Part 2 of 3
Source: Crittenden Record-Press. (Marion, Ky.), May 1, 1913, Edition 1, Image 2 - Chronicling America - The Library of Congress.
(Reported by R. C. Haynes.)
It will be remembered by those of our readers who have kept up with Zebulum's story, as told by himself, that we left the story-teller and his companion, Nibs, on Crooked creek, whither they had gone fishing; that the two fishermen and seated themselves as securely and comfortably as possible on the end of a log--said log projecting from the bank of the creek half-way across the stream, with the deep, uninviting waters beneath. It will be recalled, too, that Nibs had, in a hoggish way, appropriated to his own use the entire supply of snake medicine, leaving his fellow fisherman exposed to all the dangers that might be experienced from the bites of poisonous reptiles that infested the creek. But we will now give way to Zebulum and let him continue his story in his own way.
"It was, as Nibs had remarked, a 'snakey'-looking place. The creek, in its rugged and sometimes turbulent course toward the Ohio river, is, as its name indicates, very crooked, winding its way around and between and among the hills that abound in that locality, and at the point we had chosen--and which had been highly recommended by our old friend, Doctor Dan'el, the champion fisherman, hunter and trapper--the undergrowth stood dense on the banks and fallen logs and heaps of brush lay thick around. The big drift before mentioned, which almost spanned the stream, made an inviting harbor for the moccasins and caused the water above it to be covered with a dirty-looking foam. Yet it had been recommended as a good fishing-hole.
"'Now, Nibs,' I said, 'cast out your line, sit still, don't talk and we'll soon have a nice lot of fish to take home to both Nell and Nobs. It all depends on your keeping quiet.'
"'True's gospel, Zeb,' replied Nibs. 'We must keep quiet and look well to our corks. I promised Nobs I'd bring the sweet thing a string of fish a couple of yards long for supper. I'm going to do it, too, b'gosh. Speaking of Nobs, Zeb, did you ever read the poem I wrote? It--'
"'Never mind the poem, Nibs,' I interrupted, 'Don't talk--I'm about to get a bite.'
"'All right, Zeb, I'm not much on talking, anyway, but great on fighting, b'gosh. You're the scoundrel who is given to much talking. Your mouth, b'gosh, is always open and spinning out words and weaving them into sentences of more or less intelligence. Yet you're all right, Zeb, only, for your own sake, I wish you'd brought two bottles along. I--'
"'Hush, confound you, Nibs, don't you see my cork, by grab--how it has begun to bob up and down?'
"'Yes, I see 'em--you've got two corks, Zeb, and both of 'em are bobbing. Why don't you jerk, b'gosh--don't you know how to fish?'
"'I have only one cork, Nibs,' I explained. 'It is a delusion of the eyesight, caused by the overdose of snake medicine. Keep quiet.'
"'All right, Zeb--wait'll I get my pipe.'
"Nibs took the pipe from his pocket, filled it with tobacco, lit it and began to smoke. I followed his example.
"'Zebulum,' began Nibs, 'we've had a fine time so far, but I can't help but feel uneasy on your account. I'm sorry the supply of restorative is extinct, and you so helplessly exposed to the perils that surround you. You're all right, Zeb, and if you ever get out of here alive--which is doubtful, begosh--I want you to run for congressman, or jailer, or something. I'd be for you, b'gosh, and so would Capt. Wilborn and all the good people of Ford's Ferry. I'd see that you got there, b'gosh. I'd make a speech on every stump in Crittenden county. If any scoundrel would even look like he wasn't for you, by gosh, I'd mop up the earth with 'im! That's what kind of a politician I am. Whoopee! I can whip--'
"'Nibs,' I interrupted, 'I'll just be dad-smashed if you don't cut that out, off this log you go, skiwaddling, into the creek. I'm getting another bite.'
"'So'm I, Zeb--up she comes!'
"As Nibs spoke, he gave his line a powerful jerk, bringing up nothing, however, but the empty hook. In giving the jerk, Nibs' pipe somehow became dislodged from the smoker's mouth and was hurled downward into the water. Nibs made a desperate grab for the pipe, missed it, lost his balance and over and down he went backward from the log, down toward the depths beneath, clutching wildly at me in a vain effort to save himself.
"I knew if he got hold of me we would both go down together, so I evaded his hold and clung to the log. Nibs had been sitting with his feet and legs hanging down the side of the log, and, as he fell over backward, his feet, of course, had to come up over the top of the log before they could take their descent along with the rest of the body. Taking an immediate advantage of the situation, just as the falling man's feet were rising up to take their flop over the log, I grabbed his heels with both my hands, pressed them against the log with all my strength, thus checking the fall of the body. Taking a cord from my pocket, I tied his legs in such a way as to keep them coming up over the log, thus letting the body swing back and forth, head downward, over the deep waters below, like a big pendulum.
"'Be of good cheer, Nibs,' I called down to him, 'and I will do what I can, by grab, to help you.'
"It was a rather dangerous place to work in. The log, which was not large, was slick on top, and I might lose my foot-hold at any time. However, I stuck to the log and pondered as to how I could help poor Nibs, who was swinging back and forth at a great rate, dangling between the log on which I stood and the turbid waters of the creek.
"Taking up my fishing-pole, I placed the larger end down the side of the log and when Nibs swung to that side, I told him to grab the pole and hold to it with both hands. He did as I directed, and, in this way, I drew him up and into a sitting position on top of the log.
"'Every time I go to town
Old Grinby Grouch comes med--'
"'Cut out that singing, Nibs, confound you, or into the creek you go,' I told him, as I cut the cords that bound his legs to the log.
"'Ouch! Zeb, dad-smother you, do you know you've peeled all the hide off my legs with that blamed rope?'
"'You'd have been in a much worse shape if it hadn't been for that cord, Nibs,' I replied. 'But let us settle down now and get to fishing. Don't say a word."
"'That's right, Zebulum, no talk and all fish. Business before pleasure, b'gosh. You're all right, Zeb, and I'm just aching to wipe up the earth with the scoundrel who says you're not. And just to think, Zeb, of the good time you'd have had and the sense of security you'd have experienced if you'd brought two bottles along. I--'
"'I've thought of a scheme, Nibs,' I interrupted, 'which, I think, will work admirably. I know this is a snakey locality and that I am liable at any time to be chased by a warlike moccasin. Therefore, Nibs, the scheme I have in mind is this: If I should suddenly behold an angry moccasin headed my way, by grab, I'll give you a distress signal, then you come running up between the reptile and me and quickly puff a few breaths in the snake's face. The result would be--cramp colic for the snake, safety for me, a sense of accommodation for you and victory for the deposed snake medicine! (Haw-haw-haw!)'
"'Zebulum, dad-gum you, do you expect us to catch any fish while you carry on like that?' said Nibs, much provoked. 'Keep quiet and let's fish, b'gosh. There's no occasion for talking and nothing to talk about. It's a serious time, b'gosh, and should be treated seriously. I wrote a poem once--one I got up about myself, b'gosh. In writing, whether in poetry or prose, there's nothing like being well acquainted with your characters, Zeb. I also deal with other interesting characters. The poem--'
"'Never mind about the poem, Nibs,' I interrupted. 'Keep quiet, by grab--I'm getting a bite.'
"'That's so, Zebulum, my boy--why don't you jerk, b'gosh? As I was about to say, the poem is pronounced by many who have been so fortunate as to read it to rank favorably with the productions of Byron, Longfellow and Rudyard Kip--'
"'Cut it out, Nibs,' I said. 'Confound the poem and you, too. I'm fishing, by grab, not discussing literature.'
"'Say, Zebulum, is that a snake down there by the drift? I thought I saw one. You'd better keep your snake eye skinned, b'gosh. Look out for 'em. Remember you are in constant danger, Zeb, poor boy. You can't swim, and you haven't a drop of snake remedy. and if you should fall off this log, b'gosh, you'd be at the mercy of both the waves and the reptiles--if not the Old Boy himself. I'll do all I can to save you, though, and I'm a wheelhorse, a Jonah and an Ajax--the whole thing, b'gosh, at anything you might mention--especially fighting. I believe in war. I'm just waiting for an opportunity, b'gosh, to wipe up this creek bottom with the scoundrel who says you are not all right! I'd--'
"'Nibs,' I said, 'why in the Dickens and Tom Walker don't you cut out that blamed talking and attend to your cork? Don't you want some nice fish to take home?'
"'Yes, I will, Zebby--I'll keep my cork eye corked and say nothing. I promised Nobs I'd bring her a string of the finny tribe a couple of yards long and I'll do it, b'gosh. The sweet thing deserves all the fish in this creek and its tributaries. I had a desperate time getting her and she had a tough time getting me. The poem--'
"'The poem be dad-smashed! Be quiet, Nibs, confound you.'
"'I must keep an eye on my cork, Zeb. I b'lieve I'm getting a bite, too--only it looks like I've got two corks, b'gosh, both bobbing up and down. If I can catch a string even a yard long, it will satisfy Nobs, bless her heart. Did I ever tell you the name of my poem, Zebululm? It is entitled, "The Bumfuzzling of Bob and Bub." The first time I meet up with Billy Yates I'll get him to set it to music, b'gosh, and have it before the public in sheet-music form. It will, no doubt, become as popular as "The Old Turkey Buzzard," or other productions. The poem begins--'
"'Hold up, Nibs,' I said, interrupting him. "You must cut out that talking. The sun is getting low, by grab, and the afternoon will soon be gone. Keep quiet now and let's fish to make up for lost time. I'm getting a bite now.'
"'Yes, we must make up for lost time, Zeb, keep our mouths closed and our eyes on our corks; though you, Zeb, should keep at least one eye on the lookout for the moccasins. I, of course, might watch both corks, while you devote your whole time in keeping out of the way of the moccasins. If you had brought two bottles--'
"'Hush, Nibs, I am on the eve of getting a bite. Why don't you act sensibly, quit talking and give the fishes a chance to bite?'
"'You're a sensible man Zeb, and are right in your religious and political views. If you ever need any help in upholding them, just call on me, b'gosh. The poem, as I was about to say, begins like this:
"Down near the town of Fords Ferree
There lived a maid, Miss Nobs McGee;
And likewise on a near-by path,
There lived and moved young Nibs McGath.
"Now Nibs McGath and Nobs McGee
Both fell in love most desp'ratelee--
"'And I am getting "most desperatelee" mad, confound you,' I interrupted. I dislike to do it, but, by grab, I can't stand that poem! So off the log you go!"
EDITOR'S NOTE--This interesting adventure, as told by Zebulum himself will be concluded in this department of the Record-Press next week.