Roughing It, Part 4.

Biography & Autobiography/
#Biography & Autobiography #Literary
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Excerpt CHAPTER XXXI. There were two men in the company who caused me particular discomfort. One was a little Swede, about twenty-five years old, who knew only one song, and he was forever singing it. By day we were all crowded into one small, stifling bar-room, and so there was no escaping this person's music. Through all the profanity, whisky-guzzling, "old sledge" and quarreling, his monotonous song meandered with never a variation in its tiresome sameness, and it seemed to me, at last, that I would be content to die, in order to be rid of the torture. The other man was a stalwart ruffian called "Arkansas," who carried two revolvers in his belt and a bowie knife projecting from his boot, and who was always drunk and always suffering for a fight. But he was so feared, that nobody would accommodate him. He would try all manner of little wary ruses to entrap somebody into an offensive remark, and his face would light up now and then when he fancied he was fairly on the scent of a fight, but invariably his victim would elude his toils and then he would show a disappointment that was almost pathetic. The landlord, Johnson, was a meek, well-meaning fellow, and Arkansas fastened on him early, as a promising subject, and gave him no rest day or night, for awhile. On the fourth morning, Arkansas got drunk and sat himself down to wait for an opportunity. Presently Johnson came in, just comfortably sociable with whisky, and said: "I reckon the Pennsylvania 'lection—" Arkansas raised his finger impressively and Johnson stopped. Arkansas rose unsteadily and confronted him. Said he: "Wha-what do you know a—about Pennsylvania? Answer me that. Wha—what do you know 'bout Pennsylvania?" "I was only goin' to say—" "You was only goin' to say. You was! You was only goin' to say—what was you goin' to say? That's it! That's what I want to know. I want to know wha—what you ('ic) what you know about Pennsylvania, since you're makin' yourself so d—-d free. Answer me that!" "Mr. Arkansas, if you'd only let me—"   "Who's a henderin' you? Don't you insinuate nothing agin me!—don't you do it. Don't you come in here bullyin' around, and cussin' and goin' on like a lunatic—don't you do it. 'Coz I won't stand it. If fight's what you want, out with it! I'm your man! Out with it!" Said Johnson, backing into a corner, Arkansas following, menacingly: "Why, I never said nothing, Mr. Arkansas. You don't give a man no chance. I was only goin' to say that Pennsylvania was goin' to have an election next week—that was all—that was everything I was goin' to say—I wish I may never stir if it wasn't." "Well then why d'n't you say it? What did you come swellin' around that way for, and tryin' to raise trouble?" "Why I didn't come swellin' around, Mr. Arkansas—I just—" "I'm a liar am I! Ger-reat Caesar's ghost—" "Oh, please, Mr. Arkansas, I never meant such a thing as that, I wish I may die if I did. All the boys will tell you that I've always spoke well of you, and respected you more'n any man in the house....
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