« 上一頁繼續 »
tle end of his words ; but he could write a heap faster than he could talk, and he was a horse on grammar and ciphering. I always allowed these Yankees to take larning the nateral way. I knew one of them in Madison county, that came there barefooted, with a pretty good pair of shoes in his hand, and he hired to maul rails by the hundred, and put up post and railing by the panel. He worked at this all summer; and in the fall, when they wanted a schoolmaster in the settlement, he offered to try it a while ; and the way he made the boys spell and read, and 'gin out pot-hooks, and cipher, was a sin. There was no doctor in the settlement, and in early times there was not much use for
But when any one was taken sick, this rail-splitting, schoolteaching Yankee cured them; and by degrees he turned into a ra-al doctor. Some thought he was a ship-carpenter, for he built a ferryboat and shod his own horse. Some people allowed he was a regular-bred doctor ; but when he had saved smartly of his earnings, he went hum, as he called the place, and came back with as pretty a parcel of store-goods as you would find anywhere. And when you seed him behind the counter, and heard him talk about cost and carriage, and freight and ensurance, and underwriters and copy-plate writers, and profit and Toss, and heard him coax the young women into debt (those whose parents were well off), you would have thought he had been raised to the business. This man married into a powerful connexion, and they sent him to the legislature ; and the last I heard of him he was talked of for Congress--and if he would treat well, he would be elected easy. When Jonas and myself were returning to our main camp
from a long hunt, with our horses well laden with beaver and traps, we met a white barr in an open prairie. When we discovered him he was a quarter of a mile off, but we halted and waited for him. We were to fire together over our horses, and I was to give the word. He came on, with mouth open, to within fifteen steps of us, then halted and stood up to look. He was a beautyspot; and the way he chawed his backer was curious ! it wasn't much like kissing the bride at an infair. Jonas was not quite so steady in his narves as I could have wished, for he was unused to the varmints, and his gun cracked a little too soon.
She was too easy on trigger, any way you could fix it. My nag threw up her head, and my gun went off before I got a fine sight. “ Now," said I,“ Jonas, we are in a pretty fix. Try your best in psalm-singing-it's our only chance !" Jonas bellowed out all sorts of base, and I wasn't far behind him. I had taken a hand at hymes, lined off in camp-meetings when singers and condarts war skase. The barr tuck a right good look at us, and then broke for high timber. That night the way Jonas sung in his sleep was melodious, and I mought say cruel. If an old night-mare had mounted him in his slumbers, she would have been musically flirted heels over head into the middle of kingdom come! A little before the winter set in, Jonas had an encounter, alone, with an old he grizzly barr, in which he was victorious by dint of stratagem. The narrative of a hunter, like a newspaper item, sometimes requires confirmation; but in this instance I stood on the point of a ridge and overlooked the conflict. It is therefore as authentic as a dying sinner's confession. Jonas was bending under the weight of two full-grown beaver, that he had strung across his shoulders, when the barr approached him in the rear. At the instant the trapper diskivered his antagonist, the hungry animal was rearing upon Jonas. While the barr was disengaging the beaver that he had taken hold of by mistake from his jaws, Jonas let go all holds except his gun, and sprang into the forks of a stunted tree, that grew on the border of the plum thicket from which the assailant had approached him. He had been apprized of the fact, that a white or grizzly barr never climbs. The rage of the barr was suited to the perfection of his disappointment. In his impotent ferocity, he tore the bark from the root of the tree, then reared like a full-length portrait, as Jonas afterward observed, with mouth wide open, exhibiting a set of teeth that would have thrown a dentist into raptures. While in this attitude, the trapper drew a belt-pistol and discharged it into the gorge of his throat. “I always put up my small change first,” said Jonas, in relating the particulars to me on the battle-ground. " That is what a sailor would call heaving the lead ; it was a nauseous pill, and the first dose operated.” When I reached the scene of ac
tion, the victor was despoiling his prostrate foe of his claws, which he promised himself some honour by exhibiting in Barkhampstead, his native town. Ever after this adventure, Jonas was a full team, when wide awake, in a white barr hunt.
When the fall hunt was at an end, and we were preparing our furs for the cache we had opened, on a bright moonlight evening, as we were coming into camp, an old black barr was discovered feeding on the carcass of a beaver that lay near the foot of a tall pine-tree. The animal was alarmed at our approach, and ascended the tree about twenty feet. I felt a honing after a little barr meat, such as I had fed on in my infancy, and I slipped round so as to bring the game between me and the moon, and I touched him delicate! When the gun cracked, old darkee went ahead, cracking the dry limbs like a hurrycane, or a horse loose in a canebrake, to the end of the chapter, the top of the tree. When all was silent I began to examine for sign, and I perceived something was trickling down upon the leaves at the foot of the tree, like eaves-dropping in a still rainy night. “Stand from under, Jonas," said I, and the next instant a rustling was heard above, then a sharp crackling of limbs, and finally a black mass was seen descending that jarred the earth we stood on when it reached the ground. It proved as pretty a piece of flesh as ever greased a gridiron. It was a match for the best buffalo hump meat I had ever tasted. It was nearly as good as elk marrow and dried venison. After supper we placed the carcass of this barr a little distance from our feet, and went to sleep. About midnight I was awakened by the champing of teeth, a sound that I understood as well as an infant does the lullaby. I opened one eye at a time, fearing I might alarm my visiter by any sudden or indiscreet movement. There he stood, an old white barr, feeding on the carcass of the black one. My gun was under my blanket, and the breech near my right shoulder. As I lay on my back, with “Sweet-lips" on my right hand, and my bedfellow on my left, I drew her up and cocked her. Fearing that if I fired without awaking Jonas, he might bark up the wrong sapling, I turned my head, and whispered in his ear, “ Jonas, there's a horse of an old grizzle holping himself to some of old blackee; dog eat
dog, I say—lie low-keep dark, and I'll touch him purty purticular. The triggers arr set, and old 'Sweet-lips' will crack in a little less than no time; now lie still !" But instead of lying still, when Jonas got about half awake, he headed himself eend, like a tobacco hogshead in a flat-boat, and old grizzle came ahead with his mouth wide open, like a countryman in town for the first time. There seemed to be no time for chat, and Jonas seized a beaver-skin that lay near his head with his left hand, and rammed it into the mouth of the barr. The rattling of the dry pelt, and the sudden movement of Jonas, together with the convulsive glaring of his half-conscious eyeballs, alarmed the assailant, and he fled with precipitation. As he went, I ran my eye over the barrel of “Sweet-lips,” and let him have it a little at random by moonshine. He only halted once to look back, when Jonas lifted his right hand, as if to beat time; but the pause was brief, and the barr resumed his flight. “ That was cute and providential !” exclaimed Jonas, as he respired a long breath, like a high-pressure 'scape-pipe. I was jist then patching my ball at the muzzle. I like always to be ready.
“ How long," said I, “ do you think Providence will indulge your indiscretion ?" “ There was a saving of ammunition. What is to be, will be, I guess," was the reply; and he began to sing a national anthem in the following words :
“ Father and I went down to camp,
I told Jonas the varmint would revisit us before morning; and he sat down with his darning-needle and an old pair of blue stockings, while I barbecued a few slices of old blackee for a late supper, or a very early breakfast. Our guns were close about the "diggings.” As we sentinelled away the remaining half of the night, Jonas essayed to make himself agreeable by repeating the following New-England
TALE OF WITCHCRAFT. “On the borders of the ancient aromatic village of Weathersfield, there lived, in the days of the primitive Puritans, a matron, in whose visage time had imprinted several deep and indelible channels, which had been still farther excavated by her tears. She was a lone woman, and a widow. No ties of consanguinity inclined her to feel an interest in the social compact. Of her offspring, if any survived, she possessed no knowledge. If dead, she had no data by which to trace them to their graves. Their fortunes had been boisterous ; for their course had been o'er the waves of the ocean. of all their souvenirs bestowed, and of the legacy bequeathed to her by the rustic who had won her maiden affections, nothing remained but the humble cabin in which her wheel had been humming for more than half a century. Her head was bowed down, and her shoulders so arched as to resemble, in profile, a pastoral crook. As an auxiliary to her unsteady footsteps, when she walked to town with her little skein of shoe-thread, she carried in one hand a razee crutch, too short to reach to the shoulder, but just long enough to preserve her from the lee-lurches of palsy. A large eunuch black cat held possession of the tenement during her absence.
“Beyond her Saturday evening visits to the shoemaker's, and a call at the next shop door, she held no intercourse with the world. The quiet of her domicile had once or twice been interrupted by the officiousness of some new-made select-men' (a class of meddling magistrates), with a proffer of the parish charities. These offers were uniformly repelled by an elf-like scream of disdain, and a menace from the aforesaid razee crutch. That she was an object of charity, no doubt could exist; but she appeared greatly averse to that bitter doling out of a weekly allowance, scanted and cut down by cold-blooded men of office, and she continued her labour at a time when she ought to have been sustained by some kindred hand, or ministered to by some good Samaritan.
" At the end of every moon, she found herself growing more