Part 3 of 3
Source: Crittenden Record-Press. (Marion, Ky.), May 8, 1913, Edition 1, Image 2 - Chronicling America - The Library of Congress.
(Reported by R. C. Haynes.)
"'Nibs,' I went on, 'I know of no better antidote for an overdose of snake medicine than a plunge into cold water. It is given, of course, only in emergency cases and as a last resort. In your case, Nibs, the time for heroic treatment has come. Therefore, into the creek you go! I don't like to do it, but, by grab, I can't stand that poem of yours. It makes me dizzy and endangers my life by the risk of toppling over into the depths below. Your wife might as well be left a widow, by grab, as mine. I've tried all other methods to keep you quiet, in vain. So now, to save your reputation as a decent fisherman and a Ford's Ferrian, will you, of your own accord, jump off and down into the foamy waters beneath, or shall I unceremoniously dump you overboard?'
"'Well, Zebulum,' answered NIbs, 'to tell you the whole, unvarnished truth, I have no intention whatever to vacate this good log, in one way or the other, at present, b'gosh. I beg to say, furthermore, that if that ill-timed decree of yours is not like unto the Medes and Persians, irrevocable, I'd advise you, b'gosh, not to try to enforce it. You couldn't put me off, Zeb, my boy, and if you'd undertake it, b'gosh, the result would be--I'd be left alone on this lonesome log, quietly fishing, while you'd be floundering down in the foamy billows below, among the moccasins, mud-turtles and other creeping things of the deep. Having never learned to swim, and with no snake remedy obtainable, you can see what you'd be up against, b'gosh.
"'As to my poem,' continued Nibs, "it is all right. It ranks with like productions of Kipyard Rudling and others. It is not everyone, however, that can appreciate good poetry when he comes across it. It depends upon the shape of his head. A man with little grey matter couldn't discern in my poem the beauty of sentiment, the harmony of sounds, or the delightful display of well-arranged iambuses. For instance, the poem goes on--'
"'Hold up, Nibs--never mind the poem. Be quiet and I'll get a bite.'
"'Sure enough, Zeb, you're about to get a bite. Your cork's beginning to bob--I'll tell you when to jerk. You'd better look out for snakes. There's a dozen or so of the murderous mocs in that drift, and there's no telling, Zeb, when one of the venomous things will fasten its deadly fangs in some part of your unfortified anatomy. If you'd brought two bottles a--'
"'We didn't need two bottles, Nibs. One was more than enough for two fishermen. The trouble is, by grab, it was not properly distributed, owing to your blamed hoggishness. If you had not been such a hog--'
"'That's all right,' interrupted Nibs. 'I'd rather be a live hog than a deceased skunk. You are great on the talk, Zeb, but your logic and your grammar are no good. If one bottle of snake remedy is good, then, according to Butler's Grammar, two bottles are better, and even three bottles are best to take along on fishing occasions, though I didn't kick at the absence of the third bottle. You don't understand it, of course, but it is this way, Zeb: Positive good, comparative better, superlative best. Pos. Zebulum, com. Zebulumber, sup. Zebulumbust. It you hadn't been in such a hurry to get married, Zeb, you'd have been better educated and your capacity for appreciating good poetry enlarged. You up and rushed into matrimony, b'gosh, when you ought to have been gazing into a grammar at Witherspoon school house, with old man Hitchcock watching over you with a rod similar to our fishing poles. But you were afraid, b'gosh, that I, or some other scoundrel, would up and marry your little Nell; so you jumped your school days, monkeyed around where you had no business, got chased by a long-legged sheriff and his pack of long-winded sleuths, ran your fool legs about off and even caused me to ignorantly violate the law of our glorious commonwealth--all for nothing, I might say. She was--'
"'Nibs, for heaven's sake hush and let's fish. My cork--'
"'Yes, Zeb as I was about to say, she was too good a girl for you, but I didn't want her, b'gosh. I preferred Nobs, though, as I have said, I had a desperate time getting her. The poem goes on to say--'
"'Never mind what the poem says, Nibs,' I interrupted, 'I'll take our word for it. Get quiet now, watch your cork and say not a word. Its growing late.'
"'That's true, Zeb, and I've got to catch a string of fish a couple of yards long, if we have to stay here all night. I don't want to disappoint Nobs. And Zeb, keep a lookout for snakes. I feel uneasy about you. You are an all-right man, and I double dog dare any scoundrel to say you are not. I am afraid, however, you will never get away from here alive. But if you should succumb in a battle with the moccasins, I'll tell your wife that you passed away as a brave fisherman should. I'll also see that a suitable monument is erected to your sacred memory and that an appropriate epitaph is inscribed thereon. I'll write the inscription myself, b'gosh. Let's see. How would something like this do:
Here lies the sainted
No snake medicine was
Left for him.
"'I have been thinking, Nibs,' I said, 'that you could hardly survive the effects of that overdose of snake exterminator and, if the worst should happen to you, I have solved the problem of your final disposal. It is this way, Nibs. When you expire, your friends won't have to bury you, or cremate you, erect monuments, write epitaphs, or anything of that kind.'
"'What do you think, b'gosh, would become of me, Zeb?' asked Nibs, somewhat puzzled. 'Do you think I'd be translated to a happier fishing-hole?'
"'I'm afraid not, Nibs,' I replied; 'at least, I'm not looking for anything of the kind to take place. But instead of burying or cremating you, by grab, I'd up and pour you back into the bottle. (Haw-haw-haw!)'
"'Laugh, dog gone you, and frighten all the fishes away,' said Nibs. 'Zebulum, you don't understand the first principles of up-to-date fishing. Fish won't stand for laughter or nonsense. If you expect to catch anything, b'gosh, you must cut it out. Fishing, as I've said, is a serious business. Life itself is a serious affair and should not be spent in levity. The poem is full of seriousness and pathos. For instance, it goes on to say--'
"'Hold up, Nibs,' I interrupted, 'cut it out!'
"'The poem goes on to say,' persisted Nibs:
"Now, Nibs McGath and Nobs McGee
Both fell in love most desp'ratelee;
So headlong was the plunge, they said
That they, b'gosh, at once would wed.
"But Bub McGee and Bob McGath--
Her pa and mine--both full of wrath--
Joined Ma McGath and Mom McGee
In vowing it should never be!
"So Nibs and Nobs, and Bob and Bub,
And Mom and Ma--ah, there's the rub!
Were all at outs--
"'And I'm at outs, too, by grab,' I interrupted, 'and if you don't cut that out I'll--'
"Were all at outs. 'Now, Nobs,' said Nibs,
'Let's fly at once for Brother Gibbs'--'
"'Hold up--wait a minute, Nibs. I'm going to leave you and go where I can catch fish. I'll vacate the log and leave it to you, while I go and cast in my line above the drift. Now, be careful, Nibs, sit still and don't get dizzy, or you will fall into the creek and drown. You'd never be able to get out of the water, by grab, with all that snake remedy aboard. You deserve to be drowned, all right, but on your good wife's account I'd rather you wouldn't.'
"'All right, Zeb, I'll sit still and fish and be as mum as the great Sphynx, having no one to talk to. Its a wise move, Zeb. By-By, but lend me your pipe before you go. I didn't get half through with my smoke.'
"I gave him my pipe and left him walking the log back to the bank, then going a short distance above the drift. The surroundings here were much the same as below the drift, except that there is no log extending from the bank over the stream, and the water, though as deep, was not covered with foam. The banks were steep and high and near the edge was a little mound, upon which I sat down and cast out my line, letting my feet hang down the side of the bank. It was an admirable place to fish and had doubtless been occupied by the old doctor many times.
"Though the distance was short, I could not, from where I was sitting, see Nibs, as the drift was between us; yet I could see the smoke rising and circling above his head, whirling and revolving and finally forming itself into the shape of a huge bottle of snake medicine. I knew that Nibs was making good use of the borrowed pipe.
"'Say, Zebulum, old boy,' Nibs called out presently, 'are you having any luck?'
"'Not yet, Nibs,' I yelled back at him. 'I've found a mighty dad-gum fine hole, though, and if you will keep quiet I'll soon have fish enough for both of us to take home.'
"'Good boy,' cried Nibs, from across the drift. 'You're the genuine stuff, Zeb, and I can wollop the man who says you're not. How'd you like to hear a few stanzas before--'
"'Not at all,' I called back; 'I could not understand it from here--keep quiet.'
"Looking in his direction, I saw the top of Nibs' head, just visible above the drift, and knew that he was standing up on the log.
"'Sit down, Nibs, confound you, or you'll be in the creek, by grab. If I wasn't a member of the Presbyterian church in good standing, what I'd say to you, Nibs, would be a-plenty. Sit down.'
"'The poem goes on this way, Zeb,' again called out Nibs, peeping over the top of the drift, trying to locate me:
"So out one night stole Nobs and Nibs,
And straightway made for Brother Gibbs,
While just behind, with stick and club,
And filled with wrath, rushed Bob and Bub!
"'Cling to my hand, sweet Nobs,' cried Nibs;
'If they catch up I'll punch their ribs!'
'And I will pull their hair!' cried Nobs,
'I'll snatch for Bub's and likewise Bob's!'
"On rushed the angry Pop and Pa!
And at their heels came Mom and Ma!
'On, Bub!' 'On, Bob!' cried Ma and Mom,
'We'll show 'em--'
"At this point of Nibs' exciting recital there was a sudden break, and immediately thereafter I heard a heavy ker-chug in the water above the drift! I knew, by grab, what it was--Nibs had fallen off the log!
"No time is to be lost, I reflected, or the scamp will drown. Perhaps I should not have left him alone. Though I can't swim, I will do what I can to get him out.
"With these reflections, I brought my legs to the top of the bank and, with a hurried movement, was rising to my feet, when the bank caved in, I lost my foot-hold on the mound, and over and down I went, plunging headlong into the creek!
"'Fishermen's luck!' cried a voice from above the drift, and I could hear a terrific splashing in that direction.
"When I struck the water I went to the bottom, but presently floundered to the surface, spouting forth volumes of creek water from my mouth.
"As I came up the second time, I saw Nibs coming around the drift in a run, his fishing outfit in one hand, his hat and the two pipes in the other, water flying from his clothes and music flowing from his mouth:
"Every time I go to town
Old Grinby Grouch comes meddlin' roun'."
"'Be of good cheer, Zebulum,' he said, when he had reached the bank. 'Keep on top if you can, and if you see a moccasin kick at 'im. I'm the best fisherman, b'gosh, that ever stood on Crooked creek, and I'm not choice as to the choice of species.'
"As he talked he took a number of fishing-lines from his pocket and twisted them together, making an extra strong cord. He then tied a hook to one of the cords and fastened the other end to a long, stout pole.
"While I was floundering around, trying to keep from sinking, he managed to fasten the hook to the waistband of my trousers. Then placing the pole across a stump which he used as a fulcrum, he bore down on the end of the pole and the next thing I realized I was lifted out of the water, dangling at the end of a line, face downward, making all kinds of figures with my arms and legs. Giving the pole another movement, he sent me onto the bank, landing in all kinds of shapes.
"'Pity we didn't bring two bottles along, Zen,' said Nibs, as I got upon my feet and pulled myself together.
"We lost no time in getting home. Nibs still insists that we had a good time. To his credit, be it said, he has never tasted snake medicine since that day."
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