Lands of the Slave and the Free eBook

Henry Murray
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 564 pages of information about Lands of the Slave and the Free.

CHAPTER VI.

Stirring Scenes and Strange Sights.

My host having kindly lent me his carriage and a pair of wiry nags, I started for Batavia to meet the railway.  The distance was about thirty miles, and the road in many places execrable—­in one part so bad that we had to go through a quarter of a mile of wood, as it was absolutely impassable;—­yet, despite all these hindrances, and without pressing the horses in the least, we completed the distance in the three hours, including from five to ten minutes at a half-way house, where we gave them the usual American bait of a bucket of cold water; and when we arrived they were as fresh as four-year-olds, and quite ready to return if need had been.  I saw nothing worth remarking during the drive.  There was plenty of cultivated land; and plenty of waste, waiting to reward the labourer.  All the little villages had their daguerreotype shops except one, and there the deficiency was supplied by a perambulating artist in a tented cart.

When a railway crosses the road, you are expected to see it,—­the only warning being a large painted board, inscribed “Look out for the Train.”  If it be dark, I suppose you are expected to guess it; but it must be remembered that this is the country of all countries where every person is required to look after himself.  The train coming up soon after my arrival, I went on to Buffalo, amid a railway mixture of tag-rag-and-bobtail, squalling infancy and expectorating manhood.  On arriving at the terminus, I engaged a cab, and, after waiting half an hour, I found that Jarvey was trying to pick up some other “fare,” not thinking myself and my servant a sufficient cargo to pay well.  I tried to find a railway official; but I might almost as well have looked for a flea in a flower-garden—­no badges, no distinctive marks, the station full of all the riff-raff of the town;—­it was hopeless.  At last, by a lucky accident, I saw a man step into a small office, so I bolted after him, like a terrier after a badger, but I could not draw him; he knew nothing about the cabs—­he was busy—­nay, in short, he would not be bothered.  Having experienced this beautiful specimen of Buffalo railway management, I returned to the open air and lit my cigar.  After some time, Cabby, having found that no other “fare” was to be had, condescended to tell me he was ready; so in I got, and drove to the hotel, on entering which I nearly broke my neck over a pyramid of boxes, all looking of one family.  They turned out to be the property of Mr. G.V.  Brooke, the actor, who had just arrived “to star it” at Buffalo.  Supper being ready, as it always is on the arrival of the evening train, I repaired thither, and found the usual wondrous medley which the American tables d’hote exhibit, the usual deafening clatter, the usual profusion of eatables, the usual rapidity of action, and the usual disagreeable odour which is consequent upon such a mass of humanity and food combined.  Being tolerably tired, I very soon retired to roost.

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Lands of the Slave and the Free from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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