The up-trip was much more difficult as well as dangerous. It was more difficult, because he had the current to contend with; it was more dangerous, because in using the pole or paddle it was necessary to make more or less noise, which if heard by the savages, might result in the capture, if not the death, of our hero.
He had not gone many miles from the fort when he was discovered by the Indians, who, of course, undertook to persue him. He knew that he could excape if he would abandon his canoe and take to the woods; but upon reflection he decided that this was not the best course to pursue, because he could not carry his powder, lead, and flints, and the supply at Clendennin’s fort would, by this time, have been fully exhausted. After satisfying himself that the Indians were only three in number, he resolved to stick to his canoe, and sell his life and ammunition as dearly as possible. He knew that the party was too small to divide and get on both sides of the river, and he felt confident that he could keep his canoe on the opposite side from them, and thus avoid much of the danger. This was a natural and wise conclusion, and he took courage and pushed onward at the rate of six miles an hour. The Indians kept in close pursuit, and would fire whenever they could get a view of him through the heavy growth of timber which lined the banks of the river. Our hero, undaunted, used his pole the more vigorously as he neared the end of his journey. The paling of the starlight and the warbling of the birds indicated the approach of day; and with the rising of the sun he was well aware that greater perils would surround him. He hoped, however, that the width of the river would protect him from the usually unerring shot of the Indians. This was his only hope, yet it was enough to stimulate his courage, and his canoe shot forward as rapidly as if driven by the power of steam.
When the sun raised his fiery chariot above the eastern hills, and his penciled rays of radiant light fell upon the waters of the Kanawha, our hero found himself about one mile above the mouth of the Coal river, and the Indians, to his great joy, were nowhere to be seen. Upon reflection, however, he knew that they had been detained only a few moments in crossing the Coal river, and that they would soon overtake him, and renew their warfare. He kept his canoe as close to the north bank as possible, and on looking back, to his surprise, he observed two of the Indians coming up the south side of the river, while the third was about the middle of the stream, making for the other shore. For a moment his courage failed, and he felt as if all hope of escape were gone. As quick as thought he reversed his canoe, and drove it with all power toward the swimming Indian. He must kill him; for if he should get upon the opposite side from his companions, our hero would have to surrender or be killed. The two Indians on the south bank saw the situation, and opened vigorous fire on Mr. Cobbs., who fortunately escaped their shots unharmed. By this time, the Indian in the river was rapidly nearing the shore. Cobbs saw that now or never was his time to shoot. Steadying himself in his canoe, he cautiously fired at the body of the savage, aiming just behind his shoulders. When the smoke and fire belched forth from the muzzle of his rifle, the Indian for a moment ceased to swim. Cobbs knew that if he were not killed, he was at least badly wounded, and would trouble him no more; so he again reversed his canoe, and drove it with all possible speed in the direction of Clendennin fort. The two remaining Indians, fearing their companion had been killed, abandoned their pursuit and went to his relief. Meanwhile Cobbs lost no time in ascending the stream. At ten o’clock in the morning, he landed at Clendennin;s fort, “safe and sound,” though almost exhausted from excitement and overwork; having without food or rest, poled his canoe sixty miles in fourteen hours - a feat never performed by any person before or since.
Immediately upon Mr. Cobbs arrival at the fort, a party of men started in pursuit of these Indians. Arriving at the place where Mr. Cobbs had fired upon the Indian, they found where his companions had taken him from the water, and, supposing that he had been only wounded, the party returned to the fort.
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