“Tom was a good deal bothered about what to do for a spoon, but he said we’d got to have it; so he took a think. When he had ciphered it out he told me how we was to do; then we went and waited around the spoon-basket till we see Aunt Sally coming, and then Tom went to counting the spoons and laying them out to one side, and I slid one of them up my sleeve, and Tom says:
“Why, Aunt Sally, there ain’t but nine spoons yet.”
“Go ‘long to your play, and don’t bother me. I know better, I counted ‘m myself.”
“Well, I’ve counted them twice, Aunty, and I can’t make but nine.”
She looked out of all patience, but of course she come to count — anybody would.
“I declare to gracious ther’ ain’t but nine!” she says. “Why, what in the world — plague take the things, I’ll count ‘m again.”
So I slipped back the one I had, and when she got done counting, she says:
“Hang the troublesome rubbage, ther’s ten now!” and she looked huffy and bothered both. But Tom says:
“Why, Aunty, I don’t think there’s ten.”
“You numskull, didn’t you see me count ‘m?”
“I know, but –“
“Well, I’ll count ‘m again.”
So I smouched one, and they come out nine, same as the other time. Well, she was in a tearing way — just a-trembling all over, she was so mad. But she counted and counted till she got that addled she’d start to count in the basket for a spoon sometimes; and so, three times they come out right, and three times they come out wrong. Then she grabbed up the basket and slammed it across the house and knocked the cat galley-west; and she said cle’r out and let her have some peace, and if we come bothering around her again betwixt that and dinner she’d skin us. So we had the odd spoon, and dropped it in her apron-pocket whilst she was a-giving us our sailing orders, and Jim got it all right, along with her shingle nail, before noon. We was very well satisfied with this business, and Tom allowed it was worth twice the trouble it took, because he said now she couldn’t ever count them spoons twice alike again to save her life; and wouldn’t believe she’d counted them right if she did; and said that after she’d about counted her head off for the next three days he judged she’d give it up and offer to kill anybody that wanted her to ever count them any more.
So we put the sheet back on the line that night, and stole one out of her closet; and kept on putting it back and stealing it again for a couple of days till she didn’t know how many sheets she had any more, and she didn’t care, and warn’t a-going to bullyrag the rest of her soul out about it, and wouldn’t count them again not to save her life; she druther die first.”