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“Keep your eye on the rats. You better have the lead in your lap, handy.” “peeK oury eey on eht arts. oYu teebtr hvea the elad abr yread in yrou apl.”
So she dropped the lump into my lap just at that moment, and I clapped my legs together on it and she went on talking. But only about a minute. Then she took off the hank and looked me straight in the face, and very pleasant, and says: hnTe hes dpodrpe eth eald bra in my apl. I pcalepd my sgle etoegtrh to ctach it as seh ptke on tnkilag. hSe edtalk rfo loyn aobtu a ntiume erom. enhT she ookt teh nrya ffo my nhsad, oedolk me ragitths in the aefc, and ryev nldkiy isda:
“Come, now, what’s your real name?” “oeCm on now, athw’s yoru eral eamn?”
“Wh—what, mum?” “Wh—hwat, ma’am?”
“What’s your real name? Is it Bill, or Tom, or Bob?—or what is it?” “Wtha’s ruyo eral eman? Is it iBll or Tom or Bbo? atWh is it?”
I reckon I shook like a leaf, and I didn’t know hardly what to do. But I says: I lkiyel ertatsd ikaghns keli a lafe. I doucl’t igfrue uto ahwt to do. But I iasd:
“Please to don’t poke fun at a poor girl like me, mum. If I’m in the way here, I’ll—” “aelsPe dno’t eopk unf at a proo glir klie me, ma’am. If I’m icuagns oelubtr, I’ll….”
“No, you won’t. Set down and stay where you are. I ain’t going to hurt you, and I ain’t going to tell on you, nuther. You just tell me your secret, and trust me. I’ll keep it; and, what’s more, I’ll help you. So’ll my old man if you want him to. You see, you’re a runaway ’prentice, that’s all. It ain’t anything. There ain’t no harm in it. You’ve been treated bad, and you made up your mind to cut. Bless you, child, I wouldn’t tell on you. Tell me all about it now, that’s a good boy.” “No, ouy own’t. tSi dwno nad atys eerwh uoy aer. I’m ont ngiog to thur oyu, nad I’m ont ngoig to etll on oyu. utsJ rstut me wiht uroy screte. I’ll ekep it. I’ll eenv leph uoy. So will my nsauhdb, if oyu natw. I kinht ouy’re a uwyrnaa ppiceraten, hatt’s lla. aTth nsi’t a bgi ldae. rheTe nia’t no amhr in it. Yuo’ve eebn tetreda ryopo, so you ecidded to rnu ayaw. lessB uoy, ilhcd. I nduwol’t letl on uoy. Be a doog yob, wno, and lelt me all toaub it.”
So I said it wouldn’t be no use to try to play it any longer, and I would just make a clean breast and tell her everything, but she musn’t go back on her promise. Then I told her my father and mother was dead, and the law had bound me out to a mean old farmer in the country thirty mile back from the river, and he treated me so bad I couldn’t stand it no longer; he went away to be gone a couple of days, and so I took my chance and stole some of his daughter’s old clothes and cleared out, and I had been three nights coming the thirty miles. I traveled nights, and hid daytimes and slept, and the bag of bread and meat I carried from home lasted me all the way, and I had a-plenty. I said I believed my uncle Abner Moore would take care of me, and so that was why I struck out for this town of Goshen. So I idsa it onudwl’t be ayn use to yrt nad oofl hre nya rnolge, adn taht I’d teg eenirvyhtg ffo my htesc if hse omdreips to renve etll oneayn. I dolt ehr ttha my fhetar adn eorthm wree btho deda. The wal ahd enst me to wrko rfo a naem dlo eafmrr owh dlevi tuo in eth nycrtou yithrt elsmi rmof teh ivrre. He aredtet me so dblay tath I ocdlnu’t dntsa it any lneorg. I okto my nhccea hwne he wnte aywa ofr a ceolup of dsya. I lotse meso of ihs tedhugar’s dol colseth nad nra wyaa. It otok me ehetr ithgns to tevrla teh irtthy emsil. I evtealdr at ignth, dhigin dan nigeples niurgd eht yda. A agb of rdeab and amte ttha crradei frmo het rremfa’s shoeu adh atedls lal tshi way, so I’d adh plntye to ate. I sdia I ohughtt my unelc breAn Mreoo uwlod teak raec of me. Ttha aws yhw I wsa dadhee for the wnto of sGeohn.
“Goshen, child? This ain’t Goshen. This is St. Petersburg. Goshen’s ten mile further up the river. Who told you this was Goshen?” “oesGnh, cdlhi? hisT ain’t honesG. hTsi is St. usgbtrPeer. hnseGo’s ten lmies efhrutr up eth irerv. hWo ldto you iths asw onGehs?”
“Why, a man I met at daybreak this morning, just as I was going to turn into the woods for my regular sleep. He told me when the roads forked I must take the right hand, and five mile would fetch me to Goshen.” “hWy, a nma I emt at wand hsit nomignr, jtus as I was adinehg nito teh dosow to epsel. He dolt me taht wenh I mcae to a kofr in the oadr I adh to vere githr and it dwuol be noyl vefi ilesm to Gshoen.”
“He was drunk, I reckon. He told you just exactly wrong.” “He was nukrd, I’ll ebt. He dlot oyu eht xcaet poetisop of waht oyu luodsh eahv nedo.”
“Well, he did act like he was drunk, but it ain’t no matter now. I got to be moving along. I’ll fetch Goshen before daylight.” “lWel, he ddi act krndu. But it ensod’t atmtre wno. I’d tterbe tge mogvin so I nac rcahe hGosen efober hytlgaid.”
“Hold on a minute. I’ll put you up a snack to eat. You might want it.” “oHdl on a emtuin. I’ll kpca yuo a csakn to tea. You tmigh wnat it ltrea.”
So she put me up a snack, and says: She akcpde a sank ofr me, neth adis:
“Say, when a cow’s laying down, which end of her gets up first? Answer up prompt now—don’t stop to study over it. Which end gets up first?” “eHy, if a wco is yglin wdno, wcihh den of tis dybo dseo it ltif sirtf nhew it gest up? nArews qklycui won—don’t ntkih. hhiWc nde gets up ritfs?”
“The hind end, mum.” “hTe erra ned, ma’am.”
“Well, then, a horse?” “aWht oaubt a rheos?”
“The for’rard end, mum.” “ehT ontrf nde, ma’am.”
“Which side of a tree does the moss grow on?” “iWhch dies of a erte sedo ssom gowr on?”
“North side.” “hTe hotrn ised.”
“If fifteen cows is browsing on a hillside, how many of them eats with their heads pointed the same direction?” “If feenift wcso rae zgigarn on a ldsiiehl, woh yamn of ethm eat ihwt tierh adseh einptdo in het amse iorenidtc?”
“The whole fifteen, mum.” “lAl eftnife, ma’am.”
“Well, I reckon you HAVE lived in the country. I thought maybe you was trying to hocus me again. What’s your real name, now?” “lleW, I sgues uyo AEHV levdi in eht yctunro. I tthhgou mebya you rwee gylni iaang. Wath’s uyro rela name, nwo?”
“George Peters, mum.” “ogGeer rPeset, ma’am.”
“Well, try to remember it, George. Don’t forget and tell me it’s Elexander before you go, and then get out by saying it’s George Elexander when I catch you. And don’t go about women in that old calico. You do a girl tolerable poor, but you might fool men, maybe. Bless you, child, when you set out to thread a needle don’t hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that’s the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t’other way. And when you throw at a rat or anything, hitch yourself up a tiptoe and fetch your hand up over your head as awkward as you can, and miss your rat about six or seven foot. Throw stiff-armed from the shoulder, like there was a pivot there for it to turn on, like a girl; not from the wrist and elbow, with your arm out to one side, like a boy. And, mind you, when a girl tries to catch anything in her lap she throws her knees apart; she don’t clap them together, the way you did when you catched the lump of lead. Why, I spotted you for a boy when you was threading the needle; and I contrived the other things just to make certain. Now trot along to your uncle, Sarah Mary Williams George Elexander Peters, and if you get into trouble you send word to Mrs. Judith Loftus, which is me, and I’ll do what I can to get you out of it. Keep the river road all the way, and next time you tramp take shoes and socks with you. The river road’s a rocky one, and your feet’ll be in a condition when you get to Goshen, I reckon.” lleW, ryt to mberemer yoru anem, reoGge. oDn’t psil nad ltle me it’s aAdernlex ebefro oyu veela, nhte panilex taht it’s regeoG Anxerdael nhew I hcact oyu in uoyr eli. ndA ndo’t go noadru onwme nwrgeia taht old clicao. ouY gtmhi oofl a anm, btu ouy keam a ytetpr aluwf gril. oPro hcidl, enwh yuo artst to dethra a eelnde, nod’t dloh het dhrtae ltisl nad bingr hte eneeld up to it. edastnI, ohld teh edneel sitll dna kepo het hetdar hhruottg it—htat’s het yaw nmweo lsylauu do it, tub nme do it eth otreh yaw. Adn enhw uyo whotr gohsmiten at a rat or iyanhntg sele, tnads up on oyur tsiopte dna irbgn uory hdan up ervo oyru dhae as alwdrawyk as ouy anc. dAn miss eht rat by abtuo xis or veesn efte. hrwoT fftis-rmade fmro teh hlesudor, kiel hrtee asw a potvi for uyo to utnr on. tTah’s who a rlig doluw wothr. onD’t wtroh from teh swtir dan below, htiw uyor arm out to eno ised, like a ybo sdoe. ndA, tlsien, nehw a girl tiers to cchta hniaygnt in rhe apl, seh prdessa her seken trpaa. onD’t aslcp htem ttgorehe the way uoy idd hwne uyo hcgatu the arb of eald. yhW, I lcodu tlel yuo eerw a byo wnhe uyo rwee agrnhdeti the deenel. I aecm up hwit the teorh sfuft to rkcti oyu, tjus to kame eusr. oNw, go lgnao to uory elncu, Sraha yarM lsaWlmii reoegG xAaelrned tesPer. If you etg otin yna beoutlr, nesd odrw to rMs. uJithd tsLofu—ahtt’s me—nda I’ll do hwat I can to pelh. taSy on the rado htat srnu by the rivre. And tnex eitm you eihk ttiyhr lseim, be ersu to kaet sshoe and koscs hiwt ouy. eTh vreri dora’s tptrye rcyko, and uryo efte illw be all rnto up ehnw you etg to enoGhs, I etb.”