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A Fable of Two Farm Brothers

Author Photo
By Staff

Check out this farm fable from turn-of-the-twentieth-century author, George Ade, about two brothers.

farm brother illustration
Clyde J. Newman

In 1901, George Ade,  (1866 – 1944) was an American writer, who around the turn of the twentieth century wrote a column in the Chicago Record that featured his fables in slang, which were humorous stories that featured vernacular speech. He was often called, “Aesop of Indiana.”

The fables columns were published in book form in 1899 by Herbert S. Stone & Co. of New York and Chicago. This is one of the fables that pertained to farming.

Jethro came home from Business College with a high stiff collar and a pair of tan shoes big enough for a coal miner. When he alighted from the train at the depot one of Ezry Folloson’s dray horses fell over, stricken with the cramp colic. The usual drove of prominent citizens, who had come down to see that the train got in and out all right, backed away from the Educated Youth and chewed their tobacco in shame and abashment. They knew that they did not belong on the same platform with one who had been up yender in Chicago for goin’ on twelve weeks finding out how to be a Business Man. By gum!

An elderly man approached the youth who had lately got next to the Rules of Commerce. The elderly man was a rube. He wore a hickory shirt, a discouraged straw hat, a pair of barn-door pants clinging to one lonely gallus and woolen socks that had settled down over his brogans. He was shy several teeth and on his chin was a tassel shaped like a whisk-broom. If you had thrown a pebble into this clump of whiskers probably you would have scared up a field mouse and a couple of meadow larks.

“Home agin, Jethro, be ye?” asked the parent.

“Yeh,” replied the Educated Youth. With that he pulled the corner of a sassy silk handkerchief out of his upper coat pocket and ignited a cigarette that smelt like burning leaves in the fall.

farm brother illustration

photo by: Clyde J. Newman

Paw. [Drawn by Clyde J. Newman. From the book]

The Business Man headed for the wagon, and the parent followed at a respectful distance, now and then remarking to himself: “Well, I’ll jest swan to Guinney!”

Brother Lyford came in from the east forty to get his dinner, and there was Jethro in the hammock reading a great work by Archibald Clavering Gunter [A popular novelist of the late nineteenth century].

“Git into some overhauls an’ come an’ he’p me this afternoon,” said Lyford.

“Oh, rats! Not on your tintype! I’m too strong to work,” replied Jethro, who had learned oodles of slang up in Chicago.

So he wouldn’t stand for the harvest field that afternoon. In the evening when Paw ast him to milk he let out an awful beller. Next morning he made a horrible scene because he couldn’t get loaf sugar for his coffee.

Shortly after breakfast his Paw lured him into the barn and lit on him. He got a good holt on the Adam’s apple and choked the offspring until his tongue stuck out like a pistil.

“You dosh-burned little pin-head o’ misery, you!” exclaimed the Old Man. “Goll bing me if I think you’re wuth the powder to blow you up. You peel them duds an’ git to work or else mosey right off o’ this farm.”

The Son’s feelings were so outraged by this brutal treatment that he left the farm that day and accepted a position in a Five and Ten-Cent Store, selling kitchen utensils that were made of tin-foil and wooden ware that had been painted in water colors. He felt that he was particularly adapted for a business career, and, anyway, he didn’t propose to go out on no man’s farm and sweat down his collar.

After ten years of unremitting application and studious frugality the Business Man had acquired in real estate, personal property, stocks, bonds, negotiable paper, and other collateral, the sum of nineteen dollars, but he owed a good deal more than that. Brother Lyford had continued to be a rude and unlettered Country Jake. He had 240 acres of crackin’ good corn land (all tiled), a big red barn, four span of good horses, sixteen head of cattle, a likely bunch of shoats and a covered buggy.

Moral: Drink Deep, or Cut Out the Pierian Spring Altogether.[In Greek mythology, the Pierian Spring was the font of all knowledge]

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