A pre-Crackerbarrel Story

Originally written by me and some friends 2002-04 for the Virtual Fly Shop, Flyfisherman Magazine Online. The Cracker Barrel has been published in book form with the limited first edition hard cover sold out and a paperback version will be available early 2011.

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A pre-Crackerbarrel Story


Post by fishnbanjo »

Here is a story that was posted on the Virtual Fly Shop, VFS as it was known, which lead to the Crackerbarrel Series being born.
When originally written it was done over a period of weeks but now it will appear in its completed form.

    The narrative you
are about to read is one that is a conglomerated effort of sorts, that is to
say the main characters, Thomas Jefferson Coongate, his adversary Warden Tom
Corn and his best friend Zach Bourne and his wife Sarah are characters brought
to light many years ago by Edmund Ware Smith. 
Mr Smith was on of the finest and most polished authors of his era, in
my opinion, and published mainly through Mr Eugene Connetts Derrydale Press.  The other characters in the narrative that
may seem familiar to you are Danny McGinnis and his boys from the Upper
Peninsular of Michigan and they were the brainchild and main characters in many
books by John Voelker who wrote under the pen name of Robert Traver.  In no way was the use of the characters brought
to life by these authors various writings meant to impugn them.   It is more of my way of paying homage to
them and their characters and allowed me to develop my own as well.  I have always wished both of these authors
had lived longer or at least written more of their inspiring narratives but
thankful that I’ve been graced with an imagination that allow their antics to
continue in my mind.  It is with this in
mind that I decided to pen this narrative and develop my own sense and
direction for them. 


The situations are new, as are some of the characters that
are friends of mine and myself as well. 
I won’t bore you with who they are as they will certainly identify
themselves.  I’d also like to take this
opportunity to thank my college English Professor, Ms. Dana Anderson, who once
told me that if I wasn’t writing for a living then I was wasting both her and
my time. I’m still not writing for a living Dana but this one is for you.


     I hope you’ll
find this to be as much fun reading as it was for me to have written and if you
wonder why it goes from first person to third person narrative, it is because
it comes from one of my favorite shows on television from when I was growing up
and that was the “I remember Mama Show”. 
I think I’ll relax a bit and enjoy a much-deserved pipe while you enjoy
the story. Cheers…………………………..

My name is Zach Bourne, I live just north of Mopang with my
wife Sarah my good milk cow Annie and my prize pig Mona Lisa.  Our house isn’t much but its home to us and
my best friend Jeff, one Thomas Jefferson Coongate, on the occasion when we
might be plottin a night of deer or moose huntin, or having debates with
Hernandos Fiery Dagger; or doing some testin of some 20 year old stuff Jeff
coaxed from his still and when Jeff becomes a house guest of me and Sarah.
Sometimes this causes a hardship atween me and the missus but it’s always worth
makin it up to her.  This story takes
place in 1947 that was the year of the great fires and is known as The Year Maine


    It had been awhile
since either Jeff or I had seen each other and that was fine with Sarah but
shore put me in the doldrums if it goes too long.  Its almost like Jeff gets the same feelins
and one of us will make the journey to visit. Since the last time was in May
and I had visited Jeff I knew it would be anytime now afore I’d see that one
eyed poacher.  Sarah told me that the
preacher would be stoppin in this month as he’s aught to do keepin in touch
with the fold an makin sure Sarah is up on her religion, me, I got no thoughts
any which way and usually makes my contribution in the form of a deer hump from
a yearling deer me and Jeff would surprise on one of our nighttime outings. Now
I really wanted his company cause the preachers visits often last 2 or 3 days
since Sarah is a real good cook and she commences to make some real good stuff
with the preacher comin.  Sarah told me
I’d need to make a trip to Privilege for supplies and I told her I’d go today
so I brung out my list that I keeps in the seegar box under the bible.  The list don’t change much as our needs are
alus the same. 1 lb. of beans,1 lb. of tea, pack of tobacca, box of matches,
presint for Sarah, piece of salt pork, lamp wicks and oil, sack of
flour........ yep doesn’t change much. “Need anything added to the list Sarah?”
“ Might want to check on the radio Zach since you know the preacher likes to
lissen when we’s done talkin religion and afore he goes to bed.”  Battery for radio..........  “Oh Zach I almost forgot I’m making an apple
pie since theys startin to fall and I’ll need some fresh butter and some nice
cheese to serve with it.”  Charge of
butter and cheese, “Sarah you get any more on this list and I’ll have to bring
Annie along fer credit and then I have hell to pay gettin it back.”  “You watch yore mouth Zach Bourne and leave
those words to the preacher or your bound to visit that place yore so fond of
speakin on.”  “Sorry Sarah it’s that I
been gettin ornery since I ain’t seed Jeff for awhile and we don’t got anything
in the root celler for the preachers stay and I need to restock it with some
prime deer beef and could use ol Jeff fer company is all.”  “You stay away from the likes of that ol
poacher Zach Bourne he’s the kin of the devil he is and he’ll get you in trouble
with the warden and land you in jail and we need to get that roof patched
before winter sets in.”  “Yes Sarah”, I
think I’ll be gettin along to Privilege now. 


    Zach steps out to
Privilege, ........ meanwhile, back in Mopang, we find Uncle Jeff, aka the one
eyed poacher, one Thomas Jefferson Coongate asleep under the lone scrawny apple
tree overlookin his favorite deer field. 
Jeff had spent the night with 2 friends, the 38-55, ol Ollie, in his lap
built by the Oliver Winchester Company and a bottle of Hernandos that kept the
conversation alive while Jeff was lookin for a fat doe. BONK[/i][/b]! “Huh?”  bonk…
bonk[/i] ........ “What the?” bonk[/i]
......   “Lord Amighty, a growd man caint
even get a good nights sleep around here!” ….bonk[/i]. “ Seems a little early fer you to be given up yer fruits
there scrawny”  must be all this heat
we’s been havin.  Hmmmmmmmmm, that means
ol Zachs good trees will be doin the same thing and Sarah will be makin one of
her fancy pies and mebee Zachs got him a fat doe in the root celler next to
last years turnips and taters and some carrots and  ................ Jeffs stomach commences to
churn and he gets a little staggered thinking about his hunger, or it could be
one last argument from Hernandos.  I
think I needs to pay me a visit to my ol pal Zach Bourne I do, yep yep.  “Well there Ollie, lookin to take a trip and
visit with ol Zach?”  The one eyed
poacher returns to his cabin to find Hernandos has left Mopang and his stock of
corn sqeezins dry so he commences to look for the last living remains of a
batch of Polished Jack he crafted during the days of Prohibition and the likes
of Al Capone and company. Yessuh, been a long time comin to the day I done
broke you out ol fren thinks Jeff, Zach an me is gonna have us a civilized
discussion we are, yep yep.  Say that
gives me an idea, since I caint be firing up the ol still with the fires still
brewin and the smoker not bein used cause there aints nothin to put in it and
the fires are still brewin.  Yep yep, I
needs to git on over to Zachs pronto. So with the lonely bottle of Polished
Jack comfortably and gently resting in his back sack and the trusty 38-55, ol
Ollie, on the missing eye side Jeff hits the forest trail that connects him to
Zach and Sarah Bournes cottage where he’ll rest his bones for a few days and
have nightly forays with Zach and introduce him to the educated conversation of
Polished Jack and feast a plenty with good friends.





   Once on the trail
Jeffs nostrils are filled with the smell that has kept him in Mopang all these
years and except for the scourge that stole his eye has traveled from very
little since. The noises of the forest keep his mind occupied while the sound
of his deerskin moccasined footfalls play a concerto with mother natures
orchestra, I can seed ol Zach now as I make the last hunert or so yards along
the path to his an Sarah’s place he’ll be all mush mouthed and excitable like,
yep yep, shore is good to see ol frens. 
Heck I might even find it in my heart to stay a week or two and help out
since I’m sure somethin needs fixin and Zach was of the same school as me when
it comes to workin.  “Good God Amighty”
cries Jeff aloud. I caints be stayin no week, the Mopang Fair is in 5 days and
that means I ain’t had time to practice with Big Bertha. I best be stoppin and
payin a visit to the LeBeaus and pick ‘er up, shore hope he’s done completed
the surgery.   As he passes the wooded
reaches on the edge of Great Mopang Lake Jeff spies a flapping piece of cloth
and what looks to be a birch bark canoe so he swings over to have a better
look. “ My oh my” says Jeff lookie there ain’t you purty and he lifts the
canvas covering that he spied flapping. 
“Looks like you is in fine fettle there lady, yep yep” and all gussied
up in birch skin too with deer tallow trappins and all.  “I think I could use this here tarp and a few
of those stitches if’n you’d be so kind, why thank you my dear much
obliged.”  Jeff removes his skinning
knife he won back in the 30’s in a poker game against his one time boss, Angus
Cameron, who was responsible for the major clearcuts and logging operations in
the area.  Jeffs cabin is the remnant of
what was the head loggers hut during the last phase of cuttings nearly 10 years
ago and Jeff being the head logger decided to stay and watch over ol Angus’
vestmint as he’d put it.  Tucking the
tarp next to the Polished Jack in his back sack Jeff performs the easy surgery
of removing the main ribs sutures like he was parting the fresh loins from a
fresh killed she moose with Tom Corn hot on the trail. Yep yep, you’ll come in
might handy fer somethin thinks Jeff.  He
pats the canoe and heads back on the trail for the LeBeaus and his reunion with
Big Bertha.  As he rounds the trail that
opens into the field that holds the shack the LeBeaus, all 11 of them, call
home as Ferds father Louis had before him and his father Aarvard before that
and hopefully one of the LeBeaus will in the future. Jeff stops for a moment
and notices a lone small figure scratching in the fence as he makes his way to
the gate. “Hello Arlo” says Jeff, the 6 year old tow headed Arlo looks up from
his knife diggings on the fence and with his tongue slipped into the hole left
there by a missing front tooth Arlo says, “Hello Mr. Coooooooooon gate.” “ You
can call me Uncle Jeff Arlo if you’d like” says Jeff. “Thanks Mr. Coooooooooon
gate, I mean, Uncle Jeff.”  “ What brings
you here Mr. Cooo, I mean, Uncle Jeff, didya bring us some salmon?”  “Not today I didn’t Arlo but soon there might
be some moose hump or some deer roasts.” Arlo looks up at Jeff with his gray
eyes sparkling and drool coming out of the side of his mouth.  “I just loves when me mam makes a platter of
deer steaks and taters and carrots and biscuits and red eye gravy and and and
“.......”Uhhhhhh Arlo, yore pap home?” asks Jeff, pushing back the gnawins in
his own stomach. “Yessir Uncle Jeff, didn’t knowd you to have a hoss or wagon
that might need fixin, what you need from ma pap?”  “He’s got a fren of mine he’s been doin
surgery on goes by the name of Big Bertha.”  
“The only thing pap’s been worryin over these days is a big ol
double-faced axe that must belongs to Paul Bunyan.”  “Yep yep, that would be Big Bertha and she’s
all mine Arlo.”  “ Wow that there’s some
axe Mr. Coooo, uhhhhhhhhh I mean, Uncle Jeff where’d you get it? “ “I got it
from Angus Cameron, the logging baron, who pretty much owned all of Mopang once
he did.”  “ Wow, when was that Uncle
Jeff?” “ Not too long after the war son and I had been home and lookin to fish
some....... say I ever tell you about the cannibal bass of Moonshine
Pond?”  “No, tell me.”


Twas sittin under a Willow on the
edges of Mopang on Moonshine Pond. I was a young lad I was, Thomas Jefferson
Coongate, fresh home from the war, it was 1899, Spanish American War had ended. Tough time was had but managed to
make it back cept for one eye, yep yep, and I'd do it again ceptn I only gots this one eye.   So I was sittin there discussin life with a
bottle of Hernandos, when a sudden,the oak tree by the edge of  the pond drops an acorn. Down it comes and
does the old bippity bop wardance around the edges  atween the roots and the rocks and plain as
day it alights on the edge of a root    above the waters edge. A few
minutes goes by and I was commencin to have a little word with Hernandos when I hears the
footfalls of one of Mother Natures creatures and I see a chipmunk scurryin hither and yon lookin for some
grub. He sees me and steps up like a gopher lookin for signs of danger and figgerin I ain't nothin to be
nervous about commences to sniff out the roots and by and by spies the acorn. Slow and easy
like it makes it way to the root edge and trys to grab that acorn.

I play a short salute to Teddy
and the Rough Riders and Hernandos answers back Fire! The chipmunk is  havin a little difficulty with the acorn and
it begins to roll toward the water so it decides to get around it real quick to keep it
from ploppin in. In the blink of an eye there was this tremendous splash and this big Buck Bass rises
outta the water and the chipmunk is nothin but a memory. I couldn't believe my eye and I plays a
salute to the chipmunk for bein brave to the end. As I get up to make sure taps is recognized real
proper I spies the cannibal bass that introduced the chipmunk to Davy Jones' Locker and he's holdin onto to
somethin in its mouth so I wipes the sweat outta my eye to gets a better look see.  I couldn't believe what I seed but as sure as
the side hill gouger takes the straight path that old Buck Bass was placin that
acorn on the top of the root and that’s the truth, shore as a side hill gouger
takes the straight path and I’m standin here anext to you, yep, yep.


“Uncle Jeff I never heared or
seed of no Moonshine Pond or a Willer in Mopang ceptn maybe in the princi-pills
office, Mr. Booooooooo Chard, that he uses when we’ve been what he calls
improper.”  “Arlo it’s like this there
aints no more Willow nor a Moonshine Pond since Angus Cameron and his logger
boys came down from Bangor shortly after that time I tole you about and
commenced to log all over Mopang.” “The next spring a family of beavers moved
in and afore anyone knew what was happenin they flooded out what used to be
Moonshine Pond and is now Great Mopang Lake and the Willow and the chipmunk is
playing cards with good ol Davy Jones hisself.” 
“Now where you say your pap was?” “He’s in the smitty Uncle Jeff”.
“Thanks Arlo, I’ll be seein you, now go back to your other scratchin there OK?”
“Bye now Mr. Coooooo, errrrrrrr, Uncle Jeff”. “Bye Arlo”.  “Errrr Uncle Jeff”. “Yes Arlo what is it?”
“What’s a side hill gouger?” “ Ain’t your pap tole you about the gouger?”  “No sir Uncle Jeff he ain’t.” “ OK Arlo jest
this one last thing and I gots to git.” 
In the deep woods of Maine it is a well-known fack there lives a
creature called the side hill gouger. This creature has the legs of a sloth,
the body of a razor back, the tail of the domestic pig, hair like a camel and
head like a unicorn only its horn is stubby and wide. They alus walk with a
peculiar gait since being either left side or right side dominant allows which
set of legs are longer or shorter than the other.  These creatures are rather shy and spend a
lot of time on the hills roamin in a straight line, funny how nature would make
it difficult for a creature to do things unnaturally but look at the Loon.  Anyhow, the gouger has to walk in a straight
line in order to keep itself alighted and capturin one is simple, it’s done by
rushin it from behind bushes in its path and when it turns to go in the
direction from which it came it tumbles awkwardly on its side and down the
hill. When a gouger comes face to face with an obstacle in its path it simply
gouges its way through it, hence its name.


Jeff give Arlos head a tussle and heads for the smitty where
he spies Ferd looking at a hot horseshoe. Ferd is a small man about 5’5” with
maybe a 50” chest and arms like a bear, kind of reminds you of a barrel with
legs and arms.  “Hi Ferd”. “Oh, hello
Uncle Jeff let me finish this off and I’ll be right with you”. Jeff watched as
Ferd put the finishing touches on the shoe by peening over the tips. “ There
then, when it’s on the hoss we’ll file ‘er to fit” he says and
swoooooooooooooossh as it hits the water quench. Ferd extends his hand to the
one eyed poacher and says” how are you ol timer, looking fer Bertha?” “ That I
am” says Jeff “need to get reacquainted fore the Mopang Fair in 4 days I
do”.  “Well she’s all fixed up as good as
new and none the worse fore wear”, “I had to melt her down and reforge the head
but I took some of the pieces of whatever done et her up and added it in fer
strength”.  “Yep yep, that oughta make
her zing” said Jeff and show that Stubby Stimple a few new tricks too. “ She’s
a good ol girl she is and had her purty near 50 years now and had the head
replaced twice and the handle 3 times, 
other than that she’s 100 % original she is”. “ How much I owes you?”
said Jeff. “Your money is no good here ol timer not after the way you keep our
family in food, I’d be offended awful”. 
“Well gosh Ferd a man’s only got so many neighbors and yore a good’n”.
“As are you neighbor, now use her in good shape and beat Stumpy a good’n”.  “Well I best be hittin the road as I’m burnin
daylight and would like to get to Zachs place fore nightfall, thanks Ferd and
give that woman of yorn, Angilique,  a
hug for an ol feller”. “So long ol timer and say hi to Zach and Sarah for
me”.  “I will” says Jeff as he tucks
Bertha between the folds of the tarp in his back sack.





The last 5 miles to Zachs were pretty uneventful as Jeff
mulled over the things he’s needing to do over the next couple of days
reminiscing with Zach and educating him in the ways of Polished Jack and
getting reacquainted with Big Bertha so’s he could take the woodsman
championship for the first time in the over the hill club age group since he had
hit 70 on April 1st this year. 
Yep yep been real good winnin the event of the past but no man has won
it in his 70’s and I’m aimin to and hangin on to it too. With me down to the
sqeezins from the days of Al Capone ol Jeff has a hankerin of whisperin sweet
nothins in the Tattoo Ladies Bonnet ‘ceptn he’ll need a dose of advise from ol
Hernandos afore he does and in order to do that, Ol Jeff will have to be the
Champion Woodchopper.  With a glint in
his eye and a spring in his step Jeff is off to see his dear friend and comrade
of the woods, Zach Bourne.


“Say hello to yer misses fer me Zach and tell her Charlie
Dunton is still lookin for them lady things fer her and don’t fret none”.
“Thanks Charlie I know that will keep her hands and her apron busy until next
time I heads to town.”  “You goin to the
Fair?”, “ ah yes, yes I will “says Zach. “Gory you wouldn’t be entering that 4
year prize winnin sow of yours, errrrrrrr Moner, errrrrrrr Moner, errrrrrrr
Moner Liser would ya?”  “I am and I will
do exzactly that I will”.  “When are you
gonna ham smoke that pig critter and give the rest of us a chance?”  “She wins this year Charlie and I’ll retire
her real proper like as the likes of the B&M Bean Co down in Portland has
raised the ante fer her hide each year she won and the rules say you can’t
enter ‘em past 5 times so no matter what it’s over for Mona Lisa, ‘ceptn I
caint do the deed her being kin an all”.

“ Well then, I wish you the best and best to the misses”.”
Goodbye Charlie”.  Zach closes the door
of Charlies Place and steps out onto the streets of Privilege, takes a deep
breath and coughs, whew, gots to get back in the woods. Wasting no time Zach
heads back to Mopang with the stuff on the list 1 lb. of beans, 1 Lb. Of tea,
pack of tobacca, box of matches, presint for Sarah, piece of salt pork, lamp
wicks and oil, sack of flour, charge of butter and a nice cheese and a battery
for the radio.....yessir, it’s all here and we’s headin home.


Zach was thinking of his ol friend and comrade of the woods
ol Thomas Jefferson Coongate, affectionately know as Uncle Jeff to neighbors
and friends and the one eyed poacher to the likes of Tom Corn the warden,
revenoor and appointed pain from the Gov’mint. 
I don’t know why ol Jeff stopped me the time Tom Corn had us dead to
rights with Jeff plumb up to his great beyond in ol Missy Moose and Tom Corn
shoves his thuthy thuthy in Jeffs back and says “hold it right there and back
out real slow”. “Hws a mn pson d th the 
wrdn”........ “What are you saying there”  Jeff pops his head out and says “how’s a man
supposed ta do both there warden”? 
Hmmmmmmmmmmmph, thinks Tom Corn, “shoulda knowd it were you, you ol
poacher, I thought I had one of the Gainter Boys”.  “Well you don’t”. “ Hey Zach look who’s here,
it’s Tom Corn”. I couldn’t believe my ears, I had a shovel dead to rights on
Toms hard head a rarin to knock some sense into it and Jeff yells out “Hey
Zach”. I ast him later, “Jeff, you ol coot, what the heck made you holler my
name like that fer?”  Jeff said “you
knowd your Sarahs sister Evaline gets a powerful sickness every year or so and
she’d run off’n leave you there all to yoreself and me pining away in the cell
at Mopang eatin the fares of the Gov’mint and sleepin in warm clothes and
blankets an all that”. “ I hardly could stand the thought”. Yessah Jeff
Coongate, you is one fine neighbor you is. 
Man I wish ol Jeff would come on by so we could have good set down afore
the fair but with the preacher comin Sarah won’t be havin any of that nonsense.
Hmmmmmmmmmph, wimmin!


The Lord is thy salvation, thou shall not wont, speaketh to
the bosom of the Lord and ye shall be heard, Amen.  “The Rev. Arbuckle Smoot of the Divinity
Church at your service sister Bourne”, “and you are welcome to our humble home
reverend, please do come in”. “ I hope your trip was pleasant and uneventful
reverend, “says Sarah. “Yes sister Bourne it was beautiful, I love the Maine
woods this time of year when the smells of nature are at their finest, I was
hoping to smell one of your naturally fine apple pies cooling dear lady but the
smell did not reach me”. “ Oh I plan on making an apple pie or two reverend
it’s just that Zach hasn’t returned from Privilege yet where he’s gone for the
fixings is all”. “Ah splendid, splendid I will thank the Lord for your contribution
and hospitality”.  “May I take your
carpet bag errrr night bag reverend and show you your room?” “ Yes sister,
thank you, I’d like to tidy up and catch a few minutes sleep errr moments with
our Lord”, “this way then, my it sure is heavy”, “ah yes our good neighbors
have been offering tidings to the Lord bless them and their generosity”.  “Here’s your bed reverend, the night jar and
water jug are under it and you may find a fresh kerosene lamp and matches on
the night stand and if you’ll excuse me I have chores”.  “Thank you sister Bourne, thank you”.


 Sarah returns to her
kitchen with her hands roiling in her apron, a tendency she has when she’s
nervous and is not only applied to her apron as she is as effective with it in
her night clothes or bed coverings as well. “Oh my my my”, quips Sarah, hands
roiling and twirling like 2 cats in a bag having a fight, oh my, I hope Zach
comes home soon.  I suppose I aught to
start the makins of a red flannel turnip hash and get the eggs Mrs. LeBeau
traded for the apples yestirday then I can bake some nice biscuits when Zach
gets home with the flour and butter, I do wish he’d hurry home.


Dark is beginning to settle on Mopang as Sarah keeps a
faithful watch at the cottage window. 
Meanwhile Jeff Coongate is making his final approach toward the Bournes
cottage, as is Zach from the north and back at the canoe we find Tom Corn.  I thought I left you covered over with a tarp
so the mice and squirrels would leave your trappins alone, must be getting old
I am, thinks Tom as he flips the peeled birch over on her belly, “none the
worse for wear”, he says as he lifts the canoe to the waters edge. With a quick
step in and off it glides silently into the Great Mopang Lake where Tom will
begin his night time vigil for poachers against the critters of the Great State
of Maine and all in one motion removes his back sack and the canoe oar from its
confines. Yeesir lookit that sky, it’s gonna be a grand night, grand
indeed.  Tom paddles off into the night
and his watch.


As he rounds the bend coming to the last hundred yards to
the Bournes Jeff spies a figure coming toward the cabin from the north looking
like they were carrying a deer on their shoulder. God Amighty thinks Jeff
aloud, thet there looks like Zach carryin a deer it does. “Hey there, hey Zach
you ol coot, need a hand with thet deer?” 
“ Deer? Where?  “Say who’s that
callin and callin me an ol coot?”  “Its
yer ol fren Jeff, Jeff Coongate, and you is an ol coot, yep yep”.  Jeff? 
Jeff! “Gory, it is you, well shake these ol bones to Hell and back and
back agin, how ye be?”   The two friends
stand there looking like long lost sweethearts seeing each other for the first
time all over again and then they reach a hand out to each other and pronounce
their mutual affection, “good to sees ya ol fren” say each in unison.  “ Come on in the house Jeff and we’ll see
what Sarah has made fer suppah” says Zach. 
“Sarah, oh Sarah, lookie whos done showed his face, its my good fren,
Jeff Coongate”.  Upon hearing Zachs voice
Sarahs heart skips a beat and her immediate joy dashed as her hands return to
the roiling position in her apron as the words Jeff Coongate hit her
brain.  “Glad your back Zach.”  “Reverend Smoot is here, in the guest room,
he was very tired when he arrived from carryin that carpet bag of tiding that
would of fell Annie, I don’t see how a man could carry all that, and is now
speakin to the Lord and I got a charge of red flannel turnip hash a cookin on
the stove and I need the flour and butter to make some biscuits and it’s nice
to see you Mr Coongate and and and “……. “Ease up Sarah, and quit yore gol dang
fidgetin would ya”.  “Here’s yer butter
and flour and I was gonna give Jeff the guestroom but I’ll have to think of
something”.  “There’s the birthing room
in the root celler”, said Sarah, “ yeah we’ll see”.  “Have a seat Jeff, sorry don’t have any
Hernandos to offer you but Sarah could bile up some good tea, wouldn’t ya
Sarah”?  “Oh yes, yes and I’ll bet the
reverend would like that too, excuse me now while I do that and tend to supper
and the biscuits”.  Jeff sits in the easy
chair next to the cigar box that holds the list, and of course, the bible. He
picks up the bible and begins readin. 


Sarah is busy making biscuits and boiling water for tea the
whole time humming Abide with me two octaves removed from the other side of
heaven.  Sarah pops the biscuits in the
cook stove and silences the noisy kettle and drops a charge of tea into the
water to steep.  The noise of the kettle
was enough to cause a stir in the good reverends nap, errr, conversation with
the Lord and the smell of baking biscuits arouse his brain and he awakens with
renewed vigor and a prayer on his lips; Thank thee Lord for the food we are
about to receive, Amen!  He swings off
the guest bed and washes his face in the pitcher and straightens his garments
before heading into the room.


“Brother Bourne”, states the smiling reverend as he enters
the room, “and I’m sorry sir, I do not know you”.  “This here is Jeff, Thomas Jefferson
Coongate, but his frends calls him Jeff or Uncle Jeff”.  “This here is the reverend Smooth”.  “That’s Smoot, brother Bourne, no h”.   Zach looks at the reverend with disapproving
eyes and says, “I knows your type reverend, and theys all pretty smooth talkin
and willin to takin advantage of all yer neighbors by eatin ‘em outta house and
home and relieving them of their hard earned tidings and slinkin back to yore
church house to count up all your money”. 
“Brother Bourne, I am shocked, shocked sir, all of my, err, the churches
money stays in the church”.


 “Oh it stays in the
church all right, yessah”. “When you goes in the back room and takes that there
carpet bag of yorn and opens it up and throws the tidings in the air” and
says,  “Take it thee Lord what ye needs,
and what returns to earth I thanks ye fer yore contribution”.


“Ease up on the preacher Zach, what’s done come over
you”?  “Like Zach said preacher, Jeff
Coongate at yore service”. “Pleased to meet you brother Coongate or would you
prefer brother Jeff”?  “Whichever you wants
preacher, jest don’t call me late fer suppah”. 
“Supper’s ready gentlemen please come and eat”.  The collection of Bournes, Smoot and Coongate
make a rush to the kitchen table would have made for quite a finish at the
Mopang Race Days at the Fair.  “Bless
this food that we are about to receive dear Lord and thank you for the
generosity of brother and sister Bourne, Amen”. 
Amen…….. now pass them biscuits.


 Tom Corn hadn’t got a
hundred yards from the shoreline when the canoe opened like the dam on the Allagash
River does at ice out. “What the”, cries out Tom, as he plunges into the 40
degree lake.  Damn them mice and squirrel
critters, damn them all to hell, he thinks, as he swims for shore.  Once ashore he realizes he’s lost all his
trappings when the canoe pitched him out and he’s quickly freezing to death so
he figures that he has only one recourse, to seek solace, but where? There’s ol
Jeff Coongate, the one eyed poacher, true enough, he’d help out any man, even a
revenuer, but he’s unlikely to be home and more than likely out poaching or
drinking with his comrade Zach Bourne. 
That’s it, thinks Tom, I’ll head for the Bournes, as Mrs. Bourne is a
sweet religious woman and would welcome me without a queer eye. Freezing and
shivering Tom makes his way up the trail to the Bournes.


All during supper Jeff is absorbed in his reading of the
bible that hasn’t left his side since he picked it up.

“You seem involved in the Lords words brother Coongate” says
reverend Smoot.  “Yessuh that I is and it
seems these words is pretty akin to us today”. 
“What exactly do you mean by that, brother Coongate?”  “Well, it’s a knowd fack that the folks of
these here times was friendly”.  “In what
way?”  “ Well, like this one was known to
that one and the other one knew this one and seems everyone was bent on knowin
each other and bein right neighborly”. 
Ahem, “well that is a bit off but”, 
“and then there’s all these good folks that were frens to the Lor, like
Peter, Paul and Mary”.  “I see”, “ and
they had a lot of things would be handy to a fella, if he was to have them
today”.  “I don’t understand where you’re
getting to”.  “Well the burnin bush, that
would come in mighty handy if’n you was say 
be out in the woods and there were no shelter and you needed to spend
the night you could just command this bush to burnin and be warm and toasty
like and when it come time to leave you could shut er off like a kerosene
lamp”.  “Brother Coongate, some things
are mysteries of our Lord and”,  “that’s
what I was sayin preacher and I was thinkin that me and this Jeezuz was a lot
alike”.  “I don’t understand how you
could compare yourself to the lamb of God broth…..” “ Lemme finish, this Jeezuz
he was a carpenter right?” “Yes”  “Well I
am a woodsman, and he could make somethin outta nuthin”.  “How’s that?” 
“ Well take for instance his turnin plain ol water into wine that’s not
much different than me turnin apples into jack” 
“But bro…..”  “Hang on, and then
there’s the fack he loved to fish.”  “Why
says you that?”  “Well he was always passin
out fishes and bread and such and I been knowd to feed the good folks of Mopang
with my catches of fish.” “ I see but” 
“Well he was doin the neighborly thing and keepin up with the words of
the good book”.  “What words do you mean
when you say that brother Coongate?” “ Why treats thy neighbor as if’n theys
was you.” “ Well that’s true enough, but I think” “and then he musta got pretty
hot on that wine every once in awhile thinkin he could walk on water as
sometimes ol Hernandos makes me feel the same way.”  “Then take the fires we’s havin right here in
Gods country, the gran ol state of Maine, reminds me of the warnin of the end
of the hull whorl it does, yep yep.”  “
Excuse me while I goes for a breath of fresh air and cleans out Annie and Mona
Lisas crib”, says Zach “as it’s getting kinda steep in here.”  Jeffs one eye gives Zach a sharp rebuke and
Sarah says, “Zach you hold your tongue and respect the reverend here and thank
your stars Mr. Coongate is a follower of the Lord.” Zach leaves and closes the
door behind him to tend to Annie and Mona Lisa shaking his head all the way to
the out building with the roof that needs fixing.  “As I was sayin afore ol Zach butted in, the
end of the hull whorl as we knows it is at our heels, as the hull whorl is
outta control like a train runnin full steam ahead on a track that leads to
nowhere, and without a engineer at the helm to steer us through and when the
times comes mysterious happenins will be seen as creatures what walks will fly
and ol Bee el za bub, the Devil hisself, will appear to drive that midnight
special of a train wreck right into the bowels of the earth and the fires of
Hell will rises to their heights and gets swallowed up agin, yep yep.”  “My dear misguided Mr. Coongate, that has to
be the most outrageous interpretation of the Lords words that I have ever heard
and could only happen when pigs can fly”.

“ I must say you certainly are a very odd fellow.”  “Lissen here, there preacher, I may not
belongs to the likes of yore church and I am a Vetrin but I ain’ts never
belonged to them Odd Fellers and mebbe the words I speak ain’t how’s theys writ
but it is how’s I seed them.” 



Tom Corn makes it to the last hundred yards to the Bournes
cottage and notices lamplight coming from the cottage and the out building.  Ggggggoooooddd ttttttheeeyysss uuuuuuppp,
Iiiiii’mmmmmmm ssssoooooo ccccccoollllldddddd. 
Tom continues toward the cottage shivering and with fever as he
struggles to his salvation. 


“No wonder this Govmint decided to separate the churches from
the states way back when as you both gots your head way up……, “Oh Mr. Coongate,
wouldn’t you like to see if Zach needs help with Annie and Mona Lisa?”,  says Sarah, with her hands roiling in her
apron like they have never done.  “Please
see if Zach needs help.”  “Glad to
oblige, seein as the air in here is shiftin to the south”.  With that Jeff places the bible back on the
stand and walks out the door with a slam and Sarah looks at the reverend Smoot
and says, “please reverend, pay them no mind.” “Would you like to listen to the
radio or perhaps have a cup of tea?” 
“Yes, thank you sister Bourne, yes, I’d like that.”


“Who’s a good girl then?” Zach says to Annie as he scratches
her head. “Mooooooo” says Annie. “How’s my little Princess, is she all ready for
the Fair?” “ Squeak…squeak…squeak”, grunts Mona Lisa.  “Goodnight ladies, I gots to git back and see
if I needs to do the same cleanin inside as I done here.”  Zach secures the door to the out building and
turns to head back and as the kerosene lamp swings round he catches the glimpse
of a lone figure sittin on a stump and puffin on a pipe.  “Who’s that there?” calls Zach  “It’s me, you ol coot, it’s Jeff.”  “Jeff Coongate, what in the heck has gotten
into you, seems I don’t know you no more.” “ What you flappin about Zach?” “ I
mean all that there bible thumpin’ and carryin on you were doin with ol Smoothy
there it was horrible and torrible it were.” “ Don’t go getting all excitable
Zach I was jest tryin to make sure Sarah weren’t gonna keeps us apart and such,
all I was tryin to do was be neighborly fer her sake.”  “Well Jeff you sceared me you did, and I
thought I done lost ya to the reverend and religion.”  “Well Zach, we all has our religion, but it’s
not always as its writ in the book.” 
“Amen brother Coongate, amen.” “Amen to you too, brother Zach, and
please do call me brother Jeff.”  “Happy
to oblige you there, brother Jeff, most happy, and I wisht we had us a taste of
ol Hernandos to seal our faith.” “Well brother Zach, Hernandos has done left
Mopang, but brother Jeff has found him a long lost cousin in brother Polished
Jack, a fine ol educator and religious experience it is too.” “ Well amen to
and praise brother Jack.” “ When were you plannin on introducin ol brother Zach
to this educator and philosopher of religion brother Jeff?” “ Soon as the
preacher and sister Bourne has called it a night brother, soon as that I say,
yep yep.”   Grrroan[/i]…..THUMP[/b]!!  “What or who is that?” yells Zach as Jeff
swings to train ol Ollie on their interruption. “Who is that?”  “Speak up or you’ll meet yore maker.”  “ Shine the lamp over that way Zach, I think
it’s a drunk.”  Zach shines the lamp over
by the cabin door and sees a man laying at the steps, soaking and shaking.  “Who are you, speak up now.”   Slowly Jeff and Ollie and Zach work their
way over to the intruder.  “Hey” yells
Zach as he gives the mans leg a shove with his foot, “hey, get up and tells us
who you is.”  “I think he’s passed out
Zach or dead.”  “Help me roll him over so
we can get a look at him”, says Zach.  Groan[/i]. 
“Good God Amighty, it’s the revenoor, it’s Tom Corn.”   “He looks near drowned and sick Zach, help
me get him inside.”  “I won’t be having
no revenoor in my cabin, gory man it’s bad enough ol Smoothy is in there and I
done near lost my ol fren and” ….  “ease
up Zach, the mans most dead now give me a hand.”  “Groan[/i]”
comes from Tom’s mouth as Zach and Jeff struggle him through the door.  “What is going on?”  “Oh dear Lord, you’ve killed the warden,
you’ve killed Tom Corn, Dear Lord”, cries Sarah. “Quit yore bawlin and fidgetin
woman and help us get him by the fire.” 
“No Zach, not by the fire or you will kill him” says Jeff.  “He’s shakin pretty bad and I thinks he’s
fevered too.” “ Sarah, is there new straw in the birthin room?”  “ Why yes Mr. Coongate, I laid it out
yestirday to have a place for all the apples.” 
“ Let’s get him there then Zach, down to the root celler we goes Tom, ol
boy, you hang on now.”  “Let’s set him on
the sod slow like Zach”.  Groaaan 
[/i]“Easy Tom”, says Jeff.[/i]


“Grab some of them turnips and taters and onions Sarah and
chop ‘em up for a broth” says Jeff. 
“Zach, fetch me my back sack and preacher if’n you got a prayer and a
good’n left you might discuss it with yore boss.” 



Sarah takes the turnips, taters and onions up to the cook
stove and commences to make a broth for Tom Corn.  Sure hope that young fella will be allright,
thinks Sarah.  “Dear Lord, give this
young man the strength to thank you himself, amen”.  Anything else I can do Mr. Coongate?”, asks
reverend Smoot.

“You might want to see if Sarahs allright preacher as she
gets a might nervous at times”. 
“Splendid idea I’ll see to it now”. 
Reverend Smoot returns to the warmth of the cottage and maybe the
radio.  Where did he put that sack,
thinks Zach.  “Zach, did you get the
battery?”  “Yes Sarah, in fack I’ll
connect it afore I brings Jeff his back sack”, oh there it is, done near missed
it with big Bertha hangin out.  Zach
grabs the sack and goes to the radio and connects the battery, turns power to
the radio and tunes to the station carrying the Hour of Faith with Reverend
Fuller T. Powers.  weeeeeohhhhhhhzzip …. “Do you have colic?” weeeeeohhhhhhhzzip ….
“Yassah Amos, that’s shore a dandy….. crackle….. weeeeeohhhhhhhzzip [/i]

…brothers and sisters
when the Lord asketh, take his hand”……………. [/i]There that’s the station, all
set fore him Sarah”.  “Thank you Zach and
good luck”.  “Sister Bourne, is there
something I can do to help?”, asks reverend Smoot.  “Why don’t you set by the radio reverend Zach
got it set fore you and when I gets the broth to simmerin’ I’ll fetch us both a
cup of tea”.  “I believe I will sister, I
believe I will”.


Comfortably settled in the chair, the reverend turns on the
radio.  “The Lord works in great and mysterious ways children. Taketh the story
of the parting of the Red Sea, when faced with no safe passage to………[/i]

” We interrupt this
broadcast to bring you a Special News Bulletin…..Beep beep beep beep . From
Back Bog the evening Fire Report with Ed Smith”.  Good evening, it has been a little over 100
days since the fires began in the state. Fire fighting teams, National Guard,
volunteers from all over New England, Canada and many portions of the US have
converged on our state to assist us in this disaster. As of tonight 131 fires
are burning in the state and the world has heard of this disaster as The Year
Maine Burned.  Folks tonight we are with
the crews here in Back Bog Maine…….  “[/i]Sister
Bourne come quickly”  Sarah comes
scurrying carrying two cups of tea. 
“What is it reverend?  “Listen,
they are having a report on the fires”.  
…..here with us is one of the fire
fighting group leaders from the Upper Peninsula region in the great state of
Michigan, and your name sir?”  “Danny
McGinnis at your service”.  “Mr McGinnis
how did you hear of the fires here in Maine?” 
“Oh it were being broadcast every which a ways up in the UP.” “ I was
workin on a projeck with the boys over in our place, that’s Hungry Holler, and
we heard it come off’n the radio from that station in Chicago we did” “ So you
decided to come along and help us out here in the state?”  Yes, that we did me and the boys, we
did”.  Have we made any headway here in
Back Bog and what exactly is it you and your uhhhh boys are working on?”  “This here is the brain chile of that fella
over yonder, I don’ts remember his name but folks call him KK I thinks”. “ Well
he’s been workin on this here projeck nigh on 5 weeks now, cypherin and slide
rulin and drawin in the dirt and scratchin it out, that is when he ain’t
conferin with them folks”. ”Which folks do you mean?”  Waalll, he’s a good egg. If you like eggs,
but I don’t think his oars both head in the same direction, if you get what I
mean.” “ Sometimes he looks like he’s arguin with a crowd of folks and there
naught to be found and other times he’s hummin some strange music and actin
like he’s conductin an orchestra, well it’s enough to make a man seek drink it
is”.  “I see, but the project what is
this exactly?”  “Oh, this is what he
calls a fire stop trench and he did all this scientific calculatin, usin that
slide rule and tide charts, moon phases and mebbe even some smoke and mirrors
and his plan says this spot is the last chance”.  “Last chance, for what Mr. McGinnis, I don’t
follow you”.  “That KK fella says that
once the fire hits Back Bog it will go underground like a lot of the fires have
since this here state is filled with peat bogs and peat is a natural burnin
material”.  “Oh, now I understand, so you
mean the fire continues under ground and then shows up in another spot”. “
Xactly! That’s how this KK fella thinks most of the big ones got started since
the fire crews thought they put them out”. 
The worse part of it is, if it gets past Back Bog or gets underground
he, thinks it will come up in the White Mountain area either on the Maine or
New Hampshire side and if’n it does theys no way of stoppin it all the way to
Vermont, until it gets to Lake Champlain”. 
“Oh my, that would be tragic”. “Well folks, that’s it for now, this is
Ed Smith in Back Bog Maine”.  ………..beep
beep beep beep  “We now return you to
your regular broadcast in progress”……………………………….. “Do you suffer from gas? Do
you……….[/i]  Click.  


Wiping his brow the reverend Smoot looks at Sarah and says,
“these are hard times sister”.  “Amen
reverend, but the Lord has his reasons”. 
“Sarah” quips Zach.  “That there
broth ready, Jeff’s fussin over that revenoor.”  “[/i]The pot’s ready Zach”   “Good, I’ll gets it down to him pronto”.



“Here’s some broth Jeff, need anything else?”  I could use a stool, 8 ears of corn, a
bucket, a towel, some water, charge of tabacca for my pipe and a platter of
deer steaks piled high with some red eye gravy and taters and biscuits and a
slab of your womans apple pie, yep yep”. 
“I’ll get you what I has, yore on yore own for the deer and pie you ol
coot”.   Zach leaves to get the things he
knows Jeff needs and returns with them. 
“Here you go Jeff, any luck with the deer and pie?”  “The Lord works in mysterious ways he does
brother Zach”.  “That he does brother
Jeff, that he does, need anything else?” 
“Naw, get along to yore doins and let me tends this pore ol revenoor,
good night brother Zach”.  Good night and
good luck brother Jeff”.  Zach leaves the
one eyed poacher to his miracle. 


Jeff rolls out the tarp from his back sack and lays it on
the hay, then he stuffs the sack with some hay to make a pillow for Tom Corn
and lays it on the tarp.  He removes Toms
wet outer garments and feels the deep shivers Tom is experiencing as he lays
him on the tarp and places his head on the pillow. “Easy Tom, easy”.  Taking the edges of the tarp at Toms feet he
rolls them toward his middle to act as a blanket.  “Can’t get you too warm too fast boy or I’ll
lose you, then I’d have to break in a hull new reven err warden”.  The jug of Polished Jack catches Jeffs eye
and with a smack of his lips he uncorks it and gives it a whiff.  “Ahhh 1921, a grand year, here’s to ya Al”
and he takes a Scotsman’s sample…. Taking the bowl he pours a bit of the
Polished Jack into it and several ladles of broth and stirs it up.  Taking Toms head in his lap he pours some of
the Polished Jack and broth mixture down his throat.  “Through the lips and over the tongue,
lookout stummick here she comes”  “Groaann …….. Oooohhhhhh……….. mmmm ……. Ohhhh[/i]
“ . “That’s it Tom you take it down there, that’s the boy”.  Jeff pours half of the remaining broth into
the bucket, all of the corn is rubbed free of their kernels and added to the
broth, then he pours a portion of the Polished Jack into it, mixes it and sets
the towel over it and the kerosene lamp aside of it.  “There, the fixins of a starter you are, yep
yep.”  Tomorrow I gots to get me a doe
for this here boys strength and commence to practicin with Bertha and helpin
Zach fix the roof so’s I can gets the still a producin”.  Jeff looks over at Tom as he fills his pipe
and notices his breathing is steady and he’s shaking little, “you rest boy,
tomorrow you’ll get some strength”.  Jeff
fires up his pipe and continues his vigil while Sarah and Zach have gone to bed
as has the reverend Smoot. 


After a long night vigil watching over Tom Corn and several
more batches of the Polished Jack and broth mixture being poured into him we
find him asleep and Jeff arises to stretch his old bones.  “I needs to gets me some air” says Jeff as he
leaves the root cellar.  “Who cooks for
me…who cooks for youuuu?” cries the Owl. 
Looking up at the noise Jeff thinks out loud  “same answer you ol fool, no one”.  Jeff see’s Ollie where he left him last night
when they first saw Tom Corn pass out. 
“Sorry for abandonin you ol fren”, says Jeff.   As he looks out over the rising dawn and the
apple orchard Zach and Sarah own he spots a lone fat doe grazing under one of
the trees.  “Thank thee Lord for which we
is about to receive”, as he raises Ollie to his cheek Jeff cycles a round into
the 38-55, Click-snick[/i], takes aim at
the doe and fires, Blam!  [/i]The doe drops dead right in her own
tracks. “Good shootin Ollie, yep yep”. 
The sound of the 38-55 raises the eyelids of Zach Bourne and his senses
tell him Jeff Coongate has started the hunt without him.  “I best be givin him a hand” says Zach as he
rolls out the bed quietly so as not to arouse Sarah.  As Zach comes out the front door he catches
Jeff with the doe over his back entering the root cellar.  Jeff ties off the hind legs of the doe with
the tallow trappings he borrowed from Toms canoe and Zach walks into the root
cellar.  “Get much sleep Jeff?” says
Zach.  “Naw, to busy keepin Tom alive,
how about yoreself?”  “Not bad, nice doe,
she ought to eat good”.  “We’ll find out
soon enough, take these loins up to the cook stove would ya Zach?”  “I’d be happy to Jeff”.  Jeff skins out the front quarter of the doe
and a generous portion of tallow to add to Toms new batch of broth, “Tole you
I’d get you your strength back Tom and I’ll be back in the blink of an eye”
.  Taking the skinned quarter and a
portion of tallow along Jeff heads for the kitchen.  “Here Zach put this in the broth and heat it
up while I get this here roast ready fer Sarah, there’ll be feast aplenty
tonight, yep yep”.  “Jest like ol times
brother Jeff”, Jeff finishes off the job of preparing the roast for Sarah and
says to Zach, “me and Bertha gonna get busy choppin’ yer winter wood and makin
a lean to roof fer Annie and Mona Lisas crib, I’d appreciate it if’n you or
yore Sarah might give me a holler fer breakfast”.  “With pleasure brother Jeff but why are you
bent fer all that hard work”?  “Mopang
Fair in two days Zach and me an Bertha is mighty rusty we is”.  “Gory, plumb near forgot the Fair, Sarah will
be busy with pies and workin on some concoction fer the Dairy Sponsor
Award”.   “Best get crackin as I’m wastin


     Jeff goes to
check on Tom, and looking at him on the tarp with one leg having kicked the
covering off kind of reminded him of his younger sister, Dolly Madison
Coongate. Dolly was a looker she was and when Ebenezer Jebediah Corn spotted
her there was no holding him back until she said yes.  Reckon you don’t member your folks much son
seein as how you were mebbe 2 when yer pap was killed in the rum run over in
Eustis.  You an yer mam moved over to
Fryeburg to get away from all of that only she was crushed at the Fryeburg Fair
when the lightnin hit the Grand Stand and them dang Oxen stampeded. I knowed it
weren’t a good idea to raise a young’n with my life so I lets yer Granny
Althehea raise you in her house in Bangor in exchange for yer never knowin bout
me.  A large tear wells up in Jeffs eye
and he begins to wipe it away when he hears Zach coming.  “You OK Jeff?”, asks Zach.  “Yep musta been the dirt I raised when I came
in, got in my eye.”  “Here’s the new
batch of broth with the tallow in it, how’s he doin?”  “Looks like he’ll tangle with us agin, but I
better get crackin as I got’s things to do”,  
“I better get that deer shoulder in the cornin liquid so Sarah will have
us some Corned Beef and Cabbage come suppah”. 
Zach leaves to tend to the deer shoulder and Jeff pours a fresh batch
into Tom Corn.  “Here ya goes son, now
get this into yer gullet and you’ll be lookin fer seconds, yep yep”.  Tom moans a bit, which sounds more like a
muffled mmmmmmmm then a pleasant zzzzZZZZZ. “You rest boy, I’ll be back”.  With that Jeff leaves the root cellar to
commence a days work.   


Like a man possessed Jeff and Big Bertha make short work of
reacquainting themselves again.  By noon
Jeff had completed the chore of filling the woodshed side of Annie and Mona
Lisas out building and commenced to split Spruce timbers to make a lean to roof
that will cover the flat roof.  Sarah
sees Jeff stropping Big Bertha to ready her for the chore of splitting the
timbers.  “Mr. Coongate.”  “What is it Sarah?”  “Will you be stopping for lunch?”  “No thank ye, I needs to get this crib roofed
up and I gots to tend to Tom too and then I.... “ Mr. Coo....., Uncle Jeff,
I’ll see to the warden, and you best be there for supper”.  “Like I done tole the preacher Sarah, don’t
call me late for suppah!”  Sarah goes to
tend to Tom and Jeff begins splitting the roof timbers.


The call of darkness is beginning to creep in as Zach makes
the trip to the outbuilding where Jeff is working by the aid of a kerosene
lantern.  “Hey Jeff.”  “Hey Zach, suppah ready?”  “That’s why I’m here, Sarah done sent me to
fetch ya.”  “Good!  I could eat the south side of a she moose and
drink the gravy fer a wash, that ougtha hold ‘er, as he drove the final nail
home.”  “Looks mighty fine Jeff, ‘cep


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