University of Virginia Library


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You must eat men. Yet thanks, I must you con
That you are thieves professed; that you work not
In holier shapes; for there is boundless theft
In limited professions. Rascal thieves,
Here's gold.

Timon of Athens.

So I leave you
To the protection of the prosperous gods,
As thieves to keepers.

I bid.

In the meanwhile, Ben Pickett, moved with no
such considerations as those which touched his wife,
set forth in pursuit of his destined victim. His
footsteps I may not pursue at present. It will be
enough that I detail my own progress. The reader
has already seen that I arrived safely at Tuscaloosa.
How I came to escape him so far, I cannot say;
since, allowing that he pursued me with even moderate
avidity, he must have overtaken me if he had
so purposed it. But, it is believed, that he mistook
my route. He believed that I had struck directly
for the river, on my nearest path to Chochuma. He
had no knowledge of my companion's business in
Tuscaloosa, and John Hurdis, being equally ignorant


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on that subject, could not counsel him. Whatever
may have been the cause of my escape so far, from
a foe whose aim was certain, and who had overcome
all scruples of policy or conscience—if, indeed, he
ever held them—I had reason for congratulating
myself upon my own good fortune, which had
availed for my protection against his murderous
purpose. But, conscious of no evil then, and wholly
ignorant of the danger I had thus escaped, I gave
myself no concern against the future; and with all
the buoyant recklessness of youth, pleased with
novelty, and with faces turned for a new world, my
companion and myself entered our strange lodgings
in Tuscaloosa, with feelings of satisfaction amounting
to enthusiasm. The town was little more than
hewn out of the woods. Piles of brick and timber
crowded the main, indeed, the only street of the
place, and denoted the rawness and poverty of the
region in all things which could please the eye, and
minister to the taste of the traveller. But it had
other resources in my sight. The very incompleteness
and rude want of finish, indicated the fermenting
character of life. The stagnation of the forests
was disturbed. The green and sluggish waters of
its inactivity were drained off into new channels of
enterprise and effort. Life had opened upon it; its
veins were filling fast with the life blood of human
greatness; active and sleepless endeavours—and a


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warm sun seemed pouring down its rays for the
first time upon the cold and covered bosom of its
swamps and caverns. To the young, it matters not
the roughness and the storm. Enthusiasm loves
the encounter with biting winds, and active opposition;
but there is death in inaction—death in the
sluggish torpor of the old community, where ancient
drones, like the old man of the sea on the shoulders
of Sinbad, keep down the choice spirit of a country,
and chill and palsy all its energies. There was
more meaning in the vote of the countryman who
ostracised Aristides, because he hated to hear him
continually called “the Just,” than is altogether
visible to the understanding. The customary names
of a country are very apt to become its tyrants.

Our lodging house was poor enough, but by no
means wanting in pretension. You would vainly
look for it now in Tuscaloosa. It has given way to
more spacious and better conducted establishments.
When we arrived, it was filled to overflowing, and,
much against our will, we were assigned a chamber
in common with two other persons, who were
strangers to us. To this arrangement we vainly opposed
all manner of objections. We were compelled
to submit. Our landlord was a turbulent sort of
savage, who bore down all opposition, and held to
his laws, which were not often consistent with one
another, with as hardy a tenacity as did the Medes


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and Persians. The long and short of it was that we
must share our chamber with two other men, or seek
lodgings elsewhere. This, in a strange town where
no other tavern was yet dreamed of, was little else
than a downright declaration that we might “go to
the d—l and shake ourselves,” and with whatever
grace given, we were compelled to take the accommodations
as they were accorded to us. We insisted
on separate beds, however, and here we gained our

“Aye, you may have two a-piece,” was the cold
and ready answer; “one for each leg.”

Our objections to a chamber in connection with
strangers, did us no service in that wild community;
and the rough adventurers about, seemed to hold us in
no fair esteem on the strength of them. But they saw
that we were able to hold our own, and that, in our
controversy with the landlord, though we had been
compelled to yield our point, we had yet given him
quite as good as he sent; and so, they suffered their
contempt to escape in winks to each other, and muttered
sentences, which, as we only saw and heard them
indistinctly, we were wise enough to take no heed
of. Not that we did not feel in the humour to do
so. My comrade fidgetted more than once with his
heavy headed whip handle, and my own hand felt
monstrous disposed to tap the landlord on his
crown; but it was too obviously our policy to forbear,


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and we took ourselves off to our chamber as
soon as we could beat a retreat gracefully.

Well might our landlord have given us two or
four beds each. There were no less than twelve in
the one apartment which had been assigned us. We
chose our two, getting them as nigh each other as
possible, and having put our saddle bags in a corner
behind them, and got our dirks and pistols in readiness,
some on the table and some under our pillows,
we prepared to get to bed as fast as possible. Before
we had entirely undressed, however, our two other
occupants of the chamber appeared, one of whom we
remembered to have seen in the bar-room below, at
the time of our discussion with the landlord. They
were, neither of them, calculated to impress me
favourably. They were evidently too fond of their
personal appearance to please one who was rather
apt to be studiless of his. They were dandies—a
sort of New York dandies: men with long coats
and steeple crowned hats, great breast-pins, thick
gold chains, and a big bunch of seals hanging at
at their hips. “What the deuce!” thought I to myself,
“brings such people into this country. Such
gewgaws are not only in bad taste any where, but
nowhere in such bad taste as in a wild and poor
country such as ours. Of course, they cannot be
gentlemen; that sort of ostentation is totally incompatible
with gentility.” Their first overtures did not


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impress me more favourably towards them. They
were disposed to be familiar at the start. There
was an assumed composure, a laborious ease about
them, which showed them to be practising a part.
There is no difficulty in discovering whether a man
has been bred a gentleman or not. There is no acquiring
gentility at a late day, and but few, not
habituated to it from the first, can ever, by any art,
study, or endeavour, acquire, in a subsequent day,
those nice details of manners, that exquisite consideration
of the claims and peculiarities of those in
their neighbourhood, which early education alone
can certainly give. Our chamber companions evidently
strove at self complacency. There was a desperate
ostentation of sang froid, a most lavish freedom
of air about them, which made their familiarity
obtrusiveness, and their ease, swagger. A glance
told me what they were, so far as manners went;
and, I never believed in the sympathy between bad
manners and proper morals. They may exist together.
There's some such possibility; yet I never
saw them united. A man with bad manners may
not steal, nor lie, but he cannot be amiable; he cannot
often be just; he will be tyrannical if you suffer
him, and the cloven hoof of the beast must appear,
though it makes its exhibition on a Brussels carpeting.

These fellows had a good many questions to ask
us, and a good many remarks to make, before we


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got to sleep that night. Nor was this very much
amiss. The custom of the country is to ask questions,
and to ask them with directness. There the
southwest differs from the eastern country. The
Yankee obtains his knowledge by circumlocution;
and his modes of getting it, are as ingeniously indirect,
as the cow-paths of Boston. He proceeds as
if he thought it impertinent to gratify his desire, or
—and perhaps this is the better reason—as if he were
conscious of motives for his curiosity, other than
those which he acknowledges. The southwestern
man, living remotely from the great cities, and anxious
for intelligence of regions of which he has little
personal acquaintance, taxes, in plain terms, the resources
of every stranger whom he meets. He is
quite as willing to answer, as to ask, and this readiness
acquits him, or should acquit him, of any charge
of rudeness. We found no fault with the curiosity
of our companions, but I so little relished their manners,
as to forbear questioning them in return. Carrington
was less scrupulous, however—he made
sundry inquiries to which he received unsatisfactory
replies, and towards midnight, I was pleased to find
that the chattering was fairly over.

We slept without interruption, and awakened before
the strangers. It was broad day light, and,
hastening our toilets, we descended to the breakfast
room. There we were soon followed by the two,


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and my observation by day, rather confirmed my
impressions of the preceding night. They were
quite too nice in their deportment to be wise—they
found fault with the arrangements of the table, their
breakfast did not suit them—the eggs were too
much or too little done, and they turned up their
noses at the coffee with exquisite distaste. The
landlord reddened, but bore it with tolerable patience
for a republican; and the matter passed off without a
squall, though I momently looked for one. Little
things are apt to annoy little people; and I have
usually found those persons most apt to be dissatisfied
with the world, whose beginnings in it have
been most mean and contemptible. The whole conduct
of the strangers increased my reserve towards

To us, however, they were civil enough. Their
policy was in it. They spoke to us as if we were
not merely friends but bed-fellows; and, in a style
of gentility exceedingly new to us, one of them put
his arm about the neck of my friend. I almost expected
to see him knocked down; for, with all his
gentleness of mood, Carrington was a very devil
when his blood was up, and hated every sort of impertinence—but
whether he thought it wiser to forbear
in a strange place, or was curious to see how
far the fellow would go, he said nothing, but smiled
patiently till the speech which accompanied the


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embrace was fairly over, and then quietly withdrew
from its affectionate control.

The day was rainy and squally—to such a degree
that we could not go out. How to amuse ourselves
was a question not so easily answered in a strange
country tavern where we had no books, and no society.
After breakfast we returned to our apartment,
and threw ourselves upon the beds. To talk
of home, and the two maidens, whom we had left
under such differing circumstances, was our only
alternative; and thus employed, our two stranger
companions came in. Their excuse for the intrusion
was the weather, and as their rights to the chamber
were equal to ours, we had nothing to say against
it. Still I was disquieted and almost angry. I
spoke very distantly and coldly in reply to their
speeches, and they quickly saw that I was disposed
to keep them at arm's length. But my desire, with
such persons, was not of so easy attainment. The
reserve of a gentleman is not apt to be respected,
even if seen, by those who have never yet learned
the first lessons of gentility: and do what I would,
I still found that they were uttering propositions in
my ears which I was necessarily obliged to answer,
or acknowledge. In this, they were tacitly assisted
by my friend. Carrington, whose disposition was
far more accessible than mine, chatted with them
freely, and what was worse, told them very nearly


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all of his purposes and projects. They too were
seeking land—they were speculators from New
York—agents for great Land Companies—such as
spring up daily in that city, and flood the country
with a nominal capital, that changes like magic gold,
into worthless paper every five years or less. They
talked of thousands, and hundreds of thousands, with
the glibness of men who had handled nothing else
from infancy; and never was imagination more
thoroughly taken prisoner than was that of Carrington.
He fairly gasped while listening to them.
Their marvellous resources confounded him. With
three thousand dollars and thirty negroes, he had
considered himself no small capitalist; but now, he
began to feel really humble, and I laughed aloud as
I beheld the effects of his consternation upon him.
Conversation lagged at length; even those wondrous
details of the agents of the great New York company
tired the hearers and, it would seem, the
speakers too; for they came to a pause. The mind
cannot bear too much glitter any more than the eye.
They now talked together, and one of them at
length produced cards from his trunk.

“Will you play, gentlemen?” they asked civilly.

“I'm obliged to you,” was my reply in freezing
tones, “but I would rather not.”

I was answered, greatly to my mortification, by


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“And why not, Dick? You play well, and I know
you like it.”

This was forcing upon me an avowal of my dislike
to our would-be acquaintance which I would
have preferred to avoid. But as it was, I resolved
upon my course.

“You know I never like to play among strangers,

“Pshaw, my dear fellow—what of that? come,
take a hand—we're here in a place we know nothing
about, and where nobody knows us. It's monstrous
dull, and if we don't play, we may as well

“Excuse me, William.”

“Can't, Dick—can't think of it,” was his reply.

“You must take a hand or we can't play. Whist
is my only game, you know, and there's but three
of us without you.”

“Take Dummy!” was my answer.

“What, without knowing how to value him—Oh,
no! Besides, I can't play that game well.”

You may fight or eat, or speak, or travel with a
man, without making yourself his companion—but
you can't play with him without incurring his intimacy.
Now, I was somewhat prejudiced against these
strangers, and had so far studiously avoided their
familiarity. To play with them was to make my
former labour in vain, as well as to invite the consequences


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which I had been so desirous to avert.
But to utter these reasons aloud was to challenge
them to the bull ring, and there was no wisdom in
that. My thoughtless friend urged the matter with
a zeal no less imprudent in his place than it was
irksome in mine. He would hear no excuses, and
appealed to my courtesy against my principle,
alleging the utter impossibility of their being able
to find the desired amusement without my help.
Not to seem churlish I at length gave way. Bitterly
do I reproach myself that I did so. But how was
I then—in my boyhood as it were—to anticipate
such consequences from so seemingly small a source.
But in morals, no departure from principles is small.
All principles are significant—are essential—in the
formation of truth; and the neglect or omission of
the smallest among them is not one evil merely, or
one error—but a thousand—it is the parent of a
thousand, each, in its turn, endowed with a frightful
fecundity more productive than the plagues of
Egypt—more enduring, and not less hideous and
frightful. Take care of small principles, if you
would preserve great truths sacred.

As I have said, I suffered myself—it matters not
with what motives or feeling—to be persuaded by
my friend to play with him and the strangers. I
took my seat opposite to Carrington. The strangers
played together. Whist was the game—a game we


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both delighted in, and which we both played with
tolerable skill. The cards were thrown upon the
table, and we drew for the deal.

“What do you bet?” said one of the strangers addressing
me. At the same moment his companion
addressed a like inquiry to my partner.

“Nothing—I never bet,” was my reply.

“A Mexican,” said Carrington throwing the coin
upon the table. My opponent expressed his disappointment
at my refusal.

“There's no fun in playing unless you bet.”

“You mistake,” was my reply. “I find an interest
in the game which no risk of money could
stimulate. I do not bet; it is a resolution.”

My manner was such as to forbid any farther
prosecution of his object. He was compelled to
content himself as he might; and drawing for the
deal, it fell to him. He took the cards, and to my
surprise, proceeded to shuffle them after a fashion
which I had been always taught to regard as dishonourable.
He would draw single cards alternately
from top and bottom and bring them together; and,
in this way, as I well knew, would throw all the
trump cards into the hands of himself and partner.
I did not scruple to oppose this mode of shuffling.

“The effect will be,” I told him, “to bring the
trumps into your own and partner's hands. I have
seen the trick before. It is a trick, and that is


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enough to make it objectionable. I have no pleasure
in playing a game with all the cards against me.”

He denied the certainty of the result which I
predicted, and persisted in finishing as he had begun.
I would have risen from the table but my friend's
eyes appealed to me to stay. He was anxious to
play, and quite too fond of the game, and perhaps
too dull where he was, to heed or insist upon any
little improprieties. The result was as I predicted.
There was but a single trump between myself and

“You see,” I exclaimed as the hand was finished,
“such dealing is unfair.”

“No—I see not—It so happens, it is true, but it
is not unfair,” was the reply of the dealer.

“Fair or not,” I answered, “it matters not. If
this mode of shuffling has the effect of throwing the
good cards invariably into one hand, it produces
such a disparity between the parties as takes entirely
from the pleasure in the game. There is no
game, indeed, when the force is purely on the one

“But such is not invariably the result.”

Words were wasted upon them. I saw then
what they were. Gentlemen disdain the advantage,
even when fairly obtained, which renders intelligence,
skill, memory and reflection—indeed, all
qualities of mind—entirely useless. As players, our


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opponents had no skill—like gamblers usually they
relied on trick for success; and strove to obtain, by
miserable stratagem, what other men seek from
thought and honest endeavour. I would have risen
from the table as these thoughts passed through my
mind. We had lost the game, and I had had enough
of them and it—But miend entreated me.

“What matters one game?” he said. “It is our
turn now. We shall do better.”

The stake was removed by his opponent, and,
while I shuffled the cards, he was required to renew
his bet. In doing so, by a singular lapse of thought,
he drew from a side pocket in his bosom, the large
roll of money with which he travelled, forgetting
the small purse which he had prepared for his travelling
expenses. He was conscious, when too
late, of his error. He hurried it back to its
place of concealment, and drew forth the purse;
but in the one moment which he employed in
doing so, I could see that the eyes of our companions
had caught sight of the treasure. It
may have been fancy in me, the result of my suspicious
disposition, but I thought that their eyes
sparkled as they beheld it, and there was an instant
interchange of glances between them. Hurriedly
I shuffled through, and with an agitation which I
could not well conceal, I dealt out the cards. There
was a general and somewhat unwonted silence


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around the table. We all seemed to be conscious
of thoughts, and feelings, which needed to be concealed.
The cheeks of my companion were red; but
he laughed and played. His first play was an error.
I fixed my eye upon one of the strangers and his
glance fell bencath it. There was a guilty thought
busy in his bosom. Scarcely a word was spoken
—none unnecessarily—while that hand lasted. But
when it came to the turn of one of our opponents to
deal, and when I found him shuffling as before, I
grew indignant. I protested. He insisted upon his
right to shuffle as he pleased—a right which I denied.
He would not yield the point, and I left
the table. The fellow would have put on airs, and
actually thought to bully me. He used some big
words, and rising at the same time approached me.

“Sir, your conduct—”

I stopped him half way, and in his speech—

“Is insulting you would say.”

“I do, sir; very insulting, sir, very.”

“Be it so. I cannot help it. I will play with
no man who employs a mode of shuffling which
puts all the trump cards into his own and partner's
hands. I do not wish to play with you, any how,
sir; and very much regret that the persuasions of
my friend made me yield against my better judgment.
My rule is never to play with strangers, and
your game has confirmed me in my opinion of its


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propriety. I shall take care never to depart from
it in future.”

“Sir, you don't mean to impute any thing to my
honour. If you do, sir—”

My reply to this swagger was anticipated by
William, who had not before spoken, but now stood
between us.

“And what if he did, eh?”

“Why, sir—but I was not speaking to you, sir,”
said the fellow.

“Ay, I know that, but I'm speaking to you.
What if he did doubt your honour, and what if I
doubt it, eh?”

“Why then, sir, if you did—” The fellow
paused. He was a mere bully, and looked round to
his companion who still kept a quiet seat at the

“Pshaw!” exclaimed William, in the most contemptuous

“You are mistaken in your men, my good fellow.
Take up your Mexican, and thank your stars you
have got it so easily. Shut up now and be quiet.
It lies upon the table.” The fellow obeyed.

“You won't play any longer?” he demanded.

“No,” was my reply. “To play with you, is
to make you, and declare you, our friends. We
will fight with you, if you please, but not play with


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To this proposition the answer was slow. We
were, at least, possessors of the ground. But our
triumph was a monstrous small one, and we paid for
it. The annoyance of the whole scene was excessive
to me. Carrington did not so much feel it.
He was a careless, buoyant, good sort of creature,
having none of my suspicion, and little of that morbid
pride which boiled in me. He laughed at the
fellows and the whole affair, when I was most disposed
to groan over it, and to curse them. I could
only bring his countenance to a grave expression,
when I reminded him of his imprudence in taking
out his roll of money.

“Ay, that was cursed careless,” he replied; “but
there's no helping it now—I must only keep my
wits about me next time; and if harm comes from it
keep a stiff lip, and a stout heart, and be ready to
meet it.”

William Carrington was too brave a fellow to
think long of danger, and he went to bed that night
with as light a heart as if he had not a sixpence in
the world.