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I heard myself proclaim'd;
And, by the happy hollow of a tree,
Escap'd the hunt. No port is free; no place,
That guard and most unusual vigilance
Does not attend my taking. While I may 'scape,
I will preserve myself.

King Lear.

The next day opened bright and beautiful, and
we prepared to resume our journey. Our fellow
chamberers had not shown themselves to us since
our rupture; they had not slept that night at the
tavern. Their absence gave us but little concern
at the time, though we discovered afterwards that it
had no little influence upon our movements. I have
already said that my companion held a claim upon a
man in the neighbourhood of Tuscaloosa, for some
hundred and thirty dollars, the price of a mule
which he had sold to him during the previous season.
To collect this debt had been the only motive for
carrying us so far from our direct route, which
had been to Chochuma. The man's name was
Matthew Webber; of his character and condition
we knew nothing, save that he was a small farmer


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supposed to be doing well. That he had not paid
the money before, when due, was rather an unfavourable
symptom; but of the ultimate payment of
it William had not the slightest doubt. He was
secured by the indorsed promise of a Col. Grafton,
a gentleman of some wealth, who planted about fourteen
miles from Tuscaloosa, in the direction of Columbus,
but fully eleven miles from the road. There
was a short cut to his house, and we proposed to
ride thither and obtain directions for finding the
debtor. He had once been Grafton's overseer and
the latter knew all about him. Our landlord, who
had grown civil enough to us, and who was really a
very good sort of body when taken in the grain,
freely gave us proper instructions for finding our
road by the short cut. Of Grafton he spoke with
kindness and respect, but I could not help observing,
when we inquired after Webber, that he
evaded inquiry, and when repeated, shook his head
and turned away to other customers. He evidently
knew enough to think unfavourably, and his glance
when he spoke of the man was uneasy and suspicious.
Finding other questions unproductive, we had our
horses brought forth, paid our charges, and prepared
to mount. Our feet were already in the stirrups,
when the landlord followed us, saying abruptly, but
in a low tone, as he reached the spot where we


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“Gentlemen, I don't know much of the people
whom you seek, but I know but little that is very
favourable of the country into which you're going.
Take a hint before starting. If you have any thing
to lose, it's easy losing it on the road to Chochuma,
and the less company you keep as you travel, the
better for your saddle-bags. Perhaps, too, it
wouldn't be amiss, if you looked at your pistols before
you start.”

He did not wait for our answer, but returned to
his bar-room and other avocations as if his duty was
ended. We were both surprised, but I did not care
to reject his warnings. William laughed at the
gravity of the advice given us, but I saw it with
other eyes. If I was too suspicious of evil, I well
knew that my companion was apt to err in the opposite
extreme—he was imprudent and thoughtless;
and, in recklessness of courage only, prevented a
thousand evil consequences which had otherwise
occurred from his too confiding nature.

“Say nothing now,” I observed to him—“but
let us ride till we get into the woods, then see to
your pistols.”

“Pshaw, Dick,” was his reply, “what do you
suspect now? The pistols have been scarcely out
of sight since we left home.”

“They have been out of sight. We left them
always in the chamber when we went to meals.”


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“True, but for a few moments only, and then all
about the house were at meals also.”

“No; at breakfast yesterday those gamblers came
in after us, and I think then they came from our
chamber. Besides, though they did not sleep with
us last night, I am persuaded that one or both of them
were in the room. I heard a light step at midnight,
or fancied it; and found my overcoat turned this
morning upon the chair.”

“The chambermaid, or Cuffy for the boots. You
are the most suspicious fellow, Dick, and, somehow,
you hated these two poor devils from the very first
moment you laid eyes on them. Now, d—n 'em,
for my part, I never gave 'em a second thought. I
could have licked either, or both, and when that
chap with the hook-nose began to swagger about, I
felt monstrous like doing it. But he was a poor
shote, and the less said and thought of him the better.
I should not care much to meet him if he had carried
the pistols quite off, and presented them to me,
muzzle-stuffed, at the next turning.”

“He may yet do so,” was my calm reply. “At
least it will do us no harm to prepare for all events.
Let us clear the town, and when we once get well
hidden in the woods, we'll take counsel of our landlord,
and see to our priming.”

“Why not do it now?”

“For the best of reasons—there are eyes on us,


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and some of them may be unfriendly. Better that
they should suppose us ignorant and unprepared, if
they meditate evil.”

“As you please, but I would not be as jealous and
suspicious as you are, Dick, not for all I'm worth.”

“It may be worth that to you to become so:—but
ride on; the ferryman halloos and beckons us to
hasten; there are other travellers to cross. I'm sorry
for it. We want no more company.”

“Ay, but we do, Dick. The more the merrier,
say I. If there's a dozen, no harm, so they be not
in our way in entering land. I like good company.
A hearty joke, or a good story, sets me laughing all
the day. None of your travellers that need to be
bawled at to ride up, and open their ovens. None
of your sobersided, drawling, croaking methodists,
for me—your fellows that preach against good living,
yet eat of the fat of the land whenever they can get
it, and never refuse a collection, however small the
amount. If I hate any two legged creature that
calls himself human, it is your canting fellow, that
preaches pennyworths of morality and practises
pounds of sin—that says a long grace at supper till
the meat grows cold, and that same night inveigles
your chambermaid into the blankets beside him. I
wouldn't think so much of the sin if it wasn't for
the hypocrisy. It's bad enough to love the meal;
but to preach over it, before eating, is a shame as


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well as a sin. None but your sneaks do it; fellows
whom you might safer trust with your soul than
with your purse. They could do little to harm the
one, but they'd make off with the other. None of
those chaps for me, Dick; yet give me as many
travellers as you please. Here seem to be several
going to cross; all wagoners but one, and he seems
just one of the scamps I've been talking of; a short,
chunky, black-coated little body; ten to one his nose
turns up like a pug-puppy's, and he talks through

It was in such careless mood and with such loose
speech that my companion beguiled the time between
our leaving the hotel and reaching the flat which
was to convey us across the river. William was in
the very best of spirits, and these prompted him to a
freedom of speech which might be supposed to denote
some laxity of morals; and yet his morals were
unquestionable. Indeed, it is not unfrequently the case
that a looseness of speech is associated with a rigid
practice of propriety. A consciousness of purity is
very apt to prompt a license of speech in him who
possesses it, while he, on the other hand, who is
most apt to indulge in vice, will most usually prove
himself most circumspect in speech. Vice, to be
successful, calls for continual circumspection; and in
no respect does it exhibit this quality more strikingly
than in the utterance of its sentiments. The family


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of Joe Surface is a singularly numerous one. My
companion was no Joe Surface. He carried his character
in his looks, in his speech, and in his actions.
When you saw the looks, heard the speech, and
witnessed the actions, you had him before you,
without possibility or prospect of change, for good
and for evil; and, to elevate still more highly the
character which I admired, and the man I could not
but love, I will add, that he was only too apt to
extenuate the motives of others by a reference to
his own. He had no doubts of the integrity of his
fellow—no fears of wrong at his hand—was born
with a nature as clear as the sunlight, as confiding
as the winds, and had seen too little of the world,
at the period of which I speak, to have had experience
unteach the sweeter lessons of his unsophisticated
humanity. Let not the reader chide me as
lavish in my eulogy; before he does so, let me pray
him to suppose it written upon his tombstone.

We soon reached the flat, and were on our way
across the river in a few minutes after. The little
man in the black coat had, in truth, as my companion
had predicted, a little pug-puppy nose, but in his
other guesses he was quite out. We soon discovered
that he was no sermoniser—there was any thing
but hypocrisy in his character. On the contrary,
he swore like a trooper whenever occasion offered;
and I was heartily rejoiced, for the decency of the


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thing, if for no other reason, to discover, as I soon
did, that the fellow was about to take another road
from ourselves. The other men, three in number,
were farmers in the neighbourhood, who had been
in to supply the Tuscaloosa market. Like the
people of all countries who live in remote interior
situations, and see few strangers who can teach
them any thing, these people had each a hundred
questions to ask, and as many remarks to make
upon the answers. They were a hearty, frank,
plain spoken, unequivocal set, who would share
with you their hoe cake and bacon, or take a fling
or dash of fisticuffs with you, according to the
several positions, as friend or foe, which you might
think proper to take. Among all the people of this
soil, good humour is almost the only rule which
will enable the stranger to get along safely.

We were soon over the river, which is broad and
not so rapid at this spot as at many others. The
Tuscaloosa, or Black Warrior river, is a branch of
the Alabama.

The site of the town which bears its name, and
which is now the capital town of Alabama, was that
of the Black Warrior's best village. There is no
remnant, no vestige, no miserable cabin, to testify
to what he and his people were. The memorials
of this tribe, like that of all the American tribes, are
few, and yet, the poverty of the relics but speak the


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more emphatically for the mournfulness of their fate.
Who will succeed to their successors, and what
better memorials will they leave to the future? It
is the boast of civilisation only, that it can build its
monument, leave its memorial, and yet, Cheops,
could he now look upon his mausoleum, might be
seen to smile over the boast. Enough of this.

We had no sooner separated from our companions
of the boat, and got fairly into the shelter of the
woods, than I reminded William of the inspection
of our fire arms, which I proposed to make after the
cautionary hint of my landlord. We rode aside accordingly
into a thick copse that lay to the right,
and covered a group of hills, and drew out our
weapons. To the utter astonishment of my companion,
and to my own exasperation, we found, not
only no priming in the pans of our pistols, but the
flints knocked out, and wooden ones, begrimed with
gunpowder, substituted in their place. Whom could
we suspect of this but our two shuffling companions
of the chamber? The discovery was full of warning.
We were in a bad neighbourhood and it behoved us
to keep our wits about us. We were neither of us
men to be terrified into inactivity by the prospect
of danger, and though aroused and apprehensive,
we proceeded to prepare against the events which
seemed to threaten us, and we knew not on which
hand. Fortunately, we had other flints, and other weapons,


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and we put all of them in readiness for instant
requisition. We had scarcely done so, and remounted,
when we heard a horseman riding down
the main track towards the river. We did not look
to see who the traveller might be, but taking our
own course, entered upon the left hand trail of a
fork, which took us out of the main, into a neighbouring
road, by which we proposed to reach the
plantation of Mr. Grafton in the rear, avoiding the
front or main road as it was some little distance
longer. To our own surprise we reached the desired
place in safety and without the smallest interruption
of any kind. Yet our minds had been
wrought up and excited to the very highest pitch
of expectation, and I felt that something like disappointment
was predominant in my bosom, for the
very security we then enjoyed. A scuffle had been
a relief to that anxiety which was not diminished
very greatly by the knowledge that, for a brief
season, we were free from danger. The trial, we
believed, was yet to come, and the suspense of waiting
was a greater source of annoyance, than any
doubts or apprehension, which we might have had,
of the final issue.