Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

one to dispute his domain. The log dwellings of the settlers have all rotted away—the mills fallen in upon the mill stones, and the forge upon the hammers. One house alone, which formerly belonged to the agent, remains standing; and in this Arnold and his family reside. Boonville, twenty miles distant, is the nearest settlement. Yet here he lives contented, year after year, with his family of thirteen children twelve girls and one boy—by turns trapping, shooting and cultivating his fields. The agricultural part, however, is performed mostly by the females who plow, sow, rake, bind, &c., equal to any farmer. . Two of the girls threshed alone, with common flails, five hundred bushels of oats in one winter, while their father and brother were away trapping for marten, Occupying such a large tract of land, and cultivating as much as he chooses, he is able to keep a great many cattle, and has some excellent horses which these girls of his ride with a wildness and recklessness that makes one tremble for their safety. You will often see five or six of them, each on her own horse, some astraddle, and some sideways, yet all “bare back;" i. e. without any saddle, racing it like mad creatures over the huge common. They sit (I was

CURIOUS

HORSE RACE.

213

going to say their saddles) their horses beautifully; and with their hair streaming in the wind, and dresses flying about their white limbs and bare feet, careering acrɔss the plains, they look wild and spirited enough for Amazons. They frequently ride without a bridle or even halter, guiding the horse by a motion or stroke of the hand. What think you of a dozen fearless girls mounted on fleet horses, without a saddle, on a dead run? I should like to see them going down Broadway. Yet they are modest and retiring in their manners, and mild and timid as fawns among strangers. There was a lad about nineteen years of

age

with my friend B-n, whom one of these girls challenged to a race. He accepted it, and they whipped their horses to the top of their speed. The barn, nearly a mile distant, was to be the goal. Away they went, pell-mell—the girl without a saddle, across the field. The boy plied the whip lustily, ashamed to be beaten hy a woman, yet he fell behind, full a hundred yards. Mortified at his discomfiture, and the peal of laughter that went up, he hung his head, saying it was no fault of his, for she had the best horse. She then offered to exchange with him, and try the race over. This was fair, and he was compelled to accept the second challenge. Taking their old station, they started again. It would have done a jockey good to have seen that stout frontier youth use his whip, and beat his horse's ribs with his heels, and heard him yell. But all would not do—that girl sat quietly leaning over her steed's neck; and with her low, clear chirrup, and her sharp, well-planted blows inspired the beaten animal with such courage and speed, that he seemed to fly over the ground, and she came out full as far ahead as before. The poor fellow had to give up beaten, humiliating as it was, and the girl with a smile of triumph, slipped the bridle from her nag's head, and turned him loose in the fields to graze.

The mother, however, is the queen of all woodman's wives—but you must see her and hear her talk, to appreciate her character. If she will not stump the coolest, most hackneyed man of the world that ever faced a woman, I will acknowledge myself to have committed a very grave error of judgment.

Her husband's "saple line," as she termed it, (sable line,) that is line of trapping, is thirty miles long, and he is often absent on it several days at a time.

It is thirty miles through the woods to Boonville,

RETURN ROUTE.

245

from whence you can easily make your way to

Romo.

My next will be on my return route through Forked and Long Lakes, and the woods to Warren County.

Yours truly

XXVII.

LOST IN THE WOODS-AN OLD INDIAN AND HIS DAUGHTER

[blocks in formation]

It was with weary forms and saddened hearts that we left this morning our encampment on Forked Lake, and turned the prows of our boats homeward. A person who has never traveled in the woods, cannot appreciate the feelings of regret with which one leaves the spot where he has once pitched his tent. The half-extinguished firebrands scattered around—the broken sticks that for the time being seemed valuable as silver forks, and the deserted shanty, all have a desolate appearance, and it seems like forsaking trusty friends, to leave them there alone in the forest.

The morning was sombre, and the wind fresh as we

« FöregåendeFortsätt »