Very talkative people always seemed to me to be divided into two classes – those who lie for a purpose and those who lie for the love of lying; and Sam Baxter belonged, with broad impartiality, to both. With him falsehood was not more frequently a means than an end; for he would not only...
<p>Very talkative people always seemed to me to be divided into two classes – those who lie for a purpose and those who lie for the love of lying; and Sam Baxter belonged, with broad impartiality, to both. With him falsehood was not more frequently a means than an end; for he would not only lie without a purpose but at a sacrifice. I heard him once reading a newspaper to a blind aunt, and deliberately falsifying the market reports. The good old lady took it all in with a trustful faith, until he quoted dried apples at fifty cents a yard for unbolted sides; then she arose and disinherited him. Sam seemed to regard the fountain of truth as a stagnant pool, and himself an angel whose business it was to stand by and trouble the waters.</p>
<p>“You know Ben Dean,” said Sam to me one day; “I’m down on that fellow, and I’ll tell you why. In the winter of ’68 he and I were snaking together in the mountains north of the Big Sandy.”</p>
<p>“What do you mean by snaking, Sam?”</p>
<p>“Well, <i>I</i> like <i>that</i>! Why, gathering snakes, to be sure – rattlesnakes for zoological gardens, museums, and side-shows to circuses. This is how it is done: a party of snakers go up to the mountains in the early autumn, with provisions for all winter, and putting up a snakery at some central point, get to work as soon as the torpid season sets in, and before there is much snow. I presume you know that when the nights begin to get cold, the snakes go in under big flat stones, snuggle together, and lie there frozen stiff until the warm days of spring limber them up for business.</p>
<p>“We go about, raise up the rocks, tie the worms into convenient bundles and carry them to the snakery, where, during the snow season, they are assorted, labelled according to quality, and packed away for transportation. Sometimes a single showman will have as many as a dozen snakers in the mountains all winter.</p>
<p>“Ben and I were out, one day, and had gathered a few sheaves of prime ones, when we discovered a broad stone that showed good indications, but we couldn’t raise it. The whole upper part of the mountain seemed to be built mostly upon this one stone. There was nothing to be done but mole it – dig under, you know; so taking the spade I soon widened the hole the creatures had got in at, until it would admit my body...