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away there (pointing with his hand), among the back-woods.
Old Billy, said another, would give the gentleman a lodging
Old Billy! replied his companion. Do you think a white man would bemean himself to take up his quarters with a negur ? Come, let us jog on.
Nothing can give more poignancy to the misfortunes of a Traveller, than for him to repine at them. I therefore walked forward with a decisive step, and whistled a merry tune as I brushed the dew with my feet.
In about half an hour, I reached a solitary mud-hut, which stood adjoining to a wood. A little smoke rose from the chimney, but not a mouse was stirring near the dwelling. But from the woods was heard the cry of the Whip-poorwill, and the croaking of the bull-frogs.
I peeped through a chink in the wall of this lonely hut. I soon discovered it was the habitation of Old Billy, and Billy's old wife. I could distinguish an old negro-man and negro-woman, huddled together, like Darby and Joan, before the embers of an expiring fire, and passing from one to another the stump of an old pipe. Į tapped at the door. Please God Almighty ! said the old woman; who knock at our door this time of night? Why I thought nobody was awake but Whip-poor-will!
Open the door, said the old man, very calmly.
'Tis mayhap some negur-man that has run away, and is now come out of the woods to beg a hoecake, or a bit of hominy. Lack-a-day! you don't say so, replied the old
Some poor runaway, without a bit of victuals to keep life and soul together. Well ! there's a whole hoe-cake in the platter. That's lucky, for true !
The old woman came to the door, but, starting back on beholding me, exclaimed, Hic ! this not negur! This one gentleman !
Let my page record the hospitality of this poor black woman and her husband. They proffered me their provisions, and helped me to the sweetest draught of water I ever remember to have drunk. They proposed to spread a blanket for me before the fire, and supply me out of their garments with a pillow for my head. In a word, though their faces were black, their hearts were not insensible.
I could not overcome my prejudices. I felt the fulness of their humanity ; but, my heart harboured that pride, which courted the rigours of the night, rather than descend to become the guest of an African slave. I declined their offer with acknowledgments, and prosecuted my walk into the woods.
I had walked about three miles, lighted forward by the moon, and admonished of the lateness of the hour by the appearance of the Morning Star, when the barking of dogs, and the voices of men at a distance, filled me with the hope that I was approaching some village. My heart caught new pleasure, and I redoubled my pace; but in a few minutes, instead of entering a village, I found myself among a croud of waggons and waggoners, who, having their journey suspended by a run of water which had overflowed its banks, were preparing to encamp on the side of the road. Of these some were backing their waggons, some unharnessing their cattle, and some kindling a fire.
On coming to the bank of the stream, I asked à man, who was splitting wood, whether there was any canoe to carry Travellers across the Run.
Indeed, I don't know, said he.
How is that? cried another waggoner, approaching the spot. If the stranger is willing to go to the expence of a canoe, I'll hew him one out of the stump of a tree in less than half an hour. I have tools in my waggon.
Sir, replied I, I think it will be more adviseable to tarry here till the floods are subsided. But, is there no tavern near here?
There is not a grog-shop, said the man, between this and George Town. But if you
chuse to drink some whiskey, I have got a demi-john in my waggon. Come, don't make yourself strange because I drive a waggon.
Sir, said I, it was my anxiety to obtain a lodging that made me ask after a tavern; I did not
want liquor. But as you are polite enough to welcome me to your jorum of whiskey, I shall be happy to pledge you.
The fellow now went to his waggon, and, taking out a small demi-john of whiskey, returned to the place where I stood, followed by the whole of his fraternity. Come, said he, here's a good market for our tobacco! And after taking a long draught, which called a profound sigh from his lungs, he handed me the demi-john, of which having drunk, I passed it in succession to my neighbour.
No man is more tenacious of etiquette than I. For two persons to become acquainted, the laws of good-breeding exact the introduction of a third.
This third personage I had now found in the demi-john of whiskey, and so without
any further ceremony, I accompanied the gentlemen waggoners to their fire, and squatted myself before the blaze.
The man whom I had pledged, I very soon discovered to be the chief of the
for his mien was more lofty, and his speech more imperious than that of the rest. Halloa ! Ralph Noggin! cried he, Turn the horses out loose with their bells on, that we may find them again in the woods. And do you hear. Get the pig out of the big waggon, that we may barbacue him while there's a slow fire.
This motion of the waggoner was I thought not a bad one; my hunger seconded it in secret;
and I began to entertain a higher opinion of the company I had got into.
Having barbacued the pig, each man drew forth his knife, and helped himself to a portion. I was invited to do the same, but, when I had laid hands on a savoury morsel, it was difficult to retain it, for a dog, that accompanied the waggons, placed himself before me in a menacing attitude, and every time I put a piece of meat into my mouth, the cur gnashed his teeth, and rebuked me with an angry bark. At length, I was relieved from the importunities of the dog, by the politeness of a waggoner, who snatching up his whip, cracked it over the dog's back with such violence, that the animal slunk his tail between his hind legs, and ran howling into the woods with a most tragical tone ; a tone that suspended for some minutes the bellowing of the bull-frogs, and the cry of the Whip-poor-will.
My companions having satisfied their hunger, they soon fell asleep ; and it was not very long before I followed the example. My bed was composed of leaves, and I had no other canopy but the skics; but, in two watchful voyages to the East Indies, I had often snored on the hard deck, and my repose in the open air was a thing I had been used to.
About sun-rise I awoke, refreshed beyond measure with three hours sound sleep. Some of my companions were awake, but others were yet snoring. At length, they all rose and shook