"At Portes de Rodas, the first town we struck in Portugal, I met with a peculiarly Portuguese reception. Every person was supplied with detonating rockets which were fired off in showers and that was the manner of showing good will at every place in the country. There were no rocks in the river now. The stream broadened majestically and the tides from the Atlantic began to be felt. At Abrantes and Santarem, the receptions accorded me took the wildest form of enthusiasm and I there heard for the first time the peculiar name given me in Portugal 'Homen das Botas',—'the man with the boots'. This name grew out of an ancient story connected with the Tagus. Many years ago the government officials wished to pass a law which was obnoxious to the people, who made a terrible clamor against it. A shrewd politician, to distract the people's attention from the proposed law, circulated the report that a man in boots was going to walk on the surface of the Tagus from Santarem to Lisbon. This was such a wonderful thing that the people lost sight of the political question, in watching the river and discussing the performance. In the meantime the law was passed. For years the people talked and at last joked about the 'man with the boots,' and so when I came down, there was some reason for their cries of 'here comes the veritable Homem das Botas.'"
As Paul approached Lisbon, he had to work tides. The river ran through a very low country and stretched into so wide an expanse, as almost to form a bay. He arrived in Lisbon just eighteen days from the time of starting, which included nine night's paddling. The welcome he received there was something tremendous. It was estimated that one hundred thousand people were out to see him land. Just before going ashore, a steam launch put out to him with dispatches of congratulations from the King of Spain and his Minister of Marine. A company of horse guards took charge of him and escorted him to a hotel. The usual banquets and entertainments followed this winding up of one of the hardest voyages he ever made.
The fact that the Tagus had been navigated, created a profound sensation throughout Spain and Portugal, and Boyton was kept busy acknowledging telegrams of congratulation. The governor of Toledo sent the Spanish consul at Lisbon a telegram which, translated, read as follows:
"I beg you to heartily congratulate Captain Boyton in my behalf for the happy termination of his difficult voyage on the river Tagus, which has once more shown his intelligence and courage."
"Before leaving Madrid to begin the journey," remarked Paul to an American friend, "the foreign colony warned me not only of the dangers of the Tagus, but also against the people along the river, who were wild and ignorant, and would kill me. On the contrary I found them kind, hospitable and generous, both in Spain and Portugal."
The Geographical Society of Lisbon requested the navigator to deliver a lecture. Though the members of the society lived right on the banks of the river, they knew comparatively little about it, and Boyton's lecture was of great scientific importance to them. Among other things, he told them of the abutments and ancient masonry he had seen while going through some of the wildest canyons, that could not be approached in any way. This masonry, he thought, must be the remains of ancient Moorish structures which stood there before the great earthquake had shaken up and changed the surface of the country through which the Tagus flows.
An expedition sent out by the Society soon afterward, verified Boyton's words and opinions.
Paul remained in Lisbon during Carnival week, and was entertained until he grew weary of so much pleasure. He gave an exhibition in the Arsenal de Marinha before the king and queen of Portugal, and received numerous presents and decorations.
Paul next went to Gibraltar. On arriving there, he expressed his determination to cross the straits; but was given very little encouragement. He was repeatedly warned against sharks which were reported numerous in those waters. An English officer took him to the rear of the place where cattle are killed for the army. This building abuts on the water, and there, in the clear depth, they could see big, blue sharks laying for the offal that is thrown from the slaughter house. Even this sight did not intimidate Paul and he began preparations for the trip.
At first it was his intention, to paddle from Gibraltar to Ceuta, which is almost on a straight line across; but on account of the currents, that course was changed and Tarifa, the lowest land in Europe, was selected as the starting point, from which place he was confident he would be able to strike the African coast somewhere. Two gentlemen of Gibraltar agreed to accompany him and the Spanish felucca, San Augustine, was chartered for their accommodation, manned by a captain and crew of five sailors.
On Thursday, March 19th, they sailed from Gibraltar. As they neared the Spanish side, carrying the American flag, a Spanish gunboat put out and overhauled them, under the impression they were tobacco smugglers. It was some time before the officials could be made to understand the object of the voyage; but finally allowed them to proceed. They arrived off Tarifa at eleven o'clock at night, and lay to for a couple of hours, when, as the captain of the felucca refused to start across without clearance papers, they landed and went into the old, Moorish looking town and woke up one sleepy official after another; but it was not until seven o'clock in the morning that clearance was procured.
The danger of this undertaking was by no means confined to sharks alone; the wind and currents are usually variable. Through the middle of the strait a current may be considered to set constantly to the eastward, but on each side, both flood and ebb tides extend to a quarter of a mile or to two miles from the shore, according to the wind and weather, and are consequently very irregular.
At 7:30 o'clock Boyton had donned his dress and was ready to take the water. For the first time in the history of his voyages he took the unusual precaution against sharks, of screwing sharp steel sword blades on each end of his double bladed paddle. With these he felt confident that he could stand up in the water and rip open any shark that approached him. He also carried a large dagger fastened to his wrist. He jumped into the sea amidst the enthusiastic cheering of quite a crowd that had assembled on the beach to see him start. He paddled out to a rock close by Tarifa lighthouse, said to be the extreme southern point of Europe, which he touched, turned and waved an adieu to Spain. He was then fairly launched on his journey, steering southwest in a smooth sea and calm weather. He was in excellent spirits and fully confident of success. The southwestern course was taken as he expected to meet the current setting eastward, which would carry him toward Malabata, the point he determined to make his port of destination. His calculation, however, proved to be false, for the current turned out to be setting from the opposite direction and therefore gradually conveyed him toward the westward.
Shortly after 8 o'clock Paul was singing as he paddled along and came very near running into a school of porpoises. A couple of shots were fired into them from the felucca in order to frighten them away, as it is generally supposed that sharks are following them up. A few moments afterward another school appeared astern, when the operation was repeated with the desired effect. Paul finding that the current was setting too rapidly westward, turned his course due south and as the wind was beginning to rise, a small square sail was handed to him; but as that did not seem to increase his progress to any perceptible degree, he put it back in the boat after about ten minutes' trial. As he was passing over Cabezes Shoals the breeze freshened; but he was still being carried westward. At that stage of the journey, about 9:30, he hauled up for a moment and partook of a little bread and cheese, and before resuming work with the paddle he attached a white pocket handkerchief to a cord about eighteen feet long and fastened one end to the belt of his waist, allowing the handkerchief to drift astern. This was another precaution against sharks, as it is well known that their malevolent impulses are more likely to be excited and their attacks directed against white objects than any other. His idea was that a shark attacking the white handkerchief would jerk the cord and thus give warning of its presence in the rear, in time for him to be ready with his sword blades.
The wind increasing from the east, Paul again tried the sail, still steering south, toward Malabata Point; but again found it ineffectual. He was then about nine miles from Tarifa and though having paddled constantly, he did not show the slightest signs of fatigue. The westward current continuing, it looked for a time as though he would be carried into the Atlantic. He turned his course southeast and fought against it. At two o'clock, he was passed by the British steamer, Glenarn, eastward bound, and was loudly cheered by the people on her deck. At two-thirty o'clock, a very strong breeze with a rapid current setting eastward, caused a high sea and Boyton had great difficulty in keeping near the boat, his distance from her increasing every moment until he disappeared from view altogether. But by dint of hard pulling on the part of the sailors, for about twenty minutes, he was sighted more than half a mile to the leeward and sail was hoisted on the felucca in order to get up to him, which was done after much trouble and anxiety. The master and crew of the boat then advised him to give up the attempt to cross, as from their long experience of the straits, they believed it to be impracticable under existing circumstances; but Boyton positively refused to give up the undertaking, and forged ahead, undismayed and in the most hopeful spirits. As it was found impossible to keep up with him with the aid of the oars alone, the boat's sails were reefed and hoisted and by steering close hauled, was enabled to keep nearer him.
At three o'clock, he was about half way across, steering south south east. The wind continued to increase, and it again seemed as though he would be carried into the ocean. The sea broke over him constantly and he suffered greatly from the salt encrusting on his eyebrows and causing his face to smart. It was nearly five o'clock when he was off Boassa Point, bearing south and only distant about three and one half miles from the African coast. He made another attempt to use the sail but the wind was too strong and he was compelled to give it up. The current with heavy overfalls, caused him to be constantly taken under water, and also proved very trying to those in the boat. The overfalls are caused by two currents rushing in opposite directions, meeting with a great crash and making a tremendous wave. Paul bravely continued to paddle despite such dreadful obstacles and at five-thirty o'clock, he was bearing due south off Alcazar Point two and one half miles. One hour later, the current was setting to the west again, driving the voyager and the boat further and further away from the African coast. It began to grow dark with increasing wind and every sign of a gale coming on. The boisterous sea and wind, in conjunction with the rapid currents and heavy over-falls, again caused Boyton to drift away from the boat, so that those on board soon lost sight of him altogether. After cruising about in all directions and hailing at the top of their voices, his friends on board the St. Augustine were relieved by hearing a distant hail which proved to be a guide to his whereabouts and by proceeding in the right direction they got up to him; but not without great risk and very hard work.
On reaching him, the crew became very violent in their language and conduct and insisted on his getting aboard, as they were all drifting into the Atlantic Ocean. Boyton, however was firm in his resolve to keep on until he reached the African coast. Seeing no other way to stop him, three of the crew leaned over the boat's side and endeavored to drag him on board by main force. That movement caused Paul to become greatly excited in his turn. He stood up in the water and with the sword blade raised and pointing at the crew, he glared at them with blazing eyes and told them he would rip open the first man that dared to touch him.
The men took to their oars again. Boyton began to sing, with the intention of encouraging the men and dissipating their apprehensions.
At seven-thirty o'clock, he was again lost sight of in a heavy overfall, the current setting to the eastward at a place commonly known as La Ballesta. He was sighted after the lapse of about twenty minutes. The increasing darkness and bad state of the weather necessitated harder work on the part of those on board the boat in order to keep near him. Clouds gathered fast and a heavy mist partly obscured the moon, which wore a large circle, called by the sailors a "weather band." Directly after finding Boyton, those on board of the felucca, were startled by his cry of "Watch; oh, watch!"
In answer to excited inquiries from on board, he directed that they should stand by with arms, at the same time calling attention to the weather side of the boat, where was observed a great commotion in the water causing a bright, phosphorescent glow, which left no doubt of the unpleasant proximity of a shark, or some other huge denizen of the deep. Fears for the safety of Boyton, however, were quickly dispelled by the disappearance of the creature, whatever it may have been, and all preparations to give it a warm reception proved needless. Bonfires were at that time seen at long distances from each other on the African coast. It was subsequently ascertained that they had been built by order of Colonel Mathews, the American Consul General at Tagier, as beacons for Boyton's guidance. A current setting to the westward was encountered, which drove them in a northwesterly direction and the wind increased to a gale with a heavy sea. In answer to a hail from the boat as to whether he had been attacked or needed anything, Boyton replied: "No, thank you, all's right."
It began to rain and the boat labored, rolling heavily. At 8:30 o'clock Malabata Point was distant about four miles. The crew was again losing heart, as matters bore a very serious aspect. For the fourth time they were obliged to go about and pull in various directions in quest of Boyton, whom they missed for more than a quarter of an hour.
After nine o'clock the most exciting and anxious moments of the entire trip were experienced by all concerned. With the wind blowing violently, the current driving fast to the westward and a high sea increasing every moment, Paul was lost sight of for nearly forty minutes, in an unusually heavy overfall. It is not to be wondered at that under these most trying circumstances, the boat's crew, having nothing to eat, and exhausted by the fatigues of the day, after pulling about for a considerable time, should have dropped the oars accompanying the action with language more forcible than elegant. Happily the cessation of their labor was of short duration, for they soon yielded to the admonitions and entreaties of Boyton's friends, who sought by every possible means to buoy up their spirits, although they, as well as the crew, were of the opinion that any further attempt to find Paul would be utterly futile. The joy of all may easily be imagined when they heard the echo of a distant hail, amid the roaring of the wind and hissing of the seething water, that once more restored their hope and confidence in him and announced after all that he had not been lost beyond, recovery. A little more pulling in the right direction brought the boat alongside of him, when, despite the entreaties of the crew and the great risks he was running, he refused to get on board, but continued with undaunted courage and characteristic firmness in his endeavor to accomplish the daring task.
Boyton was missed for the last time and found again about 10:30 o'clock. At that time the severe strain he had imposed upon himself began to be felt, for when within hearing distance he stated that he had fallen asleep for a few moments and had been unceremoniously awakened by a sea breaking over him with such force on the side of the head as almost to stun him. The crew now expressed their thorough appreciation and admiration for Boyton's intrepidity and powers of endurance, and declared he had done as much as to cross the straits three times over in point of distance; but he persistently turned a deaf ear to their entreaties to get into the boat. At 11:20 o'clock the bay of Tangier opened ahead and the force of the current began to abate. They were rapidly approaching Tangier reef, which was a source of uneasiness to the boat's crew, who were afraid of being driven on it. They passed the headland between Tangier and Cape Malabata and were inside the bay before one o'clock. When within one hundred yards of the outside of a reef of rocks, forming a natural breakwater, and the landing place at Tangier, the impracticability of the boat clearing the reef (toward which the current was driving her) with the aid of the oars alone became manifest. They therefore advised Boyton to take a line as they were going to set sail and would tow him around the point, for otherwise they would inevitably be dashed against the rocks. On further representing to him that as the tide was high he ran the risk of fracturing his leg or arm in passing over the slippery obstruction, he acceded to the request, particularly as he considered that his feat was accomplished. He accordingly took the end of a line and discontinued paddling for a short while until they arrived opposite the town, within three-quarters of a mile from the landing, when he let go and shaped his course for the beach, the boat standing to the southward and anchoring.
Boyton emerged from the surf and stood on the beach at 12.55 o'clock. The moon was shining. Some of the native soldiers were aware that a man was paddling across the straits; but many were not. One of the guards on the wall surrounding the city, seeing him come out of the water, set up a terrific cry in the Arabic tongue. Soon the bells were ringing from the mosques and a great commotion was evident within the walls of the city. Paul, not knowing what the natives might do with him, walked down the beach a short distance and coming upon the upturned hull of a wrecked vessel, crawled under it. He had scarcely done so, when the gate to the city opened and a crowd of soldiers and citizens carrying torches, rushed out. They soon got on his trail and followed it to the old hulk which they surrounded with wild and discordant cries. In the midst of all the hubbub, Paul heard a voice calling in English, and he stepped out to be met by the son of the American Consul, Colonel Mathews, who explained the cause of Boyton's appearance to the natives. It was afterward learned that the peculiar cry of alarm given by the guard on the wall, was:
"Awake, awake. 'Tis better to pray than to sleep, for the devil has landed in Tangier."
All the explanation, however, did not prevent one of the natives from running back into the city with the statement that, he had actually seen a Christian walking on the sea.
When those on the boat heard all the commotion ashore, their anxiety for Paul was great. They rightly apprehended that the superstitious feeling of the Moorish guard had been excited at the apparition of so strange an object emerging from the sea at that advanced hour of the night, and might lead them to resort to violence.
In answer to Mr. Matthew's invitation to enter the city as his guest, Paul told him that he must first paddle back to the boat and Mr. Mathews agreed to meet him there. As soon as he returned to the boat, he was divested of his rubber dress, when it was found that his under clothing was completely saturated with salt water. He accounted for it by the fact that having been so frequently drawn under by the overfalls, the water had entered at the sides of the face. As soon as he had been provided with a change of clothing, he began to display evidences of the most complete prostration, coupled with acute pain in the wrists and hands which were covered with large blisters, while he was almost blinded by the action of the salt water on his eyes. A fire was lighted in the cooking stove on board, but it was long ere Paul could obtain sufficient warmth to stay the violence of his shiverings. In due time they were all gladdened by the arrival of the pratique boat alongside, with Colonel Mathew's son, who took the party to the landing stage, where Boyton was highly honored by the presence of several officials who were waiting to offer him a welcome and their congratulations, for which purpose they had exposed themselves to the discomforts of a cold and cheerless morning. The time was half past two. Accommodations were provided for the party at the house of Colonel Mathews. In company with the Consul General next day, Paul visited the old Sheriff of Tangier, to whom he was introduced as the water god of America. The superstitious old Moor looked at Boyton with great respect and remarked, Colonel Mathews interpreting:
"I am well pleased that the water god has made his appearance on these shores as there has been a terrible drought here for sometime, and we are sadly in need of a rainfall to moisten the parched lips of our soil and I hope the great water god of your country will deign to favor us."
Boyton had been noticing the clouds since morning; his sailor training told him it would not be long before rain would fall, so he answered the Sheriff's appeal with a sly wink at the Colonel, as follows:
"The request of the Sheriff is well. I promise that rain will come before a great while."
Before they left the house, luckily for Paul, it did begin to rain and the old man was absolutely bewildered with astonishment, having not the least doubt that the rain had been called by the American. To this day, the Moors of Tangier tell the story of how the drought was ended by a wonderful American who came out of the sea one night.
On returning to the Colonel's house, Boyton was waited on by a delegation of distinguished Moors; old, white bearded fellows, in turbans and burnouse. Each of them offered a present of some kind. One of them brought a beautiful pair of Barbary pheasants, another a young wild pig in a crate; others, quaint arms, and one had a chameleon of a rare species, which he carried on the twig of a tree. An address of welcome to Morocco was read by one of their number and then they asked Paul he would not kindly walk on the water in the daylight for them as the soldiers had seen him do when he landed, so that all the people might behold him.
In response to the request, Boyton promised to favor them and on the following day, he gave a demonstration of what he could do in the water, much to their enjoyment and surprise.
After the exhibition, he was shown the pleasures of the city. One of his most interesting experiences was in encountering the great dangers afforded by a wild boar hunt. Early one morning the hunting party, headed by Colonel Mathews, mounted on wiry little Arab horses, and carrying bamboo sticks pointed with a sharp spear, rode over the hills back of the quaint old city and descended to the desert. They proceeded for a long distance and chanced on no signs of game. They were beginning to get somewhat discouraged, when they met a camel train from Fez. "I will ask some of these people if they have seen any boars on their way hither," said Colonel Mathews, "but you can place very little dependence on what they say. They are naturally inclined to exaggerate." He rode up to the leader of the train and the following conversation which the Colonel's son translated, took place:
"Mahomet protect my brothers. You came from afar; but your journey will soon be ended and you will have blissful rest," said the Colonel.
"Allah bless you, master. We are weary and glad to approach our journey's end," replied the head of the caravan.
"Have you seen the wild boar in your last day's journey?"
"We have, my master, in great numbers, not far from here."
"As large as an ass, my master."
"In which direction?"
The Moor responded by raising his hand and solemnly pointing to the south-east.
After riding in the direction given for an hour or more, the party halted on the crest of a hill, scanning the desert for game, and discovered two sickly looking little pigs running across the valley below.
"Those are not the ones the Moor saw?" said Paul.
"Oh yes, they are. It's a wonder he imagined them so small as an ass, for it is their national characteristic to exaggerate."
There was rather meager sport in running down and spearing the skinny little wild pigs, but after it was done the party returned to the city, as the experienced hunters knew there would be no use looking further that day.
One place in the queer old Moorish city which Paul never tired of visiting, was the market. There the Moorish women with covered faces, squatted on the ground displaying their little bowls of beans, peas, etc., for sale. The tired camels from the desert were laying with their noses buried in the sand, taking much needed rest, while their owners stood about and bartered the goods of which they were possessed. Once, while walking around the market place with Colonel Mathews, Paul saw a man seated cross-legged on the ground in the midst of a circle of merchants, who were deeply interested in the discourse and gestures of the central figure.
"I'll wager something that I can guess what that fellow is, though I do not understand Arabic," remarked Paul to the Colonel.
"Well, what is he?" asked the Colonel.
"An auctioneer," triumphantly asserted Boyton.
"Wrong. He is a professional story-teller. He is as imaginative as Scheherazade and the merchants here are so busy that they always have time and inclination to listen to his long fairy tales."
After each story the listeners dropped a small coin, valued at one- twentieth of a cent, into the story-teller's hat.
Another thing that amused Paul was the indiscriminate use the guides made of the stout sticks they carried, whacking the natives who got in their way in the narrow streets as mercilessly as they did the asses they drove.
The women were all heavily veiled, their faces jealously hidden from the eyes of men, except when some giddy girl with a taste for flirtation allowed her veil to slip down as if by accident, and one then, as a general thing, beheld a very pretty countenance.
Returning to Gibraltar, Boyton visited Cadiz, Seville, and the principal cities of Southern Spain, with extraordinary success, and was the recipient of continued ovations. While giving exhibitions in those cities, he concluded to take a run on the Guadalquivir, from St. Geronime to Seville. It was an uneventful though pleasant trip. His only adventure was that of being driven back into the water after going ashore to take observations, by one of the famous Andalusian fighting bulls that was feeding close by. He completed the journey in three days—March 29, 30 and 31.
Madrid was again visited on the invitation of the King, and preparations began for a grand exhibition at Casa de Campo, the royal garden, which contains a beautiful little lake. A tent was erected on its bank and every assistance rendered Boyton in preparing for the entertainment. Several small boats were built for him with which to illustrate torpedo work in naval warfare. The King took great interest in the work and in fact in everything American. He treated Paul in the most affable manner; among other attentions, showing the royal boat house and was astonished when told that boats, such as his mahogany ones, that required four men to lift out, were made in America out of paper, so light that a man could take one of them under his arm and carry it where he pleased.
On the morning of the exhibition, the finest military band in Madrid was present. The affair was private, only the notables of the city being there. When the King, Queen, and members of the royal household arrived, a signal for the exhibition to begin, was given. In one part of the entertainment, pigeons are used to illustrate the sending of dispatches. On that occasion, Paul had procured a pair of beautiful white doves. One of them when loosed flew away, while the other, bewildered, circled about and finally lit at the feet of the Queen. The Princess of Asturas, the King's sister, caught it and handed it to the Queen, who held and petted it during the rest of the time.
The exhibition was a complete success and at its termination, the King summoned Paul to land where the royal party was seated, when he congratulated the hardy navigator, as did also the Queen. As she thanked him for the pleasure he had given her, Paul said, referring to the dove that had gone to her feet:
"I hope it will prove a good omen, your Majesty." Turning her wondrously beautiful, though melancholy black eyes on him, she replied, with a sad smile:
"I hope so; I hope so."
She then conferred on Paul the order of Hospitaliers of Spain, making him for a second time a knight. He is the only foreigner ever knighted by Mercedes during her short reign. The King also presented him with the Marine Cross of Spain and photographs of himself and Queen.
Before he left Spain the beautiful young Queen was dead. Might not the erratic action of the dove have been an omen?
Leaving Madrid, Paul appeared in the principal cities of the northern division of the country and was everywhere received with the usual cordiality. At Barcelona, he gave an exhibition for the benefit of several families of fishermen who had been lost in a gale but a short time before. The fishing folk of Barcelona, as well as those of Northern France are unlike those in any other part of the world. They are peculiar in their costumes and characteristics and form a little world unto themselves. After Paul had given the benefit exhibition, he was surprised one morning to be summoned from his room. He found the courtyard of the house full of fisher folk dressed in their holiday attire, who had appeared to tender him their thanks. An address was delivered, and he was also presented with a curious, pear-shaped iron locket, inlaid with gold and silver, that had been made by one of their number who was a cripple. It was suitably inscribed and of ingenious workmanship. He values it among his most cherished possessions.
Toulouse, France, was next visited and a voyage made from that city to Bordeaux on the Garonne, which occupied six days, from May 19th to the 25th. There was nothing but pleasure on the trip down that beautiful river, which winds through the rich wine valleys of France. The greatest hospitality was shown Paul and when his little tender was not loaded down with flowers, it was filled by his admirers with provisions and rare wines.
After the Garonne he went to Paris, where his steam yacht, the Paul Boyton, which he had ordered before departing for the Tagus, was delivered to him. She was a magnificent little vessel, in which he intended to sail and steam to India, China and Japan. This was during the Paris Exposition of 1878, and he remained on board the yacht, whose dock was at the exposition grounds, most of the time. The little vessel was always full of distinguished visitors, and many pleasant excursions were taken up and down the Seine. During that time Paul became acquainted with the ex-President of Peru, Don Nicholas de Pierola, then in banishment. They became fast friends, the ex-President taking much interest in torpedo work, and they frequently made quiet experiments at isolated places down the river. Before they separated he assured Paul that if he ever regained his position in Peru, he would remember their pleasant times aboard the "Paul Boyton," and their torpedo experiments.
August 12th, Paul began a voyage down the Seine from Nogent-sur-Seine to Paris, a distance of two hundred miles, which he accomplished in four days, landing at the Exposition buildings, Champs de Mars, before an immense concourse of people. The crowds that lined the banks of the Seine were estimated at half a million by the Figaro. As he passed under Pont Neuf he stood up and dipped the stars and stripes in salute. A mighty shout went up from thousands of throats, "Vive l'Amerique, Vive Boyton."
During November of the same year, he voyaged the Orne from Lou to Caen, occupying two days. The trip was an uneventful one, and soon after he returned to America.
For some weeks Paul remained in New York, much to the delight of his mother and family and he was also feted and entertained by many of the prominent citizens of the metropolis. During his stay at home, he amused himself by paddling from the Battery around to Hunter's Point and one night crossed down the bay through the Narrows, and came near losing his life in the ice off Staten Island.
On an invitation from a member of Congress, Paul visited Washington and was cordially received by President Hayes and his Cabinet, all paying him high compliments for the daring things he had performed in the interest of life saving. During the afternoon of February 1st, 1879, at the instance of the President, he gave an exhibition in the navy yard, before the members of the Senate and House of Representatives.
While in Washington, Paul received an invitation which highly pleased him. It was signed by leading citizens, asking him to revisit his former home, Pittsburgh. He was glad to have the chance of seeing the old river of his boyish gambols, and cheerfully promised to go. After a day or so in Washington he went to Pittsburgh, where met with the most cordial greeting on the part of the citizens and was also happy to see many of his playmates of former years. On the evening of his arrival, while resting in his room at a hotel, he was visited by a man wearing the uniform of the Fire Department, who grasped his hand with more warmth and enthusiasm than ordinary visitors were wont to do, at the same time remarking:
"I don't suppose you know me, Captain Boyton?"
"My memory certainly fails me in that respect," replied Boyton
"I am Thomas McCaffery, whose life you saved more than twenty years ago. Of all men in the world, I most desired to meet you," and Paul returned the warm hand pressure of the fireman.
An evening most agreeable to both was passed in recounting their adventures of other days. Before Paul left Pittsburgh, Mr. McCaffery presented him with a gold medal, commemorating the important event in his life, which, but for Boyton, would have terminated so disastrously.
Some time was spent about Pittsburgh, while preparations were made for a voyage down the Alleghany and Ohio rivers, which he had decided on making. It was the first intention to start on the Alleghany at Kittanning, but on looking over the ground, Paul selected Oil City as the starting point, distant above Pittsburgh about one hundred and forty miles.
There was great excitement at Oil City when it became known that Boyton had arrived and contemplated paddling down the river. Many people believed the attempt would not be made on account of the extremely cold weather. These were astonished when Boyton appeared on the morning of February 6th, equipped for the dreary voyage, and he was given an enthusiastic send off. His progress the greater part of the first day, was slow, owing to, the blocks of floating ice. At Black's Riffles he struck on a rock, with such force as to turn him completely over and almost knock him senseless. Fortunately his dress was not punctured by the blow and he continued the journey to Emlenton, forty three miles from Oil City, where, on account of the accident and the fact that he was almost frozen, he decided to remain over night instead of rushing on to Kittanning as had been his intention.
At all towns he passed, crowds of people lined the banks and offers of hospitality were numberless. There was great rivalry between some of the towns as to which would get the voyager to stop off, and the arguments used by the inhabitants to induce him to favor them, were very funny. A citizen of Parker come to the front with a statement which he thought would surely be a winner.
"Tell Boyton," he said to one of the newspaper men who followed by train from one station to the other along the river, "that he should stop off at Parker instead of Kittanning, because Parker is an incorporated town and Kittanning is not."
Paul was not greatly refreshed by his rest at Emlenton. He arose in the morning, stiff and swollen, his hands and face very much so, being slightly frost bitten and very painful. He was somewhat depressed in spirits and said he could not reach Pittsburgh until Sunday. He bravely entered the water, however, and that day he shot over Parker's Falls.
Before he reached Mahoning, a big crowd lined the bank awaiting his approach. In the crowd was one of those wise bodies who are never to be fooled and who knows a thing or two about the ways of the world. This individual made himself exceedingly conspicuous in the gathering and confidentially told everybody that would listen to him, that he was smart enough to size up the whole affair and that they were all fools to be taken in by the report that a man was going to swim down such an icy current.
"I'm on to the whole thing," he said, with a real knowing look, "this is gotten up by the newspaper men. They have a block of wood dressed up in a rubber suit and let it float down, while this 'ere Boyton sneaks along the river with the reporters. They can't close my eye, not much."
He was one of the front line on the bank when Paul arrived. He had made up his mind to grab the rubber covered chunk of wood and expose the whole thing to the public, and then it would be seen that he was "jest a leetle smarter than the rest of mankind." As Boyton drew in at that point and walked up on the land, the clever fellow's eyes looked as though they would burst from their sockets, and he beat a precipitate retreat, followed by the derisive shouts of the crowd.
Paul was much interested during a great part of the cold, cheerless trip, in the immense pillars of fire that belch from the natural gas wells that are numerous along the river, which runs through the famous oil country of Pennsylvania.
A reception was tendered him at Kittanning, notwithstanding that little city's misfortune in "not being incorporated," and the mayor delivered a warm address of welcome.
From the moment Paul neared Pittsburgh's suburban places there was a continued ovation until he completed the voyage at the Point, where the confluence of the Alleghany and Monongahela forms the Ohio. Thousands of people jammed the bridges and thousands lined the shores to salute the intrepid voyager. He was picked up at the Point and quickly placed in a carriage in order to avoid the crowd and hurriedly driven to a hotel. He was half frozen and his worn appearance showed how trying had been the trip, which was accomplished in a little less than four days.
After a brief rest, he made ready to resume the voyage. The start was made from the foot of Seventh Street, February 24th. The Ohio was so full of ice that it was difficult to forge ahead. The first day's run was to Rochester, where he hauled up for the night. Owing to his being behind time the band and many people who had been waiting for him, went away, while those who remained occupied their time in patronizing a convenient bar. Mr. James Creelman, of the New York Herald, who had been assigned to write up the voyage, and another newspaper man, accompanied Boyton, making their way in conveyances along the shore. When they arrived at Rochester, Paul was tired and wanted to sleep, so they repaired to a hotel as quickly as possible, and all three were put into one room. It became, noised around that the travelers had arrived and crowds gathered at the hotel. They demanded a speech and the landlord waited on Paul with the information. He was sent back to tell the people that Boyton was in bed and did not wish to be disturbed. Then they wanted him to fire off just one rocket. That was also impossible, because the "Baby Mine," the name of the little tender, had struck a piece of ice before reaching the town and sprung a leak, wetting all the fireworks. The landlord, however, thought he could touch off one of the rockets anyway, so he seized a large detonator and with a red hot poker tried to see how it would work. Finding the fuse, as he thought, too wet, he threw the rocket on the floor and left the room. Directly after, Paul heard a hissing noise and realized that the landlord had succeeded in leaving a live spark in the fuse. He simply drew the bedclothes around himself and let the rocket sizz. It went off with a terrible report, shaking the whole house and frightening his companions out of their wits. The landlord rushed into the room with a "hip, hooray," much delighted.
"That's it," he cried, "that's good," and he yelled again, regardless of the fact that his carpet was on fire and the room terribly littered up.
Between Rochester and Wellsville, Paul had an awful time in an ice gorge. He could hear it cracking and grinding below as though warning him of danger. He succeeded in climbing on a cake which saved him from being carried under, and made his way to clear water on the other side.
Below Steubenville, a native from the West Virginia side rowed frantically out to him.
"Hold on, stranger, I'll resky yo' in a minit," he yelled. When he drew nearer and Paul spoke to him, he appeared as tickled as a boy at a monkey show. "Wal, ef yo' aint jus' th' cutes' little cuss I ever seed paddlin' aroun' out here in the ice like a beaver."
However, he expressed much disgust, not to say contempt, when Boyton refused to land and take a drink of "Virginia's own Mountain Dew."
After hard work through the ice gorged river, Paul reached Wheeling and rested there until the next morning. On resuming the voyage he was frequently compelled to mount an ice cake to look for the best place to strike open water, where he could get at least enough paddling to keep up his temperature. While on one of those lookouts he heard the clear, ringing sound of an ax on the frosty morning air, wielded by the powerful arm of some hardy chopper. Looking along shore Paul discovered the wood cutter just about the same instant that worthy discovered him. The tall, lank West Virginian eyed the strange looking creature far a second, dropped the ax and started in a lope for his cabin. Suspecting that the curious landsman was going after his rifle, as it is customary for them to shoot at anything in the water they cannot understand, Boyton sounded a lusty blast on the bugle to attract the chopper's attention from the shooting iron. The man returned to the water's edge, loosened a flat bottomed boat from the ice and with an iron shod pole pushed out from shore toward Paul, who was rapidly approaching with the floe. As Boyton neared the woodcutter he thought, "Here comes another lantern-jawed individual who wants to ask me if I'm cold." To his surprise the man never opened his mouth, but ran his boat as close as he, could get it to the object of his curiosity and after a long stare turned his craft and began poling back to shore. When about twenty yards away he stopped as though he had forgotten some important matter, and seriously inquired:
"Say, mister, be yo' stuffed wuth cork or wind?"
"Wind," tersely answered the Captain.
He waited for no further reply, but poled solemnly and silently back to his cabin.
Below Pomeroy, Boyton, making his first all night run and feeling drowsy was moving along mechanically, when he was startled by hearing the paddle wheels of a steamer, which proved to be the Telegraph, bearing right on him. With all his energy he rose up and shouted: "Port, port, or I am a dead man."
Instantly the wheel was put over and the steamer glided by, barely missing him.
At six o'clock next morning, as he was nearing Gallipolis, he observed a boat putting out from one of the floating houses, or Jo-boats that are frequently met along the Ohio and Mississippi, containing two river gypsies. Boyton paid no attention to them until they were close behind. Then he stood up expecting to ask the time of day. He made that movement just in time, for one of the men, pale with excitement, was taking deliberate aim at him with a musket. Boyton yelled out a warning as the trigger was about to be pressed, and saved his life. The river pirate was profuse in his apologies.
"Great etarnal jeehosophat, straanger; I wouldn't a shot yer 'fur two dollars an' a half, I wouldn't, by golly, fur I'm loaded bang up ter th' muzzle with slugs fur geese. It were a narry escape fur me."
When nearing the mouth of the Big Sandy river, which forms the boundary between West Virginia and Kentucky, Paul was met by the steamer Fashion, loaded with ladies and gentlemen, who gave him a hearty welcome to the shores of old Kentucky. At Cattlettsburg, a banquet was spread on shore, of which he partook and slid back into the water. He arrived at Ironton at nine o'clock that night where he remained until morning.
From that point to Cincinnati, every town turned out to greet him. The banks were lined with people and bonfires were built at night. A short distance above Cincinnati he was met by an excursion steamer containing notables of that city and newspaper representatives. Madame Modjeska, who was with the party, presented him with a handsome silk flag. The river at Cincinnati was crowded with excursion boats. A large barge loaded with people, was driven against a pier and was barely saved from sinking with all on board. He made a brief stay in Cincinnati, and continued the voyage accompanied by a boat load of reporters, among whom was also Oliver Byron, the actor. The ice was then disappearing though the water was very cold. He averaged about five miles an hour on the lower river, and the rowing of the newspaper men to keep their boat up with him, was something beautifully scientific. At Delhi the two experienced oarsmen, who had been engaged to row a short distance, went ashore, leaving Creelman, Byron and two Cincinnati newspaper men to manage the lumbering boat. It was fortunate for their reputation as oarsmen, that spectators were directing most of their attention to Boyton, for such pulling was never seen before on the Ohio and will probably never be seen again. Paul felt like shedding tears every time he looked around to see how they were getting along. His own safety had something to do with his watchful care, for they came near running him down several times. The enthusiastic oarsmen first removed their overcoats; their undercoats followed and then collars were unbuttoned. One of them said it wasn't the length of the river that bothered them so much as the breadth. They worked independently of each other, and it was pretty hard to tell which was the bow and which the stern of the boat. A ragged urchin rowed out from shore to see what they were doing and sarcastically inquired if they were rowing over stumps. That was an unkind allusion to the extreme height at which they elevated their oar blades from the water between strokes. There was no revolver or shot gun in the party, or there would have been a funeral in that lad's family.
Row boats would pull out from shore all along, and the questions asked by the parties pulling them were ridiculous, and painfully monotonous. A sample of some of them: "Have you springs in your arms?" "Blow your horn. How far can it be heard?" "Are you going to travel all night?" "Are you going back to Cincinnati to-night?" "Let me sit on you." "Don't you get tired?" "Are you cold?"
When the press boat was not trying to climb the Kentucky hills, Paul would cheer himself by running alongside and converse with the boys; but as a rule he was wary of getting too close to them.
Nearing Louisville, a fleet of excursion steamers ran up to meet him. There was a heavy fog and the excursionists were so eager to see him, the boats pushing close around, that before he could bear into the city, he was carried over the falls, and was picked up five miles below. The newspaper men were also carried over and rescued by the life saving crew.
Leaving Louisville next morning, he intended to make the run to Cloverport, over one hundred miles below, without leaving the water. There was a strong head wind all day, turning the yellow waves of the Ohio over his face, and night closed in with dark, low hanging clouds. An electric storm began to rage about him. Flashing sheets of lightning ran over the surface of the water, cracking and sputtering as though angry at his presence. It was a grand, though fearful sight. Tree after tree along the shore was splintered by the sharp flashes and peals of thunder added to the terrific grandeur of nature's display. Fearing that his copper bugle would attract the lightning, he lowered it as far under the water as he could. All night he ran through that fearful storm, arriving at Cloverport very tired. He rested there several hours and ran to Owensboro. The mail boats, Idlewild and Morning Star, steamed up from Evansville to meet him, lashed together for the occasion, carrying a large crowd of people, and flying Boyton's colors, the Geneva Cross, which is the international life saving standard. Miss Maggie Morgan, one of Evansville's fair daughters, stepped off the Idlewild into the press boat and presented Paul with his colors.
An amusing incident occurred just as the flag was being presented. The commander of the steamer Hotspur, with an eye to business in running a little speculation of his own, loaded his steamer at so much per head, holding out the inducement that Boyton would give an exhibition up the river and that would be seen better from the deck of the Hotspur than from any other boat. As the young lady finished her presentation, the Hotspur steamed up, her deck black with people eager to witness the exhibition. Boyton had been told about the Hotspur by his agent who was on the other steamers and so, despite all the efforts of the captain and pilots of that boat, Paul kept the Idlewild and Mayflower between himself and her, in such a way that the people aboard of her could see nothing. For an hour or more, this amusing dance around the two steamers continued, until the Hotspur's captain, swearing and tramping his decks in a rage, ordered the boat back to Evansville, and to make matters worse with him, he could not collect a cent from the people he had inveigled aboard, having lost his sunshade during the night, his eyes were almost blinded and his face scorched by the intense heat.
He reached Cottonwood at 6 o'clock in the evening and through sheer exhaustion was compelled to leave the water for rest, after a continuous run of thirty-two hours. About 2 o'clock the next afternoon he met a heavy head wind and a high sea. He kept up a pretty good rate of speed, however, until he was struck by a storm off Hale's Point. The rain descended in torrents and darkness became so intense that he could scarcely tell whether he was going up, down or across. His matches were wet and he could not strike a light. He determined to go ashore, and if he could find no habitation, at least to remain along the bank until the storm had abated. A landing was effected in a thick woods, and there he found that he had not bettered the situation, because he was in danger of the lightning. He was debating whether to return to the water or not, when he caught the tiny glimmer of a light among the trees and he struck out for it, leaving the "Baby Mine" under a log near the shore. The light guided him to a lone negro cabin and he unceremoniously pushed the door open and entered, frightening the inmates, a newly wedded couple, half out of their wits, until he had explained who he was. The negro took it all good humouredly, however, saying: "Yo' done scart de life mos' out o' us. I knows who yo' is now, do Boss."
"How about a little fire, my friend," asked Boyton.
"All right boss, all right, sah, yo' kin have a fiah quicker 'n yo' kin skin er cat," and the negro began tearing boards off the side of the cabin. It was too much trouble to gather fuel in the woods or cut down a tree and besides, the boards burned more easily.
They soon had a roaring fire and Paul, divested of the rubber dress, was drying and thoroughly enjoying himself. The negro was so tickled at having such a guest that he disappeared in the recesses of the forest for some time and returned with a whole delegation of his relatives, including his mother. By the time they had arrived, Paul was dry and prepared to re-enter the water. The old woman was not perfectly satisfied that he was of the earth and she looked upon him with considerable suspicion, mingled with a great deal of fear.
"Boss," she said, edging into a corner and peering over the shoulders of her stalwart son, "yo' 'suredly looks like a suah 'nough man; yo' certn'y isn't got de looks ob de debbil 'bout yo' face; but dey say de debbil's get cow hoofs an' I kaint see yo' feet."
Her son assured her that he had seen Boyton's feet and they were just like any other human beings; but the old woman kept something between herself and the Captain all the time and when he stepped out, he could hear her sigh of thankfulness as he walked off among the trees.
After leaving the cabin, another storm came up and the heavy rain turned to hail. In a short time the light on the Baby Mine was again put out by the waves which also soaked the matches procured from the Negro. In the darkness there was great danger of his being run down by the fleets of empty coal barges that were being towed up from New Orleans to Pittsburgh. Those great tows cover acres of river space and it is a hard matter to tell which way they are going to turn. Observing one of the Government lights which are now placed along the rivers as a guide to mariners, he steered for it. He landed and climbing the ladder to the lantern, was proceeding to get a light for his lamp, when a big dog rushed furiously up and held him treed on the lamp post. The light keeper hearing the victorious barking of the dog, came out with a gun and Paul could not explain his presence there any too quickly. The keeper called off the dog, gave the Captain a supply of matches, who lighted up his bull's eye and was soon forging ahead again. During the small hours of the night, he passed the steamers Osceola, James Howard and Andy Baum, all of which spoke him and inquired if he was in need of anything. At daybreak, the Osceola Belle stopped and gave him some hot coffee and the City of Helena gave him a cheer.
Around the Devil's Elbow, he encountered another furious head wind which required heavy work to go against. So vigorous were his exertions that he stopped at Bradley's, Arkansas, for the night and started next morning at 11 o'clock for Memphis which city he reached at four o'clock. Above Memphis he was met by a fleet of excursion steamers and the sight of his flashing paddle as he approached them was the signal for the firing of a salute from a ten pound parrot gun on the deck of the General Pierson. Miss Jeanette Boswell, one of the reigning belles of Memphis, handed him a banner and made a pleasant address of welcome.
Holding on to the gunwale of the gig, Paul replied in a felicitous manner as he accepted the trophy from her hands. The reception at Memphis was in accordance with the enthusiasm of the excursionists and Paul resumed the voyage Monday afternoon with the well wishes of the populace.
That night another terrific storm almost overwhelmed him. Huge trees were borne to the earth on either side of him as though they were reeds. Rain turned to hail and the river was whitened by the icy stones. So great was their forge that he was compelled to stand up in the stream to shield his head and face with the broad blade of his paddle and his knuckles were badly bruised. In a short time he experienced a sensation of leaking. He thought the hail stones had cut his dress; but next morning, landing on a sandbar, he found himself as dry as a pebble, the leaking sensation having been caused by the sudden change in the temperature of the water owing to the melting of the hail stones. In the darkness, he missed the cut off, by which he could have saved fifteen miles of paddling, and went around Walnut Bend. At daybreak, he saw a negro on the bank and inquired his whereabouts.
"Yo'se in de bend shoah 'nough Cap'en; but I'se pow'ful glad yo' missed the cut off, cause I wanted to see yo' awful bad."
Paul did not sympathize with the darkey's joy and that unnecessary fifteen miles was the hardest pull of the entire trip, to his mind.
That morning was very lonely along the river and he was still lecturing himself for missing the convenient cut off, when away around a distant bend he could hear the beating paddles of an approaching steamboat. That animated him and he pulled with renewed vigor until he met a boat which was loaded with excursionists from Helena, Arkansas. He hauled up alongside and the excursionists begged him to go ashore and visit their city. He was feeling sore and declined the kind invitation; other boats came up until he was surrounded. They insisted earnestly and so kindly that he should stop oft at Helena, that he finally consented to do so and rest a couple of hours, as his watch and lamp were smashed and that would give him an opportunity to get them fixed. He was enthusiastically welcomed to the city, and a committee of citizens was appointed to get anything he might want. The mayor and several other officials requested him to remain that night and deliver a lecture. He declined to do so, because his wardrobe had been shipped on ahead to Vicksburg, and he had nothing to wear but a suit of heavy underclothing and the rubber dress.
"That'll be all right," said the mayor, "we'll fix you up in a dress suit and attend to all the details. We'll get out bills, hire the hall, get a band and just fix you up as snug as a bug in a rug. Don't you let anything worry you; but just stay here and rest up while we make the arrangements."
The people had been so kind that Boyton could not resist their desires and consented. That evening the mayor drove up to the hotel and entered Paul's room with a swallow tail coat, white vest and tie, and a collar that was fastened around his neck without the assistance of shirt buttons. The upper half of him looked all right and quite appropriate for presentation to the public. They waited for the gentleman whose pantaloons just fitted Paul, but he did not appear.
"All right," said the mayor again, "I reckon he's gone to the hall with them and there's a dressing room there. Come on now, just hop into my carriage and we'll drive there. No one will see you."
They reached the hall and waited in the dressing room for the other gentleman to get there with the pantaloons. It was growing late and the people who crowded the hall began to get impatient.
"That's all right," once more exclaimed the ever ready mayor, "we can fix that."
He shoved a stand to the middle of the stage and taking a large table cover; arranged it so that it hung to the floor in front, thus hiding everything behind it from the eyes of the crowd. On the stand were placed the rubber dress, the Baby Mine, a pitcher of water and a glass. Then Boyton stood behind it and from the front he looked as though attired in an irreproachable dress suit. The curtain was rung up discovering him standing in the shelter of the table, the mayor on one side, ready to introduce him. In that position Paul acknowledged the introduction and proceeded to describe the rubber dress, his 'mode of navigating in it and an account of his voyages. In recounting his adventure with a shark in the straits of Messina, he became somewhat excited and without thinking, stepped from behind the protecting folds of the table cloth in all the glory of a dress coat, white vest and violently red drawers.
There was a stare of wonder, an awful silence for a moment and then a wild roar of laughter, which brought the orator to a sense of the comical figure he cut, and he fled from the stage with the unfinished shark story on his lips. The mayor after a violent effort, got the attention of the crowd and explained the situation. They took it so good humouredly that they gave three rousing cheers for Paul, and a tiger.
To make up for the time he had lost with the hospitable citizens of Helena, Boyton was compelled to make an extra long run and he paddled to Arkansas City without leaving the water, a distance of one hundred and sixty miles in thirty one hours, which was the longest continuous run he ever made up to that time. That night on the lonesome stretches of the river, he frequently started a loon from its resting place and it would fly off into the darkness with a wild, unearthly shriek, so ghostly in its echoing cadences that with a nervous start, Paul would glance around for that "dead man in a boat."
Early in the morning the voyager struck a big eddy and was twisted round and round for quite a while before he could clear himself and then found he was pretty close in shore. Through the thick growth of cottonwoods he observed a thin spiral of smoke rising, and knowing it to be from the cabin of some negro, he blew a merry blast on his bugle. Before the clear notes had faded from the morning air, a venerable darkey with whitened head and slightly bent, though walking without the assistance of a cane, appeared on the bluff overlooking the river. He raised his eyes to the eastern horizon, as though to determine the weather probabilities, and then he scanned the river up and down. He failed to see Boyton at first, and another blast was given on the bugle. Slowly, and with evidences of some fear, the old darkey bent his eyes on Paul, and then as slowly he deposited his white, broad brimmed hat on a stump by his side, reverently raising his eyes and with outstretched hands he solemnly said:
"He bloowed his trumpet on the watah. Bless God, bless God."
He remained in this attitude until Paul disappeared around the bend, no doubt expecting to be summoned any moment by the archangel Gabriel.
Directly after leaving the old negro, Boyton espied something in the river below him, which he thought was a snag or the floating branches of a tree; but as he drove swiftly along and looked more closely, he saw it was a large deer swimming across. Quickly loosening the "Baby Mine" to let her drift along with the current, he unslung the large hunting knife and started for the deer with the intention of bleeding it. He anticipated no trouble in paddling alongside while it was swimming, and putting the knife into its throat. When the buck discovered the pursuer it redoubled its efforts to reach the shore, but Paul was faster and was soon close on the antlered beauty. As he raised the knife to stab, the deer also raised and struck viciously with its front feet, and Paul barely dodged the blow which would have cut through the rubber suit like a keen edged knife. Again and again did he try to get an opening for a thrust, and as often did the deer, with eyes blazing like a panther's, beat him away with its sharp hoofs. At last Boyton concluded to follow if to the edge of the river, where he felt sure his game would sink in the mud and then become an easy victim. The animal did stick in the mud as was expected, but as Boyton was about to stab, its feet struck a bit of log so small that its four hoofs were all bunched together on it; but thus hampered, it sprang with wonderful power, landed on the bank six feet above, and galloped off into the forest, waving Paul a farewell with its white, stumpy tail.
That night he arrived at Arkansas City, very tired after his long pull. It was there he ran across a silent admirer—an extraordinary character who appointed himself Boyton's body guard. All that night he sat and watched the voyager while he slept. He put wood on when the fire burned low and whenever Paul wakened he was at his bedside with a drink of hot tea, but never uttering a word. Next morning he assisted in the dressing and when leaving, he wrung the Captain's hand as though parting with his dearest friend; yet he hadn't a word to say, nor would he accept any recompense for his services.
A short distance below Arkansas City, a blast from Paul's bugle brought a troop of negroes to the bank. As they gazed on him in open mouthed wonder, he asked them the distance to the next place; but they were so overcome either with fright or astonishment they could not answer. One old auntie, however, leaned over the bank and in a trembling voice asked:
"Chile, does yo' belong to the chu'ch?"
She drew a sigh of relief and seemed satisfied that he was a human being when he answered, "yes."
A lonely run of one hundred and forty miles brought him to Milligan's Bend where he stopped at a planter's house over night. The next day was Sunday and as he only had a twenty mile run to reach Vicksburg, he did not propose to start until rather late in the day, so that he would land at Vicksburg during the afternoon. While he was taking it easy, chatting with the planter, and enjoying a fragrant cigar, the old minister of the parish called, and was introduced to him.
"God bless you my son," said the venerable gentleman, pressing Paul's hand, "I must say I have called expressly to see you and ask you to do me a favor."
"I would be pleased to do anything in my power for you," replied Boyton.
"I knew you would, God bless you, I knew you would," fervently spoke the old minister, "my congregation is waiting along the bank of the river to see you start away and not a soul of them will enter the church until you go, if it is not until dark to-night. And I wanted to ask if you would start soon, so that I may begin services?"
The old man spoke with profound sincerity and his face brightened when Boyton told him that preparations would be made for leaving at once. He called down a benediction and joyfully departed for his little church, the weather beaten side of which could be seen in a grove not far distant. Paul immediately donned his dress and took to the water, paddling a few miles down and hauling up on a muddy bank to wait until it was time to start for Vicksburg. Though it was not so pleasant there as it was on the cool porch of the planter's, and he had suffered much from the heat, thoughts of the satisfied old minister did much to lighten the discomforts of his surroundings.
He arrived in sight of Vicksburg at four o'clock in the afternoon and was met by the steamer Silverthorn towing a big barge, loaded with excursionists. It appeared as though the entire population of the town and surrounding country had assembled on the river bank. So dense was the crowd, that it caused a philosophical negro to remark:
"Ef dose yere people keep on a crowdin' on dis en' ob town, de whole place are gwine fur to tip ober in de ribber, suah 'nough."
With the aid of the city marshal and a few policemen, Boyton got through the crowd to a carriage in which the Mayor was awaiting him. As the carriage was about to move off for the hotel, a man jumped in and seated himself between the Captain and the Mayor. Paul did not think much of the incident at the time, being under the impression, that the fellow was one of the Mayor's friends, though he noticed that official did not seem to be particularly pleased. When they reached the hotel, the man made himself obnoxiously officious, entering Boyton's room with an air of proprietorship and taking refreshments as though he was paying for them all. At last Paul made inquiries concerning him and found he was the most desperate character in all that section of country—a killer who had more than one murder to his account and who had the citizens of the town so terrorized that they were afraid to interpose any objections to his conduct. As soon as he learned that, Paul was in a rage and remarked that the citizens might submit to such intrusion, but he would not. The desperado, who had gone out of the room for a few moments, returned and was met by the angry navigator, who caught him by the neck, threw him bodily out of the room and kicked him down stairs. That cuffing did the fellow some good for it had the effect of encouraging other men to thrash him until he became mild-mannered and inoffensive.
The next run was from Vicksburg to Natchez, one hundred and nine miles. The start was made in a gale and Boyton was not much more than under way when he felt symptoms of fever. Indeed, so violent did the attack become, that he felt as though he must give up. He took an enormous dose of quinine which braced him and he kept pushing ahead until he arrived at Natchez, twenty six hours from Vicksburg. He was so ill on his arrival that he could scarcely notice the hearty reception given him; but went immediately to bed and fell into a deep sleep. A doctor called and pronounced him in danger of swamp fever, but thought it might be kept off with proper attention, and prescribed some remedy. Boyton felt considerably refreshed by the sleep, assisted, probably, by the prescription of the doctor, and one or two callers were admitted to his room. Among them was a gentleman who stated that his wife was an invalid. The windows of her room overlooked the river and as she saw Paul passing, on his way to Natchez, she had composed a little poem, which she begged the voyager to accept. The lady's name was Mrs. Francis Marschalk, and the poem follows:
Hail, King of the wat'ry world, New Neptune, grander than the old, Serene as thy great prototype, 'Mid storm and wave, mid heat and cold! Great victor! Man of nerve and will, Ingenious mind and wondrous skill, Laurels of peace are thine to wear, More blest than those of battle field; Begemmed with tears of gratitude And brighter than a Spartan shield—The world acclaims this crown to thee, And glories in thy victory.
The greatest boon of God is life, The dearest trust to mortal given And God-like 'tis to keep and save This precious heritage of heaven, This holy aim, this task divine Thy proud achievements claim as thine.
When all the waves of time are past And earth's rude storms with thee are o'er, Oh, may'st thou sweetly rest at last Upon the peaceful shining shore, And may thy spirit's pastime be Life's river and the Jasper sea.
Paul was deeply affected by so delicate a tribute from the accomplished stranger, and did all he could do under the circumstances—sent her an autograph note of grateful appreciation.
He did not stop long at Natchez, feeling anxious to finish the voyage as soon as possible. Among the crowd that followed him to the wharf when he resumed the trip next day was the doctor who had prescribed for him. That gentleman was very earnest in advising him not to start as he was in great danger of being seized with the fever.
"You have every indication of the fever now," said the doctor, "and if it attacks you on the water you will to a certainty die. However, if you will persist in going, all I can do is to tell you that as soon as you feel the symptoms, make for the shore and get into a bed as soon as you can."
"What are the symptoms?" inquired Boyton,
"You become chilly and have a numb feeling all over."
"All right, I'll look out for them," and with that Paul waved a good bye to the multitude and struck gamely away in the teeth of the wind. As night came on he was tired and imagined he could feel the symptoms of which the doctor had warned him. He was just heading for shore when he heard a steamboat. He burned a red light for her and she slowed up. The passengers on deck cheered him and the Captain sang out:
"How do you feel, Paul?"
"All right, report me above," was the answer, and the boat headed on up the river. The diversion gave him courage to go ahead, and he struck out with renewed determination, running so well that he reached Baton Rouge at eight o'clock in the morning. From that city it was a home run of one hundred and thirty four miles to New Orleans. He started early next morning, though feeling very stiff and sore. The weather grew intensely hot, he suffered terribly and was burned almost black in the face, the skin of which peeled off. About eleven o'clock in the morning, on the glassy surface ahead, he noticed something bobbing up and down in a queer manner, and pulled away to investigate. He found it to be a dead mule swollen to gigantic size. While looking at it its tail flipped out of the water as though it were alive. It was then he became aware of the fact that a swarm of alligators were feeding on it, and he pulled away with about as much speed as he has ever been able to attain.
During the day he ran through a thickly populated country, along what is known as the lower coast of Louisiana; the river was fringed with rich sugar plantations, and a majority of the negroes who rowed out to see him, spoke the language of the French Creole. Magnolia trees were thick on either side and framed a picture of rare beauty.
While paddling for a short distance close in shore, Paul discovered a most unique and lazy style of angling. Happening to look up at the bank, he saw two pair of bare feet of heroic size, from which two fishing lines hung, the corks bobbing on the surface a few yards from the shore. The broad bottoms of their pedal extremities turned to the river, the line passing between the great and second toes to the water, and there they lay enjoying delicious sleep, waiting for a fish to swallow the bait, when the pull on the line would be felt between their toes and awaken them to attend to business. Paul took in the situation at a glance. Quietly drawing near one of the lines he gave it a vicious jerk. The negro on the other end of it flipped to a sitting posture as though he was worked on a spring like a jumping jack. When he saw the black figure as he thought, on his line, he let out a shriek that could have been heard for a mile, at the same time springing to his feet and starting on a sprinting pace for some hiding place, yelling, as he ran, to his companion:
"Hyah Bill, git away from dar; git up an' cut. I'se done cotch de debbil on my hook."
The other restful fisherman sat up stiffly as if worked on a rusty hinge, and seeing Boyton, was seized with an uncontrollable fit of laughter. He laughed as though he was never going to catch his breath, and Paul was afraid he would choke. He rolled on the ground in paroxysms of mirth, stood up and leaned against a tree shouting out such loud guffaws that it was difficult to tell whether it was through amusement or fright. Paul got out on the bank and tried to quiet him, but was unsuccessful and entered the water again and paddled away. For some distance the voice of that hilarious fisherman was borne to him on the breeze.
As evening closed in he could hear the darkies who had been paid off, it being Saturday night, singing and arguing along the shore. A dense fog soon enveloped everything, however, and he could not see which way he was going. He seized the roots of a drifting tree, knowing it would keep in the channel, mounted it and sat there for hours floating with the current. All night the mocking birds along shore serenaded him. He would have remained on the tree until morning; but he heard the whistles of steamers below. Knowing that a fleet left New Orleans every Saturday afternoon bound north, and that each would be trying to gain the lead on the other, he was afraid he would be run down, so he slid off the tree and made for shore. That course was not without its danger, also; for mingled with the beautiful songs of the mocking bird, he had heard the hoarse bark of alligators and there was no telling but that he might run right on to some of them. They are thick along shore, but rarely go out into the river, except as in the case of the dead mule, they follow their prey. Luckily he avoided those dangerous reptiles. He sounded the bugle and a Frenchman came down to the bank. Paul explained who he was and the man eagerly invited him ashore. "I am sitting up with my old master who is dead," said the Frenchman. "What was the matter with him?" inquired Boyton, somewhat alarmed.
"Oh, it wasn't the fever, you need have no fear."
Paul decided to land and wait until the fleet had passed at any rate, then he lighted his lamp and pushed off through the fog, preferring the solitude of the river to the society of the grief stricken Frenchman. The fog lifted in the morning and he found that he was on time. Ten miles above New Orleans, he was met by excursion steamers with enthusiastic crowds aboard. Captain Leathers of the famous old boat, Natchez, was determined to outdo the others in the way of welcoming the voyager, for Boyton was an old friend. He had a cannon placed on the deck of his boat, loaded to the muzzle. A crowd of negroes were jammed on a lot of cotton bales, craning their necks to catch a glimpse of Paul and Captain Leathers fired right in amongst them. The concussion was so great that at least forty of the darkies were knocked off their feet and thought they were killed by the explosion. Paul landed at New Orleans, April 27th, finishing a journey of two thousand four hundred and thirty miles. He was feted and lionized in the Crescent City until he was in danger of becoming enervated, so he boarded a train for the north, some thirty pounds less in weight than when he started at Oil City.
The summer of 1879 was idly spent. Boyton visited the most celebrated watering resorts of America and enjoyed a well earned good time. As the autumn leaves began to fall, he was seized with an irresistible desire to feel himself again afloat, so he turned his attention to the rivers of the New England States. He went to Boston, made a careful study of the maps, and concluded to take a voyage on the Merrimac; this river, with its numerous falls and rapids, he thought would furnish some excitement. The start was made from Plymouth, New Hampshire, at six o'clock in the morning of October seventh. The river was too rough for him to tow the Baby Mine along, a fact which he very much deplored. Boyton had not paddled many yards from the shore ere he found the water so shallow that he was compelled to wade quite a distance before getting fairly under way, then he soon left the cheering crowd in the distance. About nine o'clock, approaching a bridge, he heard a rumbling sound. Looking up he beheld the figure of a man and horse outlined against the sky like a shadow picture. The countryman also discovered the queer looking figure in the water. He craned his neck, jerked his arms up and with mouth and eyes wide open slapped the reins on the horse's back and galloped off at a faster pace than the good agriculturalists in that locality are wont to ride. He had not read the newspapers.
An hour later, Paul blew his bugle in front of a farm house that stood near the river. The people ran to the water's edge and began firing a broadside of down east interrogatives with such rapidity as to nearly swamp him.
"Ain't yeou nearly drowned?" "Ain't yeou afeard yeou will be?" "Ain't yeou hungry?" "Ain't yeou cold?" "Ain't yeou hot?" "Kin yeou keep awake?" "Ef yeou cain't, would yeou sink?" "Air yeou a orphing?", "Dew yeou like the water?" "What circuse dew yeou belong tew?" "Who hired yeou tew dew this?" "Why on airth dew yeou travel this way fur instead of in a boat?"
Paul could not stand the rapid fire system of the New Hampshire rustics, and with a pained expression on his face he, pulled silently out of hearing. The narrowing river brought him closer to the banks, and as he was forging ahead an old gentleman hailed him. Paul stopped for a moment and was sorry for it, as the man tried to chill his blood with doleful stories of the dangers in the river below. "Yeou air goin' straight ahead tew destruction," he bellowed, "thar's a whirlpool jist ahead, where six lumbermen was drowned one time."
Boyton had no fear of sharing the fate of the lumbermen, so he pushed ahead, leaving the old man standing on the bank with clasped hands and pained expression.
The voyager shortly reached the junction of Squam river, and there encountered the first waterfall. A crowd of men and boys had assembled on the bridge and anxiously watched him dash down on the rushing waters, in which he was for the moment lost. Emerging from the boiling foam at the foot of the fall, he scrambled on a rock and stood up to look for the channel. From that point he had a wearisome pull in dead, choppy water, until he reached New Hampton. At many places along the route, well disposed persons were liberal with their advice to give up such an "outlandish" mode of traveling and to "git on land like a human critter." Though the advice sounded well, Paul noticed on one occasion at least, that their methods of travel were not devoid of the danger ascribed to his. Above him, on the grim rocks of a bluff, he saw the wreck of a light wagon, and floating along with the current, were the seat and one wheel.
"Where is the driver of that wagon?" inquired Paul. No one knew and he plied his paddle vigorously in the hope of overtaking the unfortunate man who had evidently been hurled from the bluff into the stream; but no trace could be found. Below the sound of rapids was borne to his ear. The smooth water began to break and start as if suddenly impelled forward by some subtle influence that meant to tear the rocks from the bed and crush every obstacle in its course. With all his care in steering through that rapid, he was thrown against a rock with considerable force, but caught hold of it and stood up to determine the course of the channel. Seeing an old lady standing before the door of a farm house, he rang out a cavalry charge on his bugle. She threw up her hands as though she had heard the last trumpet of the Day of Judgment, and rushing into the house she alarmed all the occupants. The look of horror they gave the Captain as he stood on that rock in the midst of the rapids, beckoning to them with his paddle, was evidence that they took him for his Satanic majesty or one of his courtiers.
"Lan' sakes, 'Zekiel!" exclaimed the boldest one or the party, who chanced to be a tall, raw-boned female, "go git gran'pap's old blunderbuss, an' shoot it."
Zekiel was rooted to the spot with fear and heeded not the exhortation of his strong-minded relative. Boyton, who feared the people who did not keep posted by reading the papers, more than he did the rapids, relieved them by taking to the water, and was flashed from their sight as he was drawn into another and larger rapid. He was whirled into a place where he had a hard struggle over a bed of round, slippery rocks in shallow water. He could not find the channel, and if he stood up to take an observation, his feet would be swept from under him. He was fully an hour getting over the rocks, walking, crawling or paddling as best he could. At five o'clock he reached Bristol. There he was advised to go no further and a telegram from his agent below, told him the river was too dangerous to travel at night. The next morning the landlord's daughter drove him to the bank and a large crowd watched as he paddled away toward the whirlpool, against which he had been warned. It was a rough passage, but he reached Franklin in safety at one o'clock. All the way he had kept a sharp lookout for the driver of the wrecked wagon, but could discover no trace of him. Before reaching Franklin a fleet of boats rowed up to the falls to meet him, and bonfires were built along the shore in his honor.
The voyage was resumed at eight o'clock next morning, and at ten o'clock he shot Sewell's Falls, a rather rough place, and from there the river was lonely until West Concord was reached. Here the booming of cannon announced his safe arrival to the people. He was met by a fleet of boats and informed that they had been looking for him two days. He was warned to look out for Turkey Falls, and before proceeding he asked a countryman which side of the falls he should take, and received the cheering answer that, "whichever side he took he would wish he had taken the other." Both banks of the falls were lined with people, Paul always noticed a larger crowd at every point where he was likely to be killed. He went over Turkey Falls, and for a few seconds was lost to sight. The spectators waited in breathless silence to see his lifeless form rise from the foam, but beheld only the flashing paddle moving gaily along in smoother water, and so a hero was not lost at that uneventful spot, and there would be no legend of the place to hand down to posterity.
One mile from the falls, the Captain encountered the first dam, below which there was a stretch of dead water for seven miles. It was there he met the first steam craft—a small launch that had sailed up from Suncook. It was a long, tiresome pull through the dead stretch, and he arrived at Suncook at dark pretty well fagged out. Invitations to remain were plentiful; but he continued two miles further to Hookset where dry clothing awaited him. Next morning an early start was made and he was able to have the Baby Mine with him for the rest of the journey. The water from Hookset to Manchester is heavy; but by constant paddling he reached the latter place at noon. There were more signs of life as he progressed. Children ran along the banks calling to him, and one little girl cried: "Paul, come in here I want see you," as though she had known him for years. He passed two of the five falls that barred the progress to Nashua, when darkness fell with such intensity that he was compelled to depend on shore sounds to determine in which direction he was going. At eight o'clock, seeing lights on shore, he summoned some people with a blast on the bugle and inquired the distance to the next falls. As was the case above, he had to listen to diverse and widely different opinions, with the usual result, that he took his own course, and succeeded in reaching Nashua in safety at ten o'clock. The next day dawned dull and rainy and he had a tiresome pull on a sluggish stream until he reached Tyngsborough. Nearing a crowded bridge at that place, volleys of questions were fired at him. He was choking with thirst and without looking up, asked: "Is there a hotel here?"
"Naw," shouted a gruff voice, "ner yeou kaint git naw liker hure nowhere neether."
"I'll take an oath that you never colored that nose of yours with river water," quickly replied Boyton.
The retort happily hit the mark, for the fellow was the possessor of a richly tinted proboscis of carmine hue, that was somewhat of a landmark in the village. The crowd roared in approbation of the home thrust and the man, hastily elbowed his way through the crowd until he was beyond hearing.
A number of small boats ascended the river from Lowell to meet Paul, and he accepted an invitation from the Vesper Boat Club, of that city, to land at their club house, which he did at five o'clock. He remained over Sunday in Lowell and resumed the journey Monday morning. He shot Hunt's falls in safety and there met a steam launch with newspaper men from Lawrence, aboard. At Lawrence the river begins to be affected by the tide, on account of which he was compelled to wait until four o'clock next morning before continuing the trip. He made a landing at daylight at a frame house over the door of which was painted the word "confectionery" and he thought he could get some breakfast. He was given a room, but it was soon filled with obtrusive questioners. A farmer, seeing the look of hunger in his eyes, volunteered to procure some breakfast. The Captain was prepared to do justice to the kind of a meal he had been wishing for, when the farmer returned with a genuine country breakfast consisting of several pieces of apple and mince pie and a liberal supply of assorted pickles. It was fortunate for Boyton's digestion that he was obliged to stay at that place for five hours, owing to the flood tide.
Directly after resuming the voyage, he was met by a fleet of boats, one of them being occupied by Sir Edward Thornton, the British Minister at Washington, and his beautiful daughter. Being old acquaintances, Paul enjoyed a pleasant chat with them, and a few moments later, he landed at Newburyport. The voyage was ended. He had made two hundred miles of very rough going, in seven days.