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A Ramble of Six Thousand Miles through the United States of America eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 172 pages of information about A Ramble of Six Thousand Miles through the United States of America.

Vast quantities of hogs are bred in the state of Indiana, and are suffered to rove at large in the forests in search of mast.  They are in general perfectly wild, and when encountered suddenly bristle up like an enraged porcupine.  Their legs are long; bodies thin; and tail lengthy and straight.  I was informed that if one of those animals be wounded, its screams will draw an immense concourse of its brethren around it, and that the situation of a person under these circumstances, is by no means void of danger; as they will not fail to attack him en masse.  We were once very nigh getting into a scrape of this description.  Driving along through the forest, we had to pass a tract covered with a thick growth of brushwood—­my friend seeing something stirring among the bushes, drew up, and taking it for a deer, called out to me to fire—­I stood up in the vehicle, and levelled where I saw the movement, when, lo! out starts a bristling hog, with a grunt just in time to escape with a whole skin.

One night having been accidently separated from my fellow-traveller, I had to stay in a miserable-looking hut close to a creek, the habitation of a backwoodsman.  This person’s appearance was extremely unprepossessing.  The air of ferocity and wildness which characterized his countenance, added to his unhealthy, cadaverous aspect, would have been sufficient in any other country to make one feel unpleasant at passing the night alone under his roof.  He resided in this unhealthy situation, because the land was extremely fertile; but stated that every fall some one of his family was ill, and none of them enjoyed good health.  Now when we summed up the consequent loss of labour incident to ill health, the balance of profit seemed to be greatly against bottom land, and much in favour of the healthful prairies.

The farmers use, almost exclusively, the sugar of the maple (acer saccharinum) which they manufacture themselves.  The space in which a number of these trees are found, they call a “sugar camp.”  The process of manufacturing is as follows:—­After the first frost, the trees are tapped, by perforating the trunk in an ascending direction.  A spout of alder is inserted in the perforation, and the sap drips through this conduit into a trough of wood.  The sap is then boiled with a spoonful of slacked lime, the white of an egg or two, and about a pint of milk, to every fifteen gallons.  An ordinary tree commonly gives four pounds of good coarse brown sugar, which when refined can be made equal to superior lump sugar.

A great portion of the roads through which we passed were mere horse paths, full of stumps, with shrubs entangled across them so thickly, that we were often obliged to dismount in order to cut away part of the impediment.  Large trees which have fallen across the road, frequently intercept your passage, and you have no alternative but to lift the wheels of the vehicle over them.

As we approached Cincinnati the difficulty of travelling became greatly augmented.  The rains had cut up the roads into ravines, sometimes full three feet in depth, which, added to the clayey nature of the soil, completely exhausted the horse, and rendered him incapable of proceeding faster than a slow walk, even with the empty carriage.

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