Vermonter in A
or A New Way to
Collect an Old
by Daniel P. Thompson
Young Hobson, not he of choice memory, but John Hobson, a
plain, hardy, shrewd Vermont farmer, having by dint of delving and
scrambling among the rugged rocks of his native hills, gathered a
respectable share of the solid lucre, began to bethink him, with
certain other secret motives, of rising a little faster in the world by
way of a spec. For this purpose he laid out his little stock of cash in
fat cattle, and, purchasing enough more on credit to make out a
decentish kind of a drove, as he termed it, took up a line of march
with his horned regiment through the long woods to Quebec. After
undergoing his full share of fatigue and suffering from swimming rivers
and worrying through the mud of ten-mile swamps, sustained only by the
meagre fare of French taverns, which, but for the name of taverns had
been hovels, which a decent farmer in Vermont would have been somewhat
ashamed to have housed his hogs in, Hobson arrived safe and sound at
the great Northern Market. He soon had a bid that exceeded his most
sanguine expectations, and after receiving from a by-stander an
assurance of the bidder's pecuniary ability for such a purchase, he
struck off the whole lot; while the purchaser, directing him to his
lodgings, told him to call the next day and he should receive his
money. Chuckling with the thought of his great bargain, and in fact the
price was a thumping one, Hobson returned to the Inn where he had
bespoken quarters, and informed the landlord of his lucky sale.
"To whom did you sell, friend Hobson?" said the landlord.
"Derrick, he called himself, the good looking man of the Market,
"And you did'nt trust him, man, did you?"
"To be sure, I did, till to-morrow, when he promises the money all
on the nail—and another tall fellow told me Derrick was good for
"Bill Derrick," then said the landlord, "and Catch-Gull Luck, his
everlasting surety, suppose they have made another haul. It may be as
you expect, Mr. Hobson, but this much I will say, if you get your money
to-morrow, or all of it ever, I will agree to keep Lent twelve
months at least.`'
"But I shall though," said Hobson, "or by the hocus-pocus of my
grand mother, I will soon teach him the true cost of cheating a Yankee."
The landlord shook his head, and Hobson retired for the night with
his spirits wofully down towards zero; and though he still could not
persuade himself but that the man would be punctual, yet he
acknowledged to himself that he had been a little too fast among these
city folks, in taking every thing for gold that shines, on their own
word or the word of an abettor.
The next day Hobson waited on Derrick according to agreement, and
was received with all possible politeness by the smooth tongued
dealer—Mr. Hobson was very welcome, but really he had ten thousand
pardons to beg, that in the great hurry he had entirely forgotten to
make arrangements to meet his promise, but the man he was to receive
the money from he supposed would require a day's notice or so, but he
would see him immediately, and by calling again to-morrow, every thing
would be regulated to Mr. Hobson's wishes, he presumed. All this,
however, Hobson was not quite as ready to take for gospel now as
before; and in order that he might know a little better the state in
which he stood with this ready promise, he diligently betook himself to
making inquiries into the man's situation and character.—
From these he soon learnt that Derrick had disposed of the cattle as
soon as he had purchased, and that although in reality he might be
worth some property, yet his promise was considered good for nothing,
for he always contrived to conceal his effects from his crediters, and,
acting the bankrupt as occasion required, he always put the law at
defiance.—In fine, that he was an arrant knave and had before played
the same game on several unwary drovers, who in their eagerness, to
close a bargain at the great price which he was ever ready to offer,
had neglected the precaution of making inquiries, and sold their cattle
to him on a short credit, and after being amused and dallyed by his
promises a few weeks, had given up their debts as lost and gone off in
despair. "So ho! John," said our hero, soliloquizing along as he
trudged back to his lodgings, with the feelings of one whose own folly
had made him the dupe of a knave, and whose anger is so nearly balanced
between himself for his own stupidity, and him who had taken advantage
of it by an act of baseness, that he is perfectly at a loss on which he
shall give vent to his laboring resentment. "So, ho! John, then it
seems you're bit.—Yes, I John Hobson, who about home was thought to
be up to any thing for a bargain, who out-witted old Clenchfist the
shave, and Screwfast the pettifogger, I John Hobson, am bit, cursedly
bit, like a great gull, as I am, by this palavering quintessence of a
pack of d—d rascals, it's a good one though, by the pipers if it a'nt!
The next day Hobson renewed his visit to Derrick with no better
success than before. The next, and the next, it was put off with some
new and ingenious excuse, and, his hopes excited with a fresh promise
of payment, till he entirely lost all faith in the fellow's promises.
What must be done? He could never go back and face his neighbors in
Vermont of whom he had purchased part of his drove on credit till he
returned, without the money to pay them; besides, nearly all his own
property was vested in the drove. Yes, said he to himself, something
must be done to get me out of this dilemma—so now John Hobson for
your wits, and let them be stretched to their prettiest. With this view
of his case he sought the landlord.
"Is this evil genius of mine, this Derrick, said he, at all
tinctured with notions of a religious or superstitious nature?"
"No! as it regards a future reckoning he neither fears God or Devil."
"Well, then, does he wish to be tho't a man of honor and honesty
with any of the big fishes of your city?"
"No, he has nothing to hope from them, nor does he care what they
think of him."
"And what say you of his courage, can he face?"
"No! he is said to be a great coward and always a sneak from danger."
"Ah! that is something," said Hobson, "hold easy and say nothing."
Our hero now mused awhile and retired to bed with a brightened look,
and the air of one who has got a new maggot in his head, as he probably
would have himself expressed it. The next morning he was stirring as
soon as it was light. Sallying out into the town he soon came across a
couple of Indians lazily lounging about the street."
"Sawnies, or whatever they call ye," says he, "I want to hire you
"Me go," said the spokesman of the two, "me go for the money or de
"Well, then, do you know Derrick there about the market, with a
white coat and a black cane?"
"Me know him."
"Very well, I will give you a broad shiner apiece if you will dog
that fellow untill bed time; don't touch him, or say one word to him,
but always keep your eyes on him; if he turns a corner, you turn too;
if he goes into a house, you watch till he comes out, and if he comes
near you, run till he stops and then turn and watch again. Will you do
"Yes! me do him," was the reply.
Hobson now returned to his lodgings and remained there till night,
when he set out for Derrick's, to see if his plan of operations had
produced any effect; and if so, to give it such a turn as he might
think best calculated to accomplish his purpose.
Derrick was at home, and obviously, in no very cheerful mood. After
framing his usual excuses for not having the money ready, he soon fell
into a sort of reverie. Hobson now began to have some hopes that his
scheme would succeed; and while he was endeavoring, by various
questions to draw out something which would open a way for him to act
his own part in the plan, Derrick observed,—
"I have noticed a rather mysterious circumstance to day Mr. Hobson;
a thing I can't exactly account for."
"What may that be," said Hobson, "if I may so bold with your honor?"
"Why there has been a couple of Indians dogging and spying me out in
every spot and place I have been in since morning.— I tried to come
up with them once or twice, and they vanished like apparitions, but as
soon as I turned, I could see them peeping out after me from some other
plaee; they kept at a distance, to be sure, but they looked d—n'd
evil, and I don't know exactly what it all means."
"It is quite singular said Hobson, "but what kind of looking
fellows were they?"
Derrick described them.
"Why, sir," said Hobson, "they must be the very fellows that helped
me with my cattle through the long woods; I am rather sorry that I
employed them, for I begin to suspect they are desperate and bloody
minded fellows, though they stuck to me as close as brothers on the
way, and I should have paid them, but I told them I could not until you
paid me for the cattle; then I mean to pay them well and get rid of
them, for they begin to look rather askew at me, and I confess, between
you and I, that I feel rather shy of the imps myself; but I believe I
must be jogging; you say I may call to-morrow?"
"Yes—yes, certainly," said Derrick.
Hobson retired, and signing to the Indians, who were lurking round
the house to follow him, he took them aside.
"Well my lads, you have done well—here are your wheels— go and
drink, then come back to your business; be seen once or twice more to
night, and be at your post early to-morrow morning, and keep up the
same game till to-morrow night; here are ofnother pair of shiners for
you—will you do it?"
"Yes! me do him, was again the laconic answer.
The next day, Hobson again waited on Derrick and found him looking
extremely ill and haggard, with the appearance of one who had been
sadly disturbed of his rest.
"I am glad to see you, Mr. Hobson," said he, "I am very happy at
length to be able to pay you; but you must be sensible Mr. Hobson, that
the sum I promised you for your cattle was a hundred dollars over the
market price; I made a losing go of it, and I think that you will
discount the hundred dollars at least.,'
"I fear that cannot be," said Hobson, "for I have already made a
contract to pay away all this money, before I leave the city, except
enough to pay my expenses home and pay off the bloody Indians; perhaps
I could get away, however, by dodging the knaves; could I not?"
"O no," said Derrick eagerly.
"No, for heaven's sake no; pay them well, why, last night, they
waylaid my house and have been seen several times this morning, though
I have been so unwell that I have not been out to-day; not that I fear
them Mr. Hobson, but on your own account, pay them off to the last
farthing, for otherwise, depend on it they will do you some cursed
mischief, I was only in jest about the discount."
With this, Derrick brought out a bag of gold, and without further
ceremony counted out the full sum to the inwardly exultiug Hobson, who,
pocketing the guineas with great composure, bid Derrick good morning
and marched off in triumph to his lodgings and recounting his good
fortune to his admiring landlord, took a hearty breakfast, and
departed, having good-naturedly absolved the landlord from his promise
of perpetual secret, and leaving the Indians to earn their days wages
to the sad discomfeiture of the nerves of poor Derrick. In two hours
Hobson had crossed the great river, on his way homeward, and
pronouncing his parting blessing on the walled city, "And you didn't
knab John Hobson after all," said he, turning his head and spurring his
pony into a round trot up the great road towords the States; "you
didn't knab him so easily, ye mongrel, scurvy, rascalious crew of
beef-eating John Bulls, and parley vou francez frigazee,
frog-eating Frenchmen, so leaving this specimen of Vermont fashions in
turning the tables on a rascal for your benefit, good bye says I and be
hanged to you."
It was about a month after the occurrences we have described that a
gay wedding party was assembled at the house of Esquire— at the Four
corners in Slab City. The balance that had been, for more than a year,
doubtfully trembling at equipoise between our young farmer and a more
wealthy, but a less loved suitor of the Squire's fair daughter, had at
length turned in favor of our hero, who always attributed his
subsequent happiness to his lucky speculation at the walled city.