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It happened to be my lot, not many weeks since, to be a passenger on board the fast running steamboat M----- , bound from Cincinnati to St. Louis. Among the number of persons in the cabin was H---- , a would-be wag, and a live Hoosier fresh from the swamps and bogs of Indiana. It so happened that, in his humor of fun, H---- resolved to quiz this, as he supposed, green individual, and only waited for a good opportunity of so doing. None occurred until dinner time, when the wag took particular pains to place himself exactly opposite the Hoosier at the table, and soon after the company had commenced eating, he hailed him as follows :--

“I say, my friend, you’re from Hoosierdom, I suppose.”

“I’m from Indiana,” was the civil reply.

“Do they raise cabbage where you come from?”

“No ; but I reckon they du whar you come from."

“What do you judge by?”

“By the looks of that ar cabbage head between your shoulders.”

Several sitting near H---- now began to titter at his expense ; but, nothing daunted, he returned to the charge.

“Does your mother know you’re out?”[1] he asked.

“Yes, I reckon so ; she told me go talk to the goslins.”

“Indeed,” said H----, biting his lips, “then you must be a goose to understand the language so well.”

“When among Romans, I du as Romans du,” was the instant retort. “I talk the language of those I am talking to.

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“Which way are you travelling,” cried H----, as another giggle ran round the table.

“Down the Ohio river, I reckon :” and the Hoosier half filled his plate with poached eggs.

“What business do you follow?” But, instead of answering the question, the face of the Hoosier suddenly became red as blood, and he dashed the contents of his plate full into the face and bosom of the wag.

There was a sudden start among those at the table, which was turned into instant confusion by the further actions of the Indianian. Raising aloft the heavy plate in his right hand, he brought it down with stunning force upon the head of the individual at his right side, knocking him backwards upon the floor, where he lay sprawling, unable for the moment to rise. No sooner had the plate done its duty upon its victim, than bending the left arm, he brought back the elbow with terrible force into the mouth of the man at his left side, knocking out a couple of teeth, and also prostrating him at full length, with his head against the door of a berth. This done, the Hoosier jumped up, and, placing his back against the side of the cabin seized hold of the chair he had been sitting in, and stared around him with eyes flashing like those of a madman.

In the meanwhile, the now thoroughly excited passengers had risen from the table, the female portion fleeing into the cabin, and the men gathering around the assaulter.

“He’s mad!” shouted one.

“Throw him overboard!” yelled another.

“Knock him down!” cried a third.

“Bind him hand and foot!” bawled a fourth.

“Take care he don’t kill some one!” echoed a fifth.

But the voice of the sixth speaker was drowned by the louder lungs of the Hoosier, who suddenly exclaimed in a voice of thunder--

“Whar’s the captain?”
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“Here I am,” answered the person called for, as he came up to the spot.

“Wall, I want that man and this man searched ;” and he pointed to the two he had knocked down.

“What for?” asked the captain.

“What for? Why, for stealing. That blackguard on my right stole my puss, containin’ five hundred dollars, and in eagles, which I’ve been a year layin’ up to go to Kaliforny ; the thief on my left stole my new silk pocket handkerchief, gin me by Polly just afore I left home.”

By this time, the fellow who had fallen under the plate had managed to get up.

“You’re a liar, sir!” he shouted, in passion, at the same time thrusting his hand in his bosom.

“You’re a thief, you son of a gun!” retorted the Hoosier, in a rage. “Sarch him, captain, and if you don’t find the puss on him, why chop me into sassages and eat me for supper, thot’s all.”

“We must search you, sir,” said the captain to the man accused.

“I won’t be searched,” answered the fellow haughtily. “I’m a gentleman.”

“That remains to be seen,” said the Skipper, calmly. “Searched you shall be.”

The man was accordingly examined, and, though every pocket was looked into, no money answering the description of the Hoosier was found, and they were about giving it up.

“Look in his boots,” exclaimed the loser of the purse ; “He’s some kin to John Andre, and will be hung yet afore he dies.”

The left boot was pulled off, and sure enough, there was the money, exactly answering the description, confirming the guilt of the gentleman!

Upon the other fellow the handkerchief was also found,
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having the Hoosier’s name legibly written upon it, and the two rascals were, with the permission of the Indianan, landed upon the shore at once. The Hoosier was for also putting H---- ashore, declaring that he had engaged him in conversation on purpose to call his attention, so that the scoundrels could rob him. But, as the wag was well known to many on board, he was let off, the Hoosier swearing it was some satisfaction to know that he had spoiled his best ruffled shirt with the contents of his plate. H---- has never since attempted to poke fun at an Indianan, and doubtless the two thieves are also careful how they succeed in rousing a Hoosier.

Source: Southern and Southwestern Sketches: Fun, Sentiment, and Adventure. Edited by a Gentleman of Richmond. Richmond: J.W. Randolph, n.d. 38-41. University of Virginia Alderman Library.

Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.

[1] "your'e" in original.

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