“I don’ perzactly know, ’m,” he answered good humoredly, “’bout fifty hunerd, I reckon. Anyways, Aunt Minerva, I ain’t goin’ to be no preacher. When I puts on long pants I’s goin’ to be a Confedrit Vet’run an’ kill ’bout fifty hunderd Yankees an’ Injuns, like my Major man.”
Now riddle me this
The children were sitting in the swing. Florence Hammer, a little girl whose mother was spending the day at Miss Minerva’s, was with them.
“Don’t you-all wish Santa Claus had his birthday right now ’stead ’o waiting till Christmas to hang up our stockings?” asked Frances.
“Christmas isn’t Santa Claus’ birthday,” corrected Lina. “God was born on Christmas and that’s the reason we hang up our stockings.”
“Yes; it is old Santa’s birthday, too,” argued Jimmy, “’cause it’s in the Bible and Miss Cecilia ’splained it to me and she ’bout the dandiest ’splainer they is.”
“Which you-all like the best: God or Doctor Sanford or Santa Claus?” asked Florence.
“I like God ’nother sight better ’n I do anybody,” declared Jimmy, “’cause He so forgivingsome. He’s ’bout the forgivingest person they is. Santa Claus can’t let you go to Heaven nor Doctor Sanford neither, nor our papas and mamas nor Miss Minerva. Now wouldn’t we be in a pretty fix if we had to ’pend on Doctor Sanford or Santa Claus to forgive you every time you run off or fall down and bust your breeches. Naw; gimme God evy time.”
“I like Santa Claus the best,” declared Frances, “’cause he isn’t f’rever getting in your way, and hasn’t any castor oil like Doctor Sanford, and you don’t f’rever have to be telling him you’re sorry you did what you did, and he hasn’t all time got one eye on you either, like God, and got to follow you ’round. And Santa Claus don’t all time say, Shet your eyes and open your mouth,’ like Doctor Sanford, `and poke out your tongue.’”
“I like Doctor Sanford the best,” said Florence, “’cause he ’s my uncle, and God and Santa Claus ain’t kin to me.”
“And the Bible say, `Love your kin-folks,’ Miss Cecilia ’splained—”
“I use to like my Uncle Doc’ heap better ’n what I do now,” went on the little girl, heedless of Jimmy’s interruption, “till I went with daddy to his office one day. And what you reckon that man’s got in his office? He’s got a dead man ’thout no meat nor clo’es on, nothing a tall but just his bones.”
“Was he a hant?” asked Billy. “I like the Major best—he ’s got meat on.”
“Naw; he didn’t have no sheet on—just bones,” was the reply.
“No sheet on; no meat on!” chirruped Billy, glad of the rhyme.
“Was he a angel, Florence?” questioned Frances.
“Naw; he didn’t have no harp and no wings neither.”
“It must have been a skeleton,” explained Lina.
“And Uncle Doc’ just keeps that poor man there and won’t let him go to Heaven where dead folks b’longs’’