Uncle Josh's Punkin Centre Stories

Uncle Josh at a Circus

WALL, 'long last year, 'bout harvest time, thar wuz a cirkus cum to Punkin Centre, and I think the whole population turned out to see it. They cum paradin' into town, the bands a-playin' and banners flying, and animals pokin' their heads out of the cages, and all sorts of jim cracks. Deacon Witherspoon sed they wuz a sinful lot of men and wimmin, and no one aughter go and see them, but seein' as how they wuz thar, he alowed he'd take the children and let them see the lions and tigers and things. Si Pettingill remarked, "Guess the Deacon won't put blinders on himself when he gits thar." We noticed afterwards that the Deacon had a front seat whar he could see and hear purty well.

Wall, I sed to Ezra Hoskins, "Let's you and me go down to the cirkus," and Ezra sed, "All right, Joshua." So we got on our store clothes, our new boots, and put some money in our pockits, and went down to the cirkus. Wall, I never seen any one in my life cut up more fool capers than Ezra did. We got in whar the animals wuz, and Ezra he walked around the elefant three or four times, and then he sed, "By gum, Josh, that's a durned handy critter—he's got two tails, and he's eatin' with one and keepin' the flies off with t'other." Durned old fool! Wall, we went on a little ways further, and all to onct Ezra he sed, "Geewhiz, Josh, thar's Steve Jenkins over thar in one of them cages." I sed, "Cum along you silly fool, that ain't Steve Jenkins." Ezra sed, "Wall, now, guess I'd oughter know Steve Jenkins when I see him; I jist about purty near raised Steve." Wall, we went over to the cage, and it wan't no man at all, nuthin' only a durned old baboon; and Ezra wanted to shake hands with him jist 'cause he looked like Steve. Ezra sed he'd bet a peck of pippins that baboon belonged to Steve's family a long ways back.

Wall then we went into whar they wuz havin' the cirkus doin's, and I guess us two old codgers jist about busted our buttins a-laffin at that silly old clown. Wall, he cut up a lot of didos, then he went out and sot down right alongside of Aunt Nancy Smith; and Nancy she'd like to had histeericks. She sed, "You go 'way from me you painted critter," and that clown he jist up and yelled to beat thunder—sed Nancy stuck a pin in him. Wall, everybody laffed, and Nancy she jist sot and giggled right out. Wall, they brought a trick mule into the ring, and the ring master sed he'd give any one five dollars what could ride the mule; and Ruben Hoskins alowed he could ride anything with four legs what had hair on. So he got into the ring, and that mule he took after Ruben and chased him 'round that ring so fast Ruben could see himself goin' 'round t'other side of the ring. He wuz mighty glad to git out of thar. Then a gal cum out on hoss back and commenced ridin' around. Nancy Smith sed she wuz a brazen critter to cum out thar without clothes enough on her to dust a fiddle. But Deacon Witherspoon sed that wuz the art of 'questrinism; we all alowed it, whatever he meant. And then that silly old clown he told the ring master that his uncle committed sooiside different than any man what ever committed sooiside; and the ring master sed, "Wall, sir, how did your uncle commit sooiside?" and that silly old clown sed, "Why, he put his nose in his ear and blowed his head off." Then he sang an old-fashioned song I hadn't heered in a long time; went something like this:

From Widdletown to Waddletown is fifteen miles,
From Waddletown to Widdletown is fifteen miles,
From Widdletown to Waddletown, from Waddletown
to Widdletown,
Take it all together and its fifteen miles.

He wuz about the silliest cuss I ever seen. Wall, I noticed a feller a rummagin' 'round among the benches as though he might a-lost somethin'. So I sed to him, "Mister, did you lose anythin' 'round here any place?" He sed, "Yes, sir, I lost a ten dollar bill; if you find it I'll give you two dollars." Wall, I jist made up my mind he wuz one of them cirkus sharpers, and when he wan't a-lookin' I pulled a ten dollar bill out of my pockit and give it to him; and the durned fool didn't know but what it wuz the same one that he lost. Gosh, I jist fooled him out of his two dollars slicker 'n a whistle. I tell you cirkus day is a great time in Punkin Centre.

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