Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter III >> Page 29

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Page 29

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
at this rate by the dozen �that number being a standard allow-
ance, for an able-bodied alderman, of moderate stomach an
Apicius, not an Heliogabalus. This is the only legalized method
of robbing the Virginia waters of their natives. By this process
the poorer sort of people are employed to gather the oyster, and
are thus compensated for their labor nothing being allowed for
the value of the ' innocent' victim. As it is thus made a business
for a certain portion of the residents, the practice is tolera-
ted, if not encouraged ; though it threatens to destroy, in the
end, the resources of the region in respect to this commodity.
The clam is appropriated in the same manner, to say nothing of
large varieties of fish.
But there are trespassers who pursue another practice; who
seize with the strong hand who make formidable descents, at
unreasonable hours and seasons, and rend and carry off immense
quantities, without leaving the usual toll. To these forays, the
sensibilities and the patriotism of the people are always keenly
alive ; and fearful issues, tooth and nail, are sometimes the con-
" On one occasion, not long ago, the Virginians of that region
got an inkling of a formidable invasion by the Pennsylvanians.
The ' bale fires' were lighted accordingly ; �the horn was blown,
and a general gathering took place of all within striking dis-
tance. The ' Old Dominion' is not easily roused, being huge of
form, indolent, and easily pacified by appeals to her magnitude
and greatness. You may take many liberties with her, so long
as you do not ruffle her self-esteem�nay, you may absolutely
meddle with her pocketbook if you will do the thing adroitly
and without disturbing her siesta;�but beware how you carry
off her oysters without paying the customary toll. She can't
stand that.
"On this occasion, wliig and democrat, forgetting old snarls,
came forth with a hearty will. They stood shoulder to shoulder,
and the same horn summoned equally both parties to the con-
flict. It was a common cause, and they promptly agreed to go
together to the death for their rights in oysters. As in the case of
the combatants of Gotham and Jersey, each side had its famous
captains�its Ajaxes and Hectors. But the Pennsylvanians
suffered from a falling of the heart before they came to blows.