Wherein is recorded the vivid
impression made upon the travelers
view of A steam engine and of the famous Erie canal. Wherein, also, is A
brief account of sundry curious characters met on the road and at A
celebration of the fourth of July on the big waterway.
At Utica they bought provisions and a tin trumpet for Joe, and a doll with a real porcelain face for Betsey, and turned into the great main thoroughfare of the north leading eastward to Boston and westward to a shore of the midland seas. This road was once the great trail of the Iroquois, by them called the Long House, because it had reached from the Hudson to Lake Erie, and in their day had been well roofed with foliage. Here the travelers got their first view of a steam engine. The latter stood puffing and smoking near the village of Utica, to the horror and amazement of the team and the great excitement of those in the wagon. The boy clung to his father for fear of it.
Samson longed to get out of the wagon and take a close look at the noisy monster, but his horses were rearing in their haste to get away, and even a short stop was impossible. Sambo, with his tail between his legs, ran ahead, in a panic, and took refuge in some bushes by the roadside.
“What was that, father?” the boy asked when the horses had ceased to worry over this new peril.
“A steam engyne,” he answered. “Sarah, did ye get a good look at it?”
“Yes; if that don’t beat all the newfangled notions I ever heard of,” she exclaimed.
“It’s just begun doin’ business,” said Samson.
“What does it do?” Joe asked.
“On a railroad track it can grab hold of a house full o’ folks and run off with it. Goes like the wind, too.”
“Does it eat ’em up?” Joe asked.
“No. It eats wood and oil and keeps yellin’ for more. I guess it could eat a cord o’ wood and wash it down with half a bucket o’ castor oil in about five minutes. It snatches folks away to some place and drops ’em. I guess it must make their hair stand up and their teeth chatter.”
“Does it hurt anybody?” Joe asked hopefully.
“Well, sir, if anybody wanted to be hurt and got in its way, I rather guess he’d succeed purty well. It’s powerful. Why, if a man was to ketch hold of the tail of a locomotive, and hang on, it would jerk the toe nails right off him.”
Joe began to have great respect for locomotives.
Soon they came in view of the famous Erie Canal, hard by the road. Through it the grain of the far West had just begun moving eastward in a tide that was flowing from April to December. Big barges, drawn by mules and horses on its shore, were cutting the still waters of the canal. They stopped and looked at the barges and the long tow ropes and the tugging animals.