Jericho Bob by Anna Eichberg King

ericho Bob, when he was four years old, hoped that one day he might be allowed to eat just as much turkey as he possibly could. He was eight now, but that hope had not been realized.

Mrs. Jericho Bob, his mother, kept hens for a living, and she expected that they would lay enough eggs in the course of time to help her son to an independent career as a bootblack.

They lived in a tumble-down house in a waste of land near the steam cars, and besides her hens Mrs. Bob owned a goat.

Our story has, however, nothing to do with the goat except to say he was there, and that he was on nibbling terms, not only with Jericho Bob, but with Bob's bosom friend, Julius Cæsar Fish, and it was surprising how many old hat-brims and other tidbits of clothing he could swallow during a day.

As Mrs. Bob truly said, it was no earthly use to get something new for Jericho, even if she could afford it; for the goat browsed all over him, and had been known to carry away even a leg of his trousers.

Jericho Bob was eight years old, and the friend of his bosom, Julius Cæsar Fish, was nine. They were both of a lovely black; a tallow-dip couldn't take the kink out of their hair, and the hardest whipping did not disturb the even cheerfulness of their spirits. They were so much alike that if it hadn't been for Jericho's bow-legs and his turn-up nose, you really could not have told them apart.

A kindred taste for turkey also united them.

In honor of Thanksgiving day Mrs. Bob always sacrificed a hen which would, but for such blessed release, have died of old age. One drumstick was given to Jericho, whose interior remained an unsatisfied void.

Jericho Bob had heard of turkey as a fowl larger, sweeter, and more tender than hen; and about Thanksgiving time he would linger around the provision stores and gaze with open mouth at the noble array of turkeys hanging, head downward, over bushels of cranberries, as if even at that uncooked stage, they were destined for one another. And turkey was his dream.

It was spring-time, and the hens were being a credit to themselves. The goat in the yard, tied to a stake, was varying a meal of old shoe and tomato-can by a nibble of fresh green grass. Mrs. Bob was laid up with rheumatism.

"Jericho Bob!" she said to her son, shaking her red and yellow turban at him, "Jericho Bob, you go down an' fetch de eggs to-day. Ef I find yer don't bring me twenty-three, I'll—well, never mind what I'll do, but yer won't like it."

Now, Jericho Bob meant to be honest, but the fact was he found twenty-four, and the twenty-fourth was so big, so remarkably big.

Twenty-three eggs he brought to Mrs. Bob, but the twenty-fourth he sinfully left in charge of the discreet hen.

On his return he met Julius Cæsar Fish, with his hands in his pockets and his head extinguished by his grandfather's fur cap.

Together they went toward the hen-coop and Julius Cæsar Fish spoke, or rather lisped (he had lost some of his front teeth):

"Jericho Bobth, that 'th a turkey'th egg."

"Yer don't say so?"

"I think i'th a-goin' ter hatch." No sooner said than they heard a pick and a peck in the shell.

"Pick!" a tiny beak broke through the shell. "Peck!" more beak. "Crack!" a funny little head, a long, bare neck, and then "Pick! Peck! Crack!" before them stood the funniest, fluffiest brown ball resting on two weak little legs.

"Hooray!" shouted the woolly heads.

"Peep!" said turkeykin.

"It's mine!" Jericho shouted excitedly.

"I'th Marm Pitkin'th turkey'th; she laid it there."

"It's mine, and I'm going to keep it, and next Thanksgiving I'm going ter eat him."

"Think your ma'll let you feed him up for thath?" Julius Cæsar asked, triumphantly.

Jericho Bob's next Thanksgiving dinner seemed destined to be a dream. His face fell.

"I'll tell yer whath I'll do," his friend said, benevolently; "I'll keep 'm for you, and Thanksgivin' we'll go halvth."

JERICHO BOB AND JULIUS CÆSAR FISH PLANNING THEIR
THANKSGIVING DINNER. JERICHO BOB AND JULIUS CÆSAR FISH PLANNING THEIR THANKSGIVING DINNER.

Jericho resigned himself to the inevitable, and the infant turkey was borne home by his friend.

Fish, Jr., lived next door, and the only difference in the premises was a freight-car permanently switched off before the broken-down fence of the Fish yard; and in this car turkeykin took up his abode.

I will not tell you how he grew and more than realized the hopes of his foster-fathers, nor with what impatience and anticipation they saw spring, summer, and autumn pass, while they watched their Thanksgiving dinner stalk proudly up the bare yard, and even hop across the railroad tracks.

But, alas! the possession of the turkey brought with it strife and discord.

Quarrels arose between the friends as to the prospective disposal of his remains. We grieve to say that the question of who was to cook him led to blows.

It was the day before Thanksgiving. There was a coldness between the friends which was not dispelled by the bringing of a pint of cranberries to the common store by Jericho, and the contributing thereto of a couple of cold boiled sweet potatoes by Julius Cæsar Fish.

The friends sat on an ancient wash-tub in the back yard, and there was a momentary truce between them. Before them stood the freight-car, and along the track beyond an occasional train tore down the road, which so far excited their mutual sympathy that they rose and shouted as one man.

At the open door of the freight-car stood the unsuspecting turkey, and looked meditatively out on the landscape and at the two figures on the wash-tub.

One had bow-legs, a turn-up nose, and a huge straw hat. The other wore a fur cap and a gentleman's swallow-tail coat, with the tails caught up because they were too long.

The turkey hopped out of the car and gazed confidingly at his protectors. In point of size he was altogether their superior.

"I think," said Jericho Bob, "we'd better ketch 'im; to-morrow's Thanksgiving. Yum!"

And he looked with great joy at the innocent, the unsuspecting fowl.

"Butcher Tham 'th goin' ter kill 'im for uth," Julius Cæsar hastened to say, "an' I kin cook 'im."

"No, you ain't. I'm goin' to cook 'im," Jericho Bob cried, resentfully. "He's mine."

"He ain'th; he'th mine."

"He was my egg," and Jericho Bob danced defiance at his friend.

The turkey looked on with some surprise, and he became alarmed when he saw his foster-fathers clasped in an embrace more of anger than of love.

"I'll eat 'im all alone!" Jericho Bob cried.

"No, yer sha'n't!" the other shouted.

The turkey fled in a circle about the yard.

"Now, look yere," said Julius Cæsar, who had conquered. "We're goin' to be squar'. He wath your egg, but who brought 'im up? Me! Who'th got a friend to kill 'im? Me! Who'th got a fire to cook 'im? Me! Now you git up and we'll kitch 'im. Ef you thay another word about your egg I'll jeth eat 'im up all mythelf."

Jericho Bob was conquered. With mutual understanding they approached the turkey.

"Come yere; come yere," Julius Cæsar said, coaxingly.

For a moment the bird gazed at both, uncertain what to do.

"Come yere," Julius Cæsar repeated, and made a dive for him. The turkey spread his tail. Oh, didn't he run!

"Now I've got yer!" the wicked Jericho Bob cried, and thought he had captured the fowl; when with a shriek from Jericho Bob, as the turkey knocked him over, the Thanksgiving dinner spread his wings, rose in the air, and alighted on the roof of the freight-car.

The turkey looked down over the edge of the car at his enemies, and they gazed up at him. Both parties surveyed the situation.

"We've got him," Julius Cæsar cried at last, exultantly. "You git on the roof, and ef you don't kitch 'im up thar, I'll kitch 'im down yere."

With the help of the wash-tub, an old chair, Julius Cæsar's back, and much scrambling, Jericho Bob was hoisted on top of the car. The turkey was stalking solemnly up and down the roof with tail and wings half spread.

"I've got yer now," Jericho Bob said, creeping softly after him. "I've got yer now, sure," he was just repeating, when with a deafening roar the express-train came tearing down the road.

For what possible reason it slowed up on approaching the freight-car nobody ever knew; but the fact remains that it did, just as Jericho Bob laid his wicked black paw on the turkey's tail.

The turkey shrieked, spread his wings, shook the small black boy's grasp from his tail, and with a mighty swoop alighted on the roof of the very last car as it passed; and in a moment more Jericho Bob's Thanksgiving dinner had vanished, like a beautiful dream, down the road!

What became of that Thanksgiving dinner no one ever knew. If you happen to meet a traveling turkey without any luggage, but with a smile on his countenance, please send word to Jericho Bob.

Every evening he and Julius Cæsar Fish stand by the broken-down fence and look up and down the road, as if they expected some one.

Jericho Bob has a turn-up nose and bow-legs. Julius Cæsar still wears his dress-coat, and both are watching for a Thanksgiving dinner that ran away.