Johnson J. Hooper

Taking the Census

Part Second

WHEN we were taking the census in Tallapoosa, we had a rare frolic at old Kit Kuncker's, up on Union Creek, which we must tell about. But first let us introduce Uncle Kit.

Old Kit was a fine specimen of the old-fashioned Georgia wagoner, of the glorious old times when locomotives didn't whiz about in every direction. He was brought up on the road, and retained a fondness for his early vocation, though now in comparative affluence. Uncle Kit was sixty years old, we suppose, but the merriest old dog alive; and his chirruping laugh sounded every minute in the day. Particularly fond of female society, his great delight was to plague the "womanhood" of his household and settlement in every possible way. His waggery, of one sort or other, was incessant; and as he was the patriarch of his neighborhood— having transplanted every family in it, with himself, from Georgia—his jokes were all considered good jokes, and few dared be offended at his good-humored satire. Besides all this, Uncle Kit was a devoted Jackson man, and an inveterate hater of all nullifiers: hence the name of his creek.

Two "chattels" had Mr. Kuncker which he prized beyond all his other possessions one of these was a big yellow dog that followed the wagon, and among other accomplishments, predicted the future. Uncle Kit called him Andy, in honor of General Jackson. The other favorite was a fine old roan

horse, named "Fiddler Bill," upon which, when a little "drinky," he was wont to exhibit very fair horsemanship in the streets, or rather the street, of Dudleyville.

We were making an entry of somebody's chickens, at a store door in the village just mentioned, one August day, when a familiar "hillo!" reached our ear, and, turning round, we perceived, some twenty yards off, the quizzical face of our old friend projecting over the fore-gate of his wagon, and puckered into five hundred little wrinkles as he cachinated joyously—

"Hillo, 'squire! bless your little union snake-skin, yer Uncle Kit's so glad to see you, ha! ha! I'm jist back from Wetumpky, because, ya! You see, yer Uncle Kit's been down to get the trimmins for Niece Susy's weddin' next Thursday night. You must come over 'squire—it's Jim Spraggins that's gwine to pick up Suse; you see yer Uncle Kit waited for you twell he found you wouldn't talk it out, he! he! ha!-come over, as I was asayin, and you kin take the sensis of the whole krick at one settin', and buss all the gals besides, he! a! yah! yah!"

We thanked Uncle Kit, and told him we would come; whereupon the jovial old fellow whistled to Andy-who had stepped into the "grocery," thinking that, of course, his master would stop there, anyhow-"clucked" to Fiddler Bill, who worked in the lead, cracked the steers at the wheels, and so started. In a moment we heard the sharp "hillo!" again.

"You must be sure to come, 'squire," said Uncle Kit, stopping his team so as to be heard; "yer Aunt Hetty will look for you certain, he! he!-and if she can raise somethin' for you to eat, and a year or two o'corn for your horse, any way in the world, you will be as welcome to it as the water that runs;" and Mr. Kuncker chuckled terribly at the bare idea of our Aunt Hetty's being straitened to provide viands for animals human or equine!

We repeated our assurances that we should attend; and Uncle Kit, reassuming the lines, said "Well, now I'm off sure, 'squire. God bless you and Ginnel Jackson, and d―n the nullifiers! Wake up, Fid! Good-by"-and rolled off.

Once again, however, he stopped and shouted back, "Don't be afeard to come! Yer Uncle Kit has fust-rate spring-water allers on hand!" and he chuckled longer than before at the wit of calling corn-whisky "spring-water"; and put his finger by the side of his old cut-water of a nose. So lively an old dog was Uncle Kit Kuncker.

On the appointed evening, we arrived at Mr. Kuncker's about dark. The old man was waiting at the fence to receive us.

"Bless your union soul, little squire," he said, shaking our extended hand with both of his; "yer Uncle Kit is as proud to see you as ef he'd a found a silver dollar with a hole through it. Hetty!" he shouted, "here's the God-blessed little union 'squire come to see his uncle! Come out and see him, he! he! yah! and, mind and throw a meal-bag, or somethin' else over your head, twell my little 'squire gits sorter usen to the big ugly! Make haste, you old dried-up witch! Ef you can't find the bag, take yer apern! he! he! e! a! yah!" and Uncle Kit laughed till he cried.

Mrs. Kuncker presently made her appearance-not with the meal-bag over her head, however-and greeted us most hospitably.

"Don't mind old Kit's romancin', 'squire," she observed; "I'm afeard he'll be a fool all his days. We've been married now gwine on forty year, and he's never spoke the fust sensible word yit."

"Sorter shade your eyes, long at fust, 'squire," remarked Uncle Kit, as he busied himself in "stripping" our steed "when you look at yer Aunt Hetty. The ugly's out on her wuss

nor the small-pox! ha! ha! yah! and I'm bound to keep it out too, wi' all sorts o' warm teas. The Lord will be mighty apt to call her home ef ever it strikes in, I'm a-thinkin'”—and Uncle Kit laughed again, while he placed our saddle upon the fence, with twenty others.

"Come in, 'squire," said Aunt Hetty, "or that poor, lighthearted old critter 'ill laugh hisself to death"; and we walked with her into Mr. Kuncker's neat, framed dwelling-the only building of the sort on Union Creek.

The big room of Uncle Kit's house was full of light and of company. Most of the latter were known to us, but there were some strange faces; and with these we determined to get acquainted as soon as possible. A little removed from the bustling part of the congregation we observed a fat woman, of middle age, with a sleepy expression of face. A little way from her feet, and sprawling on the floor, was a chubby child, about eighteen months old, whose little coat was pinned up, by the hem behind, to its collar; thus leaving no inconsiderable portion of its person exposed. "Here," thought we, "is an interesting family; let's take it down;" and approaching the dame, we drew our papers, having first saluted her.

"Gracious! stranger!" she ejaculated, "what're you arter ?" "Only taking the census."

"Sally! oh, Sally Heston, do run here," said Mrs. Naronfor that proved to be her name—"ef here ain't the man we've hearn so much 'bout! Here's the chicken-man! I do wonder," she continued, surveying us from crown to soul; "well, hit's the slimmest crittir, to be sure, ever I seed. Hit's legs, I do declar, is not as big as my Thomas Jefferson's. Come here, Thomas Jefferson, and let manne thee af your legth ain't ath big ath hitthen," addressing the youngster on the floor.

But Thomas Jefferson did not heed the invitation, but

continued to dabble and splash in a little pool of water, which had somehow got there, as proud, apparently, of his sansculottism as ever his illustrious namesake could have been of his.

"Don't you hear me, Thomas Jefferson?" screamed the mother-"don't you hear me, you little torment?”

Thomas Jefferson did hear this time, and hastened to obey. He raised himself up, spread out his fat arms to preserve his equilibrium, turned half round, lost it, and was instantly seated in the miniature pool with a splash that sent several droplets into his mother's face.

Mrs. Naron flew at the child with an energy that contrasted strongly with her oleaginous appearance; and seizing him by the middle, held him up inverted, with one hand, while with the other she inflicted what, in our nursery days, would have been called a "sound spanking," which finished, she reseated herself, and brought him down in a sitting position upon her knee, with sufficient violence to produce a sudden abbreviation of as dreadful a howl as ever vexed human ear.

We didn't altogether relish these indications of a vivacious temperament in Mrs. Naron, and accordingly made our examination as short and smooth as possible. And when she demurred to furnishing the statistical information, because she "never had done sich a thing afore," we admitted the cogency of the reason, and pressed the matter no further; for we were convinced that the government did not expect its officers to run the risk of what Master Thomas Jefferson Naron had got, merely to add another dozen yards of cloth, or score of chickens, to the estimated wealth of the country.

There was now a slight bustle in one corner, for which, at first, we couldn't account. It was among a group of young persons, male and female, who appeared to be urging one of

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