“Wall, what is the difference?” he sez, out loud and strong; “devilish or bedevilled, they both mean the same.
“And it is true, too—too true; they are all bedevilled,” sez he, gloomily eyin’ the bill.
I allers hated crabs from the time they used to fasten to my bare toes down in the old swimmin’ hole in the creek. “Wall, you don’t want any bedevilled crabs, do you?”
[Illustration: “I allus hated crabs!”]
“No,” sez I, faintly; for I wuz mortified enough to sink through the floor if there had been any sinkin’ place, and I whispered, “I’d ruther go without any dinner at all than to have you act so.”
“Oh, no,” sez he, loud and positive, “you don’t want to go without your dinner; you want to be fashionable and cut style—you want to make a show.”
“Wall,” sez I, faint as a cat, “I am apt to git my wish.”
For three men looked up and laughed, and one girl snickered, besides some other wimmen.
Sez I, hunchin’ him, “Do be still and less go to our old place.”
“Oh, no,” sez he, speakin’ up to the top of his voice, “don’t less leave; here is such a variety!”
“Potatoes surprise,” sez he; “it must be that they are mealy and cooked decent; that would be about as much of a surprise as I could have about potatoes here, to have ’em biled fit to eat; we’ll have some of them, anyway.
“Philadelphia caperin’—I didn’t know that Philadelphia caperin’ wuz any better than Chicago a-caperin’ or New York a-caperin’. Veal o just! I guess if he had been kicked by calves as much as I have, he wouldn’t talk so much about their Christian habits.
“Leg of mutton with caper sass—wall, it is nateral for sheep to caper and act sassy, and it is nobody’s bizness.
“Supreme pinted bogardus—what in thunder is that? Supreme—wall, I’ve hearn of a supreme ijiot, and I believe that Bogardus is his name.
“Terrapin a-layin’ on Maryland—I never knew that terrapin wuz a hen before, and why is it any better to lay on Maryland than anywhere else? Mebby eggs are higher there; wall, Maryland hain’t much too big for a good-sized hen’s nest, nor Rhode Island neither.”
“Josiah Allen,” I whispered, deep and solemn, “if you don’t stop I will part with you.”
Folks wuz in a full snicker and a giggle by this time.
“Oh, no,” sez he, loud and strong, “you don’t want to part with me till I git you a fashionable dinner, and we both cut style.
“Tenderloin of beef a-tryin’ on”—a-tryin’ on what, I’d love to know?—style, most probable, this is such a stylish place.”
“Will you be still, Josiah Allen?” sez I, a-layin’ holt of his vest.
“No, I won’t; I am tryin’ to put on style, Samantha, and buy you sunthin’ stylish to eat.”
“Wall, you needn’t,” sez I; “I have lost my appetite.”
“Siberian Punch! Let him come on,” sez Josiah; “if I can’t use my fists equal to any dum Siberian that ever trod shoe leather, then I’ll give in.”