Adventures on the Way
E ARLY the next morning Davy walked down the village street. He stopped and listened.
"I hear someone singing," he said aloud. He turned and looked in the direction from which the song came. A young man was walking toward him. The young man wore a fringed hunting jacket. He carried a rifle in one hand. A beautiful hunting pouch covered with Indian ornaments hung from one shoulder.
"Davy Crockett! I am glad to see you," the young man said.
"How do you know my name?" asked Davy. "I have never seen you before."
"I have seen your pictures," the young man explained. "I heard that you were on your way to Texas. I want to go with you."
"I want brave men to go with me. What do you do?" asked Davy.
"I am a bee hunter," said the smiling young man. "I know the country and I will be able to guide you to Texas the shortest way. When do you want to leave?"
"As soon as we can get started. I must not lose any more time."
While Davy and the bee hunter were talking, Thimblerig walked toward them.
"We will take the old Spanish trail," the bee hunter said to Davy. "It is difficult but it is the shortest way. Do you have a horse?"
"Yes," said Davy. "I bought one yesterday."
"Good! Then we can leave this morning."
"Another man said he wanted to go with me. I do not know if he still wants to go."
"I do!" broke in Thimblerig. "I said I was going with you. I have not changed my mind." He turned to the bee hunter and said, "You know who I am, but now my name is Thimblerig."
"Very well, Thimblerig. If you are going to lead a new life I will help you. Davy Crockett and I have our horses and we are ready to leave."
"I do not have a horse, but I will buy one with the last of my dishonest money."
"Let's go to the inn and have breakfast," said Davy. "After that we will buy a horse and a rifle for Thimblerig. From now on," he pointed to Thimblerig, "you will have to fight."
Davy Crockett and the two men rode out of the village. Davy and the bee hunter rode easily and well. They sat straight in their saddles. Their heads held high. But poor Thimblerig did not ride easily or well. He slouched in his saddle and kept his eyes lowered.
Davy said to himself, "As soon as he gets some self-confidence, he will be all right." He said nothing to Thimblerig, however.
As they rode along the bee hunter explained to Davy about bee hunting. "There are many, many honey trees in Texas," he said. "The honey is very good, but it is the wax that makes it a profitable business."
"What do you do with the wax?" Davy asked.
"The wax is made into candles. I can sell all the wax I can find. I like the life of a bee hunter. My family have asked me to return home but I cannot leave. An interesting thing about the bee is that it is never found in a wild country. The bee is the advance guard of the white man. Whenever the Indians see a bee they say, 'Here come the white men.' "
Sometimes Davy and his companions rode through forests where the trail was marked with blazed trees. Sometimes they rode through canebrakes. The cane was taller than any Davy had ever seen. It was so dense it shut out the sun.
Leaving behind the woods and canebrakes they came to the great prairie. For miles and miles it stretched on ahead of them.
The bee hunter told many stories about the new land. He told Davy about the herds of wild horses and buffalo. He told about the roving tribes of Indians that lived there.
"I have hunted all my life, but I have never been on a buffalo hunt," said Davy. "As soon as we see the first herd, we must stop to hunt."
"You must be careful," cautioned the bee hunter. "Hunting buffalo is not easy. It requires a high degree of skill."
At last they reached the town of Nacogdoches. It was a gay little town of almost one thousand people. Most of the people were Mexicans and Indians and there were only a few whites.
From afar a flag was seen fluttering in the breeze. As they neared the town the sound of fifes and drums could be heard.
"What is going on in this town?" Davy asked.
"A celebration in your honor," said the bee hunter. "I know most of the people here. When I left I told them I would bring you back with me."
"I am glad we are here," said Davy. "My horse is lame."
"Look," called Thimblerig, "the people are coming out to meet us."
Davy Crockett's fame had gone on ahead. He was given a hearty welcome. Everyone crowded around him, and listened eagerly to his speech. The day was spent in celebrating. But Davy was busy, too. He bought supplies for the trip.
"My horse is lame," said Davy to one of the men. "Do you know where I can get another?"
"I will trade you a mustang for your horse."
Mustangs were the wild horses of the western prairies. Thousands of them roamed in herds feeding on the pasture lands. The Indians were able to capture and tame these sturdy little animals.
"Good! Bring the mustang around early tomorrow morning. We must leave for Bexar."
Davy and Thimblerig went back to the inn.
"Where is Bee Hunter?" asked Thimblerig.
"He is visiting some friends," said Davy. "He told me he was going to see his sweetheart, Kate of Nacogdoches, and her family."
The three men met in the morning. Bee Hunter was very quiet.
"What is the matter?" Thimblerig asked.
"I must say good-by to Kate today. I don't know when I will see her again."
Davy put his hand on Bee Hunter's shoulder. "I know," he said, "I know how hard it is to say good-by."
Many of the people were waiting to see the three men leave. Bee Hunter looked about. He walked to a pretty young girl who was standing apart from the crowd. He talked to her in a quiet voice. Then he looked about for Davy.
"Davy Crockett, come over here," he called.
Smiling, Davy asked, "Is this Kate of Nacogdoches?"
"Yes," answered the girl. "I am Kate."
Davy took off his coonskin cap and bowed to Tier. After a few words he left and rejoined the crowd. The mustangs were saddled and ready. Thimblerig and Davy mounted and waited for Bee Hunter. Kate gave him some rolls of bread to eat on the way.
Bee Hunter ran toward his mustang. There were tears in his eyes. He jumped on his horse and rode back to Kate. He leaned over and kissed her. Then he sang in a boyish voice,
The young, sweet voice of Kate sang in reply,