The Crossing PDF Book by Winston Churchill


Click here to Download The Crossing PDF Book by Winston Churchill English having PDF Size 5.5 MB and No of Pages 312.

I was born under the Blue Ridge, and under that side which is blue in the evening light, in a wild land of game and forest and rushing waters. There, on the borders of a creek that runs into the Yadkin River, in a cabin that was chinked with red mud, I came into the world a subject of King George the Third, in that part of his realm known as the province of North Carolina.

The Crossing PDF Book by Winston Churchill

Name of Book The Crossing
PDF Size 5.5 MB
No of Pages 312
Language English
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The cabin reeked of corn-pone and bacon, and the odor of pelts. It had two shakedowns, on one of which I slept under a bearskin. A rough stone chimney was reared outside, and the fireplace was as long as my father was tall. There was a crane in it, and a bake kettle; and over it great buckhorns held my father’s rifle when it was not in use.

On other horns hung jerked bear’s meat and venison hams, and gourds for drinking cups, and bags of seed, and my father’s best hunting shirt; also, in a neglected corner, several articles of woman’s attire from pegs. These once belonged to my mother. Among them was a gown of silk, of a fine, faded pattern, over which I was wont to speculate.

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The women at the Cross-Roads, twelve miles away, were dressed in coarse butternut wool and huge sunbonnets. But when I questioned my father on these matters he would give me no answers. My father was—how shall I say what he was? To this day I can only surmise many things of him. He was a Scotchman born, and I know now that he had a slight Scotch accent.

At the time of which I write, my early childhood, he was a frontiersman and hunter. I can see him now, with his hunting shirt and leggings and moccasins; his powder horn, engraved with wondrous scenes; his bullet pouch and tomahawk and hunting knife. He was a tall, lean man with a strange, sad face. And he talked little save when he drank too many “horns,” as they were called in that country.

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These lapses of my father’s were a perpetual source of wonder to me,—and, I must say, of delight. They occurred only when a passing traveller who hit his fancy chanced that way, or, what was almost as rare, a neighbor. Many a winter night I have lain awake under the skins, listening to a flow of language that held me spellbound, though I understood scarce a word of it.

“You can let me go now, Mr. Mason,” said he. Mr. Mason did. And he came over and sat beside me, but said nothing more. After a while Mr. Mason cleared his throat. “Nicholas,” said he, “when you grow older you will understand these matters better. Your father went away to join the side he believes in, the side we all believe in—the King’s side.”

“Did he ever pretend to like the other side?” asked Nick, quickly. 35 36 “When you grow older you will know his motives,” answered the clergyman, gently. “Until then; you must trust him.” “You never pretended,” cried Nick. “Thank God I never was forced to do so,” said the clergyman, fervently. It is wonderful that the conditions of our existence may wholly change without a seeming strangeness. The Crossing PDF Book

After many years only vivid snatches of what I saw and heard and did at Temple Bow come back to me. I understood but little the meaning of the seigniorial life there. My chief wonder now is that its golden surface was not more troubled by the winds then brewing. It was a new life to me, one that I had not dreamed of. After that first falling out, Nick and I became inseparable.

Far slower than he in my likes and dislikes, he soon became a passion with me. Even as a boy, he did everything with a grace unsurpassed; the dash and daring of his pranks took one’s breath; his generosity to those he loved was prodigal. Nor did he ever miss a chance to score those under his displeasure. At times he was reckless beyond words to describe, and again he would fall sober for a day.

He could be cruel and tender in the same hour; abandoned and freezing in his dignity. He had an old negro mammy whose worship for him and his possessions was idolatry. I can hear her now calling and calling, “Marse Nick, honey, yo’ supper’s done got cole,” as she searched patiently among the magnolias. The Crossing PDF Book

And suddenly there would be a shout, and Mammy’s turban go flying from her woolly head, or Mammy herself would be dragged down from behind and sat upon. We had our supper, Nick and I, at twilight, in the children’s dining room. A little white room, unevenly panelled, the silver candlesticks and yellow flames fantastically reflected in the mirrors between the deep windows.

And the moths and June-bugs tilting at the lights. We sat at a little mahogany table eating porridge and cream from round blue bowls, with Mammy to wait on us. Sometimes there floated in upon us the hum of revelry from the great drawing-room where Madame had her company. Often the good Mr. Mason would come in to us (he cared little for the parties), and talk to us of our day’s doings.

Nick had his lessons from the clergyman in the winter time. Mr. Mason took occasion once to question me on what I knew. Some of my answers, in especial those relating to my knowledge of the Bible, surprised him. Others made him sad. “David,” said he, “you are an earnest lad, with a head to learn, and you will. When your father comes, I shall talk with him.” The Crossing PDF Book

He paused—“I knew him,” said he, “I knew him ere you were born. A just man, and upright, but with a great sorrow. We must never be hasty in our judgments. But you will never be hasty, David,” he added, smiling at me. “You are a good companion for Nicholas.” Nicholas and I slept in the same bedroom, at a corner of the long house, and far removed from his mother.

She would not be disturbed by the noise he made in the mornings. I remember that he had cut in the solid shutters of that room, folded into the embrasures, “Nicholas Temple, His Mark,” and a long, flat sword. The first night in that room we slept but little, near the whole of it being occupied with tales of my adventures and of my life in the mountains.

Over and over again I must tell him of the “painters” and wildcats, of deer and bear and wolf. Nor was he ever satisfied. And at length I came to speak of that land where I had often lived in fancy—the land beyond the mountains of which Daniel Boone had told. Of its forest and glade, its countless herds of elk and buffalo, its salt-licks and Indians, until we fell asleep from sheer exhaustion. The Crossing PDF Book

“I will go there,” he cried in the morning, as he hurried into his clothes; “I will go to that land as sure as my name is Nick Temple. And you shall go with me, David.” “As soon as the sun strikes that orchard,” he said, pointing out of the window. “You have learned how to keep things to yourself. Now I want you to impart them to others. Go out, and tell the village that I am going away.”

“That you are going away, sir?” I repeated. “That I am going away,” he said, “with my army, (save the mark!), with my army and my drummer boy and my paper money. Such is my faith in the loyalty of the good people of these villages to the American cause, that I can safely leave the flag flying over their heads with the assurance that they will protect it.”

I stared at him doubtfully, for at times a pleasantry came out of his bitterness. “Ay,” he said, “go! Have you any love for me?” “I have, sir,” I answered. “By the Lord, I believe you,” he said, and picking up my small hunting shirt, he flung it at me. “Put it on, and go when the sun rises.” As the first shaft of light over the bluff revealed the diamonds in the orchard grass I went out, wondering. The Crossing PDF Book

Suspecting would be a better word for the nature I had inherited. But I had my orders. Terence was pacing the garden, his leggings turned black with the dew. I looked at him. Here was a vessel to disseminate. “Terence, the Colonel is going back to Virginia with the army.” “Him!” cried Terence, dropping the stock of his Deckard to the ground.

“And back to Kaintuckee! Arrah, ’tis a sin to be jokin’ before a man has a bit in his sthummick. Bad cess to yere plisantry before breakfast.” “I’m telling you what the Colonel himself told me,” I answered, and ran on. “Davy, darlin’!” I heard him calling after me as I turned the corner, but I looked not back. There was a single sound in the street.

A thin, bronzed Indian lad squatted against the pickets with his fingers on a reed, his cheeks distended. He broke off with a wild, mournful note to stare at me. A wisp of smoke stole from a stone chimney, and the smell that corn-pone and bacon leave was in the air. A bolt was slammed back, a door creaked and stuck, was flung open, and with a “Va t’en, méchant!” The Crossing PDF Book

A cotton-clad urchin was cast out of the house, and fled into the dusty street. Breathing the morning air in the doorway, stood a young woman in a cotton gown, a saucepan in hand. She had inquisitive eyes, a pointed, prying nose, and I knew her to be the village gossip, the wife of Jules, Monsieur Vigo’s clerk. She had the same smattering of English as her husband.

Now she stood regarding me narrowly between half-closed lids. “A la bonne heure! Que fais-tu donc? What do you do so early?” We lay that night in the open at a spring on the bluffs, and the next morning beheld the church tower of Cahokia. A little way from the town we perceived an odd gathering on the road.

The yellowed and weathered hunting shirts of Bowman’s company mixed with the motley dress of the Creole volunteers. Some of these gentlemen wore the costume of coureurs du bois, others had odd regimental coats and hats which had seen much service. Besides the military was a sober deputation of citizens, and hovering behind the whole a horde of curious. The Crossing PDF Book Download

Blanketed braves, come to get a first glimpse of the great white captain. So escorted, we crossed at the mill, came to a shady street that faced the little river, and stopped at the stone house where Colonel Clark was to abide. On that day, and for many days more, that street was thronged with warriors.

Chiefs in gala dress strutted up and down, feathered and plumed and blanketed, smeared with paint, bedecked with rude jewellery,—earrings and bracelets. From the remote forests of the north they had come, where the cold winds blow off the blue lakes; from the prairies to the east; from the upper running waters, where the Mississippi flows clear and undefiled by the muddy flood.

From the villages and wigwams of the sluggish Wabash; and from the sandy, piny country between the great northern seas where Michilimackinac stands guard alone,—Sacs and Foxes, Chippeways and Maumies and Missesogies, Puans and Pottawattomies, chiefs and medicine men. The Crossing PDF Book Download

Well might the sleep of the good citizens be disturbed, and the women fear to venture to the creek with their linen and their paddles! The lives of these people hung in truth upon a slender thing—the bearing of one man. All day long the great chiefs sought an audience with him, but he sent them word that matters would be settled in the council that was to come.

All day long the warriors lined the picket fence in front of the house, and more than once Tom McChesney roughly shouldered a lane through them that timid visitors might pass. Like a pack of wolves, they watched narrowly for any sign of weakness. As for Tom, they were to him as so many dogs.

“Ye varmints!” he cried, “I’ll take a blizz’rd at ye if ye don’t keep the way clear.” At that they would give back grudgingly with a chorus of grunts, only to close in again as tightly as before. But they came to have a wholesome regard for the sun-browned man with the red hair who guarded the Colonel’s privacy. The Crossing PDF Book Free

The boy who sat on the door-step, the son of the great Pale Face Chief (as they called me), was a never ending source of comment among them. Once Colonel Clark sent for me. The little front room of this house was not unlike the one we had occupied at Kaskaskia. It had bare walls, a plain table and chairs, and a crucifix in the corner.

It served as dining room, parlor, bedroom, for there was a pallet too. Now the table was covered with parchments and papers, and beside Colonel Clark sat a grave gentleman of about his own age. As I came into the room Colonel Clark relaxed, turned toward this gentleman, and said:— “Monsieur Gratiot, behold my commissary-general, my strategist, my financier.”

And Monsieur Gratiot smiled. He struck me as a man who never let himself go sufficiently to laugh. As for the son of the Great White Chief, he sat for a long time that afternoon beside the truck patch of the house. And presently he slipped out by a byway into the street again, among the savages. His heart was bumping in his throat, but a boyish reasoning told him that he must show no fear. The Crossing PDF Book Free

And that day he found what his Colonel had long since learned to be true—that in courage is the greater safety. The power of the Great White Chief was such that he allowed his son to go forth alone, and feared not for his life. Even so Clark himself walked among them, nor looked to right or left.