"Stranger, when I looked down from the hills of Paint creek, and saw the block house scattered over the bottom, and not a cabin standin' or a livin' cre'ter to be seen in the settlement of Chillicothe, my heart left me; I become a woman at once, and sot down and cry'd as if I'd been whipped to death." The old man's voice grew husky, and the tears suffused his eyes, but after a few sighs and a tear, he proceeded:
"Well, you see, stranger, a man cannot always be a child, nor a woman, either; my crying spell appeared to ease my heart amazin'ly. I shouldered old kit here, and down I went to examine things. The hurricane had scattered every thing; the fire had been at work too, but, great God! the bloody wolf had been thar, the settlement was kivered with the bloody bones of my own family and friends; if any had escaped the hurricane, the fire or wolf, the Ingins finished 'em, for I never seen 'em afterwards; I couldn't bear to stay about the place, I'd no home, friend, or kindred. I took to the woods, and swore eternal death to the red skins and my nat'ral inimy, the wolf! I've been true to my word, stranger; that cabin is lined with skelps and ornamented with Ingin top-knots! Look in, ha! ha! see there! they may well call old Chris the Wolf Slayer!"
The drover regaled his eyes on the trophies of the old forlorn hunter, and then visited the perch, which was situated close by a "deer lick," where wolves resorted to fall upon their victims. And from this perch old Wolf Slayer had made fearful work upon his nat'ral inimy the night previous. The old hunter assisted, during the day, to collect such of the scattered drove as yet were alive or to be found; the men came with another of their companions, and the small drove and men left the scene of terror and disaster, wishing a God-speed to the Wolf Slayer.
The Man that knew 'em All.
If you have ever "been around" some, and taken notice of things, you have doubtless seen the man who knows pretty much every thing and every body!
I've seen them frequently. As the old preacher observed to a venerable lady, in reference to forerunners, "I see 'em now." Well, talking of that rare and curious specimen of the human family, the man that knows every body, I've rather an amusing reminiscence of "one of 'em." Stopping over night at the Virginia House, in that jumping off place of Western Virginia, Wheeling, some years ago, I had the pleasure or pastime of meeting several of the big guns of the nation, on their way from Washington city, home. It was in August, I think, when, as is most generally the case, the Ohio river gets monstrous low and feeble; when all of the large steamers are past getting up so far, and travelling down the river becomes quite amusing to amateurs, and particularly tedious and monotonous to business people, bound home. Three hundred travellers, more or less, were laying back at the "Virginia" and "United States," in the aforesaid hardscrabble of a city, or town, waiting for the river to get up, or some means for them to get down.
The session of Congress had closed at Washington, some time before, and as almost all of the M. C.'s, U. S. S.'s, wire pullers, hangers on, blacklegs, horse jockeys, etc., etc., came over "the National Road" to Wheeling, to take the river for Southern and Western destinations, of course the assemblage at that place, at that time, was promiscuous, and quite interesting; at least, Western and Southern men always make themselves happy and interesting, home or abroad, and particularly so when travelling. It was a glorious thing for the proprietors of the hotels, to have such a host of guests, as a house full of company always is a "host," the guests having nothing else to do but lay back, eat, drink, and be merry, and foot the bills when ready, or when opportunity offers, to—— go.
They drank and smoked, and drank again, and told jests, and played games and tricks, and thus passed the time along. Among the multitude was one of those ever-talkative and chanting men of the world, who knew all places and all men—as he would have it. Just after removing the cloth, at dinner, a knot of the old jokers, bacchanalians and wits, settled away in a cluster, at the far end of a long table, and were having a very pleasant time. The man of all talk was there; he was the very nucleus of all that was being said or done. He was from below, somewhere, on his way, as he informed the crowd, to Washington city, upon affairs of no slight importance to himself and the country in general.
"Oho!" says one of the party, a sly, winking, fat and rosy gentleman, whom we shall designate hereafter, "you're bound to the capital, eh?"
"Yes, sir," responded the man of all talk.
"Of course you've been there before?" says the interrogator, nudging a friend, and winking at the rest.
"What? Me been in Washington before? Ha, ha! me been there before! Bless you, me been in Washington city!"
"Oho! ha, ha!" says the interrogator, "you're one of the caucus folks, eh? One of them wire pullers we read about, eh?"
"Me? Caucus? Ha, ha! Mum's the word, gents, (looking killingly cunning.) Come, gentlemen, let's fill up. Ha, ha! me pulling the—ha, ha! Well, here's to the old Constitution; let's hang by her, while there's a—a—a button on Jabe's coat."
And they all responded, of course, to this eloquent sentiment.
"Here's to Jabe's buttons, coat, hat, and breeches."
"Excuse me," continued the first operator, after the toast was wet down, "you'll please excuse me, in behalf of some of my friends here; as you've been down in that dratted place, and must know a good deal of the goings on there, I'd like to inquire about a few things we Western folks don't more than get an inkling of, through the papers."
"Certainly; go on, sir," says the victim, assuming all the dignity and depth of a man that's appealed to to settle a ponderous matter.
"I'd like to inquire if those Kitchen Cabinet disclosures of the Pennsylvania Senator, were true. Had you ever any means of satisfying yourself that there is, or was, a real service of gold in the President's house?"
"Aye! that's what we'd all like to know," says another.
"How many pieces were there?"
"What were they?"
"Aye, and what their heft was?"
"Mum, gentlemen; let's drink—no tales out of school, ha, ha! No, no—mum's the word." And looking funny and deep, merry and wise, all at one and the same time, the man of all talk proposed to drink and keep—— mum.
But they wouldn't drink, and insisted on the secret being let out—they wanted a decided and positive answer, from a man who knew the ropes.
"Gentlemen," said the victim, dropping his voice into a sort of melo-dramatic stage whisper, and stooping quite over the table, so as to collect the several heads and ears as close into a phalanx as possible: "gentlemen, it's a fact!"
"What?" says the party.
"All gold!" says the victim.
"A gold service?" inquires the party.
"Thirty-eight pieces!" continued the victim.
"Solid gold?" chimed the rest.
"Just half a ton in heft!"
"You don't tell us that?"
"Know it; eat out of 'em, then weighed 'em all!"
"P-h-e-w!" whistled some, while others went into stronger exclamations.
"Fact, by the great ——"
"Oh, it's all right, sir; no doubt of it now, sir," said the mover of the business, grasping the victim's upraised arm.
"Then, of course, sir, you're well acquainted with Matty Van; on good terms with the little Magician," continued the leading wag.
"Me? me on good terms with Matty? Ha, ha! that is a good joke; never go to Washington without cracking a bottle with the little fox, and staying over night with him. Me on good terms with Matty? We've had many a spree together! Yes, sir!" and the knowing one winked right and left.
"Well, there's old Bullion," continued one of the interrogators, a fine portly old gent, "you know him, of course?"
"What, Tom Benton? Bless your souls, I don't know my letters half as well as I know old Tom."
"And Bill Allen, of Ohio?" asked another. "What sort of a fellow is Bill?"
"Bill Allen? Lord O! isn't he a coon? Bill Allen? I wish I had a dime for every horn, and game of bluff, we've had together."
"Well, there's another of 'em," inquiringly asked a fat, farmer-looking old codger: "Dr. Duncan, how's he stand down there about Washington?"
"Oh, well, he's a pretty good sort of an old chap, but, gents, between you and I, (with another whisper,) there is a good deal of the 'old fogie' senna and salts about him. But then he's death and the pale hoss on poker."
"What, Doctor Duncan?" says they.
"Why, y-e-e-s, of course. Didn't he skin me out of my watch last winter, playing poker, at Willard's?"
"Well," continued the fat farmer-looking man, "I didn't know Duncan gambled?"
"Mum, not a word out of school; ha, ha! Let's drink, gents. Gamble? Lord bless you, it's common as dish-water down there—I've played euchre for hours with old Tom Benton, Harry Clay and Gen. Scott, right behind the speaker's chair!"
Then they all drank, of course, and some of the party liked to have choked. The company now proposed to adjourn to the smoking room, and they arose and left the table accordingly. The man of all talk promenaded out on to the steps, and in course of half an hour, says the leading spirit of the late dinner, or wine party, to him:—
"Ferguson, sir; George Adolphus Ferguson is my address, sir," responded the victim.
"Mr. Ferguson, did you know that your friend Benton was in town?" inquired the wag.
"What, Tom Benton here?"
"And Allen," continued the wag.
"What, Bill Allen, too?" says the victim.
"And Doctor Duncan."
"You don't tell me all them fellows are here?"
"Yes, sir, your friends are all here. Come in and see them; your friends will be delighted," says the wag, taking Mister Ferguson by the arm, to lead him in.
"Ha, ha! I'm a—a—ha, ha! won't we have a time? But you just step in—I a—I'll be in in one moment," but in less than half the time, Mr. Ferguson mizzled, no one knew whither!
The gentlemen at the table, it is almost needless to say, were no others than Benton, Allen, Duncan, and some three or four other arbiters of the fate of our immense and glorious nation, in her councils, and fresh from the capital.
Ferguson has not been heard of since.
A Severe Spell of Sickness.
It is the easiest thing under heaven to be sick, if you can afford it. What it costs some rich men for family sickness per annum, would keep all the children in "a poor neighborhood" in "vittels" and clothes the year round. When old Cauliflower took sick, once in a long life-time, he was prevailed upon to send for Dr. Borax, and it was some weeks before Cauliflower got down stairs again. At the end of the year Dr. Borax sent in his bill; the amount gave Cauliflower spasms in his pocket-book, and threatened a whole year's profits with strangulation.
"Doctor," says Cauliflower, "that bill of yours is all-fired steep, isn't it?"
"No, sir," says Borax; "your case was a dangerous case—I never raised a man from the grave with such difficulty, in all my practice!"
"But, fifty-three calls, doctor, one hundred and six dollars."
"Exactly—two dollars a visit, sir," said the urbane doctor.
"And twenty-seven prescriptions, four plasters, &c.—eighty-one dollars!"
"One hundred and eighty-seven dollars, sir."
"Well," says Cauliflower, "this may be all very well for people who can af-ford it, but I can't; there's your money, doctor, but I'll bet you won't catch me sick as that again—soon!"
The Race of the Aldermen.
In 183-, it chanced in the big city of New York, that the aldermen elect were a sort of tie; that is, so many whigs and so many democrats. Such a thing did not occur often, the democracy usually having the supremacy. They generally had things pretty much all their own way, and distributed their favors among their partizans accordingly. The whigs at length tied them, and the locos, beholding with horror and misgivings, the new order of things which was destined to turn out many a holder of fat office, many a pat-riot overflowing with democratic patriotism, whose devotion to the cause of the country was manifest in the tenacity with which he clung to his place, were extremely anxious to devise ways and means to keep the whigs at bay; and as the day drew near, when the assembled Board of Aldermen should have their sitting at the City Hall, various dodges were proposed by the locos to out-vote the whigs, in questions or decisions touching the distribution of places, and appointment of men to fill the various stations of the new municipal government.
"I have it—I've got it!" exclaimed a round and jolly alderman of a democratic ward. "To-night the Board meets—we stand about eight and eight—this afternoon, let two of us invite two of the whigs, Alderman H—— and Alderman J——, out to a dinner at Harlem, get H—— and J—— tight as wax, and then we can slip off, take our conveyance, come in, and vote the infernal whigs just where we want them!"
"Capital! prime! Ha, ha, ha!" says one.
"First rate! elegant! ha, ha, ha!" shouts another.
"Ha, ha! haw! haw! he, he, he!" roared all the locys.
"Well, gentlemen, let's all throw in a V apiece, to defray expenses; we, you know, of course, must put the whigs through, and we must give them a rouse they won't forget soon. Champagne and turtle, that's the ticket; coach for four out and two in. Ha, ha!—The whigs shall see the elephant!"
Well, the purse was made up, the coach hired, and the two victims, the poor whigs, were carted out under the pretence of a grand aldermanic feast to Harlem, the scene of many a spree and jollification with the city fathers, and other bon vivants and gourmands of Gotham.
Dinner fit for an emperor being discussed, sundry bottles of "Sham" were uncorked, and their effervescing contents decanted into the well-fed bodies of the four aldermen. Toasts and songs, wit and humor, filled up the time, until the democrats began to think it was time that one of them slipped out, took the carriage back to the city, leaving the other to fuddle the two whigs, and detain them until affairs at "the Tea Room," City Hall, were settled to the entire satisfaction of the democrats.
"Landlord," says one of the democrats, whom we will call Brown, "landlord, have you any conveyance, horses, wagons, carriages or carts, by which any of my friends could go back to town to-night, if they wish?"
"Oh, yes," says the landlord, "certainly—I can send the gentlemen in if they wish."
"Very well, sir,—they may get very tight before they desire to return—they are men of families, respectable citizens, and I do not wish them, under any circumstances, to leave your house until morning. Whatever the bill is I will foot, provided you deny them any of your means to go in to-night. You understand!"
"Oh! yes, sir—if you request it as a matter of favor, that I shall keep your friends here, I will endeavor to do so—but hadn't you better attend to them yourself?"
"Well, you see," says Brown, "I have business of importance to transact—must be in town this evening. Give the party all they wish—put that in your fob—(handing the host an X)—post up your bill in the morning, and I'll be out bright and early to make all square. Do you hark?" says Brown.
"Oh, yes, sir—all right," responded the landlord.
Brown gave his confederate the cue, stepped out, promising to "be in in a minute," and then, getting into a carriage, he drove back to the city, almost tickled to death with the idea of how nicely the whigs would be "dished" when they all met at the City Hall, and came up minus two!
Smith, Brown's loco friend, did his best to keep the thing up, by calling in the New Jersey thunder and lightning—vulgarly known as Champagne—and even walked into the aforesaid t. and l. so deeply himself, that a man with half an eye might see Smith would be as blind as an owl in the course of the evening. But Smith was bound to do the thing up brown, and thought no sacrifice too great or too expensive to preserve the loaves and fishes of his party. All of a sudden, however, night was drawing on a pace, the whigs began to smell a mice. The absence of Brown, and the excessive politeness and liberality of Smith, in hurrying up the bottles, settled it in the minds of the whigs, that something was going on dangerous to the whig cause, and that they had better look out—and so they did.
"Jones," says one of the whigs, sotto voce, to the other, "Brown has cleared; it is evident he and Smith calculate to corner us here, prevent your presence in 'the Tea Room' to-night, and thus defeat your vote."
"The deuce! You don't think that, Hall, do you?"
"Faith, I do; but we won't be caught napping. Waiter, bring in a bottle of brandy."
"Brandy?" said Smith, in astonishment. "Why, you ain't going to dive right into it, in that way, are you?"
"Why not?" says Hall. "Brandy's the best thing in the world to settle your nerves after getting half fuddled on Champagne, my boy; just you try it—take a good stiff horn. Brown, you see, has cut, we must follow; so let's straighten up and get ready for a start. Here's to 'the loaves and fishes.'" Jones and Hall took their horns of Cogniac, which does really make some men sober as judges after they are very drunk on real or spurious Champagne.
"Well," says Smith, "it's my opinion we'll all be very tight going in this way, brandy on Champagne; but here goes to the fishes and loaves—the loaves and fishes, I mean."
The brandy had a rather contrary effect from what it does usually; it did settle Smith—in five minutes he was so very "boozy" that his chin bore down upon his breast, he became as "limber as a rag," and snored like a pair of bagpipes.
"Now, Jones," says Hall, "let's be off. Landlord, get us a gig, wagon, carriage, cart, any thing, and let's be off; we must be in town immediately."
"Sorry, gentlemen, but can't oblige you—haven't a vehicle on the premises!"
"Why, confound it, you don't pretend to say you can't send us into town to-night, do you?" says Jones, waxing uneasy.
"Haven't you a horse, jackass, mule or a wheelbarrow—any thing, so we can be carted in, right off, too?" says Hall.
"Can't help it, gentlemen."
"What time do the cars come along?" eagerly inquires Jones.
"About nine o'clock," coolly replies the host.
"Nine fools!" shouted the discomfited alderman. "But this won't do; come, Jones, no help for it—can't fool us in that way—eight miles to the City Hall—two hours to do it in; off coat and let's foot it!"
* * * * *
The City Hall clock had just struck 7 P. M., the Tea Room was lighted up, the assembled wisdom of the municipal government had their toadies, and reporters and lookers-on were there; the room was quite full. Brown was there, in the best of spirits, and the locos all fairly snorted with glee at the scientific manner in which Brown had "done" Jones and Hall out of their votes! The business of the evening was climaxing: the whigs missing two of their number, were in quite a spasm of doubt and fear. The chairman called the meeting to order. The roll was called: seven "good and true" locos answered the call. Six whigs had answered: the seventh was being called: the locos were grinning, and twisting their fingers at the apex of their noses!
"Alderman Jones! Alderman Jones!" bawled the roll-caller.
"Here!" roared the missing individual, bursting into the room.
"Alderman Hall!" continued the roll.
"Here!" responded that notable worthy, rushing in, entirely blowed out.
"Beat, by thunder!" roared the locos, in grand chorus; and in the modern classics of the Bowery, "they wasn't any thing else." The whigs not only had the cut but the entire deal in the appointments that time, and Alderman Brown had a bill at Harlem, a little more serious to foot than the racing of the aldermen to get a chance to vote.
It seems to be just as natural for a subordinate in a "grocery" to levy upon the till, for material aid to his own pocket, as for the sparks to fly upwards or water run down hill. Innumerable stories are told of the peculations of these "light-fingered gentry," but one of the best of the boodle is a story we are now about to dress up and trot out, for your diversion.
A tavern-keeper in this city, some years ago, advertised for a bar-keeper, "a young man from the country preferred!" Among the several applicants who exhibited themselves "for the vacancy," was a decent, harmless-looking youth whose general contour at once struck the tavern-keeper with most favorable impressions.
"So you wish to try your hand tending bar?"
"Yes, sir," said he.
"Have you ever tended bar?"
"No, sir; but I do not doubt my ability to learn."
"Yes, yes, you can learn fast enough," says the tavern-keeper. "In fact, I'm glad you are green at the business, you will suit me the better; the last fellow I had come to me recommended as one of the best bar-keepers in New Orleans; he was posted up in all the fancy drinks and fancy names, he wore fancy clothes and had a fancy dog, and I fancied pretty soon that the rascal had taken a fancy to my small change, so I discharged him in double quick time."
"Served him right, sir," said the new applicant.
"Of course I did. Well now, sir, I'll engage you; you can get the 'run' of things in a few weeks. I will give you twenty-five dollars a month, first month, and thirty dollars a month for the balance of the year."
"I'll accept it, sir," says the youth.
"Do you think it's enough?"
"O, yes, indeed, sir!"
"Well," says Boniface. "Now mark me, young man, I will pay you, punctually, but you mustn't pay yourself extra wages!"
"Pay myself?" says the unsophisticated youth.
"Musn't take 'the run' of the till!"
"Run of the till?"
"No knocking down, sir!"
"O, bless you!" quoth the verdant youth, "I am as good-natured as a lamb; I never knocked any body down in all my life."
"Ha! ha!" ejaculated the landlord; "he is green, so I won't teach him what he don't know. What's your name?"
"Absalom Hart, sir."
"Good Christian-like name, and I've no doubt we shall agree together, for a long time; so go to work."
Absalom "pitched in," a whole year passed, Absalom and the landlord got along slick as a whistle. Another year, two, three, four; never was there a more attentive, diligent and industrious bar-keeper behind a marble slab, or armed with a toddy stick. He was the ne plus ultra of bar-keepers, a perfect paragon of toddy mixers. But one day, somehow or other, the landlord found himself in custody of the sheriff, bag and baggage. Business had not fallen off, every thing seemed properly managed, but, somehow or other, the landlord broke, failed, caved in, and the sheriff sold him out.
Who bought the concern? Absalom Hart—nobody else. Some of the people were astonished.
"Well, who would have thought it?"
"Hurrah for Absalom!"
"By George, that was quick work!" were the remarks of the outsiders, when the fact of the sale and purchase became known. The landlord felt quite humbled, he was out of house and home, but he had a friend, surely.
"Mr. Hart, things work queer in this world, sometimes."
"Think so?" quietly responded the new landlord.
"I do, indeed; yesterday I was up, and to-day I am down."
"Very true, sir."
"Yesterday you were down, to-day you are up."
"Very true; time works wonders, Mr. Smith."
"It does indeed, sir. Now, Mr. Hart, I am out of employment—got my family to support; I always trusted I treated you like a man, didn't I?"
"A—ye-e-s, you did, I believe."
"Now, I want you to employ me; I have a number of friends who of course will patronize our house while I am in it, and you can afford me a fair sort of a living to help you."
"Well, Mr. Smith," said Mr. Hart, "I suppose I shall have to hire somebody, and as I don't believe in taking a raw hand from the country, I will take one who understands all about it. I'll engage you; so go to work."
"Thank you, Mr. Hart." And so the master became the man, and the man the master.
"Poor Smith, he's down!" cries one old habitue of the 'General Washington' bar-room. "I carkelated he'd gin out afore long, if he let other people 'tend to his business instead of himself."
"I didn't like that fellow Absalom, no how," says another old head; "he's 'bout skin'd Smith."
"Well, Smith kin be savin', he's larnt something," says a third, "and oughter try to get on to his pegs again."
But when Absalom gave his "free blow," these fellows all "went in," partook of the landlord's hospitality, and hoped—of course they did—that he might live several thousand years, and make a fortune!
Time slid on—Smith was attentive, no bar-keeper more assiduous and devoted to the toddy affairs of the house, than Jerry Smith, the pseudo-bar-keeper of Absalom Hart. Absalom being landlord of a popular drinking establishment, was surrounded by politicians, horse jockies, and various otherwise complexioned, fancy living personages. Ergo, Absalom began to lay off and enjoy himself; he had his horses, dogs, and other pastimes; got married, and cut it very "fat." One day he got involved for a friend, got into unnecessary expenses, was sued for complicated debts, and so entangled with adverse circumstances, that at the end of his third year as landlord, the sheriff came in, and the "General Washington" again came under the hammer.
Now, who will become purchaser? Every body wondered who would become the next customer.
"I will, by George!" says Smith. And Smith did; he had worked long and faithfully, and he had saved something. Smith bought out the whole concern, and once more he was landlord of the "General Washington."
Absalom was cut down, like a hollyhock in November—he was dead broke, and felt, in his present situation, flat, stale, and unprofitable enough.
"Mr. Smith," said Absalom, the day after the collapse, "I am once more on my oars."
"Yes, Ab, so it seems; it's a queer world, sometimes we are up, and sometimes we are down. Time, Ab, works wonders, as you once very forcibly remarked."
"It does, indeed, sir."
"We have only to keep up our spirits, Ab, go ahead; the world is large, if it is full of changes."
"True, sir, very true. I was about to remark, Mr. Smith—"
"That we have known one another—"
"Pretty well, I think!"
"A long time, sir—"
"And when I was up and you down—"
"Yes, go on."
"I gave you a chance to keep your head above water."
"True enough, Ab, my boy."
"Now, sir, I want you to give me charge of the bar again, and I'll off coat and go to work like a Trojan."
"Ab Hart," said Smith, "when you came to me, you was so green you could hardly tell a crossed quarter from a bogus pistareen—the 'run of the till' you learnt in a week, while in less than a month you was the best hand at 'knocking down' I ever met! There's fifty dollars, you and I are square; we will keep so—go!"
Poor Absalom was beat at his own game, and soon left for parts unknown.
People Do Differ!
Fifty years ago, Uncle Sam was almost a stranger on the maps; he hadn't a friend in the world, apparently, while he had more enemies than he could shake a stick at. Every body snubbed him, and every body wanted to lick him. But Sam has now grown to be a crowder; his spunk, too, goes up with his resources, and he don't wait for any body to "knock the chip off his hat," but goes right smack up to a crowd of fighting bullies, and rolling up his sleeves, he coolly "wants to know" if any body had any thing to say about him, in that crowd! Uncle Sam is no longer "a baby," his physique has grown to be quite enormous, and we rather expect the old fellow will have to have a pitched battle with some body soon, or he'll spile!
Bill Whiffletree's Dental Experience.
Have you ever had the tooth-ache? If not, then blessed is your ignorance, for it is indeed bliss to know nothing about the tooth-ache, as you know nothing, absolutely nothing about pain—the acute, double-distilled, rectified agony that lurks about the roots or fangs of a treacherous tooth. But ask a sufferer how it feels, what it is like, how it operates, and you may learn something theoretically which you may pray heaven that you may not know practically.
But there's poor William Whiffletree—he's been through the mill, fought, bled, and died (slightly) with the refined, essential oil of the agony caused by a raging tooth. Every time we read Othello, we are half inclined to think that more than half of Iago's devilishness came from that "raging tooth," which would not let him sleep, but tortured and tormented "mine ancient" so that he became embittered against all the world, and blackamoors in particular.
William Whiffletree's case is a very strong illustration of what tooth-ache is, and what it causes people to do; and affords a pretty fair idea of the manner in which the tooth and sufferer are medicinally and morally treated by the materia medica, and friends at large.
William Whiffletree—or "Bill," as most people called him—was a sturdy young fellow of two-and-twenty, of "poor but respectable parents," and 'tended the dry-goods store of one Ethan Rakestraw, in the village of Rockbottom, State of New York.
One unfortunate day, for poor Bill, there came to Rockbottom a galvanized-looking individual, rejoicing in the euphonium of Dr. Hannibal Orestes Wangbanger. As a surgeon, he had—according to the album-full of certificates—operated in all the scientific branches of amputation, from the scalp-lock to the heel-tap, upon Emperors, Kings, Queens, and common folks; but upon his science in the dental way, he spread and grew luminous! In short, Dr. Wangbanger had not been long in Rockbottom before his "gift of gab," and unadulterated propensity to elongate the blanket, set every body, including poor Bill Whiffletree, in a furor to have their teeth cut, filed, scraped, rasped, reset, dug out, and burnished up!
Now Bill, being, as we aforestated, a muscularly-developed youth, got up in the most sturdy New Hampshire style, his teeth were teeth, in every way calculated to perform long and strong; but Bill was fast imbibing counter-jumper notions, dabbling in stiff dickeys, greased soap-locks, and other fancy "flab-dabs," supposed to be essential in cutting a swarth among ye fair sex.
So that when Dr. Wangbanger once had an audience with Mr. William Whiffletree in regard to one of Mr. Whiffletree's molars which Bill thought had a "speck" on it, he soon convinced the victim that the said molar not only was specked, but out of the dead plumb of its nearest neighbor at least the 84th part of an inch!
"O, shocking!" says the remorseless hum; "it is well I saw it in time, Mr. Whiffletree. Why, in the course of a few weeks, that tooth, sir, would have exfoliated, calcareous supperation would have ensued, the gum would have ossified, while the nerve of the tooth becoming apostrophized, the roots would have concatenated in their hiatuses, and the jaw-bone, no longer acting upon their fossil exoduses, would necessarily have led to the entire suspension of the capillary organs of your stomach and brain, and—death would supervene in two hours!"
Poor Bill! he scarcely knew what fainting was, but a queer sensation settled in his "ossis frontis," while his ossis legso almost bent double under him, at the awful prospect of things before him! He took a long breath, however, and in a voice tremulous with emotion, inquired—
"Good Lord, Doctor! what's to be done for a feller?"
"Plug and file," calmly said the Doctor.
"Plug and file what?"
"The second molar," said the Doctor; though the treacherous monster meant Bill's wallet, of course!
"What'll it cost, Doctor?" says Bill.
"Done in my very best manner, upon the new and splendid system invented by myself, sir, and practiced upon all the crowned heads of Europe, London, and Washington City, it will cost you three dollars."
"Does it hurt much, Doctor?" was Bill's cautious inquiry.
"Very little, indeed; it's sometimes rather agreeable, sir, than otherwise," said the Doctor.
"Then go at it, Doctor! Here's the dosh," and forking over three dollars, down sits William Whiffletree in a high-backed chair, and the Doctor's assistant—a sturdy young Irishman—clamping Bill's head to the back of the chair, to keep it steady, as the Doctor remarked, the latter began to "bore and file."
"O! ah! ho-ho-hold on, hold on!" cries Bill, at the first gouge the Doctor gave the huge tooth.
"O! be me soul! be aizy, zur," says the Irishman, "it's mesilf as untherstands it—I'll howld on till yees!"
"O—O-h-h-h!" roars Bill, as the Doctor proceeds.
"Be quiet, sir; the pain won't signify!" says the Doctor.
"Go-goo-good Lord-d-d! Ho-ho-hol-hold on!"
"O, yeez needn't be afeared of that—I'm howldin' yeez tight as a divil!" cries Paddy, and sure enough he was holding, for in vain Bill screwed and twisted and squirmed around; Pat held him like a cider-press.
"Let me—me—O—O—O! Everlasting creation! let me go-o-o—stop, hold on-n-n!" as the Doctor bored, screwed, and plugged away at the tooth.
"All done, sir; let the patient up, Michael," says the Doctor, with a confident twirl of his perfumed handkerchief. "There, sir—there was science, art, elegance, and dispatch! Now, sir, your tooth is safe—your life is safe—you're a sound man!"
"Sound?" echoes poor Bill, "sound? Why, you've broken my jaw into flinders; you've set all my teeth on edge; and I've no more feelin'—gall darn ye!—in my jaws, than if they were iron steel-traps! You've got the wuth of your money out of my mouth, and I'm off!"
That night was one of anxiety and misery to William Whiffletree. The disturbed molar growled and twitched like mad; and, by daylight, poor Bill's cheek was swollen up equal to a printer's buff-ball, his mouth puckered, and his right eye half "bunged up."
"Why, William," says Ethan Rakestraw, as Bill went into the store, "what in grace ails thy face? Thee looks like an owl in an ivy-bush!"
"Been plugged and filed," says Bill, looking cross as a meat-axe at his snickering Orthodox boss.
"Plugged and fined? Thee hain't been fighting, William?"
"Fined? No, I ain't been fined or fighting, Mr. Rakestraw, but I bet I do fight that feller who gave me the tooth-ache!—O! O!" moaned poor Bill, as he clamped his swollen jaw with his hand, and went around waving his head like a plaster-of-paris mandarin.
"O! thee's been to the dentist, eh? Got the tooth-ache? Go thee to my wife; she'll cure thee in one minute, William; a little laudanum and cotton will soon ease thy pain."
Mrs. Rakestraw applied the laudanum to Bill's molar, but as it did no kind of good, old grandmother proposed a poultice; and soon poor Bill's head and cheek were done up in mush, while he groaned and grunted and started for the store, every body gaping at his swollen countenance as though he was a rare curiosity.
"Halloo, Bill!" says old Firelock, the gunsmith, as Bill was going by his shop; "got a bag in your calabash, or got the tooth-ache?"
Bill looked daggers at old Firelock, and by a nod of his head intimated the cause of his distress.
"O, that all? Come in; I'll stop it in a minute and a half; sit down, I'll fix it—I've cured hundreds," says Firelock.
"What are you—O-h-h, dear! what are you going to do?" says Bill, eyeing the wire, and lamp in which Firelock was heating the wire.
"Burn out the marrow of the tooth—'twill never trouble you again—I've cured hundreds that way! Don't be afeared—you won't feel it but a moment. Sit still, keep cool!" says Firelock.
"Cool?" with a hot wire in his tooth! But Bill, being already intensely crucified, and assured of Firelock's skill, took his head out of the mush-plaster, opened his jaws, and Firelock, admonishing him to "keep cool," crowded the hot, sizzling wire on to the tin foil jammed into the hollow by Wangbanger, and gave it a twist clear through the melted tin to the exposed nerve. Bill jumped, bit off the wire, burnt his tongue, and knocked Firelock nearly through the partition of his shop; and so frightened Monsieur Savon, the little barber next door, that he rushed out into the street, crying—
"Mon Dieu! mon Dieu! Ze zundair strike my shop!"
Bill was stone dead—Firelock crippled. The apothecary over the way came in, picked up poor Bill, applied some camphor to his nose, and brought him back to life, and—the pangs of tooth-ache!
"Kreasote!" says Squills, the 'pothecary. "I'll ease your pain, Mr. Whiffletree, in a second!"
Poor Bill gave up—the kreasote added a fresh invoice to his misery—burnt his already lacerated and roasted tongue—and he yelled right out.
"Death and glory! O-h-h-h-h, murder! You've pizened me!"
"Put a hot brick to that young man's face," said a stranger; "'twill take out the pain and swelling in three minutes!"
Bill revived; he seemed pleased at the stranger's suggestion; the Brick was applied; but Bill's cheek being now half raw with the various messes, it made him yell when the brick touched him!
He cleared for home, went to bed, and the excessive pain, finally, with laudanum, kreasote, fire, and hot bricks, put him to sleep.
He awoke at midnight, in a frightful state of misery; walked the floor until daylight; was tempted two or three times to jump out the window or crawl up the chimney!
Until noon next day he suffered, trying in vain, every ten minutes, some "known cure," oils, acids, steam, poultices, and the ten thousand applications usually tried to cure a raging tooth.
Desperation made Bill revengeful. He got a club and went after Dr. Wangbanger, who had set all the village in a rage of tooth-ache. Ten or a dozen of his victims were at his door, awaiting ferociously their turns to be revenged.
But the bird had flown; the teuth-doctor had sloped; yet a good Samaritan came to poor Bill, and whispering in his ear, Bill started for Monsieur Savon's barber-shop, took a seat, shut his eyes, and said his prayers. The little Frenchman took a keen knife and pair of pincers, and Bill giving one awful yell, the tooth was out, and his pains and perils at an end!
A-a-a-in't they Thick?
During the "great excitement" in Boston, relative to the fugitive slave "fizzle," a good-natured country gentleman, by the name of Abner Phipps; an humble artisan in the fashioning of buckets, wash-tubs and wooden-ware generally, from one of the remote towns of the good old Bay State, paid his annual visit to the metropolis of Yankee land. In the multifarious operations of his shop and business, Abner had but little time, and as little inclination, to keep the run of latest news, as set forth glaringly, every day, under the caption of Telegraphic Dispatches, in the papers; hence, it requires but a slight extension of the imagination to apprise you, "dear reader," that our friend Phipps was but meagerly "posted up" in what was going on in this great country, half of his time. I must do friend Phipps the favor to say, that he was not ignorant of the fact that "Old Hickory" fout well down to New Orleans, and that "Old Zack" flaxed the Mexicans clean out of their boots in Mexico; likewise that Millerism was a humbug, and money was pretty generally considered a cash article all over the universal world.
But what did Phipps know or care about the Fugitive Slave bill? Not a red cent's worth, no more than he did of the equitation of the earth, the Wilmot proviso, or Barnum's woolly horse—not a red. He came to Boston annually to see how things were a workin'; pleasure, not business. The very first morning of his arrival in town, the hue and cry of "slave hunters," was raised—Shadrack, the fugitive, was arrested at his vocation—table servant at Taft's eating establishment, Corn Hill, where Abner Phipps accidentally had stuck his boots under the mahogany, for the purpose of recuperating his somewhat exhausted inner-man. Abner saw the arrest, he was quietly discussing his tapioca, and if thinking at all, was merely calculating what the profits were, upon a two-and-sixpence dinner, at a Boston restaurateur. He saw there was a muss between the black waiter and two red-nosed white men, but as he did not know what it was all about, he didn't care; it was none of his business; and being a part of his religion, not to meddle with that that did not concern him, he continued his tapioca to the bottom of his plate, then forked over the equivalent and stepped out.
As Phipps turned into Court square, it occurred, slightly, that the niggers had got to be rather thick in Boston, to what they used to be; and bending his footsteps down Brattle street, once or twice it occurred to him that the niggers had got to be thick—darn'd thick, for they passed and repassed him—walked before him and behind him, and in fact all around him.
"Yes," says Phipps, "the niggers are thick, thundering thick—never saw 'em so thick in my life. Ain't they thick?" he soliloquized, and as he continued his stroll in the purlieus of "slightly soiled" garments, vulgarly known as second-hand shops, mostly proprietorized by very dignified and respectable col'ud pussons, it again struck Phipps quite forcibly that the niggers were a getting thick.
"Godfree! but ain't they thick! I hope to be stabbed with a gridiron," said Phipps, "if there ain't more niggers—look at 'em—more niggers than would patch and grade the infernal regions eleven miles! Guess I've enough niggers for a spell," continued Phipps, "so I'll just pop in here, and see how this feller sells his notions." And so Abner, having reached Dock square, saunters into a gun, pistol, bowie, jack-knife, dog-collar, shot-bag, and notion-shop in general. Unlucky step.
The stiff-dickied, frizzle-headed, polished and perfumed shop-keeper was on hand, and particularly predisposed to sell the stranger something. Just then a nigger passed the door, and looked in very sharply at Phipps, and presently two more passed, then a fourth and fifth, all looking more or less pointedly at the manufacturer of wooden doin's, and white-pine fixin's.
"That's a neat collar," says the shop-keeper, as Phipps, sort of miscellaneously, placed his hand upon a brass-band, red-lined dog-collar.
"Collar! don't call that a collar, do you?"
"I do, sir, a beautiful collar, sir."
"What for, solgers?" asks Phipps.
"Soldiers, no, dogs," says the shop-keeper, puckering his mouth as though he had sampled a lemon.
"O!" says Phipps, suddenly realizing the fact. "I ain't got no dogs; bad stock; don't pay; tax 'em up where I live; wouldn't pay tax for forty dogs." More niggers passed, repassed, and looked in at Phipps and the storekeeper.
"I say, ain't the niggers got to be thick—infernal thick, in your town lately?"
"Well, I don't know that they are," replied the shop-keeper; "getting rather scarce, I think, since the Fugitive bill has been put in force over the country, sir, but it does appear to me," said the shop-keeper, twiging sundry and suspicious-looking col'ud gem'en passing by his store, gaping in rather wistfully at the door, and peeping through the sash of the windows—"it does appear to me, that a good many colored persons are about this morning; yes, there is, why there goes more, more yet; bless me, there's another, two, three, four, why a dozen has just passed; they seem to look in here rather curiously, I wonder—only look; what has stirred them up, I want to know!" the fluctuation of the Congo market completely attracted the handsome man's attention; his surprise finally assumed the most tangible shape and complexion of fear, for the niggers, one and all, looked savage as meat-axes, and began to get too numerous to mention.
"Well, guess I'll be goin'," says Phipps, after fumbling over some of the shooting-irons, jack-knives, etc.; reaching the street, he was more fully impressed with the fixed fact, that the niggers were all sorts of thick. They fairly crowded him; one buck darkey rubbed slap up against Phipps, as he moved out of the store. "Look here, Mister," says Phipps, "ain't all this street big enough for you without a crowdin' me?"
The nigger stopped, looked arsenic and chain lightning at Phipps, and then moved off, saying in a sort of undertone—
"Gorra, I guess you'll be crowded a wus'n dat afore dis day is ober."
"Will, eh?" responded Abner Phipps, slightly mystified as to the why and wherefore, that he should, in particular, be "crowded," especially by an Ethiopic gentleman.
"I guess I won't then," resumed Phipps; "if any body ventures to crowd me, just a purpose, I guess I'll be darn'd apt, and mighty quick to squash in their heads, or whoop'm on the spot."
"What dat? got pistils in your pocket, eh?" says one of the two big buck niggers, shying up alongside of the now velocipeding up-country artisan. Phipps looked back, the negroes were following him. "Pistils? who's talkin' about pistils, mister?" he ventured to ask.
"Dat's him, watch'm."
"Why, we see'd you goin' in dar, dat pistol shop; want to lay in a stock of dirks and pistils, eh?" says the negro.
"You—you got any hand-cuffs in you' pocket?" inquired another.
"What dat? got de hand-cuffs in he pocket?"
"Pistils and bowie knibes!" says a third.
"Dat's him! watch'm!"
"Knock'm down, put dat white hat ober his eyes! Hoo-r-r!"
The negroes now fairly beset our victimized friend Phipps; he stopped, buttoned his coat, the negroes augmented; glared at him like demons; he fixed his hat firmly upon his head; the negroes began to grin and move upon him; he spat upon his hands; the negroes began to yell, and to close in upon him; with one grand effort, one mighty gathering of all the human faculties called into action by fear and desperation, Phipps bounded like a Louisiana bull at a gate post; he knocked down two, square; kicked over four, and rushing through the now very considerable and formidable array of ebony, he broke equal to a wild turkey through a corn bottom, or a sharp knife through a pound of milky butter; and it is very questionable whether Phipps ever stopped running until his boots busted, or he reached his bucket factory on Taunton river. His negro deputation waited on him with a rush clear outside of town, where the speed and bottom of Abner distanced the entire committee. The key to this joke is: Phipps was dogged from Tafts'—by the "vigilant committee," as an informer, or slave-hunter at least, and hence the delicate attentions of the col'ud pop'lation paid him. I have no doubt, that if Abner Phipps be asked, how things look around Boston, he would observe with some energy,
"Niggers—niggers are thick—Godfree! a-a-a-in't they thick!"
A Desperate Race.
Some years ago, I was one of a convivial party, that met in the principal hotel in the town of Columbus, Ohio, the seat of government of the Buckeye State.
It was a winter evening when all without was bleak and stormy, and all within were blythe and gay; when song and story made the circuit of the festive board, filling up the chasms of life with mirth and laughter.
We had met for the express purpose of making a night of it, and the pious intention was duly and most religiously carried out. The Legislature was in session in that town, and not a few of the worthy legislators were present upon this occasion.
One of these worthies I will name, as he not only took a big swath in the evening's entertainment, but he was a man more generally known than our worthy President, James K. Polk. That man was the famous Captain Riley! whose "narrative" of suffering and adventures is pretty generally known, all over the civilized world. Captain Riley was a fine, fat, good-humored joker, who at the period of my story was the representative of the Dayton district, and lived near that little city when at home. Well, Captain Riley had amused the company with many of his far-famed and singular adventures, which being mostly told before and read by millions of people, that have ever seen his book, I will not attempt to repeat them.
Many were the stories and adventures told by the company, when it came to the turn of a well known gentleman who represented the Cincinnati district. As Mr. —— is yet among the living, and perhaps not disposed to be the subject of joke or story, I do not feel at liberty to give his name. Mr. —— was a slow believer of other men's adventures, and at the same time much disposed to magnify himself into a marvellous hero whenever the opportunity offered. As Captain Riley wound up one of his truthful, though really marvellous adventures, Mr. —— coolly remarked, that the captain's story was all very well, but it did not begin to compare with an adventure that he had "once upon a time" on the Ohio, below the present city of Cincinnati.
"Let's have it!" "Let's have it!" resounded from all hands.
"Well, gentlemen," said the Senator, clearing his voice for action and knocking the ashes from his cigar against the arm of his chair. "Gentlemen, I am not in the habit of spinning yarns of marvellous or fictitious matters; and therefore it is scarcely necessary to affirm upon the responsibility of my reputation, gentlemen, that what I am about to tell you, I most solemnly proclaim to be truth, and—"
"Oh! never mind that, go on, Mr. ——," chimed the party.
"Well, gentlemen, in 18— I came down the Ohio river, and settled at Losanti, now called Cincinnati. It was, at that time, but a little settlement of some twenty or thirty log and frame cabins, and where now stands the Broadway Hotel and blocks of stores and dwelling houses, was the cottage and corn patch of old Mr. ——, a tailor, who, by the by, bought that land for the making of a coat for one of the settlers. Well, I put up my cabin, with the aid of my neighbors, and put in a patch of corn and potatoes, about where the Fly Market now stands, and set about improving my lot, house, &c.
"Occasionally, I took up my rifle, and started off with my dog down the river, to look up a little deer, or bar meat, then very plenty along the river. The blasted red skins were lurking about, and hovering around the settlement, and every once in a while picked off some of our neighbors, or stole our cattle or horses. I hated the red demons, and made no bones of peppering the blasted sarpents whenever I got a sight at them. In fact, the red rascals had a dread of me, and had laid a great many traps to get my scalp, but I wasn't to be catch'd napping. No, no, gentlemen, I was too well up to 'em for that.
"Well, I started off one morning, pretty early, to take a hunt, and travelled a long way down the river, over the bottoms and hills, but couldn't find no bar nor deer. About four o'clock in the afternoon, I made tracks for the settlement again. By and by, I sees a buck just ahead of me, walking leisurely down the river. I slipped up, with my faithful old dog close in my rear, to within clever shooting distance, and just as the buck stuck his nose in the drink, I drew a bead upon his top-knot and over he tumbled, and splurged and bounded awhile, when I came up and relieved him by cutting his wizen—"
"Well, but what had that to do with an adventure?" said Riley.
"Hold on a bit, if you please, gentlemen—by Jove it had a great deal to do with it. For while I was busy skinning the hind quarters of the buck, and stowing away the kidney-fat in my hunting shirt, I heard a noise like the breaking of brush under a moccasin up 'the bottom.' My dog heard it and started up to reconnoitre, and I lost no time in reloading my rifle. I had hardly got my priming out before my dog raised a howl and broke through the brush towards me with his tail down, as he was not used to doing unless there were wolves, painters (panthers) or Injins about.
"I picked up my knife, and took up my line of march in a skulking trot up the river. The frequent gullies, on the lower bank, made it tedious travelling there, so I scrabbled up to the upper bank, which was pretty well covered with buckeye and sycamore and very little under-brush. One peep below discovered to me three as big and strapping red rascals, gentlemen, as you ever clapt your eyes on! Yes, there they came, not above six hundred yards in my rear. Shouting and yelling like hounds, and coming after me like all possessed."
"Well," said an old woodsman sitting at the table, "you took a tree of course?"
"Did I? No, gentlemen! I took no tree just then, but I took to my heels like sixty, and it was just as much as my old dog could do to keep up with me. I run until the whoops of my red skins grew fainter and fainter behind me; and clean out of wind, I ventured to look behind me, and there came one single red whelp, puffing and blowing, not three hundred yards in my rear. He had got on to a piece of bottom where the trees were small and scarce—now, thinks I, old fellow, I'll have you. So I trotted off at a pace sufficient to let my follower gain on me, and when he had got just about near enough, I wheeled and fired, and down I brought him, dead as a door nail, at a hundred and twenty yards!"
"Then you skelp'd (scalped) him immediately?" said the backwoodsman.
"Very clear of it, gentlemen, for by the time I got my rifle loaded, here came the other two red skins, shouting and whooping close on me, and away I broke again like a quarter horse. I was now about five miles from the settlement, and it was getting towards sunset; I ran till my wind began to be pretty short, when I took a look back and there they came snorting like mad buffaloes, one about two or three hundred yards ahead of the other, so I acted possum again until the foremost Injin got pretty well up, and I wheeled and fired at the very moment he was 'drawing a bead' on me; he fell head over stomach into the dirt, and up came the last one!"
"So you laid for him and—" gasped several.
"No," continued the "member," "I didn't lay for him, I hadn't time to load, so I layed legs to ground, and started again. I heard every bound he made after me. I ran and ran, until the fire flew out of my eyes, and the old dog's tongue hung out of his mouth a quarter of a yard long!"
"Phe-e-e-e-w!" whistled somebody.
"Fact! gentlemen. Well, what I was to do I didn't know—rifle empty, no big trees about, and a murdering red Indian not three hundred yards in my rear; and, what was worse, just then it occurred to me that I was not a great ways from a big creek, (now called Mill Creek,) and there I should be pinned at last.
"Just at this juncture I struck my toe against a root, and down I tumbled, and my old dog over me. Before I could scrabble up—"
"The Indian fired!" gasped the old woodsman.
"He did, gentlemen, and I felt the ball strike me under the shoulder; but that didn't seem to put any embargo upon my locomotion, for as soon as I got up I took off again, quite freshened by my fall! I heard the red skin close behind me coming booming on, and every minute I expected to have his tomahawk dashed into my head or shoulders.
"Something kind of cool began to trickle down my legs into my boots—"
"Blood, eh? for the shot the varmint gin you," said the old woodsman, in a great state of excitement.
"I thought so," said the Senator, "but what do you think it was?"
Not being blood, we were all puzzled to know what the blazes it could be. When Riley observed—
"I suppose you had—"
"Melted the deer fat which I had stuck in the breast of my hunting shirt, and the grease was running down my legs until my feet got so greasy that my heavy boots flew off, and one hitting the dog, nearly knocked his brains out."
We all grinned, which the "member" noticing, observed—
"I hope, gentlemen, no man here will presume to think I'm exaggerating?"
"O, certainly not! Go on, Mr. ——," we all chimed in.
"Well, the ground under my feet was soft, and being relieved of my heavy boots, I put off with double quick time, and seeing the creek about half a mile off, I ventured to look over my shoulder to see what kind of a chance there was to hold up and load. The red skin was coming jogging along pretty well blowed out, about five hundred yards in the rear. Thinks I, here goes to load any how. So at it I went—in went the powder, and putting on my patch, down went the ball about half-way, and off snapped my ramrod!"
"Thunder and lightning!" shouted the old woodsman, who was worked up to the top-notch in the "member's" story.
"Good gracious! wasn't I in a pickle! There was the red whelp within two hundred yards of me, pacing along and loading up his rifle as he came! I jerked out the broken ramrod, dashed it away and started on, priming up as I cantered off, determined to turn and give the red skin a blast any how, as soon as I reached the creek.
"I was now within a hundred yards of the creek, could see the smoke from the settlement chimneys; a few more jumps and I was by the creek. The Indian was close upon me—he gave a whoop, and I raised my rifle; on he came, knowing that I had broken my ramrod and my load not down; another whoop! whoop! and he was within fifty yards of me! I pulled trigger, and—"
"And killed him?" chuckled Riley.
"No, sir! I missed fire!"
"And the red skin—" shouted the old woodsman in a phrenzy of excitement—
"Fired and killed me!"
The screams and shouts that followed this finale brought landlord Noble, servants and hostlers, running up stairs to see if the house was on fire!
Dodging the Responsibility.
"Sir!" said Fieryfaces, the lawyer, to an unwilling witness, "Sir! do you say, upon your oath, that Blinkins is a dishonest man?"
"I didn't say he was ever accused of being an honest man, did I?" replied Pipkins.
"Does the court understand you to say, Mr. Pipkins, that the plaintiff's reputation is bad?" inquired the judge, merely putting the question to keep his eyes open.
"I didn't say it was good, I reckon."
"Sir!" said Fieryfaces, "Sir-r! upon your oath—mind, upon your oath, upon your oath, you say that Blinkins is a rogue, a villain and a thief!"
"You say so," was Pip's reply.
"Haven't you said so?"
"Why, you've said it," said Pipkins, "what's the use of my repeating it?"
"Sir-r!" thundered Fieryfaces, the Demosthenean thunderer of Thumbtown, "Sir-r! I charge you, upon your sworn oath, do you or do you not say—Blinkins stole things?"
"No, sir," was the cautious reply of Pipkins. "I never said Blinkins stole things, but I do say—he's got a way of finding things that nobody lost!"
"Sir-r," said Fieryfaces, "you can retire," and the court adjourned.
A Night Adventure in Prairie Land.
"I'll take a circuit around, and come out about the lower end of your mot,"* said I to my companion. "You remain here; lie down flat, and I'll warrant the old doe and her fawns will be found retracing their steps."
[*] Mot is the name given small clumps of trees or woods, found scattered over the prairie land of Texas.
We had started from camp about sunrise, to hunt, three of us; one, an old hunter, who, after marking out our course, giving us the lay of the land, and various admonitions as to the danger of getting too far from camp, looking out for "Injin signs," &c., "Old Traps," as we called him, took a tour southward, and left us. Myself and companion were each armed with rifles; his a blunt "Yeager," by the way, and mine an Ohio piece, carrying about one hundred and twenty balls to the pound, consequently very light, and not a very sure thing for a distance over one hundred yards. It was in the fall of the year, delightful weather: our wardrobe consisted of Kentucky jean trousers, boots, straw hats, two shirts, and jean hunting shirts—all thin, to be sure, but warm and comfortable enough for a day's hunt. We trudged about until noon, firing but once, and then at an alligator in a bayou, whose coat of mail laughed to scorn our puny bullets, and, barely flirting his horny tail in contempt, he slid from his perch back into the greasy and turbid stream. Seating ourselves upon a dead cotton-wood, we made a slight repast upon some cold pone, which, moistened with a drop of "Mon'galy," proved, I must needs confess, upon such occasions, viands as palatable as a Tremont dinner to a city gourmand. While thus quietly disposed, all of a sudden we heard a racket in our rear, which, though it startled us at first, soon apprised us that game was at hand. Dropping low, we soon saw, a few yards above us, the large antlers of a buck. He darted down the slight bluffs, followed by a doe and two well-grown fawns.
As they gained the water, and but barely stuck their noses into the drink, we both let drive at them: but, in my rising upon my knee to fire at the buck, he got wind of the courtesies I was about to tender him, and absolutely dodged my ball. I was too close to miss him; but, as he "juked"—to use an old-fashioned western word—down his head the moment he saw fire, the bullet merely made the fur fly down his neck, and, with a back bound or double somerset, he scooted quicker than uncorked thunder.
Our eyes met—we both grinned.
"Well, by King," says my friend Mat, "that's shooting!"
"Both missed?" says I.
"Better break for camp, straight: if we should meet a greaser or Camanche here, they'd take our scalps, and beat us about the jaws with 'em!"
It was thought to bear the complexion of a joke, and we both laughed quite jocosely at it.
"Now," says I, "old Sweetener," loading up my rifle, "you and I can't give it up so, no how." Tripping up a cup of the alligator fluid, we washed down our crumbs, and started. We followed the deer about two miles up the bayou; the land was low prairie bottom, ugly for walking, and our track was slow and tedious. But, approaching a suspicious place carefully and cautiously, we had another fair view of the doe and fawns, feeding and watching on the side of a broad prairie. The distance between us was quite extensive; we could not well approach within shooting distance without alarming them. The only alternative was for my friend Mat to deposit himself among the brush and stuff, and let me circumvent the critters; one of us would surely get a whack at them. I started; a slow, tedious scratch and crawl of nearly a mile got me to the windward of the deer. As I edged down along the high grass and chapperel, about a branch of the bayou, the old doe began to raise her head occasionally, and scent the air: this, as I got still nearer, she repeated more frequently, until, at length, she took the hint, and made a break down towards my friend Mat, who, sharp upon the trigger, just as the three deer got within fifty yards, raised and fired. 'Bout went the deer, making a dash for my quarters; but before getting any ways near me, down toppled one of the young 'uns. Mat had fixed its flint; but my blood was up—I was not to be fooled out of my shot in that way; and perceiving my only chance, at best, was to be a long shot, off hand, as the doe and her remaining fawn dashed by, at over eighty yards, I let her have the best I had; the bullet struck—the old doe jumped, by way of an extra, about five by thirty feet, and didn't even stop to ask permission at that. A sportsman undergoes no little excitement in peppering a few paltry pigeons, a duck or a squirrel, but when an amateur hunter gets his Ebenezer set on a real deer, bear, or flock of wild turkeys, you may safely premise it would take some capital to buy him off.
I forgot all about time and space, Mat, "Old Traps," greasers and Injins—my whole capital was invested in the old doe, and I was after her. She was badly wounded; I thought she'd "gin eout" pretty soon, and I followed clear across the prairie. Time flew, and finally, feeling considerably fagged, and getting no further view of my deer, and being no longer able to trace the red drops she sprinkled along, I sat down, wiped the salt water from my parboiled countenance, and began to—— think I'd gone far enough for old venison. In fact, I'd gone a little too far, for the sun was setting down to his home in the Pacific, the black shades of night began to gather around the timber, and I hurried out into the prairie, to get an observation. But it was no go. I had entirely reversed the order of things, in my mind; I had lost my bearings. The evening was cloudy, with a first rate prospect of a wet night, and neither moon nor stars were to be seen.
Taking, at a hazard, the supposed back track, across the broad prairie, upon which flourished a stiff, tall grass, I plodded along, quite chilly, and my thin garments, wet from perspiration, were cold as cakes of ice to my flesh. I began to feel mad, swore some, hoped I was on the right track back to Mat and his deer, but felt satisfied there was some doubt about that. Mat had the flint and steel for raising a fire, and the meat and what bread was left at our last repast. Night came right down in the midst of my cares and tribulations. A slight drizzling rain began to fall. The stillness of a prairie is a damper to the best of spirits—the entire suspension of all noises and sounds, not even the tick of an insect to break the black, dull, dark monotony, is a wet blanket to cheerfulness. I really think the stillness of a large prairie is one of the most painful sensations of loneliness, a man ever encountered. The sombre and dreary monotony of a dungeon, is scarcely a comparison; in fact, language fails to describe the essentially double-distilled monotony of these great American grass-patches—you can't call them deserts, for at times they represent interminable flower-gardens, of the most elegant and voluptuous description.
Oh, how home and its comforts floated in my mind's eye; how I envied—not for the first time either—the unthankful inmates of even a second-rate boarding-house! A negro cabin, a shed, dog kennel, and a hoe cake, had charms, in my thoughts, just then, enough to exalt them into fit themes for the poets and painters. Having trudged along, at least three miles, in one direction, I struck a large mot, that jutted out into the prairie. Here I concluded it was best to hang up for the night. I was soaking wet—hungry and wolfish enough. My utter desperation induced me to work for an hour with some percussion caps, powder, and a piece of greased tow linen, to get a blaze of fire, Ingins or no Ingins. I began to wish I was a Camanche myself, or that the red devils would surround me, give me one bite and a drink, and I'd die happy. All of a sudden, I got sight of a blaze! Yes, a real fire loomed up in the distance! It was Mat and his deer, in luck, doing well, while I was cold as Caucasus, and hollow as a flute. I riz, stretched my stiff limbs, and struck a bee line for the light. After wading, stumbling, and tramping, until my weary legs would bear me no longer, I had the mortification to see the fire at as great a distance as when I first started. This about knocked me. I concluded to give up right in my tracks, and let myself be wet down into papier mache by the descending elements. Blessed was he that invented sleep, says Sancho Panza, but he was a better workman that invented spunk. All of a sudden I plucked up my spunk, and by a sort of martial command, ordered my limbs to duty, and marched straight for the fire in the weary distance. A steady and toilsome perseverance over brake and bush, mud, ravine, grass and water, at length brought me near the fire. And then, suspicion arose, if I fell upon a Mexican or Indian camp, the evils and perils of the night would turn up in the morning with a human barbecue, and these impressions were nearly sufficient inducement for me to go no further. It might be my friend Mat's fire, and it might not be: it wasn't very likely he would dare to raise a fire, and the more I debated, the worse complexion things bore. Involuntarily, however, I edged on up towards the fire, which was going down apparently. Coming to a bayou, I reconnoitered some time. All was quiet, save the pattering of the rain in the grass, and on the scattering lofty trees. I stood still and absorbed, watching the dying fire, for an hour or two. I was within half a mile of it; the intense darkness that usually precedes day had passed, and a murky, rainy morning was dawning. Cheerless, fatigued, and hungry beyond all mental supervision or fear, I marched point blank up to the fire, and there lay—not a tribe of Mexicans or Camanches, but my comrade Mat, fast asleep, under the lee of a huge dead and fallen cotton-wood, alongside of the fire, warm, dry, and comfortable as a bug in a rug!
I gave one shout, that would have riz the scalp lock of any red skin within ten miles, and Mat started upon his feet and snatched his "Yeager" from under the log quicker than death.
"Ho-o-o-ld yer hoss, stranger," I yelled, "I'm only going to eat ye!"
Mat and I fraternized, quick and strong. A piece of his fawn was jerked and roasted in a giffy. After gormandizing about five pounds, and getting a few whiffs at Mat's old stone pipe, I took his nest under the log, and slept a few hours sound as a pig of lead.
Waked up, prime—stowed away a few more pounds of the fawn, and then we started for camp. Living and faring in this manner, for from three to twelve months, may give you some idea of the training the heroes of San Jacinto had.
In 1837, after the capture of Santa Anna, by General Samuel Houston and his little Spartan band, which event settled the war, and something like tranquillity being restored to Texas, several of us adventurers formed a small hunting party, and took to the woods, in a circuitous tour up and across the Sabine, and so into the United States, homeward bound.
There were seven men, two black boys, belonging to Dr. Clenen, one of our "voyageurs," and eleven horses and mules, in the party; and with a tolerable fair camp equipage, plenty of ammunition, one or two "old campaigners" and three monstrous clever dogs, it was naturally supposed we should have a pleasant time. The first five days were cold, being early Spring, wet, and not very interesting; but as all of the party had seen some service, and not expecting the comforts and delicacies of civilization, they were all the better prepared to take things as they came, and by the smooth handle. The idea was to travel slow, and reach Jonesboro' or Red River, or keep on the Arkansas, and strike near Fort Smith, in twenty or thirty days. We left Houston in the morning, passed Montgomery, and kept on W. by N. between the Rio Brasos and Trinity River, the first five days, then stood off north for the head of the Sabine.
Game was very sparse, and rather shy, but falling in with some wild turkeys, and a bee tree, we laid by two days and lived like fighting cocks. The turkeys were picked off the tall trees, as they roosted after night, by rifle shots, and no game I ever fed on can exceed the rich flavor of a well-roasted, fat wild turkey. The bee tree was a crowder—a large, hollow cyprus, about sixty feet high, straight as a barber pole, and nearly seven feet in diameter at the base, and full three feet through at the first branch, forty feet up. This must have been the hive of many and many a swarm, for years past; the tree was cut down, and contained from one to three hundred gallons of honey and comb! Nor are such bee trees scarce about the head of the Sabine, Red River, &c. Bears are very fond of honey. The weather then being much improved, it was suggested that the camp should be moved a few miles off, and leave the bee tree and its great surplus contents, to the bears; and if they did come about, we should come back and have a few pops at them. The plan was feasible, and all agreed; so, removing a few gallons of the translucent delicacy, the camp was struck, and, following an old trail a few miles, we found a delightful site for recamping under some large oaks on a creek, a tributary of the Sabine river.
Some of the "boys," as each styled the others, during the day had found "a deer lick," about three miles above the camp, and to vary the viands a little, it was proposed that three of the boys should go up after dark, lay about, and see if a shot could be had at some of the visitors of "the lick."
One of the old heads, and by-the-way we called him "old traps," from the fact of his always being so ready to explain the manner and uses of all sorts of traps, and the inexhaustible adventures he had with them in the course of twenty years' experience in the far west.
Well, "old traps," Dr. C., and myself, were the deputed committee, that night, to attend to the cases of the deer. Soon after dark we put out, and in the course of a couple of hours, after some floundering in a muddy "bottom" and through hazel brush, or chaparral, the "lick" was found, and positions taken for raking the victims. "Old traps" took a lodge in a clump of bushes. Dr. C. and I squatted on a dead tree, with a few bushes around it, and in a particularly dark spot, from the fact of some very heavy timber with wide-spreading tops standing around and nearly over us.
The ability of keeping still in a disagreeable situation, for a long time, is most desirable and necessary in the character of a hunter;—some men have a faculty for holding a fishing-rod hours at a time over a fishless tide, with wondrous ardor; and I have known men to watch deer, bear, and other game, in one position, for ten or twenty hours. Sauntering up and down in the dark, with wind and rain, and a musket in your arms for company, is not pleasant pastime; but my patience revolted at the idea of squatting on the wet log, all cramped up, three or four hours, and no deer making their appearance; Doctor and I made up our minds to arouse "old traps," and patter back to the camp. Just as the resolution was about to be put in action, two deer, fine antlered customers, made their appearance about three hundred yards from us, out on a small plain, where their sprightly forms could just be made out as they leisurely stepped along. Getting near "old traps," he soon convinced us that his eye was still open, although we had concluded he was fast asleep. The sharp, whip-like crack of "old traps'" rifle brought down one of the deer, and the other, in bounds of thirty or forty feet at a spring, whisked nearly over us, and the Doctor and I fired at the flying deer as he came; neither shot took effect, and off he sped.
"Hurrah! for the old boy!" shouted the Doctor, as we all bustled up to where the deer lay kicking and plunging in his death throes. "By Jove, 'traps,' you've put a ball clean through his head!"
"Yes, sir," said traps; "I ollers fix game that way, myself."
"Except when you fix them with the traps, eh?" said I.
"'Zactly," said traps. "But now, boys," he continued loading up his rifle, "now let's snatch off the creature's hide, quarter it, and travel back to the camp, for we ain't gwoine to have any more deer to-night."
This was soon accomplished. Trap seized the hind quarters and hide, and travelled; Doctor and I brought up the rear with the rest of the meat and fat.
To avoid the muddy "bottom," in going back, we concluded to take a little round-about way, and relieved one another by taking "spells" at carrying the rifles and the meat. We jogged along, chatting away, for some time, when it occurred to us that we were getting very near the camp, or ought to be, for we had walked long and fast enough.
Doctor was trudging on ahead with the meat; I was behind some twenty yards with both rifles; we were passing through some thin timber which skirted a little prairie, out on which we could see quite distinctly; Doctor made a sudden halt—
"Hollo! by Jove, what's that?"
"What? eh? where?" said I, bustling up to the Doctor, who made free to drop the meat, wheeled about, snatched his rifle out of my fists and broke!
"A grizzly bear coming, by thunder!"
Upon that hint there were two gentlemen seen hurrying themselves somewhat, I reckon, on the back track. Doctor was what you might call a fast trotter, but when he broke into a full gallop the odds against me were dreadful! I was fairly distanced, and when perfectly blowed out stopped to pull the briars out of my torn trowsers, scratched face and dishevelled locks, listen to the enemy, and ascertain where the Doctor had got to. No sound broke the reigning stillness, save the sonorous "coo-hoot" of an owl. My rifle was empty, and a search satisfied me that my caps were not to be found. My own cap had also disappeared in the fright, and I was in a bad way for defence, and completely at a dead loss as to the bearings of the camp.
"Well," thinks I, "it's no particular use crying over spilt milk—it's no use to move when there is no idea existing of bettering one's self, so here I'll roost until daylight, unless Doctor comes back to hunt me up!" I judged it was not far from 2 o'clock, A. M., and believed it possible that our venison might only whet a grizzly bear's appetite to follow up the pursuit and gormandize me!—A proper site for a roost was the next matter of importance, and a scrubby oak with a thick top, close by, offered an inviting elevation to lodge.
A long, long time seemed the coming day; and the sharp air of its approach, and heavy dew, made "perching" in a crotch very fatiguing "pastime."
When light began to dawn, sliding down I took an observation that convinced me, according to Indian signs, that Doctor and I had gone South too far to hit the camp, and, to the best of my reckoning, the old bee tree was not far out of my way, and that I now struck for.
About noon, and a lovely day it was, I discovered the bee tree, made a dinner on honey, which was scattered about considerably, giving evidence of its having been visited by our rugged Russian friends.
And now, feeling anxious to see human faces, and not linger about a spot where troublesome customers might abound, I made tracks for the camp, which was reached about sundown, and where I found, to my regret, the Doctor had not come in yet.
"Old Traps" had returned all safe enough, and had been prophesying "the boys" were lost, and would not soon be found again. However, the old fellow put away his deer skin, which he had been cleaning, &c., to give me a feed of the deer, a few remnants yet remaining, and from my exercise and fasting, never was a rude meal more luxurious. Two of the party, with one of the black boys, and a mule, had been out since noon in quest of us, and about midnight they returned with the Doctor, who congratulated me on what he had estimated as an escape. So did I. We all concluded it was a DEER hunt! Though we "had a time" at the bee tree, next night, that made us about square.
Three Irishmen, green as the Isle that per-duced 'em, but full of sin, and fond of the crater, broke into a country store down in Maine, one night last week, and after striking a light, they lit upon a large demijohn, having the suspicious look of a whiskey holder. One held the light, while another held up the demi to his mouth, and took a small taster.
"Arrah, what a twang! An' it's what they call Shemaky, I'm thinkin'!" says the fellow, screwing his face into all manner of puckers.
"It's the very stuff, thin, for me, so hould the light, and I'll take a swig at 'im," says Paddy number two. "Agh!" says he, putting down the demijohn in haste, "it's rale bhrandy—agh-h!"
"Branthy? Thin it's meself as'll have a wee bit uv a swig at 'em," and Paddy number three took hold, and down he rushed a good slew of it!
"Murther and turf! It's every divil ov us are pizened—o-o-och! Murther-r-r!" and he raised such a hullaballoo, that the neighbors were awakened. They came rushing in, and arrested Paddy number three. The others fled, with their bellies full of washing fluid! The poor fellow had drank nearly a pint; being possessed with a gutta percha stomach, he stood the infliction without kicking the bucket, but he was bleached, in two days—white as a bolt of cotton cloth!
Passing Around the Fodder!
A DINNER SKETCH.
A few weeks ago, during a passage from Gotham to Boston, on the "Empire State," one of the most elegant and swift steamers that ever man's ingenuity put upon the waters, I met a well-known joker from the Quaker city, on his first trip "down East." After mutually examining and eulogising the external appearance and internal arrangements of the "Empire," winding up our investigation, of course, with a look into a small corner cupboard in the barber's office, where a superb smile—as is a smile—can be usually enjoyed by the nobbish investment of a York shilling; soon after passing through "Hell Gate"—gliding by the beautiful villas, chateaux, and almost princely palaces of the business men of the great city of New York, we were soon out upon the broad, deep Sound, a glorious place for steam-boating. Soon after, the bells announced "supper ready"—a general stampede into the spacious cabin took place, and though the tables strung along forty rods on each side of the great cabin, not over half the crowd got seats upon this interesting occasion. I was about with my friend—in time, stuck our legs under the mahogany, and gazed upon the open prospect for a supper superb enough in all its details to tempt a jolly old friar from his devotions. We got along very nicely. An old chap who sat above us some seats, and whose rotund developments gave any ordinary observer reason to suppose his appetite as unquenchable as the Maelstrom, kept reaching about, and when tempting vessels were too remote, he'd bawl "right eout" for them.
"Halloo! I say you, Mister there, just hand along that saas; give us a chance, will ye, at that; notion on't, what d'ye call that stuff?"
"This?" says one, passing along a dish.
"Pshaw, no, t'other there."
"Oh! ah! yes, this," says my facetious friend.
"Well, that ain't it, but no odds; fetch it along!" and down we sent the biggest dish of meat in our neighborhood.
"Now," says I, "my boy, I'll show you a 'dodge.' We'll see how it works."
Filling a plate full to the brim, with all and each of the various heavy courses in our vicinity, I very politely passed it over to my next neighbor with—
"Please to pass that up, sir?"
"Umph, eh?" says the gentleman, taking hold of the plate very gingerly; "pass it up?"
"Aye, yes, if you please," says I.
By this time he had fairly got the loaded plate in his fists, and began to look about him where to pass the plate to. Nobody in particular seemed on the watch for a spare plate. The gent looked back at me, but I was "cutting away" and watching from the extreme corner of my left eye the victim and his charge, while I pressed hard upon the corn pile of my friend's foot under the table.
At length, the victim thought he saw some one up the table waiting for the plate, and quickly he whispered to his next neighbor—
"Please, sir, to-to-a, just pass this plate up!"
The man took the plate, and being more of a practical operator than his neighbor, gave the plate over to his next neighbor, with—
"Pass this plate up to that gentleman, if you please," dodging his head towards an old gent in specs, who sat near the head of the table, grinning a ghastly smile over the field of good things.
"What?" says my friend.
"The plate; it's going the rounds; just you keep quiet, you'll see a good thing."
The plate, at length, got to the head of the table. It was given to the old gentleman in specs; he looked over the top of his specs very deliberately at the "fodder," then back at the thin, pale, student-looking youth who handed it to him, then up and down the table. A raw-boned, gaunt and hollow-looking disciple caught the eye of the old gent; he must be the man who wanted the "load." His lips quacked as if in the act of—"pass this plate, sir,"—to his next neighbor; he was too far off for us to hear his discourse. Well, the plate came booming along down the opposite side; the tall man declined it and gave it over to his next neighbor, who seemed a little tempted to take hold of the invoice, but just then it occurred to him, probably, that he was keeping somebody (!) out of his grub, so he quickly turned to his neighbor and passed the plate. One or two more moves brought the plate within our range, and there it liked to have stuck, for a fussy old Englishman, in whom politeness did not stick out very prominently, grunted—
"I don't want it, sir."
"Well, but, sir, please pass it," says the last victim, beseechingly holding out the plate.
"Pass it? Here, mister, 's your plate," says Bull, at length reluctantly seizing on the plate, and rushing it on to his next neighbor, who started—
"Not mine, sir."
"Not yours! Who does it belong to? Pass it down to somebody."
Off went the plate again. Several ladies turned up their pretty eyes and noses while the gents passed it by them.
"Why, if there ain't that plate a going the rounds, that you gave me!" says my next neighbor, to whom I had first given the "currency."
"That plate? Oh, yes, so it is; well," says I, with feigned astonishment, "this is the first time I ever saw a good supper so universally discarded!"
The plate was off again. It reached the foot of the table. An elderly lady looked up, looked around, removed a large sweet potato from the pile—then passed it along. An old salty-looking captain, just then took a vacant seat, and the plate reached him just in the nick of time. He looked voracious—
"Ah," said he, with a savage growl, "that's your sort; thunder and oakum, I'm as peckish as a shark, and here's the duff for me!"
That ended the peregrinations of the plate, and I and my friend—yelled right out!
A Hint to Soyer.
Magrundy says, in his work on Grub, that a Frenchman will "frigazee" a pair of old boots and make a respectable soup out of an ancient chapeau; but our friend Perriwinkle affirms that the French ain't "nowhere," after a feat he saw in the kitchen arrangement of a "cheap boarding house" in the North End:—the landlady made a chowder out of an old broom mixed with sinders, and after all the boarders had dined upon it scrumptiously, the remains made broth for the whole family, next day, besides plenty of fragments left for a poor family! That landlady is bound—to make Rome howl!
The Leg of Mutton.
I'm going to state to you the remarkable adventures of a very remarkable man, who went to market to get a leg of mutton for his Sunday dinner. I have heard, or read somewhere or other, almost similar stories; whether they were real or imaginary, I am unable to say; but I can vouch for the authenticity of my story, for I know the hero well.
In the year 1812, it will be recollected that we had some military disputes with England, which elicited some pretty tall fights by land and sea, and the land we live in was considerably excited upon the subject, and patriotism rose to many degrees above blood heat. Philadelphia, about that time, like all other cities, I suppose, was the scene of drum-beating, marching and counter-marching, and volunteering of the patriotic people.
The President sent forth his proclamations, the governors of the respective States reiterated them, and a large portion of our brave republicans were soon in or marching to the battle field. There lived and wrought at his trade, carpentering, in the city of Philadelphia, about that time, a very tall, slim man, named Houp; Peter Houp, that was his name. He was a very steady, upright, and honest man, married, had a small, comfortable family, and to all intents and purposes, settled down for life. How deceptive, how unstable, how uncertain is man, to say nothing of the more frail portion of the creation—woman! Peter Houp one fair morning took his basket on his arm, and off he went to get a leg of mutton and trimmings for his next Sunday's dinner. Beyond the object of research, Peter never dreamed of extending his travels for that day, certain. A leg of mutton is not an indifferent article, well cooked, a matter somewhat different to amateur cooks; and as good legs of mutton as can be found on this side of the big pond, can be found almost any Saturday morning in the Pennsylvania market wagons, which congregate along Second street, for a mile or two in a string. Peter could have secured his leg and brought it home in an hour or two at most.
But hours passed, noon came, and night followed it, and in the course of time, the morrow, the joyous Sunday, for which the leg of mutton was to be brought and prepared, and offered up, a sacrifice to the household gods and grateful appetites, came, but neither the leg of mutton, nor the man Peter, husband and father Houp, darkened the doors of the carpenter's humble domicil, that day, the next or the next! I cannot, of course, realize half the agony or tortures of suspense that must have preyed upon that wife's heart and brain, that must have haunted her feverish dreams at night, and her aching mind by day. When grim death strikes a blow, whenever so near and dear a friend is levelled, cold, breathless, dead—we see, we know there is the end! Grief has its season, the bitterest of woe then calms, subsides, or ceases; but lost—which hope prevents mourning as dead, and whose death-like absence almost precludes the idea that they live, engenders in the soul of true affection, a gloomy, torturing and desponding sorrow, more agonizing than the sting actual death leaves behind. I have endeavored to depict what must have been, what were the feelings of Peter Houp's wife. She mourned and grieved, and still hoped on, though months and years passed away without imparting the slightest clue to the unfortunate fate of her husband. Her three children, two boys and a girl, grew up; ten, eleven, twelve years passed away, with no tidings of the lost man having reached his family; but they still lived with a kind of despairing hope that the husband and father would yet come home, and so he did.
Let us see what became of Peter Houp, the carpenter. As he strolled along with his basket under his arm, on the eventful morning he sought the leg of mutton, he met a platoon of men dressed up in uniform, muskets on their shoulders, colors flying, drums beating, and a mob of hurrahers following and shouting for the volunteers. Yes, it was a company of volunteers, just about shipping off for the South, to join the "Old Zack" of that day, General Jackson. Peter Houp saw in the ranks of the volunteers several of his old chums; he spoke to them, walked along with the men of Mars, got inspired—patriotic—drunk. Two days after that eventful Saturday, on which the quiet, honest, and industrious carpenter left his wife and children full of hope and happiness, he found himself in blue breeches, roundabout, and black cap, on board a brig—bound for New Orleans. A volunteer for the war! It was too late to repent then; the brig was ploughing her way through the foaming billows, and in a few weeks she arrived at Mobile, as she could not reach New Orleans, the British under General Packenham being off the Balize. So the volunteers were landed at Mobile, and hurried on over land to the devoted (or was to be) Crescent city. Peter Houp was not only a good man, liable as all men are to make a false step once in life, but a brave one. Having gone so far, and made a step so hard to retrace, Peter's cool reason got bothered; he poured the spirits down to keep his spirits up, as the saying goes, and abandoned himself to fate. Caring neither for life nor death, he was found behind the cotton bags, which he had assisted in getting down from the city to the battle ground, piled up, and now ready to defend his country while life lasted. Peter fought well, being a man not unlike the brave Old Hickory himself, tall, firm, and resolute-looking. He attracted General Jackson's attention during the battle, and afterwards was personally complimented for his skill and courage by the victorious Commander-in-chief. Every body knows the history of the battle of New Orleans—I need not relate it. After the victory, the soldiers were allowed considerable license, and they made New Orleans a scene of revel and dissipation, as all cities are likely to represent when near a victorious army. Peter Houp was on a "regular bender," a "big tare," a long spree—and for one so unlike any thing of the kind, he went it with a perfect looseness.