Wit and Humor of America, The Vol 07



You never knowd Bill, I rekun. Hes gone to Arkensaw, and I don't know whether hes ded or alive. He was a good feller, Bill was, as most all whisky drinkers are. Me and him both used to love it powerful—especially Bill. We soaked it when we could git it, and when we coudent we hankered after it amazingly. I must tell you a little antidote on Bill, tho I dident start to tell you about that.

We started on a little jurney one day in June, and took along a bottle of "old rye," and there was so many springs and wells on the road that it was mighty nigh gone before dinner. We took our snack, and Bill drained the last drop, for he said we would soon git to Joe Paxton's, and that Joe always kept some.

Shore enuff Joe dident have a drop, and we concluded, as we was mighty dry, to go on to Jim Alford's, and stay all night. We knew that Jim had it, for he always had it. So we whipped up, and the old Bay had to travel, for I tell you when a man wants whiskey everything has to bend to the gittin' of it. Shore enuff Jim had some. He was mity glad to see us, and he knowd what we wanted, for he knowd how it was hisself. So he brought out an old-fashend glass decanter, and a shugar bowl, and a tumbler, and a spoon, and says he, "Now, boys, jest wait a minit till you git rested sorter, for it ain't good to take whiskey on a hot stomack. I've jest been readin' a piece in Grady's newspaper about a frog—the darndest frog that perhaps ever come from a tadpole. It was found up in Kanetucky, and is as big as a peck measure. Bill, do you take this paper and read it aloud to us. I'm a poor hand to read, and I want to hear it. I'll be hanged if it ain't the darndest frog I ever hearn of." He laid the paper on my knees, and I begun to read, thinkin' it was a little short anticdote, but as I turned the paper over I found it was mighty nigh a column. I took a side glance at Bill, and I saw the little dry twitches a jumpin' about on his countenance. He was mighty nigh dead for a drink. I warent so bad off myself, and I was about half mad with him for drainin' the bottle before dinner; so I just read along slow, and stopped two or three times to clear my throat just to consume time. Pretty soon Bill got up and commenced walkin' about, and he would look at the dekanter like he would give his daylights to choke the corn juice out of it. I read along slowly. Old Alford was a listnin' and chawin' his tobakker and spittin' out of the door. Bill come up to me, his face red and twitchin', and leanin' over my shoulder he seed the length of the story, and I will never forgit his pitiful tone as he whispered, "Skip some, Bill, for heaven's sake skip some."

My heart relented, and I did skip some, and hurried through, and we all jined in a drink; but I'll never forgit how Bill looked when he whispered to me to "skip some, Bill, skip some." I've got over the like of that, boys, and I hope Bill has, too, but I don't know. I wish in my soul that everybody had quit it, for you may talk about slavery, and penitentiary, and chain-gangs, and the Yankees, and General Grant, and a devil of a wife, but whiskey is the worst master that ever a man had over him. I know how it is myself.

But there is one good thing about drinkin'. I almost wish every man was a reformed drunkard. No man who hasn't drank liker knows what a luxury cold water is. I have got up in the night in cold wether after I had been spreein' around, and gone to the well burnin' up with thirst, feeling like the gallows, and the grave, and the infernal regions was too good for me, and when I took up the bucket in my hands, and with my elbows a tremblin' like I had the shakin' ager, put the water to my lips; it was the most delicious, satisfyin', luxurius draft that ever went down my throat. I have stood there and drank and drank until I could drink no more, and gone back to bed thankin' God for the pure, innocent, and coolin' beverig, and cursin' myself from my inmost soul for ever touchin' the accursed whisky. In my torture of mind and body I have made vows and promises, and broken 'em within a day. But if you want to know the luxury of cold water, get drunk, and keep at it until you get on fire, and then try a bucket full with your shirt on at the well in the middle of the night. You won't want a gourd full—you'll feel like the bucket ain't big enuf, and when you begin to drink an earthquake couldn't stop you. My fathers, how good it was! I know a hundred men who will swear to the truth of what I say: but you see its a thing they don't like to talk about. It's too humiliatin'.

But I dident start to talk about drinkin'. In fact, I've forgot what I did start to tell you. My mind is sorter addled now a days, anyhow, and I hav to jes let my tawkin' tumble out permiskuous. I'll take another whet at it afore long, and fill up the gaps.

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