|When we got home Aunt Sally was that glad to see me she laughed and cried both, and hugged me, and give me one of them lickings of hern that don’t amount to shucks, and said she’d serve Sid the same when he come.||Aunt Sally was glad to see me when we got home. She laughed and cried at the same time. She hugged me and gave me one of those beatings of hers that don’t really hurt. She said she’d do the same to Sid when he came home.|
|And the place was plum full of farmers and farmers’ wives, to dinner; and such another clack a body never heard. Old Mrs. Hotchkiss was the worst; her tongue was a-going all the time. She says:||The place was full of farmers and farmers’ wives. They were all over for dinner. They made more noise than I’d ever heard. Old Mrs. Hotchkiss was the worst—she talked the whole time. She said:|
|“Well, Sister Phelps, I’ve ransacked that-air cabin over, an’ I b’lieve the nigger was crazy. I says to Sister Damrell—didn’t I, Sister Damrell?—s’I, he’s crazy, s’I—them’s the very words I said. You all hearn me: he’s crazy, s’I; everything shows it, s’I. Look at that-air grindstone, s’I; want to tell ME’t any cretur ’t’s in his right mind ’s a goin’ to scrabble all them crazy things onto a grindstone, s’I? Here sich ’n’ sich a person busted his heart; ’n’ here so ’n’ so pegged along for thirty-seven year, ’n’ all that—natcherl son o’ Louis somebody, ’n’ sich everlast’n rubbage. He’s plumb crazy, s’I; it’s what I says in the fust place, it’s what I says in the middle, ’n’ it’s what I says last ’n’ all the time—the nigger’s crazy—crazy ’s Nebokoodneezer, s’I.”||
“Well, Sister Phelps, I’ve ransacked that cabin, and I believe the n-----
was crazy. I said so to Sister Damrell, didn’t I, Sister Damrell? I said
he’s crazy—I said those very words. You all heard me: He’s crazy. Everything
in that cabin showed he was crazy. Just look at that grindstone. Would any
creature in his right mind scribble all those things onto a grindstone?
‘Here such-and-such a person busted his heart,’ and ‘Here so-and-so withered
away for thirty-seven years,’ and all that natural son of Louis somebody and
other nonsense. He’s completely crazy, I tell you. That’s what I said in the
first place, that’s what I said in the middle, and that’s what I said the
whole time—that n----- is as crazy as
Babylonian king from the Old Testament of the BibleNebuchadnezzar , I said.”
|“An’ look at that-air ladder made out’n rags, Sister Hotchkiss,” says old Mrs. Damrell; “what in the name o’ goodness COULD he ever want of—”||“And just look at that ladder made ouf of rags, Sister Hotchkiss,” said old Mrs. Damrell. “What, for goodness’s sake, COULD he ever want with….”|
|“The very words I was a-sayin’ no longer ago th’n this minute to Sister Utterback, ’n’ she’ll tell you so herself. Sh-she, look at that-air rag ladder, sh-she; ’n’ s’I, yes, LOOK at it, s’I—what COULD he a-wanted of it, s’I. Sh-she, Sister Hotchkiss, sh-she—”||“That’s just what I was saying not more than a minute ago to Sister Utterback. She’ll tell you so herself. S-she looked at that rag ladder and sh-she said, ‘LOOK at it! What COULD he want it for? Sh-she, Sister Hotchkiss, sh-she….”|
|“But how in the nation’d they ever GIT that grindstone IN there, ANYWAY? ’n’ who dug that-air HOLE? ’n’ who—”||“But how in the world did they ever GET that grindstone IN there ANYWAY? And who dug that hole? Who….”|
|“My very WORDS, Brer Penrod! I was a-sayin’—pass that-air sasser o’ m’lasses, won’t ye?—I was a-sayin’ to Sister Dunlap, jist this minute, how DID they git that grindstone in there, s’I. Without HELP, mind you—’thout HELP! THAT’S wher ’tis. Don’t tell ME, s’I; there WUZ help, s’I; ’n’ ther’ wuz a PLENTY help, too, s’I; ther’s ben a DOZEN a-helpin’ that nigger, ’n’ I lay I’d skin every last nigger on this place but I’D find out who done it, s’I; ’n’ moreover, s’I—”||“My thoughts exactly, Brother Penrod! I was just saying—pass the molassess, won’t you?—I was saying to Sister Dunlap just a minute ago, how DID they get that grindstone in there? Without HELP, mind you—without HELP! THAT’S what I want to know. Don’t tell ME any different—there WAS help. There was PLENTY of help too, I tell you. There was a DOZEN people helping that n-----, and I say I’d skin every last n----- on this farm to find out who helped. Moreover….”|
|“A DOZEN says you!—FORTY couldn’t a done every thing that’s been done. Look at them case-knife saws and things, how tedious they’ve been made; look at that bed-leg sawed off with ’m, a week’s work for six men; look at that nigger made out’n straw on the bed; and look at—”||“A DOZEN you say! FORTY couldn’t have done all the stuff that’s been done. Look at those pocketknife saws and things, how meticulously they’ve been made. They sawed off that bed leg with them. That’s a week’s work for six men. Look at that n----- made out of straw on the bed, and look….”|
|“You may WELL say it, Brer Hightower! It’s jist as I was a-sayin’ to Brer Phelps, his own self. S’e, what do YOU think of it, Sister Hotchkiss, s’e? Think o’ what, Brer Phelps, s’I? Think o’ that bed-leg sawed off that a way, s’e? THINK of it, s’I? I lay it never sawed ITSELF off, s’I—somebody SAWED it, s’I; that’s my opinion, take it or leave it, it mayn’t be no ’count, s’I, but sich as ’t is, it’s my opinion, s’I, ’n’ if any body k’n start a better one, s’I, let him DO it, s’I, that’s all. I says to Sister Dunlap, s’I—”||“You said it, Brother Hightower! It’s just as I was saying to Brother Phelps himself. ‘Hey, what do you think of it all, Sister Hotchkiss?’ he said. ‘Think of what, Brother Phelps,’ I said. ‘Think of that sawed off bed leg,’ he said. ‘THINK of it?’ I said. ‘I don’t think it sawed ITSELf off! Somebody SAWED it off! That’s my opinion, take it or leave it. Maybe it doesn’t mean much,’ I said, ‘But that’s my opinion, and if anyone can come up with a better I idea, let’s hear it,’ I said. I said to Sister Dunlap….”|
|“Why, dog my cats, they must a ben a house-full o’ niggers in there every night for four weeks to a done all that work, Sister Phelps. Look at that shirt—every last inch of it kivered over with secret African writ’n done with blood! Must a ben a raft uv ’m at it right along, all the time, amost. Why, I’d give two dollars to have it read to me; ’n’ as for the niggers that wrote it, I ’low I’d take ’n’ lash ’m t’ll—”||“Well I’ll be dog-gonned. There must have been a house full of n------ in there every night for four weeks doing all that work, Sister Phelps. Look at that shirt—every last inch of it covered in blood with secret African writing! It must have been a whole raft of them working in there all the time. Why, I’d give two dollars for someone to read it all to me. And as for the n------ that wrote it, I tell you I’d lash them until….”|
|“People to HELP him, Brother Marples! Well, I reckon you’d THINK so if you’d a been in this house for a while back. Why, they’ve stole everything they could lay their hands on—and we a-watching all the time, mind you. They stole that shirt right off o’ the line! and as for that sheet they made the rag ladder out of, ther’ ain’t no telling how many times they DIDN’T steal that; and flour, and candles, and candlesticks, and spoons, and the old warming-pan, and most a thousand things that I disremember now, and my new calico dress; and me and Silas and my Sid and Tom on the constant watch day AND night, as I was a-telling you, and not a one of us could catch hide nor hair nor sight nor sound of them; and here at the last minute, lo and behold you, they slides right in under our noses and fools us, and not only fools US but the Injun Territory robbers too, and actuly gets AWAY with that nigger safe and sound, and that with sixteen men and twenty-two dogs right on their very heels at that very time! I tell you, it just bangs anything I ever HEARD of. Why, SPERITS couldn’t a done better and been no smarter. And I reckon they must a BEEN sperits—because, YOU know our dogs, and ther’ ain’t no better; well, them dogs never even got on the TRACK of ’m once! You explain THAT to me if you can!—ANY of you!”||“He had people to HELP him, Brother Marples! Well, I guess you’d THINK so if you’d been in this house a while back. Why, they’ve stolen everything they could get their hands on—and we were watching all the time too, mind you. They stole that shirt right off of the clothesline! And as for that sheet they made the rag ladder out of, there isn’t any telling how many times they DIDN’T manage to steal that. And flour and candles and candlesticks and spoons and the old warming pan and my new calico dress and a thousand other things that I can’t remember now. And, as I was telling you, Silas and Sid and Tom and myself were constantly on the lookout day AND night, yet not one of us ever caught sight of them. And here at the very last minute, lo and behold, they slide right in under our noses and trick us. And not only do they trick US, but they fooled the robbers from the Indian Territory too and actually GOT AWAY with that n---- safe and sound, with sixteen men and twenty-two dogs right on their very heels too! I tell you, it’s the strangest thing I’ve ever HEARD of. Why, ghosts couldn’t have done a better job or been any smarter. I suppose they must have been ghosts, because you KNOW our dogs are the best around. The dogs were even on their trail at one time. You explain THAT to me if you can! Any of you!”|
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