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 PROEM13
in large commercial cities, where the victim is the only sufferer,
and the criminal the only one to find safety, if not sympathy. The
narrator had given it as a fact within his own experience, as occurring
in his native city; and the offensive defect in his narration, which
the skill of the Tennesseean was able only to detect and not to
define, consisted in his emotionless and cold-blooded way of unfold-
ing his details of horror, without showing that he felt any of the
indignation which his tale provoked in every other bosom.
"Such things can't happen in Tennessee, I tell you, stranger; and
ef they did, nobody would be the wiser of it. You'd hear of the poor
gal's death, the first thing, and she'd die, prehaps, of no disorder.
But she'd rather die right away, a thousand deaths, sooner than have
her shame in the mouth of any of her kindred; and ef so be it
happen to leak out, there would be somebody some brother, or
friend, or cousin, or, may-be, her own father, or may-be a onknown
stranger like myself to burn priming for her sake, so that the
black-hearted villain shouldn't have it all to himself. But I ain't a
going to catechize your story. I rather reckon it can't be true, jest as
you tell it, stranger. I can't think so badly of the fellow, Compton,
though I reckon he's bad enough, and I can't think so meanly of
your people, that could let him get off without a scratch upon his
hide. I reckon it's a made up thing, jest to make people sorry, so I
won't believe a word of it. But the one I have to tell is in sober
airnest. It happened, every bit of it, on good authority. Indeed,
I'm a knowing to a part on it myself, as you'll see when we get on;
though the better part of it I got from the mouth of another. It's
a history I picked up in Florida, when I went down to fight the
Simenoles. You know that when the rig'lars got on so badly with
the In j ins, splurging here and there with their big columns, and
never doing anything, old Hickory swore, by all splinters, that we
boys from Tennessee should do the business. So we turned out a small
chance of volinteers, and I was one among 'em. Down we went, calke-
lating to ride like a small harricane through and through the red skins ;
but twan't so easy a matter, after all, and I don't think we Tennesse-
eans did any better than other people. It wa'n't our fault, to be
sure, for we'd ha' fit fast enough, and whipped 'em too, ef the sneak-
ing varmints would ha' come up to the scratch ; but they fought shy,
and all the glory I got in the campaign for my share, would lie on