Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/38

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Let me tell you a tale that was once told to me;
And although it was told me in prose at the time,
I will give it a metrical dressing, and see
If the story will lose any reason by rhyme.

There came to the store in a village, one day,
A long and lank stranger in homespun arrayed;
And "Good-mornin'," said he in a diffident way,
"I've jes' come up to town for a bit of a trade."

The proprietor nodded, and cheerily spoke,—
"Well, what can I do for you, neighbor, and how?"
"Wal, one of wife's knittin'-needles ez broke,
An' she wants me to git one—how much be they, now?"

"They're two cents apiece."—"Wal, say, mister, look here:
I've got a fresh egg, an' my wife sez to me,
'Swap the egg for the needle;' it seems a bit queer.
But the thing's about even—it's a big un, yer see."

Said the storekeeper presently, "Well, I don't mind."
He laid down the needle, and put the egg by—
When the countryman blurted out, "Ain't yer inclined
To treat a new customer? Fact is, I'm dry."

Though staggered a little, it must be confessed,
By the "customer" coming it rather too free,
Yet, smilingly granting the modest request,
The dealer responded, "Well, what shall it be?"

"Wal, a drop of Madairy I reckon 'ul pass;
I've been used ter thet, see, ever since I was born."
The storekeeper handed a bottle and glass,
And his customer poured out a generous horn.

For a moment he eyed the gratuitous dram
With the air of a man who must something resign;
Then blandly remarked, "Do you know that I am
Very partial to mixing an egg in my wine?"