Great hemlock! but he kep' a cussin' dictionary, Pretty Quick
did! Whenever he heard any new words he must 'a' writ 'em down,
an' then studied 'em all up in the winter-time, to use in the
"Swearin''s a habit that hed ought to be practiced with turrible
caution," observed old Mr. Wiley, when the drivers had finished
luncheon and taken out their pipes. "There's three kinds o'
swearin',--plain swearin', profane swearin', an' blasphemious
swearin'. Logs air jest like mules: there's times when a man
can't seem to rip up a jam in good style 'thout a few words
that's too strong for the infant classes in Sunday-schools; but a
man hedn't ought to tempt Providence. When he's ridin' a log
near the falls at high water, or cuttin' the key-log in a jam, he
ain't in no place for blasphemious swearin'; jest a little easy,
perlite'damn' is 'bout all he can resk, if he don't want to git
drownded an' hev his ghost walkin' the river-banks till kingdom
"You an' I, Long, was the only ones that seen Pretty Quick go,
wa'n't we?" continued Old Kennebec, glancing at Long Abe
Dennett (cousin to Short Abe), who lay on his back in the grass,
the smoke-wreaths rising from his pipe, and the steel spikes in
his heavy, calked-sole boots shining in the sun.
"There was folks on the bridge," Long answered, "but we was the
only ones near enough to see an' hear. It was so onexpected, an'
so soon over, that them as was watchin' upstream, where the men
was to work on the falls, wouldn't 'a' hed time to see him go
down. But I did, an' nobody ain't heard me swear sence, though
it's ten years ago. I allers said it was rum an' bravadder that
killed Pretty Quick Waterman that day. The boys hedn't give him
a 'dare' that he hedn't took up. He seemed like he was
possessed, an' the logs was the same way; they was fairly wild,
leapin' around in the maddest kind o' water you ever see. The
river was b'ilin' high that spring; it was an awful stubborn jam,
an' Pretty Quick, he'd be'n workin' on it sence dinner."
"He clumb up the bank more'n once to have a pull at the bottle
that was hid in the bushes," interpolated Mr. Wiley.
"Like as not; that was his failin'. Well, most o' the boys were
on the other side o' the river, workin' above the bridge, an' the
boss hed called Pretty Quick to come off an' leave the jam till
mornin', when they'd get horses an' dog-warp it off, log by log.
But when the boss got out o' sight, Pretty Quick jest stood right
still, swingin' his axe, an' blasphemin' so 't would freeze your
blood, vowin' he wouldn't move till the logs did, if he stayed
there till the crack o' doom. Jest then a great, ponderous log
that hed be'n churnin' up an' down in the falls for a week, got
free an' come blunderin' an' thunderin' down-river. Land! it
was chockfull o' water, an' looked 'bout as big as a church! It
come straight along, butt-end foremost, an' struck that jam, fullDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>