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narrow valley at the Eastern foot of the Blue Ridge. His road nearly followed the course of a small stream, which, issuing from a deep gorge of the mountain, winds its way between lofty hills, and terminates its brief and brawling course in one of the larger tributaries of the Dan. A glance of the eye took in the whole of the little settlement that lined its banks, and measured the resources of its inhabitants. The different tenements were so near to each other as to allow but a small patch of arable land to each.
Of manufactures there was no appearance, save only a rude shed at the entrance of the valley, on the door of which the oftrepeated brand of the horseshoe gave token of a smithy. There, too, the rivulet, increased by the innumerable springs which afforded to every habitation the unappreciated, but inappreciable luxury of water, cold, clear, and sparkling, had gathered strength enough to turn a tiny inill. Of trade there could be none. The bleak and rugged barrier, which closed the scene on the west, and the narrow road, fading to a foot-path, gave assurance to the traveller that he had here reached the ne plus ultra of social life in that direction.
At length he heard a sound of voices, and then a shrill whistle, and all was still. Immediately, some half a dozen men, leaping a fence, ranged themselves across the road and faced him. He observed that each, as he touched the ground, laid hold of a rifle that leaned against the enclosure, and this circumstance drew his attention to twenty or
more of these formidable weapons, ranged along in the same position. As the traveller drew up his horse, one of the men, speaking in a low and quiet tone, said, “We want a word with you, stranger, before you go any farther."
“ As many as you please,” replied the other, “for I am tired and hungry, and so is my horse; and I am glad to find
some one at last, of whom I may hope to purchase something for both of us to eat."
“That you can have quite handy," said the countryman,“for we have been gathering corn, and were just going to our dinner. If
If you will only just 'light, sir, one of the boys can feed your horse, and you can take such as we have got to give you.”
The invitation was accepted; the horse was taken in charge by a long-legged lad of fifteen, without hat or shoes ; and the whole party crossed the fence together.
At the moment a man was seen advancing toward them, who, observing their approach, fell back a few steps, and threw himself on the ground at the foot of a large old appletree. Around this were clustered a motley group of
men, women, and boys, who opened and made way for the stranger. He advanced, and bowing gracefully took off his forage cap, from beneath which a quantity of soft curling flaxen hair fell over his brow and cheeks. Every eye was now fixed on him, with an expression rather of interest than of mere curiosity. Every countenance was serious and composed, and all wore an air of business, except that a slight titter was heard among the girls, who, hovering behind the backs of their mothers, peeped through the crowd, to get a look at the handsome stranger.
As the youth approached, the man at the foot of the tree arose, and returned the salutation, which seemed unheeded by the rest. He advanced a step or two and invited the stranger to be seated. This action, and the looks turned towards him by the others, showed that he was in authority of some sort among them. With him, therefore, our traveller concluded that the proposed conference was to be held.
He was at length asked whence he came, and answered, from the neighborhood of Richmond.–From which side of
the river?-From the north side.—Did he know anything of Van Courtlandt?--His camp was at Bacon's branch, just above the town.-What force had he?
“I cannot say, certainly,” he replied, “but common fame made his numbers about four thousand.”
“Is that all, on both sides of the river?” said his interrogator.
“O, no! Col. Loyal's regiment is at Petersburg, and Col. Cole's at Manchester; each about five hundred strong; and there is a piquet on the Bridge Island."
“ Did you cross there?” " I did not.”
Where, then?” he was asked. “I can hardly tell you," he replied, “it was at a private ford, several miles above Cartersville.”
“ Was not that mightily out of the way? What made you come so far around?”
“It was safer travelling on that side of the river.”
“ Then the people on that side of the river are your friends?”
“No. They are not. But, as they are all of a color there, they would let me pass, and ask no questions, as long as I travelled due west. On this side, if you are one man's friend, you are the next man's enemy; and I had no mind to answer questions."
" You seem to answer them now mighty freely.”
" That is true. I am like a letter that tells all it knows as soon as it gets to the right hand ; but it does not want to be opened before that.”
“ And how do you know that you have got to the right hand now?"
6. Because I know where I am.” " And where are you?”
“Just at the foot of the Devil's-Backbone,” replied the youth.
“ Were you ever here before?” “ Never in my
life.” “How do you know then where you are?” asked the mountaineer.
“Because the right way to avoid questions is to ask none. So I took care to know all about the road, and the country, and the place, before I left home.” “ And who told you all about it?”
Suppose I should tell you,” answered the young man, " that Van Courtlandt had a map of the country made, and gave it to me.”
“I should say you were a traitor to him, or a spy upon us,” was the stern reply.
At the same moment, a startled hum was heard from the crowd, and the press moved and swayed for an instant, as if a sort of spasm had pervaded the whole mass.
“You are a good hand at questioning,” said the youth, with a smile, “ but without asking a single question, I have found out all I wanted to know.”
“ And what was that?” asked the other.
“Whether you were friends to the Yorkers and Yankees, or to poor old Virginia."
" And which are we for?” added the laconic mountaineer. “For old Virginia forever, replied the youth.
It was echoed in a shout, their proud war-cry of “old Virginia forever."
This renowned hunter and pioneer, commonly called Davy Crockett, was born in Limestone, Green County, Ten
His free and wild youth was spent in hunting, He became a soldier in the war of 1812 : he was elected to the Tennessee Legislature in 182 1 and 1823, and to Congress in 1829 and 1833. His eccentricity of manners, his lack of education, and his strong common sense and shrewdness made him a marked figure, especially in Washington. In 1835 he went to Texas to aid in the struggle for independence; and in 1836, he was massacred by General Santa Anna, with five other prisoners, after the surrender of the Alamo, these six being the only survivors of a band of one hundred and forty Texans. See Life by Edward S. Ellis.
Life of Van Buren, Heir-Apparent to the A Tour to the North and Down East.
Crockett's autobiography was written to correct various mistakes in an unauthorized account of his life and adventures, that was largely circulated. His books are unique in literature as he is in human nature, and they give us an original account of things. As to literary criticism of his works and style, see his own opinion in the extract below.
SPELLING AND GRAMMAR-HIS PROLOGUE.
(From A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett, of the State of Tennessee.
by Himself. 1834.) I don't know of anything in my book to be criticised on by honourable men. Is it on my spelling ?-that's not my trade. Is ii on my grammar?—I hadn't time to learn it, and make