winter-time, to use in the spring drive."
"Swearin' 's a habit that hed ought to be practiced with turrible
caution," observed old Mr. Wiley, when the drivers had finished
luncheon and taken out their pipes. "There's three kinds o'
swearin',--plain swearin', profane swearin', an' blasphemious swearin'.
Logs air jest like mules: there's times when a man can't seem to rip up
a jam in good style 'thout a few words that's too strong for the infant
classes in Sunday-schools; but a man hedn't ought to tempt Providence.
When he's ridin' a log near the falls at high water, or cuttin' the
key-log in a jam, he ain't in no place for blasphemious swearin'; jest a
little easy, perlite 'damn' is 'bout all he can resk, if he don't want to
git drownded an' hev his ghost walkin' the river-banks till kingdom
"You an' I, Long, was the only ones that seen Pretty Quick go, wa'n't
we?" continued Old Kennebec, glancing at Long Abe Dennett (cousin to
Short Abe), who lay on his back in the grass, the smoke-wreaths rising
from his pipe, and the steel spikes in his heavy, calked-sole boots
shining in the sun.
"There was folks on the bridge," Long answered, "but we was the only
ones near enough to see an' hear. It was so onexpected, an' so soon
over, that them as was watchin' upstream, where the men was to work on
the falls, wouldn't 'a' hed time to see him go down. But I did, an'
nobody ain't heard me swear sence, though it's ten years ago. I allers
said it was rum an' bravadder that killed Pretty Quick Waterman that
day. The boys hedn't give him a 'dare' that he hedn't took up. He seemed
like he was possessed, an' the logs was the same way; they was fairly
wild, leapin' around in the maddest kind o' water you ever see. The
river was b'ilin' high that spring; it was an awful stubborn jam, an'
Pretty Quick, he'd be'n workin' on it sence dinner."
"He clumb up the bank more'n once to have a pull at the bottle that was
hid in the bushes," interpolated Mr. Wiley.
"Like as not; that was his failin'. Well, most o' the boys were on the
other side o' the river, workin' above the bridge, an' the boss hed
called Pretty Quick to come off an' leave the jam till mornin', when
they'd get horses an' dog-warp it off, log by log. But when the boss got
out o' sight, Pretty Quick jest stood right still, swingin' his axe, an'
blasphemin' so 't would freeze your blood, vowin' he wouldn't move till
the logs did, if he stayed there till the crack o' doom. Jest then a
great, ponderous log that hed be'n churnin' up an' down in the falls for
a week, got free an' come blunderin' an' thunderin' down-river. Land! it
was chockfull o' water, an' looked 'bout as big as a church! It come
straight along, butt-end foremost, an' struck that jam, full force, so't
every log in it shivered. There was a crack,--the crack o' doom, sure
enough, for Pretty Quick,--an' one o' the logs le'p' right out an'
struck him jest where he stood, with his axe in the air, blasphemin'.Download<<BackPagesMainNext>>