I had my suspicions that this story was a romance of the Major’s own manufacture; nor were my suspicions dispelled by any subsequent act of his. And notwithstanding he was ready at all times to redress the wrongs of thirsty humanity, he kept a sharp eye to the equivalent, and had an inveterate hatred of all who opposed his free trade principles, which, in a measure, accounted for the story of the doctor and the parson. In truth, he had the facility of an Arab for manufacturing romances, which he used as a means to demolish his enemies, as will hereafter be shown in this history.
Major Roger Potter recounts his numerous exploits in war and politics.
Having finished the story with great sincerity of manner, the major commenced to brighten and polish up his face with his handkerchief, and to pack away his provender. This done, he bridled old Battle, his horse, arranged his seat of sheepskins, and invited me to mount and ride with him; for no sooner had I discovered to him the object of my undertaking than he dubbed himself the luckiest of fellows, offering to be my companion in arms, and the sharer of my fortunes. Three loud cracks of the whip, and old Battle started off at a brisk pace, the major adding that if we made haste we would reach Barnstable by nightfall. As the wagon rolled over the road, a cackling noise was kept up, much to my surprise and annoyance; this I found was caused by a coop of disconsolate chickens, which the major had bought on speculation, and fastened to the back of his wagon, intending to make a good thing by selling them for Shanghais whenever he could find a customer.
“Now, although I know you so well by reputation, you may not have heard so much of me as many others have. It is no great thing for a major like me to be engaged in this sort of business, you will think; but an honest living made by vending tin is better than a fortune gained by fingering the affairs of the nation. Indeed I have often thought a man was never so great as when he condescended to make his living honestly. As you see, I have surrendered myself to fortune, and am what some would call ‘down in the world.’ But I have been up, and made a noise, and will make more when next I get up.” These remarks were delivered with such evident self-conceit, that I was at a loss how to comprehend their meaning, and asked the major to explain himself.