Part 1 of 3
Source: Crittenden Record-Press. (Marion, Ky.), April 24, 1913, Edition 1, Image 2 - Chronicling America - The Library of Congress.
(Reported by R. C. Haynes.)
It was a busy day in the barber shop. Though the wind blew threateningly without, and the rain came down in great torrents--pelting against the buildings and filling the streets and sidewalks with gushing streams of water--a number of men of various ages were comfortably seated around the walls of the tonsorial parlor, each awaiting his turn to be "next." In the meantime they were passing away the time in exchanging stories of such interesting happenings as seemed to be fresh in the memories of the narrators, mostly along the line of fox-hunting and fishing.
"I used to be somewhat of a fisherman," remarked a gentleman who was waiting for a hair-cut and had been an interested listener to the adventures as related by his companions. The speaker had come to town early that morning to confer with one of his friends who is a candidate for sheriff; and he had come into the barber shop mainly to get in out of the rain, the hair-cutting being a handy excuse for his presence in the busy shop.
"In my younger day," the speaker continued, "I was quite as fond of fishing as any of you gentlemen, not excepting Mac or Doc, or even my old friend, Doctor Dan'el, who lives down in my own country on the Ohio. Since a certain episode in my life, however, I have lost, by grab, all my fondness for the sport."
"Let us have the story, Zebulum," spoke up one of the story-tellers. "To what episode do you allude?"
Knowing Zebulum's proclivity for story-telling, the assembled crowd, some of whom had heard him relate the adventure growing out of the striking of Bobby Broadway, drew closer together, as if expecting to hear a good one.
"The truth is, gentlemen," said Zebulum, in reply, "I have always been averse to telling about that blamed fishing trip. It is all very well to tell a store where the story-teller himself is the hero of the adventure, but, by grab, when the narrator finds himself the victim, or, I might say, the under dog, it is different.
"However, as that scoundrel Nibs, who delights in telling his version of the affair, has given out such parts of the story as show up well for himself--dogonim!--I might as well tell you the whole truth of it.
"I am, as some of you know, a member of the Presbyterian church in good standing, and, although I have never been, I might say, exactly on the water wagon, I always disliked to see a man make a hog of himself in any way, especially in the use of snake medicine.
"My home is down near Ford's Ferry, and a mighty good locality it is. One day Nibs came by on a fishing trip up Crooked creek and wanted me to go with him, stating that the waters were treacherous, that many moccasins abounded there around and that he was loath to go alone on that account.
"Not wishing to appear unneighborly, I consented, unhitched my team from the plow and went to the house for my fishing outfit, asking my wife if she wouldn't like to have a fine mess of fish for supper.
"Nell replied good-naturedly that she would, though she rather intimated that she wouldn't build up her hopes very high in a fish-eating direction.
"The old doctor, who lives over toward Weston, had told us where all the best fishing-holes were located, so Nibs and I, each with pole and line and bait, set out for Crooked creek, afoot.
"It was an afternoon in April and apparently a fine day for fishing. I didn't want to take the blamed snake medicine along, but Nibs insisted that we should, arguing that it would be extremely dangerous to venture down on the creek without ample protection from the moccasins, which, he said, were very numerous and ill-natured at this season of the year.
"'Only last week,' said Nibs, 'a young fellow, while fishing down there, was bitten by one of these venomous reptiles, and if the old doctor, who chanced to be fishing near by, had not come to his aid with a supply of snake remedy, the fellow would have been as dead as a door nail in less time than it takes me to tell about it.'
"I have always been afraid of snakes and after listening to such an occurrence as that related by Nibs, it was natural that I should be impressed with the advantage of having along some life-preserving agency in the shape of snake remedy--to be used, of course, only in case of dire necessity.
"'Do you know, Zeb,' said Nibs, 'I feel much safer since knowing we have a supply of restorative with us. However, I wish you'd brought two bottles along.'
"I made no reply and we continued on our way toward Crooked creek. We followed the public road for a mile or so, then struck out through the woods, shaping our course toward the point on the creek where the old doctor had told us the best fishing holes were to be found.
"We talked but little after we got into the woods, our minds being occupied in the task of picking our way through the 'deep-tangled wild-wood,' dodging the limbs and grape-vines which would slash us in the face, entangle our feet, whack us across the knees and knock our hats off, sometimes causing Nibs, for the time being, to lose his temper and his foothold upon terra firma.
"As we approached the creek the woods became still more dense and pathless and we wended our way along, going along in single file, I in the lead and Nibs following as closely on to my heels as he could, sometimes stumbling up against me and at other times at a considerable distance in the rear.
"I paid no attention to the scoundrel Nibs, letting him keep up the best way he could. Just before reaching the creek he caught up with me, puffing like a steam engine, and asked me to lend him a handkerchief to wipe the perspiration from his face. I took one from my pocket and gave it to him, but made no halt, being in all kinds of a hurry to get to the creek and to jerking out the fish for Nell's supper. By grab, I'd surprise her, for once in her life.
"I don't know what use Nibs made of the handkerchief, but in a few minutes he caught up with me, thrust it into my pocket, then again dropped back in the rear.
"Being of an unsuspicious nature, I thought nothing of Nibs' maneuvers until I heard behind me a peculiar, gurgling sound--a sound that can't be imitated or improved upon--and, looking back, I beheld a sight that caused the Irish blood in my veins to boil with rage and indignation!
"The first thing that met my outraged gaze when I looked around was my bottle of restorative, which the scamp of a Nibs had slipped from my pocket when he replaced the handkerchief. One end of the uncorked bottle was to the scoundrel's mouth and the other pointing skyward, at the proper angle. I made a grab for the bottle, but before I could lay hold of it the hog had guzzled down the last drop of the snake medicine, leaving me exposed to the venom of the reptiles!
"The longer I reflected upon Nibs' hoggishness, the more angry I became and I decided that the proper thing to do was to grab the scoundrel up and pitch him, headforemost--snake medicine and all-- down the high bank into the deep waters of the creek.
"It is said that the guilty run when no man pursues. It might be added, with equal truthfulness, that the hoggish dodge when no man strikes. It was so with Nibs.
"I could not see any occasion for his dodging, but he dodged. I only gave the empty bottle a pitch into the bushes, but Nibs evidently thought I was going to throw it at him. Anyway, he dodged; and, in doing so, his feet became entangled in the brush. The more he tried to extricate himself the worse he became entangled, losing his equilibrium and stamping and pawing around, trying to keep at least one foot on terra firma. In the midst of his dilemma a lizard ran out from its hiding-lace under a disturbed heap of brush and Nibs--perhaps it was the overdose of restorative getting in its work--mistook it for a snake. By grab, I never saw a fellow jump like Nibs did. He made a frenzied leap into the air to get out of the way of the supposed snake and, as he did so, a grape-vine caught him around both legs, throwing him backwards with his feet high in the air, his hat flying in one direction, a shoe in another, and his body, back downward, falling like a log to the ground, smashing the unfortunate lizard as flat as a pancake!
"In the midst of Nibs' free exhibition I forgot my wrath, as well as my danger from the reptiles, and roared with laughter.
"Extricated at last from the vines, Nibs, after kicking around in the brush, pulling himself together and taking in his surroundings, got upon his feet; and, as he looked around for his hat and shoe, he sang good-naturedly:
"'Every time I go to town
Old Grinby Grouch comes meddlin' roun';
I ups and with my fist, ker-slosh!
I takes him on the snoot, b'gosh.'
"'Nibs,' I said, 'we're down here to fish, not to talk or sing. So cut it out and lets get down to business.'
"'Yes, we've got to fish and not talk, by gosh,' agreed Nibs. 'I'm the best fisherman that ever stood on the banks of Crooked creek. You are all right, Zebulum, and I can whip the man who says you're not! I can wh--'
"'Cut it out, Nibs,' I interrupted, 'or, by grab, I'll pitch you into the creek. You'll frighten the fish away.'
"We had reached the creek and traveled a little distance above to a good fishing-hole, Nibs walking unsteadily at my side.
"The water here was deep, the banks rising high and steep on both sides of the creek. A large drift of logs and brush extended almost entirely across the stream. Above the drift a fallen log extended from the bank about half-way across the creek, making an admirable place for one or two fishermen to occupy, provided they could keep on the log.
"'You'll have to keep a look-out for moccasins, Zeb,' said Nibs. 'That's a snakey-looking place, by gosh, and you haven't a drop of snake medicine, within or without. Its too--'
"'Well, get out on the log, sit down, quit talking and get to fishing,' I interrupted.
"'All right, Zeb, I'll watch out for snakes and not talk. You are all right, Zeb, and I didn't mean to treat you shabby, but I didn't want to take any chances with the moccasins. After all, though, you're to blame--you should have brought two bottles along. The idea of one bottle for two fishermen of our medicine-taking capacities, among a lot of poisonous reptiles is ridiculous. If we'd had two bot--'
"I motioned Nibs toward the log and he, not willing to trust his legs, coon-jointed across to the end and sat down, I followed and taking my seat between him and the bank."
EDITOR'S NOTE--This interesting adventure, as told by Zebulum himself will be continued in this department of the Record-Press next week.
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