Such is an outline of the account which Whiskey Centre gave of himself. It is true, he said very little of his propensity to drink, but this his companion was enabled to conjecture from the context of his narrative, as well as from what he had seen. It was very evident to the bee-hunter, that the plans of both parties for the summer were about to be seriously deranged by the impending hostilities, and that some decided movement might be rendered necessary, even for the protection of their lives. This much he communicated to Gershom, who heard his opinions with interest, and a concern in behalf of his wife and sister that at least did some credit to his heart. For the first time in many months, indeed, Gershom was now perfectly sober, a circumstance that was solely owing to his having had no access to liquor for eight-and-forty hours. With the return of a clear head, came juster notions of the dangers and difficulties in which he had involved the two self-devoted women who had accompanied him so far, and who really seemed ready to follow him in making the circuit of the earth.
“It’s troublesome times,” exclaimed Whiskey Centre, when his companion had just ended one of his strong and lucid statements of the embarrassments that might environ them, ere they could get back to the settled portions of the country—“it’s troublesome times, truly! I see all you would say, Bourdon, and wonder I ever got my foot so deep into it, without thinkin’ of all, beforehand! The best on us will make mistakes, hows’ever, and I suppose I’ve been called on to make mine, as well as another.”
“My trade speaks for itself,” returned the bee-hunter, “and any man can see why one who looks for bees must come where they’re to be found; but I will own, Gershom, that your speculation lies a little beyond my understanding. Now, you tell me you have two full barrels of whiskey—”
“Had, Bourdon—had—one of them is pretty nearly half used, I am afeared.”
“Well, had, until you began to be your own customer. But here you are, squatted at the mouth of the Kalamazoo, with a barrel and a half of liquor, and nobody but yourself to drink it! Where the profits are to come from, exceeds Pennsylvany calculations; perhaps a Yankee can tell.”
“You forget the Injins. I met a man at Mackinaw, who only took out in his canoe one barrel, and he brought in skins enough to set up a grocery, at Detroit. But I was on the trail of the soldiers, and meant to make a business on’t, at Fort Dearborn. What between the soldiers and the redskins, a man might sell gallons a day, and at fair prices.”
“It’s a sorry business at the best, Whiskey; and now you’re fairly sober, if you’ll take my advice you’ll remain so. Why not make up your mind, like a man, and vow you’ll never touch another drop.”
“Maybe I will, when these two barrels is emptied—I’ve often thought of doin’ some sich matter; and, ag’in and ag’in, has Dolly and Blossom advised me to fall into the plan; but it’s hard to give up old habits, all at once. If I could only taper off on a pint a day, for a year or so, I think I might come round in time. I know as well as you do, Bourdon, that sobriety is a good thing, and dissipation a bad thing; but it’s hard to give up all at once.”