The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

We have said elsewhere that a man of the name of Tom Patterson, son-in-law of George Wood, lived in the Locust Hollow of East Sugar Loaf Creek. This man lived on what is now the John (Jack) Trimble land. Mr. Patterson said he was born and reared in Weakly County, Tenn. He lived in Locust Hollow 15 years or more before the beginning of the war between the states. Mr. Patterson had a son-in-law of the name of Tom Keeton who lived in a hollow that mouths into Locust where Patterson lived and which is in Marion County, Ark. Mr. Keeton had two boys named John and George who were very mischieveous and were constantly playing pranks and tricks of many sorts on each other. One day while these young scions were both up in a wild cherry tree devouring cherries. John, who was higher up in the tree than George, called his brother’s attention to look up quick and forgetting himself for a moment George looked up and John blew and spit a mouth full of cherry seed, peeling, juice and spittle into George’s face and eyes, which exasperated him to such a degree that he tried to kill him before John could get down out of the tree and make his escape. But in an hour or so they made friends again, but George said, "John, I intend to play a prank on you worth something the first opportunity that presents itself." "All right," replied John, "the same back to you when you do that." A few days after this while the two youngsters were at play on the hillside near the corncrib they discovered a large hornet’s nest hanging to a limb of a sapling. The nest was four or five feet above the ground. John became much interested in the formation of the nest and said he desired to examine it and as the hornets seemed disposed to be quiet he ventured up to the nest and scrutinized it closely without suspecting the nature of his brother George. The hornets did not offer to sting him. In fact, there were only a few of them on the outside, but a large number was in the nest. John’s face was in a few inches of the nest and as George saw his brother’s nose nearly touching the nest he thought it time for revenge. He was standing a few yards from his brother and above him and while John’s back was turned toward him he stooped down and picked up a rock and threw it at the nest, just missing his brother’s head and knocked a hole in the nest. As he hurled the stone he darted up the hill to get out of the way of his brother and the hornets for he believed he would be compelled to war with them both. It was a critical time for John for the hornets swarmed out of the now torn and rent nest and stung the boy desperately. Some got into the bosom of his shirt. Others got down on his back from his shirt collar at the back of his neck. Some stung his naked feet for he was barefooted and a few got up his pants and stung his legs. The awful pain and suffering produced from the stings was almost unbearable and John kicked, jumped and yelled in agony. George was scared too for it was not his intention of carrying it so far as this and he thought the hornets would sting his brother to death and he ran toward him intending to help fight the hornets away. But at this moment John started off on a fast run toward Locust Creek and running to the bed of the creek he found it dry and turning down the hollow he ran down it a half a mile where there was a pool of water and leaped into it and rolled in it until he got rid of the hornets. During his battle with the stinging insects and the run down the hollow he had torn all his clothes into shreds and jerked them off of him and he went back to the house as naked as a new born babe and took his bed where he remained many days before he recovered from the effects of the stings of the busy hornets. George had followed him to the pool of water and back to the house and begged his brother’s forgiveness which his brother aid not do until after he had got well and then he told him he would forgive him if he would never treat him so bad any more and George promised him that he would not. Though George had come near causing his brother to die and was quite humble for he knew he had carried his revenge too far and yet he felt satisfied that it was a worse trick than John got on him by spitting in his face. The great suffering that George caused his brother to undergo come back to him in a few weeks after John had recovered from the effects of the stings of of the hornets which come about in this way. The floor of Keeton’s house was low to the ground for the sleepers rested on the dirt. There was just room enough for a boy to crawl along under the floor between the sleepers. One day George crawled under the floor to hunt for a hen’s nest that was supposed to be under there full of eggs. While the boy was making his way along in the dusky darkness under the house he struck a yellow jacket’s nest near the sill on the opposite side of the building from where he started in. The boy was in his shirt tail and the moment he disturbed the nest the yellow jackets swarmed up and all over him and with a scream of terror and pain George lunged forward to get off of the nest but finding he could get only a few feet from the nest on account of the sill, he kicked, hallooed and slapped his body with his hands. The yellow jackets continued to sting him severely. He could not turn around because the sleepers were too close together and the only way to escape was to crawfish back over the nest, which was a horrible thought but it must be done and that immediately. The little fellow was crying and moaning for the stings from the yellow jackets tortured him until he was almost crazed with suffering. The house floor was made of puncheons and were fastened to the sleepers with wooden pins. His father was gone, but his mother was at home and so was John and the former in her frantic efforts to relieve her son cried aloud and done all she could to raise one of the puncheons to pull her suffering child from under the floor, but all in vain for she was not able to get it loose. The boy finding that his mother could not raise the puncheon over him began the terrible ordeal of backing over the den of yellow jackets which stirred the yellow beings into fury again and their stings were so numerous that it felt like 40 gallons of hot water saturated with strong cayenne pepper was being poured on him. George screamed, twisted and squirmed as he was backing through and soon passed from over the nest and continued to back away as fast as the terrible stingers would let him until he got near the going out place. His sorrowing mother whose name was Dula ran where he was coming out from under the floor and when he got in reach of her she grabbed him by his feet and pulled him out. The boy was covered nearly all over with the stinging insects and she knocked them off as fast as she could work her hands and while she was engaged at this she got her hands badly stung. George was compelled to go to bed where he remained as long as his brother John did when the hornets stung him. After George got well he and John agreed that they were even now and ought to play quits.

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