"That's a good team you've got there. Si," the store clerk ventured.
"Well, rather," and Silas looked with fond admiration at the pair of old pelters he was driving.
"Buy 'em or swap for 'em?" the calico-measurer inquired.
"Traded fer um-traded a gun fer urn."
"A gun? Must have been pretty good gun to bring in a team like that. Si."
"Was It a good gun? Well, rather," Silas assented.
"It was a good gun when I first got it. but it got strained in shootin' once, and I hed to git rid of a it. It was the prettiest silver-mounted, gold-lined 'Old Kentuck' you ever saw. Regular intellectural gun; cud shoot anything with it. Jest tell it what you wanted to hit, p'int it up, and blaze away, and down ud cum your game. Used to shoot wildcats and catemounts in the dark with it. My old woman cud shoot it as good as any one. Whenever she wanted ter kill a chicken for Sunday dinner she'd p'int out d the one she wanted, lay the gun on th' door-step, and then drive the chickens around that side of the house, and the old gun ud pink him every time."
"But I should think you could have made more money by keeping such a ' gun instead of trading it off for horses, Si?" the clerk suggested.
"That's Jest the p'int thet I'm a comin' to; It warn’t such a good gun when I made th' trade. It was like this: I'd been out hauiin' some wood one day, and when I drov' up to the house' long toward sundown my old woman came a-runnin' out to the wagon, and says,
" 'Si, there was a drove of deer went by here 'bout half an hour ago, and they ain't more'n three miles away now.'
"I got off the load of wood and went fer - the rifle. I put in a three-mile charge of powder, and then I stood In th doorway and looked, and shur’nuf there was five deer jest comin’ to the top of a knoll about three miles away. I Jest spoke a couple of words to the old gun, and then I rested her against the door-Jam, and I says to my old woman,
" 'You watch, while I shoot.' "The minit I pulled the trigger the old woman sings out,
"You've got him all right, SI,' and shur"nuf there was the biggest, fattest buck in the lot rollln' over on his side stone-dead. But It sp'iled the gun-- strained It, yer know. The deer was further away than they looked. and In reachin' um the gun strained itself, so that it couldn't ever shoot again. You cud put in as big a charge of powder as yer wanted to, but it couldn't throw a bullet across th' road. It was strained and sp'iled. So I traded it off fer this team-and got a good I thing too."
"It's a good lookin' team all right, SI, but can they pull thet's the real question," some one suggested.
Silas spat contemptuously on the wagon wheel.
"Kin they pull? Well, rather! Why, last week I was down in Cerro Gordy County, haulin' sand, and in one of the coal-mines down there they hed an elevater stuck in th' shaft. The boss miner offered to bet me ten dollars thet my team couldn't pull it up. I took him. I jest hitched th' rope on behind the nags, and took up the lines and spoke ter them, but before they'd pulled fer three minits the mine boss offered me a twenty-dollar bill If I'd stop um. Yes. sir, they was simply ruinin' thet shaft. You see. infernel elevater was everlastln'y wedged and when the old hosses found thet they couldn't budge it by Itself, they jest began haulin' up the shaft and all pullin' the shaft right out of th' ground. Befor' I could get um stopped they had shortened thet shaft twentythree feet by actual measur. The fellers workin' in the fur ends was pulled up toward the top a couple of rods or so." And Silas again expectorated upon the wagon wheel.
Obadiah Sutton, seated on an empty salt-barrel, had been an attentive listener. "I don't call thet any proof of real pullin' ability," he said. "I've got a team that can really pull. I had um in the stun-quarry hauling stun' two weeks ago, and some of the quarry hands fixed a big stun' so thet nothln' could move it. I reckoned I'd try it, and so I hitched a chain onto It and jest teched the horses up a little, and they started to pull. I was watchin' the rock that wouldn't budge, and didn't notice until the team hed pulled for a couple of minits, but when I looked round there they was, pullin' stiddy as clockwork, sunk up to their ankles in solid stun.' and sinkin' deeper and deeper every mlnit. Thet was real pullin'."
Silas picked up the lines and slapped the horses on the back. "I think it's time for me ter be movin'," he said, glaring at Obadiah. "When it comes ter a pass where lies is bein' told I don't care to remain. Git ap."
by Edward Huntington Williams