The Worlds Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906. Vols. IV: American
The Hoosier and the Salt-Pile
By Danforth Marble
IM sorry, says Dan, as he knocked the ashes from his regalia, as he sat in a small crowd over a glass of sherry at Florences, New York, one evening, Im sorry that the stages are disappearing so rapidly; I never enjoyed traveling so well as in the slow coaches. Ive made a good many passages over the Alleghanies, and across Ohio, from Cleveland to Columbus and Cincinnati, all over the South, down East, and up North, in stages, and I generally had a good time.
When I passed over from Cleveland to Cincinnati, the last time, in a stage, I met a queer crowdsuch a corps, such a time you never did see. I never was better amused in my life. We had a good teamspanking horses, fine coaches, and one of them drivers you read of. Well, there was nine insiders, and I dont believe there ever was a stageful of Christians ever started before so chuck-full of music.
There was a beautiful young lady going to one of the Cincinnati academies; next to her sat a Jew pedlerfor Cowes and a market; wedging him in was a dandy blackleg, with jewelry and chains around about his breast and neckenough to hang him. There was myself and an old gentleman with large spectacles, gold-headed cane, and a jolly, soldering-iron-looking nose; by him was a circus-rider whose breath was enough to breed yaller fever, and could be felt just as easy as cotton velvet! A cross old woman came next, and whose look would have given any reasonable man the double-breasted blues before breakfast; alongside of her was a rale backwoods preacher, with the biggest and ugliest mouth ever got up since the flood. He was flanked by the low comedian of the party, an Indiana Hoosier, gwine down to Orleans to get an army contract to supply the forces then in Mexico with beef.
We rolled along for some time; nobody seemed inclined to open. The old aunty sot bolt upright, looking crab-apples and persimmons at the Hoosier and the preacher; the young lady dropped the green curtain of her bonnet over her pretty face, and leaned back in her seat to nod and dream over japonicas and jumbles, pantalets and poetry; the old gentleman, proprietor of the Bardolph nose, looked out at the corduroy and swashes; the gambler fell off into a doze, and the circus covey followed suit, leaving the preacher and me vis-à-vis and saying nothing to nobody. Indianny, he stuck his mug out at the window and criticized the cattle we now and then passed. I was wishing somebody would give the conversation a start, when Indianny made a break:
Well, I dont see how in hll they all manage to get along in a country whar thar aint no ranges and they dont make no beef. A man aint considered worth a cuss in Indianny what hasnt got his brand on a hundred head.
Well, sir, it aint anything else. A man thats got sense enuff to foller his own cow-bell with us aint in no danger of starvin. Im gwine down to Orleans to see if I cant git a contract out of Uncle Sam to feed the boys whats been lickin them infernal Mexicans so bad. I spose youve seed them cussed lies whats been in the papers about the Indianny boys at Bony Visty.
With that the Indianny man went into a full explanation of the affair, and, gittin warmed up as he went along, begun to cuss and swear like hed been through a dozen campaigns himself. The old preacher listened to him with evident signs of displeasure, twistin and groanin till he couldnt stand it no longer.
My friend, says he, you must excuse me, but your conversation would be a great deal more interesting to meand Im sure would please the company much betterif you wouldnt swear so terribly. Its very wrong to swear, and I hope youll have respect for our feelins, if you haint no respect for your Maker.
If the Hoosier had been struck with thunder and lightnin he couldnt have been more completely tuck aback. He shut his mouth right in the middle of what he was sayin and looked at the preacher, while his face got as red as fire.
The old lady sort of brightened upthe preacher was her duck of a man; the old fellow with the nose and cane let off a few umph, ah! umphs. But Indianny kept shady; he appeared to be cowed down.
And then he went on to preach a regular sermon agin swearing, and to quote Scripture like he had the whole Bible by heart. In the course of his argument he undertook to prove the Scriptures to be true, and told us all about the miracles and propheces and their fulfilment. The old gentleman with the cane took a part in the conversation, and the Hoosier listened without ever opening his head.
Ive just heard of a gentleman, says the preacher, thats been to the Holy Land and went over the Bible country. Its astonishin to hear what wonderful things he has seen. He was at Sodom and Gomorrow, and seen the place whar Lots wife fell!
All but the gambler, who was snoozing in the corner of the coach, looked at the preacherthe Hoosier with an expression of countenance that plainly told that his mind was powerfully convicted of an important fact.
The preacher raised both his hands at such an irreverent remark, and the old gentleman laughed himself into a fit of asthmatics, what he didnt get over till he came to the next change of horses. The Hoosier had played the mischief with the gravity of the whole party; even the old maid had to put her handkerchief to her face, and the young ladys eyes were filled with tears for half an hour afterward. The old preacher hadnt another word to say on the subject; but whenever we came to any place or met anybody on the road, the circus man nursed the thing along by asking what was the price of salt.