It was at the close of one of those long days of wearying travel throughout a vast and unsheltered plain, (where only here and there rose an occasional cluster of trees, like oases in the desert,) that, drenched to the skin with the steady rain which, commencing with the dawn, had continued without a moment’s intermission, they arrived at a small log-hut, situate on the skirt of a forest forming one of the boundaries of the vast savannah they had traversed. Such was the unpromising appearance of this apology for a human dwelling that, under any other circumstances, even the “not very d——d particular” Jackson, as the Aid-de-Camp often termed himself, would have passed it by without stopping; but after a long day’s ride, and suffering from the greatest evils to which a traveller can well be subjected—cold, wet, and hunger—even so wretched a resting-place as this was not to be despised; and accordingly a determination was formed to stop there for the night. On riding up to the door, it was opened to their knock, when a tall man—apparently its only occupant, came forth—and, after surveying the travellers a moment with a suspicious eye, inquired “what the stranngers wanted?”
“Why, I guess,” said Jackson, “it doesn’t need much conjuration to tell that. Food and lodging for ourselves, to be sure; and a wisp of hay and tether for our horses. —Hospitality in short; and that’s what no true Tennessee man, bred and born, ever refused yet. No, not even to an enemy, such a night as this.”
“Then you must go further in search of it,” replied the woodsman, surlily, “I don’t keep no tavern, and ha’nt got no accommodation; and what’s more, I reckon, I’m no Tennessee man.”
“But any accommodation will do, friend. If you hav’nt got beds, we’ll sit up all night, and warm our toes at the fire, and spin long yarns, as they tell in the Eastern sea-ports. Anything but turn a fellow out such a night as this.”
“But I say, strannger,” returned the man, fiercely and determinedly, “I a’nt got no room any how, and you shan’t bide here.”
“Oh, ho! my old cock, that’s the ticket, is it? but you’ll see whether an old stager, like me, is to be turned out of any man’s house such a night as this. I hav’nt served two campaigns against the Ingins and the British for nothing; and here I rest for the night.”
So saying, the determined Jackson coolly dismounted from his horse, and unbuckling the girth, proceeded to deposit the saddle, with the valise attached to it, within the hut the door of which still stood open.
The woodsman, perceiving his object, made a movement, as if to bar the passage; but Jackson, with great activity, seized him by the wrist of the left hand, and, all powerful as the ruffian was, sent him dancing some few yards in front of the threshold before he was aware of his intention, or could resist the peculiar knack with which it was accomplished. The Aid-de-Camp, meanwhile, had deposited his saddle in a corner near the fire, and on his return to the door, met the inhospitable woodsman advancing as if to court a personal encounter.