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The Red Moccasins A Story   By: (1829-1915)

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The Red Moccasins









Portrait of Our Hero.

Once, in the spring green years of the good old times, when our great grandfathers were great grandchildren themselves, there lived in the land of green Kentucky a sprout of a man, some dozen years old, who went by the name of Sprigg. And "Sprigg," for aught I know to the contrary, was his real name; though it has so little the sound of a name, I sometimes wonder his father and mother should ever have thought of giving it to him, when any grandmother of common capacity for naming babies could have suggested a better one. "Jeems," for example, or "Weeliam." Be this as it may, "Sprigg" was the name to which our hero always answered, whenever addressed as cousin, or uncle, or friend; and which, before going the way of all good grandfathers, he left at the end of his will, where it was thought real enough, not only to make that instrument good in the eyes of the law, but his heirs highly respectable in the eyes of the world. We have no choice, then, but to call our hero "Sprigg," just as everybody else did; though were we allowed to christen him more to our liking, we should certainly call him Jack. Jack, in our humble opinion, being the fittingest name in the world for giving pointedge and moral force to a juvenile novel. Especially would we be allowed this liberty in the present instance, where the hero, whose fortune we propose to follow, is described as being of a wild and run away turn, and, hence, well fitted to figure as a warning example to all dissatisfied youngsters, who not content to stay at home and do their sliding on dry ground, go seeking for ice on a summer day at imminent risk of getting drowned.

Now green Kentucky, in the days of Sprigg, was green Kentucky, indeed! Mrs. Daniel Boone and her daughters had not yet distinguished themselves by being the first white women who ever set foot upon the banks of the Kentucky River, when Sprigg was already a three years' child, the joy and pride of a home in a hewn log house in western Virginia; as merry and saucy, and every whit as well pleased with himself as were he the rising hope and promise of one of the "F. F. Vs." The eight or nine years of pioneer activity which had followed the historical event just noticed, had made many a wide gap in the forest, yet had not changed the general aspect of the country so much but that the fields, as viewed by the eagle who sailed with the clouds, must have appeared no more than as the prints of man's feet, left impressed in the otherwise universal verdure. As you may well imagine, so wild and savage a region must still have been the home of a thousand wild and savage creatures, the like whereof we never dream of now a days, even in our loneliest woodland rambles. There, too, was the terrible red man, who, though he built not his wigwam in these wilds, made it his frequent custom of resorting thither, sometimes to follow the chase, but oftener to war with the whites, who lived in great terror of him the whole year round.

The Christian name of our hero's father, whom he called "Pap," was Jervis; the Christian name of his mother, whom he called "Mam," was Elster, and the surname was Whitney. They dwelt in a roomy cabin, rudely built of logs and boards, with a clay topped chimney at each end, and a porch or shed on each side. Under the front porch Jervis hung his saddle, fishing tackle, beaver traps and the like. Under the back porch Elster kept her spinning wheel, crockeryware, garden seed, a big cedar water bucket, with its crooked handle gourd, and the like; while in there, on the earthen floor of the kitchen, stood her huge, unwieldly loom. The cabin was situated in the midst of a small patch of cultivated ground, hemmed in on every side by dense and lofty woods, which spread their waving shadows for miles and miles away to the north and south, to the east and west, with only here and there, at wide intervals, a similar clearing, or a natural glade to speck the boundless green... Continue reading book >>

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