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Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/412

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HOSPITALITY.

ductor Mr Flint, the landlord of the tavern, boasting of his perfect knowledge of the country, undertook to drive us by a short-cut, and we willingly confided ourselves to his management. So we jogged along, now and then deviating to double the fallen timber. Day commenced with promise of fine weather, but several nights of white frost having occurred, a change was expected. To our sorrow, the change took place long before we got to the road again. The rain fell in torrents; the thunder bellowed; the lightning blazed. It was now evening, but the storm had brought perfect night, black and dismal. Our cart had no cover. Cold and wet, we sat silent and melancholy, with no better expectation than that of passing the night under the little shelter the cart could afford us.

To stop was considered worse than to proceed. So we gave the reins to the horses, with some faint hope that they would drag us out of our forlorn state. Of a sudden the steeds altered their course, and soon after we perceived the glimmer of a faint light in the distance, and almost at the same moment heard the barking of dogs. Our horses stopped by a high fence, and fell a-neighing, while I hallooed at such a rate, that an answer was speedily obtained. The next moment, a flaming pine torch crossed the gloom, and advanced to the spot where we stood. The Negro boy who bore it, without waiting to question us, enjoined us to follow the fence, and said that Master had sent him to shew the strangers to the house. We proceeded, much relieved, and soon reached the gate of a little yard, in which a small cabin was perceived.

A tall fine-looking young man stood in the open door, and desired us to get out of the cart and walk in. We did so, when the following conversation took place. "A bad night this, strangers; how came you to be along the fence? you certainly must have lost your way, for there is no public road within twenty miles." "Aye," answered Mr Flint, "sure enough we lost our way; but, thank God! we have got to a house, and thank you for your reception." "Reception!" replied the woodsman, "no very great thing after all; you are all here safe, and that's enough.—Eliza," turning to his wife, "see about some victuals for the strangers, and you, Jupiter," addressing the Negro lad, "bring some wood and mend the fire. Eliza, call the boys up, and treat the strangers the best way you can. Come, gentlemen, pull off your wet clothes, and draw to the fire. Eliza, bring some socks and a shirt or two."