I heard tell of an old couple that lived over in the river bottom back during the old days.
Now, this old man and woman lived off the land and didn’t need hardly anything store bought. They ate about anything and hunted and fished for food.
About twice a year, the older lady would walk into town and buy a few things that they just had to have. On one such occasion, she was gone into town and the old man was going fishing. He happened to cross the old Bull Mountain road just as an old peddler wagon came by. He had never seen one, so he just stopped and stared at all the stuff hanging on the outside of the old wagon.
So, the peddler stopped and asked, “You need anything today?”
The old man said, “Don’t reckon, but you shore got a bunch of stuff.”
The peddler said, “Look around. You might see something you need.”
That’s when the peddler decided to pitch a few things to the old man. First, he picked up a pan.
“Need a good pan?” he asked.
“Naw,” the old man said. “We got a couple.”
Next, the old peddler showed him a new butcher knife. But the old man didn’t want that, either.
“Naw,” he said again. “We got one.”
The peddler knew he was gonna have to come up with something pretty quick if he was gonna make a sale. So, he reached inside and picked out a mirror.
“Need a mirror?” he asked.
The old man said, “What’s a mirror?”
The peddler just wiped the dust off the mirror and handed it to the old man. The old man looked into it and sorta begun to cry.
“It’s my daddy,” he said. “It’s a picture of my pa! How’d you get a picture of my pa?”
Now the peddler didn’t know what to say, but he wasn’t going miss a chance to make a little money.
“I got that on special today only for $10 dollars,” he said.
The old man didn’t have any money, but he wasn’t about to let that stop him from taking ownership of such a great photo of his pa.
“If you’ll wait,” he told the peddler, “I’ll run home and get it.”
The peddler agreed to this arrangement and told the old man that he’d wrap the mirror up for him while he was gone. So, the old man dropped his stuff and headed for home. The old cabin wasn’t far off, and he ran in the door and opened the cabinet and found where his wife kept her little bit of money from selling eggs. He grabbed the $10 he needed and ran back to find the peddler waiting for him. They made the trade, and the old man stuffed his new purchase in his old pack.
The old man went fishing like he planned but found he couldn’t concentrate for looking at the picture of his old pa. He tried to remember what the peddler called it … a “mirror” or something.
“Must be a fancy word for picture of pa,” he told himself.
Of course, now he had a problem. He couldn’t just come out and tell his wife that he took $10 of her money and bought a picture. He was just gonna play shut-mouth and keep it hid!
Everything was going as planned. Every night after supper, he would sneak out to the barn, dig around in the hay and take out his picture thing and just have a conversation with old pa. He was amazed at how lifelike that contraption was.
Keep in mind, the old lady wasn’t crazy. She had found the money missing, and one night she followed him out to the barn. She heard him talking to somebody and eased on back home. The next day when he went hunting, she went to the barn to investigate. She looked around and finally found something he had wrapped up and hidden in the hay.
The old lady slowly unwrapped it — scanning her surroundings to be sure her husband wasn’t around — and stared at what had so captured the old man’s attention.
“Well, now I know why he’s been sneaking out to the barn,” she said as she laid eyes on the mirror. “He’s been spending my money on her! He’s out here with this old hussy, and she’s a whole lot older and uglier than I am!”
And life goes on, on Thompson Hill.