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21 - Uncle Joe's Jug

 

 

from The Treasury of Newfoundland Stories published, by Maple Leaf Mills Limited, in 1961

Many, many years ago, before the days of the train running around Conception Bay, people used to walk to St. John's, putting up overnight when mid-way.

In this particular case, Uncle Joe, as he was familiarly known, walked a distance of sixty miles to St. John's in order to board a ship for the ice fields.

He was accustomed to having his "drop of stuff" and for this long voyage was badly in deed of it. Much to his disappointment he discovered he had left his money at home and he was due to sail the next day. He thought for a moment, then came up with this bright but none-too-honest idea.

He obtained an earthen jug, put a quart of water in it, went to a bond store and asked for a quart of rum.

After having the rum put in the jug, he innocently put his hand in his pocket and exclaimed, "Blast! I've left my money home,. What shall I do?"

The bartender, being of a singularly uncharitable disposition, replied brusquely, "You'll pour it back, that's what you'll do." And so Uncle Joe did.

That left a quart mixture - half rum, half water - and wily Uncle Joe proceeded with his plan to try the same stunt at the different bond stores around the docks. After his second success, the rum was stronger and the water weaker. So it went until the old rascal had a quart of overproof, and it was merrily that he set sail for the seal fishery next morning. Behind him in St. John's he left four or five kegs of slightly watered rum in as many bond stores.

Uncle Joe had a profitable trip that year and a safe return. And, believe it or not, his was such an honest nature that he made good the wrong he'd done before he set off with a fresh jug on the long walk home.

 

 

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This page transcribed by James Butler, 2000
REVISED: August 2002 (Terry Piercey)

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