We hove the little craft to, and went below and carefully examined the chart; discussing, as we did so, the comparative advantages and disadvantages of the two routes. Bob had experience of both; and he seemed to feel that in the present state of the weather, and with the wind as it was, we were likely to make a quicker passage by going on to the southward, and passing round the Horn.
A silvery brightness beyond the mountain crests far to the southward showed where the low winter sun was sweeping past on its flat arc. The sky to the north was empty, colorless. There had been no wind for some time, and now the firs sagged beneath burdens of white; even the bare birch branches carried evenly balanced inch-deep layers of snow.
The government of West Florida was bounded to the southward by the Gulf of Mexico, including all islands within six leagues of the sea coast, from the river Apalachicola to Lake Pontchartrain; to the westward by the said lake, the lake Maurepas, and the river Mississippi; to the north by a line drawn due east from that part of the river Mississippi which lies in thirty-one degrees of north latitude, to the river Apalachicola, or Catabouchee; and to the east by the said river.
And the border was drawn thence, and compassed the corner of the sea southward, from the hill that lieth before Bethhoron southward; and the goings out thereof were at Kirjathbaal, which is Kirjathjearim, a city of the children of Judah: this was the west quarter.
We left the hill, where the town was, some four miles behind us, and when we had passed through two wrecked and silent villages and through three of those strips of park timber which Continentals call forests, we presently drew up and halted and dismounted where a thick fringe of undergrowth, following the line of an old and straggly thorn hedge, met the road at right angles on the comb of a small ridge commanding a view of the tablelands to the southward.
We made a private signal. It was not answered. "About ship!" cried the Captain, and away we stood in chase. In about a couple of hours we were within gun-shot. Our bow gun was fired and returned by the enemy's stern chaser. She then hoisted French colours and set more sail, edging away to the southward. At length we got up abreast of her, and brought her to close action.
The Darling turns southward. Resolve to return. Description of the country on the banks of the river. The men at the river obliged to fire upon the natives. Steady conduct of the party. Origin of the dispute. Narrow escape of Muirhead. Treacherous conduct of the aborigines. Melancholy reflections. June 27.
But their only chance was that the wind might go down, or shift a little to the southward, or in the current, which generally takes a northerly direction here, unless it should set them in too much under land.
The party turned to the southward, in order to avoid the chance of meeting Shawnees or Miamis, and soon had the luck to run into a small buffalo herd. They killed only what they could carry, and then returned with it toward the island. Henry continually watched the skies as they traveled, and he uttered an exclamation of relief when they landed.
Many of the French follow a Trade with the Indians, living very conveniently for that Interest. There is about seventy Families seated on this River, who live as decently and happily, as any Planters in these Southward Parts of America.