Stranger, I'm a separate man, an' I don't inquizite into no man's business; but you ax me straight, an' I tell ye straight: You watch ole Tom!

Now, I'll take ole Tom Perkins' word agin anybody's 'ceptin' when hit comes to a hoss trade ur a piece o' land. Fer in the tricks o' sech, ole Tom 'lows-- well, hit's diff'ent; an' I reckon, stranger, as how hit sorter is. He was a-stayin' at Tom's house, the furriner was, a-dickerin' fer a piece o' lan'--the same piece, mebbe, that you're atter now-- an' Tom keeps him thar fer a week to beat him out'n a dollar, an' then won't let him pay nary a cent fer his boa'd. Now, stranger, that's Tom.

Well, Abe Shivers was a-workin' fer Tom--you've heerd tell o' Abe--an' the furriner wasn't more'n half gone afore Tom seed that Abe was up to some of his devilmint. Abe kin hatch up more devilmint in a minit than Satan hisself kin in a week; so Tom jes got Abe out'n the stable under a hoe-handle, an' tol' him to tell the whole thing straight ur he'd have to go to glory right thar. An' Abe tol'!

'Pears like Abe had foun' a streak o' iron ore on the lan', an' had racked his jinny right down to Hazlan an' tol' the furriner, who was thar a-buyin' wild lands right an' left. Co'se, Abe was goin' to make the furriner whack up fer gittin' the lan' so cheap. Well, brother, the furriner come up to Tom's an' got Tom into one o' them new- fangled trades whut the furriners calls a option--t'other feller kin git out'n hit, but you can't. The furriner 'lowed he'd send his podner up thar next day to put the thing in writin' an' close up the trade. Hit looked like ole Tom was ketched fer shore, an' ef Tom didn't ra'r, I'd tell a man. He jes let that hoe- handle drap on Abe fer 'bout haffen hour, jes to give him time to study, an' next day thar was ole Tom a-settin' on his orchard fence a-lookin' mighty unknowin', when the furriner's podner come a-prancin' up an' axed ef old Tom Perkins lived thar.

Ole Tom jes whispers.

Now, I clean fergot to tell ye, stranger, that Abe Shivers nuver could talk out loud. He tol' so many lies that the Lawd--jes to make things even--sorter fixed Abe, I reckon, so he couldn't lie on more'n one side o' the river at a time. Ole Tom jes knowed t'other furriner had tol' this un 'bout Abe, an,' shore 'nough, the feller says, sorter soft, says he:

``Aw, you air the feller whut foun' the ore?''

Ole Tom--makin' like he was Abe, mind ye--jes whispers: ``Thar hain't none thar.''

Stranger, the feller mos' fell off'n his hoss. ``Whut?'' says he. Ole Tom kep' a-whisperin': ``Thar hain't no coal-- no nothing; ole Tom Perkins made me tell t'other furriner them lies.''

Well, sir, the feller was mad. ``Jes whut I tol' that fool podner of mine,'' he says, an' he pull out a dollar an' gives hit to Tom. Tom jes sticks out his han' with his thum' turned in jes so, an' the furriner says, ``Well, ef you can't talk, you kin make purty damn good signs''; but he forks over four mo' dollars (he 'lowed ole Tom had saved him a pile o' money), an' turns his hoss an' pulls up agin. He was a-gittin' the land so durned cheap that I reckon he jes hated to let hit go, an' he says, says he: ``Well, hain't the groun' rich? Won't hit raise no tabaccy nur corn nur nothin'?''

Ole Tom jes whispers:

``To tell you the p'int-blank truth, stranger, that land's so durned pore that I hain't nuver been able to raise my voice.''

Now, brother, I'm a separate man, an' I don't inquizite into no man's business-- but you ax me straight an' I tell ye straight. Ole Tom Perkins kin trade with furriners, fer he have l'arned their ways. You watch ole Tom!