Part 1 of 3
Source: Crittenden Record-Press. (Marion, Ky.), May 15, 1913, Edition 1, Image 7 - Chronicling America - The Library of Congress.
(Reported by R. C. Haynes.)
It was one of those lazy spring days, when the sun shines warm and bright, and there seems to be "nothing doing" on the streets and very little in the shops and stores. Even the post-office seemed to fail to attract the interest usually attending the opening of the mail and the distribution of Uncle Sam's literature.
In the shade in front of one of our city barber shops, several men were congregated, some sitting on chairs, others seated on the edge of the sidewalk and a few standing close around--all seemingly interested in what was being said.
"Yes, gentlemen, old Nab was certainly the best all-around dog I ever saw," said a middle-aged man who occupied a prominent seat in the crowd of attentive listeners and who spoke as if in continuation of some truth he had been dealing out to his audience. "I trained him up from a pup and he would always--"
"Talking about dogs," spoke up Dog-Owner No. 2, "I had a dog--"
"He'd always do whatever I told him to," went on Dog-Owner No. 1, not heeding the interruption of Dog-Owner No. 2, "even at the risk of his own welfare or--"
"I once had a dog," again interrupted Dog-Owner No. 2, "named--"
"--or others," persisted Dog-Owner No. 1, "and I could always trust him. It is my custom on Saturday afternoon to take a half-holiday, so, on one occasion, instead of going out to the city, as I usually do, I decided to give the blamed town the go-by and go fishing instead. Whistling for the dog, I said to him, 'Now, Nab, by George, I'm going fishing and I want you to--'"
"Gentlemen, that recalls to my mind a dog I once had," spoke up Dog-Owner No. 3. "He is dead now, dog gone him, and I'm not grieving because of his demise. However, he was a good watch-dog, which it is sometimes needful to have, especially in the country. The dog's name was Bounce and he was thoroughly onto his job when it came to--"
"'I'm going fishing, old Nab," went on Dog-Owner No. 1, ignoring the interruption of Dog-Owner No. 3, 'and I want you to see that no one, man or beast, trespasses on our premises.' The dog, in reply, wagged his tail and lay down in the shade just inside the gate. I lived then, as I do now, in the Chapel Hill section and as the weather seemed propitious,I set out for Claylick creek afoot and alone--"
"As I have already said," interrupted Dog-Owner No. 2, "I had a dog named--"
"--set out afoot and alone." persisted Dog-Owner No. 1 paying no heed to the interruption of Dog-Owner No. 2. "I always prefer going alone on such occasions, as, in this way, I can devote my whole attention to the catching of fish, and not be hindered by some one's tumbling into the creek or by conversation, as I never talk to myself. So I selected a good fishing-hole--"
"I had a doge once named--" again put in Dog-Owner No. 2, but his remarks were cut short by Dog-Owner No. 1, who went on;
"--selected a good fishing-hole, took a seat on the bank and--"
"As I have just remarked, gentlemen," again spoke up Dog-Owner No. 3, "old Bounce was thoroughly onto his job when it came to lending his aid in protecting the premises against the encroachments of tramps or other persons who, in the dog's judgment, looked suspicious or might be wanting to trespass on the sacred precincts of our home. I, of course, was away from the house most of the time, be out in the fields at work, and my wife had instructed old Bounce at all times to keep a sharp look-out for anything in the nature of tramps, she being rather distrustful of the hobo fraternity. When it came to danger, however, whether real or apparent, Fluffy was as brave as--"
"I had a dog once," interrupted Dog-Owner No. 2, "named--"
"--found a good fishing-hold," pursued Dog-Owner No. 1, "and--"
"I would suggest, gentlemen," spoke up Dog-Owner No. 4, "that Dog-Owners No. 1 and 2 yield the floor, for the present, and let Dog-Owner No. 3 continue his story uninterrupted. When the latter gentleman has finished his narrative, then the two story-tellers can take up their respective adventures, one at a time, and relate them to a happy or disastrous conclusion. In this way, by George, we avoid getting the plots confused, the dogs mixed up, to say nothing of the dog-owners themselves."
The suggestion of Dog-Owner No. 4 met with the approval of both the audience and the story-tellers.
"As I have just said," went on Dog-Owner No. 3, in compliance with the suggestion above given, "my wife, though rather distrustful of tramps, was, in case of danger real or imaginary, as brave as a rough rider. My son Bill, likewise, was no coward, by George, and had aided much in the training of old Bounce. Leaving out tramps and other persons of a suspicious-looking appearance, the dog was of a friendly nature and was very fond of all the family, especially myself.
"I have never been accounted particularly good-looking, being long and gangling and green-looking; and, at the time to which I refer, I wore on my face a heavy beard--chin-whiskers, sideburns and mustache. The beard was long and thick and of a reddish color. I was rather proud of my facial adornment, notwithstanding its off color. Fluffy, however, looked upon my whiskers with disfavor and was not backward in speaking disparagingly of what she termed their unsightliness. My son Bill--who was just arriving at the age when a boy begins to part his hair in the middle and to cast sheep's eyes at the neighbor girls--had his fun at my expense. But I knew a thing or two about whiskers--more than Fluffy or Bill. I knew, by George, that, properly displayed, they often cover up a multitude of ugliness. So, by George, I let 'em stand.
"One afternoon in November," continued Dog-Owner No. 3, "I bridled and saddled old Bellzie, as good a mule as ever man mounted. He was christened Beelzebub; but we called him Bellzie, because the name was shorter and as Fluffy said, more euphonious. I had rigged up the mule for the purpose of riding out to town, so I mounted his back and rode off in that direction, arriving there in due time.
"After knocking around, walking up and down the streets, to see who was and who was not in town, I sat down with one of my neighbors just outside a barber shop and began, in a friendly way, to discuss the political situation.
"'Reuben,' spoke up a barber, opening the door of the shop just wide enough to thrust his head out. 'you are next!'
"'Who?--me?' I asked, in surprise. 'I didn't know, by George, that I was next or the next after the next. However, if you can fix me up without disrupting your prices, I will give you a job,' and down I went into the tonsorial chair. After all, I reflected, it will be a pleasant surprise to Fluffy, bless her heart.
"So I instructed the barber to make a clean sweep--chin-whiskers, sideburns, mustache and all--and off they went. By George, my face was as slick as a peeled onion and I was, to all appearances, a new man.
"After I left the barber shop, I went out on the streets, introduced myself to a number of my neighbors, smoked a few cigars and had a very good time.
"Ever since I married, I have made it a rule that whenever I go to town to leave the city in time to get home by sunset, and I meant that this occasion should not be an exception. When I was about ready to start for home, however, the dad-gum'd sheriff summoned me to serve on a blamed jury. By the time the case was ended and we had put it to the defendant to the amount of five dollars for monkeying with the dignity of the commonwealth, the evening shadows were creeping over the earth.
"As soon as I was discharged from official duty, I made haste to depart for home, knowing that Fluffy, bless her heart, would be awaiting supper for me and wondering at the delay in my return. So I made at once for the hitching-place where I had left old Bellzie.
"Right here, gentlemen, is where the trouble began. Do you thing that blamed mule would let me mount him? No, by George, he wouldn't. He evidently didn't recognize me and would, therefore, have nothing to do with me.
"Failing to make myself known to him and having no time to waste, I called to a couple of my neighbors who had not yet left town, and they came to my assistance.
"Unhitching the mule, the two neighbors placed themselves one on each side of the animal's head in such a way that he couldn't see me, and so I went up to him and climbed upon his back.
"As soon as the two men had stepped aside, old Bellzie glanced back, as if to see who had mounted him, shook his head and started off down the road toward home.
"From his maneuvers, I knew he had passed an adverse judgment on my case, that in his opinion I had no right on his back, and I was aware also, by George, that he had it in for me if he got half a show.
"'Get along now, Beelzebub,' I said, using his full name, which I always did when I wanted to be on particularly friendly terms with him.
"At the sound of my voice the mule again glanced back, as if to confirm his opinion of the spuriousness of his passenger, and a second time shook his head. Old Bellzie had not even recognized my voice!
"It was no wonder, though, for with the loss of my whiskers and the cool, damp air blowing against my unprotected face, I had taken cold, and my voice, even now, sounded unnatural and somewhat funereal with its hoarseness.
"I was a dogon'd good horseman in those days, however, and I had no fear of old Bellzie's tricks, whatever they might be, or of being dislodged from his back.
"Get up, Bellzie, confound you,' I said, in a wheezy voice, as the mule took his way down the road at a rather slow gate. In reply, old Bellzie shook his head, gave a few mild bucks--as if he meant only to give me a mere foretaste of what he could do, if occasion demanded--and again started off at the same rate of speed, as if to show me, by George, that he'd do as he dad-gum'd pleased about increasing his pace.
"Although it has been said that one must reason with a mule, I thought it best, on this occasion, to humor the animal, as I was, to his way of looking at things, a stranger and an interloper, and, in this way, I reflected, he will soon get used to my new facial expression and we will become as good friends as ever.
So on we went down the road, traveling at a moderate pace, sometimes in a walk and at other times in a slow trot. We passed Crooked creek and had soon reached the point near which I lived. I was impatient to get home and surprise Fluffy. I knew the dear thing would be pleased by the absence of my whiskers.
"As we neared home, old Bellzie increased his speed. Presently we came up near where the road forked, one road leading up the lane to my home and the other on down to Ford's Ferry.
"I could see that old Bellzie was uneasy lest I should want him to keep on down the Ford's Ferry road, and I could discern also that he had an idea that he would not do so.
"Just to tease him and to see what he would do, when we got to the division in the road I touched the mule's sides with my two heels, pulled the reins in the direction of Ford's Ferry and said, in a husky voice:
"'Get along, Bellzie!'
"What old Bellzie did on that occasion--right then and there--was, as Billy would say, a-plenty!"
EDITOR'S NOTE--This stirring adventure, as told by Dog-Owner No. 3, will be continued in this department of the Record-Press next week.
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