Page:Southern Life in Southern Literature.djvu/34
SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE
Their day's journey is short and not agreeable. The cattle, stubborn or wild, frequently leave the road for the woods, giving the travelers much trouble; the harness of the horses here and there gives way, and immediate repair is needed. A basket which has accidentally dropped must be gone after, for nothing that they have can be spared. The roads are bad, and now and then all hands are called to push on the wagon or prevent it from upsetting. Yet by sunset they have proceeded perhaps twenty miles. Fatigued, all assemble around the fire which has been lighted; supper is prepared, and camp being run up, there they pass the night.
Days and weeks, nay months, of unremitting toil pass before they gain the end of the journey. They have crossed both the Carolinas, Georgia, and Alabama. They have been traveling from the beginning of May to that of September, and with heavy hearts they traverse the neighborhood of the Mississippi. But now, arrived on the banks of the broad stream, they gaze in amazement on the dark, deep woods around them. Boats of various kinds they see gliding downward with the current, while others slowly ascend against it. A few inquiries are made at the nearest dwelling, and assisted by the inhabitants with their boats and canoes, they at once cross the river and select their place of habitation.The exhalations rising from the swamps and morasses around them have a powerful effect on these new settlers, but all are intent on preparing for the winter. A small patch of ground is cleared by the ax and fire, a temporary cabin is erected; to each of the cattle is attached a bell before it is let loose into the neighboring canebrake, and the horses remain about the house, where they find sufficient food at that season. The first trading boat that stops at their landing enables them to provide themselves with some flour, fishhooks, and ammunition, as well as other commodities. The looms are mounted,