Uncle Josh's Punkin Centre Stories

Uncle Josh in Police Court

I NEVER wuz in a town in my life what had as many cort houses in it as New York has got. It jist seemed to me like every judge in New York had a cort house of his own, and most of them cort houses seemed to be along side of some markit house. Thar wuz the Jefferson Markit Cort, and the Essicks Markit Cort, and several other corts and markits, and markits and corts, I can't remember now. Wall, I used to be Jestice of the Peece down home at Punkin Center, and I wuz a little anxious to see how they handled law and jestice in New York City, so one mornin' I went down to one of them cort houses, and thar wuz more different kinds of people in thar than I ever seen afore. Thar wuz all kinds of nationalitys—Norweegans, Germans, Sweeds, Hebrews, and Skandynavians, Irish and colored folks, old and young, dirty and clean, good, bad and worse. The Judge, he wuz a sottin' up on the bench, and a sayin,: "Ten days; ten dollars; Geery society; foundlin' asylum; case dismissed; bring in the next prisoner," and the Lord only knows what else. Wall, some of the cases they tried in that cort house made me snicker right out loud. They brought in a little Irish feller, and the Judge sed: "Prisoner, what is your name?" And the little Irish feller sed: "Judge, your honor, my name is McGiness, Patrick McGiness." And the Judge sed: "Mr. McGiness, what is your occupation?" And the little Irish feller sed: "Judge, your honor, I am a sailor." The Judge sed: "Mr. McGiness, you don't look to me as though you ever saw a ship in all your life." And the little Irish feller sed: "Wall Judge, your honor, if I never saw a ship in me life, do you think I cum over from Ireland in a wagon?" The Judge sed: "Case dismissed. Bring in the next prisoner."

Wall, the next prisoner what they brought in had sort of an impediment in his talk, and the way he stuttered jist beat all. The Judge sed: "Prisoner, what is your name?" And the prisoner sed: "Jd-Jd-J-J-Judge, yr-yr-yo-yo-your h-h-h-hon-hon-honor, m-mm-my-my n-n-na-na-name is-is-is——." The Judge sed: "Never mind, that will do. Officer, what is this prisoner charged with?" And the officer sed: "Judge, your honor, the way he talks sounds to me like he might be charged with sody water." Gosh, I got to laffin' so I had to git right out of the cort house.

It sort of made me think of a law soot we had down hum when Jim Lawson wuz Jestice of the Peece. You see it wuz like this: One spring Si Pettingill wuz goin' out to Mizoori to be gone 'bout a year, and he'd sold off 'bout all his things 'cept one cow, and he didn't want to part with the cow, 'cause she wuz a mighty good milker, so he struck a bargin with Lige Willet. Lige wuz to keep the cow, paster and feed her, and generally take keer on her fer the milk she giv. Wall, finally Si cum hum, and he went to Lige's place one day and sed: "Wall, Lige, I've cum over to git my cow." And Lige sed: "Cum after your cow? Wall, if you've got any cow round here I'll be durned if I know it." Si sed: "Wall, Lige, I left my cow with you." And Lige sed: "Wall, that's a year ago, and she's et her head off two or three times since then." So Si sed: "Wall, Lige, you've had her milk fer her keep." And Lige sed: "Milk be durned, she went dry three weeks after you left, and she ain't give any milk since, and near as I can figger it out, seems to me as how I've pestered her and fed her all this time, she's my cow." Si sed: "No, Lige, that wa'nt the bargin." But Lige sed: "Bargin or no bargin, I've got her, and seein' as how posession is 'bout nine points in the law, I'm goin' to keep her."

So they went to law about it, and all Punkin Centre turned out to heer the trial. Wall, after Jim Lawson had heered both sides of the case, he sed: "The Cort is compelled, from the evidence sot forth in this case, to find for the plaintiff, the aforesaid Silas Pettingill, as agin' the defendant, the aforesaid Elijah Willet. We find from the evidence sot forth that the cow critter in question is a valuable critter, and wuth more 'n a year's paster and keep, and, tharfore, it is the verdict of this cort that the aforesaid defendant, Elijah Willet, shall keep the cow two weeks longer, and then she is hisn."

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