The Gentleman of La Porte

He was also a Pioneer. A party who broke through the snows of the winter of ’51, and came upon the triangular little valley afterwards known as La Porte, found him the sole inhabitant. He had subsisted for three months on two biscuits a day and a few inches of bacon, in a hut made of bark and brushwood. Yet, when the explorers found him, he was quite alert, hopeful, and gentlemanly. But I cheerfully make way here for the terser narrative of Captain Henry Symes, commanding the prospecting party:—

“We kem upon him, gentlemen, suddent-like, jest abreast of a rock like this”—demonstrating the distance— “ez near ez you be. He sees us, and he dives into his cabin and comes out ag’in with a tall hat,—a stovepipe, gentlemen,—and, blank me! gloves! He was a tall, thin feller, holler in the cheek,—ez might be,—and off color in his face, ez was nat’ral, takin’ in account his starvation grub. But he lifts his hat to us, so, and sez he, ‘Happy to make your acquaintance, gentlemen! I’m afraid you experienced some difficulty in getting here. Take a cigyar.’ And he pulls out a fancy cigar-case with two real Havanas in it. ‘I wish there was more,’ sez he.

“ ‘Ye don’t smoke yourself?’ sez I.

“ ‘Seldom,’ sez he; which was a lie, for that very afternoon I seed him hangin’ ontu a short pipe like a suckin’ baby ontu a bottle. ‘I kept these cigyars for any gentleman that might drop in.’

“ ‘I reckon ye see a great deal o’ the best society yer,’ sez Bill Parker, starin’ at the hat and gloves and winkin’ at the boys.

“ ‘A few Ind-i-ans occasionally,’ sez he.

“ ‘Injins!’ sez we.

“ ‘Yes. Very quiet good fellows in their way. They have once or twice brought me game, which I refused, as the poor fellows have had a pretty hard time of it themselves.’

“Now, gentlemen, we was, ez you know, rather quiet men—rather peaceable men; but—hevin’ been shot at three times by these yar ‘good’ Injins, and Parker hisself havin’ a matter o’ three inches of his own skelp lying loose in their hands and he walkin’ round wearin’ green leaves on his head like a Roman statoo—it did kinder seem ez if this yer stranger was playin’ it rather low down on the boys. Bill Parker gets up and takes a survey o’ him, and sez he, peaceful-like—

“ ‘Ye say these yer Injins—these yer quiet Injins—offered yer game?’

“ ‘They did!’ sez he.

“ ‘And you refoosed?’

“ ‘I did,’ sez he.

“ ‘Must hev made ’em feel kinder bad—sorter tortered their sensitiv’ naters?’ sez Bill.

“ ‘They really seemed quite disappointed.’

“ ‘In course,’ sez Bill. ‘And now mout I ask who you be?’

“ ‘Excuse me,’ says the stranger; and, darn my skin! If he doesn’t hist out a keerd-case, and, handin’ it over to Bill, sez, ‘Here’s my kyard.’

“Bill took it and read out aloud, ‘J. Trott, Kentucky.’

“ ‘It’s a pooty keerd,’ sez Bill.

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