Join Date: November 2, 1998
Captain Flynn's shot
This happened in the flintlock days.
"There was an old Irishman named Captain Flynn who owned a small schooner which plied along the Potomac River and its estuaries, buying fowls, fruits and garden truck from the country people and selling them in the Baltimore markets.
"It happened that the Captain, a week before Christmas, dropped anchor off Cutler's Creek, and there came an unexpected freeze, and for four days he was held hard and fast. All his meat gave out, so he traveled over the ice to the home of one of his best customers, a spinster named Miss Tilda Jenks, who made her living by raising poultry.
"Miss Tilly was cited among her neighbors as being the sharpest and the shrewdest bargainer in the whole country round; indeed some of the old hands said that she could even beat a preacher in a horse trade.
"When Captain Flynn went to purchase a dozen fowls the ancient spinster promptly doubled her price. This made the old Captain so mad that he went back to his sloop, swearing he would starve before he would pay it. Then ensued a struggle between his stomach and his pride, which resulted in his going back the next day and paying the spinster her price. As he saw the great number of fowls in the enclosure he said:
"'Miss Tilly, how much will you charge me to let me shoot in the thick of them, an' let me have all I kill?'
"The woman studied for a while and then answered:
"'Captain, if you let me load your gun you kin have all you kill for one dollar.'
"'Bedad! an' it's a bargain, an' here's your dollar,' answered the Irishman, 'an' now I'll go fer me gun.'
"He hurried back to his boat, got out an ancient bell-mouthed blunderbuss that had belonged to his grandfather, put in a handful of powder, rammed in a bunch of tow; next a double handful of shot was dropped down the barrel and held tight with another bunch of tow; then Captain Flynn sawed off about four fingers of the ramrod, picked the flint, called his crew, which consisted of an antiquated d**ky, and proceeded inland.
"Miss Tilly first carefully measured the gun with the ramrod, then, despite the protest of the Captain, she loaded the gun with only a thimbleful of powder and one of shot.
""A bargain is a bargain, Captain,' she said tauntingly, 'and here's your gun; now you can have all you kill.'
"Captain Flynn asked for an ear of corn; this he shelled along for about a hundred yards from the woodpile, then lying behind a log, he signified to Miss Tilly that he was ready.
"The gate was opened and the fowls of all sizes, sexes and condition came running, flying and fluttering out, and there was a confused mass of heads, wings and feathers mixed up as far as the eye could reach. The Captain sighted along the line, and uttered a prayer; the d**ky got behind a tree and clapped his hands over his ears; the spinster stood with her horn spectacles on her forehead, serene and confident; then the Captain, having finished his orisions, pulled the trigger. There was a thundering report that reverberated clean to the Virginia shore and back, then the smoke covered everything; when it lifted, there was the Captain, sitting up, rubbing his shoulder; Miss Tilly had her arms raised to heaven, crying, 'I'm ruined and undone!'
"The d**ky was dancing a jig.
"The spoils were counted: sixteen chickens, twelve guinea keets, five hen turkeys, one gobbler, two geese, two pigeons, four ducks and the old lady's pet pig."
That's one fine shot for a dollar.
Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. Molon Labe!