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Uncle Josh's Punkin Centre Stories

Si Pettingill's Brooms

WALL, one day jist shortly after sap season wuz over, we wuz all sottin' round Ezra Hoskins's store, talkin' on things in general, when up drove Si Pettingill with a load of brooms. Wall, we all took a long breath, and got ready to see some as tall bargainin' as wuz ever done in Punkin Centre. 'Cause Si, he could see a bargain through a six-inch plank on a dark night, and Ezra could hear a dollar bill rattle in a bag of feathers a mile off, and we all felt mighty sartin suthin' wuz a goin' to happen. Wall, Si, he sort er stood 'round, didn't say much, and Ezra got most uncommonly busy—he had more business than a town marshal on circus day.

Wall, after he had sold Aunt Nancy Smith three yards of caliker, and Ruben Hendricks a jack-knife, and swapped Jim Lawson a plug of tobacker fer a muskrat hide, he sed: "How's things over your way, Si?" Si remarked: "things wuz 'bout as usual, only the water had bin most uncommon high, White Fork had busted loose and overflowed everything, Sprosby's mill wuz washed out, and Lige Willits's paster wuz all under water, which made it purty hard on the cows, and Lige had to strain the milk two or three times to git the minnews out of it. Whitaker's young 'uns wuz all havin' measles to onct, and thar wuz a revival goin' on at the Red Top Baptist church, and most every one had got religion, and things wuz a runnin' 'long 'bout as usual."

Deacon Witherspoon sed: "Did you git religion, Si?" Si sed: "No, Deacon; I got baptized, but it didn't take—calculated I might as well have it done while thar wuz plenty of water."

"Thought I'd cum over today, Ezra; I've got some brooms I'd like to sell ye." Ezra sed: "Bring 'em in, Si, spring house cleanin' is comin' on and I'll most likely need right smart of brooms, so jist bring 'em in." Si sed: "Wall, Ezra, don't see as thar's any need to crowd the mourners, can't we dicker on it a little bit; I want cash fer these brooms, Ezra, I don't want any store trade fer 'em." Ezra sed: "Wall, I don't know 'bout that, Si; seems to me that's a gray hoss of another color, I always gin ye store trade fer your eggs, don't I?" Si sed: "Y-a-s—, and that's a gray hoss of another color; ye never seen a hen lay brooms, did ye? Brooms is sort of article of commerce, Ezra, and I want cash fer 'em." Wall, Ezra, he looked 'round the store and thot fer a spell, and then he sed: "Tell ye what I'll do, Si; I'll gin ye half cash and the other half trade, how'll that be?" Si sed: "Guess that'll be all right, Ezra. Whar will I put the brooms?" Ezra sed: "Put them in the back end of the store, Si, and stack 'em up good; I hadn't got much room, and I've got a lot of things comin' in from Boston and New York." Wall, after Si had the brooms all in, he sed: "Wall, thar they be, five dozen on 'em." Ezra sed: "Sure thar's five dozen?" Si sed: "Yas; counted 'em on the wagon, counted 'em off agin, and counted 'em when I made 'em." So Ezra sed: "Wall, here's your money; now what do you want in trade?" Si looked 'round fer a spell and sed: "I don't know, Ezra; don't see anything any of our folks pertickerly stand in need on. If it's all the same to you, Ezra, I'll take BROOMS?"

Wall, Jim Lawson fell off'n a wash-tub and Ruben Hendricks cut his thumb with his new jack-knife, and Deacon Witherspoon sed: "No, Si, that baptizin' didn't take." And Ezra—wall, it wan't his say.

Suspicion—Consists mainly of thinking what we would do if
we wuz in the other feller's place.
—Punkin Centre Philosophy.


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