"Is this General Lynch?"
"Si," was the sharp reply.
In English, Paul continued: "General, I am a patrolled prisoner who came down to see if—"
At this moment he was shocked by a heavy hand crashing on the table and a stentorian voice rang out in Spanish:
"Speak you Spanish, speak you Spanish. Muerte Dios, I understand not much English."
Paul mumbled a request in Spanish to have his parole transferred to Callao. "No, No, Anda!" pointing to the door, Paul retired and soon after rejoined his companion at Ancon.
Three days after this he received a message from his friends at Lima which caused him considerable alarm. It was to the effect that the Chileans were making a diligent search for him and to be very careful as there was yet no chance to get on a north bound vessel, every passenger being closely scrutinized and it would be impossible to cross the mountains.
Late one night, shortly after receiving the above message, he was awakened by a hammering at the door, he leaped out of bed to find the house surrounded by a squad of Chilean cavalry. The officer in command told him he was wanted at Lima and to prepare to accompany the squad at once. He was taken to the capitol and ushered into the presence of General Backadona.
"What is your name?" thundered the General, striking the table with his fist.
"I surrendered to you General," replied Boyton, "my name is Delaport."
"You were in the torpedo service?"
"Possibly; I held a commission from Don Nicholas de Pierola."
"But your name is Boyton and no one by that name held a commission."
Boyton neither affirmed or denied the charge, and the General ordered him to be confined in the quartelle with the other prisoners, where he was kept for some weeks while the victors were awaiting dispatches from Chile that would decide his fate and he could readily surmise what that would be.
Almost daily during his imprisonment he could hear the barbaric blare of the Chilean bugles outside the quartelle, the gates swing open and a party of Chilean soldiers enter. An officer would call the names of the prisoners wanted and surrounded by a firing party, the unfortunate wretches were marched out, followed by white robed priests who walked by their side administering words of consolation. With gay music, the prisoners were escorted to a convenient place for the execution, which was usually the back of some store or the front of a public building. The condemned were strapped on a plank, their feet resting on a step two feet from the ground. This was placed against a wall. Then followed a sharp order, a bright flash, the crack of rifles and the poor fellows were sent to their long home. After the execution the planks with the bodies on were placed on the death wagon to be unstrapped at the grave.
Paul expected every morning to hear his name called. Every time that fatal gate opened he thought it meant his farewell to earth, but strange to say, he became hardened and did not dread the summons. His friends on the outside worked like beavers for his release or escape. His belongings had been placed in the care of the railroad company and were safe; even the "children of the sea" having been brought up from Ancon.
For several days he noticed a Chilean who seemed to be some sort of an official within the prison, watching him. One day this officer carelessly passed near him and in a low voice asked if his name was Delaport. Paul said "yes" and the official walked away.
Next day four officers who looked like the bearers of dispatches rode in at the gate. The prisoners looked significantly at one another, remarking:
"There's news from Chile."
"Yes," replied Boyton to one of them, "I guess my death warrant is there."
The officers leaped from their horses, allowing them to stand unhitched in the quartelle and entered the palace through a side door. As Paul was patting and caressing one of the foam flecked steeds, the officer who had before noticed him, touched him on the shoulder and whispered the one word:
Without hesitation, he followed the Chilean, who opened the same door into which the dispatch bearers had disappeared. Once inside, his conductor turned with a finger to his lip and silently passed on. They descended several steps into what appeared to be a basement, where they groped among pillars and underground apartments until they came to a heavy door, through the chinks of which a little sunshine was streaming. Boyton's conductor drew the bait and with a gentle push shoved him out, whispering:
The Captain found himself in a street as the door softly closed, and at that moment a party of Chilean soldiers rode by. He dropped his hat and stooped to pick it up, keeping his face toward the ground until they had passed. He then started in the direction of the railroad, in the neighborhood of which he expected to find some friends. When he reached a bridge over the track, he saw a train dispatcher of the road, whose name was Campbell, of Alleghany City, Pennsylvania, standing below. He made a sign to Paul, who quickly descended and entered an old warehouse. He was followed by Campbell who handed him a paper, saying:
"Here is safe conduct through the lines. You are a submarine telegraph man going down to the coast to repair the cable. Outside is a mule equipped and ready for you. In one side of its saddle bags is one of your rubber suits and a jointed paddle, covered with coils of wire. In the other side are coils of wire, telegraph instruments and some provisions. To all inquiries, you must answer: 'Comision especial telegrafos del sue marina.' There's an English steamer going north to- morrow, the Captain of which is fixed all right. Your baggage and all your traps will be aboard of her. Go to Ancon and get to the furthest island out and stand boldly off; the Captain of the steamer will pick you up. Your greatest danger will be in leaving the city and passing the lines. You must depend on your own resources to get through them."
Campbell then placed a purse of money in Boyton's hand bade him God speed and disappeared. The Captain unhitched the mule, mounted, and started across the Pizzaro bridge over the Rimac. At the other end of the bridge, he noticed a Chilean soldier eyeing him intently. He thought the fellow was one of the guard who might recognize him; but knowing that any quick or startled movement would instantly excite suspicion, he leisurely rode the mule up to a cigar stand, dismounted and purchased some cigars. This move seemed to allay the suspicions of the guard and he walked away. Lighting a cigar, Paul remounted and kept on to the outskirts of the city. Night was falling when he reached the first line of sentinels and he heard that sound which made his blood surge:
"Halta, cavagna," shouted by the sentry.
"Comision especial telegrafos del sue marina," he answered, displaying his forged pass. The officer scanned the paper and gave him permission to pass on. At the second outpost, which was quite a distance from the city, the same program was enacted; but at the third or outer line of sentries, that occurred which caused cold beads of perspiration to start on Boyton's forehead. A young officer was in command who posed as a strict disciplinarian and acted up to his idea that there was very little else in the world for him to learn. He critically examined the paper and then looked into the saddle bags that were swung over the mule's back. Then strutting haughtily about, said:
"The pass is not correct, you will have to go back to Lima."
It was a terrible blow to Paul's chances for escape and though his heart was in his mouth, he kept as cool as possible and assumed a careless air. He presented the officer with a cigar, talked about the weather and other interesting subjects, while a guard was being formed to escort him back to the city.
"I hope," said he, "that you will be pleased to command the guard that escorts me back. I assure you that the society of the beautiful senoritas at the capital is far preferable to me than to proceed with the wet, cold work I have been sent to do."
The officer was polite enough to regret that he could not accompany the guard.
"I would be sorry to see a brave officer like yourself get into any trouble over this," continued Paul. "You know how anxious your superiors are to have the wires repaired in order to re-establish communication with Chile, though I am sure I do not fancy the work and am well satisfied to have my journey interrupted."
The officer took the pass again and carefully ran his eyes over it, as Boyton, apparently in the most happy humor, puffed away at his cigar.
"I think you are all right," said the officer at last, returning the paper, "you can go on."
Paul's heart gave such a thump of joy that he was afraid the Chilean would hear or see it; but the latter observed nothing. With assumed reluctance, he bade the officer good night, mounted his mule and rode slowly away. As soon as he was out of sight and hearing, he dug his heels into the mule's sides and was galloping swiftly across the pampas toward the coast. He could detect no signs of pursuit and in about an hour he heard the sweetest music that had ever soothed his ears.
It was the booming of the breakers near Ancon.
Riding close to the edge of the cliff, he stripped everything off of the mules and with a "good bye, old fellow, you have served me well," and a gentle pat on the neck, he turned its head toward the pampas and it scampered away. The next work was to fling all the wire and telegraph instruments into the sea. He then donned the dress, and with his paddle firmly jointed, began descending the cliff. Reaching the water in safety, he plunged right into the breakers and paddled with all his strength from the shore. Island after island was left behind and at daybreak he was to the seaward of most of them. He selected the one that stood furthest out and steered for it. It appeared like a huge rock standing straight up out of the water; but he found a narrow strip of sandy beach on which to land, being escorted by a whole troop of seals which offered him no harm, however. Climbing to a high ledge, he removed his suit and found that from his perch he commanded a good view and could see the smoke of the steamer as soon as it left the harbor of Callao.
The sun came up with a dull, red color promising a hot day. By nine o'clock, the heat was so intense that he began to suffer from thirst and then discovered that he had made one grievous mistake. He had neglected to supply himself with fresh water. After partaking of a little breakfast, he began a tour of exploration in the hope of finding some cave in which he would be sheltered from the rays of the sun; but none was to be found and he only kept cool by wading into the sea at intervals, yet such immersions increased his thirst. All day long he scanned the horizon in the direction of Callao, looking in vain for the black smoke of the steamer; but hour after hour passed and there was no sign of it.
During the afternoon he found a shelf of rock under which there was some shelter from the heat. He sat under its shade suffering terribly from the intensity of thirst. Then his mind was somewhat disturbed by seeing a tremendous cloud of pelicans headed for the island. They circled round arid round and lit in a confused mass on the narrow beach. There were several thousand of them and he gazed at them with interest. They went through a regular drill, in squads, which is the habit of those queer but unclean birds. The smell from them was almost overpowering. They would stand straight up in long rows, looking wise and solemn, while two very dignified birds marched up and down in front of the lines for all the world like military grandees reviewing a dress parade. Their drill must have occupied at least two hours, then the ranks were broken and they went into the sea in search of fish.
Paul's suffering from thirst became almost intolerable, his tongue was swollen and his mind was being affected. At last he saw the smoke of the steamer as the sun was going down. He was seized with an idea that she would miss him in the darkness and he decided to return and give himself up if she did, preferring to be shot rather than to die of thirst on that desolate island. He put on his dress and paddled out until he could see by the steamer's mast that she was head on, then he laid still and awaited her coming. Close and closer she approached until he could see the lookout. He waved his paddle vigorously and they saw him. To his intense joy, she slowed down, a boat dropped from her side and he was soon on board and hurried below much to the amazement of the passengers. He was received kindly by the Captain and made comfortable. Everything had been attended to by his friends, all his luggage, even to the pets were aboard.
The steamer only touched at one more Peruvian port, Paita, and while they stopped there, Paul went below and turned coal heaver; but on account of the wires being destroyed no news of his escape had reached that port and no search was made. Next morning they steamed up the river to Guayquil and he felt himself free.
To Panama was but a short run and the twenty-five dollars in gold that he had to pay for his trip across the isthmus from there to Aspinwall, left him almost penniless. At Aspinwall he found the same steamer on which he had sailed from New York, the Crescent City, and he put up his baggage for a passage home on her. No trouble was experienced in making such an arrangement for the trip north, for as soon as the Captain learned who he was and the straits he was in, he was received with open arms and every attention paid him.
Eight days after, Paul stood in Broadway, New York, without a cent in his pocket, instead of the hundreds of thousands he had anticipated earning when he cast his fortunes with Peru. But he felt rich in the joy of his mother and family, who welcomed him as it were from the grave.
Kiefer, who had gone south with him, succeeded in making his escape for the mountains where he remained several years, collecting antiquities and shipping them north. He died of consumption soon after his return to the United States in 1889.
In less than a month after his return from South America, Boyton was in St. Paul, Minnesota, ready to start on a voyage of one thousand and eight miles down the Mississippi river to Cairo, this trip being undertaken in order to complete the length of that river from source to mouth. Though there were no adventures of extraordinary interest in this voyage, it was the stormiest one he ever encountered; and he was diverted on the way by two peculiar characters that accompanied him, being almost continually provoked to mirth by the humorous incidents which befell them. His companion was a celebrated German artist, Dr. C., who was on his first visit to America, as a representative of that famous publication, the Gartenlaube. The Doctor was a scholarly gentleman, but being unacquainted with American characteristics, which had been sadly misrepresented to him by some of his countrymen who were inclined to joke, he had an exaggerated notion as to how he must dress and act for such a trip as he was going to take. When he was at St. Paul, he thought he was on the skirts of civilization and it behooved him to appear in such a manner as not to be imposed on as a novice. So when he was presented to Boyton, he was gaily attired in a buckskin suit, with revolver and bowie knife trimmings, looking rather out of place with the scholarly spectacles that bridged his nose. He really outdid the most fanciful cowboy of the far western ranches. Such an outfit he imagined just the thing for a trip among the wild characters on the Upper Mississippi. The other member of the party was a broad nosed, Herculean negro whom Paul hired to pull the row boat he had purchased for the Doctor's accommodation.
Boyton found that the scenery on the Upper Mississippi was more beautiful than on any river he had yet traversed. There was not that startling grandeur which characterized the shores of some of the rivers; but it was beautiful—with high buttes and pleasant shores, while the people throughout its entire length are exceedingly hospitable. If the loveliness of this river were better known, it would be more generally visited by tourists in search of rest or recreation. On the morning of May nineteenth, 1881, the start was made, the usual crowd of people lining the banks to see them off.
Several of the Doctor's enthusiastic friends presented him with a keg of beer. It was placed in his skiff. Unfortunately, they forgot to give him a faucet. All that day was very hot, and the entire party longed for a drink from its cooling depths. Late that evening a steamer, towing a raft, came slowly down the river. Paul told the negro to pull alongside and have the raftsman open the keg. They had no faucet but they had an auger, with which they willingly started to bore into its head. A moment afterward a white fountain shot to the sky and all hands held their hats to catch the descending shower.
They ran along without other adventure, until the second day out, when Lake Pipin was reached, where they were met by a heavy head wind and an enormous sea, that almost swamped the Doctor's boat; but they hauled up at Lake City in safety, where they passed the night.
The first reception accorded the voyagers was at La Crosse, where they were greeted with a blaze of fireworks and the roaring of cannon.
Below La Crosse as they were swinging along between the willow-laden banks of the beautiful river, whose waters, unlike the thick yellow of its lower half, where it partakes of the character of the Missouri, are clear and pure, the Doctor developed a taste for hunting and asked permission to use the shotgun that had been stowed away in the boat. Boyton readily consented; but seeing that the Doctor knew nothing about handling the weapon, which was an improved breech loader, some pains were taken to instruct him in the use of it. It looked so simple that the Doctor thought he had mastered it without any trouble at all. The negro, however, was not so confident and eyed the gun in the Doctor's hands with great suspicion.
"Ise not sayin' nun' Cap'en" he remarked to Paul, "but that man aint been rised aroun' whar da do much shootin', suah's yo' libe. Dar aint no tellin' whar he gwine fur to pint that weepin' an Ise running chances in hyah wid him. Dat's right, Cap'en."
He was assured that there would be no danger; but he was far from being satisfied and kept an anxious eye on the Doctor's movements.
After further instructions and admonishing the Doctor to be very careful, Boyton resumed his paddle and was soon ploughing ahead of the boat. He had not proceeded a mile when he heard a report of the gun and turning, saw both the Doctor and the darkey gazing intently into the sky at a gull that was sailing leisurely around a half mile or so above them. The Doctor nervously rubbed his glasses and looked again, at a loss to determine why the bird did not fall. When the boat dropped alongside, Paul explained to the astonished Doctor that a shotgun only carried a short distance and he could not expect to hit anything so far away.
As the sun was sinking that evening, Boyton heard the negro yelling:
"Great Lawd, come hyah Cap'en! Oh, my soul, come quick! quick! Dis hyah Dutchman gwine t' kill me suah!"
Wheeling around, Paul witnessed the most ludicrous spectacle. The Doctor, with the muzzle of the gun turned on the negro, was excitedly hammering a cartridge into the breech, while the negro was stretched on his back nearly over the gunwale of the boat, with the broad sole of his foot held as a shield toward the muzzle, yelling at the top of his voice. The doctor saw some blackbirds in the bushes and not remembering how to put a cartridge in the gun, was pounding it in with the handle of his bowie knife. Of course it was liable to explode at every stroke, and the poor negro knew the danger.
After some expostulation, the Doctor was persuaded to put the gun away.
Below Dubuque, the weather grew stormy and so continued for the rest of the voyage. They were treated to some marvelous lightning effects. Its forked tongues lapped the water in the most eccentric manner—fearful, though intensely beautiful. The poor darkey cowered in fright on the bottom of the boat with covered eyes, while Paul and the Doctor were so impressed with the grandeur of the manifestation, as to be unmindful of the danger. After that, whenever dark masses of clouds began to roll up in the sky and the wind commenced to sough mournfully through the willows, no power on earth could prevent the darkey from pulling in shore and staying there until the storm had passed.
"Ole Mastah above kin hit me evah w'en he wants to; I knows dat; but den Ise gwine to climb fur the shoah foah dat lightnin' play tag aroun' dis niggah's head agin, dat's shoah as yo' libe," he explained to Paul after one of his hurried retreats into the bushes.
Twelve days after the start the party arrived at Davenport. Paul had been greatly retarded in his progress on account of false channels and sloughs into which he wandered and through which he paddled many weary miles. Early one morning, emerging from one or these sloughs just as the sun was rising, he was treated to a concert such as he had never heard. The music seemed to him almost heavenly—so exceedingly beautiful that he remained motionless on the water, charmed by the entrancing melody. It burst from the throats of thousands of birds on one side of the river, and the refrain was taken up by a swelling chorus of feathered warblers on the other shore. It was a concert that paid him for the labor of a thousand miles of paddling.
At Davenport, and in fact at all the river towns, the party was tendered enthusiastic receptions. All the members of the boat clubs at Burlington rowed up to meet them and formed an interesting flotilla into the city. They frequently encountered rafts of logs, containing millions of feet of lumber. The raftsmen were always glad to meet Paul and converse with him as long as he would paddle alongside.
Below Davenport, the Doctor's passion for hunting was again displayed, much to the disgust of his dusky boatman. He insisted on firing at some blackbirds and the promise of a quarter to the negro, persuaded that worthy to row him close in shore. He took deliberate aim and fired into a tree that was covered with birds. Not one of them fell; but a cow that had been drinking among the willows, ran wildly up the bank with her tail in the air, bellowing mournfully. The darkey received the promise of another twenty-five cents for pulling away from the scene as fast as he could. It had usually been Paul's complaint that the boat was too far behind; but after the cow incident, it was just the other way. They were always so far ahead that it was hard to keep them in sight. The darkey was bribed to this unwonted exertion by presents of neckties and other fancy articles which the Doctor sacrificed from his wardrobe. The latter had visions of that cow's owner in vengeful pursuit.
While paddling along one morning, the boat being quite a distance below him, Boyton heard a terrific fusillade from the gun. He thought the Doctor was shooting away all the cartridges. The boat was surrounded by smoke and Paul drove ahead to see what was going on. As he drew near, he saw the doctor holding a small object in his hand while a look of pride glowed on his countenance. It was a little squirrel.
"See what I have killed," enthusiastically cried the Doctor in German.
"Yaas," chimed in the darkey, "dat squi'l him swimmin' de ribber an' de Doc, he shot an' shot an' den I kill um wid de oah."
After leaving Quincy, the Doctor again distinguished himself, by firing into some ducks that he saw in a slough on the Missouri side. The negro had encouraged him to shoot and to his intense satisfaction, he accidentally killed one. He made the darkey row in and pick it up, and a few moments later, a gruff voice was heard on the bank:
"Pull ashore; nigger."
Looking up they saw a gigantic Missourian with his rifle pointed at them and the negro pulled in as though he was trying to escape another lightning storm.
"Mister; I want six bits fur that er pet duck of mine," the man remarked to the Doctor.
The price demanded was promptly paid and the Doctor was glad to get away from that wicked looking weapon which the Missourian handled as though familiar with its use. After that adventure, he lost all interest in hunting.
On June nineteenth, the party pulled into St. Louis, where they were welcomed by a crowd of about thirty-thousand people, and the screaming of whistles was something deafening. The Mayor was on one of the steamboats and extended Paul the freedom of the city. He was hospitably entertained, and after a short visit, began the last stretch of his journey, two-hundred miles to Cairo, which he intended to finish without a stop; the longest continuous run he ever made. On this trip he had a great deal of trouble with the boat as both the Doctor and the darkey would persist in sleeping, after they had been on the route a short time. On one occasion, after the boat had been lost from him for a couple of hours, Boyton saw something limping down the river in a lopsided manner, which he could not believe was the boat; but on its nearing him, he saw it was the Doctor pulling away as though his life depended on it, with one oar and a little staff to one end of which was fastened a small German flag. Both occupants had gone to sleep and lost an oar, and the Doctor had utilized the flag staff that had been proudly placed at the boat's stern. They arrived safely at Cairo, forty-one hours from St. Louis. The Doctor poorer in clothes and the darkey much richer in wardrobe, parted with each other and Paul at this point.
At Cairo, Boyton met a friend who was going up the Mississippi to St. Paul on his own private steamer, a handsome little boat fitted up with every luxury. He invited Paul to accompany him and knowing no more congenial way to rest, he consented. They made the trip by easy stages stopping at places where good hunting promised and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The little steamer was full of pets they picked up at various points; coons, foxes, opossum, crows and squirrels.
Above Burlington they ran across somewhat of a snag in the shape of a pilot's union. They were compelled to hire a pilot to see them up the river, (though they were perfectly able to handle the boat themselves), or be compelled to pay a fine of fifty dollars. They were hauled up at the wharf of an Iowa village when they heard this, and rather than have any trouble, they concluded to hire a pilot. On inquiry, they learned that there was no pilot in the village except the editor of the weekly paper. He had a license and could do the work if he was so inclined. This placed them in a rather awkward position. They did not feel like asking so distinguished a gentleman as the editor of the paper to pilot them. Several conferences were held on the subject; but the stubborn fact still stared them in the face, that the editor was the only man in the village who could do the work and if they proceeded to the next town without a licensed pilot they would have to pay a fifty dollar fine. At last in a fit of desperation, Paul said he would call on the editor and see what kind of a man he was, anyway, and if he proved to be all right, he might be induced to join them as a guest, which would be a more polite way to put it. They were willing to give twenty-five or thirty dollars; but they felt a delicacy in making such a proposition to an editor.
At any rate, Paul called at the office. After climbing a crazy flight of stairs on the outside of a little rheumatic looking frame building, he found the editor seated on a stool at a case of type, setting up some matter for his next week's issue. Boyton introduced himself.
"Well, I'll be doggoned, Paul," exclaimed the editor, jumping from the stool, "I'm almighty glad to see you," enthusiastically shaking his hand, "where in thunder are you swimming to now?"
"Oh, I'm just going up the river on a pleasure trip, with a friend of mine, on a little steamer."
"Is that so. Well, I'm glad to meet you any way. I'll make a note about it next week."
"Yes, we are having a little pleasure excursion; hunting, fishing, and all that sort of thing and we thought you might enjoy a trip with us a little way."
A cunning gleam shot through the editor's eagle eye, as he replied:
"Um, I guess you want me to pilot you up, don't you?"
"Well, yes. If you want to put it that way. You might assist our regular pilot if you felt so disposed. I can assure you a good time. Plenty of everything on board."
"I'll be doggoned if I wouldn't like to go up, Paul; but don't see how I can do it. In fact it's impossible. You see I couldn't get out my paper next week. Have to disappoint all my subscribers and you know that would hardly be right."
"We would have a good time," persisted Boyton, "you could take a little vacation, you know, and you might get some one to put out the paper for you."
"Couldn't do it. There aint a man between here and Chicago that could get out this paper. No sir. If I went, I'd have to disappoint all my subscrib—"
"Well, what will you take to pilot us up?" interrupted Paul in desperation, willing to offer fifty dollars if there was a chance.
"You see I would have to disappoint all my subscribers and then the advertisers would kick and want to knock off on their bills. Taking all those things into consideration, I don't see how I could go up for less than three dollars."
Of course he was taken along and luxuriously entertained as well as paid the three dollars. The week following the editor's return, his paper contained an item to the effect that "owing to illness in his family, the editor was compelled to disappoint his subscribers last week."
At St. Paul, Boyton began preparations for the longest voyage he had yet undertaken—down the Yellowstone and Missouri.
There being many dangers to encounter on his contemplated voyage down the Yellowstone and Missouri, every precaution was taken that might possibly lessen them. General Terry kindly sent information to all the military posts and Indian agents along the rivers of Boyton's voyage and requested them to tell the Indians so that they would not shoot him in mistake for some strange water animal.
On the 15th of September, 1881, Boyton arrived at the terminus of the railroad at Glendive, Montana, then a little town made up of rough board houses and tents, which was the highest point on the Yellowstone he could reach. He went to a hotel and asked if he could be accommodated with a room. "I reckon you can," said the landlord, "there's only sixty in there now."
He was not compelled to occupy that general sleeping room, however, as the superintendent of a construction train provided a place for him in one of the cars. He remained two days in Glendive, completing preparations for his journey. Besides his usual equipments in the Baby Mine, he added an ax, a double barreled gun which could be taken apart and made to occupy a very small space. This was a necessary weapon, as he knew he would have to depend largely on his own exertions for provisions through a greater part of the country he was to traverse. These with signal lights, rockets, compass, maps, etc., completed the Baby's cargo. As he knew he had three-thousand five-hundred and eighty miles of river to haul under him, he determined to put into practice a theory he had long maintained, that hardship can better be endured without the use of alcoholic liquors. As a substitute, he reduced two pounds of strong black tea to liquid form, to be used as a stimulant when one was necessary, and his subsequent experience proved that his theory was correct.
General Merritt was in command of the post at Glendive and did everything in his power to assist Paul in his preparations. During the last evening spent at the post, the General asked him what time he would start in the morning.
"At five o'clock," was the answer.
"For goodness sake," facetiously replied the General, "don't start so early. At that time our sentries sleep the soundest."
The river at Glendive is narrow and quite shoal, the channel not being more than eighteen inches deep. The bottom is composed of gravel, but having been solidified by the alkali, is like a solid rock. The channel runs in every direction and is at times diverted by great sandbars strewn with the most beautiful agates, on which no human foot had ever trod before Paul touched them.
In deference to General Merritt's wishes and a fellow feeling for the sleepy sentinels, Paul did not start until seven o'clock on the morning of the 17th. All the inhabitants of the town went to the river bank, among them, the General's handsome daughter, who presented Paul with a set of colors, which he flew on the Baby throughout the trip. A cannon salute was fired and he began his lonely and dangerous journey.
In an incredibly short space of time he was away from all signs of civilization and running very fast on the lonely river. He had been warned at the start to look out for hostile bands of Crow Indians who were hunting in that vicinity, so he made fast time all day. Now and again he struck rapids and had to exercise the utmost care to keep his suit from being cut on the rocks. He saw any quantity of game along the route, particularly black tailed deer that frequently came to the water's edge. He amused himself by blowing blasts on the bugle and watch them dash up the banks and disappear in the timber. That evening he decided to camp on a bar across which a cottonwood tree was lying, that promised an excellent back log for a fire. Either shore was heavily wooded. Taking off his suit, he gathered a quantity of brush; but was careful not to create too much smoke for fear of guiding Indians to his resting place. He cooked supper and leaving a little fire smoldering, put on the rubber pantaloons, using the tunic as a pillow and laid down, the hooting of owls furnishing music to soothe his slumbers. Being somewhat anxious about Indians, he slept lightly and about two o'clock, he was startled by what seemed to be a canoe landing on the bank near by. He rose cautiously from behind the cottonwood log. Instead of a canoe full of hostile Indians, he saw a magnificent elk sharply defined against the dark background of the shore, his sides glistening like silver, being wet from his swim across the river. The huge animal was uneasy, throwing his splendidly antlered head back, sniffing the air and pawing the ground. Boyton raised his revolver and fired. The great head swayed from side to side and the noble animal dropped to his knees. Thinking the shot was fatal, Paul seized the hunting knife and sprang forward to silt its throat, having first flung a lot of brush on the smoldering fire. As the flames shot up, the elk rose to his feet and commenced to retreat slowly across the bar. Fully expecting to see him fall at every step, Paul followed as fast as the cumbersome rubber pants would permit. Instead of weakening, as Boyton thought he would, the elk gained strength and speed and went crashing through the timber out of all possibility of pursuit. Boyton returned disappointedly to the camp, where the blaze of the fire was casting a reflection almost across the river. Excited and blown after his chase, he sat down to rest, when to his surprise he saw the paddle in the fire, nearly burned in two. Hastily snatching it out, he found one blade utterly ruined and it was anything but cheerful to contemplate his helplessness in those wilds without the means of propelling himself; like a steamer without her wheel. He was not a man to be easily overcome by trifles, however, and he did not helplessly contemplate the situation for long; but seizing a hatchet, he chopped down a small sapling and with his knife, began whittling out another. He worked steadily until ten o'clock next morning before it was completed and then pulled away to make up for lost time. If anything, the river was rougher and wilder than it had been the day before; running between high buttes which formed the upper edge of the Bad Lands. Late that afternoon, just as he had noticed a break in the hills, a tremendous roaring sound struck his ear. The river seemed to quiver and dance. He thought there was an earthquake; but he soon discovered the cause of the unusual commotion. A herd of buffalo was approaching the river. They came down the slope as thick as ants, waded out as far as they could and swam across. The river was perfectly brown with them and they were fully three-quarters of an hour in passing. The last to cross were the calves and a few stragglers. They paid no attention whatever to Paul, who was hanging to the root of a tree for safety; he pushed ahead as soon as he could get by. The river for miles was churned to foam by their passage. It was the last great drove of buffalo to cross the river, as they were nearly all killed off in a very short time after.
About sundown he decided to camp under some high buttes. He built a fire, removed his dress and then, in his stocking feet, climbed to the heights in the hope of seeing some habitation; but as far as the eye could reach, there was no sign of anything human. The only living thing in sight was a herd of antelope, crossing an opposite hill, and far to the southward he could see the mysterious buttes of the Bad Lands. Returning to camp, he partook of supper and slept soundly all night, pulling away before daylight next morning. For two days he was utterly lonely. Not a thing in sight except wild game; but nearing the Missouri river, he was suddenly informed that there was something else around. A bullet struck the water just below him. He stood upright, placing the Baby between himself and the near 'shore and blew a blast on the bugle, discovering the Indian who had fired the shot as he did so, with the smoking gun still in his hand. Paul yelled lustily at him but he did not stop to investigate; he sprang away through the woods.
Late that afternoon, Paul saw a number of buildings ahead, with a pole on which a flag hung at half mast. He had reached Fort Buford. He sent a rocket whizzing in the direction of the fort and in a moment the bank was lined with soldiers who received him hospitably. On inquiring the cause of the flag being at half mast, he was informed that they had just received the news of President Garfield's death.
He remained at Buford two days, a soldier making him a splendid paddle during that time. He also visited the settlement of Ree and Mandan Indians near by, and it was by them he was given the name of Minnewachatcha, meaning spirit of the water. The Indians exhibited great curiosity and asked all manner of questions. When he started again, the entire garrison as well as the Indians assembled on the bank of the Big Muddy, shouting a good bye as he was borne away. The officers of the fort had warned him about a party of Indians that had gone out hunting before they had received word from General Terry, and Paul did not fail to keep a careful eye on the banks until he reached Fort Stevenson.
The currents and whirls on the Missouri were more savage than on the Yellowstone and the bends were something indescribable, as he took every point of the compass within the space of a couple of hours. If the Yellowstone was lonesome, the Missouri, after leaving Buford, was doubly so. The scenery was wild beyond expression. Great buttes towered darkly on either shore and they were being continually undermined by the swift and erratic current, causing avalanches of yellow soil to slide into the water, so that it was necessary to keep well out in the stream in order to avoid the dangerous banks. There was not a sight nor a sound of human presence in all the vast territory through which the river wound. To see a pile of wood or a stump which the crew of some boat that had wandered up that far when the river was higher, had cut, was cheering amid that awful loneliness. A blast from the bugle was echoed from butte to butte, caught in the recesses of one hill to be thrown back with double force into the solitude of another; until, from far below, the blast was returned with such distinctness, that Paul would strain his cars to catch the sound again, sure that his call had been answered by some being down the stream.
He began to make thirty-six hour runs, camping every second night. His program was to make an early start, run all that day and night until sundown next day, when he would land. His manner of camping and except on a few occasions, always the same, was to pick out the lee of a bank where there was plenty of driftwood, Just before leaving the water, the gun would be put together and one or two ducks knocked over without difficulty as they were so thick everywhere that it required no hunting to get them. These were put on the Baby and hauled ashore at the place selected for camp. Landing, the suit was removed and a fire built. Two stakes across which a stout pole was laid, were driven in the ground and the suit hung up to dry. He then skinned the ducks, drew some thin strips of bacon from the stores of the Baby with which he fried the most tender parts of the fowls, cooking enough for breakfast so there would be no necessity of delaying the start next morning. Supper was usually eaten with a little hot beef tea. After the evening meal, as soon as the dress was thoroughly dry, it was reversed and a pile of wood gathered for the purpose of replenishing the fire during the night. The softest place to the windward of the fire was selected for a bed, the suit donned, his alarm clock wound, hatchet and arms placed on the deck of the Baby near at hand in case of danger. Then as night closed in on the lonely buttes, the pipe was filled and he would lie down to the full enjoyment of a most delicious smoke, soon to be lulled into sound sleep by the melodious gurgle of the swift flowing river. Often during the night he was awakened by the "honk," "honk" of immense flocks of wild geese on their way to the southward, or by the whistling of wild ducks that flew closer to the water. Whenever awakened, he replenished the fire and consulted the clock. He became possessed with an unaccountable desire to push ahead and was jealous of every moment that detained him. This was a feeling he had never before experienced. He knew that winter was following him closely and the river would soon be freezing behind him; yet that could scarcely account for the unusual desire for haste. The moment he heard the whirr of the little alarm clock, he was up. Hurriedly swallowing breakfast, he slipped into the river for another thirty-six hours run.
Driving along one afternoon, he thought he saw a man in a tree and spurted ahead in the hope of obtaining some information as to his location, to say nothing of the pleasure of hearing A human voice. The man proved to be a cinnamon bear standing with its face toward the trunk of the tree, reaching for some kind of nuts or berries. The bear looked gravely at Paul as he passed; but paid no more attention to him, though he yelled, blew the bugle and splashed the water. A shot from the revolver, however, caused the big fellow to skin down the tree in a hurry.
Whenever the wind blew up stream, which in the northern part of Dakota was very often, the current turned to a choppy, yellow sea that was trying. While beating against a head wind of that kind one morning, half blinded, he saw a covered boat fastened to the shore, from which a man was emerging, gun in hand. Looking up the river he discovered Paul and raised the gun to his shoulder. The voyager blew his bugle in a hurry and waved his hand in sign of amity.
"Wall, stranger," said the man as Paul drew up to the boat, "thet er's a lucky horn for you. I took yer fur a bar on er log."
Paul was invited in and learned that the man was a hunter and trapper. He was exceedingly hospitable and insisted on his guest partaking of a breakfast of beaver tail which is considered a great delicacy, but which the voyager found rather too fat to agree with his palate. Noticing that his guest was not particularly fond of the beaver tail, the trapper wanted to go out and get a deer. He said he could get one in an hour without the least trouble, as he would only have to go over the hill and shoot one. The huntsman was as highly pleased to have some one to talk to as Paul was and wanted him to remain on the boat for a few days; but the necessity for haste was too pressing, and Paul could spare but an hour.
According to program, that was the regular camping night. Heavy clouds began rolling up before sundown. The high, caving banks on either side were dangerous to approach, as the least touch of the treacherous soil might loosen an avalanche that would bury him. Seeing no suitable place to land, he pulled ahead extemporizing songs to cheer himself into the belief that he was not tired. His idea was to run until nearly morning when the chances of finding a suitable place to rest would be more favorable. After nightfall as he was moving rapidly along, singing at the top of his voice, the glow of a fire ahead claimed his attention and stilled his vocal efforts. He was debating whether friend or foe was nears when a gruff voice called from the bank:
"Hello, there. Who are you?"
"Hello; I'm Paul Boyton. Who are you?"
"Pull in, pull in."
"Can't see where you are."
"Come just around this point, you can get in all right."
Paul pulled around as directed and saw the fire plainly. Three or four men approached the bank, heavily armed and carrying torches made of knots. He heard a whispered conversation, betraying astonishment at his appearance; but he was greeted kindly and invited to the camp. Nearing the fire through the woods, his nostrils were assailed by a horrible smell which one of the men explained by saying he had just shot a skunk. There were eighteen in the party, comfortably fixed with two good sized tents and an abundance of buffalo robes. After he had removed his suit the cook prepared an excellent meal and urged him to eat heartily which he was not loth to do. They also had a large supply of liquor, but he refused to touch it and they did not insist. Refreshed by the warm meal, he lit his pipe and began to talk. He told the men his object in making voyages and described some of the rivers he had navigated. When he told about crossing the English Channel, one of them jumped up, exclaiming:
"Great snakes! I know you now. I've just been tryin' to place you. Why, I read all about you in an almanac."
"Well," said another, "when I first heard you out there, I thought you was a deserter from the fort. The're about the only people we see comin' down the river this time of the year."
The same man also volunteered the information that they were traders, and Paul afterward saw that the woods were full of cattle. Seeing he was growing weary, the men insisted that he should turn in under the buffalo robes and take a good sleep, though he told them he could stretch out anywhere by the fire and not deprive them of their robes. He did as they desired and the moment he was snugged under the warm covering, the men showed their thoughtfulness by lowering their conversation to whispers so as not to disturb him.
At daylight they called him up as he had requested, and after a splendid breakfast he started, with the Baby loaded almost to the water's edge with provisions. All the cattle dealers accompanied him to the bank, cordially shook his hand and wished him God speed.
About ten days after the above adventure, Paul learned that his hospitable friends were notorious "rustlers" the western name for cattle thieves, and that on the very day he left their camp, they had been rounded up by a party of ranchers and every one of them shot to death.
During the forenoon after leaving the camp of the rustlers, Paul was hurled violently against a snag and his dress began leaking. Though not more than twenty yards from the shore, he was filled to the neck with the icy water before he could land. Fortunately there was plenty of driftwood near and he soon had a roaring fire. He dried and warmed himself while repairing the damaged suit, which he completed just in time to escape a violent rain storm that followed him all day. Toward evening, as he was entering a narrow passage between the buttes, he felt as though he was leaking again and landed on a bar to investigate. He found that though slightly wet, the leak was not occasioned by another rent; but owing to the improper adjustment of the belt. As his matches were too damp to light a fire, he gathered a pile of driftwood and placed one of his signal lights in the barrel of a twelve caliber pistol, made for the purpose; the signal light fitted the barrel like a cartridge and threw out a strong, steady blaze when exploded. He shoved the pistol into the center of the pile of wood and pulled the trigger. Instead of lighting the fire he was hurled several feet away, and righted himself with a numb feeling in his arm and only the pistol stock in his hand. It was several minutes before he recovered sufficiently from the shock to discover that he had received no serious injury. He found the pistol barrel had exploded into countless fragments and the wonder was that he had not been wounded by some of the flying pieces. The thought of the horrible predicament he would have been in had some of those fragments struck his eyes and left him blinded in those lonely wilds, almost sickened him. It was a providential escape and he kneeled on the bar and earnestly thanked the Almighty.
The incident so weighed on his mind, that he concluded not to build a fire, but to push right along. Seeing that the belt was properly fastened, he resumed the journey. That seemed to be his unlucky day, however. As night was coming on he was driving along at double speed trying to get up temperature enough to dry his underclothing. Between eleven and twelve o'clock, he found himself in a place where there was no current and realized that he had lost the channel. He tried to stand upright to see where he was; but his feet struck the slimy, working mud at the bottom. It appeared to grasp his legs and he immediately threw himself on his back again, putting forth extra exertions to extricate himself. He could make no headway and the mud seemed to get thicker all around and he could feel it touching the under side of the band of his dress. He then realized that he was in one of the dreaded mud sucks that are numerous on the Missouri. They are something in the nature of quicksand or quagmire and it is seldom anything escapes from their slimy embrace. Seeing no way out, he grew exceedingly nervous. He beat around in every direction without success. Now and then he put his hand down and could feel the deadly suction right under him. He had turned and twisted so much that he had no idea where the channel was. The shore seemed near at hand but impossible to reach. A cold perspiration started from every pore as he began to realize the frightful situation. Then he thought of the tactics he had employed in the quicksands of the Loire and he inflated every chamber of his dress to its utmost capacity. That raised him higher, but he could not get out. Then he thought he would remain perfectly still until daylight, when he might see his way clear and get the direction of the channel. And in his helplessness he begged for aid from Heaven. While lying there half exhausted, he was startled by a brilliant light. It looked like the blaze of an enormous lamp. He could see it rise as if from the ground below him, and sail silently and solemnly over to the side of a butte where it lodged. The thought occurred to him that perhaps God had sent the light to guide him to the channel, and pointing his feet toward the spot where it was shining with great brilliancy, he made an almost superhuman effort to break through the suction in that direction. To his intense joy, he found that after a little while, he was slipping off the slime and getting into deeper water. When he felt the current under him and knew he had struck the channel, he stood up and gazed in awe at the light which was still glowing against the butte, and he uttered a heartfelt prayer of thanks.
Boyton is in no way superstitious; but that incident is so strongly impressed on his mind that he often speaks of it. He understands that he saw only an ignis fatuus, a phenomenon easily explained; but he believes that it was sent that night by the great Pilot to guide a helpless human being out of danger.
Two days later he saw the Indian agency of Fort Berthold on a bluff overlooking the river. He sounded the bugle and soldiers and Indians swarmed to the water's edge. The latter covered the sloping bank, standing like statues, watching for the water spirit whom they had been told was coming down the river. Each one wore a blanket of bright red or blue and they formed a picturesque foreground to the high bluff and sullen fort. As Boyton came opposite, he stood up in the water and lighted a detonating rocket. Not a breath of air was stirring and the thick white smoke from the rocket hung on the surface of the water, hiding him from sight. Indeed, it looked to the Indians as though he had disappeared entirely, and when the rocket exploded over their heads with the roar of a cannon, their superstitious hearts could stand it no longer and they rushed up the slope like a flock of frightened sheep, tumbling over one another in their anxiety to get out of the way.
That night he stopped with the Agent who informed him that the tribe had pronounced him good medicine, (lucky) at one of their pow wows. This opinion of the red men was a source of much annoyance to Paul, for they stole every little thing belonging to him they could put their hands on for their medicine bags. The Indians belonged to the Ree and Mandan tribes and have been peaceful for many years. They have one stubborn custom which all the talk of the agents and assurances of the military officials, will not remove. In the early days the Sioux were their deadly enemies and made frequent disastrous raids on their villages. Though years have passed since they have been disturbed, a lookout is constantly kept. Every warrior in the village takes his turn at stated times, to mount an elevation where he stands, like a statue, watching the distant hills for their ancient foes.
Next day, prior to Paul's departure, all the chiefs shook hands with him exclaiming, "how;" which, by the way is a most elastic word. It means good-bye, how-do-you-do, expresses anger, friendship, pleasure, sorrow, hate, insult, and in fact, almost every feeling of the human heart, all depending on the intonation given the voice and the manner of uttering it.
About twenty miles below the fort, Paul was again shot at, this time by an Indian boy whose aim, luckily, was bad. He scampered away when the voyager stood up and shouted: "How, how, cola."
That night Boyton ran into Fort Stevenson, where he was kindly entertained, and next morning started on another thirty-six hours' run, beating against head winds and heavy weather through another wild stretch of country. The next camping place was in a sort of circular basin that had been cut out of the prairie by the floods, and was surrounded by high mud banks. He found plenty of drift in the eddy and picked out the driest; but experienced great difficulty in starting a fire with it. He only succeeded in getting sufficient heat to cook his supper; he was not able to coax enough blaze to warm himself. Night came down black as ink and he heard the distant yell of a coyote which was answered from all directions by others. In less than half an hour the top of the bank was covered with a horde of the dirty little beasts, snapping and snarling at one another, their eyes shining like balls of fire through the black night. They were frightened away by a shot or two from the revolver; but soon returned, to set up such howls as would freeze one's blood, though they are arrant cowards. Paul concluded that the river was more pleasant than their company and he started away, making a two days and two nights' run. He had hard work to keep his eyes open during the night and possibly would have dropped off to sleep but he heard the water swashing against an occasional snag of which he had a wholesome dread.
Day broke cold and chilly with the same threatening sky as had darkened the heavens the night before. Head winds fretted him and he felt cold and miserable. Toward evening, utterly tired out, he began looking for a camping place. There was no sound of life. Below he saw a belt of timber which looked promising and just as he struck out for it, he was surprised to discover on his right, at the edge of a small bit of prairie, a log cabin. He immediately sounded the bugle, but there was no response. Note after note failed to stir up any signs of life, so he headed for the place pulling vigorously to clear the swift current which he was compelled to cross. He reached a muddy shore scantily mixed with sand, which extended a considerable distance from the bank. He landed and on testing the soil with his foot found it unstable. Fearing another mud suck, he put the Baby down and made his way with quick steps to the cabin, the soil bending under him like rotten ice. He then saw that the hut had long been deserted. Grass grew high and rank all around it, while elk and deer antlers, bleached white by the sun, were strewn everywhere and strips of blackened deer skin were nailed over the chinks in the door. Pushing his way in he stood in a single room with a big fire place at one side and two rude bunks covered with old hay.
Paul was delighted with his find. Here was a royal shelter from the threatening storm and a famous place to take much needed rest. He felt himself a king in his palace. Going outside, he gathered several pieces of wood which he placed one after another on the treacherous soil making a series of steps to the water's edge, on which he could walk without so much danger of sinking. Shouldering the Baby, he soon had her safely deposited in the cabin and then removing his suit, gathered a big supply of wood which he stowed on one side of the fire place, closed and fastened the door securely, just as the storm broke with considerable fury. Over a blazing fire he cooked an excellent supper, which was eaten with a keen appetite, filled his pipe and threw himself on a pile of hay which covered a portion of the floor between the fireplace and bunks, that was boarded. There he reposed, toasting his feet, watching the fragrant smoke from his pipe curling to the browned rafters, smiling at the battling elements outside and congratulating himself on the good fortune that had directed his eyes toward such a castle. He was dozing off into a comfortable sleep, when he felt a movement in the hay under his back. Thinking it was a field mouse or a mole, he paid no attention to it; but when the pressure against his back became stronger, he leaped to his feet and was horrified to see the shining, hissing head of a snake rise out of the hay. The reptile elevated its head two feet or more from the floor, swaying from side to side in an angry fashion as though indignant at the unusual intrusion. As it continued to uncoil its hideous length, Paul seized a piece of wood and aimed a blow at its head. It quickly disappeared and he could hear it drop somewhere underneath, hissing as it went. Removing a portion of the litter, Paul found a kind of pit covered with boards, apparently six feet deep, made, no doubt, for storing provisions during the winter. Not caring to investigate further, he dropped the board in its place and covered it again. He determined not to be driven from his rest by the snakes, as he had been by the coyotes, so he put on the dress and laid on the floor away from the pit, covering his face as that was the only part of his body exposed, and was soon sound asleep.
It was almost sunrise when he awoke. He replenished the fire and cooked breakfast. The storm had passed and the sun was rising in a cloudless sky, promising a fine day. After breakfast, when everything was prepared for a hasty departure, he concluded to find out what had become of his friend, the snake. Removing a few boards from the mouth of the pit, he took up a burning brand from the fire and thrust it into the dark hole. The sight sent a chill through every vein. Had he looked upon it the night before, he would have trusted himself to the mercy of the storm rather than sleep where he did. The place was alive with a squirming mass of hideous reptiles, hissing and gliding about at being disturbed. They were probably in their winter quarters and the fire had roused them from their torpor. Quickly throwing the burning wood amongst them, he dropped the planks and seizing the Baby, quitted the den and was in the water like a flash. Many miles below, in a sharp bend that headed him toward the northwest again, he saw a column of smoke standing straight up in the sky and knew it was the burning Cabin of the Snakes. He had not intended to fire the house, but on the whole, was not sorry.
During the afternoon of the following day, a lazily moving flat boat attracted Paul's attention as it drifted with the current at some distance ahead. It was desirable to see and talk to any human being and he increased his speed. As the flat boat with its unwieldy load was in no particular hurry, he soon overhauled it and a blast from the bugle caused the navigator of the craft to cast his eyes up stream. He gazed curiously at Paul for a moment and exclaimed:
"Wall, drat my buttons, I never thought I would see a human critter goin' down the Missouri in sich a rig as thet."
He leaned back and awaited the "critter's" approach. He was a tall, raw boned man with a shock of reddish grey hair and tangled beard; a pair of keen grey eyes shown from behind deep, overhanging brows. Though he had the appearance of a farmer, he might have been anything from a deacon to a rustler, so far as could be judged by his appearance. The craft he was piloting down was loaded with a miscellaneous collection of household effects and a couple of sad eyed hounds were the man's only companions.
Paul quickly observed all this as he pulled up and heard the boatman's remark. Reaching the side of the boat, he asked:
"How far are you going down, stranger?"
"Ain't pertic'lar how fur so as I git outen this country. I had a farm on this river once; but she's gone now, stranger, gone slick an' clean. River cut under and rounded me out an' I reckon the feller on the other side owns my land now."
It is a fact that the constantly changing currents of the Missouri, frequently cut into and swallow up acres upon acres on one side only to leave exposed as much land on the other and the owner of the land next to that left exposed, becomes richer by so many acres, while the man on the other side becomes impoverished to that extent. Thus the expression is common in the Upper Missouri country that "a man may go to bed owning a fine farm on one bank and wake up in the morning to find it owned by the fellow on the opposite side."
"Well, where do you propose going to now?" inquired Boyton.
"I don't propose goin' anywhare. I only want to git outen this country. She's a holy terror an' I stood it jest as long as I could. All thets left of my farm is on this ere boat an' I don't reckon its goin' to cost me much trouble to take care of it an' locate anywhare outside of this country. This ere cantankerous river has done me up, done me up brown, straanger."
"It is a curious sort of river."
"Cur'ous! Wall, I should snicker, Cur'ous ain't no name for it. I think God Almighty built her all right enough, but I don't think He's made up His mind whar to locate her yit. She's running wild, straanger; she's runnin' wild."
He leaned back against a worn mattress with a melancholy sigh and his boat dropped astern.
The next day was dark and gloomy and Paul felt an unaccountable falling of spirits. The atmosphere was oppressive and he could not overcome a premonition of evil that effected him all day. About the middle of the afternoon, he was startled by a peculiar noise above him. Black, heavy clouds hung low on the prairie lands. An ominous roar caused him to look up stream and he beheld a funnel shaped cloud driving to the eastward across the river. In less than half an hour, another one bore down from the buttes and swept across with a terrible roar, about one mile below. While congratulating himself on having been sandwiched between these fearful whirlwinds and thus escaping them, he was horrified to see another bearing directly on him from the west. He made all possible speed to reach the willows on the windward shore; but before he could grasp them, the outer circle of the cyclone struck him and he was enveloped in a whirling mass of buffalo grass, twigs and dust. He grasped the Baby close to his sides fearing to be separated and the next moment felt himself lifted with a great volume of water and borne away as if he was of no more weight than a feather. When he recovered from the shock, he found himself stuck in the mud on the opposite shore. It was some minutes before he recovered sufficiently to proceed on the journey, fortunately uninjured.
Paul was favored with fairly good weather after the cyclone and in a few days ran into Bismarck, where he was welcomed and entertained on board the Northern Pacific transfer boat, by Captain Wolfolk. He was joined there by the correspondent of the New York Herald, Mr. James Creelman, who was sent out by that paper to accompany him the rest of the way and write up the Indian country.
After a brief rest at Bismarck, Boyton continued his course down the muddy river followed by Mr. Creelman in a canvas canoe. Contrary to his usual custom, he did not start until afternoon, in deference to friends in the town, and they had not proceeded many miles until night came on and camp was struck on a muddy bar. They were under way at sunrise next morning, and all day the river ran through a lonely country. Ranges of buttes stretched away from the banks until they were lost in the distance and from every gully, purling streams flashed their clear waters into the yellow of the river. The banks were blushing with the glory of autumn and vines hung among the trees like curtains of the richest pattern. Game was utterly fearless until frightened away from the water's edge by a blast from the bugle or a shot. A bar was utilized for a camp that night and at ten o'clock next morning, the white tepees of an Indian village were seen, and piles of wood along the river indicated the approach to some settlement. On rounding a great bend, Fort Yates and the Standing Rock Agency were sighted. Paul was warmly received by the officers of the Fort and entertained in the most hospitable manner. Among the notorious Indian chiefs whom Boyton met at Standing Rock, were Rain-in-the-Face, Gaul, Low Dog, Long Soldier, the young chief Flying-By and others.
On the morning of October 5th, they resumed the journey, the banks being crowded with soldiers and Indians to see them start. After passing an Indian village a few miles below Fort Yates, the country through which the river twisted and turned, again assumed a lonely aspect. Mile after mile was passed without the faintest sign of civilization. Sand bars divided the river into five or six different channels and it required careful paddling to avoid the countless snags which stuck out of the water, sullen and threatening. The shores were strewn with driftwood,—logs that had floated from far up the river; red willow and cottonwood trees that had been gnawed from their roots by beavers; horns and bones of wild animals and the countless ingredients of drift piles were heaped on all sides. Amid all this desolation the Big Muddy flowed, making fresh ruins at every turn. That night camp was pitched on the bank and a wild goose was the leading feature on the supper bill of fare. The next day proved another lonesome one. Not a single habitation on the rusty hills that rose on either side and hid the fertile country beyond. Toward evening a ranch was sighted and they landed to test the hospitality of its proprietor, who proved to be a squaw man, the name applied to white men who marry Indian women. The travelers were cautiously received and finally invited to remain over night, on condition that they furnished their own provisions. Several comely half breed children sat around the room while supper was being prepared by a good-looking Indian squaw. Noting the inquiring looks of Boyton and his companion, the rancher said:
"Yes, them's my children and that's my wife. She cost me a tidy bit, too. I gave up a durned good horse fur that squaw."
"How long have you been married to her?" inquired Paul.
"Wall, I ain't been married very long to this 'un. I had another almighty good lookin' one, that I lived with some years; but she got tired workin' an' run away to the tribe. This un's a good cook an a hard worker."
Supper was announced by the woman, who spoke to her husband in the Indian tongue, as she had not acquired English. The travelers and the master of the ranch sat at a small table, while the woman and the children retreated to a dark corner near the fire, where they ate.
"Will not your wife eat with us?" politely inquired Boyton.
"Eat with us!" exclaimed the rancher in breathless astonishment, "I shud say not. Do you think I'd eat with a durned Indian?"
After breakfast next morning, the travelers again took to the river, the squaw man extending an invitation to drop in on him again if they ever chanced up that way. As they passed below the mouth of Grand river, the scenery began to change. Instead of grassy buttes, the prairies were crowned with clay hills, riven as though by volcanic action and the river flowed under huge cliffs of a peculiar slate color. Wild vines twined their tendrils over shores ancient and fossilized, that were trod by tribes whose camp fires had burned out before Columbus ever dreamed of the new world. About four miles below Grand river, on a bluish cliff that shot out in the water almost at right angles, they landed and found many beautiful specimens of petrifaction—fish retaining their prismatic beauty of exterior. The mother of pear-like shells of the extinct anomite lay about as though the place had once been the bed of a mighty ocean. The shore was covered with agates and looked gray and instead of mud sucks, there were pebbly beaches for some distance. Sometimes a bank that had been eaten away by the water, would exhibit strata of clay and soil so variegated in color that they resembled vast cameos. At many places the soil was rich and black for six or seven feet deep, showing its wonderful agricultural properties, while here and there the alkali deposits seemed like frost work. The storms had eaten some of the massive cliffs into forms of castles and there were galleries of arches and columns sculptured by the rain, stretching for miles on either side. At nightfall the scene was ghostly and imagination easily peopled the dark galleries with strange images.
At midnight the sky began to threaten rain. Paul sounded the bugle again and again in hope of reaching the ears of some hospitable rancher; but only the musical echoes were returned, until he was about to land and camp on the shore when he was hailed by a voice which proved to belong to another squaw man and the weary travelers slept on the floor of his house until morning. The ranchman had several grown up half breed sons who could not speak a word of English. One of them had just returned from a hunt on which he had slaughtered two-hundred buffalos, taking their hides and leaving their carcasses to fester on the plains.
The start next day was the beginning of a long and tiresome run to Fort Bennett. During the afternoon, several geese and ducks were shot and a number of deer were seen in the timber points. When the sun went down, the country was lit up by remarkably beautiful hues, which died away as the moon rose clear and bright, and when it shone high above, the spectacle was magnificent. In some bends of the river the voyagers seemed completely landlocked and allowed the current to carry them safely through the quagmires and sand bars. They floated among a number of white swans and the whole flock flew upward with shrill cries, startling the cranes that stalked in the shadows and sending clouds of cackling geese and ducks whirling up from every gloomy nook and ravine.
Toward morning a heavy head wind sprang up that was very trying and just as dawn was approaching they entered a bend which was twenty-five miles in length, while the distance across by land, was but four miles. By hard pulling Fort Bennett was reached at four o'clock in the afternoon and Paul and Creelman were conveyed to the house of Major Love, the Indian agent, in an army ambulance after twenty-eight hours of incessant pulling. They determined to rest next day and were shown everything of interest at the Cheyenne Agency, where there were over two-thousand Indians. The principle chief was Little-no-Heart and among the others were Rattling Rib, White Swan, The Charger and Four Bears. These men were all peaceably disposed and belonged to the tribes that farm and raise stock on the reservation. They were driven about two miles from the fort to a tree in which a number of Indians, according to the custom of their tribe, had been buried. It was a goodly sized elm that had grown straight out of the ground to a height of twenty five feet, at which point the trunk forked into a dozen gnarled and twisted limbs, the peculiar black bark of which, gave them an unnatural appearance. Everywhere among the yellow leaves were perched heaps of decaying garments and bones. In some places, storms had torn away the gaudy funeral paraphernalia and whole skeletons were exposed. All the implements which the dead are supposed to need in the Happy Hunting Grounds, were placed at the side of the corpse and in one branch there was a trunk belonging to the skeleton just underneath it. So many Indians had been placed in the branches of this ancient elm, that it was said to have had a more vigorous growth than any other tree in its neighborhood in consequence of the fertilization afforded by the bodies. Since the establishment of the agency, however, the Indians have not been permitted to keep up this disgusting practice.
There was an Indian school on the reservation, which was also visited. The officials have a hard time of it to get the children to attend the school. The older ones are opposed to educating the youngsters and do not want them to learn to speak English. Some of the boys who were able to speak it fluently were ashamed to do so. They are apt pupils and can comprehend ideas with wonderful accuracy; the Government hopes that time will remove their prejudices and so they will become more civilized.
The journey was resumed next day at noon, pulling against a head wind; but their long rest gave them strength to contend with it, and the storm died out with the setting sun. Some of the buttes below Fort Sully are shaped wonderfully like pyramids; walls and cones loomed up against the sky and one could easily imagine himself on the Nile floating past the sphinxes and temples of Egypt. Occasionally the voyagers would be startled by the splash of a gigantic catfish as it leaped out of the water, and the loons driven southward by the approaching winter, filled the air with their melancholy cries. Shortly after midnight a gale sprang up which quickly churned the water into heavy waves and before daylight a regular hurricane was blowing. Acres of fine sand eddied and swirled about in the air, making it impossible to see more than a yard or two ahead and almost suffocating them. By daylight the fury of the storm was so great that the voyagers laid down on the bank to take a much needed rest. When they started again, they found the town of Pierre only one mile below where they had camped.
A halt was made at Pierre for a brief rest, the travelers stopping at a comfortable little hotel. Paul had no more than arranged himself to enjoy his pipe before sleeping, than he was called on by the editor, a bustling, little man who was warmly enthusiastic on the resources of the country about Pierre. He flitted into the room, introducing himself in a breezy manner, and immediately produced a bottle from his hip pocket and two glasses from the recesses of his coat tails; they were a recent purchase for the straw had not yet been removed from them. His astonishment at Paul's refusal to drink was so great that it quieted him for a moment; but he soon broke forth again on the resources of the country, depositing divers samples of what appeared to be black mud on the table, which he called gumbo.
After a restful sleep, Paul and Creelman visited some of the sights of the town, among which was the grave of "Arkansaw." He was a desperado whose crimes were said to throw the exploits of Rocky Mountain ruffians into the shade. Something over one year before, "Arkansaw," who was then living at Fort Pierre, expressed a determination to visit Pierre, on the other side of the river and "clean out the town." With this philanthropic purpose in view, he crossed the river one bitter cold night on the ice; but found a party of gentlemen, called vigilantes, awaiting him and while he was loading in some liquid courage at the principal bar of the place, some one called him to the door and he was shot full of holes. They buried him next day and the funeral was a very enthusiastic affair. One of the chief executioners, who was also principal mourner at the burial, made the following characteristic speech which was heartily endorsed by the citizens present:
"Arkansaw was a good feller, boys, and no mistake. He on'y got off his bearin's w'en ther idee struck him thet he cud clean out this ere town. But he were clear game. Three cheers fur the corpse."
The cheers were given with a will and another vigilante cried:
"A tiger fur Arkansaw."
With that the hero was lowered into the grave which is one of the sights of the town.
It was freezing cold the following day when Boyton and Creelman resumed the voyage, and Paul knew the rest of the journey would be a race against the winter which was now following close. He paddled between gumbo hills all afternoon. These black masses are composed of a sticky substance which becomes quite slippery in wet weather. Not a blade of grass will grow upon them except here and there where the natural soil rises to the surface. Ducks and other wild fowl cowered in the niches or wherever they could gain a foot hold under the banks, to escape the keen wind. The sky was overcast and not a ray of sunshine appeared except a momentary gleam during a slight rain storm which occurred late in the day. Shortly afterward, the river narrowed considerably and they were forced to paddle through a field of snags close to the west shore. The presence of the snags was explained by the hundreds of beaver slides which were worn in the muddy slopes, showing that that industrious little animal was far from extinct as commonly reported. The banks were hived with beaver holes and several trappers were encountered who made a business of catching them.
Night came on cold and cheerless and at midnight they entered the greatest bend of the Missouri. Two steamboats were sighted aground on a sand bar. Paul sounded a salute on the bugle, but received no answer. Later on the eastern sky was lighted up with a dull glare which soon brightened into a blaze and they could see a long line of flame and smoke racing across the prairie before a stiff breeze. At the mouth of Medicine river, the air was literally clouded with feathered game, hurrying into warmer latitudes from the frosty air of Montana and Dakota. At nine o'clock in the morning a landing was effected at the elbow of the great bend and breakfast made from choice bits of two ducks, shot just before. About noon they entered a great curving stretch of river, completely walled in on one side with hills, which resembled a vast causeway or an arched cathedral. The rain had worn a wondrous fretwork upon their sides and ribs of blue clay lent this effect to the whole.
As Paul and Creelman had paddled all night without stopping, the approach of the second night found them weary and numb with cold. There were no signs of the Crow Creek Agency and they began to fear that the settlement had been passed in the darkness. At midnight such a gale sprang up that they were compelled to land on the east shore under the shelter of a high cliff. A fire of driftwood was built and supper cooked. Next morning the sun was melting the ice on the hillsides and the frost had converted the wild grapes that hung above them into clusters of pearls. But the beauty of the scene faded into nothingness when they found they had withstood the cold of the night, while the Crow Creek Agency was just on the other side of the river. The journey was resumed in silence and a few miles below, a glimpse of the Stars and Stripes was caught through an opening between two hills as they neared Fort Hale, where they were heartily welcomed by the officers and were soon resting in snug quarters. They remained at Fort Hale over Sunday.
Monday broke clear and there was not a ripple on the surface of the Big Muddy. By this time, Mr. Creelman had returned to his appetite. At the start he could not think of drinking coffee made from the dirty river water and his stomach turned at the thought of eating blue bacon fried in a pan that was open to receive any little thing that might chance to drop in. He was now so hardened that he could eat a piece of duck washed in the thick water, or would snatch a piece of bacon off of the mud and swallow it with considerable relish.
Early in the afternoon they reached the little town of Chamberlain and the entire population was out on the bank to see the voyagers pass. An hour later, the Lower Brule Agency came in sight. Doctor Bergen, of Fort Hale, and one of the agency officials accompanied them for a few miles in a canoe, relieving the weary monotony by their pleasant conversation, while they also gave valuable information regarding several dangerous points below. Before reaching White river, Boyton frightened an Indian who was fishing from a bar out of his wits. He darted away leaving his catch and tackle and they had fresh fish for supper that night. While eating, a skiff containing two Indians approached and when within a few feet of the bank, asked Paul in good English, if he had any whisky to sell. He drove them away by threatening to sink their boat with a hatchet which he picked up from the deck of the Baby. This incident showed that there were still whisky smugglers plying their trade among the Indians. A short distance below they heard wild lamentations issuing from a clump of trees near the bank and saw the Indians were waking the corpse of a deceased friend. The mourner was attempting to sing; but the rhythm was so rude and incongruous, that it was really a series of howls. At the end of each stanza, the air was rent by a burst of war whoops that were calculated to make one's blood run cold. The weird chanting could be heard on the still night air miles below and the voyagers were convinced that there are many things more cheerful than an Indian wake. The night passed without incident and after breakfast next morning, Paul had to spend some time in fixing one or two weakening places in his dress.
Large flocks of gulls were now seen, which was looked upon as a good sign—that they had traveled south faster than the cold weather and would reach St. Louis before winter commenced in earnest. Strange as it may seem, these birds are found near the head of the Missouri river. They start from the sea coast in the spring and follow up the streams for over five thousand miles, retracing their course as winter approaches without ever going astray. That evening Paul and Creelman were greatly puzzled by the remarkable spectacle of what seemed to be a sunset in the east and west at the same time. At last they discovered that a number of large prairie fires were raging to the eastward and the reflection of the flames on the sky, caused the apparent dual sunset.
After midnight it was found that mud sucks and snags were so thick as to render further progress in the dark extremely hazardous, so the voyagers landed under a mud cliff and built a camp fire. They slept soundly until sunrise when they were astonished to see a number of Indian women performing their morning toilet at the water's edge. One of them was examining the Baby Mine in bewilderment and when Paul approached them they ran up a path in the side of the bluff and disappeared. He determined to ascertain where they were going and hastening after them, heard a stern "halt." Just ahead of him in the path stood a colored army sentinel. The soldier said they were near Fort Randall, and he was one of the guards over the Camp of Sitting Bull and other Indian prisoners of war, who had surrendered themselves to the United States authorities after the disastrous outbreak that drove them over the border into the British Possessions. Word was sent to the fort of Paul's arrival and a conveyance was dispatched to carry him and his companion to the garrison, where they were warmly received. A steaming breakfast was prepared to which full justice was done, after which, under the guidance of an officer, they visited the hostile camp, situated on a level stretch of ground about one mile distant from the garrison. There were thirty-two tepees, accommodating one hundred and sixty-eight people, forty of whom were males over sixteen years of age and the rest women and children. The tepees were arranged in a circle with a large space in the center, around which braves, squaws and almost nude children squatted or lay in the sunshine. One solitary white man was seen standing in front of a tepee. He was dressed in a dark pair of pantaloons, brown duck overcoat and his head was surmounted by a large, broad brimmed, drab felt hat, with a big dinge in each side of it. The white man proved to be Allison, the government scout and interpreter. It was he who entered the hostile camp the previous year and brought in the main body of the Sioux warriors, led by Crow King. The scout was a medium sized man, compactly and strongly built; a peculiar expression of shrewdness distinguished his face, and his eyes were keen and searching.
It was Allison's special care to look out for Sitting Bull, the famous Uncapapa chief, and after greeting the visitors, he led them into the presence of the dreaded Sioux leader. Whatever may be said of Sitting Bull, he certainly had the appearance of a man born to lead men. He was five feet ten inches tall and weighed probably one hundred and eighty pounds. His face was an unusually intelligent one and his forehead large. He was dignified, though modest, as he invited the travelers into his tepee and seemed to feel keenly his condition as a prisoner. A number of Indians also entered at the request of Sitting Bull, among them his young fighting nephew, Kill-While-Standing, who wore eyeglasses which gave him a student-like appearance. The two wives of the chief shook hands with every one present and exhibited several half naked and very dirty children, heirs of the Bull family. Among them were twins whom the ladies of the garrison had named Kate and Duplicate.
An instance of the wonderful power of Sitting Bull over his people and his remarkable shrewdness in retaining that power, the following scene enacted that evening, will illustrate: Paul and some of the army officers, with the interpreter were seated in the tepee conversing with Sitting Bull, when a deputation of Indians requested an audience with their chief. It appears they had been arguing among themselves about the mysterious manner in which Minnewachatcha floated upon the water without effort, although he appeared to be constituted the same as other men. Not being able to reach a conclusion, they referred the matter to Sitting Bull. The great chief had no doubt been ruminating considerably on the same subject without being able to settle it to his own satisfaction; but he was too shrewd a politician to display the least ignorance of the question. In fact, Bull considered no matter too trivial to use as a means of displaying to his people his own great store of knowledge and he would feign to know all about things of which he was ignorant, frequently claiming to have received his information from the Great Spirit above. So when the question regarding Minnewachatcha, was propounded, he took it as a matter of course that when a thing of importance presented itself, his people must come to him for information. His dignified manner would have done credit to a great statesman. Facing the deputation, with Paul standing at his right, he began a harangue in the Sioux tongue, using gestures that were at once impressive and graceful.
Briefly, his speech as interpreted by Allison, was to the effect that he was a great chief, that the Great Spirit made known to him all things. He knew all about Minnewachatcha, who was good medicine. (Then he would lightly tap Boyton on the shoulder and step back impressively.) In his examination, he had found that Minnewachatcha, though he appeared like other men, was not; because he was possessed of no internal arrangements as other men, hence he could float on the water like an empty can.
The government sometimes issues canned provisions to the Indians. When they extract the contents and throw the can in the water, it floats away, and Bull used that as a simile, knowing they would all understand. The deputation appeared perfectly satisfied with the explanation and went away thoroughly convinced that Boyton was supplied with no interior mechanism in the way of lungs, stomach, etc.
Sitting Bull conceived a strong friendship for Paul and they exchanged gifts, and Minnestema, Bull's daughter, who was really handsome for an Indian girl, looked upon him as second only to her distinguished father in greatness. Paul thought to flatter Minnestema, and through the interpreter, told her that he had heard her praises sung far up the river, that she was the toast at every fort and that the fame of her beauty had even spread to the great cities of the whites. Her copper countenance expressed much pleasure at this; but she dispelled the romance by immediately asking Paul in broken English, if he had any plug chewing tobacco.
The friendship between Paul and Sitting Bull lasted until the latter was killed in the ghost dance excitement during the winter of 1891. When the old chief was on a tour of the east in 1885, his face lighted up with joy when he met Boyton and gave him a cordial welcome.
Paul left Fort Randall, October 20th. After he had encased himself in his rubber dress, the Indians could not be induced to shake hands with him. A little girl put her hand into his and all the chiefs, in admiration of her bravery, exclaimed, "how".
White Dog, Scarlet Thunder, Kill-While-Standing and One Bull were anxious to see the "Water Spirit" float away, but they kept at a respectful distance from Paul as he stood on the slope before slipping into the water.
The afternoon was pleasant and as they glided down on the current followed by the wondering eyes of the soldiers as well as the Indians, Paul and Creelman felt refreshed and vigorous and made good time. Just after dark, they passed the Yankton Indian Agency and were cheered.
That night was dark, even the stars being obscured by the clouds. A number of prairie fires threw some light on the water, but barely enough to make the passage among snags and sand bars feasible. At daybreak the villages of Niobrara and Running Water were passed. A couple of hours later the weary voyagers hauled up on the bank and cooked breakfast. When barely under way again, a boat containing a rough looking stranger approached. He carried a shot gun and rowed along sometime without uttering a word. Though silent, he appeared to extract a great deal of satisfaction from his contemplation of Boyton.
"What are you going to do with that gun?" questioned Paul at last.
"Kill a goose," was the laconic reply.
"Oh, I see. You intend to commit suicide," said Creelman.
Not a muscle of the stranger's solemn countenance moved; but he rowed away suddenly and disappeared among the sand bars, followed by a peal of laughter.
Springfield was passed at noon and the citizens rushed to the bank at the first sound of the bugle.
From Springfield to Bonhomie, the river was smooth and straight. At the latter place it narrowed until the current ran at the rate of six miles an hour and the travelers were swept under the high cliffs on which the town stands in a roaring sea of whirlpools and riffles. Cheer after cheer was sent up by the people as they shot past; but the voyagers had no leisure to examine the banks, as they had all they could do to avoid the snags which stuck up everywhere and made navigation exceedingly difficult. Eight miles below, a landing was effected on a pile of driftwood; a fire built and supper cooked. It began to rain and they huddled over the fire to keep warm. At three o'clock the fire was out and a heavy fog hung on the Missouri. Paul thought it was better to keep up the temperature of the body by paddling than to sit in the mud shivering, so they resumed their voyage. The cold rain dashed into their faces in such torrents that it was more a matter of chance than skill that they progressed, as they could not see ten feet ahead. In the midst of the storm, they ran against a snag, but fortunately, no damage was done. At daybreak another halt was made and breakfast eaten. When the mists cleared, they found themselves within sight of Yankton, where they were received an hour later by the citizens.
Leaving Yankton, they arrived at Sioux City without incident and began to think they were once more within the limits of civilization. They were greeted by shouting multitudes that followed them to a hotel and would scarcely permit them to rest. Next morning the same enthusiasm was manifested when they departed. But there were yet two-hundred good miles of snaggy river to paddle before they could enjoy the luxury of a bed at every stage. Less than a dozen miles below Sioux City the weather grew threatening again and Boyton decided not to rest that night, but to push on steadily toward Omaha. During the afternoon the wind blew from every point of the compass. He hoped it would go down with the sun, but as night approached, the storm continued to develop. The increase in the speed of the current had the effect of cutting away high banks of timber and as they dashed along, they ran by immense trees sticking out of the water with the leaves yet upon their branches, showing that the channel was shifting. At midnight it began to rain and they tried to land, but failed to find a safe place as the banks on either side were undermined and caving constantly. An hour later they entered "Hell's Bend" and, the roaring of the water as it tore among the snags was almost deafening. The river was full of obstructions and suddenly Boyton and Creelman in his canvas canoe, were flung on a snag, the latter losing an oar. Regardless of his own danger, Paul struggled to release the canoe, when a large wave lifted them both clear. They were unable to continue their way in the darkness and managed to get ashore, where they built a fire and waited until daylight. The little village of Tieville was just below and when the villagers heard that Boyton was in the river, they flocked to the camp where the weary paddler lay stretched out in the mud asleep, looking more like an alligator than a man. Several experienced boatmen remarked that there were only two steamboats on the Missouri that could navigate the bend at the point where the voyagers had spent a portion of the night.
The journey was resumed at eight o'clock and not long afterward a new oar was procured for the canoe, at Decatur. A disheartening struggle against adverse wind followed until noon, when it abated. They passed the reservation of the Omaha and Winnebago Indians during the night. As the voyagers were watching for the lights of Blair early that night, a smoky smell directed their attention to a camp fire built at the water's edge. Two men were seen about it, one of whom was maudlin drunk and trying to sing. Boyton hailed them and was invited to land and get some roast goose. As the night was favorable for paddling, the invitation was declined, when the drunken one raising his gun, yelled: "You wont come in, wont you?" and fired, the shot striking the water within a few feet of Paul's head. He had a strong desire to return and punish the fellow, but concluded that to continue down the river was of more importance, besides, he could hear that the men were fighting between themselves and thought they would administer their own punishment.
At daybreak the travelers sighted Florence and discovered that they were only sixteen miles from Omaha and at the next bend they landed to cook breakfast and rest. One of the bores encountered all the way down after striking the towns, was the man who persisted in telling them all about the great flood of "last spring." He was found at every town and village and the voyagers were given all the various details of that flood until it became nauseating, so much so, that it made Boyton irritable whenever mentioned. As he lighted a cigar and stretched his limbs on the sand bar to enjoy a rest before proceeding to Omaha, he remarked to his companion that they would not be annoyed by flood fiends there; but his confidence was without foundation. In less than ten minutes after he made the remark, a man landed from a little skiff and seating himself on a log, while a gleam of satisfaction shot from his eyes, said: "Strangers, you couldn't a laid down on that bar so comfortable and easy last spring. The big flood—"