Stage Coaching

It was a magnificent afternoon, when, on the occasion of my last visit to the White Mountains, the train which had borne us on through the beautiful Pemigewasset Valley, and over a tract of country unequalled in the world for its quiet grandeur and beauty, halted at Littleton. There was a grand debarking here, and each started for his particular destination by some one of the stage-coaches which ply between Littleton and the numerous summer resorts scattered among the mountains. With some twenty others I took passage on the stage destined for the Profile House, and was fortunate enough to secure a seat by the side of the driver. He proved to be a pleasant-mannered, old gentleman, with a clear gray eye which twinkled merrily whenever he spoke. He was quite intelligent, withal, and had that indescribable something about him which makes one feel when he encounters men of his kind that if accident had placed them in some higher walk in life they had within them the elements to adorn that higher plane, even as my friend adorned the box and lent dignity to the coach and four over which he presided. He was decidedly entertaining, and directed my attention to different points in the landscape which had been rendered classic by what Edward Everett, Thomas Starr King, Bayard Taylor and others had written about them. And he informed me with a great deal of impressiveness when alluding to either of the gentlemen that “He was a man that had the sand in him.” I had no definite idea of his meaning, but I did not see fit to question him as to the exact definition of the term. There are certain expressions met with quite often which are beyond the ken of the analysist, but which have a significance after all like Mr. Peggotty’s, “Well, I’m gormed,” and may properly be accepted unquestioned.

When we had driven down to the village of Franconia, my friend pointed out several features of the country which had been described, and gave me an outline of some of the originals of the characters figuring in a series of books called the “Beechnut Stories,” which I remember, and many of my readers will remember, as a very amusing and instructive part of our early reading. After we left Franconia and began to climb the rugged hills which culminate in the mountains beyond, progress was not over rapid. My entertainer, therefore, at the end of a few miles had gone over New Hampshire matters pretty thoroughly, and for some time we rode on in silence. Then, with a view evidently of finding a respectable peg on which to hang some further intelligence, he observed:

“I suppose you hail from New York way?”

“No. From the interior of Massachusetts,” I answered.

“Now you don’t know how glad I am of that,” said he, gleefully. “I say, neighbor, you don’t know Judge P—, of Northampton, do you?”

“Oh! yes, quite well by reputation, and I have met him personally once or twice in a professional capacity.”

“Well, I want to know! So you know the judge,” he went on. “He’s a pretty fair sort of a man, neighbor; a pretty goldarned sight of a man. He’s a man that has got the sand in him, or I’m a cow,” and he wagged his head sagely and seemed to be musing.

To all of this I assented, for the gentleman in question is one of the most eminent men in Massachusetts. I should have inquired into the relations existing between those two, so far apart in a social sense, and apparently with paths in life running in almost opposite directions, but my companion seemed to wish to change the subject, and so contenting myself with the thought that probably the judge came to the mountains often, and had been gracious to the old gentleman, I again relapsed into silence. This had the effect of starting him off on a new subject, and he related the following:

“It must be nigh on to thirty years ago that I went down to New York to see an aunt of mine. I was a young man then, and the folks around the house wasn’t the sociablest kind of critters I ever see, so I used to look around for something interesting, and among other places I went to was a police court on the same road she lived on, a little further to the west. There’s a good deal of human nature to be seen and studied in a police court. It’s a good place for a man to take his boy to, and let the youngster judge for himself whether the use of rum has a good effect on the system. It done me more good them few days I was there than all the temperance lectures I could ever have heard. Fellows brought up there

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