“What other boys you mean?”
“Well, I hear tell they were mostly some of our Beard and Dunaway cousins. Y’all used to get together and ramble around the community playin’ pranks on folks.”
“We did. We did. But we never did any real harm and that thing with Seth was us just sort of leadin’ him to do what he wanted to do in the first place.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Well, I’ll tell you just what happened. You know that Seth’s place was right next to Jacob Proctor’s. Jacob was a real good farmer and Seth wasn’t. Jacob’s crops were always about the best around. Everything he planted grew and produced. On the other hand, it seemed like when Seth planted cotton he got more weeds than anything else.
“The main crops were bad enough, but what really got Seth’s goat was the watermelons. Jacob always had about an acre patch and they were always big and sweet. He even won some ribbons with them at the county fair several times. People were always complimentin’ his melons and takin’ on about ‘em and this really made Seth jealous. Seth’s melons were all right, but they couldn’t hold a candle to Jacob’s. Seth got more jealous every year until he came just about to hate Jacob. We all knew about his feelins’ and that set the stage for us.
“Seth liked moonshine pretty well. So, one night we bought a jug from ole one-eye Pete and went by Seth’s place. We gave him a swig or two and told him we were going to ramble around some and that he could come along if he wanted and share the jug. He did and we struck out. We’d stop ever so often to pass the jug. In the dark, Seth couldn’t see that we were just holdin’ it up to our mouths and not drinkin’. After he got pretty drunk, we started talkin’ about Jacob Proctor and that really set him off. He cussed Jacob and really got to carryin’ on about him. Then one of us mentioned the watermelons and that was like tyin’ a lighted corn shuck to a cat’s tail. ‘Course we egged him on a little every now and then. He finally said that what Jacob Proctor deserved was to have all his melons busted and the vines pulled and stacked around a stump. Being the good drinkin’ buddies we were, we offered to help him do it.”
“Seth was pretty drunk and disoriented by the time we got to the watermelon patch. That patch really looked pretty in the moonlight and I said it would surely be a shame to tear up such a nice melon patch. But Seth wasn’t about to back down. He said he’d come to tear up Jacob’s patch and he meant to do it, and if we wouldn’t help, he’d do it by himself. So he started in to bustin’ melons and pullin’ up vines. After he had a good start, we helped him finish the job. It was a big patch and it took a good while to do it with all of us workin’ pretty steady at it. Even in the moonlight where you couldn’t see real good, that patch real¬ly looked bad with busted melons all over the place and that big pile of vines stacked up around that stump.
“All that exertion and moonshine had taken its toll on Seth and we had just about to carry him home. Jenny was awful mad when we got there, so we didn’t stay longer than it took to lay him on one of the beds.”
“And he had no idea what he’d done?”
“Naw, he didn’t that night. But when he started out to the barn the next mornin’ and saw all his melons busted and the vines stacked around the stump, he knew we’d led him to his patch rather than Jacob’s.”
“What’d he do?”
“What could he do? He couldn’t get us for messin’ up his patch ’cause he’d helped do it. And he couldn’t tell anybody that it was a mistake, that it was supposed to have been Jacob’s patch that got messed up. We had him by the short hair with a down-hill pull and he knew it. He did get a lot of sympathy from folks in the community which made him feel good — or at least better. Jacob even came over and told him to pick melons from his patch ’cause he had so many that year.”
“Yep, he did. Ol’ Seth swallowed his pride and picked melons from the patch he intended to destroy. You know, he wouldn’t speak to any of us for about six months, but I think we taught him a good lesson that night. Yep, I think we did.”
(For more by Luke Boyd and “Coon Dogs and Outhouses V1” go to www.totalrecallpress.com or www.amazon.com.)