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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPeck's Uncle Ike And The Red Headed Boy - Chapter 12
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Peck's Uncle Ike And The Red Headed Boy - Chapter 12 Post by :Javier Category :Long Stories Author :George W. Peck Date :May 2012 Read :1143

Click below to download : Peck's Uncle Ike And The Red Headed Boy - Chapter 12 (Format : PDF)

Peck's Uncle Ike And The Red Headed Boy - Chapter 12

CHAPTER XII

"Uncle Ike, I heard a rumor about you yesterday that tickled me almost to death," said the red-headed boy, as he came into the old gentleman's room while he was shaving, and the boy took the lather brush and worked it up and down in the cup until the lather run over the side, and he had lather enough on hand to shave half the men in town.

"What was it?" said the old man, as he puckered his mouth on one side, and opened it so he could shave around the corner of his mouth. "Nothing disreputable, is it; nothing to bring disgrace on the family?" and he wiped the razor on a piece of newspaper, and stropped it on his hand, as he looked in the mirror to see if there were any new wrinkles in his face.

"Well, I don't know as it would disgrace us so very much, if you looked out for yourself, and didn't steal," said the boy, as he began to sharpen his knife on Uncle Ike's razor strop. "There is a rumor among the boys that you may be nominated for President, and a lot of us boys got together and took a vote, when we were in swimming, and you were elected unanimously. I am to be the boss who deals out the offices, and all the boys are going to have a soft snap. Before the thing goes any further the boys wanted me to see you, and have you promise that anything I promised should be good, see?"

"Uncle Ike, I heard a rumor about you yesterday that tickled me most to death."

"Well, you are a dum nice lot of politicians, to work up this boom for me, without my consent," and the old man put up his razor, and began to wash the lather off his face, and while he was rubbing his red and laughing face with a towel, he said: "If I am elected President, and I want you to understand that I have not yet consented to take the nomination, I would, the first thing I did, have all my relatives either sent to jail, or confined in various asylums of one kind or another. I think I would send you to a home for the feeble-minded."

"What's the matter with relatives?" said the boy, as he took the razor, and searched around on his lip for some hairs, and finally got hold of one, and the razor pulled it so hard the tears came in his eyes; "seems to me a President with all his relatives in jail would be looked upon as a disgrace to society."

"Well, I wouldn't care," said the old man, as he struggled to make a fourteen-inch collar button on to a sixteen-inch shirt, and nearly choked himself before he found out he had got the boy's collar by mistake. "I have watched this President business a good many years, and have concluded that the most of the trouble a President has is through fool relatives. Look at Grant. You couldn't throw a stone in Washington without hitting a relative, and they got into more scrapes, and dragged Grant into more disgrace, and fool schemes, than anything. There wasn't offices enough for all of them, and some had to live in other ways, which didn't help Ulysses very much. Harrison never had any pleasure until he had an operation performed on his son to remove his talking utensils. That boy would be interviewed and jollied, and he would tell more things that were not so, about pa's policy, than the President could stand. But a brother is the worst relative a President can have, if he is a half-way lawyer. A President cannot kill a brother that is older than he is, and can't prevent his being retained, and can't keep his brother's fingers out of all the contracts, and his being attorney for contractors, and can't tell him to keep away from the White House, and don't dare to tell his brother not to go around looking wise, as though he was running the whole administration. No, sir; there ought to be a law that when a man is elected President, all male relatives that are old enough to talk, should have their mouths sewed up, and be compelled to put on gloves that are fastened with a time lock, so they couldn't get their hands into anything that would bring disgrace on the chief magistrate. Now, if you boys want me for President, with this understanding, that you shall all keep away from me after the 4th of March, and never let anybody know that you ever heard of me, and that you will never write me even a postal card, why, you can go ahead with your boom," and the old man tied his necktie so it looked like a scrambled egg, and he and the boy went in to breakfast, the boy opening the outside door and whistling a weird whistle, which brought three boys up on the porch, when he said to them:

"By the way, that presidential boom for Uncle Ike is off. Don't let the gang do another thing. He is a lobster," and the boys went out into the world looking for another candidate, followed by a dog that jumped up and down in front of them as though he could lead them to a presidential candidate or a wood-chuck hole mighty quick.

"Speaking of dogs," said Uncle Ike, as he and the boy sat down to breakfast, and the other boys went out on the street to wait for the red-headed boy to finish eating, "where you boys going?"

"Just going to follow the dog," said the warm-haired proposition, as he kicked because the melon was not ripe. "Did you ever drown out a gopher, Uncle Ike?"

"Bet your life," said Uncle Ike, as he dished out enough food for the boy to have fed an orphan asylum. "Oh, I had a dog once that knew more than an alderman. Do you know, boy, that a dog is the best thing a boy can associate with? A boy never does anything very mean, if he has a dog that loves him. Many a time I have been just about ready to do a mean trick, when the dog would sit down in front of me, and look up into my eyes in an appealing way, and raise up one ear at a time and drop it, and raise the other, and he would jump up on me and lick my hand, and seem to say, 'Don't,' and, by gosh! I didn't. Say, if a mean boy has a dog that loves him, the dog is better than he is, and the boy is careful about doing mean things, for fear he will shame the dog. I don't suppose a dog will get to heaven, but, if his master goes to heaven, the dog is mighty likely to lay down on the outside of the pearly gates, and just starve to death, waiting to hear the familiar whistle of his master, who is enjoying himself inside. Now, let's go out on the porch while I smoke;" and the old man led the way, and lighted up the old churn, and puffed away a while, and the boy was in a hurry to get away with the other boys; and finally the boys came up on the porch, and the dog went up to Uncle Ike and licked his hand, as though he knew the old man was a friend of dogs and boys. "What's this scar on his nose? Woodchuck bite him?"

"Yes, sir," said one of the boys. "And this one on the under lip?" said the old man. "Looks like a gopher had took a bite out of that lip."

"That's what it was," said another boy, and they all laughed to think that a dignified old man like Uncle Ike could tell all about the scars on a cheap dog. "Well, boys, I won't detain you if you are going out to exercise the dog on woodchucks or gophers. But let me tell you this," and he puffed quite a little while on the pipe, and seemed to be harking away back to the bark of the dog friend of his boyhood, and the boys could almost see the dirt flying out of an old-time woodchuck hole as the dog of Uncle Ike's memory was digging and biting at roots, and snarling at a woodchuck that was safe enough away down below the ground. "Let me tell you something. You want to play fair with the dog. A dog has got more sense than some men. He can tell a loafer, after one wood-chuck hunt. The boy who gets interested when the clog is digging out a woodchuck, gets down on his knees and pushes the dirt away, and pats the dog, and encourages him, and when he comes to a root, takes his knife and cuts it away, is the thoroughbred that the dog will tie to; but the boy who sits in the shade and sicks the dog on, and don't help, but bets they don't get the woodchuck, and when the dog and his working partner pulls the woodchuck out, gets up out of the shade and begins to talk about how we got the woodchuck, is the loafer. He is the kind of fellow who will encourage others to enlist and go to war, in later life, while he stays home and kicks about the way the war is conducted, and shaves mortgages on the homes of soldiers, and forecloses them. That kind of a boy will be the one who will lie in the shade when he grows up, and not work in the sun. Didn't you ever see a dog half-way down a woodchuck hole, kicking dirt into the bosom of the boy's pants who is backing him, suddenly back out of the hole, wag his tail and wink his eyes, full of dirt, at the boy who is working the hole with him, and then run out his tongue and loll, and look at the fellows who are sitting around waiting for the last act, in the shade, and say to them, as plain as a dog can talk, 'You fellows make me tired. Why don't you get some style about you, and come in on this game on the ground floor?' and then he gets rested a little, and you say, 'dig him out,' and he swallows a big sigh at their laziness, and goes down in the hole and digs and growls so the lazy boys think he has forgotten that they are deadheads in the enterprise, but the dog does not forget."

"Well, I swow, if your Uncle Ike ain't away up in G on woodchuck hunting," said one of the neighbor boys as they all sat around the old man, with their eyes wide open. "How about drowning out a gopher?"

"Same thing, exactly," said Uncle Ike, as he filled up the pipe again, and lit it, and run a broom straw through the stem, to give it air. "The dog watches the hole, and keeps tab on the boys who carry water. You have got to keep the water going down the gopher hole, and you got to work like sixty. Gophers know better than to have holes too near the water, and the dog knows what boy flunks after he carries one pail of water, and says, 'Oh, darn a gopher anyway; I hain't lost no gopher,' and goes and sits down and lets the other boys carry water. The dog knows that the boy who keeps carrying water and pouring it in the hole is the thoroughbred, and that the quitter has got a streak of yellow in him. When the hole is filled up with water, and the gopher comes to the surface, and the dog grabs for it, and the boy who took off his clothes and carried water also grabs, and either the dog or the boy gets bit, usually the boy, the dog knows that the boy who worked with him on that gopher hole has got the making of a good business man in him. A business or professional career, boys, is just like digging out a woodchuck, or drowning out a gopher, and the fellows who help the dog when they are boys, are the ones who are mighty apt to get the business woodchuck when they grow up. I will bet you ten dollars that if you pick out the most successful business man in town, and go look at his left thumb nail, you will find a scar on it where a half-drowned gopher bit him, because he was at the hole at the right time. Now, go and have fun, and be sure and play fair with the dog," and Uncle Ike took down a broom and shook it at them as they scattered down the street, the dog barking joyously.

"I speak for carrying the water to drown out the gopher!" yelled the red-headed boy.

"Me, too!" shouted the other boys in chorus, as they disappeared from sight, and Uncle Ike listened until they were out of hearing, and then he limped down to the gate and looked up the road toward the country, but all he could see was a cloud of dust with a dog in it, and he walked back to the house sadly, and as he lifted the lame leg upon the porch, and took his hat, he said:

"Blamed if I don't hitch up the mare and drive out there where those boys have gone. I'll bet I know woodchuck holes and gopher holes them kids never would find if they had a whole passel of dogs," and he went out to the barn and pretty soon Aunt Almira heard him yell, "Whoa, gosh darn ye, take in that bit!" and she put on her sunbonnet and went out to the barn to see if he had actually gone crazy.

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CHAPTER XIII"What you scratching yourself on the chest for?" said Uncle Ike, as the red-headed boy stood with one hand inside his vest, digging as though his life depended on his doing a good job. "Is there anything the matter with you that soap and water will not cure?" and the old man punched the boy in the ribs with a great big, hard thumb, as big as a banana. "Uncle Ike, how long will a porous plaster stay on, and isn't there any way to stop its itching? I have had one on for seventeen days and nights, and it
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CHAPTER XIUncle Ike was sitting in his room with a bath robe on, and his great, big, bare feet in a tub of hot water, in which some dry mustard had been sifted, and on a table beside him was a pitcher of hot lemonade, which he was trying to drink, as it got cool enough to go down his neck without scorching his throat. His head was hot, and he had evidently taken a severe cold, and occasionally he would groan, when he moved his body, and place his hand to the small of his back. His pipe and tobacco
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