"When You Call Me That, Smile!"
We cannot see ourselves as other see us, or I should know what appearance I cut at hearing this from the tall man. I said nothing, feeling uncertain.
I reckon I am looking for you, seh, he repeated politely.
I am looking for Judge Henry, I now replied.
He walked toward me, and I saw that in inches he was not a giant. He was not more than six feet. It was Uncle Hughey that had made him seem to tower. But in his eye, in his face, in his step, in the whole man, there dominated a something potent to be felt, I should think, by man or woman.
The Judge sent me afteh you, seh, he now explained, in his civil Southern voice; and he handed me a letter from my host. Had I not witnessed his facetious performances with Uncle Hughey, I should have judged him wholly ungifted with such powers. There was nothing external about him but what seemed the signs of a nature as grave as you could meet. But I had witnessed; and therefore supposing that I knew him in spite of his appearance, that I was, so to speak, in his secret and could give him a sort of wink, I adopted at once a method of easiness. It was so pleasant to be easy with a large stranger, who instead of shooting at your heels had very civilly handed you a letter.
Youre from old Virginia, I take it? I began.
He answered slowly, Then you have taken it correct, seh. A slight chill passed over my easiness, but I went cheerily on with a further inquiry. Find many oddities out here like Uncle Hughey? Yes, seh, there is a right smart of oddities around. They come in on every train. At this point I dropped my method of easiness.
I wish that trunks came on the train, said I. And I told him my predicament.
It was not to be expected that he would be greatly moved at my loss; but he took it with no comment whatever. Well wait in town for it, said he, always perfectly civil.
Now, what I had seen of town was, to my newly arrived eyes, altogether horrible. If I could possibly sleep at the Judges ranch, I preferred to do so.
Is it too far to drive there to-night? I inquired.
He looked at me in a puzzled manner.
For this valise, I explained, contains all that I immediately need; in fact, I could do without my trunk for a day or two, if it is not convenient to send. So if we could arrive there not too late by starting at once-- I paused.
Its two hundred and sixty-three miles, said the Virginian.
To my loud ejaculation he made no answer, but surveyed me a moment longer, and then said, Supper will be about ready now. He took my valise, and I followed his steps toward the eating-house in silence. I was dazed.
As we went, I read my hosts letter--a brief hospitable message. He was very sorry not to meet me him self. He had been getting ready to drive over, when the surveyor appeared and detained him. Therefore in his stead he was sending a trustworthy man to town, who would look after me and drive me over. They were looking forward to my visit with much pleasure. This was all.
Yes, I was dazed. How did they count distance in this country? You spoke in a neighborly fashion about driving over to town, and it meant--I did not know yet how many days. And what would be meant by the term dropping in, I wondered. And how many miles would be considered really far? I abstained
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