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Written by T.S. Dalton   


C H A P T E R  II.
Once when grandfather and grandmother were going to church (grandmother was an Old School Baptist, and grandfather was a strong believer in them, but never joined the church), grandfather said to "General" and me, as he started off, "Now, boys, watch those horses, and keep them in the lot while we are gone." I said, "All right, grandfather, we will watch them." As soon as they were out of sight, I said to "General," "Let’s go over to Job Draugh’s" (a near neighbor) "and borrow his rattletrap and see what those horses will do." He agreed at once, so w went and got it, then went into the lot and ran after the horses. Among them was an old stiff horse we called Charlie.

So Charlie curled his tail over his back and bowed his neck, and began to prance around the lot, and around the stakes; and it was so funny that we kept right on. After a while Old Charlie couldn’t stand it any longer, and made for the bars with me at his heels with the rattletrap, making all the noise I could; so Charlie turned himself sideways, made a lunge, and landed across the top bar; but he scrambled until he fell on the other side, and every horse in the lot followed him. The fun was so great that we kept right after them, and rattled the trap as long as we could see anything of them. Then we ran and returned the trap and were sitting in the house, just as innocent as lambs, when grandfather and grandmother returned from church. Grandfather said to me, "Tolbert, where are those horses?" I said, "Why, good mind to whip both of you. I left you here to watch those horses, and now they are all gone, and there will be no ploughing done here before ten o’clock tomorrow."

I was glad to hear him say he had a good mind to whip us. I knew when he said that we would get off without the whipping.

Next morning he started the hands out bright and early to look for the horses. Then he called "General" and me, and went along with us, and put us to piling brush on the hillside in front of the house. About ten o’clock I looked down the creek and saw Old Charlie coming. He would walk a few steps with his head hoisted and his tail curled, then he would stop and snort, then come a few steps further and look and snort. I looked at "General." I saw he was nearly bursting with laughter, and I couldn’t keep my face straight. I got close to "General" and whispered, "Now if we had a trap to give it a jerk or so, Charlie would be out for the balance of the week." "General" chuckled, but said, "Hush! Pap will hear you, and will take the hide off of us yet."

But the poor old man never knew why the horses were out, and he died before either of us were willing to tell him and risk what might follow. My conscience has often been made to grieve over this one act of my life, and I have wished we had not done it. But I have told it to make people laugh, and have laughed over it myself; but still it has a sting and often pierces my heart with sorrow now. Therefore I would advise the young men that they should not do as I did in this, and you will perhaps save yourself from many sorrows.

I hope my readers will not hold me guilty of this crime, for I have long since repented of it, and feel to hope the Lord has forgiven me, and made me to rejoice in His love.
"General," "Pen" and I once got a pumpkin, hulled it out, and cut mouth, nose and eyes, so we could put a lighted tallow candle in it, and tried to make it look most terrible. After playing with it a while, we concluded it was too good to keep to ourselves.

Grandfather owned some slaves, and one girl was especially assigned the duty of cleaning up the dining room after each meal. At this time she was in the dining room attending to the duties of the evening, and I proposed to the boys that we give her a scare. They agreed, and we put the thing in the path she traveled to her cabin and drew the dog-fennel down over it so she could not see it until she was nearly onto it. Then we hid out in the dog-fennel to await results.

We had not waited long before we heard the negro coming, singing as merrily as a lark; she got in two or three feet of the thing before she saw it. Oh, my! I never saw a negro jump as high in my life, and she squealed so as to be heard for a mile easily, and running into grandfather’s room, fell prostrate, full length, upon the floor, and was panting like a lizard in August.

Grandfather asked, "What on earth is the matter?" and between her gasps for breath she managed to tell him she had seen the very devil himself.

Grandfather knew that it was some of our mischief, and I knew he would come out to see about it; so I blew out the light and we ran away down in a lot below the house. Presently I heard grandfather call, "O Tolbert." I said to the boys, "Hush; don’t answer until he calls three or four times." So we waited, and after he had called about four times I answered, very loudly "Sir." He said, "Come here." We all walked up, I leading the crowd, looking as innocent as possible. Grandfather said, "Boys, what did you scare that negro so for?" I said, "What negro, grandfather?" He said, "Now you need not begin to deny it, for you know you did it." He then said, "Go bring that thing here and let me see it." I went and got it, and grandfather took a good laugh over it. Then he said, "Boys, let’s all go together and scare ‘Old Lot.’" (This was a very old negro who, with his wife, lived in a cabin near the dwelling and worked according to their own pleasure.) Grandfather took the pumpkin and we all went around behind Uncle Lot’s cabin. Grandfather got down behind a stump and put the lighted pumpkin up on the stump.  Then he called Lot, who came husting to the door, opened it, and saw the thing staring him in the face. He jumped back and slammed the door, saying, "Laud, hab mussey on me!" Grandfather fell back and roared laughing. Lot heard the laughing and came back and opened the door; but his voice trembled as he said, "Mars’ Tommy, is dat you?" Grandfather roared again, saying, "Lot, did you think ‘Old Nick’ had you?" Lot said, "Mars’ Tommy, what is dat you got dar?" He then took it in and showed it to Uncle Lot and Aunt Tildy.

Thus ended our fun for this night; but we boys all retired feeling that we had certainly achieved a great victory in so completely capturing grandfather with our invention, and it took us some time to get ready to enter into dreamland, because we had to mature some plans for the next occasion. This, however, was soon accomplished, and then went into sweet sleep as innocent as babes. We were up next morning very early, and out ready to obey any call that grandfather or grandmother might make, for we all felt that none on earth would bear with our mischief and be as lenient and indulgent with us as our grandparents were; so we loved them, and delighted to do their bidding. But fun we must have, and they were not disposed to try to hinder us, as long as we offered no violence to any one.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 September 2006 )
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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.