How Uncle Mose Counted the Eggs

Old Mose, who sells eggs and chickens on the streets of Austin for a living, is as honest an old negro as ever lived; but he has got the habit of chatting familiarly with his customers, hence he frequently makes mistakes in counting out the eggs they buy. He carries his wares around in a small cart drawn by a diminutive donkey. He stopped in front of the residence of Mrs. Samuel Burton. The old lady came out to the gate to make the purchases.

"Have you got any eggs this morning, Uncle Mose?" she asked.

"Yes, indeed I has. Jes got in ten dozen from de kentry."

"Are they fresh?"

"I gua'ntee 'em. I knows dey am fresh jess de same as ef I had laid 'em myse'f."

"I'll take nine dozen. You can count them in this basket."

"All right, mum." He counts: "One, two, free, foah, five, six, seben, eight, nine, ten. You kin rely on dem bein' fresh. How's your son comin' on at de school? He mus' be mos' grown."

"Yes, Uncle Mose, he is a clerk in a bank at Galveston."

"Why, how ole am de boy?"

"He is eighteen."

"You don't tole me so. Eighteen and gettin' a salary already! eighteen (counting), nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-free, twenty-foah, twenty-five, and how's yore gal comin' on? She was mos' growed up de las' time I seed her."

"She is married and living in Dallas."

"Wal, I declar. How de time scoots away! An' yo' say she has childruns? Why, how ole am de gal? She mus' be about——"


"Am dat so? (counting) firty-free, firty-foah, firty-five, firty-six, firty-seben, firty-eight, firty-nine, forty, forty-one, forty-two, forty-free. Hit am so singular dat you has sich old childruns. I can't believe you has grand-childruns. You don't look more den forty yeahs old youself."

"Nonsense, old man, I see you want to flatter me. When a person gets to be fifty-three years old——"

"Fifty-free? I jess dun gwinter b'lieve hit, fifty-free, fifty-foah, fifty-five, fifty-six—I want you to pay tenshun when I counts de eggs, so dar'll be no mistake—fifty-nine, sixty, sixty-one, sixty-two, sixty-free, sixty-foah—whew! Dat am a warm day. Dis am de time of yeah when I feels I'se gettin' ole myse'f. I ain't long for dis worl. You comes from an ole family. When your fodder died he was sebenty years ole."

"Seventy-two, Uncle Mose."

"Dat's ole, suah. Sebenty-two, sebenty-free, sebenty-foah, sebenty-five, sebenty-six, sebenty-seven, sebenty-eight, sebenty-nine—and your mudder? she was one ob de noblest lookin' ladies I ebber see. You reminds me ob her so much. She libbed to mos' a hundred. I bleeves she was done past a centurion when she died."

"No, Uncle Mose, she was only ninety-six when she died."

"Den she wasn't no chicken when she died. I know dat—ninety-six, ninety-seben, ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one hundred, one, two, free, foah, five, six, seben, eight—dar 108 nice fresh eggs—jess nine dozen, and heah am one moah egg in case I has discounted myse'f."

Old Mose went on his way rejoicing. A few days afterward Mrs. Burton said to her husband, "I am afraid we will have to discharge Matilda. I am satisfied she steals the milk and eggs. I am positive about the eggs, for I bought them day before yesterday, and now about half of them are gone. I stood right there and heard Old Mose count them myself, and there were nine dozen."