CHAPTER VIII. FROM CAPE HENLOPEN TO NORFOLK, VIRGINIA
THE PORTAGE TO LOVE CREEK. - THE DELAWARE WHIPPINGPOST. - REHOBOTH AND INDIAN RIVER BAYS. - A PORTAGE TO LITTLE ASSAWAMAN BAY. - ISLE OF WIGHT BAY. - WINCHESTER PLANTATION. - CHINCOTEAGUE. - WATCHAPREAGUE INLET. - COBB'S ISLAND. - CHERRYSTONE. - ARRIVAL AT NORFOLK. - THE "LANDMARK'S" ENTERPRISE.
My first thought the next morning was of the lost outrigger, and how I should replace it. My host soon solved the problem for me. I was to drive to the scene of the late disaster in his light, covered wagon, load it with the canoe and cargo, and take the shortest route to Love Creek, six miles from Lewes, stopping on the way at a blacksmith's for a new outrigger. We drove over sandy roads, through forests of pine and oak, to the village of Milton, where a curious crowd gathered round us and facetiously asked if we had "brought the canoe all the way from Troy in that 'ere wagon." The village smith, without removing the paper boat from her snug quarters, made a fair outrigger in an hour's time, when we continued our monotonous ride through the dreary woods to a clearing upon the banks of a cedar swamp, where in a cottage lived Mr. George Webb, to whom Bob Hazzle, my driver, presented me. Having now reached Love Creek, I deposited my canoe with Mr. Webb, and started off for Lewes to view the town and the ocean.
Across the entrance of Delaware Bay, from Cape Henlopen Light to Cape May Light on the southern end of New Jersey, is a distance of twelve statute miles. Saturday night and Sunday were passed in Lewes, which is situated inside of Cape Henlopen, and behind the celebrated stone breakwater which was constructed by the government. This port of refuge is much frequented by coasters, as many as two or three hundred sails collecting here during a severe gale. The government is building a remarkable pier of solid iron spiles, three abreast, which, when completed, will run out seventeen hundred feet into the bay, and reach a depth of twenty-three feet of water. Captain Brown, of the Engineers, was in charge of the work. By the application of a jet of water, forced by an hydraulic pump through a tube down the outside of the spile while it is being screwed into the sand, a puddling of the same is kept up, which relieves the strain upon the screw-flanges, and saves fourteen-fifteenths of the time and labor usually expended by the old method of inserting the screw spile. This invention was a happy thought of Captain Brown.
The government has purchased a piece of land at Lewes for the site of a fort. Some time in the future there will be a railroad terminating on the pier, and coal will be brought directly from the mines to supply the fleets which will gather within the walls of the Breakwater. Here, free from all danger of an ice blockade, this port will become a safe and convenient harbor and coaling station during the winter time for government and other vessels.
At dusk on Sunday evening the collector of the port, Captain Lyons, and his friends, took me in their carriage back to Love Creek, where Mr. Webb insisted upon making me the recipient of his hospitality for the night. A little crowd of women from the vicinity of the swamp were awaiting my arrival to see the canoe. One ancient dame, catching sight of the alcohol-stove which I took from my vest-pocket, clapped her thin hands and enthusiastically exclaimed, "What a nice thing for a sick-room-the best nuss-lamp I ever seed!" Having satisfied the curiosity of these people, and been much amused by their quaint remarks, I was quietly smuggled into Mr. Webb's "best room," where, if my spirit did not make feathery flights, it was not the fault of the downy bed in whose unfathomable depths I now lost myself.
Before leaving Delaware I feel it an imperative duty to the public to refer to one of her time-honored institutions.
Persons unacquainted with the fact will find it difficult to believe that one state of the great American Republic still holds to the practice of lashing men and women, white and black. Delaware - one of the smallest states of the Union, the citizens of which are proverbially generous and hospitable, a state which has produced a Bayard - is, to her shame we regret to say, the culprit which sins against the spirit of civilization in this nineteenth century, one hundred years after the fathers of the Republic declared equal rights for all men. In treating of so delicate a subject, I desire to do no one injustice; therefore I will let a native of Delaware speak for his community.
"DOVER, DELAWARE, August 2, 1873.