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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A Down-East Barter

By Seba Smith (1792–1868)

[Born in Buckfield, Me., 1792. Died at Patchogue, Long Island, N. Y., 1868. From Life and Writings of Major Jack Downing, of Downingville, State of Maine. 1833.]

AFTER I had walked about three or four hours I come along towards the upper part of the town where I found there were stores and shops of all sorts and sizes. And I met a feller, and says I, what place is this? Why this, says he, is Huckler’s Row. What, says I, are these the stores where the traders in Huckler’s Row keep? And says he, yes. Well then, thinks I to myself, I have a pesky good mind to go in and have a try with one of these chaps, and see if they can twist my eye teeth out. If they can get the best end of a bargain out of me, they can do what there aint a man in Downingville can do, and I should jest like to know what sort of stuff these ere Portland chaps are made of. So in I goes into the best-looking store among ’em. And I see some biscuit lying on the shelf, and says I, Mister, how much do you ax apiece for them are biscuit? A cent apiece, says he. Well, says I, I shant give you that, but if you’ve a mind to, I’ll give you two cents for three of ’em, for I begin to feel a little as though I should like to take a bite. Well, says he, I wouldn’t sell ’em to anybody else so, but seeing it’s you I dont care if you take ’em. I knew he lied, for he never see me before in his life. Well he handed down the biscuits and I took ’em, and walked round the store a while to see what else he had to sell. At last, says I, Mister, have you got any good new cider? Says he, yes, as good as ever you see. Well, says I, what do you ax a glass for it? Two cents, says he. Well, says I, seems to me I feel more dry than I do hungry now. Aint you a mind to take these ere biscuit again and give me a glass of cider? And says he, I dont care if I do; so he took and laid ’em on the shelf again, and poured out a glass of cider. I took the cider and drinkt it down, and to tell the truth it was capital good cider. Then, says I, I guess it’s time for me to be a going, and I stept along towards the door. But says he, stop Mister. I believe you haven’t paid me for the cider. Not paid you for the cider, says I, what do you mean by that? Didn’t the biscuit that I give you jest come to the cider? Oh, ah, right, says he. So I started to go again; and says he, but stop, Mister, you didn’t pay me for the biscuit. What, says I, do you mean to impose upon me? do you think I am going to pay you for the biscuit and let you keep ’em tu? Aint they there now on your shelf, what more do you want? I guess sir, you dont whittle me in that way. So I turned about and marched off, and left the feller staring and thinking and scratching his head, as though he was struck with a dunderment. Howsomever, I didn’t want to cheat him, only jest to show ’em it want so easy a matter to pull my eye teeth out, so I called in next day and paid him his two cents. Well I staid at Ant Sally’s a week or two, and I went about town every day to see what chance I could find to trade off my ax handles, or hire out, or find some way or other to begin to seek my fortune.