Nick of the Woods eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 393 pages of information about Nick of the Woods.
that it was thought to have infected, occasionally, persons, otherwise of good repute, who ranged the woods, intent on private adventures, which they were careful to conceal from the public eye.  The author remembers, in the published journal of an old traveller—­an Englishman, and, as he thinks, a Friend; but he cannot be certain of this fact, the name having escaped him, and the loose memorandum he made at the time, having been mislaid—­who visited the region of the upper Ohio towards the close of the last century, an observation on this subject, which made too deep an impression to be easily forgotten.  It was stated, as the consequence of the Indian atrocities, that such were the extent and depth of the vindictive feeling throughout the community, that it was suspected in some cases to have reached men whose faith was opposed to warfare and bloodshed.  The legend of Wandering Nathan is, no doubt, an idle and unfounded one, although some vague notions touching the existence of just such a personage, whose habitat was referred to Western Pennsylvania, used to prevail among the cotemporaries, or immediate successors, of Boone and Kenton, M’Colloch and Wetzel.  It is enough, however, for the author to be sustained in such a matter by poetical possibility; and he can afford to be indifferent to a charge which has the scarce consistent merit of imputing to him, at one and the same time, hostility towards the most warlike and the most peaceable of mankind.

NICK OF THE WOODS.

CHAPTER I.

The sun of an August afternoon, 1782, was yet blazing upon the rude palisades and equally rude cabins of one of the principal stations in Lincoln county, when a long train of emigrants, issuing from the southern forest, wound its way over the clearings, and among the waving maize-fields that surrounded the settlement, and approached the chief gate of its enclosure.

The party was numerous, consisting perhaps of seven or eight score individuals in all, men, women, and children, the last bearing that proportion to the others in point of numbers usually found in a borderer’s family, and thus, with the help of pack-horses, cattle, and a few negroes, the property of the more wealthy emigrants, scattered here and there throughout the assemblage, giving to the whole train the appearance of an army, or moving village, of Vandals in quest of some new home to be won with the edge of the sword.  Of the whole number there were at least fifty well-armed; some of these, however, being striplings of fourteen, and, in one or two instances, even of twelve, who balanced the big rifle on their shoulders, or sustained it over their saddle-bows, with all the gravity and dignity of grown warriors; while some few of the negroes were provided with the same formidable weapons.  In fact, the dangers of the journey through the wilderness required that every individual of a party should be well armed, who was at all capable of bearing arms; and this was a kind of capacity which necessity instilled into the American frontiersman in the earliest infancy.

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Nick of the Woods from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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