|Beautiful Belmont, Part 22 -- My Money Box.|
by John Salisbury Cochran.
See previous entry: Beautiful Belmont, Part 21 -- The Fortuneteller.
Many and varied were the tricks we played on each other on the farm. I think they added a spice to an otherwise monotonous life. One notable instance I remember well. Early in life, through a spirit of frugality taught me by our ever economic mother, I had become the possessor of a wooden money box, or bank, presented me by our uncle Alexander. It had a thin slot cut in the side in such a perpendicular manner that after a coin was once placed inside, it could not be removed, even by the most vigorous shaking with this slot turned downward or in any position. For a number of years I presented this box to everyone in order to get a contribution, and added to it on every available occasion I could while a boy.
At length, I determined to open the box on a certain day, and made the announcement to my brothers. They gathered around me in the front yard, all jumping about in great glee, and shouting, "Oh, John is going to open his box! open his box! open his box!" etc. It struck me they were exhibiting far too much interest for everything to be right. I found in that box one dollar and forty cents, all in large sized old-fashioned copper pennies. Of course the joke was on me, and my embarrassment was complete. It broke my stingy little heart, and I cried. I went to mother with it. She laid the matter before father when he came home that night, and on the next morning he quietly said to me, "Your mother has told me concerning your bank box. Just let that matter rest quietly a few days and I'll make it all right."
One Monday morning soon thereafter he announced to all of us, "I have given John that ten-acre field over there to put in corn this season, and he is to get half of everything raised on it as his own, while I get the other half, and you are all to help him cultivate and raise the crop in order to pay him back the contents of the money box." It was really laughable to see the winks pass between them and observe the blank stare I received from each, done in a way to annoy me, in which I think they to some extent succeeded. The fact is, a combination of a crowd against one will always be successful when a joke is being perpetrated. We attended that crop, and I received more than my money back, but I doubt if I ever could be prevailed upon to raise another. I did all the plowing, while my brothers did the hoeing. Every time I would pass one or all of them, they would raise the cry, "Oh, working for John!" "Saving for John!" And so the fun was carried on at my expense until that crop was raised and harvested.
I later learned the trick behind the prank. By inserting a thin piece of tin into the box through the slot, holding the box sideways and giving it a shake, the coins would slide down the tin to the outside. In order to make the box appear heavy, all the old large copper pennies were returned. The whole thing was done more in a spirit for fun than otherwise, for we were always scrupulously honest with each other, always liberal and willing to divide the last cent, and I do not doubt my brothers would have paid me back out of their pockets. Indeed they were beginning to think of ways to do this when father made his announcement. I earned one hundred and thirty dollars out of that corn, although I do not think I had over a sixth of that amount in the money box. The truth is, I had made myself quite a nuisance by begging continuously for contributions, and they had frequently contributed to me liberally in dimes, quarters, and half dollars. Most of these coins, of course, they had removed from my box, only to see me return them to it as a gratifying NEW contribution.
See next entry: Beautiful Belmont, Part 23 -- Halloween Antics.
For the table of contents and first entry in this series, see: Beautiful Belmont, Part 01 -- Table of Contents and Brief Introduction.
This entry is adapted from Bonnie Belmont: A Historical Romance of the Days of Slavery and the Civil War, by John Salisbury Cochran, which was published originally in 1907. The book has been reedited extensively for inclusion in the Pierian Press Fulltext eBooks database, and is included on the Stratton House Inn Web site by special permission. This special edition of Beautiful Belmont is licensed for use ONLY on this Web site. It may not be copied or downloaded, but may be used for educational purposes and personal pleasure under fair-use provisions via this Web site. Please note that this Stratton House Inn iteration of the book does NOT include the subject headings assigned each chapter for use in the Fulltext eBooks database.
CO-AUTHOR: Wall, C. Edward. (Editor)
DATABASE: Fulltext eBooks: Copyright (c) 2000 The Pierian Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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