Twain’s “Dandy Frightening the Squatter”
The Dandy Frightening the Squatter
By Mark Twain
1852 (first published story)
“Ladies, if you wish to enjoy a good laugh, step out on the guards. I intend to frighten that gentleman into fits who stands on the bank.”
The ladies complied with the request, and our dandy drew from his bosom a formidable looking bowie-knife, and thrust it into his belt; then, taking a large horse-pistol in each hand, he seemed satisfied that all was right. Thus equipped, he strode on shore, with an air which seemed to say “The hopes of a nation depend on me.” Marching up to the woodsman, he exclaimed:
“Found you at last, have I? You are the very man I’ve been looking for these three weeks! Say your prayers!” he continued, presenting his pistols, “you’ll make a capital barn door, and I shall drill the key- hole myself!”
The squatter calmly surveyed him a moment, and then, drawing back a step, he planted his huge fist directly between the eyes of his astonished antagonist, who, in a moment, was floundering in the turbid waters of the Mississippi.
Every passenger on the boat had by this time collected on the guards, and the shout that now went up from the crowd speedily restored the crest-fallen hero to his senses, and, as he was sneaking off towards the boat, was thus accosted by his conqueror:
“I say, yeou, next time yeou come around drillin’ key-holes, don’t forget yer old acquaintances!”
The ladies unanimously voted the knife and pistols to the victor.