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ye!"

So saying, Ducklow departed.

Instead of repairing the mischief he had done in the
sitting-room, Taddy devoted his time and talents to the
more interesting occupation of constructing his kite-
frame. He worked at that until Mr. Grantly, the min-
ister, driving by, stopped to inquire how the folks were.

66 1



THE COUPON BONDS ,

"Ain't to home: may I ride?" cried Taddy, all in a
breath.

Mr. Grantly was an indulgent old gentleman, fond of
children : so he said, "Jump in ;" and in a minute Taddy
had scrambled to a seat by his side.

And now occurred a circumstance which Ducklow had
foreseen. The alarm pf fire had reached Reuben's ; and,
although the report of its falseness followed immediately,
Mrs. Ducklow's inflammable fancy was so kindled by it
that she could find no comfort in prolonging her visit.

"Mr. Ducklow'll be going for the trunk, and I must go
home and see to things, Taddy's such a fellow for mis-
chief. I can foot it ; I shan't mind it."

And off she started, walking herself out of breath in
anxiety.

She reached the brow of the hill just in time to see a
chaise drive away from her own door.

"Who can that be? I wonder if Taddy's ther' to
guard the house! If anything should happen to them
bonds!"

Out of breath as she was, she quickened her pace, and
trudged on, flushed, perspiring, panting, until she reached
the house.

"Thaddeus!" she called.

No Taddy answered. She went In. The house was
deserted. And, lo ! the carpet torn up, and the bonds ab-
stracted !

Mr. Ducklow never would have made such work, re-
moving the bonds. Then somebody else must have taken
them, she reasoned.

"The man in the chaise!" she exclaimed, or rather
made an effort to exclaim, succeeding only in bringing
forth a hoarse, gasping sound. Fear dried up articula-
tion. Vox faucibus hcusit.

662



J. T. TROWBRIDGE

And Taddy? He had disappeared, been murdered,
perhaps, — or gagged and carried away by the man in the
chaise.

Mrs. Ducklow flew hither and thither (to use a favor-
ite phrase of her own), "like a hen with her head cut
off;" then rushed out of the house and up the street,
screaming after the chaise, —

"Murder ! murder ! Stop thief! stop thief !"

She waved her hands aloft in the air frantically. If
she had trudged before, now she trotted, now she can-
tered; but, if the cantering of the old mare was fitly
likened to that of a cow, to what thing, to what manner
of motion under the sun, shall we liken the cantering of
Mrs. Ducklow ? It was original ; it was unique ; it was
prodigious. Now, with her frantically waving hands,
and all her undulating and flapping skirts, she seemed a
species of huge, unwieldy bird, attempting to fly. Then
she sank down into a heavy, dragging walk, — breath and
strength all gone, — no voice left even to scream "mur-
der!" Then, the awful realization of the loss of the bonds
once more rushing over her, she started up again. "Half
running, half flying, what progress she made!" Then
Atkins's dog saw her, and, naturally mistaking her for a
prodigy, came out at her, bristling up and bounding and
barking terrifically.

"Come here!" cried Atkins, following the dog.
"What's the matter ? What's to pay, Mrs. Ducklow ?"

Attempting to speak, the good woman could only pant
and wheeze.

"Robbed!" she at last managed to whisper, amid the
yelpings of the cur that refused to be silenced.

"Robbed? How? Who?"

"The chaise. Ketch it."

Her gestures expressed more than her words ; and, At-

663



THE COUPON BONDS

kins's horse and wag-on, with which he had been drawing
out brush, being in the yard near-by, he ran to them,
leaped to the seat, drove into the road, took Mrs. Duck-
low aboard, and set out in vigorous pursuit of the slow
two-wheeled vehicle.

"Stop, you, sir! Stop, you, sir!" shrieked Mrs. Duck-
low, having recovered her breath by the time they came
up with the chaise.

It stopped, and Mr, Grantly, the minister, put out his
good-natured, surprised face.

"You've robbed my house ! You've took — "

Mrs. Ducklow was going on in wild, accusatory ac-
cents, when she recognized the benign countenance.

"What do you say? I have robbed you?" he ex-
claimed, very much astonished.

"No, no! not you! You wouldn't do such a thing!"
she stammered forth, while Atkins, who had laughed him-
self weak at Mr. Ducklow's plight earlier in the morning,
now laughed himself into a side-ache at Mrs. Ducklow's
ludicrous mistake. "But did you — did you stop at my
house ? Have you seen our Thaddeus ?"

"Here I be, Ma Ducklow!" piped a small voice; and
Taddy, who had till then remained hidden, fearing pun-
ishment, peeped out of the chaise from behind the broad
back of the minister.

"Taddy ! Taddy ! how came the carpet — "

"I pulled it up, huntin' for a marble," said Taddy, as
she paused, overmastered by her emotions.

"And the — the thing tied up in a brown wrapper ?"

"Pa Ducklow took it."

"Ye sure?"

"Yes ; I seen him."

"Oh, dear !" said Mrs. Ducklow, "I never was so beat !
Mr. Grantly, I hope — excuse me — I didn't know what I

664



J. T. TROWBRIDGE

was about ! Taddy, you notty boy, what did you leave the
house for? Be ye quite sure yer Pa Ducklow — "

Taddy repHed that he was quite sure, as he cHmbed
from the chaise itito Atkins's wagon. The minister smil-
ingly remarked that he hoped she would find no robbery
had been committed, and went his way. Atkins, driving
back, and setting her and Taddy down at the Ducklow
gate, answered her embarrassed "Much obleeged to ye,"
with a sincere "Not at all," considering the fun he had had
a sufficient compensation for his trouble. And thus ended
the morning adventures, with the exception of an unim-
portant episode, in which Taddy, Mrs. Ducklow, and
Mrs. Ducklow's rattan were the principal actors.



665



THE SHOOTING-MATCH

BY A. B. LONGSTREET

Shooting-matches are probably nearly coeval with the
colonization of Georgia. They are still common through-
out the Southern States, though they are not as common
as they were twenty-five or thirty years ago. Chance led
me to one about a year ago. I was traveling in one of
the northeastern counties, when I overtook a swarthy,
bright-eyed, smirky little fellow, riding a small pony, and
bearing on his shoulder a long, heavy rifle, which, judg-
ing from its looks, I should say had done service in Mor-
gan's corps.

"Good morning, sir !" said I, reining up my horse as I
came beside him.

"How goes it, stranger?" said he, with a tone of inde-
pendence and self-confidence that awakened my curiosity
to know a little of his character.

"Going driving?" inquired I.

"Not exactly," replied he, surveying my horse with a
quizzical smile; "I haven't been a driving hy myself for
a year or two ; and my nose has got' so bad lately, I can't
carry a cold trail without hounds to lielp me."

Alone, and without hounds as he was, the question was
rather a silly one ; but it answered the purpose for which
it was put, which was only to draw him into conver-
sation, and I proceeded to make as decent a retreat as I
could.

"I didn't know," said I, "but that you were going to
meet the huntsmen, or going to your stand,"

666



A. B. LONGSTREET

"Ah, sure enough," rejoined he, "that inout be a bee, as
the old woman said when she killed a wasp. It seems to
me I ought to know you."

"Well, if you ought, why don't you ?" ^

"What mout your name be?"

"It might be anything," said I, with a borrowed wit,
for I knew my man and knew what kind of conversation
would please him most.

"Well, what e> it, then?"

"It is Hall," said I ; "but you know it might as well
have been anything else."

"Pretty digging!" said he. "I find you're not the fool
I took you to be ; so here's to a better acquaintance with
you."

"With all my heart," returned I ; "but you must be as
clever as I've been, and give me your name."

"To be sure I will, my old coon ; take it, take it, and
welcome. Anything else about me you'd like to have?"

"No," said I, "there's nothing else about you worth
having."

"Oh, yes there is, stranger ! Do you see this ?" holding
up his ponderous rifle with an ease that astonished me.
"If you will go with me to the shooting-match, and see
me knock out the hulVs-eye with her a few times, you'll
agree the old Soap-stick's worth something when Billy
Curlew puts his shoulder to her."

This short sentence was replete with information to me.
It taught me that my companion was Billy Curleiv; that
he was going to a shooting-match; that he called his rifle
the Soap-stick, and that he was very confident of winning
beef with her ; or, which is nearly, but not quite the same
thing, driving the cross with her.

"Well," said I, "if the shooting-match is not too far
out of my way, I'll go to it with pleasure."

667



THE SHOOTING-MATCH

"Unless your way lies through the woods from here,"
said Billy, "it'll not be much out of your way; for it's only
a mile ahead of us, and there is no other road for you to
take till you get there ; and as that thing you're riding in
ain't well suited to fast traveling among brushy knobs, I
reckon you won't lose much by going by, I reckon you
hardly ever was at a shooting-match, stranger, from the
cut of your coat ?"

"Oh, yes," returned I, "many a time. I won beef at one
when I was hardly old enough to hold a shot-gun off-
hand."

"Children don't go to shooting-matches about here,"
said he, with a smile of incredulity. "I never heard of
but one that did, and he was a little swinge cat. He was
born a shooting, and killed squirrels before he was
weaned."

"Nor did / ever hear of but one," replied I, "and that
one was myself."

"And where did you win beef so young, stranger?"

"At Berry Adams's."

"Why, stop, stranger, let me look at you good ! Is your
name Lyman Hall ?"

"The very same," said I.

"Well, dang my buttons, if you ain't the very boy my
daddy used to tell me about. I was too young to recollect
you myself ; but I've heard daddy talk about you many a
time. I believe mammy's got a neck-handkerchief now
that daddy won on your shooting at Collen Reid's store,
when you were hardly knee high. Come along, Lyman,
and I'll go my death upon you at the shooting-match,
with the old Soap-stick at your shoulder."

"Ah, Billy," said I, "the old Soap-stick will do much
better at your own shoulder. It was my mother's notion
that sent me to the shooting-match at Berry Adams's;

668



A. B. LONGSTREET

and, to tell the honest truth, it was altogether a chance
shot that made me win beef; but that wasn't generally
known-; and most everybody believed that I was carried
there on account of my skill in shooting; and my fame
was spread far and wide, I well remember. I remember,
too, perfectly well, your father's bet on me at the store.
He was at the shooting-match, and nothing could make
him believe but that I was a great shot with a rifle as well
as a shot-gun. Bet he would on me, in spite of all I could
say, though I assured him that I had never shot a rifle in
my life. It so happened, too, that there were but two bul-
lets, or, rather, a bullet and a half; and so confident was
your father in my skill, that he made me shoot the half
bullet ; and, strange to tell, by another chance shot, I like
to have drove the cross and won his bet."

"Now I know you're the very chap, for I heard daddy
tell that very thing about the half bullet. Don't say any-
thing about it, Lyman, and darn my old shoes, if I don't
tare the lint off the boys with you at the shooting-match.
They'll never 'spect such a looking man as you are of
knowing anything about a rifle. I'll risk your chance
shots."

I soon discovered that the father had eaten sour grapes,
and the son's teeth were on edge; for Billy was just as
incorrigibly obstinate in his belief of my dexterity with a
rifle as his father had been before him.

We soon reached the place appointed for the shooting-
match. It went by the name of Sims's Cross Roads, be-
cause here two roads intersected each other ; and because,
from the time that the first had been laid out, Archibald
Sims had resided there. Archibald had been a justice of
the peace in his day (and where is the man of his age in
Georgia who has not?); consequently, he was called
'Squire Sims. It is the custom in this state, when a man

669



THE SHOOTING-MATCH

has once acquired a title, civil or military, to force it upon
him as long as he lives; hence the countless number of
titled personages who are introduced in these sketches.

We stopped at the 'squire's door. Billy hastily dis-
mounted, gave me the shake of the hand which he had
been reluctantly reserving for a mile back, and, leading
me up to the 'squire, thus introduced me : "Uncle Archy,
this is Lyman Hall ; and for all you see him in these fine
clothes, he's a szvinge cat; a darn sight cleverer fellow
than he looks to be. Wait till you see him lift the old Soap-
stick, and draw a bead upon the bull's-eye. You gwine to
see fun here to-day. Don't say nothing about it."

"Well, Mr. Swinge-cat," said the 'squire, "here's to a
better acquaintance with you," offering me his hand.

"How goes it. Uncle Archy?" said I, taking his hand
warmly (for I am always free and easy with those who
are so with me; and in this course I rarely fail to please).
"How's the old woman?"

"Egad," said the 'squire, chuckling, "there you're too
hard for me ; for she died two-and-twenty years ago, and
I haven't heard a word from her since."

"What! and you never married again?"

"Never, as God's my judge!" (a solemn asseveration,
truly, upon so light a subject.)

"Well, that's not my fault."

"No, nor it's not mine, jzfther," said the 'squire.

Here we were interrupted by the cry of another Rancey
Sniffle. "Hello, here! All you as wish to put in for the
shoot'n'-match, come on here ! for the putt'n' in's riddy to
begin."

About sixty persons, including mere spectators, had
collected ; the most of whom were more or less obedient
to the call of Mealy Whitecotton, for that was the name of
the self-constituted commander-in-chief. Some hastened

670



A. B. LONGSTREET

and some loitered, as they desired to be first or last on the
list ; for they shoot in the order in which their names are
entered.

The beef was not present, nor is it ever upon such oc-
casions ; but several of the company had seen it, who all
concurred in the opinion that it was a good beef, and well
worth the price that was set upon it — eleven dollars. A
general inquiry ran around, in order to form some opinion
as to the number of shots that would be taken; for, of
course, the price of a shot is cheapened in proportion to
the increase of that number. It was soon ascertained that
not more than twenty persons would take chances; but
these twenty agreed to take the number of shots, at
twenty-five cents each.

The competitors now began to give in their names;
some for one, some for two, three, and a few for as many
as four shots.

Billy Curlew hung back to the last ; and when the list
was offered him, five shots remained undisposed of.

"How many shots left ?" inquired Billy.

"Five," was the reply.

"Well, I take 'em all. Put down four shots to me, and
one to Lyman Hall, paid for by William Curlew."

I was thunder-struck, not at his proposition to pay for
my shot, because I knew that Billy meant it as a token of
friendship, and he would have been hurt if I had refused
to let him do me this favor; but at the unexpected an-
nouncement of my name as a competitor for beef, at least
one hundred miles from the place of my residence. I was
prepared for a challenge from Billy to some of his neigh-
bors for a private match upon me ; but not for this.

I therefore protested against his putting in for me, and
urged every reason to dissuade him from it that I could,
without wounding his feelings.

671



THE SHOOTING-MATCH

"Put it down !" said Billy, witli the authority of an em-
peror, and with a look that spoke volumes intelligible to
every by-stander. "Reckon I don't know what I'm
about?" Then wheeling off, and muttering in an under,
self-confident tone, "Dang old Roper," continued he, "if
he don't knock that cross to the north corner of creation
and back again before a cat can lick her foot."

Had I been king of the cat tribe, they could not have
regarded me with more curious attention than did the
whole company from this moment. Every inch of me
was examined with the nicest scrutiny ; and some plainly
expressed by their looks that they never would have taken
me for such a bite. I saw no alternative but to throw
myself upon a third chance shot ; for though, by the rules
of the sport, I would have been allowed to shoot by proxy,
by all the rules of good breeding I was bound to shoot in
person. It would have been unpardonable to disappoint
the expectations which had been raised on me. Unfor-
tunately, too, for me, the match differed in one respect
from those which I had been in the habit of attending in
my younger days. In olden times the contest was carried
on chiefly with shot-guns, a generic term which, in those
days, embraced three descriptions of firearms: Indian-
traders (a long, cheap, but sometimes excellent kind of
gun, that mother Britain used to send hither for traffic
with the Indians), the large musket, and the shot-gun,
properly so-called. Rifles were, however, always permit-
ted to compete with them, under equitable restrictions.
These were, that they should be fired off-hand, while the
shot-guns were allowed a rest, the distance being equal ;
or that the distance should be one hundred yards for a
rifle, to sixty for the shot-gun, the mode of firing being
equal.

But this was a match of rifles exclusively ; and these are
by far the most common at this time,

^7^



A. B. LONGSTREET

Most of the competitors fire at the same target ; which
is usually a board from nine inches to a foot wide, charred
on one side as black as it can be made by fire, without
impairing materially the uniformity of its surface ; on the
darkened side of which is pegged a square piece of white
paper, which is larger or smaller, according to the dis-
tance at which it is to be placed from the marksmen. This
is almost invariably sixty yards, and for it the paper is
reduced to about two and a half inches square. Out of the
center of it is cut a rhombus of about the width of an inch,
measured diagonally; this is the bull's-eye, or diamond,
as the marksmen choose to call it ; in the center of this is
the cross. But every man is permitted to fix his target to
his own taste; and accordingly, some remove one- fourth
of the paper, cutting from the center of the square to the
two lower corners, so as to leave a large angle opening
from the center downward ; while others reduce the angle
more or less : but it is rarely the case that all are not satis-
fied with one of these figures.

The beef is divided into five prizes, or, as they are com-
monly termed, five quarters — the hide and tallow count-
ing as one. For several years after the revolutionary
war, a sixth was added : the lead which was shot in the
match. This was the prize of the sixth best shot ; and it
used to be carefully extracted from the board or tree in
which it was lodged, and afterward remoulded. But this
grew out of the exigency of the times, and has, I believe,
been long since abandoned everywhere.

The three master shots and rivals were Moses Firmby,
Larkin Spivey and Billy Curlew; to whom was added,
upon this occasion, by common consent and with awful
forebodings, your humble servant.

The target was fixed at an elevation of about three feet
from the ground; and the judges (Captain Turner and

673



THE SHOOTING-MATCH

'Squire Porter) took their stands by it, joined by about
half the spectators.

The first name on the catalogue was Mealy Whitecot-
ton. Mealy stepped out, rifle in hand, and toed the mark.
His rifle was about three inches longer than himself, and
near enough his own thickness to make the remark of
Darby Chislom, as he stepped out, tolerably appropriate :
"Here comes the corn-stalk and the sucker !" said Darby.

"Kiss my foot !" said Mealy. "The way I'll creep into
that bull's-eye's a fact."

"You'd better creep into your hind sight," said Darby.
Mealy raised and fired.

"A pretty good shot, Mealy!" said one.

"Yes, a blamed good shot!" said a second.

"Well done, Meal !" said a third.

I was rejoiced when one of the company inquired,
"Where is it ?" for I could hardly believe they were found-
ing these remarks upon the evidence of their senses.

"Just on the right-hand side of the bull's-eye," was the
reply.

I looked with all the power of my eyes, but was unable
to discover the least change in the surface of the paper.
Their report, however, was true; so much keener is the
vision of a practiced than an unpracticed eye.

The next in order was Hiram Baugh. Hiram was like
some race-horses which I have seen ; he was too good not
to contend for every prize, and too good for nothing ever
to win one.

"Gentlemen," said he, as he came to the mark, "I don't
say that I'll win beef; but if my piece don't blow, I'll eat
the paper, or be mighty apt to do it, if you'll b'lieve my
racket. My powder are not good powder, gentlemen ; I
bought it thum (from) Zeb Daggett, and gin him three-
quarters of a dollar a pound for it ; but it are not what I

674



A. B. LONGSTREET

call good powder, gentlemen ; but if old Buck-killer burns
it clear, the boy you call Hiram Baugh cat's paper, or
comes mighty near it."

"Well, blaze away," said Mealy, "and be d — d to you,
and Zeb Daggett, and your powder, and Buck-killer, and
your powder-horn and shot-pouch to boot! How long
you gwine stand thar talking 'fore you shoot?"

"Never mind," said Hiram, "I can talk a little and
shoot a little, too, but that's nothin'. Here goes !"

Hiram assumed the figure of a note of interrogation,
took a long sight, and fired.

"I've eat paper," said he, at the crack of the gun, with-
out looking, or seeming to look, toward the target.
"Buck-killer made a clear racket. Where am I, gentle-



men



"You're just between Mealy and the diamond," was the
reply.

"I said I'd eat paper, and I've done it ; haven't I, gen-
tlemen?"

"And 'spose you have!" said Mealy, "what do that
'mount to? You'll not win beef, and never did."

"Be that as it mout be, I've beat Meal 'Cotton mighty
easy ; and the boy you call Hiram Baugh are able to do it."

"And what do that 'mount to? Who the devil an't able
to beat Meal 'Cotton ! I don't make no pretense of bein'
nothin' great, no how; but you always makes out as if
you were gwine to keep 'em makin' crosses for you con-
stant, and then do nothin' but 'eat papef at last; and
that's a long way from eat'm' beef, 'cordin' to Meal 'Cot-
ton's notions, as you call him."

Simon Stow was now called on.

"Oh, Lord!" exclaimed two or three: "now we have it.
It'll take him as long to shoot as it would take 'Squire
Dobbins to run round a track o' land."

675



THE SHOOTING-MATCH

"Good-by, boys," said Bob Martin.

"Where are you going, Bob?"

"Going to gather in my crop; I'll be back again though
by the time Sime Stow shoots."

Simon was used to all this, and therefore it did not dis-
concert him in the least. He went off and brought his own
target, and set it up with his own hand.

He then wiped out his rifle, rubbed the pan with his
hat, drew a piece of tow through the touch-hole with his
wiper, filled his charger with great care, poured the pow-
der into the rifle with equal caution, shoved in with his
finger the two or three vagrant grains that lodged round
the mouth of his piece, took out a handful of bullets,
looked them all over carefully, selected one without flaw
or wrinkle, drew out his patching, found the most even
part of it, sprung open the grease-box in the breech of his
rifle; took up just so much grease, distributed it with
great equality over the chosen part of his patching, laid
it over the muzzle of his rifle, grease side down, placed
his ball upon it, pressed it a little, then took it up and
turned the neck a little more perpendicularly downward,
placed his knife handle on it, just buried it in the mouth
of the rifle, cut off the redundant patching just above the
bullet, looked at it, and shook his head in token that he
had cut off too much or too little, no one knew which,
sent down the ball, measured the contents of his gun with
his first and second fingers on the protruding part of the
ramrod, shook his head again, to signify there was too
much or too little powder, primed carefully, placed an


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