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Having seen all the curiosities, except the
cluster of lakes, three or four miles from St.
Anthony's Falls, which we had no time to
visit, we turned our faces homewards. The
Prairie du Chien boat was advertised to
start at six o'clock precisely; at half-past
five we were at her wharf. She had been gone
fifteen minutes. The fastest thing yet in the
fastest place in the world: a steam-boat
nearly an hour in advance of its time! A score
of her would-be passengers swore: a score
pondered a curious problem, then and there
presented. The Defiance and the Phœbus
Apollounder which king? Our old friend,
the Defiance, did not start until one o'clock
the next day; but then she started without
fail, for she was a regular passenger-boat
and carried the mails. A fast boat we knew
her to be. The Phœbus Apollo had already
bent the bow of his wrath, and was puffing
away, all ready to go, according to the
captain; but several unhappy persons, who had
paid for their passage three days before,
asseverated that he had said the same thing
to them on Saturday. There were whispered
suggestions, too, that the Phœbus had
not wood enough on board to feed her
engine for an hour, and that she was a
sternwheeler and irremediably slow. The
imagination, instructed by the nose, added
several counts to the already bristling indictment.
The promise of a dance in the cabin of the
Defiance decided most of the company in her
favour. But haste, instinct, hope of tasting
a new experience, and the solemn vow of the
captain, that he would start precisely at nine
o'clock, seconded the importunities of the
three or four runners, through whom Phœbus
breathed doubtful oracles, and sent us
beneath his protection. The negroes who were
swabbing the decks of the Defiance, seemed
to look down contemptuously upon the
plebeian boat, with which we had identified
our fortunes. We were glad when darkness
stepped between us, and then derived a
melancholy satisfaction from the fact that no
sounds of "flying feet, chasing the glowing
hours " issued from our patrician neighbour.

Nine o'clock came; the wheels moved and
we started. Ten o'clock, and we had
advanced five miles, and were wooding up.
Twelve o'clock, and we had run ashore, to
enable the captain to transact some
unfinished business. Day-light, and we were
only fifty miles down stream. A chilling rain,
with wind dead ahead, put the thermometer
of our spirits at zero. The bluffs, draped in
mist, or half-hidden in cloud, failed to
interest otherwise than as landmarks; the
Maiden's Rock we saw again only to sneer
at the legend of Winona; the few passengers
were worse than dull, they were repulsive;
the novels which we had bought at Saint Paul
proved no match for the blues. With
parched lipsfor in our despair we had
madly drank deep of the Mississipiwe
cowered on the deck to leeward, peered
through the now furious storm, or gathered
around the stove in the cabin. At every
possible landing-place Phœbus stopped to
rest. It was a work of time to get his head
down stream again. In one instance
upwards of two hours were consumed in
completing this process. Violently revolved the
sternwheel, sometimes in, sometimes out of
the water; puff, puff, puff, went the little
labouring engine; round swung the bows,
until they were blown back again,—a
spectacle more curious than entertaining to
a passenger. Other adventures we had.
There was almost a fight between our crew
and the owners of a woodpile to which
Phœbus had been quietly helping himself
with the license allowed to the gods. But
a few dirty bank-bills quieted the mortals,
who dared oppose his will with the pitiful
pretence that the wood was their property.
At another point, a hardy young woman of
Minnesota walked through wind and rain
over at least a quarter of a mile of floating
logs to the boat. She would have defended
her husband, in a block-house, against tribes
of Indians.

We reached Prairie du Chien as early on
Thursday morning as we had hoped to get
there, and with our best bow to Phœbus
Apollo, and a blessing upon the Father of
Waters, bade both good day. The next
Sunday we were at Niagara.


WHEN I was a lad, I was a long time
aboard a ship that traded with a cargo of
odds and ends; owner and captain, Abraham
Higginson; to Callao and other places round
the Horn. We had with us a sailor named
Richard Thoresby, and he was a great friend
to me. Everybody liked, and had a sort of
respect for him. We used to say that if he
had cared to be a mate, or even a captain, he
might have been one long before. Old Abraham,
our captain, would talk with him now
and then; which he never would with us:
but Thoresby was a silent man, and not often
cheerful. I believe I may say he had more
liking for me, although a boy compared with
him, than he had for any one else in the ship.
So, when Thoresby went ashore at Lima, and
caught the fever, I nursed him. I was
obliged to do so in a measure, for it was I
who first heard that he was ill, and went
ashore to see him. When our captain heard
of this, he sent both our trunks ashore with
our money, and said we should not come
aboard again; and soon after that the ship
sailed and left us.

This was a dreary situation for me, though
I was a thoughtless fellow. The sickness
was pretty general in Lima at that time; all
the rich merchants went away, and the
business of the place was stopped. We lived in
one of those low, light-built houses which