« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
now—maybe that 'ud astonish 'em a wee bit, and give 'em some new idees respicting public idifices, jist. Ochone! Ireland's the place to taach 'em—the baastly serpints of bir-r-ds that they is."
It was upon a cold November night that about a dozen of us were seated or lying in a half-faced camp, with a blazing fire in front, that dispensed a very cheerful warmth in our midst, but which occasionally sent a very cheerless gust of smoke with it. The day's hunt was over. We had recounted our exploits until each one was as familiar with all the details as if he had been personally present, and the plan of operations for the morrow had been canvassed and decided on, until each man knew his direction and his post. The office of cook for the ensuing day had fallen on me, and I was busy mixing the flour, slicing the middling, cutting up the fat ribs of venison, and running them through with hazel switches, so as to secure both the early departure of our hunters,
and myself an uninterrupted nap in the morning.
Our horses were tied hard by, except one or two old fellows, whose established habits gave assurance that we would find them close at hand in the morning, or whose sagacity taught them that the safest and most comfortable place for them was in the neighbourhood of their masters, to whom they were very willing to render service for protection, Mais revenons, &c.
All was comfortable for the night. Our saddles furnished a glorious pillow, and our buffalo skins a glorious bed. With one's feet to the fire, and on such a couch, I defy any one, after a hard day's hunt, to rise in the morning without a sense of energy that would face a lion, and without an appetite that would devour him when faced, and handled à la Samson. You may talk about your reunions, your soirées, and your dejeuners, and all that sort of conventionalism that the world calls social refinement; but let me tell you, that, for true-hearted benevolence, for that freedom of expression that conveys and leaves no sting, for an unreserved intercourse, as void of selfishness as it is of parade, commend me to a huntingparty in a half-faced camp. Politics are
never introduced, religious differences find no entrance there, trade is excluded, and in this rare community, where every man is the equal of his neighbour, the jest goes round as harmless as it is general, and when the conversation takes a graver cast, many a story is told of deeds of daring, and of hairbreadth escapes, that startle the listener into deep attention, for the story is generally a story of truth.
It is one of these that I now propose to tell you.
After all my arrangements for the night had been completed, I turned around to lie down, when my eye rested on the stout form of Tom Wade, who was busily patching up, with a needle a shade smaller than a sailmaker's, the rents his garments had suffered in the day's hunt. His broad shoulders, deep chest, and sinewy arm, gave unerring indication of great strength. Like all very powerful men, Wade was proverbially goodnatured. I never knew of his having a fight; I have heard of his having had two, but you can never get him to talk about them. Rumour speaks of a threatened grand jury that followed his last combat, and of Tom's mysterious disappearance until the storm blew over. Yet rumour never dared
to hint that anything in that fight was foul. It was the fearful result of a tremendous blow, in a fair fight, that frightened Tom into temporary retirement. The consciousness of his immense strength, and the recollection of that scrape, have kept him from that time the most peaceful man in the community.
His courage no one doubted. He was generally selected as the most fitting agent to execute civil or criminal processes that were attended with danger. On such occasions, when he always obeyed with reluctance, and when no one else could be found to do the duty, he was always successful. It must have been the general opinion of his great strength and courage that induced submission to the law whenever Tom Wade had the process to serve. He told me that he had never met with resistance but once, and that was from a gambler named Hinkson, and that after that “fuss” Hinkson was the best friend he ever had.
On some rainy day, when I have nothing else to do, I may tell you of that scrape between Bill Hinkson and Tom Wade. I felt no disposition to sleep, so turning to Wade, I said to him—
“ Tom, as soon as you have done sewing VOL. I.