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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Horace Greeley’s Ride to Placerville
By Artemus Ward (Charles Farrar Browne) (1834–1867)
 
From ‘Artemus Ward: His Travels’

WHEN Mr. Greeley was in California, ovations awaited him at every town. He had written powerful leaders in the Tribune in favor of the Pacific Railroad, which had greatly endeared him to the citizens of the Golden State. And therefore they made much of him when he went to see them.  1
  At one town the enthusiastic populace tore his celebrated white coat to pieces and carried the pieces home to remember him by.  2
  The citizens of Placerville prepared to fête the great journalist, and an extra coach with extra relays of horses was chartered of the California Stage Company to carry him from Folsom to Placerville—distance, forty miles. The extra was in some way delayed, and did not leave Folsom until late in the afternoon. Mr. Greeley was to be fêted at seven o’clock that evening by the citizens of Placerville, and it was altogether necessary that he should be there by that time. So the Stage Company said to Henry Monk, the driver of the extra, “Henry, this great man must be there by seven to-night.” And Henry answered, “The great man shall be there.”  3
  The roads were in an awful state, and during the first few miles out of Folsom slow progress was made.  4
  “Sir,” said Mr. Greeley, “are you aware that I must be in Placerville at seven o’clock to-night?”  5
  “I’ve got my orders!” laconically replied Henry Monk.  6
  Still the coach dragged slowly forward.  7
  “Sir,” said Mr. Greeley, “this is not a trifling matter. I must be there at seven!”  8
  Again came the answer, “I’ve got my orders!”  9
  But the speed was not increased, and Mr. Greeley chafed away another half-hour; when, as he was again about to remonstrate with the driver, the horses suddenly started into a furious run, and all sorts of encouraging yells filled the air from the throat of Henry Monk.  10
  “That is right, my good fellow,” said Mr. Greeley. “I’ll give you ten dollars when we get to Placerville. Now we are going!”  11
  They were indeed, and at a terrible speed.  12
  Crack, crack! went the whip, and again “that voice” split the air, “Get up! Hi-yi! G’long! Yip-yip.”  13
  And on they tore over stones and ruts, up hill and down, at a rate of speed never before achieved by stage horses.  14
  Mr. Greeley, who had been bouncing from one end of the stage to the other like an India-rubber ball, managed to get his head out of the window, when he said:—  15
  “Do-on’t-on’t-on’t you-u-u think we-e-e-e shall get there by seven if we do-on’t-on’t go so fast?”  16
  “I’ve got my orders!” That was all Henry Monk said. And on tore the coach.  17
  It was becoming serious. Already the journalist was extremely sore from the terrible jolting—and again his head “might have been seen from the window.”  18
  “Sir,” he said, “I don’t care-care-air if we don’t get there at seven.”  19
  “I’ve got my orders!” Fresh horses—forward again, faster than before—over rocks and stumps, on one of which the coach narrowly escaped turning a summerset.  20
  “See here!” shrieked Mr. Greeley, “I don’t care if we don’t get there at all.”  21
  “I’ve got my orders! I work fer the California Stage Company, I do. That’s wot I work fer. They said, ‘Get this man through by seving.’ An’ this man’s goin’ through, you bet! Gerlong! Whoo-ep!”  22
  Another frightful jolt, and Mr. Greeley’s bald head suddenly found its way through the roof of the coach, amidst the crash of small timbers and the ripping of strong canvas.  23
  “Stop, you—maniac!” he roared.  24
  Again answered Henry Monk:—  25
  “I’ve got my orders! Keep your seat, Horace!”  26
  At Mud Springs, a village a few miles from Placerville, they met a large delegation of the citizens of Placerville, who had come out to meet the celebrated editor, and escort him into town. There was a military company, a brass band, and a six-horse wagon-load of beautiful damsels in milk-white dresses, representing all the States in the Union. It was nearly dark now, but the delegation was amply provided with torches, and bonfires blazed all along the road to Placerville.  27
  The citizens met the coach in the outskirts of Mud Springs, and Mr. Monk reined in his foam-covered steeds.  28
  “Is Mr. Greeley on board?” asked the chairman of the committee.  29
  “He was, a few miles back!” said Mr. Monk. “Yes,” he added, looking down through the hole which the fearful jolting had made in the coach-roof, “Yes, I can see him! He is there!”  30
  “Mr. Greeley,” said the chairman of the committee, presenting himself at the window of the coach, “Mr. Greeley, sir! We are come to most cordially welcome you, sir!—Why, God bless me, sir, you are bleeding at the nose!”  31
  “I’ve got my orders!” cried Mr. Monk. “My orders is as follows: Git him there by seving! It wants a quarter to seving. Stand out of the way!”  32
  “But, sir,” exclaimed the committee-man, seizing the off-leader by the reins, “Mr. Monk, we are come to escort him into town! Look at the procession, sir, and the brass-band, and the people, and the young women, sir!”  33
  “I’ve got my orders!” screamed Mr. Monk. “My orders don’t say nothin’ about no brass bands and young women. My orders says, ‘Git him there by seving.’ Let go them lines! Clear the way there! Whoo-ep! KEEP YOUR SEAT, HORACE!” and the coach dashed wildly through the procession, upsetting a portion of the brass band, and violently grazing the wagon which contained the beautiful young women in white.  34
  Years hence, gray-haired men who were little boys in this procession will tell their grandchildren how this stage tore through Mud Springs, and how Horace Greeley’s bald head ever and anon showed itself like a wild apparition above the coach-roof.  35
  Mr. Monk was on time. There is a tradition that Mr. Greeley was very indignant for a while: then he laughed and finally presented Mr. Monk with a brand-new suit of clothes. Mr. Monk himself is still in the employ of the California Stage Company, and is rather fond of relating a story that has made him famous all over the Pacific coast. But he says he yields to no man in his admiration for Horace Greeley.  36
 
 
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