Page:Southern Life in Southern Literature.djvu/178

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rustic witticisms were liberally bestowed upon him and his late purchase. These Blossom continued to provoke by various remarks. He asked the old man "if he thought Bullet would let five dollars lie on his back." He declared most seriously that he had owned that horse three months and had never discovered before that he had a sore back, "or he never should have thought of trading him," etc.

The old man bore it all with the most philosophic composure. He evinced no astonishment at his late discovery and made no replies. But his son Neddy had not disciplined his feelings quite so well. His eyes opened wider and wider from the first to the last pull of the blanket, and, when the whole sore burst upon his view, astonishment and fright seemed to contend for the mastery of his countenance. As the blanket disappeared, he stuck his hands in his breeches pockets, heaved a deep sigh, and lapsed into a profound revery, from which he was only roused by the cuts at his father. He bore them as long as he could, and when he could contain himself no longer he began, with a certain wildness of expression which gave a peculiar interest to what he uttered: "His back's mighty bad off, but . . . old Kit's both blind and deef. . . . You walk him, and see if he eint. His eyes don't look like it; but he'd jist as leve go agin the house with you, or in a ditch, as anyhow. Now you go try him." The laugh was now turned on Blossom; and many rushed to test the fidelity of the little boy's report. A few experiments established its truth beyond controversy.

"Neddy," said the old man, "you ought n't to try and make people discontented with their things. Stranger, don't mind what the little boy says. If you can only get Kit rid of them little failings, you'll find him all sorts of a horse. You are a leetle the best man at a horse swap that ever I got hold of; but don't fool away Kit. Come, Neddy, my son, let's be moving; the stranger seems to be getting snappish."