Read THE LINT: CHAPTER IV of The Bishop of Cottontown A Story of the Southern Cotton Mills , free online book, by John Trotwood Moore, on ReadCentral.com.

HOW THE BISHOP FROZE

The Bishop laughed outright as his mind went back again.

“Well,” he went on reminiscently, “I’ll have to finish my tale an’ tell you how I throwed the cold steel into Jud Carpenter when I got back. I saw I had it to do, to work back into my daddy-in-law’s graces an’ save my reputation.

“Now, Jud had lied to me an’ swindled me terribly, when he put off that old no-count hoss on me. Of course, I might have sued him, for a lie is a microbe which naturally develops into a lawyer’s fee. But while it’s a terrible braggart, it’s really cowardly an’ delicate, an’ will die of lock-jaw if you only pick its thumb.

“So I breshed up that old black to split-silk fineness, an’ turned him over to Dr. Sykes, a friend of mine living in the next village. An’ I said to the Doctor, ‘Now remember he is yo’ hoss until Jud Carpenter comes an’ offers you two hundred dollars for him.’

“‘Will he be fool enough to do it?’ he asked, as he looked the old counterfeit over.

“‘Wait an’ see,’ I said.

“I said nothin’, laid low an’ froze an’ it wa’n’t long befo’ Jud come ’round as I ‘lowed he’d do. He expected me to kick an’ howl; but as I took it all so nice he didn’t understand it. Nine times out of ten the best thing to do when the other feller has robbed you is to freeze. The hunter on the plain knows the value of that, an’ that he can freeze an’ make a deer walk right up to him, to find out what he is. Why, a rabbit will do it, if you jump him quick, an’ he gets confused an’ don’t know jes’ what’s up; an’ so Jud come as I thort he’d do. He couldn’t stan’ it no longer, an’ he wanted to rub it in. He brought his crowd to enjoy the fun.

“‘Oh, Mr. Watts,’ he said grinnin’, ’how do you like a coal black stump-sucker?’

“‘Well,’ I said indifferent enough ’I’ve knowed good judges of hosses to make a hones’ mistake now an’ then, an’ sell a hoss to a customer with the heaves thinkin’ he’s a stump-sucker. But it ’ud turn out to be only the heaves an’ easily cured.’

“‘Is that so?’ said Jud, changing his tone.

“‘Yes,’ I said, ‘an’ I’ve knowed better judges of hosses to sell a nervous hoss for a balker that had been balked onct by a rattle head. But in keerful hands I’ve seed him git over it,’ I said, indifferent like.

“‘Indeed?’ said Jud.

“‘Yes, Jud,’ said I, ‘I’ve knowed real hones’ hoss traders to make bad breaks of that kind, now and then honest intentions an’ all that, but bad judgment,’ sez I ’an’ I’ll cut it short by sayin’ that I’ll just give you two an’ a half if you’ll match that no-count, wind broken black as you tho’rt, that you swapped me.’

“‘Do you mean it?’ said Jud, solemn-like.

“‘I’ll make a bond to that effect,’ I said solemnly.

“Jud went off thoughtful. In a week or so he come back. He hung aroun’ a while an’ said:

“‘I was up in the country the other day, an’ do you kno’ I saw a dead match for yo’ black? Only a little slicker an’ better lookin’ same star an’ white hind foot. As nigh like him as one black-eyed pea looks like another.’

“‘Jud,’ I said, ’I never did see two hosses look exactly alike. You’re honestly mistaken.’

“‘They ain’t a hair’s difference,’ he said. ’He’s a little slicker than yours that’s all better groomed than the one in yo’ barn.’

“‘I reckon he is,’ said I, for I knew very well there wa’n’t none in my barn. ‘That’s strange,’ I went on, ‘but you kno’ what I said.’

“‘Do you still hold to that offer?’ he axed.

“‘I’ll make bond with my daddy-in-law on it,’ I said.

“‘Nuff said,’ an’ Jud was gone. The next day he came back leading the black, slicker an’ hence no-counter than ever, if possible.

“‘Look at him,’ he said proudly ’a dead match for yourn. Jes’ han’ me that two an’ a half an’ take him. You now have a team worth a thousan’.’

“I looked the hoss over plum’ surprised like.

“‘Why, Jud,’ I said as softly as I cu’d, for I was nigh to bustin’, an’ I had a lot of friends come to see the sho’, an’ they standin’ ‘round stickin’ their old hats in their mouths to keep from explodin’ ’Why, Jud, my dear friend,’ I said, ‘ain’t you kind o’ mistaken about this? I said a match for the black, an’ it peers to me like you’ve gone an’ bought the black hisse’f an’ is tryin’ to put him off on me. No no my kind frien’, you’ll not fin’ anything no-count enuff to be his match on this terrestrial ball.’

“By this time you cu’d have raked Jud’s eyes off his face with a soap-gourd.

“‘What? w-h-a-t? He why I bought him of Dr. Sykes.’

“‘Why, that’s funny,’ I said, ’but it comes in handy all round. If you’d told me that the other day I might have told you,’ I said ’yes, I might have, but I doubt it that I’d loaned him to Dr. Sykes an’ told him whenever you offered him two hundred cash for him to let him go. Jes’ keep him,’ sez I, ‘till you find his mate, an’ I’ll take an oath to buy ’em.’”

Bud slapped his leg an’ yelled with delight.

“Whew,” said the Bishop “not so loud. We’re at the church.

“But remember, Bud, it’s good policy allers to freeze. When you’re in doubt freeze!”