinary features of the business were, first, the excess of the
rage into which they lashed themselves; and, secondly, the puerility of
the inventions by which they attempted to account for the severity with
which they fancied they had been treated.

Not content with declaring that the volumes contained no word of truth,
from beginning to end (which is an assertion I heard made very nearly as
often as they were mentioned), the whole country set to work to discover
the causes why Captain Hall had visited the United States, and why he
had published his book.

I have heard it said with as much precision and gravity as if the
statement had been conveyed by an official report, that Captain Hall had
been sent out by the British Government expressly for the purpose of
checking the growing admiration of England for the Government of the
United States,--that it was by a commission from the treasury he had
come, and that it was only in obedience to orders that he had found
anything to object to.

I do not give this as the gossip of a coterie; I am persuaded that it is
the belief of a very considerable portion of the country. So deep is the
conviction of this singular people that they cannot be seen without
being admired, that they will not admit the possibility that any one
should honestly and sincerely find aught to disapprove in them or their

The American Reviews are, many of them, I believe, well known in
England; I need not, therefore, quote them here, but I sometimes
wondered that they, none of them, ever thought of translating Obadiah's
curse into classic American; if they had done so, on placing (he, Basil
Hall) between brackets, instead of (he, Obadiah) it would have saved
them a world of trouble.

I can hardly describe the curiosity with which I sat down at length to
peruse these tremendous volumes; still less can I do justice to my
surprise at their contents. To say that I found not one exaggerated
statement throughout the work is by no means saying enough. It is
impossible for any one who knows the country not to see that Captain
Hall earnestly sought out things to admire and commend. When he praises,
it is with evident pleasure; and when he finds fault, it is with evident
reluctance and restraint, excepting where motives purely patriotic urge
him to state roundly what it is for the benefit of his country should be

In fact, Captain Hall saw the country to the greatest possible
advantage. Furnished, of course, with letters of introduction to the
most distinguished individuals, and with the still more influential
recommendation of his own reputation, he was received in full drawing-
room style and state from one end of the Union to the other. He saw the
country in full dress, and had little or no opportunity of judging of it
unhouselled, unanointed, unannealed, with all its imperfections on its
head, as I and my family too often had.

Captain Hall had certainly excellent opportunities of making himself
acquainted with the form of the government and the laws; and of
receiving, moreover, the best oral commentary upon them, in conversation
with the most distinguished citizens. Of these opportunities he made
excellent use; nothing important met his eye which did not receive that
sort of analytical attention which an experienced and philosophical
traveler alone can give. This has made his volumes highly interesting
and valuable; but I am deeply persuaded, that were a man of equal
penetration to visit the United States with no other means of becoming
acquainted with the national character than the ordinary working-day
intercourse of life, he would conceive an infinitely lower idea of the
moral atmosphere of the country than Captain Hall appears to have done;
and the internal conviction on my mind is strong, that if Captain Hall
had not placed a firm restraint on himself, he must have given
expression to far deeper indignation than any he has uttered against
many points in the American character, with which he shows from other
circumstances that he was well acquainted. His rule appears to have been
to state just so much of the truth as would leave on the mind of his
readers a correct impression, at the least cost of pain to the sensitive
folks he was writing about. He states his own opinions and feelings, and
leaves it to be inferred that he has good grounds for adopting them; but
he spares the Americans the bitterness which a detail of the
circumstances would have produced.

If any one chooses to say that some wicked antipathy to twelve millions
of strangers is the origin of my opinion, I must bear it; and were the
question one of mere idle speculation, I certainly would not court the
abuse I must meet for stating it. But it is not so.

. . . . . . .

The candor which he expresses, and evidently feels, they mistake for
irony, or totally distrust; his unwillingness to give pain to persons
from whom he has received kindness, they scornfully reject as
affectation, and although they must know right well, in their own secret
hearts, how infinitely more they lay at his mercy than he has chosen to
betray; they pretend, even to themselves, that he has exaggerated the
bad points of their character and institutions; whereas, the truth is,
that he has let them off with a degree of tenderness which may be quite
suitable for him to exercise, however little merited; while, at the same
time, he has most industriously magnified their merits, whenever he
could possibly find anything favorable.



IN a remote part of the North lived a man and his sister, who had never
seen a human being. Seldom, if ever, had the man any cause to go from
home; for, as his wants demanded food, he had only to go a little
distance from the lodge, and there, in some particular spot, place his
arrows, with their barbs in the ground. Telling his sister where they
had been placed, every morning she would go in search, and never fail of
finding each stuck through the heart of a deer. She had then only to
drag them into the lodge and prepare their food. Thus she lived till she
attained womanhood, when one day her brother, whose name was Iamo, said
to her: 'Sister, the time is at hand when you will be ill. Listen to
my advice. If you do not, it will probably be the cause of my death.
Take the implements with which we kindle our fires. Go some distance
from our lodge and build a separate fire. When you are in want of food,
I will tell you where to find it. You must cook for yourself, and I will
for myself. When you are ill, do not attempt to come near the lodge, or
bring any of the utensils you use. Be sure always to fasten to your
belt the implements you need, for you do not know when the time will
come. As for myself, I must do the best I can.' His sister promised to
obey him in all he had said.

Shortly after, her brother had cause to go from home. She was alone in
her lodge, combing her hair. She had just untied the belt to which the
implements were fastened, when suddenly the event, to which her brother
had alluded, occurred. She ran out of the lodge, but in her haste forgot
the belt. Afraid to return, she stood for some time thinking. Finally,
she decided to enter the lodge and get it. For, thought she, my brother
is not at home, and I will stay but a moment to catch hold of it. She
went back. Running in suddenly, she caught hold of it, and was coming
out when her brother came in sight. He knew what was the matter. 'Oh,'
he said, 'did I not tell you to take care. But now you have killed me.'
She was going on her way, but her brother said to her, 'What can you do
there now. The accident has happened. Go in, and stay where you have
always stayed. And what will become of you? You have killed me.'

He then laid aside his hunting-dress and accoutrements, and soon after
both his feet began to turn black, so that he could not move. Still he
directed his sister where to place the arrows, that she might always
have food. The inflammation continued to increase, and had now reached
his first rib; and he said: 'Sister, my end is near. You must do as I
tell you. You see my medicine-sack, and my war-club tied to it. It
contains all my medicines, and my war-plumes, and my paints of all
colors. As soon as the inflammation reaches my breast, you will take my
war-club. It has a sharp point, and you will cut off my head. When it is
free from my body, take it, place its neck in the sack, which you must
open at one end. Then hang it up in its former place. Do not forget my
bow and arrows. One of the last you will take to procure food. The
remainder, tie in my sack, and then hang it up, so that I can look
towards the door. Now and then I will speak to you, but not often.' His
sister again promised to obey.

In a little time his breast was affected. 'Now,' said he, 'take the
club and strike off my head.' She was afraid, but he told her to muster
courage. 'Strike,' said he, and a smile was on his face. Mustering all
her courage, she gave the blow and cut off the head. 'Now,' said the
head, 'place me where I told you.' And fearfully she obeyed it in all
its commands. Retaining its animation, it looked around the lodge as
usual, and it would command its sister to go in such places as it
thought would procure for her the flesh of different animals she needed.
One day the head said: 'The time is not distant when I shall be freed
from this situation, and I shall have to undergo many sore evils. So the
superior manito decrees, and I must bear all patiently.' In this
situation we must leave the head.

In a certain part of the country was a village inhabited by a numerous
and warlike band of Indians. In this village was a family of ten young
men--brothers. It was in the spring of the year that the youngest of
these blackened his face and fasted. His dreams were propitious. Having
ended his fast, he went secretly for his brothers at night, so that none
in the village could overhear or find out the direction they intended to
go. Though their drum was heard, yet that was a common occurrence.
Having ended the usual formalities, he told how favorable his dreams
were, and that he had called them together to know if they would
accompany him in a war excursion. They all answered they would. The
third brother from the eldest, noted for his oddities, coming up with
his war-club when his brother had ceased speaking, jumped up. 'Yes,'
said he, 'I will go, and this will be the way I will treat those I am
going to fight;' and he struck the post in the center of the lodge, and
gave a yell. The others spoke to him, saying: 'Slow, slow, Mudjikewis,
when you are in other people's lodges.' So he sat down. Then, in turn,
they took the drum, and sang their songs, and closed with a feast. The
youngest told them not to whisper their intention to their wives, but
secretly to prepare for their journey. They all promised obedience, and
Mudjikewis was the first to say so.

The time for their departure drew near. Word was given to assemble on a
certain night, when they would depart immediately. Mudjikewis was loud
in his demands for his moccasins. Several times his wife asked him the
reason. 'Besides,' said she, 'you have a good pair on.' 'Quick,
quick,' said he, 'since you must know, we are going on a war excursion;
so be quick.' He thus revealed the secret. That night they met and
started. The snow was on the ground, and they traveled all night, lest
others should follow them. When it was daylight, the leader took snow
and made a ball of it, then tossing it into the air, he said: 'It was in
this way I saw snow fall in a dream, so that I could not be tracked.'
And he told them to keep close to each other for fear of losing
themselves, as the snow began to fall in very large flakes. Near as they
walked, it was with difficulty they could see each other. The snow
continued falling all that day and the following night, so it was
impossible to track them.

They had now walked for several days, and Mudjikewis was always in the
rear. One day, running suddenly forward, he gave the SAW-SAW-
QUAN,{footnote [War-whoop.]} and struck a tree with his war-club, and it
broke into pieces as if struck with lightning. 'Brothers,' said he,
'this will be the way I will serve those we are going to fight.' The
leader answered, 'Slow, slow, Mudjikewis, the one I lead you to is not
to be thought of so lightly.' Again he fell back and thought to
himself: 'What! what! who can this be he is leading us to?' He felt
fearful and was silent. Day after day they traveled on, till they came
to an extensive plain, on the borders of which human bones were
bleaching in the sun. The leader spoke: 'They are the bones of those
who have gone before us. None has ever yet returned to tell the sad tale
of their fate.' Again Mudjikewis became restless, and, running forward,
gave the accustomed yell. Advancing to a large rock which stood above
the ground, he struck it, and it fell to pieces. 'See, brothers,' said
he, 'thus will I treat those whom we are going to fight.' 'Still,
still,' once more said the leader; 'he to whom I am leading you is not
to be compared to the rock.'

Mudjikewis fell back thoughtful, saying to himself: 'I wonder who this
can be that he is going to attack;' and he was afraid. Still they
continued to see the remains of former warriors, who had been to the
place where they were now going, some of whom had retreated as far back
as the place where they first saw the bones, beyond which no one had
ever escaped. At last they came to a piece of rising ground, from which
they plainly distinguished, sleeping on a distant mountain, a mammoth

The distance between them was very great, but the size of the animal
caused him to be plainly seen. 'There,' said the leader, 'it is he to
whom I am leading you; here our troubles will commence, for he is a
mishemokwa and a manito. It is he who has that we prize so dearly (i.e.
wampum), to obtain which, the warriors whose bones we saw, sacrificed
their lives. You must not be fearful: be manly. We shall find him
asleep.' Then the leader went forward and touched the belt around the
animal's neck. 'This,' said he, 'is what we must get. It contains the
wampum.' Then they requested the eldest to try and slip the belt over
the bear's head, who appeared to be fast asleep, as he was not in the
least disturbed by the attempt to obtain the belt. All their efforts
were in vain, till it came to the one next the youngest. He tried, and
the belt moved nearly over the monster's head, but he could get it no
farther. Then the youngest one, and the leader, made his attempt, and
succeeded. Placing it on the back of the oldest, he said, 'Now we must
run,' and off they started. When one became fatigued with its weight,
another would relieve him. Thus they ran till they had passed the bones
of all former warriors, and were some distance beyond, when looking
back, they saw the monster slowly rising. He stood some time before he
missed his wampum. Soon they heard his tremendous howl, like distant
thunder, slowly filling all the sky; and then they heard him speak and
say, 'Who can it be that has dared to steal my wampum? earth is not so
large but that I can find them;' and he descended from the hill in
pursuit. As if convulsed, the earth shook with every jump he made. Very
soon he approached the party. They, however, kept the belt, exchanging
it from one to another, and encouraging each other; but he gained on
them fast. 'Brothers,' said the leader, 'has never any one of you, when
fasting, dreamed of some friendly spirit who would aid you as a
guardian?' A dead silence followed. 'Well,' said he, 'fasting, I
dreamed of being in danger of instant death, when I saw a small lodge,
with smoke curling from its top. An old man lived in it, and I dreamed
he helped me; and may it be verified soon,' he said, running forward and
giving the peculiar yell, and a howl as if the sounds came from the
depths of his stomach, and what is called CHECAUDUM. Getting upon a
piece of rising ground, behold! a lodge, with smoke curling from its
top, appeared. This gave them all new strength, and they ran forward
and entered it. The leader spoke to the old man who sat in the lodge,
saying, 'Nemesho, help us; we claim your protection, for the great bear
will kill us.' 'Sit down and eat, my grandchildren,' said the old man.
'Who is a great manito?' said he. 'There is none but me; but let me
look,' and he opened the door of the lodge, when, lo! at a little
distance he saw the enraged animal coming on, with slow but powerful
leaps. He closed the door. 'Yes,' said he, 'he is indeed a great
manito: my grandchildren, you will be the cause of my losing my life;
you asked my protection, and I granted it; so now, come what may, I will
protect you. When the bear arrives at the door, you must run out of the
other door of the lodge.' Then putting his hand to the side of the
lodge where he sat, he brought out a bag which he opened. Taking out two
small black dogs, he placed them before him. 'These are the ones I use
when I fight,' said he; and he commenced patting with both hands the
sides of one of them, and he began to swell out, so that he soon filled
the lodge by his bulk; and he had great strong teeth. When he attained
his full size he growled, and from that moment, as from instinct, he
jumped out at the door and met the bear, who in another leap would have
reached the lodge. A terrible combat ensued. The skies rang with the
howls of the fierce monsters. The remaining dog soon took the field.
The brothers, at the onset, took the advice of the old man, and escaped
through the opposite side of the lodge. They had not proceeded far
before they heard the dying cry of one of the dogs, and soon after of
the other. 'Well,' said the leader, 'the old man will share their fate:
so run; he will soon be after us.' They started with fresh vigor, for
they had received food from the old man: but very soon the bear came in
sight, and again was fast gaining upon them. Again the leader asked the
brothers if they could do nothing for their safety. All were silent.
The leader, running forward, did as before. 'I dreamed,' he cried,
'that, being in great trouble, an old man helped me who was a manito; we
shall soon see his lodge.' Taking courage, they still went on. After
going a short distance they saw the lodge of the old manito. They
entered immediately and claimed his protection, telling him a manito was
after them. The old man, setting meat before them, said: 'Eat! who is a
manito? there is no manito but me; there is none whom I fear;' and the
earth trembled as the monster advanced. The old man opened the door and
saw him coming. He shut it slowly, and said: 'Yes, my grandchildren,
you have brought trouble upon me.' Procuring his medicine-sack, he took
out his small war-clubs of black stone, and told the young men to run
through the other side of the lodge. As he handled the clubs, they
became very large, and the old man stepped out just as the bear reached
the door. Then striking him with one of the clubs, it broke in pieces;
the bear stumbled. Renewing the attempt with the other war-club, that
also was broken, but the bear fell senseless. Each blow the old man gave
him sounded like a clap of thunder, and the howls of the bear ran along
till they filled the heavens.

The young men had now run some distance, when they looked back. They
could see that the bear was recovering from the blows. First he moved
his paws, and soon they saw him rise on his feet. The old man shared
the fate of the first, for they now heard his cries as he was torn in
pieces. Again the monster was in pursuit, and fast overtaking them. Not
yet discouraged, the young men kept on their way; but the bear was now
so close, that the leader once more applied to his brothers, but they
could do nothing. 'Well,' said he, 'my dreams will soon be exhausted;
after this I have but one more.' He advanced, invoking his guardian
spirit to aid him. 'Once,' said he, 'I dreamed that, being sorely
pressed, I came to a large lake, on the shore of which was a canoe,
partly out of water, having ten paddles all in readiness. Do not fear,'
he cried, 'we shall soon get it.' And so it was, even as he had said.
Coming to the lake, they saw the canoe with ten paddles, and immediately
they embarked. Scarcely had they reached the center of the lake, when
they saw the bear arrive at its borders. Lifting himself on his hind
legs, he looked all around. Then he waded into the water; then losing
his footing he turned back, and commenced making the circuit of the
lake. Meantime the party remained stationary in the center to watch his
movements. He traveled all around, till at last he came to the place
from whence he started. Then he commenced drinking up the water, and
they saw the current fast setting in towards his open mouth. The leader
encouraged them to paddle hard for the opposite shore. When only a short
distance from land, the current had increased so much, that they were
drawn back by it, and all their efforts to reach it were in vain.

Then the leader again spoke, telling them to meet their fates manfully.
'Now is the time, Mudjikewis,' said he, 'to show your prowess. Take
courage and sit at the bow of the canoe; and when it approaches his
mouth, try what effect your club will have on his head.' He obeyed, and
stood ready to give the blow; while the leader, who steered, directed
the canoe for the open mouth of the monster.

Rapidly advancing, they were just about to enter his mouth, when
Mudjikewis struck him a tremendous blow on the head, and gave the SAW-
SAW-QUAN. The bear's limbs doubled under him, and he fell, stunned by
the blow. But before Mudjikewis could renew it, the monster disgorged
all the water he had drank, with a force which sent the canoe with great
velocity to the opposite shore. Instantly leaving the canoe, again they
fled, and on they went till they were completely exhausted. The earth
again shook, and soon they saw the monster hard after them. Their
spirits drooped, and they felt discouraged. The leader exerted himself,
by actions and words, to cheer them up; and once more he asked them if
they thought of nothing, or could do nothing for their rescue; and, as
before, all were silent. 'Then,' he said, 'this is the last time I can
apply to my guardian spirit. Now, if we do not succeed, our fates are
decided.' He ran forward, invoking his spirit with great earnestness,
and gave the yell. 'We shall soon arrive,' said he to his brothers, 'at
the place where my last guardian spirit dwells. In him I place great
confidence. Do not, do not be afraid, or your limbs will be fear-bound.
We shall soon reach his lodge. Run, run,' he cried.

Returning now to Iamo, he had passed all the time in the same condition
we had left him, the head directing his sister, in order to procure
food, where to place the magic arrows, and speaking at long intervals.
One day the sister saw the eyes of the head brighten, as if with
pleasure. At last it spoke. 'Oh, sister,' it said, 'in what a pitiful
situation you have been the cause of placing me! Soon, very soon, a
party of young men will arrive and apply to me for aid; but alas! How
can I give what I would have done with so much pleasure? Nevertheless,
take two arrows, and place them where you have been in the habit of
placing the others, and have meat prepared and cooked before they
arrive. When you hear them coming and calling on my name, go out and
say, "Alas! it is long ago that an accident befell him. I was the cause
of it." If they still come near, ask them in, and set meat before them.
And now you must follow my directions strictly. When the bear is near,
go out and meet him. You will take my medicine-sack, bows and arrows,
and my head. You must then untie the sack, and spread out before you my
paints of all colors, my war-eagle feathers, my tufts of dried hair, and
whatever else it contains. As the bear approaches, you will take all
these articles, one by one, and say to him, "This is my deceased
brother's paint," and so on with all the other articles, throwing each
of them as far as you can. The virtues contained in them will cause him
to totter; and, to complete his destruction, you will take my head, and
that too you will cast as far off as you can, crying aloud, "See, this
is my deceased brother's head." He will then fall senseless. By this
time the young men will have eaten, and you will call them to your
assistance. You must then cut the carcass into pieces, yes, into small
pieces, and scatter them to the four winds; for, unless you do this, he
will again revive.' She promised that all should be done as he said.
She had only time to prepare the meat, when the voice of the leader was
heard calling upon Iamo for aid. The woman went out and said as her
brother had directed. But the war party being closely pursued, came up
to the lodge. She invited them in, and placed the meat before them.
While they were eating, they heard the bear approaching. Untying the
medicine-sack and taking the head, she had all in readiness for his
approach. When he came up she did as she had been told; and, before she
had expended the paints and feathers, the bear began to totter, but,
still advancing, came close to the woman. Saying as she was commanded,
she then took the head, and cast it as far from her as she could. As it
rolled along the ground, the blood, excited by the feelings of the head
in this terrible scene, gushed from the nose and mouth. The bear,
tottering, soon fell with a tremendous noise. Then she cried for help,
and the young men came rushing out, having partially regained their
strength and spirits.

Mudjikewis, stepping up, gave a yell and struck him a blow upon the
head. This he repeated, till it seemed like a mass of brains, while the
others, as quick as possible, cut him into very small pieces, which they
then scattered in every direction. While thus employed, happening to
look around where they had thrown the meat, wonderful to behold, they
saw starting up and turning off in every direction small black bears,
such as are seen at the present day. The country was soon overspread
with these black animals. And it was from this monster that the present
race of bears derived their origin.

Having thus overcome their pursuer, they returned to the lodge. In the
meantime, the woman, gathering the implements she had used, and the
head, placed them again in the sack. But the head did not speak again,
probably from its great exertion to overcome the monster.

Having spent so much time and traversed so vast a country in their
flight, the young men gave up the idea of ever returning to their own
country, and game being plenty, they determined to remain where they now
were. One day they moved off some distance from the lodge for the
purpose of hunting, having left the wampum with the woman. They were
very successful, and amused themselves, as all young men do when alone,
by talking and jesting with each other. One of them spoke and said, 'We
have all this sport to ourselves; let us go and ask our sister if she
will not let us bring the head to this place, as it is still alive. It
may be pleased to hear us talk, and be in our company. In the meantime
take food to our sister.' They went and requested the head. She told
them to take it, and they took it to their hunting-grounds, and tried to
amuse it, but only at times did they see its eyes beam with pleasure.
One day, while busy in their encampment, they were unexpectedly attacked
by unknown Indians. The skirmish was long contested and bloody; many of
their foes were slain, but still they were thirty to one. The young men
fought desperately till they were all killed. The attacking party then
retreated to a height of ground, to muster their men, and to count the
number of missing and slain. One of their young men had stayed away,
and, in endeavoring to overtake them, came to the place where the head
was hung up. Seeing that alone retain animation, he eyed it for some
time with fear and surprise. However, he took it down and opened the
sack, and was much pleased to see the beautiful feathers, one of which
he placed on his head.

Starting off, it waved gracefully over him till he reached his party,
when he threw down the head and sack, and told them how he had found it,
and that the sack was full of paints and feathers. They all looked at
the head and made sport of it. Numbers of the young men took the paint
and painted themselves, and one of the party took the head by the hair
and said--

'Look, you ugly thing, and see your paints on the faces of warriors.'

But the feathers were so beautiful, that numbers of them also placed
them on their heads. Then again they used all kinds of indignity to the
head, for which they were in turn repaid by the death of those who had
used the feathers. Then the chief commanded them to throw away all
except the head. 'We will see,' said he, 'when we get home, what we can
do with it. We will try to make it shut its eyes.'

When they reached their homes they took it to the council-lodge, and
hung it up before the fire, fastening it with raw hide soaked, which
would shrink and become tightened by the action of the fire. 'We will
then see,' they said, 'if we cannot make it shut its eyes.'

Meantime, for several days, the sister had been waiting for the young
men to bring back the head; till, at last, getting impatient, she went
in search of it. The young men she found lying within short distances
of each other, dead, and covered with wounds. Various other bodies lay
scattered in different directions around them. She searched for the head
and sack, but they were nowhere to be found. She raised her voice and
wept, and blackened her face. Then she walked in different directions,
till she came to the place from whence the head had been taken. Then
she found the magic bow and arrows, where the young men, ignorant of
their qualities, had left them. She thought to herself that she would
find her brother's head, and came to a piece of rising ground, and there
saw some of his paints and feathers. These she carefully put up, and
hung upon the branch of a tree till her return.

At dusk she arrived at the first lodge of a very extensive village. Here
she used a charm, common among Indians when they wish to meet with a
kind reception. On applying to the old man and woman of the lodge, she
was kindly received. She made known her errand. The old man promised to
aid her, and told her the head was hung up before the council-fire, and
that the chiefs of the village, with their young men, kept watch over it
continually. The former are considered as manitoes. She said she only
wished to see it, and would be satisfied if she could only get to the
door of the lodge. She knew she had not sufficient power to take it by
force. 'Come with me,' said the Indian, 'I will take you there.' They
went, and they took their seats near the door. The council-lodge was
filled with warriors, amusing themselves with games, and constantly
keeping up a fire to smoke the head, as they said, to make dry meat.
They saw the head move, and not knowing what to make of it, one spoke
and said: 'Ha! ha! It is beginning to feel the effects of the smoke.'
The sister looked up from the door, and her eyes met those of her
brother, and tears rolled down the cheeks of the head. 'Well,' said the
chief, 'I thought we would make you do something at last. Look! look at
it--shedding tears,' said he to those around him; and they all laughed
and passed their jokes upon it. The chief, looking around, and
observing the woman, after some time said to the man who came with her:
'Who have you got there? I have never seen that woman before in our
village.' 'Yes,' replied the man, 'you have seen her; she is a relation
of mine, and seldom goes out. She stays at my lodge, and asked me to
allow her to come with me to this place.' In the center of the lodge sat
one of those young men who are always forward, and fond of boasting and
displaying themselves before others. 'Why,' said he, 'I have seen her
often, and it is to this lodge I go almost every night to court her.'
All the others laughed and continued their games. The young man did not
know he was telling a lie to the woman's advantage, who by that means

She returned to the man's lodge, and immediately set out for her own
country. Coming to the spot where the bodies of her adopted brothers
lay, she placed them together, their feet toward the east. Then taking
an ax which she had, she cast it up into the air, crying out, 'Brothers,
get up from under it, or it will fall on you.' This she repeated three
times, and the third time the brothers all arose and stood on their

Mudjikewis commenced rubbing his eyes and stretching himself. 'Why,'
said he, 'I have overslept myself.' 'No, indeed,' said one of the
others, 'do you not know we were all killed, and that it is our sister
who has brought us to life?' The young men took the bodies of their
enemies and burned them. Soon after, the woman went to procure wives for
them, in a distant country, they knew not where; but she returned with
ten young women, which she gave to the ten young men, beginning with the
eldest. Mudjikewis stepped to and fro, uneasy lest he should not get
the one he liked. But he was not disappointed, for she fell to his lot.
And they were well matched, for she was a female magician. They then all
moved into a very large lodge, and their sister told them that the women
must now take turns in going to her brother's head every night, trying
to untie it. They all said they would do so with pleasure. The eldest
made the first attempt, and with a rushing noise she fled through the

Toward daylight she returned. She had been unsuccessful, as she
succeeded in untying only one of the knots. All took their turns
regularly, and each one succeeded in untying only one knot each time.
But when the youngest went, she commenced the work as soon as she
reached the lodge; although it had always been occupied, still the
Indians never could see any one. For ten nights now, the smoke had not
ascended, but filled the lodge and drove them out. This last night they
were all driven out, and the young woman carried off the head.

The young people and the sister heard the young woman coming high
through the air, and they heard her saying: 'Prepare the body of our
brother.' And as soon as they heard it, they went to a small lodge
where the black body of Iamo lay. His sister commenced cutting the neck
part, from which the neck had been severed. She cut so deep as to cause
it to bleed; and the others who were present, by rubbing the body and
applying medicines, expelled the blackness. In the meantime, the one
who brought it, by cutting the neck of the head, caused that also to

As soon as she arrived, they placed that close to the body, and, by aid
of medicines and various other means, succeeded in restoring Iamo to all
his former beauty and manliness. All rejoiced in the happy termination
of their troubles, and they had spent some time joyfully together, when
Iamo said: 'Now I will divide the wampum,' and getting the belt which
contained it, he commenced with the eldest, giving it in equal portions.
But the youngest got the most splendid and beautiful, as the bottom of
the belt held the richest and rarest.

They were told that, since they had all once died, and were restored to
life, they were no longer mortal, but spirits, and they were assigned
different stations in the invisible world. Only Mudjikewis's place was,
however, named. He was to direct the west wind, hence generally called
Kebeyun, there to remain for ever. They were commanded, as they had it
in their power, to do good to the inhabitants of the earth, and,
forgetting their sufferings in procuring the wampum, to give all things
with a liberal hand. And they were also commanded that it should also be
held by them sacred; those grains or shells of the pale hue to be
emblematic of peace, while those of the darker hue would lead to evil
and war.

The spirits then, amid songs and shouts, took their flight to their
respective abodes on high; while Iamo, with his sister Iamoqua,
descended into the depths below.


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