If application was made by me for any
special information, trouble was taken to give it me. But I found
no aptitude, no wish for conversation - nay, even a disinclination
to converse. In the Western States I do not think that I was ever
addressed first by an American sitting next to me at table.
Indeed, I never held any conversation at a public table in the
West. I have sat in the same room with men for hours, and have not
had a word spoken to me. I have done my very best to break through
this ice, and have always failed. A Western American man is not a
talking man. He will sit for hours over a stove, with a cigar in
his mouth and his hat over his eyes, chewing the cud of reflection.
A dozen will sit together in the same way, and there shall not be a
dozen words spoken between them in an hour. With the women one's
chance of conversation is still worse. It seemed as though the
cares of the world had been too much for them, and that all talking
excepting as to business - demands, for instance, on the servants
for pickles for their children - had gone by the board. They were
generally hard, dry, and melancholy. I am speaking, of course, of
aged females - from five and twenty, perhaps, to thirty - who had
long since given up the amusements and levities of life.
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