Gateway to the Classics: Davy Crockett by Frank Lee beals
Davy Crockett by  Frank Lee beals

Davy Starts West

D AVY'S brother and his wife tried to make a happy, comfortable home for him and his children. But they could not stay away from their own home.

"Why don't you move back to East Tennessee?" his brother asked Davy. "The children can stay with us some of the time. I know we can find homes for them with our other brothers and sisters, too."

"No, I will stay here," answered Davy. "I want to keep my family together. I will get along somehow."

Sad, lonely months passed by. Davy tried to make up to his children for the death of their mother. Then, one day, Davy married Elizabeth Patton. She was the widow of the sick soldier whom Davy had befriended during the Creek war.

Elizabeth kissed the Crockett children and said, "I am your new mother. I have come to take care of you. I have brought my own boy and girl with me. We are all going to live here and be happy."

The children became friends at once. The little cabin was filled with happiness. Once again the copper kettles were bright and shiny. The hum of the spinning wheel was heard again, too.

"Elizabeth," said Davy as they watched the children playing about, "this part of Tennessee is becoming thickly settled. Why don't we move?"

"Our land is fertile," said Elizabeth, "and our cabin is comfortable. Why do you want to move?"

"There are too many people. The hunting is not as good as it used to be."

"That is the real reason!" laughed Elizabeth. "All right, Davy, we will move wherever and whenever you like."

"I will talk to some of our friends," said Davy. "Some of them fought with me in the Creek war. Maybe they will go with me to find a new home farther west."

In a few days Davy and three men left to go on an exploring trip. As they rode away Davy called back to Elizabeth and the children, "I will find the place where we will build our new home."

The four men rode all day. That night they came to a log cabin.

"Maybe we can spend the night here," said Davy. "I will ride on alone. If I wave to you, come. If we cannot stay we will make camp somewhere off the trail."

The men watched Davy as he rode on. As Davy approached the cabin a man came out to meet him. Davy jumped off his horse and ran toward the man. Then Davy waved excitedly to his companions.

"Men," he said as they rode up, "this is Joe Williams. You may remember him. He was one of my scouts."

Williams, like most of the men in the wilderness was a poor man. But like them he was generous and ready to help anyone who came to his cabin.

"Spend the night with me, Crockett," he said. "And you are welcome, too," he added as he greeted the other men.

Davy and the men fed their horses and hobbled them. Then they followed Williams to his cabin.

"My wife will be glad to see you," he said. "We do not have many visitors and my children will be happy to meet you, Crockett. I have told them many stories about you. I told them how you once saved my life."

Davy threw back his head and laughed. "Williams," he said, "I suppose you mean the day you wandered off the trail and the Creeks captured you?"

"Yes," answered Williams, "and if you hadn't come along they would have killed me."

"You are right, they would have killed you. But old Red Hawk, the Indian who had captured you, was a friend of mine."

"How did he happen to be a friend of yours?" asked one of the men.

"It's a long story," said Davy. "When I first came out to this part of Tennessee, I met Red Hawk. I was out hunting. He had been shot by another Indian who mistook him for an enemy. I found him and carried him back to my cabin. Polly and I nursed him back to health. However, I did not meet him again until the Creek war."

"I remember Red Hawk," said one of the men. "He came back to camp with you and Williams."

"And was one of our best Indian scouts during the rest of the war," added Davy.

Mrs. Williams and the children were glad to meet Davy and the other men. As they sat around the fireplace Davy told them stories about the Indians and about his children. They talked until late that night.

"Why don't you spend a few days here?" asked Williams. "We can go hunting tomorrow."

"Good!" said Davy. "That suits me. We will stay."

The next morning Davy and the men went hunting. They walked along a trail through the forest.

"We will have to cross a swamp," said Williams. "It is a short cut."

The men moved along in single file. When they were deep in the swamp region, the wet, marshy ground was covered with fallen trees and leaves. The men had to move slowly. They went carefully and did not talk.

Suddenly the last man in the line stumbled and fell over a pile of leaves. He picked himself up and leaned over to get his rifle. He started back with a cry. He had stirred up a deadly poisonous copperhead. Instantly the copperhead planted its fangs in the man's leg.

The men ran back. The man who was bitten pointed to his leg. In a few minutes the leg was swollen and discolored.

Davy handed his rifle to one of the men. Quickly he tied a leather cord tightly above the snake bite. He pulled his hunting knife from his belt. He made a deep gash in the man's leg. He squeezed out all the blood and poison that he could.

"Get him back to the cabin at once," said Davy. Hurriedly the men carried him back to Williams' cabin. Mrs. Williams prepared some home remedies. Carefully she dressed the wound.

"You men go on without me," he said as he lay propped up in bed. "It will be weeks before I can travel."

"Yes, you must stay here," said Mrs. Williams. "We will take care of you until you can return to your home."

Early the next morning Davy and his two friends left. "I do not like to leave him," said Davy as they rode along.

"It is all we can do. He will have good care," said one of the men.

They rode south and west for several days. They made camp each night and cooked the game they had killed during the day. They passed only a few log cabins.

One night as they camped in the wilderness, it was cold and damp. Davy said, "Let's build a lean-to tonight. One man can make a big fire and I will help the other build the lean-to. Let's hobble our horses here."

The horses were hobbled. Davy and his two companions went to work. While one of them built the fire, Davy and the other man cut saplings with their hatchets. Four of the saplings they sharpened and drove into the ground for corner stakes. Then they cut other saplings and laid them across the top. They cut many branches which they piled on top of the shelter for a roof. They piled other branches in the back and on each end.

When completed, this made a comfortable lean-to. They raked a pile of leaves and made their bed on these inside the lean-to.

"The horses are hobbled," said one of the men, "and they are tired. They will not wander away tonight. Do you think it necessary to tie the bells on them, Davy?"

"They will not go far away," answered Davy, "but let's tie the bells on them anyhow."

First Aid

1. Why did Davy want to move farther West?

2. Did the pioneers have hospitals, doctors, and nurses?

3. Tell how Davy treated a snake bite.

4. Why is it important to know how to give first aid to an injured person?

5. Where can you learn how to give first aid?

6. Do you know how to give first aid for a bad cut?

7. Give some rules to remember for Safety First.

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