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Best American Humorous Short Stories

was always ready and laying for a chance; there couldn't be no solit'ry thing mentioned
but that feller'd offer to bet on it, and take any side you please, as I was just telling you. If
there was a horse-race, you'd find him flush or you'd find him busted at the end of it; if
there was a dog-fight, he'd bet on it; if there was a cat-fight, he'd bet on it; if there was a
chicken-fight, he'd bet on it; why, if there was two birds setting on a fence, he would bet
you which one would fly first; or if there was a camp-meeting, he would be there reg'lar
to bet on Parson Walker, which he judged to be the best exhorter about here, and he was,
too, and a good man. If he even see a straddle-bug start to go anywheres, he would bet
you how long it would take him to get to--to wherever he was going to, and if you took
him up, he would foller that straddle-bug to Mexico but what he would find out where he
was bound for and how long he was on the road. Lots of the boys here has seen that
Smiley and can tell you about him. Why, it never made no difference to him--he'd bet on
any thing--the dangest feller. Parson Walker's wife laid very sick once, for a good while,
and it seemed as if they warn't going to save her; but one morning he come in, and
Smiley up and asked him how she was, and he said she was considerable better--thank
the Lord for his inf'nit' mercy--and coming on so smart that with the blessing of
Prov'dence she'd get well yet; and Smiley, before he thought, says, ‘Well, I'll risk two-
and-a-half she don't anyway.'"
Thish-yer Smiley had a mare--the boys called her the fifteen-minute nag, but that was
only in fun, you know, because, of course, she was faster than that--and he used to win
money on that horse, for all she was so slow and always had the asthma, or the distemper,
or the consumption, or something of that kind. They used to give her two or three
hundred yards start, and then pass her under way; but always at the fag-end of the race
she'd get excited and desperate-like, and come cavorting and straddling up, and scattering
her legs around limber, sometimes in the air, and sometimes out to one side amongst the
fences, and kicking up m-o-r-e dust and raising m-o-r-e racket with her coughing and
sneezing and blowing her nose--and always fetch up at the stand just about a neck ahead,
as near as you could cipher it down.
And he had a little small bull-pup, that to look at him you'd think he warn't worth a cent
but to set around and look ornery and lay for a chance to steal something. But as soon as
money was up on him he was a different dog; his under-jaw'd begin to stick out like the
fo'-castle of a steamboat, and his teeth would uncover and shine like the furnaces. And a
dog might tackle him and bully-rag him, and bite him, and throw him over his shoulder
two or three times, and Andrew Jackson--which was the name of the pup--Andrew
Jackson would never let on but what he was satisfied, and hadn't expected nothing else--
and the bets being doubled and doubled on the other side all the time, till the money was
all up; and then all of a sudden he would grab that other dog jest by the j'int of his hind
leg and freeze to it--not chaw, you understand, but only just grip and hang on till they
throwed up the sponge, if it was a year. Smiley always come out winner on that pup, till
he harnessed a dog once that didn't have no hind legs, because they'd been sawed off in a
circular saw, and when the thing had gone along far enough, and the money was all up,
and he come to make a snatch for his pet holt, he see in a minute how he'd been imposed
on, and how the other dog had him in the door, so to speak, and he 'peared surprised, and
then he looked sorter discouraged-like, and didn't try no more to win the fight, and so he