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- Nature and Human Nature - 1/85 -


NATURE AND HUMAN NATURE

by

Thomas Chandler Haliburton

1855

Hominem, pagina nostra sapit.--MART

Eye nature's walks, shoot folly as it flies, And catch the manners living as they rise.--POPE

CONTENTS

I. A SURPRISE

II. CLIPPERS AND STEAMERS

III. A WOMAN'S HEART

IV. A CRITTER WITH A THOUSAND VIRTUES AND BUT ONE VICE

V. A NEW WAY TO LEARN GAELIC

VI. THE WOUNDS OF THE HEART

VII. FIDDLING AND DANCING, AND SERVING THE DEVIL

VIII. STITCHING A BUTTON-HOLE

IX. THE PLURAL OF MOOSE

X. A DAY ON THE LAKE.--PART I

XI. A DAY ON THE LAKE.--PART II

XII. THE BETROTHAL

XIII. A FOGGY NIGHT

XIV. FEMALE COLLEGES

XV. GIPSEYING

XVI. THE WORLD BEFORE THE FLOOD

XVII. LOST AT SEA

XVIII. HOLDING UP THE MIRROR

XIX. THE BUNDLE OF STICKS

XX. TOWN AND COUNTRY

XXI. THE HONEYMOON

XXII. A DISH OF CLAMS

XXIII. THE DEVIL'S HOLE; OR, FISH AND FLESH

XXIV. THE CUCUMBER LAKE

XXV. THE RECALL

CHAPTER I.

A SURPRISE.

Thinks I to myself, as I overheard a person inquire of the servant at the door, in an unmistakeable voice and tone, "Is the Squire to hum?" that can be no one else than my old friend Sam Slick the Clockmaker. But it could admit of no doubt when he proceeded, "If he is, tell him I am here."

"Who shall I say, Sir?"

The stranger paused a moment, and then said, "It's such an everlastin' long name, I don't think you can carry it all to wunst, and I don't want it broke in two. Tell him it's a gentleman that calculates to hold a protracted meeten here to-night. Come, don't stand starin' there on the track, you might get run over. Don't you hear the engine coming? Shunt off now."

"Ah, my old friend," said I, advancing, and shaking him by the hand, "how are you?"

"As hearty as a buck," he replied, "though I can't jist jump quite so high now."

"I knew you," I said, "the moment I heard your voice, and if I had not recognised that, I should have known your talk."

"That's because I am a Yankee, Sir," he said, "no two of us look alike, or talk alike; but being free and enlightened citizens, we jist talk as we please."

"Ah, my good friend, you always please when you talk, and that is more than can be said of most men."

"And so will you," he replied, "if you use soft sawder that way. Oh, dear me! it seems but the other day that you laughed so at my theory of soft sawder and human natur', don't it? They were pleasant days, warn't they? I often think of them, and think of them with pleasure too. As I was passing Halifax harbour, on my way hum in the 'Black Hawk,' the wind fortunately came ahead, and thinks I to myself, I will put in there, and pull foot1 for Windsor and see the Squire, give him my Journal, and spend an hour or two with him once more. So here I am, at least what is left of me, and dreadful glad I am to see you too; but as it is about your dinner hour I will go and titivate up a bit, and then we will have a dish of chat for desert, and cigars, to remind us of by-gones, as we stroll through your shady walks here."

1 The Americans are not entitled to the credit or ridicule, whichever people may be disposed to bestow upon them, for the extraordinary phrases with which their conversation is occasionally embellished. Some of them have good classical authority. That of "pull-foot" may be traced to Euripides, [Greek text].

My old friend had worn well; he was still a wiry athletic man, and his step as elastic and springy as ever. The constant exercise he had been in the habit of taking had preserved his health and condition, and these in their turn had enabled him to maintain his cheerfulness and humour. The lines in his face were somewhat deeper, and a few straggling grey hairs were the only traces of the hand of time. His manner was much improved by his intercourse with the great world; but his phraseology, in which he appeared to take both pride and pleasure, was much the same as when I first knew him. So little indeed was he changed, that I could scarcely believe so many years had elapsed since we made our first tour together.

It was the most unexpected and agreeable visit. He enlivened the conversation at dinner with anecdotes that were often too much for the gravity of my servant, who once or twice left the room to avoid explosive outbreaks of laughter. Among others, he told me the following whimsical story.

"When the 'Black Hawk' was at Causeau, we happened to have a queer original sort of man, a Nova Scotia doctor, on board, who joined our party at Ship Harbour, for the purpose of taking a cruise with us. Not having anything above particular to do, we left the vessel and took passage in a coaster for Prince Edward's Island, as my commission required me to spend a day or two there, and inquire about the fisheries. Well, although I don't trade now, I spekelate sometimes when I see a right smart chance, and especially if there is fun in the transaction. So, sais I, 'Doctor, I will play possum1 with these folks, and take a rise out of them, that will astonish their weak narves, I know, while I put several hundred dollars in my pocket at the same time.' So I advertised that I would give four pounds ten shillings for the largest Hackmetack knee in the island, four pounds for the second, three pounds ten shillings for the third, and three pounds for the fourth biggest one. I suppose, Squire, you know what a ship's knee is, don't you? It is a crooked piece of timber, exactly the shape of a man's leg when kneeling. It forms two sides of a square, and makes a grand fastening for the side and deck beams of a vessel.

1 The opossum, when chased by dogs, will often pretend to be dead, and thus deceives his pursuers.

"'What in the world do you want of only four of those knees?' said the Doctor.

"'Nothing,' said I, 'but to raise a laugh on these critters, and make them pay real handsome for the joke.'

"Well, every bushwhacker and forest ranger in the island thought he knew where to find four enormous ones, and that he would go and get them, and say nothing to nobody, and all that morning fixed for the delivery they kept coming into the shipping place with them. People couldn't think what under the light of the living sun was going on, for it seemed as if every team in the province was at work, and all the countrymen were running mad on junipers. Perhaps no livin' soul ever see such a beautiful collection of ship-timber afore, and I am sure never will again in a crow's age. The way these 'old oysters' (a nick-name I gave the islanders, on account of their everlastin' beds of this shell-fish) opened their mugs and gaped was a caution to dying calves.

"At the time appointed, there were eight hundred sticks on the ground,


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