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stream;—had a far-spreading prairie, skirted by a fine grove of timber, for a landscape, and abounded with all sorts of game, from a prairie fowl to an Indian. Here Dick built his cabin, beneath the shadow of his own cotton tree; and he used to tell his neighbours that nature had, after practising on the rest of creation, spread her finishing touches on his claim. Its wild beauty deserved his lavish praise.
In this western habitation our hero held undisturbed sway, his only companion being a negro slave, who was at once his master's attendant and friend. Kelsy and the negro had been raised together, and from association, although so opposite their positions, had imbibed a lasting affection for each other, each would have freely shed blood in the other's defence. The bonds of servitude were, consequently, moulded into links of friendship and affection, securing to them a feeling of confidence in their lonely habitation in the wilderness. Their nearest neighbours were situated at a small trading settlement, some ten miles distant, where Dick always repaired to exchange his furs for ammunition and other essentials. Here he also learned the news from the far-off seat of government; but the busy world beyond
little interested these roving sons of the western forests,-a brush with the red skins, or a challenge shooting match, possessed much more interest for them. At length, however, these western pioneers were aroused from their quietude and inactivity by the news that Congress had passed the famous Pre-emption Law. As yet none in the region we write . of knew its provisions, or, distinctly, what rights it conferred; each squatter, therefore, laid out the bounds of his claim in accordance with his own desire, and stood ready to defend the title against all encroachments. The fever of emigration became an epidemic, and soon that speculating mania, which, in imagination, built fortunes in a day, spread even to the confines of civilization. The axe of the pioneer soon began to startle the wild denizens of the forest, where for ages the hunter alone had disturbed their repose.
One bright morning a ripple of the advancing tide, in the persons of two strangers, was discovered by Dick about a quarter of a mile from his cabin, where, apparently, they had rested for the night. The first was a man about middle stature, of a dark swarthy complexion, with an easy eye, prominent teeth, and clad in a dilapidated suit of Ken
tucky jean; an old chip hat surmounted his figure, and in his right hand he held the sceptre of the pioneer—a rifle ! His companion was a pale sickly-looking little woman, clad in a coarse linsey-Woolsey gown, and in her hand she held a faded calico sunbonnet; close by stood a small wagon, with a quilt cover, to which was harnessed a horse, bearing evident marks of long travel and hard fare.
“How are you, strangers ?” was Dick's first query. “ Judgin' from appearances, you're lookin' out a location."
“Yes," replied the man, in a surly tone, “I've been lookin' all along, but I aint found any yet fit fur a white man.”
“Well, you've jest got to the spot now," says Dick. “ Creation aint laid out any place prettier, and arter takin' a view of it, you'll say so. You and the missus better go up to my cabin, and rest till you can take a good look at its best pints, and I predicate you'll come to a conclusion.”
“Well, guess I'll stay a spell,” was the stranger's response; and, following Dick, he was introduced beneath the Kentuckian's hospitable roof, after which Dick started to the settlement for some notions with which to entertain them more comfortably. On his arrival the whole conversation at the settlement was the pre-emption act, and during the debate on its merits, he mentioned the "new arrival” in his neighbourhood of the strangers. They had passed through the settlement, and as all new comers are a subject of interest, various opinions were expressed in regard to these.
"Judgin' from that stranger's frontispiece," said one, “I shouldn't like him fur a near neighbour.”
“He's rayther a sour lookin' customer," added another; "and how dreadful poorly his wife looks!”
“I've invited him to locate near me,” remarked Kelsy, “and I can't say he's got a very pleasin' look; but the rough shell may have a good kernel, boys."
After providing necessaries, Dick gave the strangers an invitation to come up and help the stranger to raise a cabin. All agreed to be thar on the next Saturday, and homeward he started. On his arrival, Sam was cooking the evening meal of wild game and corn bread, all the time expatiating to the guests what a good man “ Massa Dick” was, and particularly impressing upon their minds that he (Sam) was “ Massa Dick's 'strordinary niggah !" Sam's efforts at amusement failed
upon the strangers, for one was quietly weeping, while the other wore a scowl of anger. Dick noticed their looks on entering, and endeavoured to cheer them.
“Don't look down-hearted, strangers,” said he, "you aint among Ingins ef you are near 'em; thar aint a spot in the universal yearth calkilated to make you feel better than whar you are now. Sam and me never felt bad sence we located here-only when the Ingins penned us in the cabin fur three days, while all our bar meat was hangin' on the outside.”
“It's this cussed woman," answered the stranger, “that makes me feel bad-she's etarnally whimperin' about bein' so fur from home,I wish she was in h-11 !”
“Stop that, stranger,” said Dick, in a determined tone; “the love I have for an old Kentucky mother won't permit me to see or hear one of her sex abused beneath my cabin roof, ef it is in the wilderness; I don't like red skins, none of 'em, but even a squaw couldn't be abused here !”
"Well, I'm done,” was the reply. “I'll git a cabin of my own, and then I guess I'll do as I please.”
“No you won't,” said Dick; “ef you stay in these diggins and abuse her, you're in a hotter place than whar you jest now wished