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The winter having terminated, the spring of 1793 opened very beautifully, and began to call forth her myriads of natural charms; but just as my mind was beginning to be filled with admiration and delight by the prospects of the promising season, and I to enjoy delightful anticipations as to the happiness which should be mine during this lovely period, I stumbled, as it were, and fell into the hands of one Alexander Douglass, an unprincipled fellow, whose business it was to trade with the Spaniards, and who, in company with a Frenchman, had come to our neighborhood. On his arrival he made it known that he wished to employ hands to go with him to Kaskaskia, in the country now embraced by Illinois.
Besides containing the oldest document in the State, which is a petition to Louis XV. for a grant of common fields, specifying the great losses to which the people were subjected the year previous by an extraordinary flood, this town belonged to the great chain of posts which stretched from Canada to the mouth of the Mississippi, near the banks of which it was situated, where Okaw river enters into it, opposite Mizzier; and I had a natural curiosity to see it, and upon conditions that a friend of mine, Wells Robins, could be induced to go, I agreed that I would accompany Douglass. He consented, and we departed on the journey, which we pursued finely to the mouth of the Ohio, where Douglass left us to go down to Ainsley Griss, now New Madrid, in Missouri, while we were to ascend to Kaskaskia; and when we arrived, the young Frenchman, who had accompanied us from Cumberland, introduced me to his kind old mother and father, and I found their house an excellent home for many weeks. I soon picked up a number of French words; could call for any thing at table, say good morning, good evening, inquire the way to a place, and the price of an article, etc.; but I loved my mother tongue too well to desire a continued residence in this, although it was one of the kindest families under whose roof I had ever sought or received protection. I began to look out for a boarding-house where the English was spoken, and meeting with the high-sheriff, Jones, who could speak my language nearly as well as his own, I went to live with him.
One portion of my time I passed on his farm, and the other at my favorite employment, hunting and shooting with the Indians, who had camped around the town, having come hither in great numbers, as was their custom to do every fall, to trade with the French and Spaniards, bringing their peltry, bear's oil, roots, mocassins, etc., and receiving in return blankets, calico, red prints most preferred, beads, silver rings, and brooches, made by the Spaniards for the trade; and whiskey, a single drink of which would perhaps consume the price of a skin which they had stripped from the once bounding roe, the fleet animal, to capture which had cost them, as like as not, a whole day's hard pursuit, besides packing it a long distance to market.
To give incidents as they occurred, upon one occasion after we had retired to bed and fallen to sleep, our slumbers were interrupted by a rapid succession of screams which broke the stillness
of the night, and which we recognized to be a female voice. So startled were Jones and myself, that both, moved by the same impulse, sprang to our feet and hurried to the scene of distress without even stopping to put on our clothes. An Indian had forced his way into the house whence the cry proceeded, and for the purpose of committing depredations, the nature of which are yet unknown. When we entered, the woman's husband was holding the Indian round the waist, and without pausing or asking any questions, we seized and dragged him out into the yard, but upon our releasing him he ran back into the house. We dragged him out again and with a continued savage yell he ran away, leaving us to think from his actions that he was a maniac, or had triumphantly succeeded in deceiving us.
One morning after this I went, as I was in the habit of doing, to the river to wash, and while I was laving my hands in the stream, a party of seven Indians approached me and made signs that they desired to cross, and I in return made signs which gave them to understand that they might get into the boat, and as soon as they were on board I pushed out into the river; before we
had reached the opposite bank, one of the party who stood second from me reached over the first and pulled a handkerchief from my head, and after spreading it out as though to see the size and the figures upon it, took hold of one corner, drew it lengthwise through his hand, and tied it round his waist. I paid no further attention to him until the boat struck the shore, when all went out but him, and then he attempted to pass me with my handkerchief, but I ran my hand into the belt it had formed around him, and with a sudden and violent jerk, brought him back to the very centre of the boat; at which he became very indignant, and while his lip curled with scorn, he untied it and dashed it at my feet.
It was a very common thing when the Indians came into Kaskaskia, from their hundred tents which spotted the confines of the town, for them to return gloriously drunk, and when this was the case, the squaws might be seen exhibiting a great deal of precaution, for they well knew the desperate ferocity of their nature at such times; as they would be coming home singing their wild drunken songs, as they were styled, and began busily to put the axes out of their way, and remove from