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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPeck's Bad Boy And His Pa - Chapter 36. His Pa Gets Boxed...
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Peck's Bad Boy And His Pa - Chapter 36. His Pa Gets Boxed... Post by :LizTomey Category :Long Stories Author :George W. Peck Date :May 2012 Read :2454

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Peck's Bad Boy And His Pa - Chapter 36. His Pa Gets Boxed...


"You don't want to buy a good parrot, do you," said the bad boy to the grocery man, as he put his wet mittens on the top of the stove to dry, and kept his back to the stove so he could watch the grocery man, and be prepared for a kick, if the man should remember the rotten egg sign that the boy put up in front of the grocery, last week.

"Naw, I don't want no parrot. I had rather have a fool boy around than a parrot. But what's the matter with your Ma's parrot? I thought she wouldn't part with him for anything."

"Well, she wouldn't until Wednesday night; but now she says she will not have him around, and I may have half I can get for him. She told me to go to some saloon, or some disreputable place and sell him, and I thought maybe he would about suit you," and the boy broke into a bunch of celery, and took out a few tender stalks and rubbed them on a codfish, to salt them, and began to bite the stalks, while he held the sole of one wet boot up against the stove to dry it, making a smell of burned leather that came near turning the stomach of the cigar sign.

"Look-a-here, boy, don't you call this a disreputable place. Some of the best people in this town come here," said the grocery man, as he held up the cheese-knife and grated his teeth as though he would like to jab it into, the youth.

"O, that's all right, they come here 'cause you trust; but you make up what you lose by charging it to other people. Pa will make it hot for you the last of the week. He has been looking over your bill, and comparing it with the hired girl, and she says we haven't ever had a prune, or a dried apple, or a raisin, or any cinnamon, or crackers and cheese out of your store, and he says you are worse than the James Brothers, and that you used to be a three card monte man; and he will have you arrested for highway robbery, but you can settle that with Pa. I like you, because you are no ordinary sneak thief. You are a high-toned, gentlemanly sort of a bilk, and wouldn't take anything you couldn't lift. O, keep your seat, and don't get excited. It does a man good to hear the truth from one who has got the nerve to tell it.

"But about the parrot. Ma has been away from home for a week, having a high old time in Chicago, going to theatres and things, and while she was gone, I guess the hired girl or somebody learned the parrot some new things to say. A parrot that can only say 'Polly wants a cracker,' dont amount to anything--what we need is new style parrots that can converse on the topics of the day, and say things original. Well, when Ma got back, I guess her conscience hurt her for the way she had been carrying on in Chicago, and so when she heard the basement of the church was being frescoed, she invited the committee to hold the Wednesday evening prayer meeting at our house. First, there were four people came, and Ma asked Pa to stay to make up a quorum, and Pa said seeing he had two pair, he guessed he would stay in, and if Ma would deal him a queen he would have a full hand. I don't know what Pa meant; but he plays draw poker sometimes. Anyway, there was eleven people came, including the minister, and after they had talked about the neighbors a spell, and Ma had showed the women a new tidy she had worked for the heathen, with a motto on it which Pa had taught her: 'A contrite heart beats a bob-tailed flush,'--and Pa had talked to the men about a religious silver mine he was selling stock in, which he advised them as a friend to buy for the glory of the church, they all went in the back parlor, and the minister led in prayer. He got down on his knees right under the parrot's cage, and you'd a dide to see Polly hang on to the wires of the cage with one foot, and drop an apple core on the minister's head. Ma shook her handkerchief at Polly, and looked sassy, and Polly got up on the perch, and as the minister got warmed up, and began to raise the roof, Polly said, 'O, dry up.' The minister had his eyes shut, but he opened one of them a little and looked at Pa> Pa was tickled at the parrot, but when the minister looked at Pa as though it was him that was making irreverent remarks, Pa was mad.

"The minister got to the 'Amen,' and Polly shook hisself and said 'What you giving us?' and the minister got up and brushed the bird seed off his knees, and he looked mad. I thought Ma would sink with mortification, and I was sitting on a piano stool, looking as pious as a Sunday school superintendent the Sunday before he skips out with the bank's funds; and Ma looked at me as though she thought it was me that had been tampering with the parrot. Gosh, I never said a word to that parrot, and I can prove it by my chum.

"Well, the minister asked one of the sisters if she wouldn't pray, and she wasn't engaged, so she said with pleasure, and she kneeled down, but she corked herself, 'cause she got one knee on a cast iron dumb bell that I had been practising with. She said 'O my,' in a disgusted sort of a way, and then she began to pray for the reformation of the youth of the land, and asked for the spirit to descend on the household, and particularly on the boy that was such a care and anxiety to his parents, and just then Polly said, 'O, pull down your vest.' Well, you'd a dide to see that woman look at me. The parrot cage was partly behind the window curtain, and they couldn't see it, and she thought it was me. She looked at Ma as though she was wondering why she didn't hit me with a poker, but she went on, and Polly said, 'wipe off your chin,' and then the lady got through and got up, and told Ma it must be a great trial to have an idiotic child, and then Ma she was mad and said it wasn't half so bad as it was to be a kleptomaniac, and then the woman got up and said she wouldn't stay no longer, and Pa said to me to take that parrot out doors, and that seemed to make them all good natured again. Ma said to take the parrot and give it to the poor. I took the cage and pointed my finger at the parrot and it looked at the woman and said 'old catamaran,' and the woman tried to look pious and resigned, but she couldn't. As I was going out the door the parrot ruffed up his feathers and said 'Dammit, set em up,' and I hurried out with the cage for fear he would say something bad, and the folks all held up their hands and said it was scandalous. Say, I wonder if a parrot can go to hell with the rest of the community. Well, I put the parrot in the woodshed, and after they all had their innings, except Pa, who acted as umpire, the meeting broke up, and Ma says its the last time she will have that gang at her house.

"That must have been where your Pa got his black eye," said the grocery man, as he charged the bunch of celery to the boy's Pa. "Did the minister hit him, or was it one of the sisters?"

"O, he didn't get his black eye at prayer meeting!" said the boy, as he took his mittens off the stove and rubbed them to take the stiffening out. "It was from boxing. Pa told my chum and me that it was no harm to learn to box, cause we could defend ourselves, and he said he used to be a holy terror with the boxing gloves when he was a boy, and he has been giving us lessons. Well, he is no slouch, now I tell you, and handles himself pretty well for a church member. I read in the paper how Zack Chandler played it on Conkling by getting Jem Mace, the prize fighter, to knock him silly, and I asked Pa if he wouldn't let me bring a poor boy who had no father to teach him boxing, to our house to learn to box, and Pa said certainly, fetch him along. He said he would be glad to do anything for a poor orphan. So I went down in the Third ward and got an Irish boy by the name of Duffy, who can knock the socks off of any boy in the ward. He fit a prize fight once. It would have made you laugh to see Pa telling him how to hold his hands and how to guard his face. He told Duffy not to be afraid, but strike right out and hit for keeps. Duffy said he was afraid Pa would get mad if he hit him, and Pa said, 'nonsense, boy, knock me down if you can, and I will laugh ha! ha!' Well, Duffy he hauled back and gave Pa one in the nose and another in both eyes, and cuffed him on the ear and punched him in the stomach, and lammed him in the mouth and made his teeth bleed, and then he gave him a side-winder in both eyes, and Pa pulled off the boxing gloves and grabbed a chair, and we adjourned and went down stairs as though there was a panic. I haven't seen Pa since. Was his eye very black?"

"Black, I should say so," said the grocery man. "And his nose seemed to be trying to look into his left ear. He was at the market buying beefsteak to put on it."

"O, beef steak is no account. I must go and see him and tell him that an oyster is the best thing for a black eye. Well, I must go. A boy has a pretty hard time running a house the way it should be run," and the boy went out and hung up a sign in front of the grocery: "_Frowy Butter a Speshulty_."

George W. Peck's Book: Peck's Bad Boy and His Pa

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