Part 7 of 9
Source: Crittenden Record-Press. (Marion, Ky.), February 20, 1913, Edition 1, Image 3 - Chronicling America - The Library of Congress.
(Reported by R. C. Haynes.)
Continued from last week.
"The trumpet-like voice of Highfield Jones," continued Zebulum, "as he stood there, perched upon the great stone overhanging the river bank, sounded out over the broad waters, the tones echoing and re-echoing from shore to shore, dying away among the towering cliffs of Cave-in-Rock and putting an end to the hoot-owl's persistent, solemn but unanswered inquiry, 'who-who-who is it?'
"'Well, said Brother Marlow, once more dipping the oars into the waters, 'shall we continue our journey to the Cave, as a little wedding excursion and to fulfill my appointment for services?'
"'Oh, no, Brother Marlow, please don't,' answered Nell, before I could open my slow-going mouth, 'you can preach at our school house next Sunday, or at Witherspoon. Oh, we must just fly! fly! toward home!' she went on, springing to her feet and defying the danger of upsetting the boat. 'It seems ages and ages since I saw Pop and Benny. Bless their hearts, I'll just kiss'em to death! Besides, if we don't hurry, the ravenous things will eat all my nice wedding cake. So, Brother Marlow, bend to the oars, please, like a good man.'
"I made no reply, either to Brother Marlow's inquiry or to Nell's remarks; and the minister, taking it for granted that Nell's vote amounted to a majority of the whole, turned the bow of the skiff back toward the Kentucky side and, with heavy, even strokes, pulled for the shore.
"'It's nice, isn't it Zeb, to be out here on the river, with our little boat splitting the moonbeams wide open,' said Nell, but somehow I always feel safer from drowning when I'm on dry land.'
"I gave a nodded assent to Nell's very logical conclusions, and remained silent as the boat glided over the smooth waters toward the Kentucky shore. It seems ridiculous, I reflected, to be going back right into the rendezvous of the sheriff, the town marshal, the deputy, Solomon Wiggleford and Highfield Jones, when I've spent the whole afternoon in a desperate attempt to widen the distance between us. But, I reflected, so be it, perhaps it was so decreed; and, with a little firmer faith in the doctrine of foreordination and a brighter hope that I was one of the elect, I watched the minister as he gracefully manipulated the oars.
"As the boat glided swiftly over the calm, smooth water, the shores, upon which were still grouped our late pursuers, seemed to come to meet us. Soon with a gentle thud, the bow of the skiff ran out upon dry land and we stepped out upon the shore, our erstwhile pursuers gathering around us, as if Nell and I had been a couple of lost sheep that had gone astray and Brother Marlow the shepherd who had brought us back.
"When we had reached the shore and were standing near the edge of the bank, there was a sudden commotion among the group of men surrounding us, caused by the sheriff, who came elbowing his way through the crowd, shoving Highfield Jones up against Solomon Wiggleford, causing the latter to stagger back toward the river. For an instant Solomon stood staggering on the brink of the river, grabbed hold of the tail of Highfield's coat in a vain effort to regain his equilibrium, then over and down he went, still holding on to Highfield, who, though rebelling desperately, had to yield to the decree of fate and Gill-fashion, went tumbling after, the two men striking the water kerchug!
"The sheriff paid no attention whatever to the discomfiture of his two unintended victims, but elbowed his way on through, likewise paying no attention to Brother Marlow or me, but grabbed Nell up in his big, strong arms, as if she had been one of the lost babes in the woods, and pressed his lips to her pretty, white forehead! Well, by grab, I reflected, the sheriff has his cheek with him. And what seemed still worse to the somewhat envious, kiss-hungry eyes of a newly made bridegroom, she threw her shapely arms around the scoundrels neck and gave him a hug! Thunderation, I again reflected, that's sure going it some. I've been under the impression, by grab, I still went on reflecting, that those arms belong exclusively around the neck of one Zebulum Zimm.
"'Zebulum, confound you,' said the sheriff, turning to me as soon as Nell's arms were from around his neck, 'do you know that the first thing on my program, by grit, is to give you and the parson both a ducking in the inviting waters of the big Ohio? Why didn't you tell me, by grit, that you were the slim-legged scamp that was to marry Nelly Brownlow? It would have put an end to this blamed chase and the striking of this reprobate of a Bobby Broadway could have remained a mystery. I didn't know, by grit, that it was little Nell that I and those ding-blasted scoundrels were chasing up and down and over and through and across these dad-blasted hills and hollows and gullies and washouts. I thought, by grit, it was Maria Glassfoot, being kidnapped.
"'Often,' the sheriff went on, as if communing with himself, 'have I been at the home of Squire Brownlow while her mother was living and dozens of times have I sat there with little Nell on my knee and told her fairy stories of how some day a fairy prince would come, riding his snow-white charger, and carry her off to his fairy castle where, with little fairies playing around their door, they would live happy ever after.'
"'And just to think, Uncle Duke,' spoke up Nell, addressing the sheriff, 'your story has come true--in a way. Zeb is not exactly a fairy prince and he didn't carry me off in a very fairy-like way; but, after all, you carried me off, didn't you Zeb?'
"'I sure did, Nell,' I replied, 'and I am minus a few locks of hair, to say nothing of various scratches on the back of my neck, as a result.'
"'Well, you know, Zeb,' replied Nell, 'I had to hold to something. Anyway taking things all around, I think you and the sheriff are about even, so you can shake hands and be friends. Uncle Duke,' she went on, turning to the sheriff, 'shake hands with your new nephew, Mr. Zebulum Zimm, late of Tennessee, schoolmate and competing fiddler of the ingenious Bob Taylor, but now a resident of Crittenden county, Kentucky; reputed pugilist, ex-scoundrel who struck Bobby Broadway, fleet-footed skedaddler from apparent justice and ruthless kidnapper of an unwilling but somewhat passive female. Mr. Zebulum Zimm,' bowing loftily, 'Mr. Marmaduke B. Haynes, sheriff of Crittenden county and upholder of the majesty of the law; the long-windedest pedestrian, the terror of irate, law-defying pugilists; the fleetest-footed sleuth-hound, the keenest-eyed trailer, the long-stretchingest reacher-out after dignity--smashing culprits, the most renowned high-air acrobat, the unparalleled summersault tumbler, the most graceful diver, the most expert swimmer,--'
"'Oh, for God's sake, cut it out, Nelly,' interrupted the sheriff, placing his big hand over her mouth, 'do you expect me to acknowledge such a ding-blasted introduction as that?'
"However, the sheriff took my hand with a firm, honest grip and said, 'I'll have to let you off from that ducking, on account of Benny's best suit. I wish you good luck, Zebulum, my boy,' then turning to Nell, 'and you, too, Mrs. Ex-Scoundrel, bold but somewhat picturesque kidnapee, accomplished equestrian, most graceful gully-jumper, modern female Mazeppa, champion bare-back rider of the untamed, unbridled, fleet-footed, high-kicking, tall-bucking bronco, the wave defying, wedding-determined daughter of the modern Lord Ullin, the--!'
"'Oh, just let my other accomplishments go, for the present, Uncle Duke,' interrupted Nell, following the sheriff's example by placing her hand over his mouth, cutting off the official's atmosphere and causing great spurts of pent up air to blubber out between her shapely little fingers, like miniature tornadoes.
"'And just to think, by grit,' said the sheriff, as soon as Nell had removed her hand, 'that scamp of a Bobby Broadway was the cause of all of this ding-blasted trouble. He--'
"'The sheriff is wrong there, by gosh,' interrupted Bobby. 'One Highfield Jones was the real villain in the case. You see, it was this way,' Bobby went on, 'I had just been to the White Tavern and was walking across the street to the court house, when I met Highfield going toward the tavern. We said howdy and shook hands, then got to talking over the political outlook as seen from our divergent view points, both got warmed up on the subject, made the atmosphere thereabouts rather sulphurous by our remarks, finally got into a fight and just as I was about to shut off the scoundrel's wind, he gave me a biff on my tender spot and the battle was brought to an untimely end, then and there.
"'I surmise I was in a pretty bad way,' continued Bobby 'though I don't know just how long I lay there after my light went out. The blame town seemed to be deserted, but finally Dr. Gilliam, carrying his pillbags across his shoulder, came sauntering over to where I lay and gave me a few punches in various parts of my anatomy, including my ticklish spot. After the Doc had gouged me to his own satisfaction, 'Uh-huh,' he remarked, in a professional-like way, addressing himself. He then left me and walked across the street toward the drugstore. W. Wagar was standing in the door of the drugstore, looking over toward me. 'Is he still alive, Doc?' asked the druggist, as he made room for the doctor to enter the store. 'Uh-huh,' nodded the doctor; but he walked on up the street paying no attention to the blamed drug store, and crossed over to the White Tavern. He soon returned with a bottle of medicine, a good-sized dose of which he administered to me in a most conventional way.
"'Turning me over on my back,' went on Bobby, 'the doctor proceeded to open my mouth and after making a cavity which, it seemed to me, was big enough for a horse and cart to enter, he inserted the neck of the uncorked bottle therein, letting the life-giving fluid gurgle from the bottle into the vacuum beneath. Dashing and crashing and slashing and splashing gushed the said life-giving medicine down my not unwilling esophagus, like water going down at lodore, sounding like a miniature Falls of Niagara.
'"No sooner had the Doc's medicine struck the right place,' still went on Bobby, than I could feel its revivifying effects; and, in less than no time, I opened my eyes, by gosh, took in my surroundings and sat up, like Jonah on the banks of the Mediterranean. The Doc is some physician and sure knows medicine when he sees it. I was soon on my feet, and when I learned of the turn affairs had taken in the county seat since my demise, I made a break for the nearest horse I could see hitched up to the courtyard fence, which happened to be old Slick Selim. I lost no time in mounting his back and, seeing that the blamed officers had left the county seat unprotected, I went out of that town like a blue streak, knocking the blamed town ordinances into a cocked hat! On and down the Fords Ferry road, across Crooked Creek, up and over and down Pickern hill riverward I went, head-on, pell-mell, lickaty split, ogaty-sok, wollapy-lop, lolaky-wop, wollawky,zop--and here I am, b'gosh, sound as a dollar, good as new, five-foot-ten in length and of ample proportions! Whoop-ee! Hurrah for Horace Greeley!'
"As Bobby closed the somewhat animated narration of his encounter with Highfield Jones, his wonderful restoration under the magic treatment of Dr. Gilliam, his hurried flight from Marion to Fords Ferry, ending with his grand patriotic outburst, he waved his hat three times above his head, then sent it soaring into the air. It was followed in its aerial flight by the head-gear of the sheriff, the town marshal, the deputy and Solomon Wiggleford, while Nell, like the southern girl that she was, waved a dainty handkerchief over her patriotic little head.
"'You fellows make me sick.' spoke up Highfield Jones. 'It seems to me, by gum, that on wedding occasions like this, and in the presence of a beloved minister of the blessed gospel, you might behave a little more decorously.'
"'Uncle Duke,' spoke up Nell, as Highfield's remarks remained unchallenged, 'your shoes are just about gone, aren't they? Look, Zeb,' she whispered, turning to me and trying to suppress an outburst of laughter--'see Uncle's big toe sticking out!'
"'Yes, by grit, said the sheriff, who had overheard Nell's whispered remarks, 'and from my observation of this crown, there numerous other big toes, of various shapes, sizes and nationalities, including a couple belonging to a certain bride, that are in danger of revealing their identity by coming boldly out from under cover to take a view of the Ohio river.'
"'Boys,' spoke up Highfield Jones, 'I am a member of the Baptist church in good standing, by gum--the grand old church that has been the rendezvous of good men of all ages, from John the Baptist down to your uncle Highfield Jones--and I am going to do the right thing by you. Let me see. Just wait until I figure a little. Sheriff, one; Marsh, two; Dep., three; Sol, four; Zeb, five; Nello, six; Marl, seven. Five pairs of shoes at two dollars each--counting the tariff on raw ox-hide, a protection against the pauper ox-hides of Europe--total, ten dollars; one smaller pair calf-hide, one dollar and a quarter; one extra large pair alligator-hide, two dollars and a half; grand total, thirteen dollars and six bits. Cheap enough, b'gum. Now, boys, when you get to Marion walk into Jack Woods' store and get your footgear, by gum, and your uncle High will foot the bill. I've got the long green right down here in my trousers to pay for'em, with some left to buy a pair for myself, besides a mighty good farm on Crooked Creek! That's what kind of a fellow citizen your uncle High is! Whoo-oop-ee! Hu-rrah for General Grant!--the hero of a thousand battles! and the defender of our glorious liberties!! Long may he wave the star-spangled sheet over this free! and undivided! country of ours!! Long may the inspiring colors of the red! white! and blue! adorn the majestic legs of our glorious Uncle Sam! Long--!'
"'Oh, cut it out, Highfield,' interrupted the sheriff. 'This is simply a little wedding celebration, not a Republican rally, by grit. You make me sick.'
"'Me too,' spoke up the town marshal, the deputy, Solomon Wiggleford and Bobby Broadway in chorus.
EDITOR'S NOTE--This interesting adventure, as told by Zebulum himself will be continued in this department of the Record-Press next week.