With a loquacious Pittsburgh boatman just back from Natchez, Macnab had this conversation:
"It's grand, driftin' down the rivers, walkin' home along the Trace."
"How many miles can you make a day?" Finlay asked during a leisurely meal at the tavern.
"Driftin' downstream, sixty miles in twenty-four hours, not allowin' time lost when hund up on sandbars, which is a lot. Walkin' back, sixteen miles a day, week after week." Then he added something Finlay found attractive: "Some men can make twenty, steady, but I often like to lie under the trees ... in daylight, so I can watch the birds and the squirrels."
"They told me murderers prowl the Trace."
"That ended twenty years ago. But let's be honest. I do hide my money carefully—four different spots so I can give up a small part if I meet up with a holdup man." With a deft move of his right hand he produced an imaginary purse from his left breast. "And I do feel safer if I travel with others through the lonely parts."
"I wish I could have you as my partner," Finlay said.
"I won't be walkin' the Trace no more. But if you're set on headin' for Texas, that's the cheap way to go, and you bein' a Scotchman ..."
"We call it Scotsman."