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Lawson, Part Nine

{Tuesday.} The next day, still passing along such Land as we had done for many days before, which was, Hills and Vallies, about 10 a Clock we reach'd the Top of one of these Mountains, which yielded us a fine Prospect of a very level Country, holding so, on all sides, farther than we could discern. When we came to travel through it, we found it very stiff and rich, being a sort of Marl. This Valley afforded as large Timber as any I ever met withal, especially of Chesnut-Oaks, which render it an excellent Country for raising great Herds of Swine. Indeed, were it cultivated, we might have good hopes of as pleasant and fertile a Valley, as any our English in America can afford. At Night, we lay by a swift Current, where we saw plenty of Turkies, but pearch'd upon such lofty Oaks, that our Guns would not kill them, tho' we shot very often, and our Guns were very good. Some of our Company shot several times, at one Turkey, before he would fly away, the Pieces being loaded with large Goose-shot.

{Wednesday.} Next Morning, we got our Breakfasts; roasted Acorns being one of the Dishes. The Indians beat them into Meal, and thicken their Venison-Broth with them; and oftentimes make a palatable Soop. They are used instead of Bread, boiling them till the Oil swims on the top of the Water, which they preserve for use, eating the Acorns with Flesh-meat. We travell'd, this day, about 25 Miles, over pleasant Savanna Ground, high, and dry, having very few Trees upon it, and those standing at a great distance. The Land was very good, and free from Grubs or Underwood. A Man near Sapona may more easily clear 10 Acres of Ground, than in some places he can one; there being much loose Stone upon the Land, lying very convenient for making of dry Walls, or any other sort of durable Fence. This Country abounds likewise with curious bold Creeks, (navigable for small Craft) disgorging themselves into the main Rivers, that vent themselves into the Ocean. These Creeks are well stor'd with sundry sorts of Fish, and Fowl, and are very convenient for the Transportation of what Commodities this Place may produce. This Night, we had a great deal of Rain, with Thunder and Lightning.

{Thursday.} Next Morning, it proving delicate Weather, three of us separated ourselves from the Horses, and the rest of the Company, and went directly for Sapona Town. That day, we pass'd through a delicious Country, (none that I ever saw exceeds it.) We saw fine bladed Grass, six Foot high, along the Banks of these pleasant Rivulets: We pass'd by the Sepulchres of several slain Indians. Coming, that day, about 30 Miles, we reach'd the fertile and pleasant Banks of Sapona River, whereon stands the Indian Town and Fort. Nor could all Europe afford a pleasanter Stream, were it inhabited by Christians, and cultivated by ingenious Hands. These Indians live in a clear Field, about a Mile square, which they would have sold me, because I talked sometimes of coming into those Parts to live. This most pleasant River may be something broader than the Thames at Kingston, keeping a continual pleasant warbling Noise, with its reverberating on the bright Marble Rocks. It is beautified with a numerous Train of Swans, and other sorts of Water-Fowl, not common, though extraordinary pleasing to the Eye. The forward Spring welcom'd us with her innumerable Train of small Choristers, which inhabit those fair Banks; the Hills redoubling, and adding Sweetness to their melodious Tunes by their shrill Echoes. One side of the River is hemm'd in with mountainy Ground, the other side proving as rich a Soil to the Eye of a knowing Person with us, as any this Western World can afford. We took up our Quarters at the King's Cabin, who was a good Friend to the English, and had lost one of his Eyes in their Vindication. Being upon his march towards the Appallatche Mountains, amongst a Nation of Indians in their Way, there happen'd a Difference, while they were measuring of Gunpowder; and the Powder, by accident, taking fire, blew out one of this King's Eyes, and did a great deal more mischief, upon the spot: Yet this Sapona King stood firmly to the English Man's Interest, with whom he was in Company, still siding with him against the Indians. They were intended for the South Sea, but were too much fatigued by the vast Ridge of Mountains, tho' they hit the right Passage; it being no less than five days Journey through a Ledge of Rocky Hills, and sandy Desarts. And which is yet worse, there is no Water, nor scarce a Bird to be seen, during your Passage over these barren Crags and Valleys. The Sapona River proves to be the West Branch of Cape-Fair, or Clarendon River, whose Inlet, with other Advantages, makes it appear as noble a River to plant a Colony in, as any I have met withal.

The Saponas had (about 10 days before we came thither) taken Five Prisoners of the Sinnagers or Jennitos, a Sort of People that range several thousands of Miles, making all Prey they lay their Hands on. These are fear'd by all the savage Nations I ever was among, the Westward Indians dreading their Approach. They are all forted in, and keep continual Spies and Out-Guards for their better Security. Those Captives they did intend to burn, few Prisoners of War escaping that Punishment. The Fire of Pitch-Pine being got ready, and a Feast appointed, which is solemnly kept at the time of their acting this Tragedy, the Sufferer has his Body stuck thick with Light-Wood-Splinters, which are lighted like so many Candles, the tortur'd Person dancing round a great Fire, till his Strength fails, and disables him from making them any farther Pastime. Most commonly, these Wretches behave themselves (in the Midst of their Tortures) with a great deal of Bravery and Resolution, esteeming it Satisfaction enough, to be assur'd, that the same Fate will befal some of their Tormentors, whensoever they fall into the Hands of their Nation. More of this you will have in the other Sheets.

The Toteros, a neighbouring Nation, came down from the Westward Mountains, to the Saponas, desiring them to give them those Prisoners into their Hands, to the Intent they might send them back into their own Nation, being bound in Gratitude to be serviceable to the Sinnagers, since not long ago, those Northern-Indians had taken some of the Toteros Prisoners, and done them no Harm, but treated them civilly whilst among them, sending them, with Safety, back to their own People, and affirming, that it would be the best Method to preserve Peace on all Sides. At that time these Toteros, Saponas, and the Keyauwees, 3 small Nations, were going to live together, by which they thought they should strengthen themselves, and become formidable to their Enemies. The Reasons offer'd by the Toteros being heard, the Sapona King, with the Consent of his Counsellors, deliver'd the Sinnagers up to the Toteros, to conduct them home.

{Friday.} Friday Morning, the old King having shew'd us 2 of his Horses, that were as fat, as if they had belong'd to the Dutch Troopers, left us, and went to look after his Bever-Traps, there being abundance of those amphibious Animals in this River, and the Creeks adjoining. Taken with the Pleasantness of the Place, we walk'd along the River-side, where we found a very delightful Island, made by the River, and a Branch; there being several such Plots of Ground environ'd with this Silver Stream, which are fit Pastures for Sheep, and free from any offensive Vermin. Nor can any thing be desired by a contented Mind, as to a pleasant Situation, but what may here be found; Every Step presenting some new Object, which still adds Invitation to the Traveller in these Parts. Our Indian King and his Wife entertain'd us very respectfully.

{Saturday. Jan. 31.} On Saturday, the Indians brought in some Swans, and Geese, which we had our Share of. One of their Doctors took me to his Cabin, and shew'd me a great Quantity of medicinal Drugs, the Produce of those Parts; Relating their Qualities as to the Emunctories they work'd by, and what great Maladies he had heal'd by them. This Evening, came to us the Horses, with the Remainder of our Company, their Indian Guide (who was a Youth of this Nation) having kill'd, in their Way, a very fat Doe, Part of which they brought to us.

{Sunday.} This day, the King sent out all his able Hunters, to kill Game for a great Feast, that was to be kept at their Departure, from the Town, which they offer'd to sell me for a small matter. That Piece of Ground, with a little Trouble, would make an Englishman a most curious Settlement, containing above a Mile square of rich Land. This Evening, came down some Toteros, tall, likely Men, having great Plenty of Buffelos, Elks, and Bears, with other sort of Deer amongst them, which strong Food makes large, robust Bodies. Enquiring of them, if they never got any of the Bezoar Stone, and giving them a Description how it was found, the Indians told me, they had great plenty of it; and ask'd me, What use I could make of it? I answer'd them, That the white Men us'd it in Physick, and that I would buy some of them, if they would get it against I came that way again. Thereupon, one of them pull'd out a Leather-Pouch, wherein was some of it in Powder; he was a notable Hunter, and affirm'd to me, That that Powder, blown into the Eyes, strengthen'd the Sight and Brain exceedingly, that being the most common Use they made of it. I bought, for 2 or 3 Flints, a large Peach-Loaf, made up with a pleasant sort of Seed; and this did us a singular Kindness, in our Journey. Near the Town, within their clear'd Land, are several Bagnios, or Sweating-Houses, made of Stone, in Shape like a large Oven. These they make much Use of; especially, for any Pains in the Joints, got by Cold, or Travelling. At Night, as we lay in our Beds, there arose the most violent N.W. Wind I ever knew. The first Puff blew down all the Palisadoes that fortify'd the Town; and I thought it would have blown us all into the River, together with the Houses. Our one-ey'd King, who pretends much to the Art of Conjuration, ran out in the most violent Hurry, and in the Middle of the Town, fell to his Necromantick Practice; tho' I thought he would have been blown away or kill'd, before the Devil and he could have exchang'd half a dozen Words; but in two Minutes, the Wind was ceas'd, and it became as great a Calm, as ever I knew in my Life. As I much admir'd at that sudden Alteration, the old Man told me, the Devil was very angry, and had done thus, because they had not put the Sinnagers to Death.

{Monday.} On Monday Morning, our whole Company, with the Horses, set out from the Sapona-Indian Town, after having seen some of the Locust, which is gotten thereabouts, the same Sort that bears Honey. Going over several Creeks, very convenient for Water-Mills, about 8 Miles from the Town, we pass'd over a very pretty River, call'd Rocky River, a fit Name, having a Ridge of high Mountains running from its Banks, to the Eastward; and disgorging itself into Sapona-River; so that there is a most pleasant and convenient Neck of Land, betwixt both Rivers, lying upon a Point, where many thousand Acres may be fenced in, without much Cost or Labour. You can scarce go a Mile, without meeting with one of these small swift Currents, here being no Swamps to be found, but pleasant, dry Roads all over the Country. The Way that we went this day, was as full of Stones, as any which Craven, in the West of Yorkshire, could afford, and having nothing but Moggisons on my Feet, I was so lam'd by this stony Way, that I thought I must have taken up some Stay in those Parts. We went, this day, not above 15 or 20 Miles. After we had supp'd, and all lay down to sleep, there came a Wolf close to the Fire-side, where we lay. My Spaniel soon discover'd him, at which, one of our Company fir'd a Gun at the Beast; but, I believe, there was a Mistake in the loading of it, for it did him no Harm. The Wolf stay'd till he had almost loaded again, but the Bitch making a great Noise, at last left us and went aside. We had no sooner laid down, but he approach'd us again, yet was more shy, so that we could not get a Shot at him.

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