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The wild sour orange (for there are two kinds of wild orange, the sweet and sour) makes 'orangeade,' with good sugar, and by my faith, although it is not a very elegant drink, I have taken it with genuine yankee molasses, and contrived to live through it. But the syrup of the sugar-cane is the thing.' This alone, with sour oranges, will enable a man to snap his fingers at bilious fevers and malaria, and will cure a sick man, too, sooner than all the nostrums of the apothecary shop. I am really serious. Give me my choice, and I would take these and good bacon, before all the doctor's stuff in the world - for I have seen them tried. But, with a provision-box well stored, let us go ahead.' The wind is fair, and the river black with a stiff breeze; and with our tiny topsail up, off we speed, with a salute from a rifle fowling-piece, and a pair of horse-pistols - all our stock of arms. Bear away, now, and coil all the tackle snug for squalls, and let us see who has more enjoyment in the world than we have. I guess nobody. The country is all wild- no houses to be seen - and only by close looking, can be discovered an Indian's wigwam; for we are starting from our camp more than a hundred miles up the river, and are beginning to sail down.
But what is that in the water, looking like a snake, bearing along yonder? It is a summer-duck, which swims with its body all under water, leaving only its head and slim, long neck out; it is called a snake-bird. Hand me the shot-gun for him, for if the truth must be told I am only a second-rate rifleman, and cannot be sure of such a small mark, while the boat is dancing, and the duck is slipping along at so rapid a rate. If I were still, and he were at rest, I might tell another story-for I have seen the heads of smaller birds slipped off before they knew what hurt them, but not often, when the bird and boat are both moving. Bang! then goes the shot-gun. Ten to one he is not hurt, even with this. You must catch him in a tree on the bank, if you wish to do any thing; there a rifle ball will pin him behind the knuckles of his wings, without much doubt, from the shore or from the boat. I believe they sink if you hit them in the water, for all their feathers are wet as a scalded chicken's, and they cannot fly far before they perch in a tree and dry them. I do not remember to have picked up a single one after shooting at only his neck and head, although it may have been the case, since I shot and ate several on this excursion. I should not forget the squirrels on the banks if you want one or two for supper with your bacon, it is best to go on shore and hunt a little; you will soon find them. There is no time now; though the wind is fair, and roars under our bows : 'merrily sail we on,' and now is the time to look at the St. John's.
This river is much larger than most people have any idea of. In some places you cannot, when in the centre, distinguish with the naked eye a horse from a cow on either shore; it contracts, however, in other places. We have little tempests in tea-pots here, for in Florida the wind blows at a small rate, sometimes, while the rain pours down, and the thunder snaps and cracks, and 'fires away,' as if Beelzebub and all his tribe had broken loose, and Milton's veritable battle were being fought over again. It was during the rainy season, or more properly the thunder-and-lightning-season, that I started on my land-locked voyage of discovery. We had rain enough; about five showers a day, on an average, came over us: and
look in any direction we might choose, we could see showers. Sometimes it would rain as hard as it could pour within two hundred yards of us, and yet not a drop touch us. These showers afford some relief for a time from the heat which comes down in regular streams, like blasts of caloric from a house-furnace; and even at night I have felt almost scorching currents of air out on the wide river. But by keeping in the shade of the sail, and having a good breeze almost always, I never suffered much from the heat. In truth, strange as it may appear, I have actually suffered more from heat at the north than south, and more from cold at the south than north. It is the sudden change, more than the degree of heat or cold, which we feel. But forget not, reader, that we are 'going ahead' all this time: the yellow-white bubbles are floating astern, and the green headlands and old fields once tilled by Spaniards, who are dead or far away, but which have not regained fertility by their long fallow are reached once in a long while; sometimes we go on shore to look if there be any old tame orange-trees, or fig or peach-trees, or any other fruits, that may happen to be in season - but they are scarce enough on the upper part of the river.
But what is that we see over the wide reach ahead? As I live, it is a square-rigged vessel! Don't you know what that is?' says my for as yet I had only one man on board, and was trusting to good fortune to ship another hand before two days' sail. 'Don't you know, Sir,' said he, what that is?' 'No-how should I?- I have never seen it before. I suppose she is just in, and after live oak.' He laughed and replied, That is the Flying Dutchman. Did you never hear of him before?' 'Oh yes,' said I, ' but I did not know he was an old settler of Florida. May be he makes the St. John's his harbor?' 'You will find, Sir, before long, it is no joke. He will fly away before you know what you are about.' Very good-I'й watch him, and be bound for it, find out the mystery, how a squarerigged vessel, lying at anchor, can escape my ken. I'll board him within two hours, and hear news from home: so brace out the jib, and give a little more sheet; then make us some good orange. ade' to treat our friends, and load all the guns to salute them in style.' The negro grinned, and went to work, saying, 'Guess you won't get many letters from the Flying Dutchman.'
Thus we drave along, he hard at work doing nothing, and I steering. The reach between where we were and the spectre-ship was fourteen or fifteen miles over, and there was plenty of time to tell a short story of a man living on the bank of the river just above. There was not much about him, only he could not read the nature of his little children, and was harsh and cruel. My feelings were never so lacerated as by his treatment of a little boy about four years of age. He was delicate, and possessed most acute feelings of affection; but they were never met by either of his parents; and when he was harshly reprimanded, he would fall into fits. His father kept a long ox-gad to whip him with, and his body was scarred all over; and when he crawled upon the bed to lay down his feeble limbs, the great gad was taken down, and he was jerked off, and then, from wounded feelings and terror, he rolled, choking and convulsed, upon the ground. This was called 'giving himself the strangest airs,' for
which, to serve him right,' he should be skinned.' But this is a melancholy story. We will have a better.
One day, sitting with a young man in our camp, near the Devil's Elbow, we heard a most furious dashing of oars, and presently a boat was seen, full of live-oak cutters, and others, heading for us, with might and main. I was led to conclude something very important had happened, and that either the assistance of the young man with me, or my own, was wanting in some emergent case. This, indeed, was the fact. A dispute had happened between two of the cutters: one had sold another a pair of inexpressibles, for which he refused payment, as they had been worn out without doing, as the defendant said, fair service. This, however, was a mere excuse. He did not wish to do justice, and he thought he could impose on the silly fellow who had sold him the garment. But the others took up the quarrel, and said the rogue should be tried, according to law, and forced to pay. They had heard that the young man in my employ had a commission of justice of the peace, which was but partly true, as he had not been sworn in. All the laws of the territory had been sent to him; but he was too modest to accept the dignity. However, the excuse would not answer. Tried the culprit must be, and they turned to me to make them out a warrant. The spokesman - a half horse and half alligator fellow, with a knot on his shoulder as large as your fist from poling flat-boats up the St. Lawrence, and a slight limp from a shot, got by running past a Spanish guard in Mexico or Peru, when they hailed and bade him stop- vowed that, regular or irregular, if I would only make out a paper, he would fetch him, or fetch a piece of him.' 'Here,' said I to myself, 'is a chance for sport. Let us have a regular trial, and do such justice as shall shame all the lawyers in the world.'
I therefore sat down and wrote a rigmarole, with long words and odd Latin terms, as bad as you will find in the most mystified books of that parasitical profession, which has come down from the times of Woden and Thor, with very few improvements. I mean, I made out a right good law paper; and when I read it to them, they wondered at my learning, for they could not understand a word of it at all; it was, therefore, as awful as the big wigs and wide gowns, which hide the cracked skulls and misshapen bodies of the men who are appealed to for their precedents in all our courts. I told him to read that to him, and tell him to come, trusting to overcome the scruples of our modest young justice of the peace, by the time he could return. He went off, rolling an enormous quid of tobacco in his mouth, with his fists clenched, not because he loved justice so much as an excuse to exercise his physical powers in case of resistance; for he was a right down bad fellow, who swore on another occasion that he would even kill me, if ever he should see me alone near his camp; and no doubt he would have done so, had he dared to try it; but I easily put him down with a black scowl, for I felt my mental power over him. But he was an excellent bull-dog, and would have made a most capital leader of boarders for a pirate-captain. He recognised no law but force, and in this he excelled. He had not been gone more than an hour, before he returned with the culprit — a tall, half-bent fellow, of little less than six feet, when he straightened up.
In the mean time, while he was gone, the counsel on the two sides were arranging their pleas, and truly not without talent, for in a large gang of live-oak cutters, you may find men of all kinds— sharps not less than flats. I have never in any justice's court heard more artful or better pleading than the two pettifogging barristers exhibited on this occasion. But I am too fast. Seeing that justice would be defrauded of her dues, unless something were done on my part, also, I looked over the law-books, and found the trash had been folded down in various places; from what I saw, I concluded the proceedings would all be quashed on account of the irregularity, which we all knew, in case the counsel for the defendant could not make good his defence in justice. I therefore secretly, in anticipation, made myself a reviser of the statutes, by passing my pen-knife through the leaves that had sections on them which would either forbid or annul the proceedings of pure justice. In fact I was obliged, in various ways, to take the laws literally into my own hands, for there was no justice, even by name, within a circle of more than thirty miles. I could not help laughing to myself, while doing so, to think how blank our pettifogger, who had seen too much of law, would look, on finding himself and his friend in a predicament so appalling to his vanity. By the way, he took up the defence chiefly because the rogue was a strong, two-fisted fellow, and the prosecutor was weak in mind if not in body, and an awful coward. Physical and mental superiority are more strongly exhibited in the wild woods than in the streets of a large city. The counsel for the prosecution had been a merchant of good standing, and his speeches had not passed without compliments from some of our dignitaries. But his opponent was as smooth and as cunning as Satan, and I determined to stand by and see fair play, all the way through.
The preparations for the trial were awful to the accuser as well as accused; and our new justice was also under great apprehension that some higher tribunal would bring him up, should he thus make a mock at the awful science of law, by doing justice. He had only half consented to act, when fortunately who should come in but a veritable justice, like a God-send- for one had not been seen near the place for many months. The new-comer was at once appealed to, to take the wool-sack, which he did without hesitation; and being shown the warrant by which the defendant had been brought up to court, he pronounced it good for this plain reason it had not failed to bring up the culprit. This was a good beginning, and augured well for the conclusion. The judge being in the chair, the prosecution commenced, and the defence pleaded infancy. There was no one to swear to his age one way or the other; and after much eloquence had been wasted, there seemed to be no possibility of settling the case. He was a young man, evidently, and with very little beard; and what was to be done? The prosecutor was as pale as death. He thought he should not only lose his debt, but be obliged to pay costs, and run all the risk of a threshing from the defendant, beside. In this predicament, I asked to be sworn, and then had the right to say, that I had understood he received the wages of a man, and could eat the dinner of a man, and was not thought to be half as great a fool as the man who had trusted him; he was also taller in stature, and
if an infant, he was of the race of giants, none of whom existed in these days. This seemed to be conclusive - the hint was taken, and other witnesses were called to prove that my suspicions were correct. A verdict for the prosecution was given on this principle-which our philosophic judge said he always followed- namely that men hardly ever quarrel, unless both parties are more or less in the wrong, and one is most likely to do justice by not entirely satisfying either party. This rule is not so very bad, but I do not think it good; for the weakest and best natured invite aggression, and they should not be sure to suffer with the evil. The fellow against whom I had turned the tide so suddenly, stole from me an article as he departed, by way of making up his loss. But I was informed of it, and made him pay for it by threatening him with a visit to the fort in St. Augustine. People told me he would serve me a bad trick should he meet me alone on the pine barrens, but I trusted to a scowl to annihilate him. A determined spirit is as good as side-arms, at any time. My determination was formed to make it a bad business to any man who should ever dare to think of such a thing as attacking me. This is the only way for one who has nothing to depend upon but his own resources. One good-natured man offered to stand by me in another instance where my life was threatened. However, I only told him that I was obliged to him, but could take care of myself against any man that I had yet seen; for if some had more strength, I could find means to stand upon a par with them. I found that mere brute force is not formidable, even in a lawless country. It is mean, underhand cunning, which is the worst thing in the world. Put an unprincipled lawyer, merchant, and banker together, clean, smooth, and genteel though they may be, and no wild beasts or ruffians will do more injury to society by their overt acts than will these, secretly, against every noble-hearted fellow they meet. They will starve him to death if they can, and ridicule him when they dare, while they are fattening on the genius of those like him. With this good-natured philippic, let us look up for the Flying Dutchman.
As sure as fate, he is gone! What has become of him? There appears to be an island where he was. Yes, that island at a distance, with its two or three trees, looks like a square-rigged vessel, in every respect-some of the sails furled, some spread, and some partly clewed up. The illusion is as perfect as possible; and when you approach near enough, the enchantment is gone, and you cannot figure out any thing like a vessel; and you are the more convinced that you did really see one, and that it has vanished.
Passing this mysterious island, you approach, after a while, an old plantation, which is spread two or three miles along the river, for the fertile strip is very narrow. The old homestead had been burned in the wars, and now the owner was not wealthy enough to restore things to their former appearance. But although all of his orange, lemon, and fig trees had been cut down, they were grown up again from the roots, so that he had the best part of his income from them. The negroes seemed to be happier in their thoughtlessness than their master, with his cares, not only for his own family, but for all of theirs. Negroes, under good masters, as they almost invariably are, are as happy as any persons I ever saw. On new planta