Page:Audubon and His Journals.djvu/59

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31
AUDUBON

Clark, the brother of General William Clark, the first white man who ever crossed the Rocky Mountains. I had engaged to go with him, but was, as I have said, unfortunately prevented. To return to our journey. When we reached Cash Creek we were bound by ice for a few weeks; we then attempted to ascend the Mississippi, but were again stopped in the great bend called Tawapatee Bottom, where we again planted our camp till a thaw broke the ice.[1] In less than six weeks, however, we reached the village of St. Genevieve. I found at once it was not the place for me; its population was then composed of low French Canadians, uneducated and uncouth, and the ever-longing wish to be with my beloved wife and children drew my thoughts to Henderson, to which I decided to return almost immediately. Scarcely any communication existed between the two places, and I felt cut off from all dearest to me. Rozier, on the contrary, liked it; he found plenty of French with whom to converse. I proposed selling out to him, a bargain was made, he paid me a certain amount in cash, and gave me bills for the residue. This accomplished, I purchased a beauty of a horse, for which I paid dear enough, and bid Rozier farewell. On my return trip to Henderson I was obliged to stop at a humble cabin, where I so nearly ran the chance of losing my life, at the hands of a woman and her two desperate sons, that I have thought fit since to introduce this passage in a sketch called "The Prairie," which is to be found in the first volume of my "Ornithological Biography."

Winter was just bursting into spring when I left the land of lead mines. Nature leaped with joy, as it were, at her own new-born marvels, the prairies began to be dotted with beauteous flowers, abounded with deer, and my own heart was filled with happiness at the sights before me. I must not forget to tell you that I crossed those prairies on foot at another time, for the purpose of collecting the money due to me from Rozier, and that I walked one hundred and sixty-five miles in a little over three days, much of the time nearly ankle deep in mud and water, from which I suffered much afterward by swollen feet. I reached Henderson in early March, and a few weeks later the lower portions of Kentucky

  1. Episode "Breaking of the Ice."