A Marvellous Story
( Originally Published 1851 )
I was bred up in the dislike of the marvellous, or the stupid wonderful, as my uncle called it. I must relate an anecdote in point. Some gentlemen were dining together, and relating their travelling adventures; one of them dealt so much in the marvellous, that it induced another to give him a lesson.
" I was once," said he, " engaged in a skirmishing party in America ; I advanced too far, was separated from my friends, and saw three Indians in pursuit of me: the horrors of the tomahawk in the hands of angry savages, took possession of my mind ; I considered for a moment what was to be done ; most of us love life, and mine was both precious and useful to my family ; I was swift of foot, and fear added to my speed. After looking back for the country was an open one I at length perceived that one of my enemies had outrun the others and the well-known saying of ' Divide and conquer,' occurring to me, I slackened my speed, and allowed him to come up ; we engaged in mutual fury ; I hope none here (bowing to his auditors) will doubt the result; in a few minutes he lay a corpse at my feet ; in this short space of time, the two Indians had advanced upon me, so I took again to my heels, not from cowardice, I can in truth declare, but with the hope of reaching a neighboring wood, where I knew dwelt a tribe friendly to the English ; this hope, how-ever, I was forced to give up; for, on looking back, I saw one of my pursuers far before the other. I waited for him, recovering my almost exhausted breath, and soon this Indian shared the fate of the first. I had now only one enemy to deal with ; but I felt fatigued, and being near the wood, I was more desirous to save my own life than to destroy another of my fellow-creatures ; I plainly perceived smoke curling up amongst the trees, I redoubled my speed, I prayed to Heaven, I felt assured my prayers would be granted but at this moment the yell of the Indian's voice sounded in my ears I even thought I felt his warm breath there was no choice I turned round " Here the gentleman, who had related the wonderful stories at first, grew impatient past his endurance ; he called out, " Well, sir, and you killed him also ? "—" No sir, he killed me."