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could, we made slow time. Delays were all the time happening. A horse would get a wind-gall on the fetlock, or my mare would get a swollen hock and would need to be coddled. Finally, after delays and losses, we got the drove into the New York market.
And now I found that the trip was worth all the time and pains which it had cost. I had picked up the cattle dirt cheap in Ohio, and the price of young, fat critters in the New York market was so high that I cleared up over $30 on every hea
head of cattle in the drove.
HAD done so well on the Ohio trip that I followed it
with several more. These times I went into Kentucky and even as far west as Illinois. Because now I knew that it could be done, and also more or less how to do it. There were accidents and delays. But New York was growing so fast and the price of butcher's meat was climbing at such a rate, that I found each time a fine profit when I had cleaned up the deal. I gave Astor back the money he had loaned me, and had enough besides to pay me for my
trouble. Of course, these Western trips didn't take up all my time during these years. I paid attention, off and on, to running the “Bull's Head.” I was also making short trips out around New York to pick up a herd of cattle here and there. There . were some fine grazing bottoms out through Orange County. I got to know some of those southern counties of York State, as well as the near-by regions of Jersey and Pennsylvania.
One day something happened to me whilst on a cattle trip I was taking up near the Harlem River, which had a great effect upon my life. It was my
remarkable escape from death by lightning, and my return to religion. For I had by this time I grieve
to state it backslided once more.
The life at the “Bull's Head” tavern was not very favourable to growth in grace. Besides, I was trotting about here and there. Churches were not very numerous, and my religious life got like the dead ashes in the fireplace, here and there perhaps a live spark, but the fire, for the most part, died out. I were still some live sparks; because all during this time of
my backslidden state I had periods when I was under conviction; which means that the spirit was still striving with my soul. But I was not yielding to these strivings of the spirit. I seemed to have become hardened. Now something was to happen which was to bring me back once more within the fold, never again to wander.
"I had driven up to Manhattanville, in the upper part of Manhattan Island, some miles from the Bull's Head village. I was in a gig, for I had a man with me. My visit was for the purpose of looking over some cattle which were on a farm up near that town. We reached the place, tied the gig at the gate, and went out into the field where the cattle were. Whilst I was looking them over I noticed a hard thunder-shower brewing, and hurried through the work. This I could do easily, because I had by this time become one of the best judges of critters to be met with anywheres. I
could take in the parts of a steer with one sweep of my eye. As soon as the job was done we got back to the gig and started to drive to shelter before the storm should break. But it was providentially to be otherwise. We had hardly got the horse unhitched and started on our way, when the storm broke all around us. We tried to press on. Suddenly we were blinded by a blaze of light brighter than a hundred suns at noonday. I guess it was followed by a terrific thunder-clap. But of this I am not sure, because, after that blaze of light, I don't remember anything.
How long I lay unconscious I don't know, but it must have been some time. Because, when I came to, the rain had ceased and the storm had cleared away. I found that my companion had also been stunned and now was likewise coming out of the fit. When back some of our senses we looked around. There before us the horse lay, dead in the harness. It was by a miracle that my life had been spared. Then and there I gave myself once more to the Lord. As can be seen, it took a great deal of the grace of God to reach me. He had to try so many times before he finally got me landed safe and sound on his side. I promised that I vould never backslide again. Not that I was ever very bad. Even in my
backslideful states I had never been a profane, bad man, and I had always held infidels in great horror. Over
in Greenwich village, across Bloomingdale Road from the “Bull's Head,” was the house where a man by the name of Tom Paine had lived. He had written a bad book called “The Age of Reason.” To reach his village from my side of the island, I had to go through the potter's field, where public hangings used to be held. The gallows stood right in the middle of what is now Washington Square. On top of that gallows many a poor fellow used to stand, never to walk again — "jerked to Jesus” is what we called it back in those days. I don't see how any one, if he had any spark of him, could go by that gallows and across that potter's field to the road where Paine's house was, without feeling a horror for bad men and infidels.
I was glad, after I had fully recovered from the fit into which that stroke of lightning threw me, that I had gone through the experience, and had become at last soundly converted. Because, as it later turned out, the drover business was not to be my work all through life. Just as I was beginning middle life, I left it, said good-bye to my life at the “Bull's Head” tavern, and got into the steamboat business. An owner of steamboats ought to be religious and respectable-like. It may not be so bad for a drover to stay away from church, because his business is a rough-and-ready business, anyhow. People don't expect much of him. But a steamboat proprietor is in a higher seat. A man
A man of promi