‘Wall,’ said Ransom Walker, ‘wouldn’t want t’ say right out plain t’ yer face.’
‘’Twouldn’t he p’lite,’ said Uncle Eb soberly.
‘Sound a leetle ha’sh,’ Tip Taylor added.
‘Thet fish has jerked the fear o’ God out o’ ye — thet’s the way it looks t’ me,’ said Carlyle Barber.
’Yer up ‘n the air, Mose,’ said another. ‘Need a sinker on ye.’ They bullied him — they talked him down, demurring mildly, but firmly.
‘Tell ye what I’ll do,’ said Mose sheepishly, ’I’ll b’lieve you fellers if you’ll b’lieve me.’
‘What, swop even? Not much!’ said one, with emphasis. ’ ’Twouldn’t be fair. Ye’ve ast us t’ b’lieve a genuwine out ‘n out impossibility.’
Mose lifted his hat and scratched his head thoughtfully. There was a look of embarrassment in his face.
‘Might a ben dreamin’,’ said he slowly. ‘I swear it’s gittin’ so here ’n this town a feller can’t hardly b’lieve himself.’
’Fur ‘5 my experience goes,’ said Ransom Walker, ’he’d be a fool ’f he did.’
‘’Minds me o’ the time I went fishin’ with Ab Thomas,’ said Uncle Eb. ‘He ketched an ol’ socker the fast thing. I went off by myself ’n got a good sized fish, but ‘twant s’ big ’s hisn. So I tuk ’n opened his mouth n poured in a lot o’ fine shot. When I come back Ab he looked at my fish ‘n begun t’ brag. When we weighed ’em mine was a leetle heavier.
’"What!” says he. “’Tain’t possible thet leetle cuss uv a trout ’s heavier ’n mine.”
‘’Tis sarrin,’ I said.
‘’Dummed deceivin’ business,” said he as he hefted ’em both. “Gittin’ so ye can’t hardly b’lieve the stillyards."’
The fifth summer was passing since we came down Paradise Road - the dog, Uncle Eb and I. Times innumerable I had heard my good old friend tell the story of our coming west until its every incident was familiar to me as the alphabet. Else I fear my youthful memory would have served me poorly for a chronicle of my childhood so exact and so extended as this I have written. Uncle Eb’s hair was white now and the voices of the swift and the panther had grown mild and tremulous and unsatisfactory and even absurd. Time had tamed the monsters of that imaginary wilderness and I had begun to lose my respect for them. But one fear had remained with me as I grew older — the fear of the night man. Every boy and girl in the valley trembled at the mention of him. Many a time I had held awake in the late evening to hear the men talk of him before they went asleep — Uncle Eb and Tip Taylor. I remember a night when Tip said, in a low awesome tone, that he was a ghost. The word carried into my soul the first thought of its great and fearful mystery.
‘Years and years ago,’ said he, ’there was a boy by the name of Nehemiah Brower. An’ he killed another boy, once, by accident an’ run away an’ was drownded.’