Page:1880. A Tramp Abroad.djvu/238

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NICODEMUS AS AN APPRENTICE.

he'ps another feller when he's in trouble, and don't cuss, and don't do no mean things, nur noth'n' he ain' no business to do, and don't spell the Savior's name with a little g, he ain't runnin' no resks,—he's about as saift as if he b'longed to a church."

"But suppose he did spell it with a little g,—what then?"

"Well, if he done it a-purpose, I reckon he wouldn't stand no chance,—he oughtn't to have no chance, anyway, I'm most rotten certain 'bout that."

"What is your name?"

"Nicodemus Dodge."

"I think maybe you'll do, Nicodemus. We'll give you a trial, anyway."

"All right."

"When would you like to begin?"

"Now."

So, within ten minutes after we had first glimpsed this nondescript he was one of us, and with his coat off and hard at it.

Beyond that end of our establishment which was furthest from the street, was a deserted garden, pathless, and thickly grown with the bloomy and villainous "jimpson" weed and its common friend the stately sunflower. In the midst of this mournful spot was a decayed and aged little "frame" house with but one room, one window, and no ceiling,—it had been a smoke-house a generation before. Nicodemus was given this lonely and ghostly den as a bed chamber.

The village smarties recognized a treasure in Nicodemus, right away,—a butt to play jokes on. It was easy to see that he was inconceivably green and confiding. George Jones had the glory of perpetrating the first joke on him; he gave him a cigar with a fire-cracker in it and winked to the crowd to come; the thing exploded presently and swept away the bulk of Nicodemus's eyebrows and eyelashes. He simply said,—

"I consider them kind of seeg'yars dangersome,"—and