Thus aided they reached the opposite side. But still the lowlands beyond were overflowed as far as the eye could see through the dense forest. On they waded, for nearly a mile, when, to their great joy, they came in sight of dry land. Their garments were dripping and they were severely chilled as they reached the shore. But turning their steps up the stream, they soon came in sight of the cabin, which looked to them like a paradise of rest. It was one of the rudest of huts. The fenceless grounds around were rough and ungainly. The dismal forest, which chanced there to have escaped both earthquake and hurricane, spread apparently without limits in all directions.
Most men, most women, gazing upon a scene so wild, lonely, cheerless, would have said, “Let me sink into the grave rather than be doomed to such a home as that.” But to Crockett and his companions it presented all the attractions their hearts could desire. Mr. Owen and several other men were just starting away from the cabin, when, to their surprise, they saw the party of strangers approaching. They waited until Crockett came up and introduced himself. The men with Mr. Owen were boatmen, who had entered the Obion River from the Mississippi with a boat-load of articles for trade. They were just leaving to continue their voyage.
Such men are seldom in a hurry. Time is to them of but very little value. Hospitality was a virtue which cost nothing. Any stranger, with his rifle, could easily pay his way in the procurement of food. They all turned back and entered the cabin together. Mrs. Owen was an excellent, motherly woman, about fifty years of age. Her sympathies were immediately excited for the poor little boy, whose garments were drenched, and who was shivering as if in an ague-fit. She replenished the fire, dried his clothes, and gave him some warm and nourishing food. The grateful father writes:
“Her kindness to my little boy did me ten times as much good as anything she could have done for me, if she had tried her best.”
These were not the days of temperance. The whiskey-bottle was considered one of the indispensables of every log cabin which made any pretences to gentility. The boat, moored near the shore, was loaded with whiskey, flour, sugar, hardware, and other articles, valuable in the Indian trade in the purchase of furs, and in great demand in the huts of pioneers. There was a small trading-post at what was called McLemone’s Bluff; about thirty miles farther up the river by land, and nearly one hundred in following the windings of the stream. This point the boatmen were endeavoring to reach.
For landing their cargo at this point the boatmen were to receive five hundred dollars, besides the profits of any articles they could sell in the scattered hamlets they might encounter by the way. The whiskey-bottle was of course brought out. Crockett drank deeply; he says, at least half a pint. His tongue was unloosed, and he became one of the most voluble and entertaining of men. His clothes having been dried by the fire, and all having with boisterous merriment partaken of a hearty supper, as night came on the little boy was left to the tender care of Mrs. Owen, while the rest of the party repaired to the cabin of the boat, to make a night of it in drinking and carousal.