University of Virginia Library


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But with the word, the time will bring on summer,
When briars shall have leaves as well as thorns,
And be as sweet as sharp. We must away;
Our wagon is prepared, and time revives us.


I heard it then—in long days after, when she
was speechless, I heard it—I still hear it—I shall
never lose its lingering memories. They cling to me
with a mother's love; the purest, the least selfish of
all human affections. The love of woman is a
wondrous thing, but the love of a mother is yet
more wonderful. What is there like it in nature?
What tie is there so close, so warm, so uncalculating
in its compliances, so unmeasured in its sacrifices, so
enduring in its tenacious tenderness? It may accompany
the feeble intellect, the coarse form, the
equivocal virtue; but, in itself, it is neither feeble,
nor coarse, nor equivocal. It refines vulgarity, it
softens violence, it qualifies and chastens, even when
it may not redeem, all other vices. I am convinced
that, of all human affections, it is endowed with the
greatest longevity; it is the most hardy, if not the


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most acute in its vitality. Talk of the love of young
people for one another; it is not to be spoken of in
the same breath; nothing can be more inferior.
Such love is of the earth, earthy—a passion born of
tumults, wild and fearful as the storm, and yet
more capricious. An idol of clay—a miserable
pottery, the work, which in a fit of phrensied devotion
we make with our own hands, and in another,
and not more mad fit of brutality, we trample to
pieces with our feet. Appetite is the fiend that degrades
every passion, and the flame, of which it is
a part, must always end in smoke and ashes.

Thus I mused when I encountered my friend and
companion. He was in fine spirits; overjoyed with
the novelty of the situation in which he found himself.
For the first time in his life, he was a traveller,
and his nature was one of those that correspond
with the generous season, and keep happy in spite
of the cloudy. His soul began to expand with the
momently increasing consciousness of its freedom;
and when he described to me the sweet hour which
had just terminated, and which he had employed for
his parting with Catharine Walker, he absolutely
shouted. His separation from his former
home, his relatives, and the woman whom he loved,
was very different from mine; and his detail of his
own feelings, and his joys and hopes, only added
bitterness to mine. Going and coming, the world


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smiled upon him. Backwards and forwards, an inviting
prospect met his eyes. He saw no sun go
down in night. He was conscious of no evening
not hallowed by a moon. Happy world, where the
blessed and blessing heart moves the otherwise disobedient
and froward elements as it pleases, banishes
the clouds, suspends the storm, and lighting up
the sky without, from the heaven within, casts forever
more upon it, the smile of a satisfied and indulgent
Deity. The disappointed demon in my
soul actually chafed to hear the self gratulations of
the delighted God in his.

And yet what had been my reflections but a moment
before? To what conclusion had I come? In
what—supposing me to have been right in that conclusion—in
what respect was his fortune better than
mine? In what respect was it half so good? The love
of the sexes I had proclaimed worthless and vulnerable;
that of a mother beyond all price. I had a mother,
a fond, unselfish mother, and Carrington was an
orphan. He had only that love, which I professed
to think so valueless. But did I seriously think so?
What an absurdity. The love of the young for each
other is a property of the coming time, and it is the
coming time for which the young must live. That
of a mother is a love of the past, or, at the best, of
the present only. It cannot, in the ordinary term
of human allotment, last us while we live. It is not


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meant that it should, and the Providence that beneficently
cares for us always, even when we are least
careful of ourself, has wisely prompted us to seek
and desire that love which may. It was an instinct
that made me envy my companion, in spite of my
own philosophy. I would have given up the love
of a thousand mothers, to be secure of that of Mary

I strove to banish thought, by referring to the
most ordinary matters of conversation;matters,indeed,
about which I did not care a straw. In this way, I
strove, not only to dispel my own topics of grief, but
to silence those of triumph in my companion. What
did I care to hear of Catharine Walker, and how she
loved him, and how she cheered him, with a manly
spirit, on a journey from which other and perhaps
finer damsels would have sought to discourage their
lovers; and how she bade him return as soon as he
had bought the lands on which they were to settle
all their future lives? This was talk no less provoking
than unnecessary; and it was not without some
difficulty that I could divert him from it. And even
then my success was only partial. He was forever
getting back to it again.

“And what route are we to take, William?” I
demanded, when we had reached a point of fork in
the road. “You spoke yesterday of going up by
way of Tuscaloosa. But if you can do without


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taking that route, it will be the better; it is forty
miles out of your road to Columbus, and unless you
have some business there, I see no reason to go that
way. The town is new, and has nothing worth
seeing in it.”

“It is not that I go for, Richard. I have some
money owing me in that neighbourhood. There is
one Matthew Webber, who lives a few miles on the
road from Tuscaloosa to Columbus, who owes me a
hundred and thirty dollars for a mule I sold him
last spring was a year. I have his note. The
money was due five months ago, and it needs looking
after. I don't know much of Webber, and think
very little of him. The sooner I get the money
out of his hands, the better, and the better chance then
of his paying me. I'm afraid if he stands off much
longer, he'll stand off for ever, and I may then
whistle for my money.”

“You are wise, and forty miles is no great difference
to those who have good horses. So speed on
to the right. It's a rascally road let me tell you. I
have ridden it before.”

“I know nothing about it; but thank the stars, I
care as little. When a man's heart is in the right
place, sound and satisfied, it matters not much what
is the condition of the road he travels. One bright
smile, one press of the hand from Kate, makes all
smooth, however rough before.”


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I struck the spurs into my horse's flanks impatiently.
He saw the movement, and, possibly, the
expression of my countenance, and laughed aloud.

“Ah, Dick, you take things to heart too seriously.
What if you are unfortunate, man? You are not the
first. You will not be the last. You are in a good
and goodly company. Console yourself, man, by
taking it for granted that Mary has been less wise
than you thought her, and that you have made a more
fortunate escape than you can well appreciate at

“Pshaw, I think not of it,” was my peevish reply.
“Let us talk of other matters.”

“Agreed! But what other matters to talk of that
shall please you, Richard, is beyond my knowledge
now. My happiness, at this moment, will be sure
to enter into every thing I say; as I certainly can
think of no more agreeable subject. I shall speak
of Kate, and that will remind you of Mary, however
different may be their respective treatment of us. If
I talk of the land I am looking for, and resolve to
settle on, you will begin to brood over the solitary
life in store for you, unless, as I think very likely,
it will not be long before you console yourself with
some Mississippi maiden, who will save you the
trouble of looking for lands, and the cost of paying
for them, by bringing you a comfortable portion.”

“I am not mercenary, William,” was my answer,


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somewhat more temperately spoken than usual. I
had discovered the weakness of which I had been
guilty, and at once resolved that though I was not
successful, I would not be surly. Indeed a playful
commentary which Carrington uttered about my
savage demeanor, brought me back to my senses. It
was in reply to some uncivil sarcasm of mine.

“Hush, man, hush! Because you have been buffeted,
you need not be a bear. Let the blows profit
you as they do a beefsteak, and though I would not
have your tenderness increased by the process, heaven
keep you from any increase of toughness. Forgive
me, my dear fellow, for being so happy. I
know well enough that to the miserable, the good
humour of one's neighbours is sheer impertinence.
But I am more than a neighbour to you, Dick Hurdis.
I am a friend; and you must forgive mine.”

“Ay, that I do, William,” I answered frankly,
and taking his hand while I spoke. “I will not
only forgive, but tolerate your happiness. You shall
see that I will; and to prove it to you, I beg that you
will talk on, and only talk of that. What were
Kate's last words!”

“Come back soon.”

“And she smiled when she said them?”

“Ay; that was the strangest thing of all, Richard.
She did smile when we parted, and neither then nor


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at any time since I have known her, have I ever
seen her shed a tear. I almost bleated like a calf.”

“She is a strong woman, high-spirited, firm and
full of character. She does not feel the less for not
showing her feelings. Still water runs deep.”

“A suspicious proverb, Richard. One that has
too many meanings to be complimentary. Nevertheless,
you are quite right. Kate is a still girl—
thinks more than she says, feels more than she will
acknowledge; and loves the more earnestly that
she does not proclaim it from the pine tops. Your
professing women, like your professing men, are all
puff and plaster. They know their own deficiencies,
and in the inventory which they make of their
virtues, take good care to set them down as the very
chattels in possession. Like church builders and
church goers, they seek to make up, for the substantials
which they have not, by the shows and symbols
which belong to them; and, truth to say, such is
the universality of this habit, that, now-a-days, no
one looks farther than the surplice, and the colour
of the cloth. Forms are virtues, and names things.
You remember the German story, where the devil
bought the man's shadow in preference to his soul.
Heaven help mankind were the devil disposed to
pursue his trade. What universal bankruptcy among
men would follow the loss of their shadows. How


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the church would groan; the pillars crumble and fall,
the surplice and the black coat shrivel and stink.
What a loss would there be of demure looks and
saintly faces—of groaning and psalm singing tradesmen—men
who seek to make a brotherhood and sisterhood
in order to carry their calicoes to a good
market. Well, thank heaven, the country to which
we are now bending our steps, Richard, is not yet
overrun by these saintly hypocrites. Time will
come, I doubt not, when we shall have them where
the Choctaws now hunt and pow-wow, making long
prayers, and longer sermons, and concluding as usual,
with a collection.”

“It may be that the country is quite as full of
rascals, William, though it may lack hypocrites.
We have bold villains in place of cunning ones, and
whether we fare better or worse than the city in
having them, is a question not easily decided. We
shall have need of all our caution in our travelling.
I have no fear of the Indians while they are sober;
and it will not be hard to avoid them when they are
drunk; but we have heard too many stories of outlaws
and robbery on the borders of the nation and
within it, where the villains were not savages, to
render necessary any particular counsel to either of
us now.”

“I don't believe the half of what I hear of these
squatters. No doubt, they are a rough enough set


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of people; but what of that; let them but give us
fair play, and man to man, I think, we need not
fear them. I know that you can fling a stout fellow
with a single flirt, and I have a bit of muscle here
that has not often met its match. I fear not
your bold boys; let them come. It is your city
sneaks, Richard, that I don't like; your saintly demure,
sly rogues, that pray for you at the supper-table,
and pick your pocket when you sleep.”

Carrington extended his brawny and well shaped
arm as he spoke, giving it a glance of unconcealed
admiration. He did not overrate his own powers;
but, in speaking of rogues, and referring to their
practices, it was no part of my notion that they
would ever give us fair play. I told him that, and
by a natural transition, passed to another topic of no
little importance on the subject.

“I don't fear any thing from open violence, William,”
was my reply. “You know enough of me
for that; but men who aim to rob, will always prefer
to prosecute their schemes by art rather than
boldness. Valour does not often enter into the composition
of a rogue. Now I have enough money
about me to tempt a rascal, and more than I am
willing to surrender to one. You have probably
brought a large sum with you also.”

“All I have, three thousand dollars, more or less
in United States Bank bills, some few Alabama,


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and Georgia, all passable at the land office,” was his

“The greater need of caution. There are land
pirates on the Black Warrior, and Alabama, who are
said to be worse by far than the pirates of the
Gulf. Look to it, William, and keep your money
out of sight. The more poor your pretensions, the
more certain your safety. Show no more money
than you wish to spend.”

“I will not, Richard; and yet I should have no
objection to put my money down upon the butt end
of a log, and take a hug with any pirate of them all
who should have it.”

“More brave than wise,” was my reply. “But
let us have no more of this; there are travellers before
and behind us. Let our circumspection begin
from this moment. We have both need of it,
being at greater risk, as we bring, like a terrapin,
our homes and all that is in them, on our backs.
You have too much money about you. In that,
William, you were any thing but wise. I wish
I had counselled you. You could have entered
the lands with one fourth of it. But it is too late
now to repent. You must be watchful only. I
am not at so great a risk as you, but I have quite
enough to tempt a Red river gambler to his own ruin
and mine.”

“I shall heed you,” replied my companion, buttoning


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his coat, and turning the butt of a pistol in
his bosom, making it more convenient to his grasp.
“But who are these travellers? Settlers from North
Carolina, I reckon. Poor devils from Tar river as
usual, going they know not where, to get, they know
not what.”

“They cannot go to a poorer region, nor fare
much worse than they have done, if your guess be

“I'll lay a picayune upon it. They look sleepy
and poor enough to have lived at Tar river a thousand
years. But, we shall see.”