I was once, upon a warm summer afternoon, journeying on horseback in that wild and picturesque tract of country, in New Hampshire, which borders on the upper portion of the mountainborn Merrimac, when a dark thunder cloud, that had been gathering, unperceived by me, in the distance, rose up suddenly from behind the screening hills, apprising me at once, by its threatening aspect, and the rapidity with which it was rolling towards me, that a thorough drenching was only to be avoided by an immediate flight to some place of shelter. Applying the spur, therefore, I put my horse to his best speed, and fortunately, succeeded in reaching a substantial looking farm house by the road side, just as the big, bright drops of rain, as if shaken down by the crashing peal of thunder, that heralded their descent, came merrily dancing to the smoking earth. While standing in the open shed, that I had been so lucky as to gain, listening to the roar of the elements, and marking that almost terrific sublimity, with which a thunder-storm in the mountains becomes invested, the owner of the establishment, a fine, hale looking man of about forty, came out, and very courteously invited me into the house, adding at the same time, that he thought, from the unpromising appearance of the clouds, I might as well make up my mind, at once, to remain with him through the night. As it was then late in the afternoon, and the rain still continued to pour down, with little prospect of abating in time for me to resume my journey before dark, I soon concluded to accept the proffered hospitality; when I was immediately ushered into the house by my kind entertainer, and introduced to his interesting family, as “a stranger who had been induced to put up with their poor fare for the night.” I had already been struck with the appearance of thrift and good management in every thing about this establishment without, and my admiration was now equally awakened by the neatness and rustic taste of all within, and the peculiar quiet and order, with which the family concerns seemed to be conducted under the superintendence of my hostess, who was one of the most comely and engaging matrons I remember ever to have seen. I very soon discovered my host to be a man of much native shrewdness and of fixed and well-formed opinions on almost all subjects that presented themselves; and these qualities, united with a spice of sly humor and a good tact for description, failed not to impart a high degree of piquancy and interest to his conversation.