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Monday, October 25, 2010

The Christian and the Bowie-Knife Salesman

The following is an account of an encounter between a Christian traveler and a bowie-knife salesman, from Life-incidents of Home, School and Church (1874), by Richard Cecil Stone.
I was on the track of two barges, which our company had sent down the Alleghany and Ohio rivers, loaded with manufactured lumber, destined for the St. Louis and Western trade. They had wintered at Cincinnati, and at the opening of the river had started on. My stay in this city was short, though I learned a few lessons of Western life. Stepping to a stall, kept by a German near the levee, I took in my hand, for the first time, a bowie knife. The trader very courteously said, "You vish buy de bowie knife?" 
I replied, "I think not; I was looking from curiosity; it is the first I ever saw." 
"Ah! dey goot for travel; are you travel?"    
"Yes, I am going on the steamer to Louisville."     
"Ah! den you vants de bowie knife."     
"O no, I think not."     
"No, vy? you meets bad men, ver bad men; dey insult, booze, hit you; vat you do den?"     
"I shall treat everyman honestly, kindly, and with Christian courtesy."
"Ah, yaw, dat all ver goot, ver goot; but 'spose you gets in corner, vat you do den? - how you gets out?"     
“Well, I do not think the bowie knife would help me; I can fight bad men better with honesty and Christian love, than with that instrument.”     
“Ah, noo, noo! mischtake, mischtake."     
I bade him a kind good-bye and went on board the boat.
Having lived to tell the tale, the narrator finds his pacifism vindicated.

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