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Hoosier Mosaics   By: (1844-1901)

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First Page:

Affectionately to my Father, The Reverend GRIGG THOMPSON.

HOOSIER MOSAICS.

By MAURICE THOMPSON.

NEW YORK: E. J. HALE & SON, PUBLISHERS, MURRAY STREET. 1875.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1875, by E. J. HALE & SON, In the office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.

CONTENTS.

PAGE.

WAS SHE A BOY? 7

TROUT'S LUCK, 29

BIG MEDICINE , 50

THE VENUS OF BALHINCH , 76

THE LEGEND OF POTATO CREEK, 92

STEALING A CONDUCTOR , 114

HOIDEN, 127

THE PEDAGOGUE, 162

AN IDYL OF THE ROD, 188

WAS SHE A BOY?

No matter what business or what pleasure took me, I once, not long ago, went to Colfax. Whisper it not to each other that I was seeking a foreign appointment through the influence of my fellow Hoosier, the late Vice President of the United States. O no, I didn't go to the Hon. Schuyler Colfax at all; but I went to Colfax, simply, which is a little dingy town, in Clinton County, that was formerly called Midway, because it is half way between Lafayette and Indianapolis. It was and is a place of some three hundred inhabitants, eking out an aguish subsistence, maintaining a swampy, malarious aspect, keeping up a bilious, nay, an atra bilious color, the year round, by sucking like an attenuated leech at the junction, or, rather, the crossing of the I. C. & L., and the L. C. & S. W. railroads. It lay mouldering, like something lost and forgotten, slowly rotting in the swamp.

I do not mean to attack the inhabitants of Colfax, for they were good people, and deserved a better fate than the eternal rattling the ague took them through from year's end to year's end. Why, they had had the ague so long that they had no respect for it at all. I've seen a woman in Colfax shaking with a chill, spanking a baby that had a chill, and scolding a husband who had a chill, all at once and I had a dreadful ague on me at the same time! But, as I have said, they were good people, and I suppose they are still. They go quietly about the usual business of dead towns. They have "stores" in which they offer for sale calico, of the big figured, orange and red sort, surprisingly cheap. They smoke those little Cuba sixes at a half cent apiece, and call them cigars; they hang round the dépôt, and trade jack knives and lottery watches on the afternoons of lazy Sundays; they make harmless sport of the incoming and outgoing country folk; and, in a word, keep pretty busy at one thing or another, and above all they shake.

In Colfax the chief sources of exciting amusement are dog fights and an occasional row at Sheehan's saloon, a doggery of the regular old fashioned, drink, gamble, rob and fight sort a low place, known to all the hard bats in the State.

As you pass through the town you will not fail to notice a big sign, outhanging from the front of the largest building on the principal street, which reads: "Union Hotel, 1865." From the muddy suburbs of the place, in every direction, stretch black muck swamps, for the most part heavily timbered with a variety of oaks, interspersed with sycamores, ash, and elms. In the damp, shady labyrinths of these boggy woods millions of lively, wide awake, tuneful mosquitoes are daily manufactured; and out from decaying logs and piles of fermenting leaves, from the green pools and sluggish ditch streams, creeps a noxious gas, known in that region as the "double refined, high pressure, forty hoss power quintessential of the ager!" So, at least, I was told by the landlord of the Union Hotel, and his skin had the color of one who knew.

Notwithstanding what I have said, Colfax, in summer, is not wholly without attractions of a certain kind. It has some yellow dogs and some brindle ones; it has some cattle and some swine; it has some swallows and some spotted pigeons; it has cool, fresh smelling winds, and, after the water has sufficiently dried out, the woods are really glorious with wild roses, violets, turkey pea blossoms, and wild pinks... Continue reading book >>




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