Grading on the Curve

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
There are several kinds of smarts, but kindness comes in a single, nondescript, package. So with that in mind, I decided that Karma needed to lend a hand in this story, you know, to make up for a deficit in the smarts department.

Submitted: October 06, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 06, 2017



Bridger Summerhouse was not the wisest owl in the tree, no; I venture to say that he may never have finished the sixth grade if it weren't for grading on the curve.

But Bridger was as honest as the day was long, unlike his Pappy and some of his Pappy's Kinfolk.

He was honest, a sensible kind of honest, so much so that the farm folks around these parts have stories that they tell their children about old Bridger.


Now it seems we have a few moments to spare, so I'd like to share one of those stories with you.


One morning Bridger was sloping the hogs when his Pappy called out to him, "Bridger, get you worthless butt over here, I got an errand for you to tend to."

"What Ya need Pappy"? Bridger asked as he ran across the barnyard.

"Well, Son, neighbor Murdoch tells me that there is a farmer's market and fair down at Willows Bluff. He says that there is farmers and townsfolk down there, and they are itch-in to buy stuff.

I rounded up four Lay-in Hens and put um in this here chicken carry-un crate; I built it last winter.

Now you take these chickens to the fair and sell um for $1.50 each. Got that? Each chicken costs $1.50, and if anyone objects to the price you tell them that they is prime lay-in Hens and that is why they is not $1.00 each! Got that Bridger?"

"Gee Pappy, I didn't know these four chickens was prime lay-in hens," Bridger said, and then he smiled with a smile that was as big as all outdoors.

Bridger was a big man and when he smiled you could see it from a country block away. 

Pappy replied, "Well they are, 'cause I said so. Now tell me what you are gonna do."

"Sure Pappy! You want me to take Henrietta, Gertrude, Lula-bell and Sarah, to the fair and sell each one for $1.50, not a penny less!" Bridger stated loudly.

Pappy said, "That's right boy, but the chicken carry-un crate don't go with the chickens, I want that back.

Well, maybe if some fool wants to pay $10 for the create then you can sell it

Now go on boy, times-ah waist-in!"


After two hours of walking Bridger came to the main road, such as it was. It was just an extra wide dirt road with gravel on it. But to Bridger it was a welcome sight, his six-foot, four-inch, tall body, all 280 pounds of it, didn't do well in fresh tilled farm fields. So any surface that was firm and reasonably flat was a blessing in Bridger's mind, and to his two flat feet.

Bridger walked along the road for some time, until two men in an empty hay wagon pulled up behind him. 

"Where ya going, Boy?" One man yelled out to Bridger.

"To the Farmer's market and fair down at Willows Bluff," Bridger stated as he stepped aside to let the wagon pass.

The same man smiled and said, "Well I'll be, that is exactly where we are going. We are going to buy some chickens, if they have some good laying hens, and we are going to sell this little pig that my brother is holding in his lap."

"How many chickens do ya need?" asked Bridger, "I got four fine lay-in hens right here, this one is Gertrude, that's Henrietta, then there is Lula-bell, and the one with the red color on her wings, that's Sarah."

The same man replied, "Why isn't that a coincidence, we need exactly four chickens. How much are you asking for them?"

"My Pappy said I was to ask $1.50 for each chicken," Bridger stated firmly.

The other man, the one holding the little pig, got a scowl on his face and replied, "Well I don't know, that is a pretty high price in my book."

Bridger explained, "These are extra good lay-in hens, my Pappy says so. And when Pappy says somethin' --- it is gospel."

"You got a good point there boy," said the first man.

"I'll tell you what I'm gonna do. I'll give you the whole $5 dollars if you will let us borrow the chicken carrying crate. We will return the crate to your Pappy as soon as we get the chickens home.

I've known your Paw for years, he and I used to go coon hunting together, so I'm sure he wouldn't mind."

Bridger thought for a good long time, and then replied, "How do I know that you know my Pappy."

"Well that is simple," said the first man again, "I knew that he goes coon hunting didn't I, so if I knew that he goes coon hunting then I must have went hunting with him; and if I been hunting with him, then I must know him. --- Right?

So here is your $5 and to seal the deal let's shake on it!"

The two men shook hands; Bridger took the $5 and put the carrying crate, along with the chickens, in the back of the wagon.

The two men continued down the road and Bridger turned back and headed for home.

After walking for a short while Bridger heard the sound of chickens behind him, and when he turn to look he saw Sarah,  Henrietta, Gertrude, and Lula-bell, following behind him.

"Oh nuts, you girls shouldn't be following me," Bridger said, "Those men must have let you out to graze, not know-in that you would follow after me. Now I gotta take you back to them.

So Bridger turned back towards the fair and started walking.

Well, Bridger didn't walk another mile when he meets his neighbor, Murdoch, who was coming back from the farmer's market.

Murdoch said as he laughed, "I see them four chickens are still following you around, Bridger. They must think you are their Mama."

Bridger replied, "I guess, I found these four when they were just little tweets, they was hiding in a bush and their Mother was nowhere to be seen. So I looked after them until they could fend for themselves.

But I just sold them to two men in a hay wagon.

They must have let them out to graze, never figurin' that they would come following after me. Now I gotta go chase those men down and return their chickens."

Murdoch got a funny look on his face and asked, "Did you sell them your Pappy's chicken crate too? I saw them and they had a little pig in it."

"Oh no, I just let them borrow it until they got home with the chickens. They said they would return it to Pappy as soon as they got home," Bridger stated while sporting one of those famous smiles of his.

"I think that you should tell me the whole story about this chicken sale, Bridger.

"I'm beginning to smell a rat, because I'm sure that those men don't know your Pappy.

And if push came to shove, I'd bet that they borrowed that hay wagon while no-one was look-in; I say that because that horse of theirs is no hay-wagon horse. And who knows where they got the little pig that they put in your Pappy's crate.

I'm telling you true, Son, I've never seen those men before today. And if I've never seen them before then your Pappy doesn't know them either."

So after Murdoch heard the whole story of the chicken sale, he gave Bridger some sound advice.

He said, "Those men cheated you Bridger, they owed you $6 dollars for the chickens, not $5, and I'll bet what they really wanted was the crate to put that little pig in, a $10 create. So it served them right that the chickens ran off.

Cut your losses, Son, take the chickens to market and sell them for $6, just like your Pappy said. Then you will have $11, $6 from the chicken sale and $5 for the crate. I don't think your Pappy will be too mad when he takes a look at the money you brought home."

So Bridger set out to market, meandering down that farm road with four chicken trailing right behind him; it was a site to be seen.


A short while later, and near the railroad crossing, Bridger met a man and a woman who were interested in buying two of Bridger's chickens.

"Good Sir," said the man, "I am Felonious Figbottom and this is my associate, Miss Mildred Stonehopper.

We are temporarily without funds but perhaps we might reach an agreement, bartering if you will, for two of your fine chickens.

I just so happen to have a gold-plated pocket watch, complete with chain. I will trade you straight across for the two chickens."

Bridger had already been duped once, so he was very skeptical about this man's offer, besides, he didn't understand half of what the man said.

So Bridger asked, "Why don't you Pawn the Watch and buy you some chickens with that money? I'm sure you could get enough money to buy a bunch of chickens."

"That is very true," said Mildred Stonehopper, "but we must ketch a train very soon so we have no time to go looking for a town with a Pawn Broker. So you see, we are in a bit of a pickle.

Besides, you said that you were going to the Farmer's Fair and I'm sure you could find someone at the fair that would be willing to give you the price of two chickens for this fine $20 watch. After all, you still have to go to the fair to sell the other two chickens."

Everything sounded right to Bridger, so he agreed and made the trade.


Well don't you know that Bridger was hardly out of sight of the chicken carrying couple when he saw three men on horseback coming down the road?

The rider out front was the local sheriff. And when he stopped, he gave a description of the two people that Bridger had just sold the chickens to.

The Sheriff asked Bridger if he had seen them, and of course, Bridger told them to ride east along the railroad tracks and to look for two people carrying chickens.

Hearing the news, the three men quickly rode away.

And Bridger was free to continue to the fair, with the two remaining chicken trailing behind him.


Bridger finally arrived at the fair, and that is when he noticed that Henrietta, Gertrude, Lula-bell and Sarah, were all back together and following him.

"Hmm," thought Bridger, "the sheriffs must have caught up with those two scallywags. I wonder what they did?"

"Bridger made a sign using a chili-dog wrapper, (Bridger Loves Chili-dogs! He ate six.), and he attached the very messy but readable sign to his shirt. The sign said, "Cikuns 4 sail, one daller and fifty sents a peece."

No-one seemed to be interested in buying Bridger's chickens, but many of those same people looked at him and laughed, others would shake his hand and say things that he didn't understand.

Bridger just figured that they had a bit too much beer to drink.

But unknown to Bridger, a contest was going on at the fair. It was a "Funniest Farmer Contest" and by the end of the day Bridger had more votes that anyone else, despite the fact that he was only at the fair for two hours.

The Mayor of Willows Bluff congratulated Bridger and presented him with the First Prize Ribbon and the cash prize of $25.

Then the high school's cheerleaders distracted and confused poor Bridger even more by dancing and jumping all around him; they were scaring his chickens too.

By the time the cheerleaders stopped dancing and jumping, poor Bridger was a nervous mess.

In fact, he tripped and fell on the ground while trying to gather his chickens back together.

The Mayor raced over to help him up, but the Mayor was a little man and Bridger was not.

So after the assistance of two of the high schools foot-ball team, our First Place Winner was on his feet again.

But as Bridger stood up he noticed the Gold Watch had fallen from his watch-pocket. It was lying in the dirt!

Well, Bridger very gingerly picked it up and when he did he held it up to examine it for scratches and dents.

All of the sudden the Mayor yelled out, "My watch, my Fathers Gold watch, you found it! I thought that I'd lost it forever! Oh thank you, thank you so much!

Well, as luck would have it, the Mayor had offered a $50 reward for his beloved watch.


Bridger arrived home late that night with a belly full of Chili-dogs and the four chickens following right behind him. Bridger also had a $20 dollar bill for his Pappy.

Pappy assumed the money was for his finely crafted chicken-crate, and Bridger never said it wasn't.

Bridger just never said anything 'cause his Pappy was so happy; he didn't want to spoil the rare occasion.

What happened to the rest of the money, the other $60? Well some of it went in Bridger's belly, god that boy loves to eat!

And some went for a silver-plated pocket-watch, and a sturdy chain; Bridger has never had a watch because he doesn't know how to tell time.

But that's OK, his sister knows how and she'll help him learn; she said so.

Oh, and speaking of sisters.

A hunk of Bridger's money, well, he gave it to Mama for her emergency fund, which would be in the cookie jar that sits above the Frig.

Mama is save-in up for girl stuff, like a frilly dress and appropriate shoes.

You see, that very same sister is graduating from high school this year, and she can't go to the graduation dance in everyday cloths; ‘cause, well, it just wouldn't be fit-ten.



D. Thurmond / JEF


Minor Rewrite, 2020

© Copyright 2020 D. Thurmond, aka, JEF. All rights reserved.

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