Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans - Edward Eggleston

Daniel Boone and his Grapevine Swing

Daniel boone was the first settler of Kentucky. He knew all about living in the woods. He knew how to hunt the wild animals. He knew how to fight Indians, and how to get away from them.

Nearly all the men that came with him to Kentucky the first time were killed. One was eaten by wolves. Some of them were killed by Indians. Some of them went into the woods and never came back. Nobody knows what killed them.

Only Boone and his brother were left alive. They needed some powder and some bullets. They wanted some horses. Boone's brother went back across the mountains to get these things. Boone staid in his little cabin all alone.

Boone could hear the wolves howl near his cabin at night. He heard the panthers scream in the woods. But he did not mind being left all alone in these dark forests. The Indians came to his cabin when he was away. He did not want to see these visitors. He did not dare to sleep in his cabin all the time. Sometimes he slept under a rocky cliff. Sometimes he slept in a cane-brake. A cane-brake is a large patch of growing canes such as fishing rods are made of.

Once a mother bear tried to kill him. He fired his gun at her, but the bullet did not kill her. The bear ran at him. He held his long knife out in his hand. The bear ran against it and was killed.

He made long journeys alone in the woods. One day he looked back through the trees and saw four Indians. They were following Boone's tracks. They did not see him. He turned this way and that. But the Indians still followed his tracks.

He went over a little hill. Here he found a wild grapevine. It was a very long vine, reaching to the top of a high tree. There are many such vines in the Southern woods. Children cut such vines off near the roots. Then they use them for swings.

Boone had swung on grapevines when he was a boy. He now thought of a way to break his tracks. He cut the wild grapevine off near the root. Then he took hold of it. He sprang out into the air with all his might. The great swing carried him far out as it swung. Then he let go. He fell to the ground, and then he ran away in a different direction from that in which he had been going.

When the Indians came to the place, they could not find his tracks. They could not tell which way he had gone. He got to his cabin in safety.

Boone had now been alone for many months. His brother did not get back at the time he had set for coming. Boone thought that his brother might have been killed. Boone had not tasted anything but meat since he left home. He had to get his food by shooting animals in the woods. By this time he had hardly any powder or bullets left.

[Illustration] from Great Americans by Edward Eggleston

Boone on the Grapevine Swing

One evening he sat by his cabin. He heard some one coming. He thought that it might be Indians. He heard the steps of horses. He looked through the trees. He saw his brother riding on one horse, and leading another. The other horse was loaded with powder and bullets and clothes, and other things that Boone needed.