Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

On Horseback by Charles Dudley Warner

Part 2 out of 2

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

of the Rocky Mountains. In 1844 he visited the locality again.
Measurements were subsequently made by Professor Guyot and by Senator
Clingman. One of the peaks was named for the senator (the one next
in height to Mitchell is described as Clingman on the state map), and
a dispute arose as to whether Mitchell had really visited and
measured the highest peak. Senator Clingman still maintains that he
did not, and that the peak now known as Mitchell is the one that
Clingman first described. The estimates of altitudes made by the
three explorers named differed considerably. The height now fixed
for Mount Mitchell is 6711; that of Mount Washington is 6285. There
are twelve peaks in this range higher than Mount Washington, and if
we add those in the Great Smoky Mountains which overtop it, there are
some twenty in this State higher than the granite giant of New

In order to verify his statement, Professor Mitchell (then in his
sixty-fourth year) made a third ascent in June, 1857. He was alone,
and went up from the Swannanoa side. He did not return. No anxiety
was felt for two or three days, as he was a good mountaineer, and it
was supposed he had crossed the mountain and made his way out by the
Caney River. But when several days passed without tidings of him, a
search party was formed. Big Tom Wilson was with it. They explored
the mountain in all directions unsuccessfully. At length Big Tom
separated himself from his companions and took a course in accordance
with his notion of that which would be pursued by a man lost in the
clouds or the darkness. He soon struck the trail of the wanderer,
and, following it, discovered Mitchell's body lying in a pool at the
foot of a rocky precipice some thirty feet high. It was evident that
Mitchell, making his way along the ridge in darkness or fog, had
fallen off. It was the ninth (or the eleventh) day of his
disappearance, but in the pure mountain air the body had suffered no
change. Big Tom brought his companions to the place, and on
consultation it was decided to leave the body undisturbed till
Mitchell's friends could be present.

There was some talk of burying him on the mountain, but the friends
decided otherwise, and the remains, with much difficulty, were got
down to Asheville and there interred.

Some years afterwards, I believe at the instance of a society of
scientists, it was resolved to transport the body to the summit of
Mount Mitchell; for the tragic death of the explorer had forever
settled in the popular mind the name of the mountain. The task was
not easy. A road had to be cut, over which a sledge could be hauled,
and the hardy mountaineers who undertook the removal were three days
in reaching the summit with their burden. The remains were
accompanied by a considerable concourse, and the last rites on the
top were participated in by a hundred or more scientists and
prominent men from different parts of the State. Such a strange
cortege had never before broken the silence of this lonely
wilderness, nor was ever burial more impressive than this wild
interment above the clouds.

We had been preceded in our climb all the way by a huge bear. That
he was huge, a lunker, a monstrous old varmint, Big Tom knew by the
size of his tracks; that he was making the ascent that morning ahead
of us, Big Tom knew by the freshness of the trail. We might come
upon him at any moment; he might be in the garden; was quite likely
to be found in the raspberry patch. That we did not encounter him I
am convinced was not the fault of Big Tom, but of the bear.

After a struggle of five hours we emerged from the balsams and briers
into a lovely open meadow, of lush clover, timothy, and blue grass.
We unsaddled the horses and turned them loose to feed in it. The
meadow sloped up to a belt of balsams and firs, a steep rocky knob,
and climbing that on foot we stood upon the summit of Mitchell at one
o'clock. We were none too soon, for already the clouds were
preparing for what appears to be a daily storm at this season.

The summit is a nearly level spot of some thirty or forty feet in
extent either way, with a floor of rock and loose stones. The
stunted balsams have been cut away so as to give a view. The sweep
of prospect is vast, and we could see the whole horizon except in the
direction of Roan, whose long bulk was enveloped in cloud. Portions
of six States were in sight, we were told, but that is merely a
geographical expression. What we saw, wherever we looked, was an
inextricable tumble of mountains, without order or leading line of
direction,--domes, peaks, ridges, endless and countless, everywhere,
some in shadow, some tipped with shafts of sunlight, all wooded and
green or black, and all in more softened contours than our Northern
hills, but still wild, lonesome, terrible. Away in the southwest,
lifting themselves up in a gleam of the western sky, the Great Smoky
Mountains loomed like a frowning continental fortress, sullen and
remote. With Clingman and Gibbs and Holdback peaks near at hand and
apparently of equal height, Mitchell seemed only a part and not
separate from the mighty congregation of giants.

In the center of the stony plot on the summit lie the remains of
Mitchell. To dig a grave in the rock was impracticable, but the
loose stones were scooped away to the depth of a foot or so, the body
was deposited, and the stones were replaced over it. It was the
original intention to erect a monument, but the enterprise of the
projectors of this royal entombment failed at that point. The grave
is surrounded by a low wall of loose stones, to which each visitor
adds one, and in the course of ages the cairn may grow to a good
size. The explorer lies there without name or headstone to mark his
awful resting-place. The mountain is his monument. He is alone with
its majesty. He is there in the clouds, in the tempests, where the
lightnings play, and thunders leap, amid the elemental tumult, in the
occasional great calm and silence and the pale sunlight. It is the
most majestic, the most lonesome grave on earth.

As we sat there, awed a little by this presence, the clouds were
gathering from various quarters and drifting towards us. We could
watch the process of thunder-storms and the manufacture of tempests.
I have often noticed on other high mountains how the clouds, forming
like genii released from the earth, mount into the upper air, and in
masses of torn fragments of mist hurry across the sky as to a
rendezvous of witches. This was a different display. These clouds
came slowly sailing from the distant horizon, like ships on an aerial
voyage. Some were below us, some on our level; they were all in
well-defined, distinct masses, molten silver on deck, below trailing
rain, and attended on earth by gigantic shadows that moved with them.
This strange fleet of battle-ships, drifted by the shifting currents,
was maneuvering for an engagement. One after another, as they came
into range about our peak of observation, they opened fire. Sharp
flashes of lightning darted from one to the other; a jet of flame
from one leaped across the interval and was buried in the bosom of
its adversary; and at every discharge the boom of great guns echoed
through the mountains. It was something more than a royal salute to
the tomb of the mortal at our feet, for the masses of cloud were rent
in the fray, at every discharge the rain was precipitated in
increasing torrents, and soon the vast hulks were trailing torn
fragments and wreaths of mist, like the shot-away shrouds and sails
of ships in battle. Gradually, from this long-range practice with
single guns and exchange of broadsides, they drifted into closer
conflict, rushed together, and we lost sight of the individual
combatants in the general tumult of this aerial war.

We had barely twenty minutes for our observations, when it was time
to go; and had scarcely left the peak when the clouds enveloped it.
We hastened down under the threatening sky to the saddles and the
luncheon. Just off from the summit, amid the rocks, is a complete
arbor, or tunnel, of rhododendrons. This cavernous place a Western
writer has made the scene of a desperate encounter between Big Tom
and a catamount, or American panther, which had been caught in a trap
and dragged it there, pursued by Wilson. It is an exceedingly
graphic narrative, and is enlivened by the statement that Big Tom had
the night before drunk up all the whisky of the party which had spent
the night on the summit. Now Big Tom assured us that the whisky part
of the story was an invention; he was not (which is true) in the
habit of using it; if he ever did take any, it might be a drop on
Mitchell; in fact, when he inquired if we had a flask, he remarked
that a taste of it would do him good then and there. We regretted
the lack of it in our baggage. But what inclined Big Tom to
discredit the Western writer's story altogether was the fact that he
never in his life had had a difficulty with a catamount, and never
had seen one in these mountains.

Our lunch was eaten in haste. Big Tom refused the chicken he had
provided for us, and strengthened himself with slices of raw salt
pork, which he cut from a hunk with his clasp-knife. We caught and
saddled our horses, who were reluctant to leave the rich feed,
enveloped ourselves in waterproofs, and got into the stony path for
the descent just as the torrent came down. It did rain. It
lightened, the thunder crashed, the wind howled and twisted the
treetops. It was as if we were pursued by the avenging spirits of
the mountains for our intrusion. Such a tempest on this height had
its terrors even for our hardy guide. He preferred to be lower down
while it was going on. The crash and reverberation of the thunder
did not trouble us so much as the swish of the wet branches in our
faces and the horrible road, with its mud, tripping roots, loose
stones, and slippery rocks. Progress was slow. The horses were in
momentary danger of breaking their legs. In the first hour there was
not much descent. In the clouds we were passing over Clingman,
Gibbs, and Holdback. The rain had ceased, but the mist still shut
off all view, if any had been attainable, and bushes and paths were
deluged. The descent was more uncomfortable than the ascent, and we
were compelled a good deal of the way to lead the jaded horses down
the slippery rocks.

>From the peak to the Widow Patten's, where we proposed to pass the
night, is twelve miles, a distance we rode or scrambled down, every
step of the road bad, in five and a half hours. Halfway down we came
out upon a cleared place, a farm, with fruit-trees and a house in
ruins. Here had been a summer hotel much resorted to before the war,
but now abandoned. Above it we turned aside for the view from
Elizabeth rock, named from the daughter of the proprietor of the
hotel, who often sat here, said Big Tom, before she went out of this
world. It is a bold rocky ledge, and the view from it, looking
south, is unquestionably the finest, the most pleasing and picture-
like, we found in these mountains. In the foreground is the deep
gorge of a branch of the Swannanoa, and opposite is the great wall of
the Blue Ridge (the Blue Ridge is the most capricious and
inexplicable system) making off to the Blacks. The depth of the
gorge, the sweep of the sky line, and the reposeful aspect of the
scene to the sunny south made this view both grand and charming.
Nature does not always put the needed dash of poetry into her
extensive prospects.

Leaving this clearing and the now neglected spring, where fashion
used to slake its thirst, we zigzagged down the mountain-side through
a forest of trees growing at every step larger and nobler, and at
length struck a small stream, the North Fork of the Swannanoa, which
led us to the first settlement. Just at night,--it was nearly seven
o'clock,--we entered one of the most stately forests I have ever
seen, and rode for some distance in an alley of rhododendrons that
arched overhead and made a bower. It was like an aisle in a temple;
high overhead was the somber, leafy roof, supported by gigantic
columns. Few widows have such an avenue of approach to their domain
as the Widow Patten has.

Cheering as this outcome was from the day's struggle and storm, the
Professor seemed sunk in a profound sadness. The auguries which the
Friend drew from these signs of civilization of a charming inn and a
royal supper did not lighten the melancholy of his mind. "Alas," he

"Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day,
And make me travel forth without my cloak,
To let base clouds o'ertake me in my way,
Hiding thy bravery in their rotten smoke?
'T is not enough that through the cloud thou break,
To dry the rain on my storm-beaten face,
For no man well of such a salve can speak
That heals the wound, and cures not the disgrace:
Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief:
Though thou repent, yet I have still the loss."

"Loss of what?" cried the Friend, as he whipped up his halting

"Loss of self-respect. I feel humiliated that I consented to climb
this mountain."

"Nonsense! You'll live to thank me for it, as the best thing you
ever did. It's over and done now, and you've got it to tell your

"That's just the trouble. They'll ask me if I went up Mitchell, and
I shall have to say I did. My character for consistency is gone.
Not that I care much what they think, but my own self-respect is
gone. I never believed I would do it. A man ca'nt afford to lower
himself in his own esteem, at my time of life."

The Widow Patten's was only an advanced settlement in this narrow
valley on the mountain-side, but a little group of buildings, a
fence, and a gate gave it the air of a place, and it had once been
better cared for than it is now. Few travelers pass that way, and
the art of entertaining, if it ever existed, is fallen into
desuetude. We unsaddled at the veranda, and sat down to review our
adventure, make the acquaintance of the family, and hear the last
story from Big Tom. The mountaineer, though wet, was as fresh as a
daisy, and fatigue in no wise checked the easy, cheerful flow of his
talk. He was evidently a favorite with his neighbors, and not
unpleasantly conscious of the extent of his reputation. But he
encountered here another social grade. The Widow Patten was highly
connected. We were not long in discovering that she was an
Alexander. She had been a schoolmate of Senator Vance,--" Zeb Vance
"he still was to her,--and the senator and his wife had stayed at her
house. I wish I could say that the supper, for which we waited till
nine o'clock, was as "highly connected" as the landlady. It was,
however, a supper that left its memory. We were lodged in a detached
house, which we had to ourselves, where a roaring wood fire made
amends for other things lacking. It was necessary to close the doors
to keep out the wandering cows and pigs, and I am bound to say that,
notwithstanding the voices of the night, we slept there the sleep of

In the morning a genuine surprise awaited us; it seemed impossible,
but the breakfast was many degrees worse than the supper; and when we
paid our bill, large for the region, we were consoled by the thought
that we paid for the high connection as well as for the
accommodations. This is a regular place of entertainment, and one is
at liberty to praise it without violation of delicacy.

The broken shoe of Jack required attention, and we were all the
morning hunting a blacksmith, as we rode down the valley. Three
blacksmith's shanties were found, and after long waiting to send for
the operator it turned out in each case that he had no shoes, no
nails, no iron to make either of. We made a detour of three miles to
what was represented as a regular shop. The owner had secured the
service of a colored blacksmith for a special job, and was, not
inclined to accommodate us; he had no shoes, no nails. But the
colored blacksmith, who appreciated the plight we were in, offered to
make a shoe, and to crib four nails from those he had laid aside for
a couple of mules; and after a good deal of delay, we were enabled to
go on. The incident shows, as well as anything, the barrenness and
shiftlessness of the region. A horseman with whom we rode in the
morning gave us a very low estimate of the trustworthiness of the
inhabitants. The valley is wild and very pretty all the way down to
Colonel Long's,--twelve miles,--but the wretched-looking people along
the way live in a wretched manner.

Just before reaching Colonel Long's we forded the stream (here of
good size), the bridge having tumbled down, and encountered a party
of picnickers under the trees--signs of civilization; a railway
station is not far off. Colonel Long's is a typical Southern
establishment: a white house, or rather three houses, all of one
story, built on to each other as beehives are set in a row, all
porches and galleries. No one at home but the cook, a rotund, broad-
faced woman, with a merry eye, whose very appearance suggested good
cooking and hospitality; the Missis and the children had gone up to
the river fishing; the Colonel was somewhere about the place; always
was away when he was wanted. Guess he'd take us in, mighty fine man
the Colonel; and she dispatched a child from a cabin in the rear to
hunt him up. The Colonel was a great friend of her folks down to
Greenville; they visited here. Law, no, she didn't live here. Was
just up here spending the summer, for her health. God-forsaken lot
of people up here, poor trash. She wouldn't stay here a day, but the
Colonel was a friend of her folks, the firstest folks in Greenville.
Nobody round here she could 'sociate with. She was a Presbyterian,
the folks round here mostly Baptists and Methodists. More style
about the Presbyterians. Married? No, she hoped not. She did n't
want to support no husband. Got 'nuff to do to take care of herself.
That her little girl? No; she'd only got one child, down to
Greenville, just the prettiest boy ever was, as white as anybody.
How did she what? reconcile this state of things with not being
married and being a Presbyterian? Sho! she liked to carry some
religion along; it was mighty handy occasionally, mebbe not all the
time. Yes, indeed, she enjoyed her religion.

The Colonel appeared and gave us a most cordial welcome. The fat and
merry cook blustered around and prepared a good dinner, memorable for
its "light" bread, the first we had seen since Cranberry Forge. The
Colonel is in some sense a public man, having been a mail agent, and
a Republican. He showed us photographs and engravings of Northern
politicians, and had the air of a man who had been in Washington.
This was a fine country for any kind of fruit,--apples, grapes,
pears; it needed a little Northern enterprise to set things going.
The travelers were indebted to the Colonel for a delightful noonday
rest, and with regret declined his pressing invitation to pass the
night with him.

The ride down the Swannanoa to Asheville was pleasant, through a
cultivated region, over a good road. The Swannanoa is, however, a
turbid stream. In order to obtain the most impressive view of
Asheville we approached it by the way of Beaucatcher Hill, a sharp
elevation a mile west of the town. I suppose the name is a
corruption of some descriptive French word, but it has long been a
favorite resort of the frequenters of Asheville, and it may be
traditional that it is a good place to catch beaux. The summit is
occupied by a handsome private residence, and from this ridge the
view, which has the merit of "bursting" upon the traveler as he comes
over the hill, is captivating in its extent and variety. The pretty
town of Asheville is seen to cover a number of elevations gently
rising out of the valley, and the valley, a rich agricultural region,
well watered and fruitful, is completely inclosed by picturesque
hills, some of them rising to the dignity of mountains. The most
conspicuous of these is Mount Pisgah, eighteen miles distant to the
southwest, a pyramid of the Balsam range, 5757 feet high. Mount
Pisgah, from its shape, is the most attractive mountain in this

The sunset light was falling upon the splendid panorama and softening
it. The windows of the town gleamed as if on fire. From the steep
slope below came the mingled sounds of children shouting, cattle
driven home, and all that hum of life that marks a thickly peopled
region preparing for the night. It was the leisure hour of an August
afternoon, and Asheville was in all its watering-place gayety, as we
reined up at the Swannanoa hotel. A band was playing on the balcony.
We had reached ice-water, barbers, waiters, civilization.


Ashville, delightful for situation, on small hills that rise above
the French Broad below its confluence with the Swannanoa, is a sort
of fourteenth cousin to Saratoga. It has no springs, but lying 2250
feet above the sea and in a lovely valley, mountain girt, it has pure
atmosphere and an equable climate; and being both a summer and winter
resort, it has acquired a watering-place air. There are Southerners
who declare that it is too hot in summer, and that the complete
circuit of mountains shuts out any lively movement of air. But the
scenery is so charming and noble, the drives are so varied, the roads
so unusually passable for a Southern country, and the facilities for
excursions so good, that Asheville is a favorite resort.

Architecturally the place is not remarkable, but its surface is so
irregular, there are so many acclivities and deep valleys that
improvements can never obliterate, that it is perforce picturesque.
It is interesting also, if not pleasing, in its contrasts--the
enterprise of taste and money-making struggling with the laissez
faire of the South. The negro, I suppose, must be regarded as a
conservative element; he has not much inclination to change his
clothes or his cabin, and his swarming presence gives a ragged aspect
to the new civilization. And to say the truth, the new element of
Southern smartness lacks the trim thrift the North is familiar with;
though the visitor who needs relaxation is not disposed to quarrel
with the easy-going terms on which life is taken.

Asheville, it is needless to say, appeared very gay and stimulating
to the riders from the wilderness. The Professor, who does not even
pretend to patronize Nature, had his revenge as we strolled about the
streets (there is but one of much consideration), immensely
entertained by the picturesque contrasts. There was more life and
amusement here in five minutes, he declared, than in five days of
what people called scenery--the present rage for scenery, anyway,
being only a fashion and a modern invention. The Friend suspected
from this penchant for the city that the Professor must have been
brought up in the country.

There was a kind of predetermined and willful gayety about Asheville
however, that is apt to be present in a watering-place, and gave to
it the melancholy tone that is always present in gay places. We
fancied that the lively movement in the streets had an air of
unreality. A band of musicians on the balcony of the Swannanoa were
scraping and tooting and twanging with a hired air, and on the
opposite balcony of the Eagle a rival band echoed and redoubled the
perfunctory joyousness. The gayety was contagious: the horses felt
it; those that carried light burdens of beauty minced and pranced,
the pony in the dog-cart was inclined to dash, the few passing
equipages had an air of pleasure; and the people of color, the comely
waitress and the slouching corner-loafer, responded to the animation
of the festive strains. In the late afternoon the streets were full
of people, wagons, carriages, horsemen, all with a holiday air,
dashed with African color and humor--the irresponsibility of the most
insouciant and humorous race in the world, perhaps more comical than
humorous; a mixture of recent civilization and rudeness, peculiar and
amusing; a happy coming together, it seemed, of Southern abandon and
Northern wealth, though the North was little represented at this

As evening came on, the streets, though wanting gas, were still more
animated; the shops were open, some very good ones, and the white and
black throng increasing, especially the black, for the negro is
preeminently a night bird. In the hotels dancing was promised--the
german was announced; on the galleries and in the corridors were
groups of young people, a little loud in manner and voice,--the young
gentleman, with his over-elaborate manner to ladies in bowing and
hat-lifting, and the blooming girls from the lesser Southern cities,
with the slight provincial note, and yet with the frank and engaging
cordiality which is as charming as it is characteristic. I do not
know what led the Professor to query if the Southern young women were
not superior to the Southern young men, but he is always asking
questions nobody can answer. At the Swannanoa were half a dozen
bridal couples, readily recognizable by the perfect air they had of
having been married a long time. How interesting such young voyagers
are, and how interesting they are to each other! Columbus never
discovered such a large world as they have to find out and possess
each in the other.

Among the attractions of the evening it was difficult to choose.
There was a lawn-party advertised at Battery Point (where a fine
hotel has since been built) and we walked up to that round knob after
dark. It is a hill with a grove, which commands a charming view, and
was fortified during the war. We found it illuminated with Chinese
lanterns; and little tables set about under the trees, laden with
cake and ice-cream, offered a chance to the stranger to contribute
money for the benefit of the Presbyterian Church. I am afraid it was
not a profitable entertainment, for the men seemed to have business
elsewhere, but the ladies about the tables made charming groups in
the lighted grove. Man is a stupid animal at best, or he would not
make it so difficult for the womenkind to scrape together a little
money for charitable purposes. But probably the women like this
method of raising money better than the direct one.

The evening gayety of the town was well distributed. When we
descended to the Court-House Square, a great crowd had collected,
black, white, and yellow, about a high platform, upon which four
glaring torches lighted up the novel scene, and those who could read
might decipher this legend on a standard at the back of the stage:


Happy John, who occupied the platform with Mary, a "bright" yellow
girl, took the comical view of his race, which was greatly enjoyed by
his audience. His face was blackened to the proper color of the
stage-darky, and he wore a flaming suit of calico, the trousers and
coat striped longitudinally according to Punch's idea of "Uncle Sam,"
the coat a swallow-tail bound and faced with scarlet, and a bell-
crowned white hat. This conceit of a colored Yankee seemed to tickle
all colors in the audience amazingly. Mary, the "bright" woman (this
is the universal designation of the light mulatto), was a pleasing
but bold yellow girl, who wore a natty cap trimmed with scarlet, and
had the assured or pert manner of all traveling sawdust performers.

"Oh, yes," exclaimed a bright woman in the crowd, "Happy John was
sure enough one of Wade Hampton's slaves, and he's right good looking
when he's not blackened up."

Happy John sustained the promise of his name by spontaneous gayety
and enjoyment of the fleeting moment; he had a glib tongue and a
ready, rude wit, and talked to his audience with a delicious mingling
of impudence, deference, and patronage, commenting upon them
generally, administering advice and correction in a strain of humor
that kept his hearers in a pleased excitement. He handled the banjo
and the guitar alternately, and talked all the time when he was not
singing. Mary (how much harder featured and brazen a woman is in
such a position than a man of the same caliber!) sang, in an
untutored treble, songs of sentiment, often risque, in solo and in
company with John, but with a cold, indifferent air, in contrast to
the rollicking enjoyment of her comrade.

The favorite song, which the crowd compelled her to repeat, touched
lightly the uncertainties of love, expressed in the falsetto pathetic

"Mary's gone away wid de coon."

All this, with the moon, the soft summer night, the mixed crowd of
darkies and whites, the stump eloquence of Happy John, the singing,
the laughter, the flaring torches, made a wild scene. The
entertainment was quite free, with a "collection" occasionally during
the performance.

What most impressed us, however, was the turning to account by Happy
John of the "nigger" side of the black man as a means of low comedy,
and the enjoyment of it by all the people of color. They appeared to
appreciate as highly as anybody the comic element in themselves, and
Happy John had emphasized it by deepening his natural color and
exaggerating the "nigger" peculiarities. I presume none of them
analyzed the nature of his infectious gayety, nor thought of the
pathos that lay so close to it, in the fact of his recent slavery,
and the distinction of being one of Wade Hampton's niggers, and the
melancholy mirth of this light-hearted race's burlesque of itself.

A performance followed which called forth the appreciation of the
crowd more than the wit of Happy John or the faded songs of the
yellow girl. John took two sweet-cakes and broke each in fine pieces
into a saucer, and after sugaring and eulogizing the dry messes,
called for two small darky volunteers from the audience to come up on
the platform and devour them. He offered a prize of fifteen cents to
the one who should first eat the contents of his dish, not using his
hands, and hold up the saucer empty in token of his victory. The
cake was tempting, and the fifteen cents irresistible, and a couple
of boys in ragged shirts and short trousers and a suspender apiece
came up shamefacedly to enter for the prize. Each one grasped his
saucer in both hands, and with face over the dish awaited the word
"go," which John gave, and started off the contest with a banjo
accompaniment. To pick up with the mouth the dry cake and choke it
down was not so easy as the boys apprehended, but they went into the
task with all their might, gobbling and swallowing as if they loved
cake, occasionally rolling an eye to the saucer of the contestant to
see the relative progress, John strumming, ironically encouraging,
and the crowd roaring. As the combat deepened and the contestants
strangled and stuffed and sputtered, the crowd went into spasms of
laughter. The smallest boy won by a few seconds, holding up his
empty saucer, with mouth stuffed, vigorously trying to swallow, like
a chicken with his throat clogged with dry meal, and utterly unable
to speak. The impartial John praised the victor in mock heroics, but
said that the trial was so even that he would divide the prize, ten
cents to one and five to the other--a stroke of justice that greatly
increased his popularity. And then he dismissed the assembly, saying
that he had promised the mayor to do so early, because he did not
wish to run an opposition to the political meeting going on in the

The scene in the large court-room was less animated than that out-
doors; a half-dozen tallow dips, hung on the wall in sconces and
stuck on the judge's long desk, feebly illuminated the mixed crowd of
black and white who sat in, and on the backs of, the benches, and
cast only a fitful light upon the orator, who paced back and forth
and pounded the rail. It was to have been a joint discussion between
the two presidential electors running in that district, but, the
Republican being absent, his place was taken by a young man of the
town. The Democratic orator took advantage of the absence of his
opponent to describe the discussion of the night before, and to give
a portrait of his adversary. He was represented as a cross between a
baboon and a jackass, who would be a natural curiosity for Barnum.
"I intend," said the orator," to put him in a cage and exhibit him
about the deestrict." This political hit called forth great
applause. All his arguments were of this pointed character, and they
appeared to be unanswerable. The orator appeared to prove that there
wasn't a respectable man in the opposite party who wasn't an office-
holder, nor a white man of any kind in it who was not an office-
holder. If there were any issues or principles in the canvass, he
paid his audience the compliment of knowing all about them, for he
never alluded to any. In another state of society, such a speech of
personalities might have led to subsequent shootings, but no doubt
his adversary would pay him in the same coin when next they met, and
the exhibition seemed to be regarded down here as satisfactory and
enlightened political canvassing for votes. The speaker who replied,
opened his address with a noble tribute to woman (as the first
speaker had ended his), directed to a dozen of that sex who sat in
the gloom of a corner. The young man was moderate in his sarcasm,
and attempted to speak of national issues, but the crowd had small
relish for that sort of thing. At eleven o'clock, when we got away
from the unsavory room (more than half the candles had gone out), the
orator was making slow headway against the refished blackguardism of
the evening. The german was still "on" at the hotel when we ascended
to our chamber, satisfied that Asheville was a lively town.

The sojourner at Asheville can amuse himself very well by walking or
driving to the many picturesque points of view about the town; livery
stables abound, and the roads are good. The Beau-catcher Hill is
always attractive; and Connolly's, a private place a couple of miles
from town, is ideally situated, being on a slight elevation in the
valley, commanding the entire circuit of mountains, for it has the
air of repose which is so seldom experienced in the location of a
dwelling in America whence an extensive prospect is given. Or if the
visitor is disinclined to exertion, he may lounge in the rooms of the
hospitable Asheville Club; or he may sit on the sidewalk in front of
the hotels, and talk with the colonels and judges and generals and
ex-members of Congress, the talk generally drifting to the new
commercial and industrial life of the South, and only to politics as
it affects these; and he will be pleased, if the conversation takes a
reminiscent turn, with the lack of bitterness and the tone of
friendliness. The negro problem is commonly discussed
philosophically and without heat, but there is always discovered,
underneath, the determination that the negro shall never again get
the legislative upper hand. And the gentleman from South Carolina
who has an upland farm, and is heartily glad slavery is gone, and
wants the negro educated, when it comes to ascendency in politics--
such as the State once experienced--asks you what you would do
yourself. This is not the place to enter upon the politico-social
question, but the writer may note one impression gathered from much
friendly and agreeable conversation. It is that the Southern whites
misapprehend and make a scarecrow of "social equality." When, during
the war, it was a question at the North of giving the colored people
of the Northern States the ballot, the argument against it used to be
stated in the form of a question: "Do you want your daughter to marry
a negro?" Well, the negro has his political rights in the North, and
there has come no change in the social conditions whatever. And
there is no doubt that the social conditions would remain exactly as
they are at the South if the negro enjoyed all the civil rights which
the Constitution tries to give him. The most sensible view of this
whole question was taken by an intelligent colored man, whose brother
was formerly a representative in Congress. "Social equality," he
said in effect, "is a humbug. We do not expect it, we do not want
it. It does not exist among the blacks themselves. We have our own
social degrees, and choose our own associates. We simply want the
ordinary civil rights, under which we can live and make our way in
peace and amity. This is necessary to our self-respect, and if we
have not self-respect, it is not to be supposed that the race can
improve. I'll tell you what I mean. My wife is a modest,
intelligent woman, of good manners, and she is always neat, and
tastefully dressed. Now, if she goes to take the cars, she is not
permitted to go into a clean car with decent people, but is ordered
into one that is repellent, and is forced into company that any
refined woman would shrink from. But along comes a flauntingly
dressed woman, of known disreputable character, whom my wife would be
disgraced to know, and she takes any place that money will buy. It
is this sort of thing that hurts."

We took the eastern train one evening to Round Nob (Henry's Station),
some thirty miles, in order to see the wonderful railway that
descends, a distance of eight miles, from the summit of Swannanoa Gap
(2657 feet elevation) to Round Nob Hotel (1607 feet). The Swannanoa
Summit is the dividing line between the waters that flow to the
Atlantic and those that go to the Gulf of Mexico. This fact was
impressed upon us by the inhabitants, who derive a good deal of
comfort from it. Such divides are always matter of local pride.
Unfortunately, perhaps, it was too dark before we reached Henry's to
enable us to see the road in all its loops and parallels as it
appears on the map, but we gained a better effect. The hotel, when
we first sighted it, all its windows blazing with light, was at the
bottom of a well. Beside it--it was sufficiently light to see that--
a column of water sprang straight into the air to the height, as we
learned afterwards from two official sources, of 225 and 265 feet;
and the information was added that it is the highest fountain in the
world. This stout column, stiff as a flagstaff, with its feathery
head of mist gleaming like silver in the failing light, had the most
charming effect. We passed out of sight of hotel and fountain, but
were conscious of being--whirled on a circular descending grade, and
very soon they were in sight again. Again and again they disappeared
and came to view, now on one side and now on the other, until our
train seemed to be bewitched, making frantic efforts by dodgings and
turnings, now through tunnels and now over high pieces of trestle, to
escape the inevitable attraction that was gravitating it down to the
hospitable lights at the bottom of the well. When we climbed back up
the road in the morning, we had an opportunity to see the marvelous
engineering, but there is little else to see, the view being nearly
always very limited.

The hotel at the bottom of the ravine, on the side of Round Nob,
offers little in the way of prospect, but it is a picturesque place,
and we could understand why it was full of visitors when we came to
the table. It was probably the best-kept house of entertainment in
the State, and being in the midst of the Black Hills, it offers good
chances for fishing and mountain climbing.

In the morning the fountain, which is, of course, artificial, refused
to play, the rain in the night having washed in debris which clogged
the conduit. But it soon freed itself and sent up for a long time,
like a sulky geyser, mud and foul water. When it got freedom and
tolerable clearness, we noted that the water went up in pulsations,
which were marked at short distances by the water falling off, giving
the column the appearance of a spine. The summit, always beating the
air in efforts to rise higher, fell over in a veil of mist.

There are certain excursions that the sojourner at Asheville must
make. He must ride forty-five miles south through Henderson and
Transylvania to Caesar's Head, on the South Carolina border, where
the mountain system abruptly breaks down into the vast southern
plain; where the observer, standing on the edge of the precipice, has
behind him and before him the greatest contrast that nature can
offer. He must also take the rail to Waynesville, and visit the
much-frequented White Sulphur Springs, among the Balsam Mountains,
and penetrate the Great Smoky range by way of Quallatown, and make
the acquaintance of the remnant of Cherokee Indians living on the
north slope of Cheoah Mountain. The Professor could have made it a
matter of personal merit that he escaped all these encounters with
wild and picturesque nature, if his horse had not been too disabled
for such long jaunts. It is only necessary, however, to explain to
the public that the travelers are not gormandizers of scenery, and
were willing to leave some portions of the State to the curiosity of
future excursionists.

But so much was said about Hickory Nut Gap that a visit to it could
not be evaded. The Gap is about twenty-four miles southeast of
Asheville. In the opinion of a well-informed colonel, who urged us
to make the trip, it is the finest piece of scenery it this region.
We were brought up on the precept "get the best," and it was with
high anticipations that we set out about eleven o'clock one warm,
foggy morning. We followed a very good road through a broken,
pleasant country, gradually growing wilder and less cultivated.
There was heavy rain most of the day on the hills, and occasionally a
shower swept across our path. The conspicuous object toward which we
traveled all the morning was a shapely conical hill at the beginning
of the Gap.

At three o'clock we stopped at the Widow Sherrill's for dinner. Her
house, only about a mile from the summit, is most picturesquely
situated on a rough slope, giving a wide valley and mountain view.
The house is old rambling, many-roomed, with wide galleries on two
sides. If one wanted a retired retreat for a few days, with good air
and fair entertainment, this could be commended. It is an excellent
fruit region; apples especially are sound and of good flavor. That
may be said of all this part of the State. The climate is adapted to
apples, as the hilly part of New England is. I fancy the fruit
ripens slowly, as it does in New England, and is not subject to quick
decay like much of that grown in the West. But the grape also can be
grown in all this mountain region. Nothing but lack of enterprise
prevents any farmer from enjoying abundance of fruit. The industry
carried on at the moment at the Widow Sherrill's was the artificial
drying of apples for the market. The apples are pared, cored, and
sliced in spirals, by machinery, and dried on tin sheets in a
patented machine. The industry appears to be a profitable one
hereabouts, and is about the only one that calls in the aid of

While our dinner was preparing, we studied the well-known pictures of
"Jane" and "Eliza," the photographs of Confederate boys, who had
never returned from the war, and the relations, whom the traveling
photographers always like to pillory in melancholy couples, and some
stray volumes of the Sunday-school Union. Madame Sherrill, who
carries on the farm since the death of her husband, is a woman of
strong and liberal mind, who informed us that she got small comfort
in the churches in the neighborhood, and gave us, in fact, a
discouraging account of the unvital piety of the region.

The descent from the summit of the Gap to Judge Logan's, nine miles,
is rapid, and the road is wild and occasionally picturesque,
following the Broad River, a small stream when we first overtook it,
but roaring, rocky, and muddy, owing to frequent rains, and now and
then tumbling down in rapids. The noisy stream made the ride
animated, and an occasional cabin, a poor farmhouse, a mill, a
schoolhouse, a store with an assemblage of lean horses tied to the
hitching rails, gave the Professor opportunity for remarks upon the
value of life under such circumstances.

The valley which we followed down probably owes its celebrity to the
uncommon phenomena of occasional naked rocks and precipices. The
inclosing mountains are from 3000 to 4000 feet high, and generally
wooded. I do not think that the ravine would be famous in a country
where exposed ledges and buttressing walls of rock are common. It is
only by comparison with the local scenery that this is remarkable.
About a mile above judge Logan's we caught sight, through the trees,
of the famous waterfall. From the top of the high ridge on the
right, a nearly perpendicular cascade pours over the ledge of rocks
and is lost in the forest. We could see nearly the whole of it, at a
great height above us, on the opposite side of the river, and it
would require an hour's stiff climb to reach its foot. From where we
viewed it, it seemed a slender and not very important, but certainly
a very beautiful cascade, a band of silver in the mass of green
foliage. The fall is said to be 1400 feet. Our colonel insists that
it is a thousand. It may be, but the valley where we stood is at
least at an elevation of 1300 feet; we could not believe that the
ridge over which the water pours is much higher than 3000 feet, and
the length of the fall certainly did not appear to be a quarter of
the height of the mountain from our point of observation. But we had
no desire to belittle this pretty cascade, especially when we found
that Judge Logan would regard a foot abated from the 1400 as a
personal grievance. Mr. Logan once performed the functions of local
judge, a Republican appointment, and he sits around the premises now
in the enjoyment of that past dignity and of the fact that his wife
is postmistress. His house of entertainment is at the bottom of the
valley, a place shut in, warm, damp, and not inviting to a long stay,
although the region boasts a good many natural curiosities.

It was here that we encountered again the political current, out of
which we had been for a month. The Judge himself was reticent, as
became a public man, but he had conspicuously posted up a monster
prospectus, sent out from Augusta, of a campaign life of Blaine and
Logan, in which the Professor read, with shaking knees, this
sentence: "Sure to be the greatest and hottest [campaign and civil
battle] ever known in this world. The thunder of the supreme
struggle and its reverberations will shake the continents for months,
and will be felt from Pole to Pole."

For this and other reasons this seemed a risky place to be in. There
was something sinister about the murky atmosphere, and a suspicion of
mosquitoes besides. Had there not been other travelers staying here,
we should have felt still more uneasy. The house faced Bald
Mountain, 4000 feet high, a hill that had a very bad reputation some
years ago, and was visited by newspaper reporters. This is, in fact,
the famous Shaking Mountain. For a long time it had a habit of
trembling, as if in an earthquake spasm, but with a shivering motion
very different from that produced by an earthquake. The only good
that came of it was that it frightened all the "moonshiners," and
caused them to join the church. It is not reported what became of
the church afterwards. It is believed now that the trembling was
caused by the cracking of a great ledge on the mountain, which slowly
parted asunder. Bald Mountain is the scene of Mrs. Burnett's
delightful story of "Louisiana," and of the play of "Esmeralda."
A rock is pointed out toward the summit, which the beholder is asked
to see resembles a hut, and which is called "Esmeralda's Cottage."
But this attractive maiden has departed, and we did not discover any
woman in the region who remotely answers to her description.

In the morning we rode a mile and a half through the woods and
followed up a small stream to see the celebrated pools, one of which
the Judge said was two hundred feet deep, and another bottomless.
These pools, not round, but on one side circular excavations, some
twenty feet across, worn in the rock by pebbles, are very good
specimens, and perhaps remarkable specimens, of "pot-holes." They
are, however, regarded here as one of the wonders of the world. On
the way to them we saw beautiful wild trumpet-creepers in blossom,
festooning the trees.

The stream that originates in Hickory Nut Gap is the westernmost
branch of several forks of the Broad, which unite to the southeast in
Rutherford County, flow to Columbia, and reach the Atlantic through
the channel of the Santee. It is not to be confounded with the
French Broad, which originates among the hills of Transylvania, runs
northward past Asheville, and finds its way to the Tennessee through
the Warm Springs Gap in the Bald Mountains. As the French claimed
ownership of all the affluents of the Mississippi, this latter was
called the French Broad.

It was a great relief the next morning, on our return, to rise out of
the lifeless atmosphere of the Gap into the invigorating air at the
Widow Sherrill's, whose country-seat is three hundred feet higher
than Asheville. It was a day of heavy showers, and apparently of
leisure to the scattered population; at every store and mill was a
congregation of loafers, who had hitched their scrawny horses and
mules to the fences, and had the professional air of the idler and
gossip the world over. The vehicles met on the road were a variety
of the prairie schooner, long wagons with a top of hoops over which
is stretched a cotton cloth. The wagons are without seats, and the
canvas is too low to admit of sitting upright, if there were. The
occupants crawl in at either end, sit or lie on the bottom of the
wagon, and jolt along in shiftless uncomfortableness.

Riding down the French Broad was one of the original objects of our
journey. Travelers with the same intention may be warned that the
route on horseback is impracticable. The distance to the Warm
Springs is thirty-seven miles; to Marshall, more than halfway, the
road is clear, as it runs on the opposite side of the river from the
railway, and the valley is something more than river and rails. But
below Marshall the valley contracts, and the rails are laid a good
portion of the way in the old stage road. One can walk the track,
but to ride a horse over its sleepers and culverts and occasional
bridges, and dodge the trains, is neither safe nor agreeable. We
sent our horses round--the messenger taking the risk of leading them,
between trains, over the last six or eight miles,--and took the

The railway, after crossing a mile or two of meadows, hugs the river
all the way. The scenery is the reverse of bold. The hills are low,
monotonous in form, and the stream winds through them, with many a
pretty turn and "reach," with scarcely a ribbon of room to spare on
either side. The river is shallow, rapid, stony, muddy, full of
rocks, with an occasional little island covered with low bushes. The
rock seems to be a clay formation, rotten and colored. As we
approach Warm Springs the scenery becomes a little bolder, and we
emerge into the open space about the Springs through a narrower
defile, guarded by rocks that are really picturesque in color and
splintered decay, one of them being known, of course, as the "Lover's
Leap," a name common in every part of the modern or ancient world
where there is a settlement near a precipice, with always the same
legend attached to it.

There is a little village at Warm Springs, but the hotel--since
burned and rebuilt--(which may be briefly described as a palatial
shanty) stands by itself close to the river, which is here a deep,
rapid, turbid stream. A bridge once connected it with the road on
the opposite bank, but it was carried away three or four years ago,
and its ragged butments stand as a monument of procrastination, while
the stream is crossed by means of a flatboat and a cable. In front
of the hotel, on the slight slope to the river, is a meager grove of
locusts. The famous spring, close to-the stream, is marked only by a
rough box of wood and an iron pipe, and the water, which has a
temperature of about one hundred degrees, runs to a shabby bath-house
below, in which is a pool for bathing. The bath is very agreeable,
the tepid water being singularly soft and pleasant. It has a
slightly sulphurous taste. Its good effects are much certified. The
grounds, which might be very pretty with care, are ill-kept and
slatternly, strewn with debris, as if everything was left to the
easy-going nature of the servants. The main house is of brick, with
verandas and galleries all round, and a colonnade of thirteen huge
brick and stucco columns, in honor of the thirteen States,--a relic
of post-Revolutionary times, when the house was the resort of
Southern fashion and romance. These columns have stood through one
fire, and perhaps the recent one, which swept away the rest of the
structure. The house is extended in a long wooden edifice, with
galleries and outside stairs, the whole front being nearly seven
hundred feet long. In a rear building is a vast, barrack-like
dining-room, with a noble ball-room above, for dancing is the
important occupation of visitors.

The situation is very pretty, and the establishment has a
picturesqueness of its own. Even the ugly little brick structure
near the bath-house imposes upon one as Wade Hampton's cottage. No
doubt we liked the place better than if it had been smart, and
enjoyed the neglige condition, and the easy terms on which life is
taken there. There was a sense of abundance in the sight of fowls
tiptoeing about the verandas, and to meet a chicken in the parlor was
a sort of guarantee that we should meet him later on in the dining-
room. There was nothing incongruous in the presence of pigs,
turkeys, and chickens on the grounds; they went along with the good-
natured negro-service and the general hospitality; and we had a
mental rest in the thought that all the gates would have been off the
hinges, if there had been any gates. The guests were very well
treated indeed, and were put under no sort of restraint by
discipline. The long colonnade made an admirable promenade and
lounging-place and point of observation. It was interesting to watch
the groups under the locusts, to see the management of the ferry, the
mounting and dismounting of the riding-parties, and to study the
colors on the steep hill opposite, halfway up which was a neat
cottage and flower-garden. The type of people was very pleasantly
Southern. Colonels and politicians stand in groups and tell stories,
which are followed by explosions of laughter; retire occasionally
into the saloon, and come forth reminded of more stories, and all
lift their hats elaborately and suspend the narratives when a lady
goes past. A company of soldiers from Richmond had pitched its tents
near the hotel, and in the evening the ball-room was enlivened with
uniforms. Among the graceful dancers--and every one danced well, and
with spirit was pointed out the young widow of a son of Andrew
Johnson, whose pretty cottage overlooks the village. But the
Professor, to whom this information was communicated, doubted whether
here it was not a greater distinction to be the daughter of the owner
of this region than to be connected with a President of the United

A certain air of romance and tradition hangs about the French Broad
and the Warm Springs, which the visitor must possess himself of in
order to appreciate either. This was the great highway of trade and
travel. At certain seasons there was an almost continuous procession
of herds of cattle and sheep passing to the Eastern markets, and of
trains of big wagons wending their way to the inviting lands watered
by the Tennessee. Here came in the summer-time the Southern planters
in coach and four, with a great retinue of household servants, and
kept up for months that unique social life, a mixture of courtly
ceremony and entire freedom, the civilization which had the drawing-
room at one end and the negro-quarters at the other,--which has
passed away. It was a continuation into our own restless era of the
manners and the literature of George the Third, with the accompanying
humor and happy-go-lucky decadence of the negro slaves. On our way
down we saw on the river-bank, under the trees, the old hostelry,
Alexander's, still in decay,--an attractive tavern, that was formerly
one of the notable stopping-places on the river. Master, and fine
lady, and obsequious, larking darky, and lumbering coach, and throng
of pompous and gay life, have all disappeared. There was no room in
this valley for the old institutions and for the iron track.

"When in the chronicle of wasted time
I see descriptions of the fairest wights,
And beauty making beautiful old rhyme
In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights,
We, which now behold these present days,
Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise."

This perverted use of noble verse was all the response the Friend got
in his attempt to drop into the sentimental vein over the past of the
French Broad.

The reader must not think there is no enterprise in this sedative and
idle resort. The conceited Yankee has to learn that it is not he
alone who can be accused of the thrift of craft. There is at the
Warm Springs a thriving mill for crushing and pulverizing barites,
known vulgarly as heavy-spar. It is the weight of this heaviest of
minerals, and not its lovely crystals, that gives it value. The rock
is crushed, washed, sorted out by hand, to remove the foreign
substances, then ground and subjected to acids, and at the end of the
process it is as white and fine as the best bolted flour. This heavy
adulterant is shipped to the North in large quantities,--the manager
said he had recently an order for a hundred thousand dollars' worth
of it. What is the use of this powder? Well, it is of use to the
dealer who sells white lead for paint, to increase the weight of the
lead, and it is the belief hereabouts that it is mixed with powdered
sugar. The industry is profitable to those engaged in it.

It was impossible to get much information about our route into
Tennessee, except that we should go by Paint Rock, and cross Paint
Mountain. Late one morning,--a late start is inevitable here,--
accompanied by a cavalcade, we crossed the river by the rope ferry,
and trotted down the pretty road, elevated above the stream and tree-
shaded, offering always charming glimpses of swift water and
overhanging foliage (the railway obligingly taking the other side of
the river), to Paint Rock,--six miles. This Paint Rock is a naked
precipice by the roadside, perhaps sixty feet high, which has a large
local reputation. It is said that its face shows painting done by
the Indians, and hieroglyphics which nobody can read. On this bold,
crumbling cliff, innumerable visitors have written their names. We
stared at it a good while to discover the paint and hieroglyphics,
but could see nothing except iron stains. Round the corner is a
farmhouse and place of call for visitors, a neat cottage, with a
display of shells and minerals and flower-pots; and here we turned
north crossed the little stream called Paint River, the only clear
water we had seen in a month, passed into the State of Tennessee, and
by a gentle ascent climbed Paint Mountain. The open forest road,
with the murmur of the stream below, was delightfully exhilarating,
and as we rose the prospect opened,--the lovely valley below, Bald
Mountains behind us, and the Butt Mountains rising as we came over
the ridge.

Nobody on the way, none of the frowzy women or unintelligent men,
knew anything of the route, or could give us any information of the
country beyond. But as we descended in Tennessee the country and the
farms decidedly improved,--apple-trees and a grapevine now and then.

A ride of eight miles brought us to Waddle's, hungry and disposed to
receive hospitality. We passed by an old farm building to a new two-
storied, gayly painted house on a hill. We were deceived by
appearances. The new house, with a new couple in it, had nothing to
offer us except some buttermilk. Why should anybody be obliged to
feed roving strangers? As to our horses, the young woman with a baby
in her arms declared,

"We've got nothing for stock but roughness; perhaps you can get
something at the other house."

"Roughness," we found out at the other house, meant hay in this
region. We procured for the horses a light meal of green oats, and
for our own dinner we drank at the brook and the Professor produced a
few sonnets. On this sustaining repast we fared on nearly twelve
miles farther, through a rolling, good farming country, offering
little for comment, in search of a night's lodging with one of the
brothers Snap. But one brother declined our company on the plea that
his wife was sick, and the other because his wife lived in
Greenville, and we found ourselves as dusk came on without shelter in
a tavernless land. Between the two refusals we enjoyed the most
picturesque bit of scenery of the day, at the crossing of Camp Creek,
a swift little stream, that swirled round under the ledge of bold
rocks before the ford. This we learned was a favorite camp-meeting
ground. Mary was calling the cattle home at the farm of the second
Snap. It was a very peaceful scene of rural life, and we were
inclined to tarry, but Mary, instead of calling us home with the
cattle, advised us to ride on to Alexander's before it got dark.

It is proper to say that at Alexander's we began to see what this
pleasant and fruitful country might be, and will be, with thrift and
intelligent farming. Mr. Alexander is a well-to-do farmer, with
plenty of cattle and good barns (always an evidence of prosperity),
who owes his success to industry and an open mind to new ideas. He
was a Unionist during the war, and is a Democrat now, though his
county (Greene) has been Republican. We had been riding all the
afternoon through good land, and encountering a better class of
farmers. Peach-trees abounded (though this was an off year for
fruit), and apples and grapes throve. It is a land of honey and of
milk. The persimmon flourishes; and, sign of abundance generally, we
believe, great flocks of turkey-buzzards--majestic floaters in the
high air--hovered about. This country was ravaged during the war by
Unionists and Confederates alternately, the impartial patriots as
they passed scooping in corn, bacon, and good horses, leaving the
farmers little to live on. Mr. Alexander's farm cost him forty
dollars an acre, and yields good crops of wheat and maize. This was
the first house on our journey where at breakfast we had grace before
meat, though there had been many tables that needed it more. From
the door the noble range of the Big Bald is in sight and not distant;
and our host said he had a shanty on it, to which he was accustomed
to go with his family for a month or six weeks in the summer and
enjoy a real primitive woods life.

Refreshed by this little touch of civilization, and with horses well
fed, we rode on next morning towards Jonesboro, over a rolling,
rather unpicturesque country, but ennobled by the Big Bald and Butt
ranges, which we had on our right all day. At noon we crossed the
Nollechucky River at a ford where the water was up to the saddle
girth, broad, rapid, muddy, and with a treacherous stony bottom, and
came to the little hamlet of Boylesville, with a flour-mill, and a
hospitable old-fashioned house, where we found shelter from the heat
of the hot day, and where the daughters of the house, especially one
pretty girl in a short skirt and jaunty cap, contradicted the
currently received notion that this world is a weary pilgrimage. The
big parlor, with its photographs and stereoscope, and bits of shell
and mineral, a piano and a melodeon, and a coveted old sideboard of
mahogany, recalled rural New England. Perhaps these refinements are
due to the Washington College (a school for both sexes), which is
near. We noted at the tables in this region a singular use of the
word fruit. When we were asked, Will you have some of the fruit?
and said Yes, we always got applesauce.

Ten miles more in the late afternoon brought us to Jonesboro, the
oldest town in the State, a pretty place, with a flavor of antiquity,
set picturesquely on hills, with the great mountains in sight.
People from further South find this an agreeable summering place, and
a fair hotel, with odd galleries in front and rear, did not want
company. The Warren Institute for negroes has been flourishing here
ever since the war.

A ride of twenty miles next day carried us to Union. Before noon we
forded the Watauga, a stream not so large as the Nollechucky, and
were entertained at the big brick house of Mr. Devault, a prosperous
and hospitable farmer. This is a rich country. We had met in the
morning wagon-loads of watermelons and muskmelons, on the way to
Jonesboro, and Mr. Devault set abundance of these refreshing fruits
before us as we lounged on the porch before dinner.

It was here that we made the acquaintance of a colored woman, a
withered, bent old pensioner of the house, whose industry (she
excelled any modern patent apple-parer) was unabated, although she
was by her own confession (a woman, we believe, never owns her age
till she has passed this point) and the testimony of others a hundred
years old. But age had not impaired the brightness of her eyes, nor
the limberness of her tongue, nor her shrewd good sense. She talked
freely about the want of decency and morality in the young colored
folks of the present day. It was n't so when she was a girl. Long,
long time ago, she and her husband had been sold at sheriff's sale
and separated, and she never had another husband. Not that she
blamed her master so much he could n't help it; he got in debt. And
she expounded her philosophy about the rich, and the danger they are
in. The great trouble is that when a person is rich, he can borrow
money so easy, and he keeps drawin' it out of the bank and pilin' up
the debt, like rails on top of one another, till it needs a ladder to
get on to the pile, and then it all comes down in a heap, and the man
has to begin on the bottom rail again. If she'd to live her life
over again, she'd lay up money; never cared much about it till now.
The thrifty, shrewd old woman still walked about a good deal, and
kept her eye on the neighborhood. Going out that morning she had
seen some fence up the road that needed mending, and she told Mr.
Devault that she didn't like such shiftlessness; she didn't know as
white folks was much better than colored folks. Slavery? Yes,
slavery was pretty bad--she had seen five hundred niggers in
handcuffs, all together in a field, sold to be sent South.

About six miles from here is a beech grove of historical interest,
worth a visit if we could have spared the time. In it is the large
beech (six and a half feet around six feet from the ground) on which
Daniel Boone shot a bear, when he was a rover in this region. He
himself cut an inscription on the tree recording his prowess, and it
is still distinctly legible:


This tree is a place of pilgrimage, and names of people from all
parts of the country are cut on it, until there is scarcely room for
any more records of such devotion. The grove is ancient looking, the
trees are gnarled and moss-grown. Hundreds of people go there, and
the trees are carved all over with their immortal names.

A pleasant ride over a rich rolling country, with an occasional strip
of forest, brought us to Union in the evening, with no other
adventure than the meeting of a steam threshing-machine in the road,
with steam up, clattering along. The devil himself could not invent
any machine calculated to act on the nerves of a horse like this.
Jack took one look and then dashed into the woods, scraping off his
rider's hat but did not succeed in getting rid of his burden or
knocking down any trees.

Union, on the railway, is the forlornest of little villages, with
some three hundred inhabitants and a forlorn hotel, kept by an ex-
stage-driver. The village, which lies on the Holston, has no
drinking-water in it nor enterprise enough to bring it in; not a well
nor a spring in its limits; and for drinking-water everybody crosses
the river to a spring on the other side. A considerable part of the
labor of the town is fetching water over the bridge. On a hill
overlooking the village is a big, pretentious brick house, with a
tower, the furniture of which is an object of wonder to those who
have seen it. It belonged to the late Mrs. Stover, daughter of
Andrew Johnson. The whole family of the ex-President have departed
this world, but his memory is still green in this region, where he
was almost worshiped--so the people say in speaking of him.

Forlorn as was the hotel at Union, the landlord's daughters were
beginning to draw the lines in rural refinement. One of them had
been at school in Abingdon. Another, a mature young lady of fifteen,
who waited on the table, in the leisure after supper asked the Friend
for a light for her cigarette, which she had deftly rolled.

"Why do you smoke?"

"So as I shan't get into the habit of dipping. Do you think dipping
is nice?"

The traveler was compelled to say that he did not, though he had seen
a good deal of it wherever he had been.

"All the girls dips round here. But me and my sisters rather smoke
than get in a habit of dipping."

To the observation that Union seemed to be a dull place:

"Well, there's gay times here in the winter--dancing. Like to dance?
Well, I should say! Last winter I went over to Blountsville to a
dance in the court-house; there was a trial between Union and
Blountsville for the best dancing. You bet I brought back the cake
and the blue ribbon."

The country was becoming too sophisticated, and the travelers
hastened to the end of their journey. The next morning Bristol, at
first over a hilly country with magnificent oak-trees,--happily not
girdled, as these stately monarchs were often seen along the roads in
North Carolina,--and then up Beaver Creek, a turbid stream, turning
some mills. When a closed woolen factory was pointed out to the
Professor (who was still traveling for Reform), as the result of the
agitation in Congress, he said, Yes, the effect of agitation was
evident in all the decayed dams and ancient abandoned mills we had
seen in the past month.

Bristol is mainly one long street, with some good stores, but
generally shabby, and on this hot morning sleepy. One side of the
street is in Tennessee, the other in Virginia. How handy for
fighting this would have been in the war, if Tennessee had gone out
and Virginia stayed in. At the hotel--may a kind Providence wake it
up to its responsibilities--we had the pleasure of reading one of
those facetious handbills which the great railway companies of the
West scatter about, the serious humor of which is so pleasing to our
English friends. This one was issued by the accredited agents of the
Ohio and Mississippi Railway, and dated April 1, 1984. One sentence
will suffice:

"Allow us to thank our old traveling friends for the many favors in
our line, and if you are going on your bridal trip, or to see your
girl out West, drop in at the general office of the Ohio and
Mississippi Railway and we will fix you up in Queen Anne style.
Passengers for Dakota, Montana, or the Northwest will have an
overcoat and sealskin cap thrown in with all tickets sold on or after
the above date."

The great republic cannot yet take itself seriously. Let us hope the
humors of it will last another generation. Meditating on this, we
hailed at sundown the spires of Abingdon, and regretted the end of a
journey that seems to have been undertaken for no purpose.

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest