“Yes,” answered the traveller. “I am a few days out from home across the mountains yonder. Can you direct me to Lexington?”
“Easy, easy, sir,” said the other, “It’s a good spell from this, but there’s a pretty fair road after you get out of these thickets. Sit down, sir; sit down and have a snack with us. You must be hungry, and you won’t find a tavern soon.”
Nothing loth, the young stranger addressed himself to the cold corn bread and bacon with a will, while the talk veered around to the business of the day.
“You, see, sir, we are about to build a courthouse hereabouts, and have our lawing to ourselves,” said the first speaker. “We’ve about decided to plant the corner stone at the Cross Roads a little way from this.”
“It’s a first rate location,” said another. “There’s good water all around and plenty of trees for lumber.”
“Nothing like making the right start,” added a third voice.
They continued to discuss plans for their future township, the stranger entering with courteous interest into all their projects.
“I have often tried,” said he, “to look into the future of this grand section of country. To the day when the spirit of internal improvement shall have levelled the roads and converted the hidden wealth of the soil into a glorious medium of happiness and prosperity. Then the mental stores of our hardy settlers will rapidly develop, and civilization will prune down the rugged points of character, as the implements of the husbandman break up the clods.”
Rapt visions illumined the young speaker’s features with a glow of national pride, and he saw not the looks of intelligent curiosity that passed among his companions.
Then starting up, he said, “I must really be going. I have a long ride, and the day is waning. I thank you heartily for your hospitality. I assure you it is as refreshing as it was unexpected.”
They shook hands, and the stranger mounted his horse which was quietly grazing near by. Catching up the bridle, he said: “One of these days I hope to visit your section again, and see the great results of which you are now making the small beginning. Farewell.”
“One moment,” said the man who had first greeted him; “might I ask your name, if it’s not going too far?”
“Not at all, sir, not at all. My name is Henry Clay.”
For a few minutes after the departure of the young stranger, the small knot of pioneers commented with admiring wonder upon his singularly fascinating address, and saying, “That man will make his mark in the world,” they proceeded to refresh themselves at a cool spring, and then prepared to finish the survey.
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