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Voyage of The Paper Canoe by N. H. Bishop

Part 4 out of 6

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atmosphere with its warmth, and causing frequent
local disturbances. The weather never remains
long in a settled state. As most vessels try to
make Hatteras Light, to ascertain their true
position, &c., and because it juts out so far into the
Atlantic, the locality has become the scene of
many wrecks, and the beach, from the cape
down to Hatteras Inlet, fourteen miles, is strewn
with the fragments of vessels.

The coast runs north and south above, and
east and west south of the cape. The old light
house had been replaced by the finest light-tower
I had ever examined, which was completed in
1870. It is one hundred and ninety feet in
height, and shows a white, revolving light.

Body Island Light, though forty feet less in
elevation, is frequently seen by the Hatteras
light-keeper, while the splendid Hatteras Light
had been seen but once by Captain Hatzel, of
Body Island. One nautical mile south of
Hatteras Light is a small beacon light-tower, which
is of great service to the coasting-vessels that
pass it in following the eighteen-feet curve of
the cape two miles from the land inside of
Diamond Shoals.

While speaking of light-houses, it may be
interesting to naturalists who live far inland to
know that while (as they are well aware)
thousands of birds are killed annually during their
flights by striking against telegraphic wires,
many wild-fowls are also destroyed by dashing
against the lanterns of the light- towers during
the night. While at Body Island Beach, Captain
Hatzel remarked to me that, during the first
winter after the new light-tower was completed,
the snow-geese, which winter on the island, would
frequently at night strike the thick glass panes
of the chamber, and fall senseless upon the floor
of the gallery. The second season they did not
in a single instance repeat the mistake, but had
seemingly become educated to the character of
the danger.

I have seen one lantern damaged to the
amount of five hundred dollars, by a goose
breaking a pane of glass and striking heavily
upon the costly lens which surrounds the lamp.
Light-keepers sometimes sit upon the gallery,
and, looking along the pathway of light which
shoots into the outer darkness over their heads,
will see a few dark specks approaching them in
this beam of radiance. These specks are birds,
confused by the bright rays, and ready to fall an
easy prey to the eager keeper, who, quickly
levelling his double-barrelled gun, brings it to bear
upon the opaque, moving cloud, and with the
discharge of the weapon there goes whirling
through space to the earth below his next
morning's breakfast of wild-fowl.

I found Mr. W. R. Jennett and his first
assistant light-keeper, Mr. A. W. Simpson, intelligent
gentlemen. The assistant has devoted his time,
when off duty, to the study of the habits of
food-fishes of the sound, and has furnished the
United States Commission of Fisheries with
several papers on that interesting subject.

Here also was Mr. George Onslow, of the
United States Signal Service, who had completed
his work of constructing a telegraph line from
Norfolk along the beach southward to this point,
its present terminus. With a fine telescope he
could frequently identify vessels a few miles
from the cape, and telegraph their position to
New York. He had lately saved a vessel by
telegraphing to Norfolk its dangerous location
on Hatteras beach, where it had grounded. By
this timely notice a wrecking-steamer had
arrived and hauled the schooner off in good

A low range of hills commences at Cape
Hatteras, in the rear of the light-house, and extends
nearly to Hatteras Inlet. This range is heavily
wooded with live-oaks, yellow pines, yaupons,
cedars, and bayonet-plants. The fishermen and
wreckers live in rudely constructed houses,
sheltered by this thicket, which is dense enough to
protect them from the strong winds that blow
from the ocean and the sound.

I walked twelve miles through this pretty,
green retreat, and spent Sunday with Mr. Homer
W. Styron, who keeps a small store about two
miles from the inlet. He is a self-taught
astronomer, and used an ingeniously constructed
telescope of his own manufacture for studying
the heavens.

I found at the post-office in his store a letter
from a yachting party which had left Newbern,
North Carolina, to capture the paper canoe and
to force upon its captain the hospitality of the
people of that city, on the Neuse River, one
hundred miles from the cape. Judge I.E. West,
the owner of the yacht "Julia," and his friends,
had been cruising since the eleventh day of the
month from Ocracoke Inlet to Roanoke Island
in search of me. Judge West, in his letter,
expressed a strong desire to have me take my
Christmas dinner with his family. This
generous treatment from a stranger was fully
appreciated, and I determined to push on to
Morehead City, from which place it would be
convenient to reach Newbern by rail without
changing my established route southward, as I
would be compelled to do if the regular water
route of the Neuse River from Pamlico Sound
were followed.

On this Saturday night, spent at Hatteras Inlet,
there broke upon us one of the fiercest tempests
I ever witnessed, even in the tropics. My
pedestrian tramp down the shore had scarcely ended
when it commenced in reality. For miles along
the beach thousands of acres of land were soon
submerged by the sea and by the torrents of
water which fell from the clouds. While for a
moment the night was dark as Erebus, again
the vivid flash of lightning exposed to view the
swaying forests and the gloomy sound. The sea
pounded on the beach as if asking for admission
to old Pamplico. It seemed to say, I demand a
new inlet; and, as though trying to carry out its
desire, sent great waves rolling up the shingle
and over into the hollows among the hills,
washing down the low sand dunes as if they also
were in collusion with it to remove this frail
barrier, this narrow strip of low land which
separated the Atlantic from the wide interior
sheet of water.

The phosphorescent sea, covered with its tens
of millions of animalcula, each one a miniature
light-house, changed in color from inky blackness
to silver sheen. Will the ocean take to itself
this frail foothold? -- we queried. Will it
ingulf us in its insatiable maw, as the whale did
Jonah? There was no subsidence, no pause in
the storm. It howled, bellowed, and screeched
like a legion of demons, so that the crashing of
falling trees, and the twisting of the sturdy
live oak's toughest limbs, could hardly be heard in
the din. Yet during this wild night my
storm-hardened companion sat with his pretty wife by
the open fireplace, as unmoved as though we
were in the shelter of a mountain side, while he
calmly discoursed of storms, shipwrecks, and
terrible struggles for life that this lonely coast
had witnessed, which sent thrills of horror to
my heart.

While traversing the beach during the
afternoon, as wreck after wreck, the gravestones of
departed ships, projected their timbers from the
sands, I had made a calculation of the number
of vessels which had left their hulls to rot on
Hatteras beach since the ships of Sir Walter
Raleigh had anchored above the cape, and it
resulted in making one continuous line of vessels,
wreck touching wreck, along the coast for many,
many miles. Hundreds of miles of the Atlantic
coast beaches would have been walled in by the
wrecks could they have come on to the strand
at one time, and all the dwellers along the coast,
outside of the towns, would have been placed
in independent circumstances by wrecking their

During this wild night, while the paper canoe
was safely stowed in the rushes of the marsh at
the cape, and its owner was enjoying the warmth
of the young astronomer's fire at the inlet, less
than twenty miles from us, on the dangerous
edge of Ocracoke shoals, the searching party of
the yacht Julia were in momentary expectation
of going to the bottom of the sound. For hours
the gallant craft hung to her anchors, which
were heavily backed by all the iron ballast that
could be attached to the cables. Wave after
wave swept over her, and not a man could put
his head above the hatches. Then, as she rolled
in the sea, her cabin-windows went under, and
streams of water were forced through the ports
into the confined space which was occupied by the
little party. For a time they were in imminent
danger, for the vessel dragged anchor to the edge
of the shoal, and with a heavy thud the yacht
struck on the bottom. All hopes of ever
returning to Newbern were lost, when the changing
tide swung the boat off into deeper water, where
she rode out the storm in safety.

Before morning the wind shifted, and by nine
o'clock I retraced my steps to the cape, and on
Tuesday rowed down to Hatteras Inlet, which
was reached a little past noon. Before
attempting to cross this dangerous tidal gate-way of the
ocean I hugged the shore close to its edge, and
paused to make myself familiar with the
sandhills of the opposite side, a mile away, which
were to serve as the guiding-beacons in the
passage. How often had I, lying awake at night,
thought of and dreaded the crossing of this
ill-omened inlet! It had given me much mental
suffering. Now it was before me. Here on my
right was the great sound, on my left the
narrow beach island, and out through the portal
of the open inlet surged and moaned under a
leaden sky that old ocean which now seemed to
frown at me, and to say: "Wait, my boy, until
the inlet's waves deliver you to me, and I will
put you among my other victims for your

As I gazed across the current I remarked that
it did not seem very rough, though a strong ebb
was running out to the sea, and if crossed
immediately, before the wind arose, there could be
no unreasonable risk. My canvas deck-cover
was carefully pulled close about my waist, and a
rigid inspection of oars and row-locks was made;
then, with a desire to reserve my strength for
any great demand that might be made upon it a
little later, I rowed with a steady stroke out into
Hatteras Inlet. There was no help nearer than
Styron's, two miles away on the upper shore,
while the beach I was approaching on the other
side was uninhabited for nearly sixteen miles, to
the village at its southern end, near Ocracoke
Inlet. Upon entering the swash I thought of the
sharks which the Hatteras fishermen had told
me frequently seized their oars, snapping the
thin blades in pieces, assuring me, at the same
time, that mine would prove very attractive,
being so white and glimmering in the water, and
offering the same glittering fascination as a
silver-spoon bait does to a blue-fish. These
cheerful suggestions caused a peculiar creeping
sensation to come over me, but I tried to quiet
myself with the belief that the sharks had
followed the blue-fish into deeper water, to escape
cold weather.

The canoe crossed the upper ebb, and entered
an area where the ebb from the opposite side of
the inlet struck the first one. While crossing
the union of the two currents, a wind came in at
the opening through the beach, and though not
a strong one, it created a great agitation of the
water. The dangerous experience at
Watchapreague Inlet had taught me that when in such
a sea one must pull with all his strength, and
that the increased momentum would give greater
buoyancy to the shell; for while under this
treatment she bounced from one irregular wave to
another with a climbing action which greatly
relieved my anxiety. The danger seemed to be
decreasing, and I stole a furtive glance over my
shoulder at the low dunes of the beach shore
which I was approaching, to see how far into the
inlet the tide had dragged me. The white water
to leeward warned me of a shoal, and forced me
to pull hard for the sound to escape being drawn
into the breakers. This danger was hardly
passed, when suddenly the waters around me
seethed and foamed, and the short waves parted
and closed, as great creatures rose from the
deep into the air several feet, and then fell
heavily into the sea. My tiny shell rocked and
pitched about wildly as these animals appeared
and disappeared, leaping from the waves all around
me, diving under the boat and reappearing on
the opposite side. They lashed the current with
their strong tails, and snorted or blowed most
dismally. For an instant surprise and alarm took
such possession of me that not a muscle of my
arms obeyed my will, and the canoe commenced
to drift in the driving stream towards the open
sea. This confusion was only momentary, for as
soon as I discovered that my companions were
porpoises and only old acquaintances, I
determined to avoid them as soon as possible.

With a quick glance at my stern range, a
sandhill on the shore of the inlet, and another look
over my shoulder for the sand dunes of the other
side, I exerted every muscle to reach the beach;
but my frisky friends were in no mood to leave
me, but continued their fun with increased
energy as reinforcements came up from all directions.
The faster I rowed the more they multiplied,
ploughing the sea in erratic courses. They were
from five to seven feet in length, and must have
weighed from two hundred to four hundred
pounds each. Though their attentions were
kindly meant, their brusqueness on such an unsteady
footing was unpardonable. I most feared the
strong, shooting movements of their tails in the
sudden dives under my canoe, for one sportive
touch of such a caudality would have rolled
me over, and furnished material for a tale the
very anticipation of which was unpleasant.

Crossing Hatteras Inlet (112K)

The aquatic gambols of the porpoises lasted
but a few minutes after they had called in all
their neighbors, and had chased me into three
feet depth of water. They then spouted a nasal
farewell, which sounded more catarrhal than
guitaral, and left me for the more profitable
occupation of fishing in the tide-way of the inlet,
while I rowed into a shallow cove, out of the
ebb, to rest, and to recover from the effects of
my fright.

As I pulled along the beach the tide receded
so rapidly that the canoe was constantly
grounding, and wading became necessary, for I could
not get within several feet of the shore. When
five miles from Hatteras Inlet I espied an empty
grass cabin, which the fishermen used in
February while catching shad; and, as a southerly wind
was now blowing from the sea, and rain was
falling, it offered a night's shelter for the traveller.
This Robinson Crusoe looking structure was
located upon the low land near the sound, while
bleak, sharp-pointed, treeless and grassless
sandhills, blown into shape by the winds, arose in the
background, and cut off a view of the ocean,
which, judging from the low, melancholy
moaning coming over the dunes, was in a sad mood.

The canoe was hauled into the bushes and
tied securely for fear a deceptive tide might bear
it away. The provisions, blankets, &c., were
moved into the grass hut, which needed
repairing. The holes in the south wall were soon
thatched, and a bed easily prepared from the
rushes of the marsh. It mattered not that they
were wet, for a piece of painted canvas was
spread over them, and the inviting couch

As fresh water can usually be obtained on all
these low beaches by digging two or three feet
into the sand, I looked for a large clam-shell, and
my search being rewarded, I was soon engaged
in digging a well near the cabin.

Upon looking up from my work a curious
sight met my gaze. In some mysterious way
every sharp-pointed sand-hill had been covered
by a black object, which swayed about and
nodded up and down in a strange manner. As I
watched the development of this startling
phenomenon, the nodding, black objects grew in
size until the head, body, and four legs of a
horse were clearly cut against the sky. A little
later every crest was surmounted by the comical
figure of a marsh-tacky. Then a few sheep came
out of the hollows among the hills and browsed
on the coarse grass near the cabin, as though
they felt the loneliness of their situation so far
removed from mankind. With the marsh-ponies,
the sheep, the wild-fowls of the sound, and the
sighing sea for companions, the night passed

The bright moonlight roused me at five o'clock
in the morning, and I pushed off again in shoal
water on an ebb-tide, experiencing much
difficulty in dragging the canoe over shallow places
until deep water was entered, when the row to
Ocracoke became an agreeable one. The
landing-place at Ocracoke, not far from the
lighthouse, was reached at noon, and the people
gathered to see the paper boat, having been
notified of my proximity by fishermen.

The women here can pull a pretty good stroke,
and frequently assist their husbands in the
fisheries. These old dames ridiculed the idea of
having a boat so small and light as the canoe.
One old lady laid aside her pipe and
snuff-paddle (snuff-rubbing is a time-honored
institution in the south), and roughly grasping the
bow of the craft, lifted it high in the air, then,
glancing at the fine model, she lowered it slowly
to the ground, exclaiming, "I reckon I wouldn't
risk my life acrossing a creek in her."

These people told me that the yacht Julia had
stopped there to make inquiries for me, and had
departed for Newbern.

It was more than a mile from the landing to
Ocracoke Inlet, and a mile and three quarters
across it to the beach. A straight course from
the landing to the village of Portsmouth, on the
lower side of the inlet, was a distance of five
miles, and not one of the hardy watermen, who
thumped the sides of my boat with their hard
fists to ascertain its strength, believed that I
could cross the sound to the other village
without rolling over. One kind-hearted oysterman
offered to carry myself and boat to Portsmouth,
but as the day was calm, I rowed away on the
five-mile stretch amid doleful prognostications,
such as: "That feller will make a coffin for
hisself out of that yere gimcrack of an egg-shell.
It's all a man's life is wurth to go in her," &c.

While approaching the low Portsmouth shore
of the sound, flocks of Canada geese flew within
pistol-shot of my head. A man in a dug-out
canoe told me that the gunners of the village
had reared from the egg a flock of wild geese
which now aggregated some seven or eight
hundred birds, and that these now flying about were
used to decoy their wild relatives.

Near the beach a sandy hill had been the place
of sepulture for the inhabitants of other
generations, but for years past the tidal current had
been cutting the shore away until coffin after
coffin with its contents had been washed into
the sound. Captain Isaac S. Jennings, of Ocean
County, New Jersey, had described this spot to
me as follows:

"I landed at Portsmouth and examined this
curious burial-ground. Here by the water were
the remains of the fathers, mothers, brothers,
and sisters of the people of the village so near at
hand; yet these dismal relics of their ancestors
were allowed to be stolen away piecemeal by
the encroaching ocean. While I gazed sadly
upon the strata of coffins protruding from the
banks, shining objects like jewels seemed to be
sparkling from between the cracks of their
fractured sides; and as I tore away the rotten wood,
rows of toads were discovered sitting in
solemn council, their bright eyes peering from
among the debris of bones and decomposed

Portsmouth Island is nearly eight miles long.
Whalebone Inlet is at its lower end, but is too
shallow to be of any service to commerce.
Hatteras and Ocracoke inlets admit sea-going
vessels. It is thirty-eight miles from Whalebone
Inlet to Cape Lookout, which projects like a
wedge into the sea nearly three miles from the
mainland, and there is not another passage
through the narrow beach in all that distance
that is of any use to the mariner. Following
the trend of the coast for eleven miles from the
point of Cape Lookout, there is an inlet, but,
from the character of its channel and its
shallowness, it is not of much value.

Leaving Portsmouth, the canoe entered Core
Sound, which grew narrower as the shoals inside
of Whalebone Inlet were crossed, partly by
rowing and partly by wading on the sand-flats. As
night came on, a barren stretch of beach on my
left hand was followed until I espied the only
house within a distance of sixteen miles along
the sea. It was occupied by a coasting skipper,
whose fine little schooner was anchored a long
distance from the land on account of the
shoalness of the water. Dreary sand-hills protected
the cottage from the bleak winds of the ocean.

While yet a long distance from the skipper's
home, a black object could be seen crawling up
the sides of a mound of white sand, and after it
reached the apex it remained in one position,
while I rowed, and waded, and pulled my canoe
towards the shore. When the goal was reached,
and the boat was landed high up among the
scrub growth, I shouldered my blankets and
charts, and plodded through the soft soil towards
the dark object, which I now recognized to be a
man on a lookout post. He did not move from
his position until I reached the hillock, when he
suddenly slid down the bank and landed at my
feet, with a cheery --

"Well, now, I thought it was you. Sez I to
myself, That's him, sure, when I seed you
four miles away. Fust thinks I, It's only a
log, or a piece of wrak-stuff afloating. Pretty
soon up comes your head and shoulders into
sight; then sez I, It's a man, sure, but where is
his boat? for you see, I couldn't see your boat, it
was so low down in the water. Then I reckoned
it was a man afloating on a log, but arter a
while the boat loomed up too, and I says, I'll be
dog-goned if that isn't him. I went up to
Newbern, some time ago, in the schooner, and the
people there said there was a man coming down
the coast a-rowing a paper boat on a bet. The
boat weighed only fifty-eight pounds, and the
man had a heft of only eighty pounds. When
pa and me went up to the city agin, the folks
said the man was close on to us, and this time
they said the man and his boat together weighed
only eighty pounds. Now I should think you
weighed more than that yourself, letting alone
the boat."

Having assured the young man that I was
indeed myself, and that the Newbern people had
played upon his credulity, we walked on to the
house, where the family of Captain James Mason
kindly welcomed me to a glowing wood-fire and
hearty supper. Though I had never heard of
their existence till I entered Core Sound, the
kindness of these people was like that of old

Half a mile below Captain Mason's home, a
short time before my visit, a new breach had
been made by the ocean through the beach.
About twenty years before a similar breach had
occurred in the same locality, and was known
during its short life as "Pillintary Inlet." The
next day I crossed the sound, which is here four
miles in width, and coasted along to the
oystermen's village of Hunting Quarters, on the
mainland. The houses were very small, but the
hearts of the poor folks were very large. They
came to the water's edge and carried the canoe
into the only store in the neighborhood. Its
proprietor, Mr. William H. Stewart, insisted
upon my sharing his bachelor's quarters in an
unfinished room of the storehouse. My young
host was hardly out of his teens. In his boyish
way he kindly remarked:

"I am here all alone. Father told me, before
he died, never to let a stranger pass my door but
to make him share my lodgings, humble though
they are; and now, any way, you're just in time
for the fun, for we are to have three weddings
to-night, and all the boys and girls of the
neighborhood will be at Hunting Quarters."

I entered a mild protest against joining in the
festivities, on the plea of not having received an
invitation; at which the handsome youth laughed

"Invitation!" he exclaimed; "why, no one
ever gives out invitations in Hunting Quarters.
When there is to be a 'jolliflcation' of any sort,
everybody goes to the house without being
asked. You see we are all neighbors here. Up
at Newbern and at Beaufort, and other great
cities, people have their ways, but here all are

So we went to the little house in the piny
forest, where two hearts were to be made one.
The only room on the first floor was crowded
with people. The minister had not arrived, and
the crowd was gazing at the young groom and his
pretty bride-elect as they sat in two chairs in the
middle of the company, with their arms around
each other, never speaking a word to any one.
The heavy weight of people began to settle the
floor, and as two joists gave way I struggled to
escape through an open window, thinking we
would be precipitated into the cellar below.
But the good-natured company took no notice
of the snapping timbers, only ejaculating, "She'll
soon touch bottom;" and to my inquiries about
the inconvenience of being pitched through to
the cellar, a rustic youth, with great merriment
depicted upon his countenance, replied:

"Sullers, captain, why, there ain't a suller to a
buildin' within thirty miles of the Quarters. We
never uses sullers hereabouts."

By my side was a young fisherman, who had
got home from a cruise, and was overflowing
with affection towards every girl present. "O,
gals," he would cry, "you don't know how nice
I feels to get back to you once more!"
Throwing his arms around a bright-eyed girl, who
vainly tried to escape him, he said, "O, weary
mariner, here is thy rest! No more shall he
wander from thee."

This sentimental strain was interrupted by an
old lady, who reached her arm over my
shoulder to administer a rebuke. "Sam, ye're a fool!"
she cried; "ye're beside yourself to-night, and
afore this paper-canoe captain, too. Ef I was
a gal I'd drap yere society, wid yere familiar
ways right in company."

The blow and the admonition fell harmlessly
upon the head and the heart of the sailor, who
replied, "Aunty, I knows my advantages in
Hunting Quarters -- women is plenty, and men
is few."

The crowd roared with laughter at this truism,
but were quieted by the shout of a boy that
the preacher was a-coming; whereupon the
reverend gentleman elbowed his way through
the guests to the quiet couple, and requested
them to stand up. A few hurried words by the
clergyman, a few bashful replies from the young
people, and the two were made one. The crowd
rushed outside of the house, where a general
scramble took place among the boys for their
girls. Then a procession was formed, headed
by the clergyman, which marched along the
sandy road to another house in the woods, where
the second marriage was to be celebrated.

It was amusing to see the young men dash
away from the procession, to run to the village store
for candy at twenty-five cents per pound,
containing as much terra alba (white clay) as sugar.
With well-filled pockets they would run back to
the procession and fill the girls' aprons with the
sweets, soon repeating the process, and
showering upon the fair ones cakes, raisins, nuts, and
oranges. The only young man who seemed to
find no favor in any woman's eyes invested
more capital in sweetmeats than the others; and
though every girl in the procession gave him a
sharp word or a kick as he passed, yet none
refused his candies as he tossed them at the
maidens, or stuffed them into the pockets of their

The second ceremony was performed in about
three minutes, and the preacher feeling faint from
his long ride through the woods, declared he must
have some supper. So, while he was being
served, the girls chatted together, the old ladies
helped each other to snuff with little wooden
paddles, which were left protruding from one corner
of their mouths after they had taken "a dip,"
as they called it. The boys, after learning that
the preacher had postponed the third marriage
for an hour, with a wild shout scampered off
to Stewart's store for more candies. I took
advantage of the interim to inquire how it was
that the young ladies and gentlemen were upon
such terms of pleasant intimacy.

"Well, captain," replied the person
interrogated, "you sees we is all growed up together,
and brotherly love and sisterly affection is our
teaching. The brethren love the sisteren; and
they say that love begets love, so the sisteren
loves the brethren. It's parfecly nateral. That's
the hull story, captain. How is it up your way?"

At last the preacher declared himself satisfied
with all he had eaten, and that enough was as
good as a feast; so the young people fell into line,
and we trudged to the third house, where, with
the same dispatch, the third couple were united.
Then the fiddler scraped the strings of his
instrument, and a double-shuffle dance commenced.
The girls stamped and moved their feet about in
the same manner as the men. Soon four or five
of the young ladies left the dancing-party, and
seated themselves in a corner, pouting
discontentedly. My companion explained to me that
the deserters were a little stuck-up, having
made two or three visits on a schooner to the
city (Newbern), where they had other ways
of dancing, and where the folks didn't think
it pretty for a girl to strike her heels upon the
floor, &c.

How long they danced I know not, for the
prospect of a long row on the morrow sent me
to rest in the storehouse, from which I was called
by a kind old couple sending for me to take tea
with them at half an hour after midnight.
Unwilling to wound the sensitive feelings of these
hospitable people, I answered the summons in
propia persona, and found it was the mother
of bride No. 1, to whom I was indebted for
the invitation. A well-filled table took up the
space in the centre of the room, where a few
hours before the timbers creaked beneath the
weight of the curious crowd; and there, sitting
on one side in the same affectionate manner I
have described, were the bride and groom,
apparently unmoved by the change of scene, while
the bride's mother rocked in her chair, moaning,
"O John, if you'd taken the other gal, I might
have stood it, but this yere one has been my

At dawn the canoe was put into Core Sound,
and I followed the western shore, cheered by the
bright sun of our Saviour's natal day. At noon
the mouth of the thoroughfare between Harker's
Island and the mainland was unintentionally
passed, and I rowed along by the side of the
island next Fort Macon, which is inside of the
angle made by Cape Lookout.

Finding it impossible to reach Newbern via
Morehead City that day, the canoe was beached
upon the end of Harker's Island, where I
breakfasted at the fashionable hour of two P. M., with
men, women, and children around me. My
mode of cooking the condensed food and liquid
beef; so quickly prepared for the palate, and the
remarkable boat of paper, all filled the islanders
with wonder. They were at first a little shy,
looking upon the apparition -- which seemed in
some wonderful way to have dropped upon
their beach -- with the light of curiosity in their

Then, as I explained the many uses to which
paper was put, even to the paying off of great
national debts, my audience became very
friendly, and offered to get me up a Christmas dinner
in their cabins among the groves of trees near
the strand, if I would tarry with them until night.
But time was precious; so, with thanks on my
part for their kind offers, we parted, they helping
me launch my little boat, and waving a cheerful
adieu as I headed the canoe for Beaufort, which
was quietly passed in the middle of the afternoon.

Three miles further on, the railroad pier of
Morehead City, in Bogue Sound, was reached,
and a crowd of people carried the canoe into
the hotel. A telegram was soon received from
the superintendent of the railroad at Newbern,
inviting me to a free ride to the city in the first
train of the following morning.

The reader who has followed me since I left
the chilly regions of the St. Lawrence must not
have his patience taxed by too much detail, lest
he should weary of my story and desert my
company. Were it not for this fear, it would
give me pleasure to tell how a week was passed
in Newbern; how the people came even from
interior towns to see the paper canoe; how
some, doubting my veracity, slyly stuck the
blades of their pocket-knives through the thin
sides of the canoe, forgetting that it had yet to
traverse many dangerous inlets, and that its
owner preferred a tight, dry boat to one
punctured by knives. Even old men became
enthusiastic, and when I was absent from my little
craft, an uncontrollable ambition seized them,
and they got into the frail shell as it rested upon
the floor of a hall, and threatened its
destruction. It seemed impossible to make one
gentleman of Newbern understand that when the
boat was in the water she was resting upon all
her bearings, but when out of water only upon
a thin strip of wood.

"By George," said this stout gentleman in a
whisper to a friend, "I told my wife I would get
into that boat if I smashed it."

"And what did the lady say, old fellow?"
asked the friend.
"O," he replied, '"she said, 'Now don't make
a fool of yourself, Fatness, or your ambition may
get you into the papers,'" and the speaker fairly
shook with laughter.

While at Newbern, Judge West and his brother
organized a grand hunt, and the railroad
company sent us down the road eighteen miles to a
wild district, where deer, coons, and wild-fowl
were plentiful, and where we hunted all night for
coons and ducks, and all day for deer. Under
these genial influences the practical study of
geography for the first time seemed dull, and I
became aware that, under the efforts of the
citizens of Newbern to remind me of the charms
of civilized society, I was, as a travelling
geographer, fast becoming demoralized.

Could I, after the many pleasures I was daily
enjoying, settle down to a steady pull and one
meal a day with a lunch of dry crackers; or
sleep on the floor of fishermen's cabins, with
fleas and other little annoyances attendant
thereon? Having realized my position, I tore myself
away from my many new friends and retraced
my steps to Morehead City, leaving it on
Tuesday, January 5th, and rowing down the little
sound called Bogue towards Cape Fear.

As night came on I discovered on the shore a
grass cabin, which was on the plantation of Dr.
Emmett, and had been left tenantless by some
fisherman. This served for shelter during the
night though the struggles and squealings of a
drove of hogs attempting to enter through the
rickety door did not contribute much to my

The watercourses now became more
intricate, growing narrower as I rowed southward.
The open waters of the sound were left behind,
and I entered a labyrinth of creeks and small
sheets of water, which form a network in the
marshes between the sandy beach-islands and
the mainland all the way to Cape Fear River.
The Core Sound sheet of the United States
Coast Survey ended at Cape Lookout, there
being no charts of the route to Masonboro. I was
therefore now travelling upon local knowledge,
which proves usually a very uncertain guide.

In a cold rain the canoe reached the little
village of Swansboro, where the chief personage
of the place of two hundred inhabitants, Mr.
McLain, removed me from my temporary
camping-place in an old house near the turpentine
distilleries into his own comfortable quarters.

There are twenty mullet fisheries within ten
miles of Swansboro, which employ from fifteen
to eighteen men each. The pickled and dried
roe of this fish is shipped to Wilmington and to
Cincinnati. Wild-fowls abound, and the
shooting is excellent. The fishermen say flocks of
ducks seven miles in length have been seen on
the waters of Bogue Sound. Canvas-backs are
called "raft-ducks" here, and they sell from
twelve to twenty cents each. Wild geese bring
forty cents, and brant thirty.

The marsh-ponies feed upon the beaches, in
a half wild state, with the deer and cattle, cross
the marshes and swim the streams from the
mainland to the beaches in the spring, and graze there
until winter, when they collect in little herds,
and instinctively return to the piny woods of
the uplands. Messrs. Weeks and Taylor had
shot, while on a four-days' hunt up the White
Oak River, twenty deer. Captain H. D. Heady,
of Swansboro, informed me that the ducks and
geese he killed in one winter supplied him with
one hundred pounds of selected feathers.
Captain Heady's description of Bogue Inlet was not
encouraging for the future prosperity of this
coast, and the same may be said of all the inlets
between it and Cape Fear.

Rainy weather kept me within doors until
Friday, the 7th of January, when I rowed down
White Oak River to Bogue Inlet, and turned
into the beach thoroughfare, which led me three
miles and a half to Bear Inlet. My course now
lay through creeks among the marshes to the
Stand-Back, near the mainland, where the tides
between the two inlets head. Across this shoal
spot I traversed tortuous watercourses with mud
flats, from which beds of sharp raccoon oysters
projected and scraped the keel of my boat.

The sea was now approached from the
mainland to Brown's Inlet, where the tide ran like
a mill-race, swinging my canoe in great circles
as I crossed it to the lower side. Here I took
the widest thoroughfare, and left the beach only
to retrace my steps to follow one nearer the
strand, which conducted me to the end of the
natural system of watercourses, where I found a
ditch, dug seventy years before, which connected
the last system of waters with another series of
creeks that emptied their waters into New River

Emerging from the marshes, my course led
me away from New River Inlet, across open
sheets of water to the mainland, where Dr.
Ward's cotton plantation occupied a large and
cultivated area in the wilderness. It was nearly
two miles from his estate down to the inlet.
The intervening flats among the island marshes
of New River were covered with natural beds
of oysters, upon which the canoe scraped as I
crossed to the narrow entrance of Stump Sound.
Upon rounding a point of land I found, snugly
ensconced in a grove, the cot of an oysterman,
Captain Risley Lewis, who, after informing me
that his was the last habitation to be found in
that vicinity, pressed me to be his guest.

The next day proved one of trial to patience
and muscle. The narrow watercourses, which
like a spider's web penetrate the marshes with
numerous small sheets of water, made travelling
a most difficult task. At times I was lost, again
my canoe was lodged upon oyster-beds in the
shallow ponds of water, the mud bottoms of
which would not hear my weight if I attempted
to get overboard to lighten the little craft.

Alligator Lake, two miles in width, was crossed
without seeing an alligator. Saurians are first
met with, as the traveller proceeds south, in the
vicinity of Alligator Creek and the Neuse River,
in the latitude of Pamplico Sound. During the
cold weather they hide themselves in the soft,
muddy bottoms of creeks and lagoons. All the
negroes, and many of the white people of the
south, assert, that when captured in his winter
bed, this huge reptile's stomach contains the hard
knot of a pine-tree; but for what purpose he
swallows it they are at a loss to explain.

In twelve miles of tortuous windings there
appeared but one sign of human life -- a little
cabin on a ridge of upland among the fringe
of marshes that bordered on Alligator Lake. It
was cheering to a lonely canoeist to see this
house, and the clearing around it with the
season's crop of corn in stacks dotting the field.
All this region is called Stump Sound; but that
sheet of water is a well-defined, narrow,
lake-like watercourse, which was entered not long
after I debouched from Alligator Lake. Stump
Inlet having closed up eighteen months before
my visit, the sound and its tributaries received
tidal water from New Topsail Inlet.

It was a cold and rainy evening when I sought
shelter in an old boat-house, at a landing on
Topsail Sound, soon after leaving Stump Sound.
While preparing for the night's camp, the son
of the proprietor of the plantation discovered
the, to him, unheard-of spectacle of a paper boat
upon the gravelly strand. Filled with curiosity
and delight, he dragged me, paddle in hand,
through an avenue of trees to a hill upon which
a large house was located. This was the boy's
home. Leaving me on the broad steps of the
veranda, he rushed into the hall, shouting to
the family, "Here's a sailor who has come from
the north in a PAPER boat."

This piece of intelligence roused the good
people to merriment. "Impossible!" "A boat
made of paper!" "Nonsense!"

The boy, however, would not be put down.
"But it is made of paper, I tell you; for I
pinched it and stuck my nails into it," he
replied earnestly.

"You are crazy, my boy," some one
responded; "a paper boat never could go through
these sounds, the coon oysters would cut it in
pieces. Now tell us, is the sailor made of
paper, like his boat?"

"Indeed, mother, what I tell you is true; and,
O, I forgot! here's the sailor on the steps, where
I left him." In an instant the whole family were
out upon the veranda. Seeing my
embarrassment, they tried, like well-bred people, to check
their merriment, while I explained to them the
way in which the boy had captured me, and
proposed at once returning to my camp. To
this, however, they would not listen; and the
charming wife of the planter extended her hand
to me, as she said, "No, sir, you will not go back
to the wet landing to camp. This is our home,
and though marauding armies during the late
war have taken from us our wealth, you must
share with us the little we have left." This lady
with her two daughters, who inherited her beauty
and grace of manner, did all in their power to
make me comfortable.

Sunday was the coldest day of the season; but
the family, whose hospitality I enjoyed, rode
seven miles through the woods, some on
horseback, some in the carriage, to the little church
in a heavy pine forest. The next day proved
stormy, and the driving sleet froze upon the
trees and bound their limbs and boughs together
with an icy veneer. My host, Mr. McMillan,
kindly urged me to tarry. During my stay with
him I ascertained that he devoted his attention
to raising ground-peas, or peanuts. Along the
coast of this part of North Carolina this nut is
the chief product, and is raised in immense
quantities. The latter state alone raises annually
over one hundred thousand bushels; while
Virginia and Tennessee produce, some years, a crop
of seven hundred thousand bushels.

Wednesday opened with partially clearing
weather, and the icy covering of the trees
yielded to the softening influences of a southern
wind. The family went to the landing to see
me off, and the kind ladies stowed many
delicacies, made with their own hands, in the bow of
the boat. After rowing a half-mile, I took a
lingering look at the shore, where those who
four days ago were strangers, now waved an
adieu as friends. They had been stript of their
wealth, though the kind old planter had never
raised his hand against the government of his
fathers. This family, like thousands of people
in the south, had suffered for the rash deeds of
others. While the political views of this
gentleman differed from those of the stranger from
Massachusetts, it formed no barrier to their
social intercourse, and did not make him forget
to exhibit the warm feelings of hospitality which
so largely influence the Southerner. I went to
him, as a traveller in search of truth, upon an
honest errand. Under such circumstances a
Northerner does not require a letter of
introduction to nine out of ten of the citizens of the
fifteen ex-slave states, which cover an area of
eight hundred and eighty thousand square miles,
and where fourteen millions of people desire to
be permitted to enjoy the same privileges as the
Constitution of the United States guarantees to
all the states north of Mason and Dixon's line.

From Sloop Landing, on my new friends'
plantation, to New Topsail Inlet I had a brisk
row of five miles. Vessels drawing eight feet of
water can reach this landing from the open sea
upon a full tide. The sea was rolling in at this
ocean door as my canoe crossed it to the next
marsh thoroughfare, which connected it with
Old Topsail Inlet, where the same monotonous
surroundings of sand-hills and marshes are to be found.

The next tidal opening was Rich Inlet, which
had a strong ebb running through it to the
sea. From it I threaded the thoroughfares up
to the mainland, reaching at dusk the "Emma
Nickson Plantation." The creeks were growing
more shallow, and near the bulkhead, or
middleground, where tides from two inlets met, there
was so little water and so many oyster reefs, that,
without a chart, the route grew more and more
perplexing in character. It was a distance of
thirty miles to Cape Fear, and twenty miles
to New Inlet, which was one of the mouths
of Cape Fear River. From the plantation to
New Inlet, the shallow interior sheets of water
with their marshes were called Middle,
Masonboro, and Myrtle sounds. The canoe could
have traversed these waters to the end of
Myrtle Sound, which is separated from Cape Fear
River by a strip of land only one mile and a
half wide, across which a portage can be made
to the river. Barren and Masonboro are the only
inlets which supply the three little sounds above
mentioned with water, after Rich Inlet is passed.

The coast from Cape Fear southward eighty
miles, to Georgetown, South Carolina, has several
small inlets through the beach, but there are no
interior waters parallel with the coast in all that
distance, which can be of any service to the
canoeist for a coast route. It therefore became
necessary for me to follow the next watercourse
that could be utilized for reaching Winyah Bay,
which is the first entrance to the system of
continuous watercourses south of Cape Fear.

The trees of the Nickson Plantation hid the
house of the proprietor from view; but upon
beaching my canoe, a drove of hogs greeted me
with friendly grunts, as if the hospitality of their
master infected the drove; and, as it grew dark,
they trotted across the field, conducting me up
to the very doors of the planter's home, where
Captain Mosely, late of the Confederate army,
gave me a soldier's hearty welcome.

"The war is over," he said, "and any northern
gentleman is welcome to what we have left."
Until midnight, this keen-eyed, intelligent officer
entertained me with a flow of anecdotes of the
war times, his hair-breadth escapes, &c.; the
conversation being only interrupted when he
paused to pile wood upon the fire, the
chimney-place meantime glowing like a furnace. He
told me that Captain Maffitt, of the late
Confederate navy, lived at Masonboro, on the sound;
and that had I called upon him, he could have
furnished, as an old officer of the Coast Survey,
much valuable geographical information. This
pleasant conversation was at last interrupted
by the wife of my host, who warned us in her
courteous way of the lateness of the hour. With
a good-night to my host, and a sad farewell
to the sea, I prepared myself for the morrow's



To reach my next point of embarkation a
portage was necessary. Wilmington was
twelve miles distant, and I reached the railroad
station of that city with my canoe packed in a
bed of corn-husks, on a one-horse dray, in time
to take the evening train to Flemington, on Lake
Waccamaw. The polite general freight-agent,
Mr. A. Pope, allowed my canoe to be transported
in the passenger baggage-car, where, as it had
no covering, I was obliged to steady it during
the ride of thirty-two miles, to protect it from
the friction caused by the motion of the train.

Mr. Pope quietly telegraphed to the few families
at the lake, "Take care of the paper canoe;" so
when my destination was reached, kind voices
greeted me through the darkness and offered me
the hospitalities of Mrs. Brothers' home-like inn
at the Flemington Station. After Mr. Carroll had
conveyed the boat to his storehouse, we all sat
down to tea as sociably as though we were old

On the morrow we carried the Maria Theresa
on our shoulders to the little lake, out of which
the long and crooked river with its dark cypress
waters flowed to the sea. A son of Mr. Short,
a landed proprietor who holds some sixty
thousand acres of the swamp lands of the Waccamaw,
escorted me in his yacht, with a party of ladies
and gentlemen, five miles across the lake to my
point of departure. It was now noon, and our
little party picnicked under the lofty trees which
rise from the low shores of Lake Waccamaw.

A little later we said our adieu, and the paper
canoe shot into the whirling current which rushes
out of the lake through a narrow aperture into
a great and dismal swamp. Before leaving the
party, Mr. Carroll had handed me a letter
addressed to Mr. Hall, who was in charge of a
turpentine distillery on my route. "It is twenty
miles by the river to my friend Hall's," he said,
"but in a straight line the place is just four
miles from here." Such is the character of the
Waccamaw, this most crooked of rivers.

I had never been on so rapid and continuous
a current. As it whirled me along the narrow
watercourse I was compelled to abandon my
oars and use the paddle in order to have my face
to the bow, as the abrupt turns of the stream
seemed to wall me in on every side. Down
the tortuous, black, rolling current went the
paper canoe, with a giant forest covering the
great swamp and screening me from the light
of day. The swamps were submerged, and as
the water poured out of the thickets into the
river it would shoot across the land from one
bend to another, presenting in places the
mystifying spectacle of water running up stream, but
not up an inclined plain. Festoons of gray
Spanish moss hung from the weird limbs of
monster trees, giving a funeral aspect to the
gloomy forest, while the owls hooted as though
it were night. The creamy, wax-like berries
of the mistletoe gave a Druidical aspect to the
woods, for this parasite grew upon the branches
of many trees.

One spot only of firm land rose from the water
in sixteen miles of paddling from the lake, and
passing it, I went flying on with the turbulent
stream four miles further, to where rafts of logs
blocked the river, and the sandy banks, covered
with the upland forest of pines, encroached upon
the lowlands. This was Old Dock, with its
turpentine distillery smoking and sending out
resinous vapors.

Young Mr. Hall read my letter and invited
me to his temporary home, which, though
roughly built of unplaned boards, possessed two
comfortable rooms, and a large fireplace, in
which light-wood, the terebinthine heart of the
pine-tree, was cheerfully blazing.

I had made the twenty miles in three hours,
but the credit of this quick time must be given
to the rapid current. My host did not seem
well pleased with the solitude imposed upon
him. His employers had sent him from
Wilmington, to hold and protect "their turpentine
farm," which was a wilderness of trees covering
four thousand acres, and was valued, with its
distillery, at five thousand dollars. An old
negro, who attended the still and cooked the
meals, was his only companion.

We had finished our frugal repast, when a
man, shouting in the darkness, approached the
house on horseback. This individual, though
very tipsy, represented Law and Order in that
district, as I was informed when "Jim Gore," a
justice of the peace, saluted me in a boisterous
manner. Seating himself by the fire, he
earnestly inquired for the bottle. His stomach, he
said, was as dry as a lime-kiln, and, though
water answers to slake lime, he demanded
something stronger to slake the fire that burned
within him. He was very suspicious of me when
Hall told him of my canoe journey. After
eying me from head to toe in as steady a manner
as he was capable of, he broke forth with: "Now,
stranger, this won't do. What are ye a-travel'ing
in this sort of way for, in a paper dug-out?"

I pleaded a strong desire to study geography,
but the wise fellow replied:

"Geography! geography! Why, the fellers
who rite geography never travel; they stay at
home and spin their yarns 'bout things they
never sees." Then, glancing at his poor
butternut coat and pantaloons, he felt my blue woollen
suit, and continued, in a slow, husky voice:
"Stranger, them clothes cost something; they
be store-clothes. That paper dug-out cost money,
I tell ye; and it costs something to travel the hull
length of the land. No, stranger; if ye be not
on a bet, then somebody's a-paying ye well for it."

For an hour I entertained this roughest of law
dignitaries with an account of my long row, its
trials and its pleasures. He became interested
in the story, and finally related to me his own
aspirations, and the difficulties attending his
efforts to make the piny-woods people respect the
laws and good government. He then described
the river route through the swamps to the sea,
and, putting his arm around me in the most
affectionate manner, he mournfully said:

"O stranger, my heart is with ye; but O, how
ye will have to take it when ye go past those
awful wretches to-morrow; how they will give
it to ye! They most knocked me off my raft,
last time I went to Georgetown. Beware of
them; I warn ye in time. Dern the hussies."

Squire Jim so emphasized the danger that I
became somewhat alarmed, for, more than
anything else, I dreaded an outbreak with rough
women. And then, too, my new acquaintance
informed me that there were four or five of these
wretches, of the worst kind, located several
miles down the stream. As I was about to
inquire into the habits of these ugly old crones,
Mr. Hall, wishing to give Squire James a hint,
remarked that Mr. B_____ might at any time
retire to the next room, where half the bed was at
his disposal.

"Half the bed!" roared the squire; "here
are three of us, and where's my half?"

"Why, squire," hesitatingly responded my
host, Mr. B_____ is my guest, and having but
one bed, he must have half of it -- no less."

"Then what's to become of me?" thundered
his Majesty of the law.

Having been informed that a shake-down
would have been ready had he given notice of
his visit, and that at some future time, when not
so crowded, he could be entertained like a
gentleman, he drew himself up, wrapped in the
mantle of dignity, and replied:

"None of that soft talk, my friend. This
man is a traveller; let him take travellers'
luck -- three in a bed to-night. I'm bound
to sleep with him to-night. Hall, where's the

I now retired to the back room, and, without
undressing, planted myself on the side of the
bed next the wall. Sleep was, however, an
unattainable luxury, with the squire's voice in the
next room, as he told how the country was going
to the dogs, because "niggers and white folks
wouldn't respect the laws. It took half a man's
time to larn it to 'em, and much thanks he ever
got by setting everybody to rights." He wound
up by lecturing Hall for being so temperate,
his diligent search in all directions for bottles or
jugs being rewarded by finding them filled with
unsatisfactory emptiness.

He then tumbled into the centre of the bed,
crowding me close against the wall. Poor Hall,
having the outside left to him, spent the night in
exercising his brain and muscles in vain attempts
to keep in his bed; for when his Majesty of the
law put his arms akimbo, the traveller went to
the wall, and the host to the floor. Thus passed
my first night in the great swamps of the
Waccamaw River.

The negro cook gave us an early breakfast of
bacon, sweet potatoes, and corn bread. The
squire again looked round for the bottle, and
again found nothing but emptiness. He helped
me to carry my canoe along the unsteady footing
of the dark swamp to the lower side of the
raft of logs, and warmly pressed my hand as he
whispered: "My dear B____, I shall think of
you until you get past those dreadful 'wretches.'
Keep an eye on your little boat, or they'll devil

Propelled by my double paddle, the canoe
seemed to fly through the great forest that rose
with its tall trunks and weird, moss-draped
arms, out of the water. The owls were still
hooting. Indeed, the dolorous voice of this bird
of darkness sounded through the heavy woods
at intervals throughout the day. I seemed to
have left the real world behind me, and to have
entered upon a landless region of sky, trees, and

"Beware of the cut-offs," said Hall, before I
left. Only the Crackers and shingle-makers
know them. If followed, they would save you
many a mile, but every opening through the
swamp is not a cut-off. Keep to the main
stream, though it be more crooked and longer.
If you take to the cut-offs, you may get into
passages that will lead you off into the swamps
and into interior bayous, from which you will
never emerge. Men have starved to death in
such places."

So I followed the winding stream, which
turned back upon itself, running north and south,
and east and west, as if trying to box the
compass by following the sun in its revolution. After
paddling down one bend, I could toss a stick
through the trees into the stream where the canoe
had cleaved its waters a quarter of a mile
behind me.

The thought of what I should do in this
landless region if my frail shell, in its rapid flight to
the sea, happened to be pierced by a snag, was,
to say the least, not a comforting one. On what
could I stand to repair it? To climb a tree
seemed, in such a case, the only resource; and
then what anxious waiting there would be for
some cypress-shingle maker, in his dug-out
canoe, to come to the rescue, and take the traveller
from his dangerous lodgings between heaven and
earth; or it might be that no one would pass that
way, and the weary waiting would be even unto

But sounds now reached my ears that made
me feel that I was not quite alone in this desolate
swamp. The gray squirrels scolded among the
tree-tops; robins, the brown thrush, and a large
black woodpecker with his bright red head,
each reminded me of Him without whose notice
not a sparrow falleth to the ground.

Ten miles of this black current were passed
over, when the first signs of civilization appeared,
in the shape of a sombre-looking, two-storied
house, located upon a point of the mainland
which entered the swamp on the left shore of
the river. At this point the river widened to five
or six rods, and at intervals land appeared a few
inches above the water. Wherever the pine
land touched the river a pig-pen of rails offered
shelter and a gathering-place for the hogs,
which are turned loose by the white Cracker
to feed upon the roots and mast of the

Reeve's Ferry, on the right bank, with a little
store and turpentine-still, twenty miles from Old
Dock, was the next sign of the presence of man
in this swamp. The river now became broad as
I approached Piraway Ferry, which is two miles
below Piraway Farm. Remembering the
warnings of the squire as to the "awful wretches in
the big pine woods," I kept a sharp lookout for
the old women who were to give me so much
trouble, but the raftsmen on the river explained
that though Jim Gore had told me the truth, I
had misunderstood his pronunciation of the word
reaches, or river bends, which are called in
this vicinity wretches. The reaches referred to
by Mr. Gore were so long and straight as to
afford open passages for wind to blow up them,
and these fierce gusts of head winds give the
raftsmen much trouble while poling their rafts
against them.

My fears of ill treatment were now at rest, for
my tiny craft, with her sharp-pointed bow, was
well adapted for such work. Landing at the
ferry where a small scow or flat-boat was resting
upon the firm land, the ferryman, Mr. Daniel
Dunkin, would not permit me to camp out of
doors while his log-cabin was only one mile
away on the pine-covered uplands. He told me
that the boundary-line between North and South
Carolina crossed this swamp three and a half
miles below Piraway Ferry, and that the first
town on the river Waccamaw, in South Carolina,
Conwayborough, was a distance of ninety miles
by river and only thirty miles by land. There
was but one bridge over the river, from its head
to Conwayborough, and it was built by Mr.
James Wortham, twenty years before, for his
plantation. This bridge was twenty miles below
Piraway, and from it by land to a settlement on
Little River, which empties into the Atlantic,
was a distance of only five miles. A short canal
would connect this river and its lumber regions
with Little River and the sea.

For the first time in my experience as a
traveller I had entered a country where the miles
were short. When fifteen years old I made my
first journey alone and on foot from the vicinity
of Boston to the White Mountains of New
Hampshire. This boyish pedestrian trip
occupied about twenty-one days, and covered some
three hundred miles of hard tramping. New
England gives honest measure on the
finger-posts along her highways. The traveller learns
by well-earned experience the length of her
miles; but in the wilderness of the south there
is no standard of five thousand two hundred and
eighty feet to a statute mile, and the watermen
along the sea-coast are ignorant of the fact that
one-sixtieth of a degree of latitude (about six
thousand and eighty feet) is the geographical
and nautical mile of the cartographer, as well
as the "knot" of the sailor.

At Piraway Ferry no two of the raftsmen and
lumbermen, ignorant or educated, would give the
same distance, either upon the lengths of surveyed
roads or unmeasured rivers. "It is one hundred
and sixty-five miles by river from Piraway Ferry
to Conwayborough," said one who had travelled
the route for years. The most moderate estimate
made was that of ninety miles by river. The
reader, therefore, must not accuse me of
overstating distances while absent from the seaboard,
as my friends of the Coast Survey Bureau have
not yet penetrated into these interior regions with
their theodolites, plane-tables, and
telametrerods. To the canoeist, who is ambitious to score
up miles instead of collecting geographical notes,
these wild rivers afford an excellent opportunity
to satisfy his aims.

From sixty to eighty miles can be rowed in
ten hours as easily as forty miles can be gone
over upon a river of slow current in the
northern states. There is, I am sorry to say,
a class of American travellers who "do" all the
capitals of Europe in the same business-like way,
and if they have anything to say in regard to
every-day life in the countries through which
they pass, they forget to thank the compiler of
the guide-book for the information they possess.

There was but one room in the cabin of my
new acquaintance, who represented that class of
piny-woods people called in the south -- because
they subsist largely upon corn, -- Corn Crackers,
or Crackers. These Crackers are the "poor white
folks" of the planter, and "de white trash" of
the old slave, who now as a freedman is
beginning to feel the responsibility of his position.

These Crackers are a very kind-hearted people,
but few of them can read or write. The children
of the negro, filled with curiosity and a
newborn pride, whenever opportunity permits,
attend the schools in large numbers; but the very
indolent white man seems to be destitute of all
ambition, and his children, in many places in the
south, following close in the father's footsteps,
grow up in an almost unimaginable ignorance.

The news of the arrival of the little Maria
Theresa at Piraway Ferry spread with
astonishing rapidity through the woods, and on Sunday,
after "de shoutings," as the negroes call their
meetings, were over, the blacks came in
numbers to see "dat Yankee-man's paper canno."

These simple people eyed me from head to foot
with a grave sort of curiosity, their great mouths
open, displaying pearly teeth of which a white
man might well be proud. "You is a good man,
capt'n -- we knows dat," they said; and when I
asked why, the answer showed their childlike
faith. "'Cause you couldn't hab come all dis
way in a paper boat if de Lord hadn't helped
you. He dono help only good folks."

The Cracker also came with his children to
view the wonder, while the raftsmen were so
struck with the advantages of my double paddle,
which originated with the inhabitants of the
Arctic regions, that they laid it upon a board and
drew its outlines with chalk. They vowed they
would introduce it upon the river.

These Crackers declared it would take more
than "de shoutings," or any other religious
service, to improve the moral condition of
the blacks. They openly accused the colored
preachers of disturbing the nocturnal rest of
their hens and turkeys; and as to hog-stealing
and cow-killing, "Why, we won't have any
critters left ef this carpet-bag government lasts much
longer!" they feelingly exclaimed.

"We does nothing to nobody. We lets the
niggers alone; but niggers will steal -- they can't
help it, the poor devils; it's in 'em. Now, ef they
eats us out of house and home, what can a poor
man do? They puts 'em up for justices of peace,
and sends 'em to the legislature, when they can't
read more'n us; and they do say it's 'cause we
fit in the Confederate sarvice that they razes the
nigger over our heads. Now, does the folkes up
north like to see white people tyrannized over
by niggers? Jes tell 'em when you go back,
stranger, that we's got soulds like yours up
north, and we's got feelings too, by thunder! jes
like other white men. This was a white man's
country once -- now it's all niggers and dogs.
Why, them niggers in the legislature has
spitboxes lined with gold to spit in! What's this
country a-coming to? We wish the niggers no
harm if they lets our hogs and chickens alone."

After this tirade it was amusing to see how
friendly the whites and blacks were. The
Crackers conversed with these children of Ham, who
had been stealing their hams for so long a time,
in the most kindly way, realizing, perhaps, that
they had various peculiar traits of their own, and
must, after all, endure their neighbors.

A traveller should place facts before his
readers, and leave to them the drawing of the moral.
Northern men and women who go to the
southern states and reside for even the short space of
a year or two, invariably change their life-long
views and principles regarding the negro as a
moral and social creature. When these people
return to their homes in Maine or Massachusetts
(as did the representatives of the Granges of the
northern states after they had visited South
Carolina in 1875) a new light, derived from contact
with facts, dawns upon them, while their
surprised and untravelled neighbors say: "So you
have become Southern in your views. I never
would have thought that of you."

The railroad has become one of the great
mediums of enlightenment to mankind, and joins in
a social fraternity the disunited elements of a
country. God grant that the resources of the
great South may soon be developed by the
capital and free labor of the North. Our sister states
of the South, exhausted by the struggles of the
late war which resulted in consolidating more
firmly than ever the great Union, are now ready
to receive every honest effort to develop their
wealth or cultivate their territory. Let every
national patriot give up narrowness of views and
sectional selfishness and become acquainted with
(not the politicians) the people of the New
South, and a harmony of feeling will soon
possess the hearts of all true lovers of a government
of the people.

The swamp tributaries were swelling the river
into a very rapid torrent as I paddled away from
the ferry on Monday, January 18. A warmer
latitude having been reached, I could dispense
with one blanket, and this I had presented to my
kind host, who had refused to accept payment
for his hospitality. He was very proud of his
present, and said, feelingly, "No one shall touch
this but me." His good wife had baked some
of a rich and very nice variety of sweet-potatoes,
unlike those we get in New Jersey or the other
Middle States-which potatoes she kindly added
to my stores. They are not dry or mealy when
cooked, but seem saturated with honey. The
poor woman's gift now occupied the space
formerly taken up by the blanket I had given her

From this day, as latitude after latitude was
crossed on my way southward, I distributed
every article I could spare, among these poor,
kind-hearted people. Mr. McGreggor went in
his Rob Roy canoe over the rivers of Europe,
"diffusing cheerfulness and distributing
Evangelical tracts." I had no room for tracts, and if I
had followed the example of my well-
intentioned predecessor in canoeing, it would have
served the cause of truth or creed but little.
The Crackers could not read, and but few of
the grown negroes had been taught letters.
They did not want books, but tobacco. Men
and women hailed me from the banks as I glided
along in my canoe, with, "Say, captain, hab you
eny 'bacca or snuff for dis chile?" Poor
humanity! The Cracker and the freedman fill
alike their places according to the light they
possess. Do we, who have been taught from
our youth sacred things, do more than this?
Do we love our neighbor as ourself?

For twenty miles (local authority) I journeyed
down the stream, without seeing a human being
or a dwelling-place, to Stanley's house and the
bridge; from which I urged the canoe thirty-five
miles further, passing an old field on a bluff,
when darkness settled on the swamps, and a
heavy mist rose from the waters and enveloped
the forests in its folds. With not a trace of land
above water I groped about, running into what
appeared to be openings in the submerged land,
only to find my canoe tangled in thickets. It
was useless to go further, and I prepared to
ascend to the forks of a giant tree, with a light
rope, to be used for lashing my body into a safe
position, when a long, low cry engaged my

"Waugh! ho! ho! ho! peig -- peig - pe-ig -
pe-ig," came through the still; thick air. It was
not an owl, nor a catamount that cried thus; nor
was it the bark of a fox. It was the voice of a
Cracker calling in his hogs from the forest.
This sound was indeed pleasant to my ears,
for I knew the upland was near, and that a
warm fire awaited my benumbed limbs in the
cabin of this unknown man. Pushing the canoe
towards the sound, and feeling the submerged
border of the swamp with my paddle, I struck
the upland where it touched the water, and
disembarking, felt my way along a well-trodden
path to a little clearing. Here a drove of hogs
were crowding around their owner, who was
scattering kernels of corn about him as he
vociferated, "pe-ig -- pe-ig - pe-ig - pig - pig -
pig." We stood face to face, yet neither could
see the face of the other in the darkness. I told
my tale, and asked where I could find a sheltered
spot to camp.

"Stranger," slowly replied the Cracker, "my
cabin's close at hand. Come home with me.
It's a bad night for a man to lay out in; and the
niggers would steal your traps if they knew you
had anything worth taking. Come with me."

In the tall pines near at hand was a cabin of
peeled rails, the chinks between them being
stuffed with moss. A roof of cypress shingles
kept the rain out. The log chimney, which was
plastered with mud, was built outside of the
walls and against an end of the rustic-looking
structure. The wide-mouthed fireplace sent
forth a blaze of light as we entered the poor
man's home. I saw in the nicely swept floor,
the clean bed-spreads, and the general neatness
of the place, the character of Wilson Edge's

"Hog and hominy's our food here in the piny
woods," said Mr. Edge, as his wife invited us to
the little table; "and we've a few eggs now and
then to eat with sweet potatoes, but it's up-hill
work to keep the niggers from killing every fowl
and animal we have. The carpet-bag politicians
promised them every one, for his vote, forty acres
of land and a mule. They sed as how the
northern government was a-going to give it to
um; but the poor devils never got any thanks
even for their votes. They had been stuffed
with all sorts of notions by the carpet-baggers,
and I don't blame um for putting on airs and
trying to rule us. It's human natur, that's all.
We don't blame the niggers half so much as
those who puts it in their heads to do so; but it's
hard times we've had, we poor woods folks.
They took our children for the cussed war, to
fight fur niggers and rich people as owned um.

"We never could find out what all the fuss
was about; but when Jeff Davis made a law to
exempt every man from the army who owned
fifteen niggers, then our blood riz right up,
and we sez to our neighbors, 'This ere thing's
a-getting to be a rich man's quarrel and a poor
man's fight.' After all they dragged off my boy
to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and killed him
a fighting for what? Why, for rich nigger
owners. Our young men hid in the swamps,
but they were hunted up and forced into the
army. Niggers has been our ruin. Ef a white
man takes a case before a nigger justice, he
gives the nigger everything, and the white man
has to stand one side. Now, would you folks up
north like to have a nigger justice who can't
read nor count ten figgurs?"

I tried to comfort the poor man, by assuring
him that outside of the political enemies of our
peace, the masses in the north were honestly
inclined towards the south now that slavery
was at an end; and that wrong could not long
prevail, with the cheerful prospect of a new
administration, and the removal of all
unconstitutional forces that preyed upon the south.

The two beds in the single room of the cabin
were occupied by the family; while I slept upon
the floor by the fire, with my blankets for a
couch and a roll of homespun for a pillow,
which the women called "heading." They
often said, "Let me give you some heading for
your bed." We waited until eight o'clock the
next day for the mists to rise from the swamps.
My daily trouble was now upon me. How could
I remunerate a southerner for his cost of
keeping me, when not, in the true sense of the word,
an invited guest to his hospitality?

Wilson Edge sat by the fire, while his wife
and little ones were preparing to accompany me
to see the paper boat. "Mr. Edge," I
stammered, "you have treated me with great
kindness, your wife has been put to some
inconvenience as I came in so unexpected a manner, and
you will really oblige me if you will accept a
little money for all this; though money cannot
pay for your hospitality. Grant my wish, and
you will send me away with a light heart."
The poor Cracker lowered his head and slowly
ran his fingers through his coal black hair. For
a moment he seemed studying a reply, and then
he spoke as though HE represented the whole
generous heart of the south.

"Stranger," he slowly articulated,"Stranger,
I have known white men to be niggers enough
to take a stranger's money for lodgings and
vittles, but I am not that man."

We found the canoe as it had been left the
night before, and I was soon pulling down the
river. The great wilderness was traversed thirty
miles to the county town of Conwayborough,
where the negroes roared with laughter at the
working of the double paddle, as I shot past the
landing-place where cotton and naval stores
were piled, waiting to be lightered nine miles to
Pot Bluff, -- so called from the fact of a pot
being lost from a vessel near it, -- which place
is reached by vessels from New York drawing
twelve feet of water. Though still a long
distance from the ocean, I was beginning to feel its
tidal influences. At Pot Bluff, the landing and
comfortable home of its owner, Mr. Z. W.
Dusenberry, presented a pleasant relief after the
monotony of the great pine forests. This
enterprising business man made my short stay a very
pleasant one.

Wednesday, January 20th, was cold for this
latitude, and ice formed in thin sheets in the
water-pails. Twenty-two miles below Pot Bluff,
Bull Creek enters the Waccamaw from the
Peedee River. At the mouth of this connecting
watercourse is Tip Top, the first rice plantation
of the Waccamaw. The Peedee and its sister
stream run an almost parallel course from Bull
Creek to Winyah Bay, making their debouchure
close to the city of Georgetown. Steam
sawmills and rice plantations take the place of the
forests from a few miles below Tip Top to the
vicinity of Georgetown.

Mr. M. L. Blakely, of New York, one of the
largest shingle manufacturers of the south,
occupied as his headquarters the Bates Hill
Plantation, on the Peedee. This gentleman had invited
me, through the medium of the post-office, to
visit him in the rice-growing regions of South
Carolina. To reach his home I took the short
"cut-off" which Bull Creek offered, and entered
upon the strongest of head-currents. The thick
yellow, muddy torrent of the Peedee rushed
through Bull Creek with such volume, that I
wondered if it left much water on the other side
to give character to the river, as it followed its
own channel to Winyah Bay.

One and a half miles of vigorous paddling
brought me to a branch of the watercourse,
which is much narrower than the main one, and
is consequently called Little Bull Creek. This
also comes from the Peedee River, and its source
is nearer to the Bates Hill plantation than the
main Bull Creek. To urge the canoe up this
narrow stream three miles and a half to the
parent river Peedee, was a most trying ordeal.
At times the boat would not move a hundred
feet in five minutes, and often, as my strength
seemed failing me, I caught the friendly branches
of trees, and held on to keep the canoe from
being whirled down the current towards the
Waccamaw. After long and persistent efforts
had exhausted my strength, I was about to seek
for a resting-place in the swamp, when a view
of the broad Peedee opened before me, and with
vigorous strokes of the paddle the canoe slowly
approached the mighty current. A moment
more and it was within its grasp, and went flying
down the turbulent stream at the rate of ten
miles an hour.

A loud halloo greeted me from the swamp,
where a party of negro shingle-makers were at
work. They manned their boat, a long cypress
dug-out, and followed me. Their employer, who
proved to be the gentleman whose abiding-place
I was now rapidly approaching, sat in the stern.
We landed together before the old
plantation house, which had been occupied a few years
before by members of the wealthy and powerful
rice-planting aristocracy of the Peedee, but was
now the temporary home of a northern man,
who was busily employed in guiding the labors
of his four hundred freedmen in the swamps of
North and South Carolina.

The paper canoe had now entered the regions
of the rice-planter. Along the low banks of the
Peedee were diked marshes where, before the
civil war, each estate produced from five
thousand to forty thousand bushels of rice annually,
and the lords of rice were more powerful than
those of cotton, though cotton was king. The
rich lands here produced as high as fifty-five
bushels of rice to the acre, under forced slave
labor; now the free blacks cannot wrest from
nature more than twenty-five or thirty bushels.

Fine old mansions lined the river's banks, but
the families had been so reduced by the ravages
of war, that I saw refined ladies, who had been
educated in the schools of Edinburgh, Scotland,
overseeing the negroes as they worked in the
yards of the rice-mills. The undaunted spirit of
these southern ladies, as they worked in their
homes now so desolate, roused my admiration.

A light, graceful figure, enveloped in an old
shawl, and mounted on an old horse, flitted about
one plantation like a restless spirit.

"That lady's father," said a gentleman to me,
"owned three plantations, worth three millions
of dollars, before the war. There is a rice-mill
on one of the plantations which cost thirty
thousand dollars. She now fights against misfortune,
and will not give up. The Confederate war
would not have lasted six months if it had not
been for our women. They drove thousands of
us young men into the fight; and now, having
lost all, they go bravely to work, even taking the
places of their old servants in their grand old
homes. It's hard for them, though, I assure

On Tuesday, January 25th, I paddled down the
Peedee, stopping at the plantations of Dr.
Weston and Colonel Benjamin Allston. The latter
gentleman was a son of one of the governors of
South Carolina. He kindly gave me a letter of
introduction to Commodore Richard Lowndes,
who lived near the coast. From the Peedee I
passed through a cut in the marshes into the
broad Waccamaw, and descended it to Winyah

Georgetown is located between the mouths of
the Peedee and Sampit rivers. Cautiously
approaching the city, I landed at Mr. David
Risley's steam saw-mills, and that gentleman kindly
secreted my boat in a back counting-room, while
I went up town to visit the post-office. By some,
to me, unaccountable means, the people had
heard of the arrival of the paper boat, and three
elaborately dressed negro women accosted me
with, "Please show wees tree ladies de little
paper boat."

Before I had reached my destination, the
post-office, a body of men met me, on their way to
the steam-mill. The crowd forced me back to
the canoe, and asked so many questions that I
was sorely taxed to find answers for these
gentlemen. There were three editors in the crowd:
two were white men, one a negro. The young
men, who claimed the position of representatives
of the spirit of the place and of the times,
published "The Comet," while the negro, as though
influenced by a spirit of sarcasm, conducted
"The Planet." The third newspaper
represented at the canoe reception was the "
Georgetown Times," which courteously noticed the
little boat that had come so far. "The Planet"
prudently kept in the dark, and said nothing, but
"The Comet," representing the culture of the
young men of the city, published the following
notice of my arrival:

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