A SHEEP STORY. 273
them frauds ! I was right on him, before I could shirk. He looked astonished, and says :
" Hel-lo ! Where'd you come from ?" Then he says, kind of glad and eager, " Where's the raft ?—got her in a good place ?"
I says :
" Why, that's just what I was agoing to ask your grace."
Then he didn't look so joyful—and says :
" What was your idea for asking me ? " he says.
"Well," I says, " when I see the king in that doggery yesterday, I says to myself, we can't get him home for hours, till he's soberer ; so I went a loafing around town to put in the time, and wait. A man up and offered me ten cents to help him pull a skiff over the river and back to fetch a sheep, and so I went along; but when we was dragging him to the boat, and the man left me aholt of the rope and went behind him to shove him along, he was too strong for me, and jerked loose and run, and we after him. We didn't have no dog, and so we had to chase him all over the country till we tired him out. We never got him till dark, then we fetched him over, and I started down for the raft. When I got there and see it was gone, I says to myself, 'they've got into trouble and had to leave ; and they've took my nigger, which is the only nigger I've got in the world, and now I'm in a strange country, and ain't got no property no more, nor nothing, and no way to make my living;' so I set down and cried. I slept in the woods all night. But what did become of the raft then ?—and Jim, poor Jim !"
" Blamed if Iknow—that is, what's become of the raft. That old fool had made a trade and got forty dollars, and when we found him in the doggery the loafers had matched half dollars with him and got every cent but what he'd spent for whisky ; and when I got him home late last night and found the raft gone, we said, ' That little rascal has stole our raft and shook us, and run off down the river.'"
"I wouldn't shake my nigger, would I ?—the only nigger I had in the world, and the only property."
" We never thought of that. Fact is, I reckon we'd come to consider him
our nigger; yes, we did consider him so—goodness knows we had trouble enough 18