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Four Months in a Sneak-Box

By Nathaniel H. Bishop (1837-1902), 1879

Chapter 4

From Blennerhasset's Island to Cincinnati


ABOUT this time the selection of resting places for the night became an important feature of the voyage. It was easy to draw the little craft out of the water on to a smooth, shelving beach, but such places did not always appear at the proper time for ending the day's rowing. The banks were frequently precipitous, and, destitute of beaches, frowned down upon the lonely voyager in anything but a hospitable manner. There were also present two elements antagonistic to my peace of mind. One was the night steamer, which, as it struggled up stream, coursing along shore to avoid the strong current, sent swashy waves to disturb my dreams by pitching my little craft about in the roughest manner. A light canoe could easily have been carried further inland, out of reach of the unwelcome waves, and would, so far as that went, have made a more quiet resting-place than the heavy duck-boat; but then, on the other hand, a sleeping-apartment in a canoe would have lacked the roominess and security of the sneak-box.

After the first few nights' camping on the Ohio, I naturally took to the channelless side of one of the numerous islands which dot the river's surface, or, what was still better, penetrated into the wild-looking creeks and rivers, more than one hundred of which enter the parent stream along the thousand miles of its course. Here, in these secluded nooks, I found security from the steamer's swash.

The second objectionable element on the Ohio was the presence of tramps, rough boatmen, and scoundrels of all kinds. In fact, the Ohio and Mississippi rivers are the grand highway of the West for a large class of vagabonds. One of these fellows will steal something of value from a farm near the river, seize the first bateau, or skiff, he can find, cross the stream, and descend it for fifty or a hundred miles. He will then abandon the stolen boat if he cannot sell it, ship as working-hand upon the first steamer or coal-ark he happens to meet, descend the river still further, and so escape detection.

To avoid these rough characters, as well as the drunken crews of shanty-boats, it was necessary always to enter the night's camping-ground unobserved; but when once secreted on the wooded shore of some friendly creek, covered by the dusky shades of night, I felt perfectly safe, and had no fear of a night attack from any one. Securely shut in my strong box, with a hatchet and a Colt's revolver by my side, and a double-barrelled gun, carefully charged, snugly stowed under the deck, the intruder would have been in danger, and not the occupant of the sneak-box.

The hatch, or cover, which rested upon the stern of the boat during rowing-hours, was at night dropped over the hold, or well, in such a way as to give plenty of ventilation, and still, at the same time, to be easily and instantly removed in case of need.

I must not fail here to mention one characteristic feature possessed by the sneak-box which gives it an advantage over every other boat I have examined. Its deck is nowhere level, and if a person attempts to step upon it while it is afloat, his foot touches the periphery of a circle, and the spoon-shaped, keelless, little craft flies out as if by magic from under the pressure of the foot, and without further warning the luckless intruder falls into the water.

At the summer watering-places in Barnegat Bay it used to be a great source of amusement to the boatmen to tie a sneak-box to a landing, and wait quietly near by to see the city boys attempt to get into her. Instead of stepping safely and easily into the hold, they would invariably step upon the rounded deck, when away would shoot the slippery craft, and the unsuccessful boarder would fall into two feet of water, to the great amusement of his comrades. When once inside of the sneak-box, it becomes the stiffest and steadiest of crafts. Two men can stand upright upon the flooring of the hold and paddle her along rapidly, with very little careening to right or left.

By far the most interesting and peculiar features of a winter's row down the Ohio are the life-studies offered by the occupants of the numerous shanty-boats daily encountered. They are sometimes called, and justly too, family-boats, and serve as the winter homes of a singular class of people, carrying their passengers and cargoes from the icy region of the Ohio to New Orleans. Their annual descent of the river resembles the migration of birds, and we invariably find those of a feather flocking together. It would be hard to trace these creatures to their lair; but the Alleghany and Monongahela region, with the towns of the upper Ohio, may be said to furnish most of them. Let them come from where they may (and we feel sure none will quarrel for the honor of calling them citizens), the fall of the leaf seems to be the signal for looking up winter-quarters, and the river with its swift current the inviting path to warmer suns and an easy life.

The shanty-boatman looks to the river not only for his life, but also for the means of making that life pleasant; so he fishes in the stream for floating lumber in the form of boards, planks, and scantling for framing to build his home. It is soon ready. A scow, or flatboat, about twenty feet long by ten or twelve wide, is roughly constructed. It is made of two-inch planks spiked together. These scows are calked with oakum and rags, and the seams are made water-tight with pitch or tar. A small, low house is built upon the boat, and covers about two-thirds of it, leaving a cockpit at each end, in which the crews work the sweeps, or oars, which govern the motions of the shanty-boat. If the proprietor of the boat has a family, he puts its members on board,--not forgetting the pet dogs and cats,--with a small stock of salt pork, bacon, flour, potatoes, molasses, salt, and coffee. An old cooking-stove is set up in the shanty, and its sheet-iron pipe, projecting through the roof, makes a chimney a superfluity. Rough bunks, or berths, are constructed for sleeping-quarters; but if the family are the happy possessors of any furniture, it is put on board, and adds greatly to their respectability. A number of steel traps, with the usual double-barrelled gun, or rifle, and a good supply of ammunition, constitute the most important supplies of the shanty-boat, and are never forgotten. Of these family-boats alone I passed over two hundred on the Ohio.

This rude, unpainted structure, with its door at each end of the shanty, and a few windows relieving the barrenness of its sides, makes a very comfortable home for its rough occupants.

If the shanty-man be a widower or a bachelor, or even if he be a married man laboring under the belief that his wife and he are not true affinities, and that there is more war in the house than is good for the peace of the household, he looks about for a housekeeper. She must be some congenial spirit, who will fry his bacon and wash his shirts without murmuring. Having found one whom he fondly thinks will "fill the bill," he next proceeds to picture to her vivid imagination the delights of "drifting." "Nothing to do," he says, "but to float with the current, and eat fresh pork, and take a hand at euchre." The woods, he tells her, are full of hogs. They shall fall an easy prey to his unfailing gun, and after them, when further south, the golden orange shall delight her thirsty soul, while all the sugar-cane she can chew shall be gathered for her. Add to these the luxury of plenty of snuff with which to rub her dainty gums, with the promise of tobacco enough to keep her pipe always full, and it will be hard to find among this class a fair one with sufficient strength of mind to resist such an offer; so she promises to keep house for him as long as the shanty-boat holds together.

Her embarkation is characteristic. Whatever her attire, the bonnet is there, gay with flowers; a pack of cards is tightly grasped in her hand; while a worn, old trunk, tied with a cord and fondly called a "saratoga," is hoisted on board; and so, for better or for worse, she goes forth to meet her fate, or, as she expresses it, "to find luck."

More than one quarrel usually occurs during the descent of the Mississippi, and by the time New Orleans is reached the shanty-boatman sets his quondam housekeeper adrift, where, in the swift current of life, she is caught by kindred spirits, and being introduced to city society as the Northern Lily, or Pittsburgh Rose, is soon lost to sight, and never returns to the far distant up-river country.

Another shanty-boat is built by a party of young men suffering from impecuniosity. They are "out of a job," and to them the charms of an independent life on the river is irresistible. Having pooled their few dollars to build their floating home, they descend to New Orleans as negro minstrels, trappers, or thieves, as necessity may demand.

Cobblers set afloat their establishments, calling attention to the fact by the creaking sign of a boot; and here on the rushing river a man can have his heel tapped as easily as on shore.

Tin-smiths, agents and repairers of sewing machines, grocers, saloon-keepers, barbers, and every trade indeed is here represented on these floating dens. I saw one circus-boat with a ring twenty-five feet in diameter upon it, in which a troop of horsemen, acrobats, and flying trapèze artists performed while their boat was tied to a landing.

The occupants of the shanty-boats float upon the stream with the current, rarely doing any rowing with their heavy sweeps. They keep steadily on their course till a milder climate is reached, when they work their clumsy craft into some little creek or river, and securely fasten it to the bank. The men set their well-baited steel traps along the wooded watercourse for mink, coons, and foxes. They give their whole attention to these traps, and in the course of a winter secure many skins. While in the Mississippi country, however, they find other game, and feast upon the hogs of the woods' people. To prevent detection, the skin, with the swine-herd's peculiar mark upon it, is stripped off and buried.

When engaged in the precarious occupation of hog-stealing, the shanty-man is careful to keep a goodly number of the skins of wild animals stretched upon the outside walls of his cabin, so that visitors to his boat may be led to imagine that he is an industrious and legitimate trapper, of high-toned feelings, and one "who wouldn't stick a man's hog for no money." If there be a religious meeting in the vicinity of the shanty-boat, the whole family attend it with alacrity, and prove that their BELIEF in honest doctrines is a very different thing from their daily PRACTICE of the same. They join with vigor in the shoutings, and their "amens" drown all others, while their excitable natures, worked upon by the wild eloquence of the backwoods' preacher, seem to give evidence of a firm desire to lead Christian lives, and the spectator is often deceived by their apparent earnestness and sincerity. Such ideas are, however, quickly dispelled by a visit to a shanty-boat, and a glimpse of these people "at home."

The great fleet of shanty-boats does not begin to reach New Orleans until the approach of spring. Once there, they find a market for the skins of the animals trapped during the winter, and these being sold for cash, the trapper disposes of his boat for a nominal sum to some one in need of cheap firewood, and purchasing lower-deck tickets for Cairo, or Pittsburgh, at from four to six dollars per head, places his family upon an up-river steamer, and returns with the spring birds to the Ohio River, to rent a small piece of ground for the season, where he can "make a crop of corn," and raise some cabbage and potatoes, upon which to subsist until it be time to repeat his southern migration.

In this descent of the river, many persons, who have clubbed together to meet the expenses of a shanty-boat life for the first time, and who are of a sentimental turn of mind, look upon the voyage as a romantic era in their lives. Visions of basking in the sunlight, feasting, and sleeping, dance before their benighted eyes; for they are not all of the low, ignorant class I have described. Professors, teachers, musicians, all drift at times down the river; and one is often startled at finding in the apparently rough crew men who seem worthy of a better fate. To these the river experiences are generally new, and the ribald jokes and low river slang, with the ever-accompanying cheap corn-whiskey and the nightly riots over cutthroat euchre, must be at first a revelation. Hundreds of these low fellows will swear to you that the world owes them a living, and that they mean to have it; that they are gentlemen, and therefore cannot work. They pay a good price for their indolence, as the neglect of their craft and their loose ideas of navigation seldom fail to bring them to grief before they even reach the Mississippi at Cairo. Their heavy, flat-bottomed boat gets impaled upon a snag or the sharp top of a sawyer; and as the luckless craft spins round with the current, a hole is punched through the bottom, the water rushes in and takes possession, driving the inexperienced crew to the little boat usually carried in tow for any emergency.

Into this boat the shanty-men hastily store their guns, whiskey, and such property as they can save from the wreck, and making for the shore, hold a council of war.

There, in the swift current, lies the centre of their hopes, quickly settling in the deep water, soon to be seen no more. The fact now seems to dawn upon them for the first time that a little seamanship is needed even in descending a river, that with a little care their Noah's Ark might have been kept afloat, and the treacherous "bob sawyer" avoided. This trap for careless sailors is a tree, with its roots held in the river's bottom, and its broken top bobbing up and down with the undulations of the current. Boatmen give it the euphonious title of "bob sawyer" because of the bobbing and sawing motions imparted to it by the pulsations of the water.

Destitute of means, these children of circumstance resolve never to say die. Their ship has gone down, but their pride is left, and they will not go home till they have "done" the river; and so, repairing to the first landing, they ship in pairs upon freighters descending the stream. Some months later they return to their homes with seedy habiliments but an enlarged experience, sadder but wiser men.

And so the great flood of river life goes on, and out of this annual custom of shanty-boat migration a peculiar phase of American character is developed, a curious set of educated and illiterate nomads, as restless and unprofitable a class of inhabitants as can be found in all the great West.

After leaving my camp near Blennerhasset's Island, on December 9, the features of the landscape changed. The hills lost their altitude, and seemed farther back from the water, while the river itself appeared to widen. Snow squalls filled the air, and the thought of a comfortable camping-ground for the night was a welcome one. About dusk I retired into the first creek above Letart's Landing, on the left bank of the Ohio, where I spent the night. The next forenoon I entered a region of salt wells, with a number of flourishing little towns scattered here and there upon the borders of the stream. One of these, called Hartford City, had a well eleven hundred and seventy feet in depth. From another well in the vicinity both oil and salt-water were raised by means of a steam-pump. These oil-wells were half a mile back of the river. Coal-mines were frequently passed in this neighborhood on both sides of the Ohio.

After dark I was fortunate enough to find a camping-place in a low swamp on the right bank of the stream, in the vicinity of which was a gloomy-looking, deserted house. I climbed the slippery bank with my cooking kit upon my back, and finding some refuse wood in what had once been a kitchen, made a fire, and enjoyed the first meal I had been able to cook in camp since the voyage was commenced.

Cold winds whistled round me all night, but the snug nest in my boat was warm and cheerful, for I lighted my candle, and by its dear flame made up my daily "log." There were, of course, some inconveniences in regard to lighting so low-studded a chamber. It was important to have a candle of not more than two inches in length, so that the flame should not go too near the roof of my domicile. Then the space being small, my literary labors were of necessity performed in a reclining position; while lying upon my side, my shoulder almost touched the carlines of the hatch above.

Saturday was as raw and blustering as the previous day, so hastily breakfasting upon the remains of my supper,--COLD chocolate, COLD corned beef, and COLD crackers,--I determined to get into a milder region as soon as possible.

As I rowed down the stream, the peculiar appearance of the Barnegat sneak-box attracted the attention of the men on board the coal-barges, shanty-boats, &c., and they invariably crowded to the side I passed, besieging me with questions of every description, such as, "Say, stranger, where did you steal that pumpkin-seed looking boat from?" "How much did she cost, any way?" "Ain't ye afeard some steamboat will swash the life out of her?" On several occasions I raised the water-apron, and explained how the little sneak-box shed the water that washed over her bows, when these rough fellows seemed much impressed with the excellent qualities of the boat, and frankly acknowledged that "it might pay a fellow to steal one if there was a good show for such a trick."

At three o'clock P. M. I passed the town of Guyandot, which is situated on the left bank of the Ohio, at its junction with the Big Guyandot. Three miles below Guyandot is the growing city of Huntington, the Ohio River terminus of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, which has a total length of four hundred and sixty-five miles, exclusive of six private branches. The Atlantic coast terminus is on the James River, Chesapeake Bay.

The snow squalls now became so frequent, and the atmosphere was so chilly and penetrating, that I was driven from the swashy waves of the troubled Ohio, and eagerly sought refuge in Fourfold Creek, about a league below Huntington, where the high, wooded banks of the little tributary offered me protection and rest.

At an early hour the next morning I was conscious of a change of temperature. It was growing colder. A keen wind whistled through the tree-tops. I was alarmed at the prospect of having my boat fastened in the creek by the congealing of its waters, so I pushed out upon the Ohio and hastened towards a warmer climate as fast as oars, muscles, and a friendly current would carry me. The shanty-boatmen had informed me that the Ohio might freeze up in a single night, in places, even as near its mouth as Cairo. I did not, however, feel so much alarmed in regard to the river as I did about its tributaries. The Ohio was not likely to remain sealed up for more than a few days at a time, but the creeks, my harbors of refuge, my lodging-places, might remain frozen up for a long time, and put me to serious inconvenience.

About ten o'clock A. M. the duck-boat crossed the mouth of the Big Sandy River, the limit of Virginia, and I floated along the shores of the grand old state of Kentucky on the left, while the immense state of Ohio still skirted the right bank of the river.

The agricultural features of the Ohio valley had been increasing in attractiveness with the descent of the stream. The high bottom-lands of the valley exhibited signs of careful cultivation, while substantial brick houses here and there dotted the landscape. Interspersed with these were the inevitable log-cabins and dingy hovels, speaking plainly of the poverty and shiftlessness of some of the inhabitants.

At four P. M. I could endure the cold no longer, and when a beautiful creek with wooded shores, which divided fine farms, opened invitingly before me on the Kentucky side, I quickly entered it, and moored the sneak-box to an ancient sycamore whose trunk rose out of the water twelve feet from shore. I was not a moment too soon in leaving the wide river, for as I quietly supped on my cold bread and meat, which needed no better sauce than my daily increasing appetite to make it tempting, the wind increased to a tempest, and screeched and howled through the forest with such wintry blasts that I was glad to creep under my hatch before dark.

On Monday, December 13, the violent wind storm continuing, I remained all day in my box, writing letters and watching the scuds flying over the tops of high trees. At noon a party of hunters, with a small pack of hounds, came abruptly upon my camp. Though boys only, they carried shot-guns, and expectorated enough tobacco-juice to pass for the type of western manhood. They chatted pleasantly round my boat, though each sentence that fell from their lips was emphasized by its accompanying oath. I asked them the name of the creek, when one replied, "Why, boss, you don't call this a CREEK, do you? Why, there is twenty foot of water in it. It's the Tiger River, and comes a heap of a long way " Another said, "Look here, cap'n, I wouldn't travel alone in that 'ere little skiff, for when you're in camp any feller might put a ball into you from a high bank." "Yes," added another, "there is plenty o' folks along the river that would do it, too."

As my camp had become known, I acted upon the friendly hint of the boy-hunters, and took my departure the next day at an early hour, following the left bank of the river, which afforded me a lee shore. As I dashed through the swashy waves, with the apron of the boat securely set to keep the water from wetting my back, the sun in all its grandeur parted the clouds and lighted up the landscape until everything partook of its brightness. This was the second time in two weeks that the God of Day had asserted his supremacy, and his advent was fully appreciated.

Two miles below Portsmouth, Ohio, I encountered a solitary voyager in a skiff, shooting mallards about the mouths of the creeks, and having discovered that he was a gentleman, I intrusted my mail to his keeping, and pushed on to a little creek beyond Rome, where, thanks to good fortune, some dry wood was discovered. A bright blaze was soon lighting up the darkness of the thicket into which I had drawn my boat, and the hot supper, now cooked in camp, and served without ceremony, was duly relished.

The deck of the boat was covered with a thin coating of ice, and as the wind went down the temperature continued to fall until six o'clock in the morning, when I considered it unsafe to linger a moment longer in the creek, the surface of which was already frozen over, and the ice becoming thicker every hour. An oar served to break a passage-way from the creek to the Ohio, which I descended in a blustering wind, being frequently driven to seek shelter under the lee afforded by points of land.

At sunset I reached Maysville, where the celebrated Daniel Boone, the pioneer of Kentucky backwoods life, once lived; and as the wind began to fall, I pulled into a fine creek about four miles below the village, having made twenty-nine miles under most discouraging circumstances. The river was here, as elsewhere, lighted by small hand-lanterns hung upon posts. The lights were, however, so dull, and, where the channel was not devious, at such long intervals, that they only added to the gloom.

As the wind generally rose and fell with the sun, it became necessary to adopt a new plan to expedite my voyage, and the river being usually smooth at dawn of day, an early start was an imperative duty. At four o'clock in the morning the duck-boat was under way, her captain cheered by the hope of arriving in Cincinnati, the great city of the Ohio valley, by sunset. I plied my oars vigorously all day, and when darkness settled upon the land, was rewarded for my exertions by having my little craft shoot under the first bridge that connects Cincinnati with Kentucky. Here steamers, coal-barges, and river craft of every description lined the Ohio as well as the Kentucky shore. Iron cages filled with burning coals were suspended from cranes erected upon flatboats for the purpose of lighting the river, which was most effectually done, the unwonted brilliancy giving to the busy scene a strange weirdness, and making a picture never to be forgotten.

The swift current now carried me under the suspension-bridge which connects Cincinnati and Covington, and my boat entered the dark area below, when suddenly the river was clouded in snow, as fierce squalls came up the stream, and I eagerly scanned the high, dark banks to find some inlet to serve as harbor for the night. It was very dark, and I hugged the Kentucky shore as closely as I dared. Suddenly a gleam of light, like a break in a fog-bank, opened upon my craft, and the dim outlines of the sides of a gorge in the high coast caught my eye. It was not necessary to row into the cleft in the hillside, for a fierce blast of the tempest blew me into the little creek; nor was my progress stayed until the sneak-box was driven several rods into its dark interior, and entangled in the branches of a fallen tree.

In the blinding snowfall it was impossible to discern anything upon the steep banks of the little creek which had fairly forced its hospitality upon me; so, carefully fastening my painter to the fallen tree, I hastily disappeared below my hatch. During the night the mercury fell to six degrees above zero, but my quarters were so comfortable that little inconvenience from the cold was experienced until morning, when I attempted to make my toilet with an open hatch. Then I discovered the unpleasant fact that my boat was securely frozen up in the waters of the creek! Being without a stove, and finding that my canned provisions--not having been wrapped in several coverings like their owner, and having no power to convert oxygen into fuel for warmth--were solidifying, I locked my hatch, and scrambled up the high banks to seek the comforts of that civilization which I had so gladly left behind when I embarked at a point five hundred miles further up the river, thinking as I went what a contrary mortal man was, myself among the number, for I was as eager now to find my human brother as I had been to turn my back upon him a short time before. The poetry of solitude was frozen into prose, and the low temperature around me made life under a roof seem attractive for the time being, though, judging from the general aspect of things, there was not much to look forward to, in either a social or comfortable light, in my immediate vicinity. I was, however, too cold and too hungry to be dainty, and felt like Dickens's Mrs. Bloss, that I "must have nourishment."

A turnpike crossed the ravine a few rods from my boat, and the tollgate-keeper informed me that I was frozen up in Pleasant Run, near which were several small houses. Upon application for "boarding" accommodations I discovered that breakfast at Pleasant Run was a movable feast, that some had already taken it at seven A. M., and that others would not have it ready till three P. M. This was anything but encouraging to a cold and hungry man; but I at length obtained admission to the house of a German tailor, and, explaining my condition, offered to pay him liberally for the privilege of becoming his guest until the cold snap was over. He examined me closely, and having made, as it were, a mental inventory of my features, dress, &c., exclaimed, "Mine friend, in dese times nobody knows who's which. I say, sar, nobody knows who's what. Fellers land here and eats mine grub, and den shoves off dere poats, and nevar says 'tank you, sar,' for mine grub. Since de confederate war all men is skamps, I does fully pelieve. I fights twenty-doo pattles for de Union, nots for de monish, but because I likes de free government; but it is imbossible to feeds all de beebles what lands at Pleasant Run."

I assured this patriotic tailor and adopted citizen that I would pay him well for the trouble of boarding me, but he answered in a surly way:

"Dat's vat dey all says. It's to be all pay, but dey eats up de sour-crout and de fresh pork, and drinks de coffee, and ven I looks for de monish, de gentlemens has disappeared down de rivver. Now you don't looks as much rascal as some of dem does, and as it ish cold to-day, I vill make dish corntract mid you. You shall stay here till de cold goes away, and you shall hab de pest I've got for twenty-five cents a meal, but you shall pays me de twenty-five cents a meal down in advance, beforehand."

"Here is a character," I thought, "a new type to study, and perhaps, after all, being frozen up in Pleasant Run may not be a fact to regret."

My landlord's proposition was at once accepted, and I offered to pay him for three meals in advance, to which he replied, "Dat dree pays at one time was not in de corntract." "You have forgotten one point," I said, addressing him as he led me to the kitchen, where "mine frau" was up to her elbows in work. "And what ish dat?" he asked, rather suspiciously eying me. "You have not fixed a price for my lodgings." "De use of de peddothes costs me notting, so I never charges for de lodgings wen de boarder WASHES himself every day," answered mine host. Having settled this point, and ordered his wife, in commanding terms, "to gib dish man his breakfast," he withdrew. The woman treated me very kindly, apologizing for her husband's exacting demands by assuring me that "Nobody knows WHO'S when nowadays. Seems as if everybody had got 'moralized by de war." The coffee the good lady made me, though thoroughly boiled, was excellent, and I complimented her upon it. "Yes," she replied, "my coffee IS coffee. De 'Merican beeble forgets de coffee wen dey makes it, and puts all water. Oh, wishy-washy is 'Merican coffee. It's like peas and beans ground up. De German beebles won't drink de stuff."

A generous repast of sausage, fresh pork, good bread, butter, and coffee, was placed before me, when the tailor returned with darkened brow, and rudely demanded the whereabouts of my boat. "I looks everywhere," he said, "and don't finds de poat. Hab you one poat, or hab you not?" I carefully described the exact location of the sneak-box in the rear of the tollgate-house, when he hastily disappeared. The old lady and I had fully discussed the wishy-washy coffee question, when mine host returned. This time he wore a pleasant countenance, and took me into his shop, where he introduced me to three of his apprentices. At night I was given a bed in an unfinished attic, under a shingled roof, which was not even ceiled, so the constant draughts of air whistling through the interstices overhead and at the sides of my apartment, kept up a ventilation more perfect than was desirable; and I should have suffered from the cold had it not been for my German coverlet, which was a feather-bed about twenty inches in thickness. It, of course, half smothered me, but there seemed no choice between that and freezing to death, so I patiently accepted my fate.

[A night under a German coverlet.] [20KB]

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