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|The Gentle Grafter||O Henry|
XIV. The Ethics of Pig
|Page 6 of 7||
"'I'd shore like to accommodate you,' says he, 'but I've got the artistic tenement, too. I don't see why it ain't art when you can steal a shoat better than anybody else can. Shoats is a kind of inspiration and genius with me. Specially this one. I wouldn't take two hundred and fifty for that animal.'
"'Now, listen,' says I, wiping off my forehead. 'It's not so much a matter of business with me as it is art; and not so much art as it is philanthropy. Being a connoisseur and disseminator of pigs, I wouldn't feel like I'd done my duty to the world unless I added that Berkshire to my collection. Not intrinsically, but according to the ethics of pigs as friends and coadjutors of mankind, I offer you five hundred dollars for the animal.'
"'Jeff,' says this pork esthete, 'it ain't money; it's sentiment with me.'
"'Seven hundred,' says I.
"'Make it eight hundred,' says Rufe, 'and I'll crush the sentiment out of my heart.'
"I went under my clothes for my money-belt, and counted him out forty twenty-dollar gold certificates.
"'I'll just take him into my own room,' says I, 'and lock him up till after breakfast.'
"I took the pig by the hind leg. He turned on a squeal like the steam calliope at the circus.
"'Let me tote him in for you,' says Rufe; and he picks up the beast under one arm, holding his snout with the other hand, and packs him into my room like a sleeping baby.
"After breakfast Rufe, who had a chronic case of haberdashery ever since I got his trousseau, says he believes he will amble down to Misfitzky's and look over some royal-purple socks. And then I got as busy as a one-armed man with the nettle-rash pasting on wall-paper. I found an old Negro man with an express wagon to hire; and we tied the pig in a sack and drove down to the circus grounds.
"I found George B. Tapley in a little tent with a window flap open. He was a fattish man with an immediate eye, in a black skull-cap, with a four-ounce diamond screwed into the bosom of his red sweater.
"'Are you George B. Tapley?' I asks.
"'I swear it,' says he.
"'Well, I've got it,' says I.
"'Designate,' says he. 'Are you the guinea pigs for the Asiatic python or the alfalfa for the sacred buffalo?'
"'Neither,' says I. 'I've got Beppo, the educated hog, in a sack in that wagon. I found him rooting up the flowers in my front yard this morning. I'll take the five thousand dollars in large bills, if it's handy.'
"George B. hustles out of his tent, and asks me to follow. We went into one of the side-shows. In there was a jet black pig with a pink ribbon around his neck lying on some hay and eating carrots that a man was feeding to him.
"'Hey, Mac,' calls G. B. 'Nothing wrong with the world-wide this morning, is there?'
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