A Desperate Race

Some years ago, I was one of a convivial party that met in the principal hotel in the town of Columbus, Ohio, the seat of government of the Buckeye State.

It was a winter’s evening, when all without was bleak and stormy and all within were blithe and gay—when song and story made the circuit of the festive board, filling up the chasms of life with mirth and laughter.

We had met for the express purpose of making a night of it, and the pious intention was duly and most religiously carried out. The Legislature was in session in that town, and not a few of the worthy legislators were present upon this occasion.

One of these worthies I will name, as he not only took a big swath in the evening’s entertainment, but he was a man more generally known than our worthy President, James K. Polk. That man was the famous Captain Riley, whose “Narrative” of suffering and adventures is pretty generally known all over the civilised world. Captain Riley was a fine, fat, good-humoured joker, who at the period of my story was the representative of the Dayton district, and lived near that little city when at home. Well, Captain Riley had amused the company with many of his far-famed and singular adventures, which, being mostly told before and read by millions of people that have seen his book, I will not attempt to repeat.

Many were the stories and adventures told by the company, when it came to the turn of a well-known gentleman who represented the Cincinnati district. As Mr. — is yet among the living, and perhaps not disposed to be the subject of joke or story, I do not feel at liberty to give his name. Mr. — was a slow believer of other men’s adventures, and, at the same time, much disposed to magnify himself into a marvellous hero whenever the opportunity offered. As Captain Riley wound up one of his truthful though really marvellous adventures, Mr. — coolly remarked that the captain’s story was all very well, but it did not begin to compare with an adventure that he had, “once upon a time,” on the Ohio, below the present city of Cincinnati.

“Let’s have it!”—“Let’s have it!” resounded from all hands.

“Well, gentlemen,” said the Senator, clearing his voice for action and knocking the ashes from his cigar against the arm of his chair,—“gentlemen, I am not in the habit of spinning yarns of marvellous or fictitious matters; and therefore it is scarcely necessary to affirm upon the responsibility of my reputation, gentlemen, that what I am about to tell you I most solemnly proclaim to be truth, and—”

“Oh, never mind that: go on, Mr. —,” chimed the party.

“Well, gentlemen, in 18— I came down the Ohio River, and settled at Losanti, now called Cincinnati. It was at that time but a little settlement of some twenty or thirty log and frame cabins, and where now stand the Broadway Hotel and blocks of stores and dwelling-houses, was the cottage and corn-patch of old Mr. —, the tailor, who, by the bye, bought that land for the making of a coat for one of the settlers. Well, I put up my cabin, with the aid of my neighbours, and put in a patch of corn and potatoes, about where the Fly Market now stands, and set about improving my lot, house, etc.

“Occasionally I took up my rifle and started off with my dog down the river, to look up a little deer, or bar meat, then very plenty along the river. The blasted red-skins were lurking about and hovering around the settlement, and every once in a while picked off some of our neighbours or stole our cattle or horses. I hated the red demons, and made no bones of peppering the blasted sarpents whenever I got a sight at them. In fact, the red rascals had a dread of me, and had laid a good many traps to get my scalp, but I wasn’t to be catched napping. No, no, gentlemen, I was too well up to ’em for that.

“Well, I started off one morning, pretty early, to take a hunt, and travelled a long way down the river, over the bottoms and hills, but couldn’t find no bar nor deer. About four o’clock in the afternoon I made tracks for the settlement again. By and by I sees a buck just ahead of me, walking leisurely down the river. I slipped up, with my faithful old dog close in my rear, to within clever shooting-distance, and just

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