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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Grocery Man And Peck's Bad Boy - Chapter 12
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The Grocery Man And Peck's Bad Boy - Chapter 12 Post by :robdawg Category :Long Stories Author :George W. Peck Date :May 2012 Read :701

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The Grocery Man And Peck's Bad Boy - Chapter 12



"Say, I thought you was going to try to lead a different life," said the grocery man to the bad boy, as the youth came in with his pockets full of angle worms, and wanted to borrow a baking powder can to put them into, while he went fishing, and he held a long angle worm up by the tail and let it wiggle so he frightened a girl that had come in after two cents worth of yeast, so she dropped her pitcher and went out of the grocery as though she was chased by an anaconda.

"I am going to lead a different life; but a boy can't change his whole course of life in a minute, can he? Grown persons have to go on probation for six months before they can lead a different life, and half the time they lose their cud before the six months expire, and have to commence again. When it is so alfired hard for a man that is endowed with sense to break off being bad, you shouldn't expect too much from a boy But I am doing as well as could be expected--I ain't half as bad as I was. Gosh, why don't you burn a rag? That yeast that the girl spilled on the floor smells like it was sick. I should think that bread that was raised with that yeast would smell like this cooking, butter you sell to hired girls.

"Well, never you mind the cooking butter. I know my business. If people want to use poor butter when they have company, and then blow up the grocer before folks, I can stand it if they can. But what is this I hear about your Pa fighting a duel with the minister in your back yard, and wounding him in the leg, and then trying to drown himself in the cistern? One of your new neighbors was in here this morning, and told me there was murder in the air at your house last night, and they were going to have the police pull your place as a disorderly house. I think you were at the bottom of the whole business!"

"O, its all a darn lie, and those neighbors will find they better keep still about us, or we will lie about them a little. You see, since Pa got that blacking on his face he don't go out any, and to make it pleasant for him Ma invited in a few friends to spend the evening. Ma has got up around, and the baby is a daisy, only it smells like a goat, on account of drinking the goat's milk. Ma invited the minister, among the rest, and after supper the men went up into Pa's library to talk. O, you think I am bad don't you, but of the nine men at our house last night I am an angel compared with what they were when they were boys. I got into the bath room to untangle my fish line, and it is next to Pa's room, and I could hear everything they said, but I went away 'cause I thought the conversation would hurt my morals. They would all steal, when they were boys, but darned if I ever stole. Pa has stolen over a hundred wagon loads of water-melons, one deacon used to rob orchards, another one shot tame ducks belonging to a farmer, and another tipped over grindstones in front of the village store, at night, and broke them, and run, another used to steal eggs, and go out in the woods and boil them, and the minister was the worst of the lot, 'cause he took a seine, with some other boys, and went to a stream where a neighbor was raising brook trout, and cleaned the stream out, and to ward off suspicion, he went to the man the next day and paid him a dollar to let him fish in the stream, and then kicked because there were no trout, and the owner found the trout were stolen and laid it to some Dutch boys. I wondered, when those men were telling their experience, if they ever thought of it now when they were preaching and praying, and taking up collections. I should think they wouldn't say a boy was going to hell right off 'cause he was a little wild now days, when he has such an example. Well, lately, somebody has been burgling our chicken coop, and Pa loaded an old musket with rock salt, and said he would fill the fellow full of salt if he caught him, and while they were talking up stairs Ma heard a rooster squawk, and she went to the stairway and told Pa there was somebody in the hen house. Pa jumped up and told the visitors to follow him, and they would see a man running down the alley full of salt, and he rushed out with the gun, and the crowd followed him. Pa is shorter than the rest, and he passed under the first wire clothes line in the yard all right, and was going for the hen house on a jump, when his neck caught the second wire clothesline just as the minister and two of the deacons caught their necks under the other wire. You know how a wire, hitting a man on the throat, will set him back, head over appetite. Well, sir, I was looking out of the back window, and I wouldn't be positive, but I think they all turned double back summersaults, and struck on their ears. Anyway, Pa did, and the gun must have been cocked, or it struck the hammer on a stone, for it went off, and it was pointed towards the house, and three of the visitors got salted. The minister was hit the worse, one piece of salt taking him in the hind leg, and the other in the back, and he yelled as though it was dynamite."

(Illustration: The minister and deacons salted 110)

"I suppose when you shoot a man with salt, it smarts, like when you get corned beef brine on your chaped hands. They all yelled, and Pa seemed to have been knocked silly, some way, for he pranced around and seemed to think he he had killed them. He swore at the wire clothes line, and then I missed Pa and heard a splash like when you throw a cat in the river, and then I thought of the cistern, and I went down and we took Pa by the collar and pulled him out. O, he was awful damp. No sir, it was no duel at all, but a naxident, and I didn't have anything to do with it. The gun wasn't loaded to kill, and the salt only went through the skin, but those men _did yell. May be it was my chum that stirred up the chickens, but I don't know. He has not commenced to lead a different life yet, and he might think it would make our folks sick if nothing occurred to make them pay at-tion. I think where a family has been having a good deal of exercise, the way ours has, it hurts them to break off too suddenly. But the visitors went home, real quick, after we got Pa out of the cistern, and the minister told Ma he always felt when he was in our house, as though he was on the verge of a yawning crater, ready to be engulfed any minute, and he guessed he wouldn't come any more. Pa changed his clothes and told Ma to have them wire clothes lines changed for rope ones. I think it is hard to suit Pa, don't you?

"O, your Pa is all right. What he needs is rest. But why are you not working at the livery stable? You haven't been discharged, have you?" And the grocery man laid a little lump of concentrated lye, that looked like maple sugar, on a cake of sugar that had been broken, knowing the boy would nibble it.

"No, sir, I was not discharged, but when a livery man lends me a kicking horse to take my girl out riding, that settles it. I asked the boss if I couldn't have a quiet horse that would drive himself if I wound the lines around the whip, and he let me have one he said would go all day without driving. You know how it is, when a fellow takes a girl out riding he don't want his mind occupied holding lines. Well, I got my girl in, and we went out on the Whitefish Bay, road, and it was just before dark, and we rode along under the trees, and I wound the lines around the whip, and put one arm around my girl, and patted her under the chin with my other hand, and her mouth looked so good, and and her blue eyes looked up at me and twinkled as much as to dare me to kiss her, and I was all of a tremble, and then my hand wandered around by her ear and I drew her head up to me and gave her a smack. Say, that was no kind of a horse to give to a young fellow to take a girl out riding. Just as I smacked her I felt as though the buggy had been struck with a pile driver, and when I looked at the horse he was running away and kicking the buggy, and the lines were dragging on the ground. I was scared, I tell you. I wanted to jump out but my girl threw her arms around my neck and screamed, and said we would die together, and just as we were going to die the buggy struck a fence and the horse broke loose and went off, leaving us in the buggy, tumbled down by the dash board, but we were not hurt. The old horse stopped and went to chewing grass, and looked up at me as though he wanted to say 'philopene.' I tried to catch him, but he wouldn't catch, and then we waited till dark and walked home, and I told the livery man what I thought of such treatment, and he said if I had attended to my driving, and not kissed the girl, I would have been all right. He said I ought to have told him I wanted a horse that wouldn't shy at kissing, but how did I know I was going to get up courage to kiss her. A livery man ought to take it for granted that when a young fellow goes out with a girl he is going to kiss her, and give him a horse according. But I quit him at once. I won't work for a man that hasn't got sense. Gosh! What kind of maple sugar is that? Jerusalem, whew, give me some water. O, my, it is taking the skin off my mouth."

The grocery man got him some water and seemed sorry that the boy had taken the lump of concentrated lye by mistake, and when the boy went out the grocery man pounded his hands on his knees and laughed, and presently he went out in front of the store and found a sign




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