About thirteen years ago, when the now flourishing young city of Hannibal, on the Mississippi River, was but a "wood-yard," surrounded by a few huts, belonging to some hardy "squatters," and such a thing as a steamboat was considered quite a sight, the following incident occurred:
A tall, brawny woodsman stood leaning against a tree which stood upon the bank of the river, gazing at some approaching object, which our readers would easily have discovered to be a steamboat.
About half an hour elapsed, and the boat was moored, and the hands busily engaged in taking on wood.
Now among the many passengers on this boat, both male and female, was a spruce young dandy, with a killing moustache, &c., who seemed bent on making an impression upon the hearts of the young ladies on board, and to do this, he thought he must perform some heroic deed. Observing our squatter friend, he imagined this to be a fine opportunity to bring himself into notice; so, stepping into the cabin, he said:
"Ladies, if you wish to enjoy a good laugh, step out on the guards. I intend to frighten that gentleman into fits who stands on the bank."
The ladies complied with the request, and our dandy drew from his bosom a formidable looking bowie-knife, and thrust it into his belt; then, taking a large horse-pistol in each hand, he seemed satisfied that all was right. Thus equipped, he strode on shore, with an air which seemed to say "The hopes of a nation depend on me." Marching up to the woodsman, he exclaimed:
"Found you at last, have I? You are the very man I′ve been looking for these three weeks! Say your prayers!" he continued, presenting his pistols, "you′ll make a capital barn door, and I shall drill the key-hole myself!"
The squatter calmly surveyed him a moment, and then, drawing back a step, he planted his huge fist directly between the eyes of his astonished antagonist, who, in a moment, was floundering in the turbid waters of the Mississippi.
Every passenger on the boat had by this time collected on the guards, and the shout that now went up from the crowd speedily restored the crest-fallen hero to his senses, and, as he was sneaking off towards the boat, was thus accosted by his conqueror:
"I say, yeou, next time yeou come around drillin′ key-holes, don′t forget yer old acquaintances!"
The ladies unanimously voted the knife and pistols to the victor.