Best American Humorous Short Stories
ambition faster than was possible to any private station, by leading him into more
extensive acquaintance with mankind, their needs, their desires, and their caprices. A
deputy sheriff, provided that lawyers were not too indulgent in allowing acknowledgment
of service of court processes, in postponing levies and sales, and in settlement of litigated
cases, might pick up three hundred dollars, a good sum for those times, a fact which Mr.
Pike had known and pondered long.
It happened just about then that the arrears of rent for the village hotel had so
accumulated on Mr. Spouter, the last occupant, that the owner, an indulgent man, finally
had said, what he had been expected for years and years to say, that he could not wait on
Mr. Spouter forever and eternally. It was at this very nick, so to speak, that Mr. Pike
made to Mr. Fluker the suggestion to quit a business so far beneath his powers, sell out,
or rent out, or tenant out, or do something else with his farm, march into town, plant
himself upon the ruins of Jacob Spouter, and begin his upward soar.
Now Mr. Fluker had many and many a time acknowledged that he had ambition; so one
night he said to his wife:
"You see how it is here, Nervy. Farmin' somehow don't suit my talons. I need to be flung
more 'mong people to fetch out what's in me. Then thar's Marann, which is gittin' to be
nigh on to a growd-up woman; an' the child need the s'iety which you 'bleeged to
acknowledge is sca'ce about here, six mile from town. Your brer Sam can stay here an'
raise butter, chickens, eggs, pigs, an'--an'--an' so forth. Matt Pike say he jes' know they's
money in it, an' special with a housekeeper keerful an' equinomical like you."
It is always curious the extent of influence that some men have upon wives who are their
superiors. Mrs. Fluker, in spite of accidents, had ever set upon her husband a value that
was not recognized outside of his family. In this respect there seems a surprising
compensation in human life. But this remark I make only in passing. Mrs. Fluker,
admitting in her heart that farming was not her husband's forte, hoped, like a true wife,
that it might be found in the new field to which he aspired. Besides, she did not forget
that her brother Sam had said to her several times privately that if his brer Pink wouldn't
have so many notions and would let him alone in his management, they would all do
better. She reflected for a day or two, and then said:
"Maybe it's best, Mr. Fluker. I'm willin' to try it for a year, anyhow. We can't lose much
by that. As for Matt Pike, I hain't the confidence in him you has. Still, he bein' a boarder
and deputy sheriff, he might accidentally do us some good. I'll try it for a year providin'
you'll fetch me the money as it's paid in, for you know I know how to manage that
better'n you do, and you know I'll try to manage it and all the rest of the business for the
To this provision Mr. Fluker gave consent, qualified by the claim that he was to retain a
small margin for indispensable personal exigencies. For he contended, perhaps with
justice, that no man in the responsible position he was about to take ought to be expected