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“‘And who are you? said he. I replied:

“‘I am that same David Crockett, fresh from the backwoods, half horse, half alligator, a little touched with the snapping-turtle. I can wade the Mississippi, leap the Ohio, ride upon a streak of lightning, and slip without a scratch down a honey-locust. I can whip my weight in wildcats, and, if any gentleman pleases, for a ten-dollar bill he can throw in a panther. I can hug a bear too close for comfort, and eat any man opposed to General Jackson.'”

All eyes were immediately turned toward this strange man, for all had heard of him. A place was promptly made for him at the fire. He was afterward asked if this wondrous outburst of slang was entirely unpremeditated. He said that it was; that it had all popped into his head at once; and that he should never have thought of it again, had not the story gone the round of the newspapers.

“I came on to Washington,” he says, “and drawed two hundred and fifty dollars, and purchased with it a check on the bank in Nashville, and enclosed it to my friend. And I may say, in truth, I sent this money with a mighty good will, for I reckon nobody in this world loves a friend better than me, or remembers a kindness longer.”

Soon after his arrival at Washington he was invited to dine with President Adams, a man of the highest culture, whose manners had been formed in the courts of Europe. Crockett, totally unacquainted with the usages of society, did not know what the note of invitation meant, and inquired of a friend, the Hon. Mr. Verplanck. He says:

“I was wild from the backwoods, and didn’t know nothing about eating dinner with the big folks of our country. And how should I, having been a hunter all my life? I had eat most of my dinners on a log in the woods, and sometimes no dinner at all. I knew, whether I ate dinner with the President or not was a matter of no importance, for my constituents were not to be benefited by it. I did not go to court the President, for I was opposed to him in principle, and had no favors to ask at his hands. I was afraid, however, I should be awkward, as I was so entirely a stranger to fashion; and in going along, I resolved to observe the conduct of my friend Mr. Verplanck, and to do as he did. And I know that I did behave myself right well.”

Some cruel wag wrote the following ludicrous account of this dinner-party, which went the round of all the papers as veritable history. The writer pretended to quote Crockett’s own account of the dinner.

“The first thing I did,” said Davy, “after I got to Washington, was to go to the President’s. I stepped into the President’s house. Thinks I, who’s afeard. If I didn’t, I wish I may be shot. Says I, ‘Mr. Adams, I am Mr. Crockett, from Tennessee.’ So, says he, ‘How d’ye do, Mr. Crockett?’ And he shook me by the hand, although he know’d I went the whole hog for Jackson. If he didn’t, I wish I may be shot.

“Not only that, but he sent me a printed ticket to dine with him. I’ve got it in my pocket yet. I went to dinner, and I walked all around the long table, looking for something that I liked. At last I took my seat beside a fat goose, and I helped myself to as much of it as I wanted. But I hadn’t took three bites, when I looked away up the table at a man they called Tash (attache’). He was talking French to a woman on t’other side of the table. He dodged his head and she dodged hers, and then they got to drinking wine across the table.

“But when I looked back again my plate was gone, goose and all. So I jist cast my eyes down to t’other end of the table, and sure enough I seed a white man walking off with my plate. I says, ‘Hello, mister, bring back my plate.’ He fetched it back in a hurry, as you may think. And when he set it down before me, how do you think it was? Licked as clean as my hand. If it wasn’t, I wish I may be shot!

“Says he, ‘What will you have, sir?’ And says I, ‘You may well say that, after stealing my goose.’ And he began to laugh. Then says I, ‘Mister, laugh if you please; but I don’t half-like sich tricks upon travellers.’ I then filled my plate with bacon and greens. And whenever I looked up or down the table, I held on to my plate with my left hand.

“When we were all done eating, they cleared everything off the table, and took away the table-cloth. And what do you think? There was another cloth under it. If there wasn’t, I wish I may be shot! Then I saw a man coming along carrying a great glass thing, with a glass handle below, something like a candlestick. It was stuck full of little glass cups, with something in them that looked good to eat. Says I, ‘Mister, bring that thing here.’ Thinks I, let’s taste them first. They were mighty sweet and good, so I took six of them. If I didn’t, I wish I may be shot!”

This humorous fabrication was copied into almost every paper in the Union. The more respectable portion of Crockett’s constituents were so annoyed that their representative should be thus held up to the contempt of the nation, that Crockett felt constrained to present a reliable refutation of the story. He therefore obtained and published certificates from three gentlemen, testifying to his good behavior at the table. Hon. Mr. Verplanck, of New York, testified as follows:

“I dined at the President’s, at the time alluded to, in company with you, and I had, I recollect, a good deal of conversation with you. Your behavior there was, I thought, perfectly becoming and proper. And I do not recollect, or believe, that you said or did anything resembling the newspaper-account.”

Two other members of Congress were equally explicit in their testimony.

During Crockett’s first two sessions in Congress he got along very smoothly, cooperating generally with what was called the Jackson party. In 1829 he was again reelected by an overwhelming majority. On the 4th of March of this year, Andrew Jackson was inaugurated President of the United States. It may be doubted whether there ever was a more honest, conscientious man in Congress than David Crockett. His celebrated motto, “Be sure that you are right, and then go ahead,” seemed ever to animate him. He could neither be menaced or bribed to support any measure which he thought to be wrong. Ere long he found it necessary to oppose some of Jackson’s measures. We will let him tell the story in his own truthful words:

“Soon after the commencement of this second term, I saw, or thought I did, that it was expected of me that I would bow to the name of Andrew Jackson, and follow him in all his motions, and windings, and turnings, even at the expense of my conscience and judgment. Such a thing was new to me, and a total stranger to my principles. I know’d well enough, though, that if I didn’t ‘hurrah’ for his name, the hue and cry was to be raised against me, and I was to be sacrificed, if possible. His famous, or rather I should say his infamous Indian bill was brought forward, and I opposed it from the purest motives in the world. Several of my colleagues got around me, and told me how well they loved me, and that I was ruining myself. They said this was a favorite measure of the President, and I ought to go for it. I told them I believed it was a wicked, unjust measure, and that I should go against it, let the cost to myself be what it might; that I was willing to go with General Jackson in everything that I believed was honest and right; but, further than this, I wouldn’t go for him or any other man in the whole creation.

“I had been elected by a majority of three thousand five hundred and eighty-five votes, and I believed they were honest men, and wouldn’t want me to vote for any unjust notion, to please Jackson or any one else; at any rate, I was of age, and determined to trust them. I voted against this Indian bill, and my conscience yet tells me that I gave a good, honest vote, and one that I believe will not make me ashamed in the day of judgment. I served out my term, and though many amusing, things happened, I am not disposed to swell my narrative by inserting them.

“When it closed, and I returned home, I found the storm had raised against me sure enough; and it was echoed from side to side, and from end to end of my district, that I had turned against Jackson. This was considered the unpardonable sin. I was hunted down like a wild varment, and in this hunt every little newspaper in the district, and every little pinhook lawyer was engaged. Indeed, they were ready to print anything and everything that the ingenuity of man could invent against me.”

In consequence of this opposition, Crockett lost his next election, and yet by a majority of but seventy votes. For two years he remained at home hunting bears. But having once tasted the pleasures of political life, and the excitements of Washington, his silent rambles in the woods had lost much of their ancient charms. He was again a candidate at the ensuing election, and, after a very warm contest gained the day by a majority of two hundred and two votes.

CHAPTER X.

Crockett’s Tour to the North and the East.

His Reelection to Congress.–The Northern Tour.–First Sight of a Railroad.–Reception in Philadelphia.–His First Speech.–Arrival in New York.–The Ovation there.–Visit to Boston.–Cambridge and Lowell.–Specimens of his Speeches.–Expansion of his Ideas.–Rapid Improvement.

Colonel Crockett, having been reelected again repaired to Washington. During the session, to complete his education, and the better to prepare himself as a legislator for the whole nation, he decided to take a short trip to the North and the East. His health had also begun to fail, and his physicians advised him to go. He was thoroughly acquainted with the Great West. With his rifle upon his shoulder, in the Creek War, he had made wide explorations through the South. But the North and the East were regions as yet unknown to him.

On the 25th of April, 1834, he left Washington for this Northern tour. He reached Baltimore that evening, where he was invited to a supper by some of the leading gentlemen. He writes:

“Early next morning. I started for Philadelphia, a place where I had never been. I sort of felt lonesome as I went down to the steamboat. The idea of going among a new people, where there are tens of thousands who would pass me by without knowing or caring who I was, who are all taken up with their own pleasures or their own business, made me feel small; and, indeed, if any one who reads this book has a grand idea of his own importance, let him go to a big city, and he will find that he is not higher valued than a coonskin.

“The steamboat was the Carroll of Carrollton, a fine craft, with the rum old Commodore Chaytor for head man. A good fellow he is–all sorts of a man–bowing and scraping to the ladies, nodding to the gentlemen, cursing the crew, and his right eye broad-cast upon the ‘opposition line,’ all at the same time. ‘Let go!’ said the old one, and off we walked in prime style.

“Our passage down Chesapeake Bay was very pleasant. In a very short run we came to a place where we were to get on board the rail-cars. This was a clean new sight to me. About a dozen big stages hung on to one machine. After a good deal of fuss we all got seated and moved slowly off; the engine wheezing as though she had the tizzic. By-and-by, she began to take short breaths, and away we went, with a blue streak after us. The whole distance is seventeen miles. It was run in fifty-five minutes.

“At Delaware City, I again embarked on board of a splendid steamboat. When dinner was ready, I set down with the rest of the passengers. Among them was Rev. O. B. Brown, of the Post-Office Department, who sat near me. During dinner he ordered a bottle of wine, and called upon me for a toast. Not knowing whether he intended to compliment me, or abash me among so many strangers, or have some fun at my expense, I concluded to go ahead, and give him and his like a blizzard. So our glasses being filled, the word went round, ‘A toast from Colonel Crockett.’ I give it as follows: ‘Here’s wishing the bones of tyrant kings may answer in hell, in place of gridirons, to roast the souls of Tories on.’ At this the parson appeared as if he was stumpt. I said, ‘Never heed; it was meant for where it belonged.’ He did not repeat his invitation, and I eat my dinner quietly.

“After dinner I went up on the deck, and saw the captain hoisting three flags. Says I, ‘What does that mean?’ He replied, that he was under promise to the citizens of Philadelphia, if I was on board, to hoist his flags, as a friend of mine had said he expected I would be along soon.

“We went on till we came in sight of the city and as we advanced towards the wharf, I saw the whole face of the earth covered with people, all anxiously looking on towards the boat. The captain and myself were standing on the bow-deck; he pointed his finger at me, and people slung their hats, and huzzaed for Colonel Crockett. It struck me with astonishment to hear a strange people huzzaing for me, and made me feel sort of queer. It took me so uncommon unexpected, as I had no idea of attracting attention. But I had to meet it, and so I stepped on to the wharf, where the folks came crowding around me, saying, ‘Give me the hand of an honest man.’ I did not know what all this meant: but some gentleman took hold of me, and pressing through the crowd, put me into an elegant barouche, drawn by four fine horses; they then told me to bow to the people: I did so, and with much difficulty we moved off. The streets were crowded to a great distance, and the windows full of people, looking out, I suppose, to see the wild man. I thought I had rather be in the wilderness with my gun and dogs, than to be attracting all that fuss. I had never seen the like before, and did not know exactly what to say or do. After some time we reached the United States Hotel, in Chesnut Street.”

‘ The crowd had followed me filling up the street, and pressing into the house to shake hands. I was conducted up stairs, and walked out on a platform, drew off my hat, and bowed round to the people. They cried out from all quarters, ‘A speech, a speech, Colonel Crockett.’

“After the noise had quit, so I could be heard, I said to them the following words:

“‘GENTLEMEN OF PHILADELPHIA:

“‘My visit to your city is rather accidental. I had no expectation of attracting any uncommon attention. I am travelling for my health, without the least wish of exciting the people in such times of high political feeling. I do not wish to encourage it. I am unable at this time to find language suitable to return my gratitude to the citizens of Philadelphia. However, I am almost induced to believe it flattery–perhaps a burlesque. This is new to me, yet I see nothing but friendship in your faces; and if your curiosity is to hear the backwoodsman, I will assure you I am illy prepared to address this most enlightened people. However, gentlemen, if this is a curiosity to you, if you will meet me to-morrow, at one o’clock, I will endeavor to address you, in my plain manner.’

“So I made my obeisance to them, and retired into the house.”

It is true that there was much of mere curiosity in the desire to see Colonel Crockett. He was a strange and an incomprehensible man. His manly, honest course in Congress had secured much respect. But such developments of character as were shown in his rude and vulgar toast, before a party of gentlemen and ladies, excited astonishment. His notoriety preceded him, wherever he went; and all were alike curious to see so strange a specimen of a man.

The next morning, several gentlemen called upon him, and took him in a carriage to see the various objects of interest in the city. The gentlemen made him a present of a rich seal, representing two horses at full speed, with the words, “Go Ahead.” The young men also made him a present of a truly magnificent rifle. From Philadelphia he went to New York. The shipping astonished him. “They beat me all hollow,” he says, “and looked for all the world like a big clearing in the West, with the dead trees all standing.”

There was a great crowd upon the wharf to greet him. And when the captain of the boat led him conspicuously forward, and pointed him out to the multitude, the cheering was tremendous. A committee conducted him to the American Hotel, and treated him with the greatest distinction. Again he was feted, and loaded with the greatest attentions. He was invited to a very splendid supper, got up in his honor, at which there were a hundred guests. The Hon. Judge Clayton, of Georgia, was present, and make a speech which, as Crockett says, fairly made the tumblers hop.

Crockett was then called up, as the “undeviating supporter of the Constitution and the laws.” In response to this toast, he says,

“I made a short speech, and concluded with the story of the red cow, which was, that as long as General Jackson went straight, I followed him; but when he began to go this way, and that way, and every way, I wouldn’t go after him; like the boy whose master ordered him to plough across the field to the red cow. Well, he began to plough, and she began to walk; and he ploughed all forenoon after her. So when the master came, he swore at him for going so crooked. ‘Why, sir,’ said the boy, ‘you told me to plough to the red cow, and I kept after her, but she always kept moving.'”

His trip to New York was concluded by his visiting Jersey City to witness a shooting-match with rifles. He was invited to try his hand. Standing, at the distance of one hundred and twenty feet, he fired twice, striking very near the centre of the mark. Some one then put up a quarter of a dollar in the midst of a black spot, and requested him to shoot at it. The bullet struck the coin, and as Crockett says made slight-of-hand work with it.

From New York he went to Boston. There, an the opponent of some of President Jackson’s measures which were most offensive to the New England people, he was feted with extraordinary enthusiasm. He dined and supped, made speeches, which generally consisted of but one short anecdote, and visited nearly all the public institutions.

Just before this, Andrew Jackson had received from Harvard University the honorary title of LL.D. Jackson was no longer a favorite of Crockett. The new distinguished guest, the renowned bear-hunter, was in his turn invited to visit Harvard. He writes:

“There were some gentlemen that invited me to go to Cambridge, where the big college or university is, where they keep ready-made titles or nick-names to give people. I would not go, for I did not know but they might stick an LL.D. on me before they let me go; and I had no idea of changing ‘Member of the House of Representatives of the United States,’ for what stands for ‘lazy, lounging dunce,’ which I am sure my constituents would have translated my new title to be. Knowing that I had never taken any degree, and did not own to any–except a small degree of good sense not to pass for what I was not–I would not go it. There had been one doctor made from Tennessee already, and I had no wish to put on the cap and bells.

“I told them that I did not go to this branding school; I did not want to be tarred with the same stick; one dignitary was enough from Tennessee; that as far as my learning went, I would stand over it, and spell a strive or two with any of them, from a-b-ab to crucifix, which was where I left off at school.”

A gentleman, at a dinner-party, very earnestly invited Crockett to visit him. He returned the compliment by saying:

“If you ever come to my part of the country, I hope you will call and see me.”

“And how shall I find where you live?” the gentleman inquired.

“Why, sir,” Crockett answered, “run down the Mississippi till you come to the Oberon River. Run a small streak up that; jump ashore anywhere, and inquire for me.”

From Boston, he went to Lowell. The hospitality he had enjoyed in Boston won his warmest commendation. At Lowell, he was quite charmed by the aspect of wealth, industry, and comfort which met his eye. Upon his return to Boston, he spent the evening, with several gentlemen and ladies at the pleasant residence of Lieutenant-Governor Armstrong. In reference to this visit, he writes:

“This was my last night in Boston, and I am sure, if I never see the place again, I never can forget the kind and friendly manner in which I was treated by them. It appeared to me that everybody was anxious to serve me, and make my time agreeable. And as a proof that comes home–when I called for my bill next morning, I was told there was no charge to be paid by me, and that he was very much delighted that I had made his house my home. I forgot to mention that they treated me so in Lowell–but it is true. This was, to me, at all events, proof enough of Yankee liberality; and more than they generally get credit for. In fact, from the time I entered New England, I was treated with the greatest friendship; and, I hope, never shall forget it; and I wish all who read this book, and who never were there, would take a trip among them. If they don’t learn how to make money, they will know how to use it; and if they don’t learn industry, they will see how comfortable everybody can be that turns his hands to some employment.”

Crockett was not a mere joker. He was an honest man, and an earnest man; and under the tuition of Congress had formed some very decided political principles, which he vigorously enforced with his rude eloquence.

When he first went to Congress he was merely a big boy, of very strong mind, but totally uninformed, and uncultivated. He very rapidly improved under the tuition of Congress; and in some degree awoke to the consciousness of his great intellectual imperfections. Still he was never diffident. He closed one of his off-hand after-dinner speeches in Boston, by saying:

“Gentlemen of Boston, I come here as a private citizen, to see you, and not to show myself. I had no idea of attracting attention. But I feel it my duty to thank you, with my gratitude to you, and with a gratitude to all who have given a plain man, like me, so kind a reception. I come from a great way off. But I shall never repent of having been persuaded to come here, and get a knowledge of your ways, which I can carry home with me. We only want to do away prejudice and give the people information.

“I hope, gentlemen, you will excuse my plain, unvarnished ways, which may seem strange to you here. I never had but six months’ schooling in all my life. And I confess, I consider myself a poor tyke to be here addressing the most intelligent people in the world. But I think it the duty of every representative of the people, when he is called upon, to give his opinions. And I have tried to give you a little touch of mine.”

Every reader will be interested in the perusal of the following serious speech, which he made in Boston. It is a fair specimen of his best efforts, and will give one a very correct idea of his trains of thought, and modes of expression. It also clearly shows the great questions which agitated the country at that time. It can easily be perceived that, as a stump orator in the far West, Crockett might have exercised very considerable power. This phase of his peculiar character is as worthy of consideration as any other.

“GENTLEMEN:

“By the entire friendship of the citizens of Boston, as well as the particular friendship with which you have received me this evening, I have been brought to reflect on times that have gone by, and review a prejudice that has grown up with me, as well as thousands of my Western and Southern friends. We have always been taught to look upon the people of New England as a selfish, cunning set of fellows, that was fed on fox-ears and thistle-tops; that cut their wisdom-teeth as soon as they were born; that made money by their wits, and held on to it by nature; that called cheatery mother-wit; that hung on to political power because they had numbers; that raised up manufactures to keep down the South and West; and, in fact, had so much of the devil in all their machinery, that they would neither lead nor drive, unless the load was going into their own cribs. But I assure you, gentlemen, I begin to think different of you, and I think I see a good many good reasons for so doing.

“I don’t mean that because I eat your bread and drink your liquor, that I feel so. No; that don’t make me see clearer than I did. It is your habits, and manners, and customs; your industry; your proud, independent spirits; your hanging on to the eternal principles of right and wrong; your liberality in prosperity, and your patience when you are ground down by legislation, which, instead of crushing you, whets your invention to strike a path without a blaze on a tree to guide you; and above all, your never-dying, deathless grip to our glorious Constitution. These are the things that make me think that you are a mighty good people.”

Here the speaker was interrupted by great applause.

“Gentlemen, I believe I have spoke the truth, and not flattery; I ain’t used to oily words; I am used to speak what I think, of men, and to men. I am, perhaps, more of a come-by-chance than any of you ever saw; I have made my way to the place I now fill, without wealth, and against education; I was raised from obscurity, and placed in the high councils of the nation, by the kindness and liberality of the good people of my district–a people whom I will never be unfaithful to, here or elsewhere; I love them, and they have honored me; and according as God has given me judgment, I’ll use it for them, come of me what may.

“These people once passed sentence upon me of a two years’ stay-at-home, for exercising that which I contend belongs to every freeman in this nation: that was, for differing in opinion with the chief magistrate of this nation. I was well acquainted with him. He was but a man; and, if I was not before, my constituents had made a man of me. I had marched and counter-marched with him: I had stood by him in the wars, and fought under his flag at the polls: I helped to heap the measure of glory that has crushed and smashed everything that has come in contact with it: I helped to give him the name of ‘Hero,’ which, like the lightning from heaven, has scorched and blasted everything that stood in its way–a name which, like the prairie fire, you have to burn against, or you are gone–a name which ought to be the first in war, and the last in peace–a name which, like ‘Jack-o’-the lantern, blinds your eyes while you follow it through mud and mire.

“Gentlemen, I never opposed Andrew Jackson for the sake of popularity. I knew it was a hard row to hoe; but I stood up to the rack, considering it a duty I owed to the country that governed me. I had reviewed the course of other Presidents, and came to the conclusion that he did not of right possess any more power than those that had gone before him. When he transcended that power, I put down my foot. I knew his popularity; that he had come into place with the largest majority of any one that had gone before him, who had opposition: but still, I did not consider this as giving him the right to do as he pleased, and construe our Constitution to meet his own views.

“We had lived the happiest people under the sun for fifty years, governed by the Constitution and laws, on well-established constructions: and when I saw the Government administered on new principles, I objected, and was politically sacrificed: I persisted in my sins, having a clear conscience, that before God and my country, I had done my duty.

“My constituents began to look at both sides; and finally, at the end of two years, approving of my course, they sent me back to Congress–a circumstance which was truly gratifying to me.

“Gentlemen, I opposed Andrew Jackson in his famous Indian bill, where five hundred thousand dollars were voted for expenses, no part of which has yet been accounted for, as I have seen. I thought it extravagant as well as impolitic. I thought the rights reserved to the Indians were about to be frittered away; and events prove that I thought correct.

“I had considered a treaty as the sovereign law of the land; but now saw it considered as a matter of expedience, or not, as it pleased the powers that be. Georgia bid defiance to the treaty-making power, and set at nought the Intercourse Act of 1802; she trampled it under foot; she nullified it: and for this, she received the smiles and approbation of Andrew Jackson. And this induced South Carolina to nullify the Tariff. She had a right to expect that the President was favorable to the principle: but he took up the rod of correction, and shook it over South Carolina, and said at the same time to Georgia, ‘You may nullify, but South Carolina shall not.’

“This was like his consistency in many other matters. When he was a Senator in Congress, he was a friend to internal improvements, and voted for them. Everything then that could cement the States together, by giving them access the one to the other, was right. When he got into power, some of his friends had hard work to dodge, and follow, and shout. I called off my dogs, and quit the hunt. Yes, gentlemen, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, and Tennessee, and other States, voted for him, as a supporter of internal improvements.

“Was he not a Tariff man? Who dare deny it! When did we first hear of his opposition? Certainly not in his expression that he was in favor of a judicious tariff. That was supposed to be a clincher, even in New England, until after power lifted him above the opposition of the supporters of a tariff.

“He was for putting down the monster ‘party,’ and being the President of the people. Well, in one sense, this he tried to do: he put down every one he could who was opposed to him, either by reward or punishment; and could all have come into his notions, and bowed the knee to his image, I suppose it might have done very well, so far as he was concerned. Whether it would have been a fair reading of his famous letter to Mr. Monroe, is rather questionable. “He was to reform the Government. Now, if reformation consists in turning out and putting in, he did it with a vengeance.

“He was, last of all, to retrench the expenditures. Well, in time, I have no doubt, this must be done; but it will not consist in the abolishing useless expenditures of former Administrations. No, gentlemen; the spoils belonged to the victor; and it would never do to lessen the teats when the litter was doubled. The treasury trough had to be extended, and the pap thickened; kin were to be provided for; and if all things keep on as they are, his own extravagances will have to be retrenched, or you will get your tariff up again as high as you please.

“I recollect a boy once, who was told to turn the pigs out of the corn-field. Well, he made a great noise, hallooing and calling the dogs–and came back. By-and-by his master said, ‘Jim, you rascal! you didn’t turn out the pigs.’ ‘Sir,’ said he, ‘I called the dogs, and set them a-barking.’

“So it was with that big Retrenchment Report, in 1828. Major Hamilton got Chilton’s place as chairman–and called the dogs. Ingham worked honestly, like a beaver; Wickliff was as keen as a cutworm: all of them worked hard; and they did really, I suppose, convince themselves that they had found out a great deal of iniquity; or, what was more desirable, convinced the people that Andrew Jackson and his boys were the only fellows to mend shoes for nothing, and find their own candles. Everett and Sargeant, who made the minority report, were scouted at. What has come of all this? Nothing–worse than nothing. Jackson used these very men like dogs: they knew too much, and must be got rid off, or they would stop his profligacy too. They were greased and swallowed: and he gave them up to the torments of an anti-Jackson conscience.

“Yes, gentlemen, as long as you think with him, very well; but if not–clear out; make way for some fellow who has saved his wind; and because he has just begun to huzza, has more wind to spare. General Jackson has turned out more men for opinion’s sake, than all other Presidents put together, five times over: and the broom sweeps so low that it reaches the humblest officer who happens to have a mean neighbor to retail any little story which he may pick up.

“I voted for Andrew Jackson because I believed he possessed certain principles, and not because his name was Andrew Jackson, or the Hero, or Old Hickory. And when he left those principles which induced me to support him, I considered myself justified in opposing him. This thing of man-worship I am a stranger to; I don’t like it; it taints every action of life; it is like a skunk getting into a house–long after he has cleared out, you smell him in every room and closet, from the cellar to the garret.

“I know nothing, by experience, of party discipline. I would rather be a raccoon-dog, and belong to a negro in the forest, than to belong to any party, further than to do justice to all, and to promote the interests of my country. The time will and must come, when honesty will receive its reward, and when the people of this nation will be brought to a sense of their duty, and will pause and reflect how much it cost us to redeem ourselves from the government of one man. It cost the lives and fortunes of thousands of the best patriots that ever lived. Yes, gentlemen, hundreds of them fell in sight of your own city.

“I this day walked over the great battle-ground of Bunker’s Hill, and thought whether it was possible that it was moistened with the sacred blood of our heroes in vain, and that we should forget what they fought for.

“I hope to see our once happy country restored to its former peace and happiness, and once more redeemed from tyranny and despotism, which, I fear, we are on the very brink of. We see the whole country in commotion: and for what? Because, gentlemen, the true friends of liberty see the laws and Constitution blotted out from the heads and hearts of the people’s leaders: and their requests for relief are treated with scorn and contempt. They meet the same fate that they did before King George and his parliament. It has been decided by a majority of Congress, that Andrew Jackson shall be the Government, and that his will shall be the law of the land. He takes the responsibility, and vetoes any bill that does not meet his approbation. He takes the responsibility, and seizes the treasury, and removes it from where the laws had placed it; and now, holding purse and sword, has bid defiance to Congress and to the nation. 1

“Gentlemen, if it is for opposing those high-handed measures that you compliment me, I say I have done so, and will do so, now and forever. I will be no man’s man, and no party’s man, other than to be the people’s faithful representative: and I am delighted to see the noble spirit of liberty retained so boldly here, where the first spark was kindled; and I hope to see it shine and spread over our whole country.

“Gentlemen, I have detained you much longer than I intended: allow me to conclude by thanking you for your attention and kindness to the stranger from the far West.”

The following extract also shows the candor of his mind, his anxiety to learn, and the progress his mind was making in the science of political economy:

“I come to your country to get a knowledge of things, which I could get in no other way but by seeing with my own eyes, and hearing with my awful ears–information I can’t get, and nobody else, from book knowledge. I come, fellow-citizens, to get a knowledge of the manufacturing interest of New England. I was over-persuaded to come by a gentleman who had been to Lowell and seen the manufactories of your State–by General Thomas, of Louisiana. He persuaded me to come and see.

“When I was first chose to Congress, I was opposed to the protecting system. They told me it would help the rich, and hurt the poor; and that we in the West was to be taxed by it for the benefit of New England. I supposed it was so; but when I come to hear it argued in the Congress of the nation, I begun to have a different opinion of it. I saw I was opposing the best interest of the country: especially for the industrious poor man. I told my people who sent me to Congress, that I should oppose it no longer: that without it, we should be obliged to pay a tax to the British Government, and support them, instead of our own labor. And I am satisfied of it the more since I have visited New England. Only let the Southern gentlemen come here and examine the manufactories, and see how it is, and it would make more peace than all the legislation in Congress can do. It would give different ideas to them who have been deluded, and spoke in strong terms of dissolving the Union.”

Crockett returned to Washington just in time to be present at the closing scenes, and then set out for home. So much had been said of him in the public journals, of his speeches and his peculiarities, that his renown now filled the land.

CHAPTER XI.

The Disappointed Politician.–Off for Texas.

Triumphal Return.–Home Charms Vanish.–Loses His Election.–Bitter Disappointment.–Crockett’s Poetry.–Sets out for Texas.–Incidents of the Journey.–Reception at Little Rock.–The Shooting Match.–Meeting a Clergyman.–The Juggler.–Crockett a Reformer.–The Bee Hunter.–The Rough Strangers.–Scene on the Prairie.

Crockett’s return to his home was a signal triumph all the way. At Baltimore, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, crowds gathered to greet him. He was feasted, received presents, was complimented, and was incessantly called upon for a speech. He was an earnest student as he journeyed along. A new world of wonders were opening before him. Thoughts which he never before had dreamed of were rushing into his mind. His eyes were ever watchful to see all that was worthy of note. His ear was ever listening for every new idea. He scarcely ever looked at the printed page, but perused with the utmost diligence the book of nature. His comments upon what he saw indicate much sagacity.

At Cincinnatti and Louisville, immense crowds assembled to hear him. In both places he spoke quite at length. And all who heard him were surprised at the power he displayed. Though his speech was rude and unpolished, the clearness of his views, and the intelligence he manifested, caused the journals generally to speak of him in quite a different strain from that which they had been accustomed to use. Probably never did a man make so much intellectual progress, in the course of a few months, as David Crockett had made in that time. His wonderful memory of names, dates, facts, all the intricacies of statistics, was such, that almost any statesman might be instructed by his addresses, and not many men could safely encounter him in argument. The views he presented upon the subject of the Constitution, finance, internal improvements, etc., were very surprising, when one considers the limited education he had enjoyed. At the close of these agitating scenes he touchingly writes:

“In a short time I set out for my own home; yes, my own home, my own soil, my humble dwelling, my own family, my own hearts, my ocean of love and affection, which neither circumstances nor time can dry up. Here, like the wearied bird, let me settle down for a while, and shut out the world.”

But hunting bears had lost its charms for Crockett. He had been so flattered that it is probable that he fully expected to be chosen President of the United States. There were two great parties then dividing the country, the Democrats and the Whigs. The great object of each was to find an available candidate, no matter how unfit for the office. The leaders wished to elect a President who would be, like the Queen of England, merely the ornamental figure-head of the ship of state, while their energies should propel and guide the majestic fabric. For a time some few thought it possible that in the popularity of the great bear-hunter such a candidate might be found.

Crockett, upon his return home, resumed his deerskin leggins, his fringed hunting-shirt, his fox-skin cap, and shouldering his rifle, plunged, as he thought, with his original zest, into the cheerless, tangled, marshy forest which surrounded him. But the excitements of Washington, the splendid entertainments of Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, the flattery, the speech-making, which to him, with his marvellous memory and his wonderful fluency of speech, was as easy as breathing, the applause showered upon him, and the gorgeous vision of the Presidency looming up before him, engrossed his mind. He sauntered listlessly through the forest, his bear-hunting energies all paralyzed. He soon grew very weary of home and of all its employments, and was eager to return to the infinitely higher excitements of political life.

General Jackson was then almost idolized by his party. All through the South and West his name was a tower of strength. Crockett had originally been elected as a Jackson-man. He had abandoned the Administration, and was now one of the most inveterate opponents of Jackson. The majority in Crockett’s district were in favor of Jackson. The time came for a new election of a representative. Crockett made every effort, in his old style, to secure the vote. He appeared at the gatherings in his garb as a bear-hunter, with his rifle on his shoulder. He brought ‘coonskins to buy whiskey to treat his friends. A ‘coonskin in the currency of that country was considered the equivalent for twenty-five cents. He made funny speeches. But it was all in vain.

Greatly to his surprise, and still more to his chagrin, he lost his election. He was beaten by two hundred and thirty votes. The whole powerful influence of the Government was exerted against Crockett and in favor of his competitor. It is said that large bribes were paid for votes. Crockett wrote, in a strain which reveals the bitterness of his disappointment:

“I am gratified that I have spoken the truth to the people of my district, regardless of the consequences. I would not be compelled to bow down to the idol for a seat in Congress during life. I have never known what it was to sacrifice my own judgment to gratify any party; and I have no doubt of the time being close at hand when I shall be rewarded for letting my tongue speak what my heart thinks. I have suffered myself to be politically sacrificed to save my country from ruin and disgrace; and if I am never again elected, I will have the gratification to know that I have done my duty. I may add, in the words of the man in the play, ‘Crockett’s occupation’s gone.'”

Two weeks after this he writes, “I confess the thorn still rankles, not so much on my own account as the nation’s. As my country no longer requires my services, I have made up my mind to go to Texas. My life has been one of danger, toil, and privation. But these difficulties I had to encounter at a time when I considered it nothing more than right good sport to surmount them. But now I start upon my own hook, and God only grant that it may be strong enough to support the weight that may be hung upon it. I have a new row to hoe, a long and rough one; but come what will, I will go ahead.”

Just before leaving for Texas, he attended a political meeting of his constituents. The following extract from his autobiography will give the reader a very vivid idea of his feelings at the time, and of the very peculiar character which circumstances had developed in him:

“A few days ago I went to a meeting of my constituents. My appetite for politics was at one time just about as sharp set as a saw-mill, but late events have given me something of a surfeit, more than I could well digest; still, habit, they say, is second natur, and so I went, and gave them a piece of my mind touching ‘the Government’ and the succession, by way of a codicil to what I have often said before.

“I told them, moreover, of my services, pretty straight up and down, for a man may be allowed to speak on such subjects when others are about to forget them; and I also told them of the manner in which I had been knocked down and dragged out, and that I did not consider it a fair fight anyhow they could fix it. I put the ingredients in the cup pretty strong I tell you, and I concluded my speech by telling them that I was done with politics for the present, and that they might all go to hell, and I would go to Texas.

“When I returned home I felt a sort of cast down at the change that had taken place in my fortunes, and sorrow, it is said, will make even an oyster feel poetical. I never tried my hand at that sort of writing but on this particular occasion such was my state of feeling, that I began to fancy myself inspired; so I took pen in hand, and as usual I went ahead. When I had got fairly through, my poetry looked as zigzag as a worm-fence; the lines wouldn’t tally no how; so I showed them to Peleg Longfellow, who has a first-rate reputation with us for that sort of writing, having some years ago made a carrier’s address for the Nashville Banner; and Peleg lopped of some lines, and stretched out others; but I wish I may be shot if I don’t rather think he has made it worse than it was when I placed it in his hands. It being my first, and, no doubt, last piece of poetry, I will print it in this place, as it will serve to express my feelings on leaving my home, my neighbors, and friends and country, for a strange land, as fully as I could in plain prose.

“Farewell to the mountains whose mazes to me Were more beautiful far than Eden could be; No fruit was forbidden, but Nature had spread Her bountiful board, and her children were fed. The hills were our garners–our herds wildly grew And Nature was shepherd and husbandman too. I felt like a monarch, yet thought like a man, As I thanked the Great Giver, and worshipped his plan.

“The home I forsake where my offspring arose; The graves I forsake where my children repose. The home I redeemed from the savage and wild; The home I have loved as a father his child; The corn that I planted, the fields that I cleared, The flocks that I raised, and the cabin I reared; The wife of my bosom–Farewell to ye all! In the land of the stranger I rise or I fall.

“Farewell to my country! I fought for thee well, When the savage rushed forth like the demons from hell In peace or in war I have stood by thy side– My country, for thee I have lived, would have died! But I am cast off, my career now is run, And I wander abroad like the prodigal son– Where the wild savage roves, and the broad prairies spread, The fallen–despised–will again go ahead.”

A party of American adventurers, then called filibusters, had gone into Texas, in the endeavor to wrest that immense and beautiful territory, larger than the whole Empire of France, from feeble, distracted, miserable Mexico, to which it belonged. These filibusters were generally the most worthless and desperate vagabonds to be found in all the Southern States. Many Southern gentlemen of wealth and ability, but strong advocates of slavery, were in cordial sympathy with this movement, and aided it with their purses, and in many other ways. It was thought that if Texas could be wrested from Mexico and annexed to the United States, it might be divided into several slaveholding States, and thus check the rapidly increasing preponderance of the free States of the North.

To join in this enterprise, Crockett now left his home, his wife, his children. There could be no doubt of the eventual success of the undertaking. And in that success Crockett saw visions of political glory opening before him. I determined, he said, “to quit the States until such time as honest and independent men should again work their way to the head of the heap. And as I should probably have some idle time on hand before that state of affairs would be brought about, I promised to give the Texans a helping hand on the high road to freedom.”

He dressed himself in a new deerskin hunting-shirt, put on a foxskin cap with the tail hanging behind, shouldered his famous rifle, and cruelly leaving in the dreary cabin his wife and children whom he cherished with an “ocean of love and affection,” set out on foot upon his perilous adventure. A days’ journey through the forest brought him to the Mississippi River. Here he took a steamer down that majestic stream to the mouth of the Arkansas River, which rolls its vast flood from regions then quite unexplored in the far West. The stream was navigable fourteen hundred miles from its mouth.

Arkansas was then but a Territory, two hundred and forty miles long and two hundred and twenty-eight broad. The sparsely scattered population of the Territory amounted to but about thirty thousand. Following up the windings of the river three hundred miles, one came to a cluster of a few straggling huts, called Little Rock, which constitutes now the capital of the State.

Crockett ascended the river in the steamer, and, unencumbered with baggage, save his rifle, hastened to a tavern which he saw at a little distance from the shore, around which there was assembled quite a crowd of men. He had been so accustomed to public triumphs that he supposed that they had assembled in honor of his arrival. “Strange as it may seem,” he says, “they took no more notice of me than if I had been Dick Johnson, the wool-grower. This took me somewhat aback;” and he inquired what was the meaning of the gathering.

He found that the people had been called together to witness the feats of a celebrated juggler and gambler. The name of Colonel Crockett had gone through the nation; and gradually it became noised abroad that Colonel Crockett was in the crowd. “I wish I may be shot,” Crockett says, “if I wasn’t looked upon as almost as great a sight as Punch and Judy.”

He was invited to a public dinner that very day. As it took some time to cook the dinner, the whole company went to a little distance to shoot at a mark. All had heard of Crockett’s skill. After several of the best sharpshooters had fired, with remarkable accuracy, it came to Crockett’s turn. Assuming an air of great carelessness, he raised his beautiful rifle, which he called Betsey, to his shoulder, fired, and it so happened that the bullet struck exactly in the centre of the bull’s-eye. All were astonished, and so was Crockett himself. But with an air of much indifference he turned upon his heel, saying, “There’s no mistake in Betsey.”

One of the best marksmen in those parts, chagrined at being so beaten, said, “Colonel, that must have been a chance shot.”

“I can do it,” Crockett replied, “five times out of six, any day in the week.”

“I knew,” he adds, in his autobiography, “it was not altogether as correct as it might be; but when a man sets about going the big figure, halfway measures won’t answer no how.”

It was now proposed that there should be a second trial. Crockett was very reluctant to consent to this, for he had nothing to gain, and everything to lose. But they insisted so vehemently that he had to yield. As what ensued does not redound much to his credit, we will let him tell the story in his own language.

“So to it again we went. They were now put upon their mettle, and they fired much better than the first time; and it was what might be called pretty sharp shooting. When it came to my turn, I squared myself, and turning to the prime shot, I gave him a knowing nod, by way of showing my confidence; and says I, ‘Look out for the bull’s-eye, stranger.’ I blazed away, and I wish I may be shot if I didn’t miss the target. They examined it all over, and could find neither hair nor hide of my bullet, and pronounced it a dead miss; when says I, ‘Stand aside and let me look, and I warrant you I get on the right trail of the critter,’ They stood aside, and I examined the bull’s-eye pretty particular, and at length cried out, ‘Here it is; there is no snakes if it ha’n’t followed the very track of the other.’ They said it was utterly impossible, but I insisted on their searching the hole, and I agreed to be stuck up as a mark myself, if they did not find two bullets there. They searched for my satisfaction, and sure enough it all come out just as I had told them; for I had picked up a bullet that had been fired, and stuck it deep into the hole, without any one perceiving it. They were all perfectly satisfied that fame had not made too great a flourish of trumpets when speaking of me as a marksman: and they all said they had enough of shooting for that day, and they moved that we adjourn to the tavern and liquor.”

The dinner consisted of bear’s meat, venison, and wild turkey. They had an “uproarious” time over their whiskey. Crockett made a coarse and vulgar speech, which was neither creditable to his head nor his heart. But it was received with great applause.

The next morning Crockett decided to set out to cross the country in a southwest direction, to Fulton, on the upper waters of the Red River. The gentlemen furnished Crockett with a fine horse, and five of them decided to accompany him, as a mark of respect, to the River Washita, fifty miles from Little Rock. Crockett endeavored to raise some recruits for Texas, but was unsuccessful. When they reached the Washita, they found a clergyman, one of those bold, hardy pioneers of the wilderness, who through the wildest adventures were distributing tracts and preaching the gospel in the remotest hamlets.

He was in a condition of great peril. He had attempted to ford the river in the wrong place, and had reached a spot where he could not advance any farther, and yet could not turn his horse round. With much difficulty they succeeded in extricating him, and in bringing him safe to the shore. Having bid adieu to his kind friends, who had escorted him thus far, Crockett crossed the river, and in company with the clergyman continued his journey, about twenty miles farther west toward a little settlement called Greenville. He found his new friend to be a very charming companion. In describing the ride, Crockett writes:

“We talked about politics, religion, and nature, farming, and bear-hunting, and the many blessings that an all-bountiful Providence has bestowed upon our happy country. He continued to talk upon this subject, travelling over the whole ground as it were, until his imagination glowed, and his soul became full to overflowing; and he checked his horse, and I stopped mine also, and a stream of eloquence burst forth from his aged lips, such as I have seldom listened to: it came from the overflowing fountain of a pure and grateful heart. We were alone in the wilderness, but as he proceeded, it seemed to me as if the tall trees bent their tops to listen; that the mountain stream laughed out joyfully as it bounded on like some living thing that the fading flowers of autumn smiled, and sent forth fresher fragrance, as if conscious that they would revive in spring; and even the sterile rocks seemed to be endued with some mysterious influence. We were alone in the wilderness, but all things told me that God was there. The thought renewed my strength and courage. I had left my country, felt somewhat like an outcast, believed that I had been neglected and lost sight of. But I was now conscious that there was still one watchful Eye over me; no matter whether I dwelt in the populous cities, or threaded the pathless forest alone; no matter whether I stood in the high places among men, or made my solitary lair in the untrodden wild, that Eye was still upon me. My very soul leaped joyfully at the thought. I never felt so grateful in all my life. I never loved my God so sincerely in all my life. I felt that I still had a friend.

“When the old man finished, I found that my eyes were wet with tears. I approached and pressed his hand, and thanked him, and says I, ‘Now let us take a drink.’ I set him the example, and he followed it, and in a style too that satisfied me, that if he had ever belonged to the temperance society, he had either renounced membership, or obtained a dispensation. Having liquored, we proceeded on our journey, keeping a sharp lookout for mill-seats and plantations as we rode along.

“I left the worthy old man at Greenville, and sorry enough I was to part with him, for he talked a great deal, and he seemed to know a little about everything. He knew all about the history of the country; was well acquainted with all the leading men; knew where all the good lands lay in most of Western States.

“He was very cheerful and happy, though to all appearances very poor. I thought that he would make a first-rate agent for taking up lands, and mentioned it to him. He smiled, and pointing above, said, ‘My wealth lies not in this world.'”

From Greenville, Crockett pressed on about fifty or sixty miles through a country interspersed withe forests and treeless prairies, until he reached Fulton. He had a letter of introduction to one of the prominent gentlemen here, and was received with marked distinction. After a short visit he disposed of his horse; he took a steamer to descend the river several hundred miles to Natchitoches, pronounced Nakitosh, a small straggling village of eight hundred inhabitants, on the right bank of the Red River, about two hundred miles from its entrance into the Mississippi.

In descending the river there was a juggler on board, who performed many skilful juggling tricks. and by various feats of gambling won much money from his dupes. Crockett was opposed to gambling in all its forms. Becoming acquainted with the juggler and, finding him at heart a well-meaning, good-natured fellow, he endeavored to remonstrate with him upon his evil practices.

“I told him,” says Crockett, “that it was a burlesque on human nature, that an able-bodied man, possessed of his full share of good sense, should voluntarily debase himself, and be indebted for subsistence to such a pitiful artifice.

“‘But what’s to be done, Colonel?’ says he. ‘I’m in the slough of despond, up to the very chin. A miry and slippery path to travel.’

“‘Then hold your head up,’ says I, ‘before the slough reaches your lips.’

“‘But what’s the use?’ says he: ‘it’s utterly impossible for me to wade through; and even if I could, I should be in such a dirty plight, that it would defy all the waters in the Mississippi to wash me clean again. No,’ he added in a desponding tone, ‘I should be like a live eel in a frying-pan, Colonel, sort of out of my element, if I attempted to live like an honest man at this time o’ day.’

“‘That I deny. It is never too late to become honest,’ said I. ‘But even admit what you say to be true–that you cannot live like an honest man–you have at least the next best thing in your power, and no one can say nay to it.’

“‘And what is that?’

“‘Die like a brave one. And I know not whether, in the eyes of the world, a brilliant death is not preferred to an obscure life of rectitude. Most men are remembered as they died, and not as they lived. We gaze with admiration upon the glories of the setting sun, yet scarcely bestow a passing glance upon its noonday splendor.’

“‘You are right; but how is this to be done?’

“‘Accompany me to Texas. Cut aloof from your degrading habits and associates here, and, in fighting for the freedom of the Texans, regain your own.’

“The man seemed much moved. He caught up his gambling instruments, thrust them into his pocket, with hasty strides traversed the floor two or three times, and then exclaimed:

“‘By heaven, I will try to be a man again. I will live honestly, or die bravely. I will go with you to Texas.'”

To confirm him in his good resolution, Crockett “asked him to liquor.” At Natchitoches, Crockett encountered another very singular character. He was a remarkably handsome young man, of poetic imagination, a sweet singer, and with innumerable scraps of poetry and of song ever at his tongue’s end. Honey-trees, as they were called, were very abundant in Texas The prairies were almost boundless parterres of the richest flowers, from which the bees made large quantities of the most delicious honey. This they deposited in the hollows of trees. Not only was the honey valuable, but the wax constituted a very important article of commerce in Mexico, and brought a high price, being used for the immense candles which they burned in their churches. The bee-hunter, by practice, acquired much skill in coursing the bees to their hives.

This man decided to join Crockett and the juggler in their journey over the vast prairies of Texas. Small, but very strong and tough Mexican ponies, called mustangs, were very cheap. They were found wild, in droves of thousands, grazing on the prairies. The three adventurers mounted their ponies, and set out on their journey due west, a distance of one hundred and twenty miles, to Nacogdoches. Their route was along a mere trail, which was called the old Spanish road. It led over vast prairies, where there was no path, and where the bee-hunter was their guide, and through forests where their course was marked only by blazed trees.

The bee-hunter, speaking of the state of society in Texas, said that at San Felipe he had sat down with a small party at the breakfast-table, where eleven of the company had fled from the States charged with the crime of murder. So accustomed were the inhabitants to the appearance of fugitives from justice, that whenever a stranger came among them, they took it for granted that he had committed some crime which rendered it necessary for him to take refuge beyond the grasp of his country’s laws.

They reached Nacogdoches without any special adventure. It was a flourishing little Mexican town of about one thousand inhabitants, situated in a romantic dell, about sixty miles west of the River Sabine. The Mexicans and the Indians were very nearly on an intellectual and social equality. Groups of Indians, harmless and friendly, were ever sauntering through the streets of the little town.

Colonel Crockett’s horse had become lame on the journey. He obtained another, and, with his feet nearly touching the ground as he bestrode the little animal, the party resumed its long and weary journey, directing their course two or three hundred miles farther southwest through the very heart of Texas to San Antonio. They frequently encountered vast expanses of canebrakes; such canes as Northern boys use for fishing-poles. There is one on the banks of Caney Creek, seventy miles in length, with scarcely a tree to be seen for the whole distance. There was generally a trail cut through these, barely wide enough for a single mustang to pass. The reeds were twenty or thirty feet high, and so slender that, having no support over the path, they drooped a little inward and intermingled their tops. Thus a very singular and beautiful canopy was formed, beneath which the travellers moved along sheltered from the rays of a Texan sun.

As they were emerging from one of these arched avenues, they saw three black wolves jogging along very leisurely in front of them, but at too great a distance to be reached by a rifle-bullet. Wild turkeys were very abundant, and vast droves of wild horses were cropping the herbage of the most beautiful and richest pastures to be found on earth. Immense herds of buffaloes were also seen.

“These sights,” says Crockett, “awakened the ruling passion strong within me, and I longed to have a hunt on a large scale. For though I had killed many bears and deer in my time, I had never brought down a buffalo, and so I told my friends. But they tried to dissuade me from it, telling me that I would certainly lose my way, and perhaps perish; for though it appeared a garden to the eye, it was still a wilderness. I said little more upon the subject until we crossed the Trinidad River. But every mile we travelled, I found the temptation grew stronger and stronger.”

The night after crossing the Trinidad River they were so fortunate as to come across the hut of a poor woman, where they took shelter until the next morning. They were here joined by two other chance travellers, who must indeed have been rough specimens of humanity. Crockett says that though he had often seen men who had not advanced far over the line of civilization, these were the coarsest samples he had ever met.

One proved to be an old pirate, about fifty years of age. He was tall, bony, and in aspect seemed scarcely human. The shaggy hair of his whiskers and beard covered nearly his whole face. He had on a sailor’s round jacket and tarpaulin hat. The deep scar, apparently of a sword cut, deformed his forehead, and another similar scar was on the back of one of his hands. His companion was a young Indian, wild as the wolves, bareheaded, and with scanty deerskin dress.

Early the next morning they all resumed their journey, the two strangers following on foot. Their path led over the smooth and treeless prairie, as beautiful in its verdure and its flowers as the most cultivated park could possibly be. About noon they stopped to refresh their horses and dine beneath a cluster of trees in the open prairie. They had built their fire, were cooking their game, and were all seated upon the grass, chatting very sociably, when the bee-hunter saw a bee, which indicated that a hive of honey might be found not far distant. He leaped upon his mustang, and without saying a word, “started off like mad,” and scoured along the prairie. “We watched him,” says Crockett, “until he seemed no larger than a rat, and finally disappeared in the distance.”

CHAPTER XII.

Adventures on the Prairie.

Disappearance of the Bee Hunter.–The Herd of Buffalo Crockett lost.–The Fight with the Cougar.–Approach of Savages.–Their Friendliness.–Picnic on the Prairie.–Picturesque Scene.–The Lost Mustang recovered.–Unexpected Reunion.–Departure of the Savages.–Skirmish with the Mexicans.–Arrival at the Alamo.

Soon after the bee-hunter had disappeared, all were startled by a strange sound, as of distant thunder. It was one of the most beautiful of summer days. There was not a cloud to be seen. The undulating prairie, waving with flowers, lay spread out before them, more beautiful under nature’s bountiful adornings than the most artistic parterre, park or lawn which the hand of man ever reared. A gentle, cool breeze swept through the grove, fragrant and refreshing as if from Araby the blest. It was just one of those scenes and one of those hours in which all vestiges of the Fall seemed to have been obliterated, and Eden itself again appeared blooming in its pristine beauty.

Still those sounds, growing more and more distinct, were not sounds of peace, were not eolian warblings; they were mutterings as of a rising tempest, and inspired awe and a sense of peril. Straining their eyes toward the far-distant west, whence the sounds came, they soon saw an immense black cloud just emerging from the horizon and apparently very low down, sweeping the very surface of the prairie. This strange, menacing cloud was approaching with manifestly great rapidity. It was coming directly toward the grove where the travellers were sheltered. A cloud of dust accompanied the phenomenon, ever growing thicker and rising higher in the air.

“What can that all mean?” exclaimed Crockett, in evident alarm.

The juggler sprang to his feet, saying, “Burn my old shoes if I know.”

Even the mustangs, which were grazing near by, were frightened They stopped eating, pricked up their ears, and gazed in terror upon the approaching danger. It was then supposed that the black cloud, with its muttered thunderings, must be one of those terrible tornadoes which occasionally swept the region, bearing down everything before it. The men all rushed for the protection of the mustangs. In the greatest haste they struck off their hobbles and led them into the grove for shelter.

The noise grew louder and louder, and they had scarcely brought the horses beneath the protection of the trees, when they perceived that it was an immense herd of buffaloes, of countless hundreds, dishing along with the speed of the wind, and bellowing and roaring in tones as appalling as if a band of demons were flying and shrieking in terror before some avenging arm.

The herd seemed to fill the horizon. Their numbers could not be counted. They were all driven by some common impulse of terror. In their head-long plunge, those in front pressed on by the innumerable throng behind, it was manifest that no ordinary obstacle would in the slightest degree retard their rush. The spectacle was sublime and terrible. Had the travellers been upon the open plain, it seemed inevitable that they must have been trampled down and crushed out of every semblance of humanity by these thousands of hard hoofs.

But it so chanced that they were upon what is called a rolling prairie, with its graceful undulations and gentle eminences. It was one of these beautiful swells which the grove crowned with its luxuriance.

As the enormous herd came along with its rush and roar, like the bursting forth of a pent-up flood, the terrified mustangs were too much frightened to attempt to escape. They shivered in every nerve as if stricken by an ague.

An immense black bull led the band. He was a few feet in advance of all the rest. He came roaring along, his tail erect in the air as a javelin, his head near the ground, and his stout, bony horns projected as if he were just ready to plunge upon his foe. Crockett writes:

“I never felt such a desire to have a crack at anything in all my life. He drew nigh the place where I was standing. I raised my beautiful Betsey to my shoulder and blazed away. He roared, and suddenly stopped. Those that were near him did so likewise. The commotion occasioned by the impetus of those in the rear was such that it was a miracle that some of them did not break their heads or necks. The black bull stood for a few moments pawing the ground after he was shot, then darted off around the cluster of trees, and made for the uplands of the prairies. The whole herd followed, sweeping by like a tornado. And I do say I never witnessed a sight more beautiful to the eye of a hunter in all my life.”

The temptation to pursue them was too strong for Crockett to resist. For a moment he was himself bewildered, and stood gazing with astonishment upon the wondrous spectacle. Speedily he reloaded his rifle, sprung upon his horse, and set out in pursuit over the green and boundless prairie. There was something now quite ludicrous in the scene. There was spread out an ocean expanse of verdure. A herd of countless hundreds of majestic buffaloes, every animal very ferocious in aspect, was clattering along, and a few rods behind them in eager pursuit was one man, mounted on a little, insignificant Mexican pony, not much larger than a donkey. It would seem that but a score of this innumerable army need but turn round and face their foe, and they could toss horse and rider into the air, and then contemptuously trample them into the dust.

Crockett was almost beside himself with excitement. Looking neither to the right nor the left, unconscious in what direction he was going, he urged forward, with whip and spur, the little mustang, to the utmost speed of the animal, and yet scarcely in the least diminished the distance between him and the swift-footed buffaloes. Ere long, it was evident that he was losing in the chase. But the hunter, thinking that the buffaloes could not long continue their flight at such a speed, and that they would soon, in weariness, loiter and stop to graze, vigorously pressed on, though his jaded beast was rapidly being distance by the herd.

At length the enormous moving mass appeared but as a cloud in the distant horizon. Still, Crockett, his mind entirely absorbed in the excitement of the chase, urged his weary steed on, until the buffalos entirely disappeared from view in the distance. Crrickett writes:

“I now paused to allow my mustang to breathe, who did not altogether fancy the rapidity of my movements; and to consider which course I would have to take to regain the path I had abandoned. I might have retraced my steps by following the trail of the buffaloes, but it had always been my principle to go ahead, and so I turned to the west and pushed forward.

“I had not rode more than an hour before I found, I was completely bewildered. I looked around, and there was, as far as the eye could reach, spread before me a country apparently in the highest state of cultivation–extended fields, beautiful and productive, groves of trees cleared from the underwood, and whose margins were as regular as if the art and taste of man had been employed upon them. But there was no other evidence that the sound of the axe, or the voice of man, had ever here disturbed the solitude of nature. My eyes would have cheated my senses into the belief that I was in an earthly paradise, but my fears told me that I was in a wilderness.

“I pushed along, following the sun, for I had no compass to guide me, and there was no other path than that which my mustang made. Indeed, if I had found a beaten tract, I should have been almost afraid to have followed it; for my friend the bee-hunter had told me, that once, when he had been lost in the prairies, he had accidentally struck into his own path, and had travelled around and around for a whole day before he discovered his error. This I thought was a poor way of going ahead; so I determined to make for the first large stream, and follow its course.”

For several hours Crockett rode through these vast and lonely solitudes, the Eden of nature, without meeting with the slightest trace of a human being. Evening was approaching, still, calm, and bright. The most singular and even oppressive silence prevailed, for neither voice of bird nor insect was to be heard. Crockett began to feel very uneasy. The fact that he was lost himself did not trouble him much, but he felt anxious for his simple-minded, good-natured friend, the juggler, who was left entirely alone and quite unable to take care of himself under such circumstances.

As he rode along, much disturbed by these unpleasant reflections, another novelty, characteristic of the Great West, arrested his attention and elicited his admiration. He was just emerging from a very lovely grove, carpeted with grass, which grew thick and green beneath the leafy canopy which overarched it. There was not a particle of underbrush to obstruct one’s movement through this natural park. Just beyond the grove there was another expanse of treeless prairie, so rich, so beautiful, so brilliant with flowers, that even Colonel Crockett, all unaccustomed as he was to the devotional mood, reined in his horse, and gazing entranced upon the landscape, exclaimed:

“O God, what a world of beauty hast thou made for man! And yet how poorly does he requite thee for it! He does not even repay thee with gratitude.”

The attractiveness of the scene was enhanced by a drove of more than a hundred wild horses, really beautiful animals, quietly pasturing. It seemed impossible but that the hand of man must have been employed in embellishing this fair creation. It was all God’s work. “When I looked around and fully realized it all,” writes Crockett, “I thought of the clergyman who had preached to me in the wilds of Arkansas.”

Colonel Crockett rode out upon the prairie. The horses no sooner espied him than, excited, but not alarmed, the whole drove, with neighings, aud tails uplifted like banners, commenced coursing around him in an extended circle, which gradually became smaller and smaller, until they came in close contact; and the Colonel, not a little alarmed, found himself completely surrounded, and apparently the prisoner of these powerful steeds.

The little mustang upon which the Colonel was mounted seemed very happy in its new companionship. It turned its head to one side, and then to the other, and pranced and neighed, playfully biting at the mane of one horse, rubbing his nose against that of another, and in joyous gambols kicking up its heels. The Colonel was anxious to get out of the mess. But his little mustang was not at all disposed to move in that direction; neither did the other horses seem disposed to acquiesce in such a plan.

Crockett’s heels were armed with very formidable Spanish spurs, with prongs sharp and long. The hunter writes:

“To escape from the annoyance, I beat the devil’s tattoo on his ribs, that he might have some music to dance to, and we went ahead right merrily, the whole drove following in our wake, head up, and tail and mane streaming. My little critter, who was both blood and bottom, seemed delighted at being at the head of the heap; and having once fairly got started, I wish I may be shot if I did not find it impossible to stop him. He kept along, tossing his head proudly, and occasionally neighing, as much as to say, “Come on, my hearties, you see I ha’n’t forgot our old amusement yet.” And they did come on with a vengeance, clatter, clatter, clatter, as if so many fiends had broke loose. The prairie lay extended before me as far as the eye could reach, and I began to think that there would be no end to the race.

“My little animal was full of fire and mettle, and as it was the first bit of genuine sport that he had had for some time, he appeared determined to make the most of it. He kept the lead for full half an hour, frequently neighing as if in triumph and derision. I thought of John Gilpin’s celebrated ride, but that was child’s play to this. The proverb says, ‘The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,’ and so it proved in the present instance. My mustang was obliged to carry weight, while his competitors were as free as nature had made them. A beautiful bay, who had trod close upon my heels the whole way, now came side by side with my mustang, and we had it hip and thigh for about ten minutes, in such style as would have delighted the heart of a true lover of the turf. I now felt an interest in the race myself, and, for the credit of my bit of blood, determined to win it if it was at all in the nature of things. I plied the lash and spur, and the little critter took it quite kindly, and tossed his head, and neighed, as much as to say, ‘Colonel, I know what you’re after–go ahead!’–and he cut dirt in beautiful style, I tell you.”

This could not last long. The wild steed of the prairie soon outstripped the heavily burdened mustang, and shooting ahead, kicked up his heels as in derision. The rest of the herd followed, in the same disrespectful manner. Crockett jogged quietly on in the rear, glad to be rid of such troublesome and dangerous companions. The horses soon reached a stream, which Crockett afterward learned was called the Navasola River. The whole herd, following an adventurous leader, rushed pell-mell into the stream and swam to the other side. It was a beautiful sight to behold these splendid animals, in such a dense throng, crossing the stream, and then, refreshed by their bath, sweeping like a whirlwind over the plain beyond.

Crockett’s exhausted pony could go no further. He fairly threw himself upon the ground as if in despair. Crockett took from the exhausted animal the saddle, and left the poor creature to roll upon the grass and graze at pleasure. He thought it not possible that the mustang could wander to any considerable distance. Indeed, he fully expected to find the utterly exhausted beast, who could no longer stand upon his legs, dead before morning.

Night was fast closing around him. He began to look around for shelter. There was a large tree blown down by the side of the stream, its top branching out very thick and bushy. Crockett thought that with his knife, in the midst of that dense foliage with its interlacing branches, he could make himself a snug arbor, where, wrapped in his blanket, he could enjoy refreshing sleep. He approached the tree, and began to work among the almost impervious branches, when he heard a low growl, which he says he interpreted to mean, “Stranger, these apartments are already taken.”

Looking about to see what kind of an animal he had disturbed, and whose displeasure he had manifestly encountered, he saw the brilliant eyes glaring through the leaves of a large Mexican cougar, sometimes called the panther or American lion. This animal, endowed with marvellous agility and strength, will pounce from his lair on a deer, and even a buffalo, and easily with tooth and claw tear him to pieces.

“He was not more than five or six paces from me,” writes Crockett, “and was eying me as an epicure surveys the table before he selects his dish, I have no doubt the cougar looked upon me as the subject of a future supper. Rays of light darted from his large eyes, he showed his teeth like a negro in hysterics, and he was crouching on his haunches ready for a spring; all of which convinced me that unless I was pretty quick upon the trigger, posterity would know little of the termination of my eventful career, and it would be far less glorious and useful than I intend to make it.”

The conflict which ensued cannot be more graphically described than in Crocket’s own words:

“One glance satisfied me that there was no time to be lost. There was no retreat either for me or the cougar. So I levelled my Betsey and blazed away. The report was followed by a furious growl, and the next moment, when I expected to find the tarnal critter struggling with death, I beheld him shaking his head, as if nothing more than a bee had stung him. The ball had struck him on the forehead and glanced off, doing no other injury than stunning him for an instant, and tearing off the skin, which tended to infuriate him the more. The cougar wasn’t long in making up his mind what to do, nor was I neither; but he would have it all his own way, and vetoed my motion to back out. I had not retreated three steps before he sprang at me like a steamboat; I stepped aside and as he lit upon the ground, I struck him violently with the barrel of my rifle, but he didn’t mind that, but wheeled around and made at me again. The gun was now of no use, so I threw it away, and drew my hunting-knife, for I knew we should come to close quarters before the fight would be over. This time he succeeded in fastening on my left arm, and was just beginning to amuse himself by tearing the flesh off with his fangs, when I ripped my knife into his side, and he let go his hold, much to my satisfaction.

“He wheeled about and came at me with increased fury, occasioned by the smarting of his wounds. I now tried to blind him, knowing that if I succeeded he would become an easy prey; so as he approached me I watched my opportunity, and aimed a blow at his eyes with my knife; but unfortunately it struck him on the nose, and he paid no other attention to it than by a shake of the head and a low growl. He pressed me close, and as I was stepping backward my foot tripped in a vine, and I fell to the ground. He was down upon me like a night-hawk upon a June-bug. He seized hold of the outer part of my right thigh, which afforded him considerable amusement; the hinder part of his body was towards my face; I grasped his tail with my left hand, and tickled his ribs with my haunting-knife, which I held in my right. Still the critter wouldn’t let go his hold; and as I found that he would lacerate my leg dreadfully unless he was speedily shaken off, I tried to hurl him down the bank into the river, for our scuffle had already brought us to the edge of the bank. I stuck my knife into his side, and summoned all my strength to throw him over. He resisted, was desperate heavy; but at last I got him so far down the declivity that he lost his balance, and he rolled over and over till he landed on the margin of the river; but in his fall he dragged me along with him. Fortunately, I fell uppermost, and his neck presented a fair mark for my hunting-knife. Without allowing myself time even to draw breath, I aimed one desperate blow at his neck, and the knife entered his gullet up to the handle, and reached his heart. He struggled for a few moments and died. I have had many fights with bears, but that was mere child’s play. This was the first fight ever I had with a cougar, and I hope it may be the last.”

Crockett, breathless and bleeding, but signally a victor, took quiet possession of the treetop, the conquest of which he had so valiantly achieved. He parted some of the branches, cut away others, and intertwining the softer twigs, something like a bird’s nest, made for himself a very comfortable bed. There was an abundance of moss, dry, pliant, and crispy, hanging in festoons from the trees. This, spread in thick folds over his litter, made as luxuriant a mattress as one could desire. His horse-blanket being laid down upon this, the weary traveller, with serene skies above him and a gentle breeze breathing through his bower, had no cause to envy the occupant of the most luxurious chamber wealth can furnish.

He speedily prepared for himself a frugal supper, carried his saddle into the treetop, and, though oppressed with anxiety in view of the prospect before him, fell asleep, and in blissful unconsciousness the hours passed away until the sun was rising in the morning. Upon awaking, he felt very stiff and sore from the wounds he had received in his conflict with the cougar. Looking over the bank, he saw the dead body of the cougar lying there, and felt that he had much cause of gratitude that he had escaped so great a danger.

He then began to look around for his horse. But the animal was nowhere to be seen. He ascended one of the gentle swells of land, whence he could look far and wide over the unobstructed prairie. To his surprise, and not a little to his costernation, the animal had disappeared, “without leaving trace of hair or hide.” At first he thought the mustang must have been devoured by wolves or some other beasts of prey. But then it was manifest they could not have eaten his bones, and something would have remained to indicate the fate of the poor creature. While thus perplexed, Crockett reflected sadly that he was lost, alone and on foot, on the boundless prairie. He was, however, too much accustomed to scenes of the wildest adventure to allow himself to be much cast down. His appetite was not disturbed, and he began to feel the cravings of hunger.

He took his rifle and stepped out in search of his breakfast. He had gone but a short distance ere he saw a large flock of wild geese, on the bank of the river. Selecting a large fat gander, he shot him, soon stripped him of his feathers, built a fire, ran a stick through the goose for a spit, and then, supporting it on two sticks with prongs, roasted his savory viand in the most approved style. He had a little tin cup with him, and a paper of ground coffee, with which he made a cup of that most refreshing beverage. Thus he breakfasted sumptuously.

He was just preparing to depart, with his saddle upon his shoulder, much perplexed as to the course he should pursue, when he was again alarmed by one of those wild scenes ever occurring in the West. First faintly, then louder and louder came the sound as of the trampling of many horses on the full gallop. His first thought was that another enormous herd of buffaloes was sweeping down upon him. But soon he saw, in the distance, a band of about fifty Comanche Indians, well mounted, painted, plumed, and bannered, the horse and rider apparently one animal, coming down upon him, their horses being urged to the utmost speed. It was a sublime and yet an appalling spectacle, as this band of half-naked savages, their spears glittering in the morning sun, and their long hair streaming behind, came rushing on.

Crockett was standing in full view upon the banks of the stream. The column swept on, and, with military precision, as it approached, divided into two semicircles, and in an instant the two ends of the circle reached the river, and Crockett was surrounded. Three of the savages performed the part of trumpeters, and with wonderful resemblance, from their lips, emitted the pealing notes of the bugle. Almost by instinct he grasped his rifle, but a flash of thought taught him that, under the circumstances, any attempt at resistance would be worse than unavailing.

The chief sprang from his horse, and advancing with proud strides toward Crockett, was struck with admiration at sight of his magnificent rifle. Such a weapon, with such rich ornamentation, had never before been seen on the prairies. The eagerness with which the savage regarded the gun led Crockett to apprehend that he intended to appropriate it to himself.

The Comanches, though a very warlike tribe, had held much intercourse with the Americans, and friendly relations then existed between them and our Government. Crockett, addressing the chief, said:

“Is your nation at war with the Americans?”

“No,” was the reply; “they are our friends.”

“And where,” Crockett added, “do your get your spear-heads, your rifles, your blankets, and your knives?”

“We get them from our friends the Americans,” the chief replied.

“Well,” said Crockett, “do you think that if you were passing through their country, as I am passing through yours, they would attempt to rob you of your property?”

“No,” answered the savage; “they would feed me and protect me. And the Comanche will do the same by his white brother.”

Crockett then inquired of the chief what had guided him and his party to the spot where they had found him? The chief said that they were at a great distance, but had seen the smoke from his fire, and had come to ascertain the cause of it.

“He inquired,” writes Crockett, “what had brought me there alone. I told him I had come to hunt, and that my mustang had become exhausted, and, though I thought he was about to die, that he had escaped from me. At this the chief gave a low chuckling laugh, and said that it was all a trick of the mustang, which is the most wily and cunning of all animals. But he said that as I was a brave hunter, he would furnish me with another. He gave orders, and a fine young horse was immediately brought forward.”

The savages speedily discovered the dead body of the cougar, and commenced skinning him. They were greatly surprised on seeing the number of the stabs, and inquired into the cause. When Crockett explained to them the conflict, the proof of which was manifest in his own lacerated skin, and in the wounds inflicted upon the cougar, they were greatly impressed with the valor he had displayed. The chief exclaimed several times. in tones of commingled admiration and astonishment, “Brave hunter! brave man!” He also expressed the earnest wish that Crockett would consent to be adopted as a son of the tribe. But this offer was respectfully declined.

This friendly chief kindly consented to escort Crockett as far as the Colorado River. Crockett put his saddle on a fresh horse, and having mounted, the chief, with Crockett at his side, took the lead, and off the whole band went, scouring over the pathless prairie at a rapid speed. Several of the band were squaws. They were the trumpeters. They made the prairie echo with their bugle-blasts, or, as Crockett irreverently, but perhaps more correctly says, “The old squaws, at the head of the troop, were braying like young jackasses the whole way.”

After thus riding over the green and treeless expanse for about three hours, they came upon a drove of wild horses, quietly pasturing on the rich herbage. One of the Indians immediately prepared his lasso, and darted out toward the herd to make a capture. The horses did not seem to be alarmed by his approach, but when he got pretty nigh them they began to circle around him, keeping at a cautious distance, with their heads elevated and with loud neighings. They then, following the leadership of a splendid stallion, set off on a brisk canter, and soon disappeared beyond the undulations of the prairie.

One of the mustangs remained quietly grazing. The Indian rode to within a few yards of him, and very skilfully threw his lasso. The mustang seemed to be upon the watch, for he adroitly dodged his head between his forefeet and thus escaped the fatal noose. The Indian rode up to him, and the horse patiently submitted to be bridled and thus secured.

“When I approached,” writes Crockett,” I immediately recognized, in the captive, the pestilent little animal that had shammed sickness and escaped from me the day before. And when he caught my eye he cast down his head and looked rather sheepish, as if he were sensible and ashamed of the dirty trick he had played me. I expressed my astonishment, to the Indian chief, at the mustang’s allowing himself to be captured without any effort to escape. He told me that they were generally hurled to the ground with such violence, when first taken with the lasso, that they remembered it ever after; and that the sight of the lasso will subdue them to submission, though they may have run wild for years.”

All the day long, Crockett, with his convoy of friendly savages, travelled over the beautiful prairie. Toward evening they came across a drove of fat buffaloes grazing in the richest of earthly pastures. It was a beautiful sight to witness the skill with which the Indians pursued and hunted down the noble game. Crockett was quite charmed with the spectacle. It is said that the Comanche Indians are the finest horsemen in the world. Always wandering about over the boundless prairies, where wild horses are found in countless numbers, they are ever on horseback, men, women, and children. Even infants, almost in their earliest years, are taught to cling to the mane of the horse. Thus the Comanche obtains the absolute control of the animal; and when scouring over the plain, bareheaded and with scanty dress, the horse and rider seem veritably like one person.

The Comanches were armed only with bows and arrows. The herd early took fright, and fled with such speed that the somewhat exhausted horses of the Comanches could not get within arrow-shot of them. Crockett, however, being well mounted and unsurpassed by any Indian in the arts of hunting, selected a fat young heifer, which he knew would furnish tender steaks, and with his deadly bullet struck it down. This was the only beef that was killed. All the rest of the herd escaped.

The Indians gathered around the slain animal for their feast. With their sharp knives the heifer was soon skinned and cut up into savory steaks and roasting-pieces. Two or three fires were built. The horses were hobbled and turned loose to graze. Every one of the Indians selected his own portion, and all were soon merrily and even affectionately engaged in this picnic feast, beneath skies which Italy never rivalled, and surrounded with the loveliness of a park surpassing the highest creations of art in London, Paris, or New York.

The Indians were quite delighted with their guest. He told them stories of his wild hunting excursions, and of his encounters with panthers and bears. They were charmed by his narratives, and they sat eager listeners until late into the night, beneath the stars and around the glowing camp-fires. Then, wrapped in their blankets, they threw themselves down on the thick green grass and slept. Such are the joys of peace and friendship.

They resumed their journey in the morning, and pressed along, with nothing of special interest occurring until they reached the Colorado River. As they were following down this stream, to strike the road which leads to Bexar, they saw in the distance a single column of smoke ascending the clear sky. Hastening toward it, they found that it rose from the centre of a small grove near the river. When within a few hundred yards the warriors extended their line, so as nearly to encircle the grove, while the chief and Crockett advanced cautiously to reconnoitre. To their surprise they saw a solitary man seated upon the ground near the fire, so entirely absorbed in some occupation that he did not observe their approach.

In a moment, Crockett, much to his joy, perceived that it was his lost friend the juggler. He was all engaged in practising his game of thimbles on the crown of his hat. Crockett was now restored to his companion, and was near the plain road to Bexar. In describing this scene and the departure of his kind Indian friends, the hunter writes:

“The chief shouted the war-whoop, and suddenly the warriors came rushing in from all quarters, preceded by the old squaw trumpeters squalling like mad. The conjurer sprang to his feet, and was ready to sink into the earth when he beheld the ferocious-looking fellows that surrounded him. I stepped up, took him by the hand, and quieted his fears. I told the chief that he was a friend of mine, and I was very glad to have found him, for I was afraid that he had perished. I now thanked him for his kindness in guiding me over the prairies, and gave him a large bowie-knife, which he said he would keep for the sake of the brave hunter. The whole squadron then wheeled off and I saw them no more. I have met with many polite men in my time, but no one who possessed in a greater degree what may be called true spontaneous politeness than this Comanche chief, always excepting Philip Hone, Esq. of New York, whom I look upon as the politest man I ever did see; for when he asked me to take a drink at his own sideboard, he turned his back upon me, that I mightn’t be ashamed to fill as much as I wanted. That was what I call doing the fair thing.”

The poor juggler was quite overjoyed in meeting his friend again, whom he evidently regarded with much reverence. He said that he was very much alarmed when he found himself alone on the pathless prairie. After waiting two hours in much anxiety, he mounted his mustang, and was slowly retracing his steps, when he spied the bee-hunter returning. He was laden with honey. They had then journeyed on together to the present spot. The hunter had just gone out in search of game. He soon returned with a plump turkey upon his shoulders. They built their fire, and were joyously cooking their supper, when the neighing of a horse near by startled them. Looking up, they saw two men approaching on horseback. They proved to be the old pirate and the young Indian with whom they had lodged a few nights before. Upon being hailed they alighted, and politely requested permission to join their party. This was gladly assented to, as they were now entering a region desolated by the war between the Texans and the Mexicans, and where many small bands of robbers were wandering, ready to plunder any weaker party they might encounter.

The next morning they crossed the river and pushed on for the fortress of Alamo. When within about twenty miles of San Antonio, they beheld about fifteen mounted men, well armed, approaching them at full speed. Crockett’s party numbered five. They immediately dismounted, made a rampart of their horses, and with the muzzles of their rifles pointed toward the approaching foe, were prepared for battle.

It was a party of Mexicans. When within a few hundred yards they reined in their horses, and the leader, advancing a little, called out to them in Spanish to surrender.

“We must have a brush with those blackguards,” said the pirate. “Let each one single out his man for the first fire. They are greater fools than I take them for if they give us a chance for a second shot. Colonel, just settle the business with that talking fellow with the red feather. He’s worth any three of the party.”

“Surrender, or we fire!” shouted the fellow with the red feather. The pirate replied, with a piratic oath, “Fire away.”

“And sure enough,” writes Crockett, “they took his advice, for the next minute we were saluted with a discharge of musketry, the report of which was so loud that we were convinced they all had fired. Before the smoke had cleared away we had each selected our man, fired, and I never did see such a scattering among their ranks as followed. We beheld several mustangs running wild without their riders over the prairie, and the balance of the company were already retreating at a more rapid gait than they approached. We hastily mounted and commenced pursuit, which we kept up until we beheld the independent flag flying from the battlements of the fortress of Alamo, our place of destination. The fugitives succeeded in evading our pursuit, and we rode up to the gates of the fortress, announced to the sentinel who we were, and the gates were thrown open; and we entered amid shouts of welcome bestowed upon us by the patriots.”

CHAPTER XIII.

Conclusion.

The Fortress of Alamo.–Colonel Bowie.–Bombardment of the Fort.–Crockett’s Journal.–Sharpshooting.–Fight outside of the Fort.–Death of the Bee Hunter.–Kate of Nacogdoches.–Assault on the Citadel.–Crockett a Prisoner.–His Death.

The fortress of Alamo is just outside of the town of Bexar, on the San Antonio River. The town is about one hundred and forty miles from the coast, and contained, at that time, about twelve hundred inhabitants. Nearly all were Mexicans, though there were a few American families. In the year 1718, the Spanish Government had established a military outpost here; and in the year 1721, a few emigrants from Spain commenced a flourishing settlement at this spot. Its site is beautiful, the air salubrious, the soil highly fertile, and the water of crystal purity.

The town of Bexar subsequently received the name of San Antonio. On the tenth of December, 1835, the Texans captured the town and citadel from the Mexicans. These Texan Rangers were rude men, who had but little regard for the refinements or humanities of civilization. When Crockett with his companions arrived, Colonel Bowie, of Louisiana, one of the most desperate of Western adventurers, was in the fortress. The celebrated bowie-knife was named after this man. There was but a feeble garrison, and it was threatened with an attack by an overwhelming force of Mexicans under Santa Anna. Colonel Travis was in command. He was very glad to receive even so small a reinforcement. The fame of Colonel Crockett, as one of the bravest of men, had already reached his ears.

“While we were conversing,” writes Crockett, “Colonel Bowie had occasion to draw his famous knife, and I wish I may be shot if the bare sight of it wasn’t enough to give a man of a squeamish stomach the colic. He saw I was admiring it, and said he, ‘Colonel, you might tickle a fellow’s ribs a long time with this little instrument before you’d make make him laugh.'”

According to Crockett’s account, many shameful orgies took place in the little garrison. They were evidently in considerable trepidation, for a large force was gathering against them, and they could not look for any considerable reinforcements from any quarter. Rumors were continually reaching them of the formidable preparations Santa Anna was making to attack the place. Scouts ere long brought in the tidings that Santa Anna, President of the Mexican Republic, at the head of sixteen hundred soldiers, and accompanied by several of his ablest generals, was within six miles of Bexar. It was said that he was doing everything in his power to enlist the warlike Comanches in his favor, but that they remained faithful in their friendship to the United States.

Early in the month of February, 1836, the army of Santa Anna appeared before the town, with infantry, artillery, and cavalry. With military precision they approached, their banners waving, and their bugle-notes bearing defiance to the feeble little garrison. The Texan invaders, seeing that they would soon be surrounded, abandoned the town to the enemy, and fled to the protection of the citadel. They were but one hundred and fifty in number. Almost without exception they were hardy adventurers, and the most fearless and desperate of men. They had previously stored away in the fortress all the provisions, arms, and ammunition, of which they could avail themselves. Over the battlements they unfurled an immense flag of thirteen stripes, and with a large white star of five points, surrounded by the letters “Texas.” As they raised their flag, they gave three cheers, while with drums and trumpets they hurled back their challenge to the foe.

The Mexicans raised over the town a blood-red banner. It was their significant intimation to the garrison that no quarter was be expected. Santa Anna, having advantageously posted his troops, in the afternoon sent a summons to Colonel Travis, demanding an unconditional surrender, threatening, in case of refusal, to put every man to the sword. The only reply Colonel Travis made was to throw a cannon-shot into the town. The Mexicans then opened fire from their batteries, but without doing much harm.

In the night, Colonel Travis sent the old pirate on an express to Colonel Fanning, who, with a small military force, was at Goliad, to entreat him to come to his aid. Goliad was about four days’ march from Bexar. The next morning the Mexicans renewed their fire from a battery about three hundred and fifty yards from the fort. A three-ounce ball struck the juggler on the breast, inflicting a painful but not a dangerous wound.

Day after day this storm of war continued. The walls of the citadel were strong, and the bombardment inflicted but little injury. The sharpshooters within the fortress struck down many of the assailants at great distances.

“The bee-hunter,” writes Crockett, “is about the quickest on the trigger, and the best rifle-shot we have in the fort. I have already seen him bring down eleven of the enemy, and at such a distance that we all thought that it would be a waste of ammunition to attempt it.” Provisions were beginning to become scarce, and the citadel was so surrounded that it was impossible for the garrison to cut its way through the lines and escape.

Under date of February 28th, Crockett writes in his Journal:

“Last night our hunters brought in some corn, and had a brush with a scout from the enemy beyond gunshot of the fort. They put the scout to flight, and got in without injury. They bring accounts that the settlers are flying in all quarters, in dismay, leaving their possessions to the mercy of the ruthless invader, who is literally engaged in a war of extermination more brutal than the untutored savage of the desert could be guilty of. Slaughter is indiscriminate, sparing neither sex, age, nor condition. Buildings have been burnt down, farms laid waste, and Santa Anna appears determined to verify his threat, and convert the blooming paradise into a howling wilderness. For just one fair crack at that rascal, even at a hundred yards’ distance, I would bargain to break my Betsey, and never pull trigger again. My name’s not Crockett if I wouldn’t get glory enough to appease my stomach for the remainder of my life.

“The scouts report that a settler by the name of Johnson, flying with his wife and three little children, when they reached the Colorado, left his family on the shore, and waded into the river to see whether it would be safe to ford with his wagon. When about the middle of the river he was seized by an alligator, and after a struggle was dragged under the water, and perished. The helpless woman and her babes were discovered, gazing in agony on the spot, by other fugitives, who happily passed that way, and relieved them.