“Bless your soul, no! It’s not my style. I ain’t a man to go fooling around;—I’m a man that does things, I’ll tell you.”

The storm was raging, the thick snow blowing in gusts. Riley stood silent, apparently deep in a reverie, during a minute or more, then he looked up and said: “Have you ever heard about that man who put up at Gadsby’s once? … But I see you haven’t.”

He backed Mr. Lykins against an iron fence, button-holed him, fastened him with his eye, like the Ancient Mariner, and proceeded to unfold his narrative as placidly and peacefully as if we were all stretched comfortably in a blossomy summer meadow instead of being persecuted by a wintry midnight tempest.

“I will tell you about that man. It was in Jackson’s time. Gadsby’s was the principal hotel, then. Well, this man arrived from Tennessee about nine o’clock, one morning, with a black coachman and a splendid four-horse carriage, and an elegant dog, which he was evidently fond and proud of; he drove up before Gadsby’s and the clerk and the landlord and everybody rushed out to take charge of him, but he said, ‘Never mind,’ and jumped out and told the coachman to wait—said he hadn’t time to take anything to eat, he only had a little claim against the Government to collect, would run across the way, to the Treasury, and fetch the money, and then get right along back to Tennessee, for he was in considerable of a hurry.

“Well, about eleven o’clock that night he came back and ordered a bed and told them to put the horses up—said he would collect the claim in the morning. This was in January, you understand— January, 1834—the 3rd of January—Wednesday.

“Well, on the 5th of February he sold the fine carriage and bought a cheap second-hand one—said it would answer just as well to take the money home in, and he didn’t care for style.

“On the 11th of August he sold a pair of the fine horses—said he’d often thought a pair was better than four, to go over the rough mountain-roads with, where a body had to be careful about his driving—and there wasn’t so much of his claim but he could lug the money home with a pair easy enough.

“On the 13th of December he sold another horse—said two weren’t necessary to drag that old light vehicle with—in fact, one could snatch it along faster than was absolutely necessary, now that it was good solid winter weather, and the roads in splendid condition.

“On the 17th of February, 1835, he sold the old carriage and bought a cheap second-hand buggy—said a buggy was just the trick to skim along mushy, slushy early-spring roads with, and he had always wanted to try a buggy on those mountain-roads, anyway.

“On the 1st of August he sold the buggy and bought the remains of an old sulky—said he just wanted to see those green Tennesseans stare when they saw him come a-ripping along in a sulky; didn’t believe they’d ever heard of a sulky in their lives.

“Well, on the 29th of August he sold his coloured coachman— said he didn’t need a coachman for a sulky—wouldn’t be room enough for two in it, anyway—and said it wasn’t every day that Providence sent a man a fool who was willing to pay nine hundred dollars for such a third-rate negro as that—been wanting to get rid of the creature for years, but didn’t like to throw him away.

“Eighteen months later—that is to say, on the 15th of February, 1837—he sold the sulky and bought a saddle—said horseback-riding was what the doctor had always recommended him to take, and dog’d if he wanted to risk his neck going over those mountain-roads on wheels in the dead of winter, not if he knew himself.

“On the 9th of April he sold the saddle—said he wasn’t going to risk his life with any perishable saddle- girth that ever was made, over a rainy, miry April road, while he could ride bareback and know and feel he was safe; always had despised to ride on a saddle, anyway.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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