Tempest and Sunshine (Chapter 1, page 1 of 10)


 
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Chapter 1

It was the afternoon of a bright October day. The old town clock had just
tolled the hour of four, when the Lexington and Frankfort daily stage was
heard rattling over the stony pavement in the small town of V----, Kentucky.
In a few moments the four panting steeds were reined up before the door of
The Eagle, the principal hotel in the place. "Mine host," a middle-aged,
pleasant-looking man, came hustling out to inspect the newcomers, and
calculate how many would do justice to his beefsteaks, strong coffee,
sweet potatoes and corn cakes, which were being prepared in the kitchen by
Aunt Esther.

This good dame divided her time between squeezing the steaks, turning the
corn cakes, kicking the dogs and administering various cuffs to sundry
little black urchins, who were on the lookout to snatch a bit of the "hoe
cake" whenever they could elude the argus eyes of Aunt Esther. When the
rattling of the stage was heard, there ensued a general scrambling to
ascertain which would be first to see who had come. At length, by a series
of somersaults, helped on by Aunt Esther's brawny hand, the kitchen was
cleared and Aunt Esther was "monarch of all she surveyed."

The passengers this afternoon were few and far between, for there was but
one inside and one on the box with the driver. The one inside alighted and
ordered his baggage to be carried into the hotel. The stranger was a young
man, apparently about twenty-five years of age. He was tall,
well-proportioned and every way prepossessing in his appearance. At least
the set of idlers in the barroom thought so, for the moment he entered
they all directed their eyes and tobacco juice toward him!

By the time he had uttered a dozen words, they had come to the conclusion
that he was a stranger in the place and was from the East. One of the men,
a Mr. Edson, was, to use his own words, "mighty skeary of Northern folks,"
and as soon as he became convinced that the stranger was from that way, he
got up, thinking to himself, "Some confounded Abolitionist, I'll warrant.
The sooner I go home and get my gang together, the better 'twill be." But
on second thought he concluded that "his gang" was safe, for the present
at least; so he'd just sit down and hear what his neighbor, Mr. Woodburn,
was saying to the newcomer.

The Kentuckians are as famous as the Yankees for inquisitiveness, but if
they inquire into your history, they are equally ready to give theirs to
you, and you cannot feel as much annoyed by the kind, confiding manner
with which a Kentuckian will draw you out, as by the cool, quizzing way
with which a Yankee will "guess" out your affairs.

 
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