I did not understand him then, but later I knew that I had for my first time seen the Oriental art of wrestling put in practice. I do not want to meet a master in it again. I shook Orme by the hand.
“If you like to call it a draw,” said I, “it would suit me mighty well. You’re the best man I ever took off coat to in my life. And I’ll never wrestle you again unless”—I fear I blushed a little—“well, unless you want it.”
“Game! Game!” he cried, laughing, and dusting off his knees. “I swear you Virginians are fellows after my own heart. But come, I think your friend wants you now.”
We turned toward the room where poor Harry was mumbling to himself, and presently I loaded him into the wagon and told the negro man to drive him home.
For myself, I mounted Satan and rode off up the street of Wallingford toward Cowles’ Farms with my head dropped in thought; for certainly, when I came to review the incidents of the morning, I had had enough to give me reason for reflection.
WARS AND RUMORS OF WAR
We sent our carriage down to Wallingford that evening and had my new friend, Mr. Orme, out to Cowles’ Farms for that night. He was a stranger in the land, and that was enough. I often think to-day how ready we were to welcome any who came, and how easily we might have been deceived as to the nature of such chance guests.
Yet Orme so finely conducted himself that none might criticise him, and indeed both my father and mother appeared fairly to form a liking for him. This was the more surprising on the part of both, since they were fully advised of the nature of his recent speech, or sermon, or what you choose to call it, at the Methodist church, the sentiments of which scarce jumped with their own. Both my parents accepted Orme for what he purported to be, a minister of the gospel; and any singularity of his conduct which they may have noticed they ascribed to his education in communities different from our own quiet one. I remember no acrimonious speech during his visit with us, although the doctrine which he had pronounced and which now and again, in one form or another, he renewed, was not in accord with ours. I recall very well the discussions they had, and remember how formally my mother would begin her little arguments: “Friend, I am moved to say to thee”; and then she would go on to tell him gently that all men should be brothers, and that there should be peace on earth, and that no man should oppress his brother in any way, and that slavery ought not to exist.
“What! madam,” Orme would exclaim, “this manner of thought in a Southern family!” And so he in turn would go on repeating his old argument of geography, and saying how England must side with the South, and how the South must soon break with the North. “This man Lincoln, if elected,” said he, “will confiscate every slave in the Southern States. He will cripple and ruin the South, mark my words. He will cost the South millions that never will be repaid. I cannot see how any Virginian can fail to stand with all his Southern brothers, front to front against the North on these vital questions.”