Scalp by Jimmy
After that game of mumble-te-peg that me and Mr. Martin played, he did
not come to our house for two weeks. Mr. Travers said perhaps the earth
he had to gnaw while he was drawing the peg had struck to his insides
and made him sick, but I knew it couldn't be that. I've drawn pegs that
were drove into every kind of earth, and it never hurt me. Earth is
healthy, unless it is lime; and don't you ever let anybody drive a peg
into lime. If you were to swallow the least bit of lime, and then drink
some water, it would burn a hole through you just as quick as anything.
There was once a boy who found some lime in the closet, and thought it
was sugar, and of course he didn't like the taste of it. So he drank
some water to take the taste out of his mouth, and pretty soon his
mother said: "I smell something burning goodness gracious! the house is
on fire." But the boy he gave a dreadful scream, and said, "Ma, it's
me!" and the smoke curled up out of his pockets and around his neck, and
he burned up and died. I know this is true, because Tom McGinnis went to
school with him, and told me about it.
Mr. Martin came to see Susan last night for the first time since we had
our game; and I wish he had never come back, for he got me into an awful
scrape. This was the way it happened. I was playing Indian in the yard.
I had a wooden tomahawk and a wooden scalping-knife and a bownarrow. I
was dressed up in father's old coat turned inside out, and had six
chicken feathers in my hair. I was playing I was Green Thunder, the
Delaware chief, and was hunting for pale-faces in the yard. It was just
after supper, and I was having a real nice time, when Mr. Travers came,
and he said, "Jimmy, what are you up to now?" So I told him I was Green
Thunder, and was on the war-path. Said he, "Jimmy, I think I saw Mr.
Martin on his way here. Do you think you would mind scalping him?" I
said I wouldn't scalp him for nothing, for that would be cruelty; but if
Mr. Travers was sure that Mr. Martin was the enemy of the red man, then
Green Thunder's heart would ache for revenge, and I would scalp him with
pleasure. Mr. Travers said that Mr. Martin was a notorious enemy and
oppressor of the Indians, and he gave me ten cents, and said that as
soon as Mr. Martin should come and be sitting comfortably on the piazza,
I was to give the war-whoop and scalp him.
Well, in a few minutes Mr. Martin came, and he and Mr. Travers and Susan
sat on the piazza, and talked as if they were all so pleased to see each
other, which was the highestpocracy in the world. After a while Mr.
Martin saw me, and said, "How silly boys are! that boy makes believe
he's an Indian, and he knows he is only a little nuisance." Now this
made me mad, and I thought I would give him a good scare, just to teach
him not to call names if a fellow does beat him in a fair game. So I
began to steal softly up the piazza steps, and to get around behind him.
When I had got about six feet from him I gave a war-whoop, and jumped at
him. I caught hold of his scalp-lock with one hand, and drew my wooden
scalping-knife around his head with the other.
I never got such a fright in my whole life. The knife was that dull that
it wouldn't have cut butter; but, true as I sit here, Mr. Martin's whole
scalp came right off in my hand. I thought I had killed him, and I
dropped his scalp, and said, "For mercy's sake! I didn't go to do it,
and I'm awfully sorry." But he just caught up his scalp, stuffed it in
his pocket, and jammed his hat on his head, and walked off, saying to
Susan, "I didn't come here to be insulted by a little wretch that
deserves the gallows."
Mr. Travers and Susan never said a word until he had gone, and then they
laughed till the noise brought father out to ask what was the matter.
When he heard what had happened, instead of laughing, he looked very
angry, said that "Mr. Martin was a worthy man. My son, you may come up
stairs with me."
If you've ever been a boy, you know what happened up stairs, and I
needn't say any more on a very painful subject. I didn't mind it so
much, for I thought Mr. Martin would die, and then I would be hung, and
put in jail; but before she went to bed Susan came and whispered through
the door that it was all right; that Mr. Martin was made that way, so he
could be taken apart easy, and that I hadn't hurt him. I shall have to
stay in my room all day to-day, and eat bread and water; and what I say
is that if men are made with scalps that may come off any minute if a
boy just touches them, it isn't fair to blame the boy.