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December 14 , 2007

The Jucklins: A Novel


The neighbors and our family began to laugh at me about as far back as I can remember, and I think that the first serious remark my father ever addressed to me was, "Bill, you are too lazy to amount to anything in this life, so I reckon we'll have to make a school teacher of you." I don't know why he should have called me lazy; I suppose it must have been on account of my awkwardness. Lazy, why, I could sit all day and fish in one place and not get a bite, while my more industrious companions would, out of sheer exhaustion of patience, be compelled to move about; and I hold that patience is the very perfection of industry. In the belief that I could never amount to anything I gradually approached my awkward manhood. I grew fast, and I admit that I was always tired; and who is more weary than a sprout of a boy? My brothers were active of body and quick of judgment, and I know that Ed, my oldest brother, won the admiration of the neighborhood when he swapped horses with a stranger and cheated him unmercifully. How my father did laugh, and mOther laughed, too, but she told Ed that he must never do such a thing again. With what envy did I look upon this applause. I knew that Ed's brain was no better than mine; and as I lay in bed one night I formed a strong resolve and fondly hugged it unto myself. I owned a horse, a good one; and I would swap him off for two horses—I would cheat some one and thereby win the respect of my fellows. My secret was sweet and I said nothing. By good chance a band of gypsies came our way; I would swindle the rascals. I went to their camp, leading my horse, and after much haggling, I came home with two horses.
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