The Yankee in a
by Jonathan F.
Well, squire, as I wer' tellin' on ye, when I went around pedlin'
notions, I met many queer folks; some on 'em so darn'd preoud and
sassy, they wouldn't let a feller look at 'em; a-n-d 'd shut their
doors and gates, bang into a feller's face, jest as ef a Yankee
pedler was a pizen sarpint! Then there waa-s t'other kind o' human
critters, so pesky poor, or 'nation stingy, they'd pinch a fourpence
till it'd squeal like a stuck pig. Ye-e-s, I do swow, I've met
some critters so dog-ratted mean, that ef you had sot a steel trap
onder their beds, a-n-d baited it with three cents, yeou'd a cotch ther
con-feoun-ded souls afore mornin'!
Massy sakes! responded the squire.
Fact! by ginger! echoed the ex-pedler.
Well, go on, Ab, said the squire, giving his pipe another
'charge,' and lighting up for the yarn Absalom Slamm had promised the
gals, soon as the quilt was out and refreshments were handed around.
Go on, Ablet's hear abeout that scrape yeou had with the school
marm and her gals.
Wall, I will, squire; gals, spread yeourselves areound and
squat; take care o' yeour corset strings, and keep deth-ly still. Wall;
neow, yeou all sot? Hain't none o' ye been in the pedlin' business, I
guess; wall, no matter, tho' it's dread-ful pleasant sometimes: then
again at others, 'taint.
Go on, Ab, go on, said the squire.
Ye-e-s; wall, as I was saying, 'beout tradin', none o' yeou ever
been in the tradin' way? Wall, it deon't matter a cent; as I was agoin'
to say, I had hard, hard luck one seasongot clean busted all tew
smash! O-o-o! it was dre-a-a-dful times; jest abeout the time
Gineral Jackson clapped his we-toe on the hull o' the banks,
kersock. Wall, yeou see, I got broke all tew flinders. My ole hoss
died, the sun and rain beat up my wagon, I sold eout my notions tew a
feller that paid me all in ceounter-fit money, and then he dug eout, as
Parson Dodge says, to undiskivered kedn'try.
There was only one way abeout it; I was beound to dew somethin',
instead o' goin' to set deown and blubber; and as I layed stretched
eout in bed one Sunday morning, in Marm Smith's tavern, in the cockloft
among the old stuff, I spies a darn'd ole consarn that took my fancy
immazin'! As Deb Brown said, when she 'sperienced rele-gen, I felt my
sperrets raisin' me clean eout o' bed, and eout I beounced, like a pea
in a hot skillet. Deown I goes to Marm Smith; the ole lady was dressed
up to death in her Sunday-go-to-meetin's, and jest as preoud and sassy
as her darn'd ole skin ceould heould in.
'Marm Smith,' sez I, 'yeou hain't got no ole stuff yeou deon't want
tew sell nor nuthin', dew ye?'
'Ab Slamm,' sez she, plantin' her thumbs on her hip joints,
and as the milishey officer ses on trainin' day, comin' at me, 'right
face,' she spread herself like a clapboard. 'Ab Slamm,' sez she, 'what
on airth possesses yeou to talk o' tradin' on the Sabbath?'
'Wall,' sez I, 'Marm Smith, yeou needn't take on so 'beout it; I
guess a feller kin ax a question witheout tradin' or breakin' the
Sabbath all tew smash, either! Neow,' says I, 'yeou got some ole
plunder up ther in the cockloft, where yeou stuck me to sleep; 'tain't
much use to yeou, and one article I see I want to trade fur.'
Wall, we didn't trade 'zactly. Marm Smith, yeou see, got
dre-e-e-adful relejus 'beout that timewouldn't let her gals draw ther
breth scacely, and shot her roosters all up in the cellar every Sunday.
Fact, by ginger! Wall, yeou see, Marm Smith were agin tradin' on
Sunday, but she sed I might arrange it with Ben, her barkeeper, and so
I got the instrument, any heow.
What was it, Ab? inquired the squire.
Massy sakes, tell us! says the gals.
I sha'n't dew it, till I tell the hull abeout it, Ab replied,
rather choosing, like Captain Cuttle, to break the gist of his
information into small chunks, and so make it the more telling
and comparatively interesting.
When I got the instrument, and paid Marm Smith my board
bill, I wer in possession of a cash capital of jest three fo'pences. I
took my jack-knife, and unjinted the instrument, cleaned it off, then
wrapped the different sections up in a paper, put the hull in my little
yaller trunk, and dug eout. When I got clean eout o' sight and hearin'
of everybody I'd ever hear'n tell on, I stopped r-i-g-h-t in my track.
My cash capital wer gone, my mortal remains were holler as a flute, and
my old trunk had worn a hole clean through the shoulder o' my best
Sunday coat. I put up, and sez I tew the landlord:
'Squire, what sort o' place is this for a sheow?'
'For a sh-e-ow?' sez he.
'Ye-e-e-s,' sez I.
'What a' yeou got to sh-e-o-w?' sez he.
'The most wonderful instrument ever inwent-'d,' sez I.
'What's 't fur?' sez he.
'For the wimen,' sez I.
'O! sez he, lookin' alfired peart and smeart, as tho' he'd seen a
flock o' l'fants; 'quack doctor, I s'pose, eh?'
'No, I ben't a quack doctor, nuther,' sez I, priming up at the
'Wall, what on airth hev yeou got, any heow?' sez he.
When he 'poligized in that sort o' way, in course I up and told him
the full perticklers 'beout a wonderful instrument I had for the
ladies and wimen folks. A-n-d heow I wanted to sheow it before some o'
the female sim-i-nar-ries, and give a lectoor on't.
'By bunker!' sez he, 'then yeou've cum jest teou the spot; three
miles up the road is the great Jargon Institoot, 'spressly for
young ladies, wher they teach 'em the 'rethmetic, French scollopin',
and High-tall-ion curlycues; dancin', tight-lacin', hair-dressin', and
so forth, with the use of curlin' irons, forty pinanners, and
parfumeries chuck'd in.'
'Yeou deon't say so?' sez I.
'Yes, I doos,' sez he; and then yeou had orter seen me make streaks
fur the Jargon Institoot.
I feound the place, knocked on the door, and a feller all starch'd
up, lookin' cruel nice, kem and opened the door. I axed if the marm
were in. Then he wanted tew kneow which of 'em I wanted tew see. 'The
head marm of the Institoot,' sez I. 'Please to give me yeour keard,'
sez he. 'You be darn'd,' sez I; 'I'd have yeou know, mister,' sez I, 'I
don't deal in keardsnever did, nuther!'
The feller show'd a heap o' ivory, and brought deown the head marm.
It weould a' dun Marm Smith's ole heart good to seen this dre-e-a-d-ful
pius critter. She looked mighty nice, a-n-d she scolloped reound, and
beow'd and cut an orful quantity o' capers, when I ondid my business to
her. I went on and told her heow in course o' travel
'In furrin pearts?' sez she.
'Yes,' sez I'I kim across a great instrument,' sez I. 'It was
well known to the wimen and ladies o' the past gin-i-rations,' sez I.
'The an-shants?' sez she.
'Yes, marm,' sez I. Then she axed me wether it wer a wind
instrer-ment or a stringed instrer-ment. A-n-d I told her it wer a
stringed instrer-ment, but went on the hurdy-gurdy pren-cipl', with a
crank or treddle. But what I moost dwelt on, as the ox-ion-eer sez,
were the great combinations of the instrer-ment, a-n-d I piled it up
dre-e-e-adful! I told the marm I wanted to git the thing patented, and
put before the peoplethe wimen and ladies in per-tick'lerso that
every gal in the univarsal world could play upon itexercise her
hands, strengthen her arms and chist, give her form a nater-al
de-welop-ment, and so make the hull grist o' wimen critters useful, as
well as or-namental, as my instrer-ment was a useful necessity; for
while it lent grace and beauty to the female form, and gin forth fust
rate music, it was par-fect-ly scriptooral; it ceould be made to clothe
the naked and feed the hon-gry. My il-o-quince had the marm. She 'greed
to buy one of my machines straight fur use of her Institoot
each school-gal to 'put in' by next day, when I wer to bring the
instrer-ment, get my $40, and deliver a lectoor on it. Next mornin',
bright and early, I wer there; the puss wer made up, and the
gals nigh abeout bilin' over with curiosity to see my wonderful
hand-limberer, arm-strengthener, chist-expander, female-beautifier, and
univarsal musical machine! When they all got assembled, I ondid the
machine; they wer still as death! When I sot it up, they wer breathless
with wonderment; when I started it, they gin a gineral screech of
delight. Then I sot deown and played 'em old hund'erd, and every
gal in the room vowed right eout she'd have one made straight!
O-o-o! yeou'd a died to seen the excitement that instrer-ment made in
Jargon Institoot. The head marm wanted my ortergraff, and each o' the
gals a lock o' my hair. But just then, a confeounded ole woolly-headed
Virginny nigger wench, cook o' the Jargon Institoot, kem in, and the
moment she clapped her ole eyes on my inwention, she roared reight
eout, 'O! de Lud, ef dar ain't one de ole Virginny spinnin'
wheels!' I kinder had bus'ness somewheres else 'beout that time! I
took with a leaving!