“You better go fast,” he shrieked. “Me and Billy and Frances and Lina’s got the mumps and you ain’t got no business to have ’em ’cause you’re a nigger, and you better take your horse to the lib’ry stable ’cause he might ketch ’em too.”
The negro boy dismounted and hitched his horse to the fence. “I gotter little tarrapim—” he began insinuatingly.
And thus it came to pass that there was an epidemic of mumps in the little town of Covington, and William Green Hill grew rich in marbles, in tops, in strings, in toads, in chewing gum, and in many other things which comprise the pocket treasures of little boys.
The infant mind shoots
Miss Minerva had bought a book for Billy entitled “Stories of Great and Good Men,” which she frequently read to him for his education and improvement. These stories related the principal events in the lives of the heroes but never mentioned any names, always asking at the end, “Can you tell me who this man was?”
Her nephew heard the stories so often that he had some expression or incident by which he could identify each, without paying much attention while she was reading.
He and his aunt had just settled themselves on the porch for a reading.
Jimmy was on his own porch cutting up funny capers, and making faces for the other child’s amusement.
“Lemme go over to Jimmy’s, Aunt Minerva,” pleaded her nephew, “an’ you can read to me to-night. I ’d a heap ruther not hear you read right now. It’ll make my belly ache.”
Miss Minerva looked at him severely.
“William,” she enjoined, “don’t you want to be a smart man when you grow up?”
“Yes ‘m,” he replied, without much enthusiasm. “Well, jes’ lemme ask Jimmy to come over here an’ set on the other sider you whils’ you read. He ain’t never hear ‘bout them tales, an’ I s’pec’ he’d like to come.”
“Very well,” replied his flattered and gratified relative, “call him over.”
Billy went to the fence, where he signaled Jimmy to meet him.
“Aunt Minerva say you come over an’ listen to her read some er the pretties’ tales you ever hear,” he said, as if conferring a great favor.
“Naw, sirree-bob!” was the impolite response across the fence, “them ’bout the measliest tales they is. I’ll come if she’ll read my Uncle Remus book.”
“Please come on,” begged Billy, dropping the patronizing manner that he had assumed, in hope of inducing his chum to share his martyrdom. “You know Aunt Minerva’d die in her tracks ’fore she’d read Uncle Remus. You’ll like these-here tales ’nother sight better anyway. I’ll give you my stoney if you’ll come.”
“Naw; you ain’t going to get me in no such box as that. If she’d just read seven or eight hours I wouldn’t mind; but she’ll get you where she wants you and read ’bout a million hours. I know Miss Minerva.”