Mark Twain

Editors Enterprise: The trip from Virginia to Carson by Messrs. Carpenter & Hoog's stage is a pleasant one... Our driver was a very companionable man, though, and this was a happy circumstance for me, because, being drowsy and worn out, I would have gone to sleep and fallen overboard if he had not enlivened the dreary hours with his conversation.

Whenever I stopped coughing, and went to nodding, he always watched me out of the corner of his eye until I got to pithing in his direction, and then he would stir me up and inquire if I were asleep. If I said "No" (and I was apt to do that), he always said "it was a bully good thing for me that I wasn't, you know," and then went on to relate cheerful anecdotes of people who had got to nodding by his side when he wasn't noticing, and had fallen off and broken their necks. He said he could see those fellows before him now, all jammed and bloody and quivering in death's agony -- G'Iang! d--n that horse, he knows there's a parson and an old maid inside, and that's what makes him cut up so: I've saw him act jes' so more'n a thousand times!"

The driver always lent an additional charm to his conversation by mixing his horrors and his general information together in this way. "Now," said he, after urging his team at a furious speed down the grade for a while, plunging into deep bends in the road brimming with a thick darkness almost palpable to the touch, and darting out again and again on the verge of what instinct told me was a precipice, "Now, I seen a poor cuss -- but you're asleep again, you know, and you've rammed you head agin' my sidepocket and busted a bottle of nasty rotten medicine that I'm taking to the folks at the Thirty-five Mile House; do you notice that flavor? ain't it a ghastly old stench? The man that takes it down there don't live on anything else -- it's vittles and drink to him; anybody that ain't used to him can't go a-near him; he'd stun 'em -- he'd suffocate 'em; his breath smells like a graveyard after an earthquake -- you, Bob! I allow to skelp that ornery horse, yet, if he keeps on this way; you see he's been on the overland till about two weeks ago, and every stump he sees he cal'lates it's an Injun."

I was awake by this time, holding on with both hands and bouncing up and down just as I do when I ride a horseback. The driver took up the thread of his discourse and proceeded to soothe me again: "As I was saying, I see a poor cuss tumble off along here one night -- he was monstrous drowsy, and went to sleep when I'd took my eye off of him for a moment -- and he fetched up agin a boulder, and in a second there wasn't anything left of him but a promiscus pile of hash! It was moonlight, and when I got down an looked at him he was quivering like jelly, and sorter moaning to himself, like and the bones of his legs was sticking out through his pantaloons every which way, like that." (Here the driver mixed his fingers up after the manner of a stack of muskets, and illuminated them with the ghostly light of his cigar.) "He warn't in misery long though. In a minute an a half he was deader'n a smelt -- Bob! I say I'll cut that horse's throat if he stays on this route another week."

In this way the genial driver caused the long hours to pass sleeplessly away, and if he drew upon his imagination for his fearful histories, I shall be that last to blame him for it, because if they had taken a milder form I might have yielded to the dullness that oppressed me, and got my own bones smashed out of my hide in such a way as to render me useless forever after -- unless, perhaps, some one chose to turn me into account as an uncommon sort of hat-rack. --Mark Twain

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