"Doing" A Sheriff

Many persons in the county of Hall, State of Georgia, recollect a queer old customer who used to visit the county site regularly on “general muster” days and court week. His name was Joseph Johnson, but he was universally known as Uncle Josey. The old man, like many others of that and the present day, loved his dram, and was apt, when he got among “the boys” in town, to take more than he could conveniently carry. His inseparable companion on all occasions was a black pony, who rejoiced in the name of “General Jackson,” and whose diminutiveness and sagacity were alike remarkable.

One day, while court was in session in the little village of Gainesville, the attention of the judge and bar was attracted by a rather unusual noise at the door. Looking towards that aperture, “his honour” discovered the aforesaid pony and rider deliberately entering the hall of justice. This, owing to the fact that the floor of the courthouse was nearly on a level with the ground, was not difficult.

“Mr. Sheriff,” said the judge, “see who is creating such a disturbance of this court.”

“It’s only Uncle Josey and Gin’ral Jackson, judge,” said the intruder, looking up with a drunken leer—“jest me an’ the Gin’ral come to see how you an’ the boys is gettin’ along.”

“Well, Mr. Sheriff,” said the judge, totally regardless of the interest manifested in his own and the lawyers’ behalf by Uncle Josey, “you will please collect a fine of ten dollars from Uncle Josey and the General, for contempt of court.”

“Look a-here, judge, old feller,” continued Uncle Josey, as he stroked the “Gin’ral’s” mane, “you don’t mean to say it, now, do yer? This child hain’t had that much money in a coon’s age; and as for the Gin’ral here, I know he don’t deal in no kind of quine, which he hain’t done, ’cept fodder and corn, for these many years.”

“Very well, then, Mr. Sheriff,” continued his honour, “in default of the payment of the fine, you will convey the body of Joseph Johnson to the county gaol, there to be retained for the space of twenty-four hours.”

“Now, judge, you ain’t in right down good yearnest, is you? Uncle Josey hain’t never been put into that there boardin’-house yet, which he don’t want to be, neither,” appealed the old man, who was apparently too drunk to know whether it was a joke or not.

“The sheriff will do his duty immediately,” was the judge’s stern reply, who began to tire of the old man’s drunken insolence. Accordingly, Uncle Josey and the “Gin’ral” were marched off towards the county prison, which stood in a retired part of the village. Arriving at the door, the prisoner was commanded by the sheriff to “light.”

“Look a-here, Jess, horse-fly, you ain’t a-gwine to put yer old uncle Josey in there, is yer?”

“’Bliged to do it, Uncle Josey,” replied the sheriff. “Ef I don’t, the old man [the judge] will give me goss when I go back. I hate it powerful, but I must do it.”

“But, Jess, couldn’t you manage to let the old man git away? Thar ain’t nobody here to see you. Now, do, Jess. You know how I fit for you in that last run you had ’longer Jim Smith, what like to ’a’ beat you for sheriff, which he would ’a’ done it, if it hadn’t been for yer uncle Josey’s influence.”

“I know that, Uncle Josey, but thar ain’t no chance. My oath is very p’inted against allowin’ anybody to escape. So you must go in, ’cos thar ain’t no other chance.”

“I tell you what it is, Jess: I’m afeard to go in thar. Looks too dark and dismal.”

“Thar ain’t nothing in thar to hurt you, Uncle Josey, which thar hain’t been for nigh about six months.”

“Yes, thar is, Jess. You can’t fool me that a-way. I know thar is somethin’ in thar to ketch the old man.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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