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   Chapter 10 No.10

Peck's Bad Boy with the Cowboys By George W. Peck Characters: 11893

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:03

The Bad Boy Calls on the Old Groceryman and Gets Acquainted with His New Dog-Off Again to See America.

The old groceryman was sitting in the old grocery one fine spring morning looking over his accounts, as they were written on a quire of brown wrapping paper with a blunt lead pencil, and wondering where he could go to collect money to pay a note that was due at the bank at noon on that day. He was looking ten years older than he did the year before when the Bad Boy had played his last trick on the old man, and gone abroad to chaperone his sick father, in a search for health and adventure. The old man had missed the boy around the grocery, and with no one to keep his blood circulating, and his temperature occasionally soaring above the normal, he had failed in health, and had read with mixed feelings of joy, fear and resentment that the Bad Boy and his dad had arrived home, and he knew it could not be long before the boy would blow in, and he was trying to decide whether to meet the boy cheerfully and with a spirit of resignation, or to meet him with a club, whether to give him the glad hand, or form himself into a column of fours to drive him out when he came.

He had accumulated a terrier dog since the boy went away, to be company for the old singed cat, to hunt rats in the cellar, and to watch the store nights. The dog was barking down cellar, and the old man went down the rickety stairs to see what the trouble was, and while he was down there helping the dog to tree a rat under a sack of potatoes, the Bad Boy slipped into the store, and finding the old man absent, he crawled under the counter, curled up on a cracker box, and began to snore as the old man came up the stairs, followed by the dog, with a rat in his mouth. The old man heard the snore, and wondered if he had been entertaining a tramp unawares, when the dog dropped the rat and rushing behind the counter began to growl, and grabbed the Bad boy by the seat of his trousers and gave him a good shaking, while the boy set up a yell that caused the plaster to fall, and the old man to almost faint with excitement, and he went to the door to call a policeman, when the boy kicked the dog off, and raised up from behind the counter, causing the old cat to raise her back and spit cotton, and as the old man saw the Bad Boy he leaned against the show case and a large smile came over his face, and he said: "Gee whiz, where did you get on?"

"The porter was not in, so I turned in in the first lower berth I came to," said the Bad Boy, as he jumped over the counter and grabbed the old man by the arm and shook his hand until it ached. "Introduce me to your friend, the dog, who seems to have acquired an appetite for pants," and the Bad Boy got behind the old man and kicked at the dog, who was barking as though he had a cat on the fence.

{Illustration: "Dog Does Kinder Act as Though he Had Something on His Mind."}

"Get out, Tiger," said the old man, as he pushed the dog away. "You have got to get used to this young heathen," and he hugged the bright-looking, well-dressed boy as though he was proud of him.

"What are good fat rats selling for now?" asked the boy, as his eye fell on the rat the terrier had brought out of the cellar. "I did not know you had added a meat market to your grocery. Now, in Paris the rat business is a very important industry, but I didn't know the people ate them here. What do you retail them at?"

"O, get out, I don't sell rats," said the old man, indignantly. "I got this dog for company, in your place, and he has proved himself more useful than any boy I ever saw. Say, come and sit down by the stove, and tell me all about your trip, as your letters to me were not very full of information. How is your father's health?"

"Dad is the healthiest man in America," said the boy, as he handed the old man a Turkish cigarette, with a piece of cheese under the tobacco about half an inch from where the old man lighted it with a match. "Dad is all right, except his back. He slept four nights with a cork life preserver strapped to, his back, coming over, and he has got curvature of the spine, but the doctor has strapped a board to dad's back, and says when his back warps back to fit the board he will be sound again."

"Say, this is a genuine Turkish cigarette, isn't it," said the old man, as he puffed away at it, and blew the smoke through his nose.

"I have always wanted to smoke a genuine, imported cigarette. Got a flavor something like a Welsh rabbit, ain't it?" and the old man looked at the cigarette where the frying cheese was soaking through the paper.

"Gee, but I can't go that," and he threw it away and looked sea sick.

"Turks always take cheese in their cigarettes," said the Bad Boy. "They get a smoke and food at the same time. But if you feel sick you can go out in the back yard and I will wait for you."

"No, I will be all right," said the old man, as he got up to wait on a customer. "Here, try a glass of my cider," and he handed the boy a dirty glass half filled with cider which the boy drank, and then looked queer at the old man.

"Tastes like it smells going through the oil belt in Indiana," said the boy. "What's in it?"

"Kerosene," said the old man. "The Turks like kerosene in their cider. They get drink and light, if they touch a match to their breath. Say, that makes us even. Now, tell me, what country did you dad get robbed the most in while you were abroad?"

"Well, it was about a stand off," said the boy, as he made a slip noose on the end of a piece of twine, and was trying to make a hitch over the bob tail of the groceryman's dog, with an idea of fastening a tomato can to the string a little later, and turning the dog loose. "Do you know," said he to the old man, "that I think it is wrong to cut off a dog's tail, cause when you tie a tin can to it you feel as though you were taking advantage of a cripple.

"Well, all t

he countries we visited robbed dad of all the money he had, one way of another, sooner or later; even our own country, when we arrived in New York, took his roll for duty on some little things he smuggled, but I think the combination of robbers at Carlsbad stuck together and got the goods off dad in the most systematic manner. Some way they got news when we arrived, of the exact amount of money dad had got out of the bank, and before we had breakfast the fakers had divided it up among themselves, and each one knew just what was going to be his share, and it was just like getting a check from home for them. If we were going there again we would give the money to some particular faker to divide with the rest, and then take a few swallows of their rotten egg water, and get out.

"Say, did you ever eat a piece of custard pie made out of stale eggs? Well, that is just about the same as the Carlsbad water, only the water is not baked with a raw crust on the bottom. But the doctor dad consulted was the peach. Dad asked him how much of the water he ought to drink, and the doctor held a counsel with himself, and said dad might drink all he could hold, and when dad asked him how much his charges were he said, 'Oh, wait till you are cured.' So dad thought he was not going to charge for his advice, but after we had drank the water for ten days, and dad was so weak he couldn't brush the flies off his bald spot, we decided to go to rest cure, and when we had our tickets bought the doctor attached our baggage, and had a bill against dad for four hundred and sixty dollars for consultations, operations, advice, board and borrowed money, and he had a dozen witnesses to prove every item. Dad paid it, but we are going there once more with a keg of dynamite for that doctor. But dad thinks he got the worth of his money.

"You remember before he went away he thought the doctors who operated on him for that 'pendecitus' left a monkey wrench in him when they sewed him up. Well, after he began to drink that water he found iron rust on the towels when he took a bath, and he believes the monkey wrench was sweat out of him. Say, does your dog like candy?"

"O, yes, he eats a little," said the grocery-man, and the boy tossed a piece of candy such as he gave the King of Spain, with cayenne pepper in it, to the dog, which swallowed it whole, and the old man said, "Now, I suppose your father is cured, you will stay at home for awhile, and settle down to decent citizenship, and take an active part in the affairs of your city and state? Gee, but what is the matter with the dog?" added the old man, as the dog jumped up on all fours, looked cross-eyed, and tried to dig a hole in his stomach with his hind leg.

"O, no, we shall never stay home much more," said the Bad Boy, getting up on a barrel and pulling his feet up to get away from the dog, which was beginning to act queer. "You see, dad got cured all right, of a few diseases that were carrying him off, but he has taken the 'jumps,' a disease that is incurable. When a man has the 'jumps' he can't stay long in one place, but his life after taking the disease is one continual round of packing up and unpacking. His literature is time cards and railroad guides, and his meals are largely taken at railroad eating houses, sitting on a stool, and his sleep is uncertain cat naps. Say, that dog acts as though the mouthful he took out of my pants under the counter didn't agree with him," added the boy, as the dog rolled over and tried to stand on his head.

"Dog does act kinder like he had something on his mind," said the old man, as he got out of the dog's way, so he could do his acrobatic stunt. "Where is your dad going next trip? Seems as though he would want to stay home long enough to change his shirt."

"Don't have to change your shirt when you travel," said the boy, as he slipped an imitation snake into the side pocket of the old groceryman's sack coat. "We are going to see all the world, now that we have started in the traveling industry, but our next move will be chasing ourselves around our own native land. Say, if you have never been vaccinated against mad dog, you better take something right now, for that dog is mad, and in about two minutes he is going to begin to snap at people, and there is no death so terrible as death from a mad dog bite. Gee, but I wouldn't be in your for a million dollars." And the boy stood upon the barrel, and was beginning to yell "mad dog," when the old man asked what he could take to make him immune from the bite of a mad dog.

"Eat a bottle of horseradish," said the boy, as he reached over to the shelves and got a bottle, and pulled the cork. "Eminent scientists agree that horseradish is the only thing that will get the system in shape to withstand and throw off the mad dog virus," and he handed the old man the bottle and he began to eat it, and cry, and choke, and the boy got down from the barrel and let the dog out doors, and he made a bee line for the lake.

"He's a water dog all right," said the boy, and as a servant girl came in to buy some soap, and saw the old man eating raw horseradish and choking and looking apoplectic, she asked what was the matter with the old man, and a boy said a mad dog just escaped from the store, and that the old man had shown signs of madness ever since; the girl gave a yell and rushed out into the world without her soap. "Let this be a lesson to you to be kind to dumb animals," said the boy to the old man, as he finished the bottle of horseradish, and put his hands on his stomach.

"Write to me, won't you?" said the old groceryman, "and may the fiercest grizzly bear get you, and eat you, condemn you," and the old man opened the door and pointed to the street.

"Sure," said the Bad Boy. "I will write you but beware of the dog. Good-bye. You are a good thing. Push yourself along," and the Bad Boy went out to pack up for another journey.

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