Press enter after choosing selection

He Played Barber

He Played Barber image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

"It was in Tennessee, " said the traveling man, "it happeiied, on one of those back country roads which I was traveling on my way to a town where I had a fine list of cu stomers. The night was olosing in, and I was wondering how long it would take me to reach a place where I could spend the night. I knew that I was among the moonshiners, for the jug on a stump with the money nnder it was in evidence along the road. I had no thought of being molested in that country, where the only warLare is against the revenue officers, and no one would have suspected me of complicity with the government. "A slight noise startled my horse, and I leaned ont of the buggy to look into the chaniber of a revolver. At the same time I saw tvvo figures, one on each side of me, and, checking my horse, I tried to assume a bravado I was far frorn feeling as I asked: " ' Well, gentlemen, what is yourwill with me?' "You can imagine my surprise when a boyish voice asked: " 'Kin you shave yourself?' "I answered that I always shaved myself. Without lowering bis revolver he looked across me to his pal on the other side. "'Heunswill do, Jim. Hop in an I'll lead the horse. ' "Having made up my mind not to be dragged off in any such ignominious manner, I said: " 'If you are going to shoot me, I suppose I must give up my life, as I am unarmed. If it is money you want, I" - " 'Teil him, Jim,' said the one who was leading my horse. " 'Yer won't be killed nor robbed uor nothin, if yer dou't try ter give na the slip. Shet your mouth now, mister, an you'll know more right soon. ' " We must have gone a mile before we caine to a turn in the road tbat brought usout in front of a cabin much larger than any I had seen that day in my travel. A woman stood at the door crying. " 'Hev yer foun somebody, boys?' ahe asked anxiously. " 'Yep, morm, an he'll do the job np slick 'tbout askin much pay. ' "I wondered if I wasto be compelled to murder soine one. The boys were beardless mouutain loafers - I had met their type often, but I never knew them to be desperadoes. "I was shown iuto the cabin by the woman, one of the boys following w ith the revolver, while the othur waited to f asten the horse to a scrub oak. I saw a figure stretched on a settle, and the idea flashed into my miud that I was mistaken for a doctor. " 'I am not a medical man,' I began to explain, when the woman cut rno short. "'You uns 'ud a been tew late ef you uns was a doctor. He passed outen afore daylight, an it's 'nother kind of job we wanter hev done. Yer see, we uns is a goin tew hev the biggest fun'rel evah was in these yeah pahts, an we wanter hev the ole man shaved fob. the fust time, an tbere ain't a man nowhere aroun as shaves hisself or ennybody else. ' "The revulsión of feeling which came over me was not altogethcr pleasurable, for I did not fancy the idea of playing barber to a dead ruan, but when I looked at the cadaverous countenance and tangled gray beard of the deceased I feit a sort of professional pride in making him look more like a mortal being and less like a wolf. I had always been an abstainer from strong drink, but I filled up on crude spirits that would have killed me on au ordinary occasion and tackled my silent customer with a feverish and hysterical alacrity. This was in part due to the close proximity of the two boys and their revolvers. But as soon as I had the old mountaineer shaved the revolvers were laid aside ano I was treated with the utmost bospitality. The work itself had not been half as grnesome aa I had imagined, and I had to fight a ludicrous temptation to ponr barber talk into the deaf ears. He was such an improvement over himself when alive - as I judged by the family lingo - that Iwanted to ask him to look in a mirror. I declined the fee tendered me by the boy Jim, and, sup plied with a jug of moonshine whisky I was set in the right road and permitted to leave. "I found it true that in all that community not a rúan had ever been shaved and it was only in deference to a whim of the old mouutaineer, expressed on his deathbed, that he was made such a curious exception. I did not mention my part in the transaction until I was far beyond that county line, for I was not sure that, a precedent being set, they might not agaiu dernand nay services, and auother salesman has that route. "-


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News