A Young Hunter
D ANIEL BOONE grew to manhood without caring much for the peaceful, industrious habits of civilization. Farming he did not like. Business and politics were uninteresting. He was even indifferent to the war with the French and Indians, which was then exciting his countrymen. Hunting claimed the most of his time and attention. He was an ideal hunter, having been fitted by nature and training for that life at a period when hunting was not a sport, but a serious occupation.
Though not unusually tall, he was finely formed. He had the grace and freedom of a strong man who has plenty of the right kind of exercise. His broad, deep chest showed that he could run very fast without getting out of breath or panting. His light springing step carried him over the ground so swiftly and easily that men hurrying along the road behind him were surprised to see how fast the distance between them increased.
When necessary he could work harder and longer without food or rest than other men. No Indian was more quick and nimble or more artful and cunning than Boone when he was trying to outwit an enemy or surprise timid game.
He had a fine head and his face was by no means commonplace. The high forehead, the clear, calm eyes and the firm mouth, all told of a manly courage to which imprudence and fear were equally impossible.
In his disposition he was kind and accommodating, and his friends and relatives respected and admired the quiet youth, of whose skill and strength wonderful stories were told. Of course there were fault-finding strangers who did not think so well of him, but criticised his rough clothes and called him stupid because he was not interested in the same subjects that they were.
It made little difference to Daniel Boone whether people liked or disliked his conduct, so long as he could forget the rest of the world in the old forest with its woody odors, its deep silences, and numberless living creatures. But when at last the sound of the woodman's ax began to rival the report of the hunter's gun in his beloved forest, and the frontiersman's cabin and cornfield appeared in the clearings, he became dissatisfied. He did not like to see his hunting grounds turned into farmlands. He was well pleased, therefore, when his father decided to move to a new settlement on the Yadkin River, in North Carolina, which was reported to be a fine hunting district.
There were no railroads then, not even wagon roads, and movers had to travel on foot or on horseback. Fortunately, they seldom had many articles of sufficient value to carry with them. When the Boone family reached the end of their long journey, Daniel helped his father and brothers to make a log house much like their old Pennsylvania home.
This cabin did not shelter him many months. He met a bright-eyed, rosy-cheeked lass in the settlement. He loved her so dearly that he decided to build a little home of his own if he could only persuade the sweet Rebecca to be its mistress. He was very happy when he found that she loved him in return, and they were soon married. They went to housekeeping in a poor but romantic cabin on the edge of a beautiful forest.
For a while this forest furnished them with all they needed, but as more people came to live in the neighborhood Daniel Boone again saw the game driven away by advancing civilization. He tried to cultivate the soil and manage a small farm, but he found such work much harder than hunting.
Then, too, the inequality of the settlers in wealth and position distressed him. The rich had large plantations, fine houses, slaves, and luxuries of all kinds. They seemed to think their wealth gave them rights which their poor neighbors who dressed in deerskins and lived in log cabins did not have. This vexed the independent Boone and he became unhappy and restless.