Mr. Samson’s House.

“ Once upon a time” a queer old fellow named Smith, started from a Southern city upon a pedestrian excursion of about one hundred miles. He was not a very old fellow either. He [1] was about forty years older than he was when born. This Mr. Smith was not connected with the John Smith family in the most remote degree--was a man of many peculiarities. If absolute stupidity did not form a trait in his character, it was a quality very much resembling stupidity, and might easily be mistaken for it, by at least one half the world. He had always manifested a singular abstraction, generally described as absence of mind, and would frequently roam about the streets an entire day without recognizing one of his numerous friends, apparently without being aware of the nature of his movements.

This was Mr. Smith. We were saying that Mr. Smith started upon a journey, on the “ ten-toed machine” spoken of in John Bull. After traveling a few miles, our pedestrian felt somewhat thirsty, and called at a small establishment--which looked as though it was just half a tavern--for a drink. A good natured young fellow waited upon him, brought his brandy with water, and, in addition, furnished him with a bit of bread and cheese. All this was decidedly welcome and refreshing. After Mr. Smith had quenched his thirst and satisfied the slight cravings of appetite, he recommenced his travels. As he left the city tolerably early in the morning, he thought he might walk two or three hours longer before he stopped for dinner. His road seemed to be very level, and was skirted on one side

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by an uncommonly high fence. On he footed it for about three hours longer, until a glance at the position of the sun satisfied him he had better secure his noonday meal. He called at a small dwelling by the roadside, and the following dialogue ensued between him and a boy standing in the door way :

“ Who lives here, my son ?”

“ Mr. Samson, sir.”

“ Do you keep tavern ?”

“ Why, sorter, and sorter not; we accommodate people sometimes.”

“ Can I get dinner here ?”

“ Yes, sir--walk in.”

Our traveler walked in, and in the course of half an hour, a nice comfortable dinner, smoking hot was set before him. He ate, drank, paid his moderate bill, put on his hat, took his walking stick and proceeded upon his journey. Before he renewed his labors, however, he took the precaution to fill his pipe carefully, and light it. Fresh and vigorous as ever, he then pushed ahead. As the sun crept down the horizon. Mr. Smith began to feel some degree of weariness stealing over him, but he nevertheless persevered until it was quite dusk. Finding himself opposite a small house by the roadside, he enquired of a youth seated upon the threshold :

“ Who lives here, my son ?”

“ Mr. Samson, sir.”

“ Can I get supper and lodging here to-night, by paying for it ?”

“ Certainly, sir--walk in.”

Mr. Smith crossed the threshold, laid aside his hat and cane, drank a cup of tea and ate two or three slices of toast--read four chapters in “Fox’s Book of Martyrs,” which he found upon the mantelpiece, and went to bed. When he awoke in the morning, the sun was just showing its broad red disc above the tree tops. He found the breakfast upon the table waiting for
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him. He finished the morning meal, settled his account, and commenced his travels the second day. One thing, simply, attracted his observation--the road was exceedingly uniform--but the fact excited no surprise. At noon, he called at a snug little house, and asked a lad who was gazing out of a window--

“ Who lives here, my son ?”

“ Mr. Samson, sir.”

Our traveler paused a moment, reflected and seemed to be conning over some name or circumstance in his mind ; at last he said--

“ Are there many of the name of Samson on this road, my son ?”

“ A good many,” said the boy.

“ I thought so. Can I get dinner here ?”

“ Certainly, sir--walk in.”

Mr. Smith stepped in, swallowed his dinner, and once more took to the road. When night came on, he of course stopped at the first house in his way. A youth sat upon a wheelbarrow at the door, whittling.

“ Who lives here my son ?”

“ Mr. Samson ! By Jupiter ! I should think they were all Samsons on this road. I got dinner at one Mr. Samson’s yesterday, slept at another Mr. Samson’s [2] last night, and here I am at Samson’s again to-night. Besides, the houses I have seen upon this road all look alike--it is very queer.”

“ Very queer,” replied the boy, with a leer which seemed to say, “ you can’t fool me old fellow.”

“ Can you give me supper and lodging ?” said the traveler.

“ Certainly--walk in.”

“ I’m darned if this is’nt a queer country,” said the old man as he went to bed, "this looks exactly like the room I slept in last night--but I suppose it is all right.”
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It was full two o’clock the next day, when, after traveling briskly at least six hours, Mr. Smith stopped at a comfortable small dwelling with the intention of securing his dinner. A boy stood in the door.

“ How d’ye do ?” said the boy.

“ Nicely, my son. Who lives here ?”

“ Mr. Samson. I have told you that half a dozen times already.”

“ The devil you have--I haven’t been here before, have I ?”

“ I reckon you have--but aint you travelling on a bet ?”

“ Travelling on a bet !--no--what put that in your head ?”

Why you’ve been walking round the race course here for two days and a half and I didn’t suppose you were doing it for fun.”

For the first time, now, Mr. Smith took a survey of things, and to his astonishment discovered that the boy had been telling the truth. He drew his hat over his forehead and started for home--determined never to venture upon a pedestrian excursion again.

Source: Southern and Southwestern Sketches: Fun, Sentiment, and Adventure. Edited by a Gentleman of Richmond. Richmond: J.W. Randolph, n.d. 132-135.

Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.

[1] Original text reads “H.”
[2] Original text reads “Samsom’s.”

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