David Crockett - Youthful Adventures
The wagoner whom David had accompanied to Gerardstown was disappointed
in his endeavors to find a load to take back to Tennessee. He therefore
took a load to Alexandria, on the Potomac. David decided to remain at
Gerardstown until Myers should return. He therefore engaged to work for a
man by the name of John Gray, for twenty-five cents a day. It was light
farm-work in which he was employed, and he was so faithful in the
performance of his duties that he pleased the farmer, who was an old man,
Myers continued for the winter in teaming backward and forward between
Gerardstown and Baltimore, while David found a comfortable home of easy
industry with the farmer. He was very careful in the expenditure of his
money, and in the spring found that he had saved enough from his small
wages to purchase him a suit of coarse but substantial clothes. He then,
wishing to see a little more of the world, decided to make a trip with the
wagoner to Baltimore.
David had then seven dollars in his pocket, the careful savings of the
labors of half a year. He deposited the treasure with the wagoner for safe
keeping. They started on their journey, with a wagon heavily laden with
barrels of flour. As they were approaching a small settlement called
Ellicott's Mills, David, a little ashamed to approach the houses in the
ragged and mud-bespattered clothes which he wore on the way, crept into
the wagon to put on his better garments.
While there in the midst of the flour barrels piled up all around him, the
horses took fright at some strange sight which they encountered, and in a
terrible scare rushed down a steep hill, turned a sharp corner, broke the
tongue of the wagon and both of the axle-trees, and whirled the heavy
barrels about in every direction. The escape of David from very serious
injuries seemed almost miraculous. But our little barbarian leaped from
the ruins unscathed. It does not appear that he had ever cherished any
conception whatever of an overruling Providence. Probably, a religious
thought had never entered his mind. A colt running by the side of the
horses could not have been more insensible to every idea of death, and
responsibility at God's bar, than was David Crockett. And he can be hardly
blamed for this. The savages had some idea of the Great Spirit and of a
future world. David was as uninstructed in those thoughts as are the
wolves and the bears. Many years afterward, in writing of this occurrence,
he says, with characteristic flippancy, interlarded with coarse phrases:
"This proved to me, if a fellow is born to be hung he will never be
drowned; and further, that if he is born for a seat in Congress, even
flour barrels can't make a mash of him. I didn't know how soon I should be
knocked into a cocked hat, and get my walking-papers for another country."
The wagon was quite demolished by the disaster. Another was obtained, the
flour reloaded, and they proceeded to Baltimore, dragging the wreck behind
them, to be repaired there. Here young Crockett was amazed at the aspect
of civilization which was opened before him. He wandered along the wharves
gazing bewildered upon the majestic ships, with their towering masts,
cordage, and sails, which he saw floating there He had never conceived of
such fabrics before. The mansions, the churches, the long lines of brick
stores excited his amazement. It seemed to him that he had been suddenly
introduced into a sort of fairy-land. All thoughts of home now vanished
from his mind. The great world was expanding before him, and the curiosity
of his intensely active mind was roused to explore more of its wonders.
One morning he ventured on board one of the ships at a wharf, and was
curiously and cautiously peering about, when the captain caught sight of
him. It so happened that he was in need of a sailor-boy, and being pleased
with the appearance of the lad, asked David if he would not like to enter
into his service to take a voyage to London. The boy had no more idea of
where London was, or what it was, than of a place in the moon. But eagerly
he responded, "Yes," for he cared little where he went or what became of
him, he was so glad of an opportunity to see more of the wonders of this
The captain made a few inquiries respecting his friends, his home, and his
past modes of life, and then engaged him for the cruise. David, in a state
of high, joyous excitement, hurried back to the wagoner, to get his seven
dollars of money and some clothes he had left with him. But Myers put a
very prompt veto upon the lad's procedure, assuming that he was the boy's
master, he declared that he should not go to sea. He refused to let him
have either his clothes or his money, asserting that it was his duty to
take him back to his parents in Tennessee. David would gladly have fled
from him, and embarked without money and without clothes; but the wagoner
watched him so closely that escape was impossible.
David was greatly down-hearted at this disappointment, and watched eagerly
for an opportunity to obtain deliverance from his bondage. But Myers was a
burly teamster who swung a very heavy wagon-whip, threatening the boy with
a heavy punishment if he should make any attempt to run away.
After a few days, Myers loaded his team for Tennessee, and with his
reluctant boy set out on his long journey. David was exceedingly restless.
He now hated the man who was so tyranically domineering over him. He had
no desire to return to his home, and he dreaded the hickory stick with
which he feared his brutal father would assail him. One dark night, an
hour or two before the morning, David carefully took his little bundle of
clothes, and creeping noiselessly from the cabin, rushed forward as
rapidly as his nimble feet could carry him. He soon felt quite easy in
reference to his escape. He knew that the wagoner slept soundly, and that
two hours at least must elapse before he would open his eyes. He then
would not know with certainty in what direction the boy had fled. He could
not safely leave his horses and wagon alone in the wilderness, to pursue
him; and even should he unharness one of the horses and gallop forward in
search of the fugitive, David, by keeping a vigilant watch, would see him
in the distance and could easily plunge into the thickets of the forest,
and thus elude pursuit.
He had run along five or six miles, when just as the sun was rising he
overtook another wagon. He had already begun to feel very lonely and
disconsolate. He had naturally an affectionate heart and a strong mind;
traits of character which gleamed through all the dark clouds that
obscured his life. He was alone in the wilderness, without a penny; and he
knew not what to do, or which way to turn. The moment he caught sight of
the teamster his heart yearned for sympathy. Tears moistened his eyes, and
hastening to the stranger, the friendless boy of but thirteen years
frankly told his whole story. The wagoner was a rough, profane, burly man,
of generous feelings. There was an air of sincerity in the boy, which
convinced him of the entire truth of his statements. His indignation was
aroused, and he gave expression to that indignation in unmeasured terms.
Cracking his whip in his anger, he declared that Myers was a scoundrel,
thus to rob a friendless boy, and that he would lash the money out of him.
This man, whose name also chanced to be Myers, was of the tiger breed,
fearing nothing, ever ready for a fight, and almost invariably coming off
conqueror. In his generous rage he halted his team, grasped his
wagon-whip, and, accompanied by the trembling boy, turned back, breathing
vengeance. David was much alarmed, and told his protector that he was
afraid to meet the wagoner, who had so often threatened him with his whip.
But his new friend said," Have no fear. The man shall give you back your
money, or I will thrash it out of him."
They had proceeded but about two miles when they met the approaching team
of Adam Myers. Henry Myers, David's new friend, leading him by the hand,
advanced menacingly upon the other teamster, and greeted him with the
"You accursed scoundrel, what do you mean by robbing this friendless boy
of his money?" Adam Myers confessed that he had received seven dollars of
the boy's money. He said, however, that he had no money with him; that he
had invested all he had in articles in his wagon, and that he intended to
repay the boy as soon as they got back to Tennessee. This settled the
question, and David returned with Henry Myers to his wagon, and
accompanied him for several days on his slow and toilsome journey
The impatient boy, as once before, soon got weary of the loitering pace of
the heavily laden team, and concluded to leave his friend and press
forward more rapidly alone. It chanced, one evening, that several wagons
met, and the teamsters encamped for the night together. Henry Myers told
them the story of the friendless boy, and that he was now about to set out
alone for the long journey, most of it through an entire wilderness, and
through a land of strangers wherever there might chance to be a few
scattered cabins. They took up a collection for David, and presented him
with three dollars.
The little fellow pressed along, about one hundred and twenty-five miles,
down the valley between the Alleghany and the Blue ridges, until he
reached Montgomery Court House. The region then, nearly three quarters of
a century ago, presented only here and there a spot where the light of
civilization had entered. Occasionally the log cabin of some poor emigrant
was found in the vast expanse. David, too proud to beg, when he had any
money with which to pay, found his purse empty when he had accomplished
this small portion of his journey.
In this emergence, he hired out to work for a man a month for five
dollars, which was at the rate of about one shilling a day. Faithfully he
fulfilled his contract, and then, rather dreading to return home, entered
into an engagement with a hatter, Elijah Griffith, to work in his shop for
||Here he worked diligently
eighteen months without receiving any pay. His employer then failed,
broke up, and left the country. Again this poor boy, thus the sport
of fortune, found himself without a penny, with but few clothes, and
those much worn.
But it was not his nature to lay anything very
deeply to heart. He laughed at misfortune, and pressed on singing
and whistling through all storms. He had a stout pair of hands, good
nature, and adaptation to any kind of work. There was no danger of
his starving; and exposures, which many would deem hardships, were
no hardships for him. Undismayed he ran here and there, catching at
such employment as he could find, until he had supplied himself with
some comfortable clothing, and had a few dollars of ready money in
his purse. Again he set out alone and on foot for his far-distant
home. He had been absent over two years, and was new fifteen years
He trudged along, day after day, through rain and sunshine, until he
reached a broad stream called New River. It was wintry weather. The stream
was swollen by recent rains, and a gale then blowing was ploughing the
surface into angry waves. Teams forded the stream many miles above. There
was a log hut here, and the owner had a frail canoe in which he could
paddle an occasional traveller across the river. But nothing would induce
him to risk his life in an attempt to cross in such a storm.
The impetuous boy, in his ignorance of the effect of wind upon waves,
resolved to attempt to cross, at every hazard, and notwithstanding all
remonstrances. He obtained a leaky canoe, which was half stranded upon the
shore, and pushed out on his perilous voyage. He tied his little bundle of
clothes to the bows of the boat, that they might not be washed or blown
away, and soon found himself exposed to the full force of the wind, and
tossed by billows such as he had never dreamed of before. He was greatly
frightened, and would have given all he had in the world, to have been
safely back again upon the shore. But he was sure to be swamped if he
should attempt to turn the boat broadside to the waves in such a gale. The
only possible salvation for him was to cut the approaching billows with
the bows of the boat. Thus he might possibly ride over them, though at the
imminent peril, every moment, of shipping a sea which would engulf him and
his frail boat in a watery grave.
In this way he reached the shore, two miles above the proper
landing-place. The canoe was then half full of water. He was drenched with
spray, which was frozen into almost a coat of mail upon his garments.
Shivering with cold, he had to walk three miles through the forest before
he found a cabin at whose fire he could warm and dry himself. Without any
unnecessary delay he pushed on until he crossed the extreme western
frontier line of Virginia, and entered Sullivan County, Tennessee.
An able-bodied young man like David Crockett, strong, athletic, willing to
work, and knowing how to turn his hand to anything, could, in the humblest
cabin, find employment which would provide him with board and lodging. He
was in no danger of starving. There was, at that time, but one main path
of travel from the East into the regions of the boundless West.
As David was pressing along this path he came to a little hamlet of log
huts, where he found the brother whom he had left when he started from
home eighteen months before with the drove of cattle. He remained with him
for two or three weeks, probably paying his expenses by farm labor and
hunting. Again he set out for home. The evening twilight was darkening
into night when he caught sight of his father's humble cabin. Several
wagons were standing around, showing that there must be considerable
company in the house.
With not a little embarrassment, he ventured in. It was rather dark. His
mother and sisters were preparing supper at the immense fireside. Quite a
group of teamsters were scattered around the room, smoking their pipes,
and telling their marvellous stories. David, during his absence of two
years, had grown, and changed considerably in personal appearance. None of
the family recognized him. They generally supposed, as he had been absent
so long, that he was dead.
David inquired if he could remain all night. Being answered in the
affirmative, he took a seat in a corner and remained perfectly silent,
gazing upon the familiar scene, and watching the movements of his father,
mother, and sisters. At length supper was ready, and all took seats at the
table. As David came more into the light, one of his sisters, observing
him, was struck with his resemblance to her lost brother. Fixing her eyes
upon him, she, in a moment, rushed forward and threw her arms around his
neck, exclaiming, "Here is my brother David."
Quite a scene ensued. The returning prodigal was received with as much
affection as could be expected in a family with such uncultivated hearts
and such unrefined habits as were found in the cabin of John Crockett.
Even the stern old man forgot his hickory switch, and David, much to his
relief, found that he should escape the long-dreaded whipping. Many years
after this, when David Crockett, to his own surprise, and that of the
whole nation, found himself elevated to the position of one of our
national legislators, he wrote:
"But it will be a source of astonishment to many, who reflect that I am
now a member of the American Congress, the most enlightened body of men in
the world, that, at so advanced an age, the age of fifteen, I did not know
the first letter in the book."
By the laws and customs of our land, David was bound to obey his father
and work for him until he was twenty-one years of age. Until that time,
whatever wages he might earn belonged to his father. It is often an act of
great generosity for a hard-working farmer to release a stout lad of
eighteen or nineteen from this obligation, and "to give him," as it is
phrased, "his time."
John Crockett owed a neighbor, Abraham Wilson, thirty-six dollars. He told
David that if he would work for Mr. Wilson until his wages paid that sum,
he would then release him from all his obligations to his father, and his
son might go free. It was a shrewd bargain for the old man, for he had
already learned that David was abundantly capable of taking care of
himself, and that he would come and go when and where he pleased.
The boy, weary of his wanderings, consented to the arrangement, and
engaged to work for Mr. Wilson for six months, in payment for which, the
note was to be delivered up to his father. It was characteristic of David
that whatever he undertook he engaged in with all his might. He was a
rude, coarse boy. It was scarcely possible, with his past training, that
he should be otherwise. But he was very faithful in fulfilling his
obligations. Though his sense of right and wrong was very obtuse, he was
still disposed to do the right so far as his uncultivated conscience
revealed it to him.
For six months, David worked for Mr. Wilson with the utmost fidelity and
zeal. He then received the note, presented it to his father, and, before
he was sixteen years of age, stood up proudly his own man. His father had
no longer the right to whip him. His father had no longer the right to
call upon him for any service without paying him for it. And on the other
hand, he could no longer look to his father for food or clothing. This
thought gave him no trouble. He had already taken care of himself for two
years, and he felt no more solicitude in regard to the future than did the
buffalo's calf or the wolf's whelp.
Wilson was a bad man, dissipated and unprincipled. But he had found David
to be so valuable a laborer that he offered him high wages if he would
remain and work for him. It shows a latent, underlying principle of
goodness in David, that he should have refused the offer. He writes:
"The reason was, it was a place where a heap of bad company met to drink
and gamble; and I wanted to get away from them, for I know'd very well, if
I staid there, I should get a bad name, as nobody could be respectable
that would live there."
About this time a Quaker, somewhat advanced in years, a good, honest man,
by the name of John Kennedy, emigrated from North Carolina, and selecting
his four hundred acres of land about fifteen miles from John Crockett's,
reared a log hut and commenced a clearing. In some transaction with
Crockett he took his neighbor's note for forty dollars. He chanced to see
David, a stout lad of prepossessing appearance, and proposed that he
should work for him for two shillings a day taking him one week upon
trial. At the close of the week the Quaker expressed himself as highly
satisfied with his work, and offered to pay him with his father's note of
forty dollars for six months' labor on his farm.
David knew full well how ready his father was to give his note, and how
slow he was to pay it. He was fully aware that the note was not worth, to
him, the paper upon which it was written. But he reflected that the note
was an obligation upon his father, that he was very poor, and his lot in
life was hard. It certainly indicated much innate nobility of nature that
this boy, under these circumstances, should have accepted the offer of the
Quaker. But David did this. For six months he labored assiduously, without
the slightest hope of reward, excepting that he would thus relieve his
father, whom he had no great cause either to respect or love, from the
embarrassment of the debt.
For a whole half-year David toiled upon the farm of the Quaker, never once
during that time visiting his home. At the end of the term he received his
pay for those long months of labor, in a little piece of rumpled paper,
upon which his father had probably made his mark. It was Saturday evening.
The next morning he borrowed a horse of his employer and set out for a
visit home. He was kindly welcomed. His father knew nothing of the
agreement which his son had made with Mr. Kennedy. As the family were
talking together around the cabin fire, David drew the note from his
pocket and presented it to his father. The old man seemed much troubled.
He supposed Mr. Kennedy had sent it for collection. As usual, he began to
make excuses. He said that he was very sorry that he could not pay it,
that he had met with many misfortunes, that he had no money, and that he
did not know what to do.
David then told his father that he did not hand him the bill for
collection, but that it was a present from him--that he had paid it in
full. It is easy for old and broken-down men to weep. John Crockett seemed
much affected by this generosity of his son, and David says "he shed a
heap of tears." He, however, avowed his inability to pay anything
whatever, upon the note.
David had now worked a year without getting any money for himself. His
clothes were worn out, and altogether he was in a very dilapidated
condition. He went back to the Quaker's, and again engaged in his service,
desiring to earn some money to purchase clothes. Two months thus passed
away. Every ardent, impetuous boy must have a love adventure. David had
his. A very pretty young Quakeress, of about David's age, came from North
Carolina to visit Mr. Kennedy, who was her uncle. David fell desperately
in love with her. We cannot better describe this adventure than in the
unpolished diction of this illiterate boy. If one would understand this
extraordinary character, it is necessary thus to catch such glimpses as we
can of his inner life. Let this necessity atone for the unpleasant
rudeness of speech. Be it remembered that this reminiscence was written
after David Crockett was a member of Congress.
"I soon found myself head over heels in love with this girl. I thought
that if all the hills about there were pure chink, and all belonged to me,
I would give them if I could just talk to her as I wanted to. But I was
afraid to begin; for when I would think of saying anything to her, my
heart would begin to flutter like a duck in a puddle. And if I tried to
outdo it and speak, it would get right smack up in my throat, and choke me
like a cold potato. It bore on my mind in this way, till at last I
concluded I must die if I didn't broach the subject. So I determined to
begin and hang on a-trying to speak, till my heart would get out of my
throat one way or t'other.
"And so one day at it I went, and after several trials I could say a
little. I told her how I loved her; that she was the darling object of my
soul and body, and I must have her, or else I should pine down to nothing,
and just die away with consumption.
"I found my talk was not disagreeable to her. But she was an honest girl,
and didn't want to deceive nobody. She told me she was engaged to her
cousin, a son of the old Quaker. This news was worse to me than war,
pestilence, or famine. But still I know'd I could not help myself. I saw
quick enough my cake was dough; and I tried to cool off as fast as
possible. But I had hardly safety pipes enough, as my love was so hot as
mighty nigh to burst my boilers. But I didn't press my claims any more,
seeing there was no chance to do anything."
David's grief was very sincere, and continued as long as is usually the
case with disappointed lovers.
David soon began to cherish some slight idea of the deficiency in his
education. He had never been to school but four days; and in that time he
had learned absolutely nothing. A young man, a Quaker, had opened a school
about a mile and a half from Mr. Kennedy's. David made an arrangement with
his employer by which he was to go to school four days in the week, and
work the other two days for his board. He continued in this way for six
months. But it was very evident that David was not born for a scholar. At
the end of that time he could read a little in the first primer. With
difficulty he could make certain hieroglyphics which looked like his name.
He could also perform simple sums in addition, subtraction, and
multiplication. The mysteries of division he never surmounted.
This was the extent of his education. He left school, and in the laborious
life upon which he entered, never after improved any opportunity for
mental culture. The disappointment which David had encountered in his love
affair, only made him more eager to seek a new object upon which he might
fix his affections. Not far from Mr. Kennedy's there was the cabin of a
settler, where there were two or three girls. David had occasionally met
them. Boy as he was, for he was not yet eighteen, he suddenly and
impetuously set out to see if he could not pick, from them, one for a
|Without delay he made his choice, and made his
offer, and was as promptly accepted as a lover. Though they were
both very young, and neither of them had a dollar, still as those
considerations would not have influenced David in the slightest
degree, we know not why they where not immediately married.
Several months of very desperate and satisfactory courtship passed
away, when the time came for the nuptials of the little Quaker
girl, which ceremony was to take place at the cabin of her uncle
David and his "girl" were invited to the wedding. The scene only
inflamed the desires of David to hasten his marriage-day. He was
very importunate in pressing his claims. She seemed quite
reluctant to fix the day, but at last consented; and says David,
"I thought if that day come, I should be the happiest man in the
created world, or in the moon, or anywhere else.
In the mean time David had become very fond of his rifle, and had
raised enough money to buy him one. He was still living with the Quaker.
Game was abundant, and the young hunter often brought in valuable
supplies of animal food. There were frequent shooting-matches in that
region. David, proud of his skill, was fond of attending them. But his
Quaker employer considered them a species of gambling, which drew
together all the idlers and vagrants of the region, and he could not
approve of them.
There was another boy living at that time with the Quaker. They
practised all sorts of deceptions to steal away to the shooting-matches
under pretence that they were engaged in other things. This boy was
quite in love with a sister of David's intended wife. The staid member
of the Society of Friends did not approve of the rude courting frolics
of those times, which frequently occupied nearly the whole night.
The two boys slept in a garret, in what was called the gable end of the
house. There was a small window in their rough apartment. One Sunday,
when the Quaker and his wife were absent attending a meeting, the boys
cut a long pole, and leaned it up against the side of the house, as high
as the window, but so that it would not attract any attention. They were
as nimble as catamounts, and could run up and down the pole without the
slightest difficulty. They would go to bed at the usual early hour. As
soon as all were quiet, they would creep from the house, dressed in
their best apparel, and taking the two farm-horses, would mount their
backs and ride, as fast as possible, ten miles through the forest road
to where the girls lived. They were generally expected. After spending
all the hours of the middle of the night in the varied frolics of
country courtship, they would again mount their horses and gallop home,
being especially careful to creep in at their window before the dawn of
day The course of true love seemed for once to be running smoothly.
Saturday came, and the next week, on Thursday, David was to be married.
It so happened that there was to be a shooting match on Saturday, at one
of the cabins not far from the home of his intended bride. David made
some excuse as to the necessity of going home to prepare for his
wedding, and in the morning set out early, and directed his steps
straight to the shooting-match. Here he was very successful in his
shots, and won about five dollars. In great elation of spirits, and
fully convinced that he was one of the greatest and happiest men in the
world, he pressed on toward the home of his intended bride.
He had walked but a couple of miles, when he reached the cabin of the
girl's uncle. Considering the members of the family already as his
relatives, he stepped in, very patronizingly, to greet them. He doubted
not that they were very proud of the approaching alliance of their niece
with so distinguished a man as himself--a man who had actually five
dollars, in silver, in his pocket. Entering the cabin, he found a sister
of his betrothed there. Instead of greeting him with the cordiality he
expected, she seemed greatly embarrassed. David had penetration enough
to see that something was wrong. The reception she gave him was not such
as he thought a brother-in-law ought to receive. He made more particular
inquiries. The result we will give in David's language.
"She then burst into tears, and told me that her sister was going to
deceive me; and that she was to be married to another man the next day.
This was as sudden to me as a clap of thunder of a bright sunshiny day.
It was the capstone of all the afflictions I had ever met with; and it
seemed to me that it was more than any human creature could endure. It
struck me perfectly speechless for some time, and made me feel so weak
that I thought I should sink down. I however recovered from the shock
after a little, and rose and started without any ceremony, or even
bidding anybody good-bye. The young woman followed me out to the gate,
and entreated me to go on to her father's, and said she would go with
"She said the young man who was going to marry her sister had got his
license and asked for her. But she assured me that her father and mother
both preferred me to him; and that she had no doubt that if I would go
on I could break off the match. But I found that I could go no farther.
My heart was bruised, and my spirits were broken down. So I bid her
farewell, and turned my lonesome and miserable steps back again
homeward, concluding that I was only born for hardship, misery, and
disappointment. I now began to think that in making me it was entirely
forgotten to make my mate; that I was born odd, and should always remain
so, and that nobody would have me.
"But all these reflections did not satisfy my mind, for I had no peace,
day nor night, for several weeks. My appetite failed me, and I grew
daily worse and worse. They all thought I was sick; and so I was. And it
was the worst kind of sickness, a sickness of the heart, and all the
tender parts, produced by disappointed love."
For some time David continued in a state of great dejection, a lovelorn
swain of seventeen years. Thus disconsolate, he loved to roam the forest
alone, with his rifle as his only companion, brooding over his sorrows.
The gloom of the forest was congenial to him, and the excitement of
pursuing the game afforded some slight relief to his agitated spirit.
One day, when he had wandered far from home, he came upon the cabin of a
Dutchman with whom he had formed some previous acquaintance. He had a
daughter, who was exceedingly plain in her personal appearance, but who
had a very active mind, and was a bright, talkative girl.
She had heard of David's misadventure, and rather unfeelingly rallied
him upon his loss. She however endeavored to comfort him by the
assurance that there were as good fish in the sea as had ever been
caught out of it. David did not believe in this doctrine at all, as
applied to his own case, He thought his loss utterly irretrievable. And
in his still high appreciation of himself, notwithstanding his deep
mortification, he thought that the lively Dutch girl was endeavoring to
catch him for her lover. In this, however, he soon found himself
She told him that there was to be a reaping frolic in their neighborhood
in a few days, and that if he would attend it, she would show him one of
the prettiest girls upon whom he ever fixed his eyes. Difficult as he
found it to shut out from his mind his lost love, upon whom his thoughts
were dwelling by day and by night, he very wisely decided that his best
remedy would be found in what Dr. Chalmers calls "the expulsive power of
a new affection;" that is, that he would try and fall in love with some
other girl as soon as possible. His own language, in describing his
feelings at that time, is certainly very different from that which the
philosopher or the modern novelist would have used, but it is quite
characteristic of the man. The Dutch maiden assured him that the girl
who had deceived him was not to be compared in beauty with the one she
would show to him. He writes:
"I didn't believe a word of all this, for I had thought that such a
piece of flesh and blood as she had never been manufactured, and never
would again. I agreed with her that the little varmint had treated me so
bad that I ought to forget her, and yet I couldn't do it. I concluded
that the best way to accomplish it was to cut out again, and see if I
could find any other that would answer me; and so I told the Dutch girl
that I would be at the reaping, and would bring as many as I could with
David seems at this time to have abandoned all constant industry, and to
be loafing about with his rifle, thus supporting himself with the game
he took. He traversed the still but slightly broken forest in all
directions, carrying to many scattered farm-houses intelligence of the
approaching reaping frolic. He informed the good Quaker with whom he had
worked of his intention to be there. Mr. Kennedy endeavored to dissuade
him. He said that there would be much bad company there; that there
would be drinking and carousing, and that David had been so good a boy
that he should be very sorry to have him get a bad name.
The curiosity of the impetuous young man was, however, by this time, too
much aroused for any persuasions to hold him back. Shouldering his
rifle, he hastened to the reaping at the appointed day. Upon his arrival
at the place he found a large company already assembled. He looked
around for the pretty girl, but she was nowhere to be seen. She chanced
to be in a shed frolicking with some others of the young people.
But as David, with his rifle on his shoulder, sauntered around, an aged
Irish woman, full of nerve and volubility, caught sight of him. She was
the mother of the girl, and had been told of the object of David's
visit. He must have appeared very boyish, for he had not yet entered his
eighteenth year, and though very wiry and athletic, he was of slender
frame, and rather small in stature.
The Irish woman hastened to David; lavished upon him compliments
respecting his rosy cheeks, and assured him that she had exactly such a
sweet heart for him as he needed. She did not allow, David to have any
doubt that she would gladly welcome him as the husband of her daughter.
Pretty soon the young, fresh, blooming, mirthful girl came along; and
David fell in love with her at first sight. Not much formality of
introduction was necessary: each was looking for the other. Both of the
previous loves of the young man were forgotten in an instant. He devoted
himself with the utmost assiduity, to the little Irish girl. He was soon
dancing with her. After a very vigorous "double shuffle," as they were
seated side by side on a bench intensely talking, for David Crockett was
never at a loss for words, the mother came up, and, in her wonderfully
frank mode of match-making, jocosely addressed him as her son-in-law.
Even David's imperturbable self-possession was disturbed by this
assailment. Still he was much pleased to find both mother and daughter
so favorably disposed toward him. The rustic frolicking continued nearly
all night. In the morning, David, in a very happy frame of mind,
returned to the Quaker's, and in anticipation of soon setting up farming
for himself, engaged to work for him for six months for a low-priced
Back to: Biography of David
Source: David Crockett: His Life and
Adventures by John S. C. Abbott
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