[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]



"On Susquehannah's side, fair Wyoming!" CAMPBELL.

WHOEVER Stood on a particular mountain summit of northern Pennsylvania, upward of half a century ago, looked on a landscape unexcelled in beauty by any other of the central colonies. The valley, many hundred feet beneath, exhibited an expanse some twenty miles in length, by three or four in width. The extreme fertility of its soil fully appeared in the most profuse luxuriance of vegetation.

attempted briefly to describe, for a short space of time pause to contemplate its loveliness and grandeur.

The little party was composed of but six individuals. The chief personage was a man apparently at the meridian age of life, and, from his dress and personal bearing, claiming rank in the first grade of society. The display of baggage by which he was followed, in quality at least, might be considered, at that early day, indicative of wealth. Somewhat in advance of his party, he had arrived at the brow of the mountain on foot, attended by a lad who had ridden at his side. The latter, in whose features might be traced some resemblance of the parent, had known the recurrence of no more than ten or eleven changes of the seasons. He was slight and graceful of figure; his slender form exhibited to advantage by the short jacket he wore, closely buttoned to the chin; his curls of light brown hair escaped from under his cap, now invested with additional lustre, occaThrough this fair valley, discernible at sioned by the exercise of riding, and moisttimes through the chasms of the wood-ure induced by the warmth of the day. lands, flowed in silence a river of surpass-The youth carried a small riding-whip suring beauty. Winding its way among the green flats that carpeted the plain, it finally escaped through a rocky defile, and was lost to view in a wilderness of hills and mountains wild as that by which it had entered.

At this early period, the amount of surface cleared by the pioneers of husbandry was somewhat deficient to that still covered by forest-trees, supported in towering growth by the alluvial bed which produced them. Of these, the elm, the sycamore, and the black walnut, spreading their limbs to great extent, and thickly covered with verdure, appeared to that usual advantage by which they are ever signalized in forest or grove.

mounted with a silver cap, with which he occasionally touched gently the pony he rode, or swept away the flies that were making unceasing assaults on his flanks, limbs, and ears. Sliding from his saddle with a feather's lightness, he stood at the side of his senior companion, and, as his pony, at the extent of the rein, fed on the leaves of a bush, regarded the prospect

Beyond, and at each extremity of this valley, to the utmost stretch of vision, the prospect afforded the contemplation of the beholder a map of country as wild and, ap-before him. parently, inhospitable as it was beyond The vehicle now coming up, drawn by a question grand. Neither spire, nor roof, pair of stout horses, was well laden with nor chimney of the habitation of man was goods of various description, suited to the perceptible. It was, saving what incon- purposes for which they were intended. siderable mutation the action of elements Beneath it, by prescriptive right from time and time had wrought upon it, the same, immemorial allowed his race, marched a doubtless, as when formed by the creating large bull-dog. On the front seat, though hand. Nothing which mortals had done but temporarily occupied, was the wife of in any degree changed the rugged features the emigrant, a lady whose appearance beof the boundless waste. tokened refinement of manners, and whose Viewing this attractive picture, now mel-face indicated amiability of disposition. At lowed by the hues of the setting sun, on a her side was another person, who, with whip summer's afternoon in the year 17-, were in hand, the observer would ascribe to a difa man and boy. They were in the van offerent rank in society. His fresh and buoya small party of emigrants. After a journey of much fatigue and difficulty through a desolate region of sixty miles, and that, too, over a road little improved from the condition pertaining to it as an Indian footpath, it may well be supposed the travellers would, encountering the prospect we have

ant expression of face, and energetic mould of body, would anywhere procure him attention. Added to this was a sprightliness of humour which, to a country lass, might be considered charming. His name was Barnabas Pike, so registered in the church archives of Ballykeelartifinny, County An

trim, Ireland, if, in geographical accuracy, we are not at fault.

Gaining the summit, Barnabas assisted the lady down from the seat she had occupied. In a few moments the procession closed by the arrival of two other personages mounted on clever nags, and clamorous in a discussion relative to the merits of bull-dogs and bull-terriers, practically considered; the one maintaining the efficacy of the cross, the other adhering to the unmixed blood. Heating with the importance of the subject, but for their opportune arrival in presence of authority, the argument seemed likely of finding conclusion in appeal to arms. As it chanced, however, one of them relieved his feelings by chafing his adversary's shin with his spur; which the other resented by protruding his tongue, scarce inferior to that of the giraffe in length, and turning up his nose in high disdain.

Of these two characters, he of the spur was a lad some twelve or thirteen years old, with complexion rather dark, and eye as black as it is possible for that hue to be drawn. The pupil, distinguishable in the organs of others, was not so in his. His hair was dark as his eye, and curling slightly, was something coarse of texture, and rebellious against restraint. In form he was rather more stocky and robust than his brother Walter, already described. His name was Charles,

mother dying, imparted no clew to the son's paternity. He had therefore grown up under the one name of Jeremiah.

Such the group who halted to bestow a glance on their future home. The gentleman beheld the evidences of a good soil, as before alluded to, and other features in the landscape that promised much the forwarding of agricultural interests. The lady dwelt on the varied scene of lawn and grove, the rich verdure resting on the forest, and the golden beams hallowing the distant hills. Walter said the river was a pretty river, though doubting whether it was, after all, so sweet a stream as the brook at home, where his water-wheel was. There were some fine meadows, though, along its banks, and Toby (his horse) would have fine times in the tall grass; and the river itself seemed to have water enough in it to keep him drinking all the days of his life. Charles intimated that it was all well enough, so far as he knew, and evincing disinclination to add more, stopped. As for Jeremiah, he was denied a look at the view at all, since, after his usual luck, a small fly had inserted itself at this moment between his eyelids, leaving him about the same as stone blind.

"Very well," remarked the gentleman, "I am glad we cannot discover anything objectionable in what we look at. A few months in this fair valley will, I have no doubt, make it as much home to us as that rwe have left in exchange for it. But we have not yet heard the opinion of Barnabas; he has, perhaps, seen more of the world than we, and can speak advisably of the scene."

[ocr errors]

"Faith," said the Irishman, "it's but a poor judge I am ov sanes, as ye call them but ov all the sanes iver I looked at, one at Ballykeelortifinny bate thim all."

"And what was that?" demanded the other.

The other was a person of some peculiar distinction, more indebted for it, however, to his usual bad luck and physical construction, than to mental endowment or habits of honesty. His feet and hands had been favoured with great precocity of growth, and, without disparagement, might have safely been submitted to measurement against those of any other urchin or adult in the district whence he came, A pair of full cheeks almost buried his very small gray eyes, and gave an air of distortion to "Sure enough," responded Barnabas, a face extremely red and round. Over his gaining confidence; " and what could it be, whole body was sown a t thick crop of sear-indade, but the most exhilerating bit ov a let freckles. A mouth ever open, to the display of what has been termed a couple of large butter teeth, may complete the picture. Adding, however, before he is dismissed, that a mystery of an unpleasant kind had cast a veil over certain members of his family, and which had proved an obstacle to his acquirement of a surname. While this untoward circumstance defeated the youth of his paternal appellation, it likewise interfered with his claims to such worldly possessions as his paternal relative, supposing him in the ordinary course of human events to have had such, might leave for distribution under the statutes of intestacy. But this question of doubt never being clearly settled by the best witness in the case, it was left forever problematical, when, a few years thereafter, the

row iver that blessed the whole north of
Ireland! And is it not many a poor fellow
who was carried off the ground dead as a
stone, remimbers it wid pride to this very
hour, and all his kith, kin, and generation
backward forward, for a century and
more, is praising it yet. Just to give yer
honour a little insight intil it, now. Ye
see there was an ould grudge betwane the
paple ov two parishes, and indivering had
they been, off and on, at fairs and markets
and the like, for the last twinty years and
more, to have it inded. So-

"Well, Barney," interposed the other, "I guess we will listen to the rest of this matter of chivalry hereafter. The sun is nearing the top of the mountain yonder, and we shall have but time to reach the shelter of one of these houses below us,

ere it is dark. You will drive on after us, therefore, since we walk down this steep descent."

In the dusk of evening, the party halted before a house in the valley beneath, where a board attached to a pole proclaimed "entertainment for man and horse." It was the sign of "the Buck;" and the branching horns of a forest patriarch graced the top of the shaft. Partaking, with appetites well sharpened by travel, such fare as the hostess of the Buck spread before them, the party retired early to bed. On the following morning they arose with light hearts, amid the carolling of birds and murmuring of the waters of the Susquehannah.


"Of moving accidents by flood and field."-Othello. JOHN HENDERSON, to whom the reader has been introduced in the foregoing chapter, was a native of one of the New England colonies, in which he had been educated, and where he had grown to favour both in point of private character and mental endowment. He had, on many occasions, been the recipient of official honours, the duties pertaining to which he had uniformly discharged both to his own honour and the advantage of others. When not occupied in the discharge of these delegated duties, he had employed his time in avocations of husbandry.

appurtenant grounds, the little stream pursued its noiseless way through the bottomlands until mingled and lost in the greater stream that received it. Opposite to the point at which the creek entered the river, and on the farther shore, a cliff of barren rock, destitute of vegetation save the clump of pines on its brow, arose to the height of several hundred feet above the tide. The base of this precipice stood opposed to the whole force of the current, which, thrown nearly at right angles upon it, was broken by the immoveable bulwark, and whirled away in disorder and foam.


The small party of emigrants, refreshed with an early breakfast at the Buck, set forward in the direction of their habitation. Entering the river at a ford, they soon became witnesses of an adventure. youth Jeremiah, at all times star-actor in the water with emotions, to say the least every drama of mischance, had entered of them, something at war with that coolness of mind and steadiness of seat and rein the occasion called on him to exercise. When about half way over, they gained the deepest part of the ripple, where the swift current broke against the flank and side of his horse with a roar and tumult which threw his presence of mind a little off its centre; creating, at the same time, a dizziness of head and confusion of sight exceedingly ill-timed. Casting his eyes down, it appeared that the bottom of the river was suddenly passing from under him. The trees, likewise, on the distant bank, operated upon by the same impulse as the river's bed, were moving away up stream. The bewildered rider, overcome by the optical delusion, gave himself up for lost; and, throwing back his head, closed his eyes tightly as he braced himself in the stirrups, and pulled with all force on the reins of his bridle. The horse, in answer to this appeal of the bit, settled back on his haunches, and, finally, going down entirely upon the slimy surface of a small rock, was swept with his rider into the deeper waters below the ford. Jere

Several months in advance of himself, he had sent forward an agent to this valley of the Susquehannah, of which accounts so flattering had reached his ear, with directions to purchase a tract of land, and erect upon it buildings for temporary use. In furtherance of these views, the agent had made choice of a location greatly in compliment of his judgment and taste. The tract lay on the western bank of the river, and extended over a rich alluvial flat and hillside to the ridge of the mountain running parallel with the course of the Susquehannah. The site selected for the man-miah let go his hold of the rein, and tumsion was on the second flat, as the different platforms of land, receding like steps from the stream, are commonly termed, in order that the buildings might be secure from the spring freshets, which annually swept, with destructive violence, the first or lowest of these tiers of low land. The building, thus placed on the brink of the second, overlooked the first bottom, that, without tree or bush, stretched out to the river's bank. Some few hundred yards in rear of the edifice the mountain began its


On one side of the dwelling murmured past one of those delightful brooks which, flowing down over rock and pebble, are nowhere so worthy of admiration as in mountain districts. Passing through the

bled, with open mouth, into the surging tide. The quantity he gulped, at a single swallow, put a stop to all efforts he was making to summon assistance. In this dilemma, he clutched at whatever came in his way. His success was flattering, since he finally laid hold of the tail of the horse, and, fastening to it with a death-grip, was dragged not only to the shore, but literally high and dry upon the beach.

The desperate hold Jeremiah had taken being, with much difficulty, broken, he and Walter rode forward, while, from the roughness of the way, the residue advanced at a slower pace. The route of the young horsemen, after a time, brought them to an Indian village, inhabited by a remnant of

in pursuit of medical aid, intimating that some one at the Indian village could perhaps direct him to a physician.


“A person hung, Barney," said the boy ; “and a negro I guess he had a dreadful black face."

this receding race, who yet retained a foothold in the valley. Passing this, they proceeded on. At this place those in rear made a halt when they came up. On set- And what has been the matter?" inquiting forward again, they soon met one of red Barnabas, as the lad rode up, who, we the advance party returning with pre- may add, had passed the excited mother on cipitate haste. It was the hero of the ford, the way, and relieved her mind of the painwho, with hat off and arms swinging, near-ful apprehensions she was entertaining. ed them with such pedestrian headway as might have done honour to the fleetest of the Olympic racers. His eyes, that had been closed to the terrors of water, were wide open on land; and, blowing like an oversped horse, he ran to the front of the procession, and gasping, as it were with the last breath, "He's dead!" fell flat in the road before the horses of the wagon. The lady sprang down with a note of consternation from the vehicle, and flew in the direction Jeremiah had approached. Henderson threw himself on the horse his other son was riding, and followed, soon passing his wife on the way. Barnabas, under the same impulse, laid whip to the team horses, and, in driving forward, had come near crushing the head of the ill-omened messenger panting in the dust. Henderson, having passed a small elevation, proceeded half a mile farther on, where he became witness of a sad spectacle.

"Hung! hung is it you are saying?" returned the Irishman; "was iver the like heard tell ov! It's much mistaken I've been in this same new counthry, thin. I was afther supposing the paple all hathens hereabouts. Lord help me, but how soon the fashions and the fine arts take root! Out ov the way a bit, Walter, me lad, I must drive on and see till it. Was there any one there that's had exparience, do ye know? Faith, I'm scarce belaving they know how a cord is to be tied in this wild ragion."

"There was no cord," said the boy; “his neck was between two poles!"

"St. Patrick! but you take the breath out ov me body!" responded Barnabas to this with a face of wonder. "Don't spake of it-the hathen Turks! It's murther, downright murther, upon me soul! It must be done over agin just in the way of his own atonement, and to save the falings and sinsabilities ov his family."


[ocr errors]

Stop, Barney," said the lad; "father wishes you to go back and get a doctor." "A doctor! is it sure ye are now, but it's a bit of a rope?"

"No, it's not a rope," said the boy; "and, besides, he wishes you to make all haste. He said some of the Indians back yonder could tell you where to find a doctor."

"So, so," pursued Barney, mounting the horse from which the other descended, "I'll be afther the doctor, if yer sure it's not the cord he is wanting; or anything else, so that the affair be dacently inded. Betwane two poles !" he muttered to himself, riding away, "like a hog, faith, wid his head fast in a gate. The bastely unchristian hathens !"

At this spot the road branched in differ ent directions, so that the young riders had been unable to determine which of the two routes it was proper for them to take. They had, consequently, sought information at the door of a hut near at hand. But no one from within took note of their salutation at the portal. The smoke issuing from the chimney of the hovel induced them to think it inhabited, and Jeremiah passed around to its rear, hoping to find some one there. Here was an open shed attached to the hut, beneath which the youth had no sooner put his head than, uttering a yell of terror, he ran off at full speed on the return. Walter, with fewer years, but more nerve, presented himself at the spot, and beheld the cause of the other's alarm. A lad with distorted features, the effect of strangulation, was hanging, and apparently dead. His neck was The messenger had proceeded but a short inserted between two poles forming part distance when he received information of one of those ordinary racks, common to touching the subject of his errand. Folevery farmer's yard or stable, in which fod-lowing the directions given him, he soon der is placed for cattle. In clambering to summoned the Esculapius of the neighthe loft above it, the youth, whose trap it bourhood to attend the call of emergency. had so singularly become, had fallen ; while his neck, passing between the two poles at the top, became inextricably fastened as it slid down to the bottom. Walter seized a rail, and placing one end of it between the poles, exerted a sufficient lever power to break away one of them, nearly decayed as it was, and the body fell to the ground. He then rolled it into the open air.

Henderson having arrived, directed his son to ride back to Barnabas and send him


"Great Doctor Caustic is a sage,
Whose merit gilds this iron age."

THE moment that Master Walter had departed to communicate his message to Barney at the direction of his father, the latter gentleman gave more particular scrutiny

« VorigeDoorgaan »