+ ~ -
 
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
 
Report an Error
Go!
 
Go!
 
TOC
 

kiss, on the day when we first parted; and
our dear old father's; and handsome Harry's,
flushed and  half-tearful, off to his first school;
and- Well no matter whose!

TWO FRIENDS FROM TEXAS

I HAD scarcely been two hours on board that
magnificent ship, the Sea Serpent, bound to New
York from Liverpool, before I made acquaintancewit
h Amos and lchabod Allen, two brothers,
from Chapel-hill, Washington-County, Texas.

They were perfect specimens of the American
frontier settler, with all the backwoodsman's
bravery, heartiness, and roughness. They
contrasted  exquisitely with the demure Presbyterian
clergyman from Philadelphia, the three lean
Swedenborgian sisters from Boston, the
conceited little sarcastic merchant from Milwaukee,
the slow  grave sugar-planter from Louisiana, the
Californian sea captain, and the thin engineer
from the Pittsburg iron wofks. They were not,
in the general sense, gentlemen, though they
had paid first-class fares; yet they were fine,
droll, generous fiery, chivalrous fellows as ever
fired into a buffalo on the plains at the foot of
the Rocky Mountains, or " drew a bead" on a
Comanchee Indian. When I talked to them, I
seemed to be sitting beside Leather-stockings, or
listening to a scout of Wolfe's army; yet,
presently, they would be talking to me of the
English volunteers, or of the last farce at the
Strand Theatre. The contrast of their half-
civilisation, with the refinement and luxury I had
just left behind in England, left a deep
impression in my mind.

We had emigrants on board: a poor draggled
set who, for the first week, remained hidden
altogether underground, but eventually emerged on
bright calm afternoons, and lay about the
fok'sal, dabbling in tin cups, dressing lumps
of Celtic children, helping now and then at a
rope, or playing with rope quoits. I saw much
of them and of their complaints; for I gave
up my first-class cabin below deck, to be with
my Texan friends in a cabin on deck which we
hired of George, one of the second stewards,
who was ill below. Here, seated on chests, with
the door slightly open, if no sea were on, we sat
half the day, lounging in our bins of berth, reading,
smoking, and talking. Sometimes we got
out a pack of cards and played long games of
"poker" and ''euker," for very small pieces of
silver. Then nothing was said for an hour or so,
but, "Who's got a little spade?" " Euker me,"
or a sullen cautious player repeated his invariable
remark, " I'll pass."  Now, Amos and Ichabod
suffered much from the restraint of society, and
had the utmost horror of the cabin passengers
generally. When I wanted, therefore, to talk with
the latter, I left Amos and lchabod at euker, and
returned when I chose. Now and then I found
them a little too rough and coarse for my taste,
much as I admired their brave frankness and
hearty praise of the wildborder-life.

I delighted to leave the three Swedenborgian
old maids discussing with a dogmatic old
minister "the incalculable periods of time before
the granite gave way to the slate," and with
"all I can say is, that Moses," sounding in my
ears, to go back to my wild friends and find
lchabod, trying from his upper berth to lasso
Amos as he sat grave at cards below, with his
back to his playful brother, shouting in a fine
full voice as he curved the rope-noose, his
favourite song of the "Texan Ranger," with
the invariable refrain

      On the banks of the Rio Grande,

which seems to stir all Texans as the Ranz des
Vaches does a Swiss.

My Texan friends had selected comrades (they
thinking me rather too quiet and grave) from
the richer emigrants. There was an Irish
wharfkeeper from Memphis, and there was a goldsmith
from Birmingham, who was going to start a shop
in New York; the chief merit ot our new
companions being that they played well at "poker,"
and sang a good song: for instance, " The old
Kentucky shore, good night," and " Campdown
Races," the emigrants always giving us a ready
chorus if we wanted such a thing.

Amos was a short, thick-set, ugly-faced man,
with cunning and yet honest eyes, a bad tobacco-
chewing complexion, and that peculiar sort of cut
beard which is all but national. The Americans
do not wear tufts, and the sort of beard I am
going to describe is fast becoming the special
type of the Americans. Neither Northerners
nor Southerners wear moustaches; they " have
no use for them," as Amos quaintly said. Their
beard is the ordinary square English beard, yet not
quite so long, and always shaved in a hard
crescent line from the two sides of the under lip
downwards. This gives it, to me, an artificial and
truculent look; but the real American-born affects it.

Ichabod was a fine fresh-coloured, brown-
eyed young giant of three-and-twenty, strong as
a grisly bear, and able to whip his weight in
wild cats. I never saw so generous, frank, open-
hearted a young lion of a fellow in my life.
Deceit and fear were unknown to him, yet he
was not clever, and totally without education. A
book seemed to act as an instantaneous opiate
on him; but he could hunt the buffalo ten hours
running, and track a Camanche war-party with
Indian tenacity and endurance, as Amos privately
told me, and Amos was never tired of praising
his brother's shooting, while Ichabod talked for
hours of how Amos could tame wild horses.

Amos was a widower. His wife, whose photograph
he was always looking at, died, with her
child, of a fever caught after what he called a
"spindle dropsy, that had made her legs as
thin as netting-needles." There was no doubt
about the reality of Amos's affection, for the
look he gave that foggy portrait could never be
assumed, nor was that kiss feigned, either, which
he gave to the vague resemblance of his dead child.
And yet I scarcely liked the warmth of description
with which Amos dwelt on the grace aud beauty
of a certain Spanish se├▒orita who lived at San
Antonio, where he sometimes took mules to
sell. The antecedents of Amos were not unlike