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BOUT the middle of December last, two men,
travelling from St. Louis to the northwestern part of Missouri, fell in with another traveller, named Jones, who was journeying towards his residence, which was about fifty miles this side of the destination of the other two. The air became more raw and chill, as they proceeded northward, and the snow fell in considerable quantities at intervals.
When within about two days' journey of their home, the cold set in most intensely, the wind rose in all its fury, and beneath its howling blast the sturdy trees of the forest bent like the slender ozier, and the limbs, hurled from their trunks, were scattered on the ground; the fleecy flakes of snow were thickly twirled through the murky atmosphere, and “clouds were piled on clouds' majestic darkness,” till
not a speck of blue was discernible on the face of heaven, and day put on the appearance of gloomy night.
Unable to proceed on horseback, through the meeting of the trees that crashed together above their heads, they dismounted, and on foot pursued their doubtful way through the darkened forest, unable to discover the path, as the snow had entirely covered it. Scarcely able to endure the cold, Jones was disposed frequently to lie down, and commit himself to the care of Providence, but was prevented by the others, as the numbness and torpor, and disposition to sleep, had not yet taken possession of them.
At length, finding him unable to speak, and his whole power of body overcome as it were by sleep, and judging by their own feelings that the like must soon come upon them, they determined to leave him and endeavor if possible to make their way to some habitation. Night was just setting in, and death in its most appalling form stared them in the face. Surrounded with all the horrors of darkness and solitude, they continued their hopeless way, through brambles
and low underwood, for some distance, till their ears caught the welcome sound of a cow-bell.
The wind, whistling as if it were from the four corners of heaven, prevented them from ascertaining whence it proceeded. However, after sometime, they observed a light from a little hut; that, together with the sheep cot and stable attached to it, was the only mark of civilization for several miles in this dreary solitude. “We approached,” said the narrator, “and knocked at the door. A quick nimble step, was the only answer, and the door immediately opened.
“A female appeared, and at first exhibited considerable surprise, starting back a few paces, but immediately advanced and invited us in. Our necessities were eagerly, and with the utmost pleasure attended to by the family, which consisted of the wife, two sons, and as many daughters. When, by the fire and other means resorted to by the family, we had recovered sufficiently the power of speech we informed them of the distressing situation in which we had left a fellow traveller, about a mile back, as we supposed.
“From their conversation, I had learned that their father was expected that day from St. Charles, whi
ther he had gone on buisness. . We readily perceived from the countenances of the family that they entertained a fearful conjecture who the traveller might be. We wished to accompany the two young men, who immediately prepared to set out for the unfortunate sufferer, but they refused inasmuch as we were scarcely able to walk, and would necessarily detain them, and could give them very little assistance towards finding the place, as from the drifting of the snow in heaps, we could not be able to distinguish the way we had
“They called their sheep-dogs and lighted a flambeau each, and taking some blankets in which to wrap his body, started after him. After the sons had started, we noticed particularly, the uneasiness of the affectionate wife. At every little interval she would open the door, and look to see if her sons were coming. One of us put our hand on the mantel on which were piled some books, and taking down a small pocket Bible, we noticed written on one of the blank leaves, Joshua Jones.'
“ We both agreed that he undoubtedly was the sufferer whom we had left behind; yet we mentioned
not our impressions to the family. We were invited to partake of a repast that had been hastened on our account. As we were about sitting down, the lady went to the door, and seeing her sons advance with the body, recognised the features by the glare of the torches, uttered a shriek, and fell on the floor. He was brought in and laid on a bed before the fire, and friction, and fomentation with hot liquor, and, in fine everything was tried to restore him, but to no purpose.
“ The mortal numbness had seized his body; the chill of death had frozen his vitals; the heart was stagnant, and to beat no more. The voice of lamentation filled the house. The loving wife and daughters mingled their distressing wailings; and the manly nature of the sons, which supported them while there was any hope of restoration, and enabled them calmly to use every means in their power for their father's recovery, sunk under their weight of woe, and they
“ We endeavored to calm the agitation and sorrow of the distressed family; and though they sorrowed not like those without hope, yet their grief was violent;