Page:Audubon and His Journals.djvu/62

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34
AUDUBON

thoud and Benjamin Page of Pittsburg. Matters, however, grew worse every day; the times were what men called "bad," but I am fully persuaded the great fault was ours, and the building of that accursed steam-mill was, of all the follies of man, one of the greatest, and to your uncle and me the worst of all our pecuniary misfortunes. How I labored at that infernal mill! from dawn to dark, nay, at times all night. But it is over now; I am old, and try to forget as fast as possible all the different trials of those sad days. We also took it into our heads to have a steamboat, in partnership with the engineer who had come from Philadelphia to fix the engine of that mill. This also proved an entire failure, and misfortune after misfortune came down upon us like so many avalanches, both fearful and destructive.

About this time I went to New Orleans, at the suggestion of your uncle, to arrest T—— B——, who had purchased a steamer from us, but whose bills were worthless, and who owed us for the whole amount. I travelled down to New Orleans in an open skiff, accompanied by two negroes of mine; I reached New Orleans one day too late; Mr. B—— had been compelled to surrender the steamer to a prior claimant. I returned to Henderson, travelling part way on the steamer "Paragon," walked from the mouth of the Ohio to Shawnee, and rode the rest of the distance. On my arrival old Mr. Berthoud told me that Mr. B—— had arrived before me, and had sworn to kill me. My affrighted Lucy forced me to wear a dagger. Mr. B—— walked about the streets and before my house as if watching for me, and the continued reports of our neighbors prepared me for an encounter with this man, whose violent and ungovernable temper was only too well known. As I was walking toward the steam-mill one morning, I heard myself hailed from behind; on turning, I observed Mr. B—— marching toward me with a heavy club in his hand. I stood still, and he soon reached me. He complained of my conduct to him at New Orleans, and suddenly raising his bludgeon laid it about me. Though white with wrath, I spoke nor moved not till he had given me twelve severe blows, then, drawing my dagger with my left hand (unfortunately my right was disabled and in a sling, having been caught and