"THE MYSTERY OF THE TRACE"

by Dick Campbell


(We took a flatboat down the line, and came to New Orleans)

(Then sold the boat as timber, and bought some rice and beans.)


We took a flatboat down Ole Miss, and came to New Orleans;

Then sold the boat for timber, and bought some rice and beans.

I headed back to Nashville, up the Natchez Trace;

The old trail of the Choctaw, carved by every race.


The Spanish, French and English, all had walked this trail;

Some had died upon it, and therein lies my tale.

An autumn day in eighteen nine, I headed up the Trace;

Stopped the night at Grinder House, a weary traveler's place.


I met a Captain Lewis, a fellow travelin' man;

He'd been three years exploring, the Northwest frontier land.

He poured the ale and gave me some, we sat down by the fire;

The room revealed a motley crew, in rough frontier attire.


He had a worried look -- almost fright -- upon his face;

And said, "Someone will kill me, tonight along the Trace."

I gazed about the tavern, at the varied clientele;

And wondered who might murder, of these hooligans from Hell.


He said, "We must now part, friend, for I must go to sleep;

My death is an appointment, and one which I must keep."

"Nay, kind sir, I'll guard you, till day has come anew";

"No", he answered sadly, "the slayer could be you."


"I'm Meriweather Lewis, and I'm not liked by all;

Myself -- I fear -- included, now I must heed the call."

And with that he departed, to lie down on his cot;

And sometime after midnight, the patrons heard a shot.


They found young Captain Lewis, a gun was by his side;

Some claim that it was murder, and some say suicide.

I hold the truth -- but cannot tell -- of what I know took place;

The Captain's taken to his grave, the mystery of the Trace.


Copyright 1995 by Dick Campbell

Page created by Gary Campbell 7/9/2003 / Last updated 6/11/2004

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