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Hoosierized a little by a "raising in," and an adaptation to, the Backwoods. He was fluent but choice of diction, a little sonorous in the structure of his sentences to give effect to a voice like an organ. His countenance was open and engaging, usually sedate of expression, but capable of any modifications at the shortest notice. Add to this his intelligence, shrewdness, tact, humor, and that he was a ready debater and elegant declaimer, and had the gift of bringing out, to the fullest extent, his resources, and you may see that Ovid, in a new country, was a man apt to make no mean impression. He drew the loose population around him as the magnet draws iron filings. He was the man for the "boys"-then a numerous and influential class. His generous profusion and free-handed manner impressed them as the bounty of Cæsar the loafing commonalty of Rome: Bolus was no niggard. He never higgled or chaffered about small things. He was as free with his own mon^y—if he ever had any of his own-as with yours. If he never paid borrowed money, he never asked payment of others. If you wished him to lend you any, he would give you a handful without counting it: if you handed him any, you were losing time in counting it, for you never saw anything of it again: Shallow's funded debt on Falstaff were as safe an investment: this would have been an equal commerce, but, unfortunately for Bolus's friends, the proportion between his disbursements and receipts was something scant. Such a spendthrift never made a track even in the flush times of 1836. It took as much to support him as a first-class steamboat. His bills at the groceries were as long as John Q. Adams's Abolition petition, or, if pasted together, would have matched the great Chartist memorial. He would as soon treat a regiment or charter the grocery for the day, as any other way; and after the crowd had heartily drank some of them "laying their souls in soak"—if he did
not have the money convenient-as when did he?—he would fumble in his pocket, mutter something about nothing less than a $100 bill, and direct the score, with a lordly familiarity, to be charged to his account.
Ovid had early possessed the faculty of ubiquity. He had been born in more places than Homer. In an hour's discourse, he would, with more than the speed of Ariel, travel at every point of the compass, from Portland to San Antonio, some famous adventure always occurring just as he "rounded to," or while stationary, though he did not remain longer than to see it. He was present at every important debate in the Senate at Washington, and had heard every popular speaker on the hustings, at the bar and in the pulpit, in the United States. He had been concerned in many important causes with Grymes and against Mazereau in New Orleans, and had borne no small share in the fierce forensic battles which, with singular luck, he and Grymes always won in the courts of the Crescent City. And such frolics as they had when they laid aside their heavy armor after the heat and burden of the day! Such gambling! A negro ante and twenty on the call was moderate playing. What lots of "Ethiopian captives" and other plunder he raked down vexed Arithmetic to count and credulity to believe; and had it not been for Bolus's generosity in giving "the boys" a chance to win back by doubling off on the high hand, there is no knowing what changes of owners would not have occurred in the Rapides or on the German Coast.
The Florida war and the Texas revolution, had each furnished a brilliant theater for Ovid's chivalrous emprise. Jack Hays and he were great chums. Jack and he had many a hearty laugh over the odd trick of Ovid in lassoing a Comanche Chief while galloping a stolen horse, barebacked, up the San Saba hills. But he had the rig on Jack again when he made
him charge on a brood of about twenty Comanches who had got into a mot of timber in the prairies, and were shooting their arrows from the covert, Ovid, with a six-barreled rifle, taking them on the wing as Jack rode in and flushed them!
It was an affecting story and feelingly told, that of his and Jim Bowie's rescuing an American girl from the Apaches, and returning her to her parents in St. Louis; and it would have been still more tender had it not been for the unfortunate necessity Bolus was under of shooting a brace of gay lieutenants on the border, one frosty morning before breakfast, back of the fort, for taking unbecoming liberties with the fair damosel, the spoil of his bow and spear.
But the girls Ovid courted, and the miraculous adventures he had met with in love beggared by the comparison all the fortune of war had done for him. Old Nugent's daughter, Sallie, was his narrowest escape. Sallie was accomplished to the romantic extent of two ocean steamers and four blocks of buildings in Boston, separated only from immediate "perception and pernancy" by the contingency of old Nugent's recovering from a confirmed dropsy, for which he had been twice ineffectually tapped. The day was set-the presents made-superb of course-the guests invited: the old Sea Captain insisted on Bolus's setting his negroes free, and taking five thousand dollars apiece for the loss. Bolus's love for the "peculiar institution" wouldn't stand it. Rather than submit to such degradation Ovid broke off the match, and left Sallie broken-hearted; a disease from which she did not recover until about six months afterwards, when she ran off with the mate of her father's ship, the Sea-Serpent, in the Rio trade.
Gossip and personal anecdote were the especial subjects of Ovid's elocution. He was intimate with all the notabilities of the political circles. He was a privileged visitor of the political
green-room. He was admitted back into the laboratory where the political thunder was manufactured, and into the office where the magnetic wires were worked. He knew the origin of every party question and movement, and had a finger in every pie the party cooks of Tammany baked for the body politic.
One thing in Ovid I can never forgive. This was his coming it over poor Ben. I don't object to it on the score of the swindle. That was to have been expected. But swindling Ben was degrading the dignity of the art. True, it illustrated the universality of his science, but it lowered it to a beggarly process of mean deception. There was no skill in it. It was little better than crude larceny. A child could have done it; it had as well been done to a child. It was like catching a cow with a lariat, or setting a steel-trap for a pet pig. True, Bolus had nearly practised out of custom. He had worn his art threadbare. Men who could afford to be cheated had all been worked up or been scared away. Besides, Frost couldn't be put off. He talked of money in a most ominous connection with blood. The thing could be settled by a bill of exchange. Ben's name was unfortunately good-the amount some $1,600. Ben had a fine tract of land in Sr. He has not got it now. Bolus only gave Ben one wrench-that was enough. Ben never breathed easy afterward. All the V's and X's of ten years' hard practice went in that penful of ink. Fie! Bolus, Monroe Edwards wouldn't have done that. He would sooner have sunk down to the level of some honest calling for a living than have put his profession to so mean a shift. I can conceive of but one extenuation; Bolus was on the lift for Texas, and the desire was natural to qualify himself for citizenship.
The genius of Bolus, strong in its unassisted strength, yet gleamed out more brilliantly under the genial influence of "the
rosy." With boon companions and "reaming suats," it was worth while to hear him of a winter evening. He could "gild the palpable and the familiar with golden exhalations of the dawn." The most commonplace objects became dignified. There was a history to the commonest articles about him: that book was given him by Mr. Van Buren-the walking-stick was a present from General Jackson: the thrice-watered Monongahela, just drawn from the grocery hard by, was the last of a distillation of 1825 smuggled in from Ireland, and presented to him by a friend in New Orleans on easy terms with the collector; the cigars, not too fragrant, were of a box sent him by a schoolmate from Cuba in 1834-before he visited the island. And talking of Cuba-he had met with an adventure there, the impression of which never could be effaced from his mind. He had gone at the instance of Don Carlos y Cubanos (an intimate classmate in a Kentucky Catholic College), whose life he had saved from a mob in Louisville at the imminent risk of his own. The Don had a sister of blooming sixteen, the least of whose charms was two or three coffee plantations, some hundreds of slaves, and a suitable garnish of doubloons, accumulated during her minority, in the hands of her uncle and guardian, the Captain General. All went well with the young lovers -for such, of course, they were-until Bolus, with his usual frank indiscretion, in a conversation with the Priest avowed himself a Protestant. Then came trouble. Every effort was made to convert him; but Bolus's faith resisted the eloquent tongue of the Priest and the more eloquent eyes of Donna Isabella. The brother pleaded the old friendship-urged a seeming and formal conformity-the Captain General argued the case like a politician—the Señorita like a warm and devoted All would not do. The Captain General forbade his longer sojourn on the island. Bolus took leave of the fair