Wlliam Gilmore Simms
As Good as a Comedy and Paddy McGann >> As Good as a Comedy, or The Tennesseean's Story >> Proem

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Proem

Novella | U of South Carolina P | 1972
Transcription 8PROEM

upon the trouble of looking after his own affairs. Our ninth man was
a broth of a boy in the shape of a huge Tennesseean, who filled up
much more than his proper share of seat, and, trespassing upon mine
with hip, thigh, and shoulder, compelled me (will he, nill he) to
reduce myself to dimensions far more modest than I have usually
been disposed to insist upon as reasonable. But, there was no chiding
or complaining. He was so good-natured, so conscious of his involun-
tary trespasses; at least, so dubious about them.
"I crowd you, stranger; I'm afeard I crowd you;" and he laid his
huge paw upon my shoulder with the air of one who solicits all
possible indulgence. If I had been utterly squeezed out of proper
shape, I could scarcely have forborne the assurance, which I instantly
made him, that he didn't crowd me in the least.
"Well," said he, "I'm glad to hear you say so; I was a little
dubious that I was spreading over you; and if so, I didn't know
what to do then; for here, if you can feel, you'll see my fat lies
rather heavy upon the thighs of this perpetual motion person, and
my knee is a little too much of a dig for the haunches of the man in
front. In fact, he's cutting into me he's mighty sharp ! "
The man in front, who was the Yankee schoolmaster, said some-
thing in under tones to the effect that men of such monstrous
oversize should always take two places in a public conveyance, or
travel in their own. I caught the words, but the Tennesseean did not.
"I'm jest as God made me," he proceeded, as if apologetically;
"and if 'twould be any satisfaction to you, stranger," addressing me,
"I'm willing to say that I would not be quite so broad if I had my
own way, and the thing was to be done over agin. But as that's not
to be hoped for, I don't complain at all, of you don't."
How could I complain after the last suggestion complain of a
man who felt his own misfortune with such a proper conscience!
The schoolmaster had something to say. His tone was exceedingly
indignant, but too much subdued for the ears of the Tennesseean.
My amiable recognition of his bulk seemed to have won his affections,
if, indeed, his great size and my unavoidable neighborhood did not
sufficiently account for them. His great fat haunches nestled most
lovingly against me, threatening to overlap me entirely, while his
huge arm encircled my neck with an embrace which would have