The Life and Times of Robert B. McAfee, continued ______________
he would stay and watch the Fox. Away I went and slipped silently to the woodpile and got an axe & made signs to the dogs to follow me, dreading every moment that my father or mother or some one of the family would see me. However, I got off safe and on my way back I began to calculate what I would get with my Fox skin which then sold for thirty seven and a half cents. After cogitating over various things I wanted, I finally concluded to buy a good Barlow pen knife, a pair of sleeve buttons, & a ginger cake, and full of this scheme I got back safe and found the Fox still up the tree and my Cousin watch- ing him with the most intense anxiety. As cutting the tree down would make a noise, we concluded to try & make the Fox jump off the Tree as we had no doubt the dogs would catch him as he fell. The Fox had gone out to the extreme end of the limbs & we got sticks & threw at him. Every moment we looked for him to jump, dogs and all being right under him some thirty or forty feet from the root of the Tree, but Reynard had no idea of being taken and mak- ing as if he was about to jump down in our midst, he suddenly wheeled & ran down the tree by which means he got at least twenty yards before the dogs saw him, & away he went with the dogs after him. When we saw this, my heart began to fail as it was evident we were in a fair way to loose our prize. After a close race of about two hundred yards, our Fox was safely housed in a sink hole and away went my fine calculations, which like many others often made in this world, fortunately left a practical influence on my mind, never to indulge doubtful speculations of success of any kind, long before I had read, of the hunter selling the Bear skin before he had taken it, and I relate it that others may profit by it.
as nine times out of ten it will turn out a failure. Almost every person has a genius for some kind of business if permitted to follow it;, you cannot force nature or give boys inclination which they do not possess, and if any person does not possess talents to make a fortune, they would not keep it if made to their hand. If Parents or Guardians would oftener consult the natural temperament of their children and wards, they would save many heartaches & dis- appointments.
During this summer and fall my mother’s health began to fail. It was evident that consumption had taken hold of her lungs, but she was as yet not con- fined to her bed. I could discover from the anxious looks of my father and my mother’s distressing cough and wan appearance that her final end was fast ap- proaching.
My father seemed to be set upon my Education, and to make Provision for my future welfare. Mr. John Breckinridge, having heard that I was a boy of some promise, and being also a warm friend of my father’s, had proposed to take me into his office and complete my Education, and on my part I was to copy any papers he might need. By this I understood that I was to be a lawyer, which pleased me very much, as my father had often taken me to Harrods- burgh where I was seated in the Bar for hours to hear the Lawyers’ plead. I was delighted with the idea as it was an honorable profession and I felt ambitious to rise to distinction and give proof that my Father and his friend would not be disappointed. My whole heart was in the matter and I then resolved to devote myself to the subject. I was, however, not aware of the long road I had to travel and how much I yet lacked in my education before I could get a fair start.
My Cousin Samuel Walker Kerr was about this time put to the Trade of a Hatter in Harrodsburgh to Mr. David Sutton, very much against his inclina- tion. My Father thought it his duty to give him a trade as he had no property to support himself. He went with as heavy a heart as I did to board from home and it was unfortunate that he did so as he had no capital to begin with. He, however, attempted to follow it but never succeeded at it and finally it was abandoned as his heart was never in the matter. This event always prejudiced my mind (and experience justifies the opinion) never to put a boy to any Trade or business which he does not freely select himself,
In the month of February of this year I was taken from Mr. Dunlavy’s school and, after having the best clothes my father and mother could procure made up, I was sent to Lexington with my Uncle James McAfee who was going there to get some Linseed and other necessaries to paint his house. He had several packhorses with flour to sell. I rode one of them, but rode into town behind him and went to Mr. Breckinridge’s house. He lived in one which Thomas Hart afterward lived in (Mr. Clay’s father in law). I will never forget his fine carpets which were
2007 Kentucky Ancestors V42-4