One time, there was a boy, and this here boy was mighty smart. He was like a slick thrip — little but old. I don't know what they call him in them times, but in these days we'd call him a runt, and laugh at him. Well, this here boy had a head on him. He look like he dried up, but never mind that. Them what got ahead of him had to get up long 'fore day, and if they ain't take care they'd find him up before 'em.
One season, when the blackberries was ripe, he went 'round and told the folks that if they'd take their baskets and their buckets and go out and get the blackberries, he'd give 'em half they pick. It been so seldom that the folks get a chance for to make any extra money that they mighty glad to have the chance to pick blackberries. So they all went out and pick and pick, till they pick two wagon loads of 'em. Well, this here shrunk up boy, which he look like he ain't got no sense scarcely, he divide fair, there ain't no two ways about that. He took half and give 'em their half back. Linktum Lidy Lody, that what they call him, and that what he call hisself — Linktum Tidlum Tidy. It run along so funny that I don't know whereabouts the given name stops at and whereabouts the family name begins at. For short and sweet they call him Tinktum Tidy.
Well, this here Tinktum Tidy, he divide out fair with the folks. He took his half of the blackberries and give 'em their half. There weren't no disputing about it. But then when the folks get their half, they ask theyself what they going do with it. They want to sell it to Tinktum Tidy, but he allow he got just as much blackberries as he know what to do with. After a while the folks say that if they can't sell their share of the blackberries, they just as well put 'em in Tinktum Tidy's pile, and that what they done; and then he took the two wagon loads to town and sold 'em for the cash money.
By and by some of the more longer headed folks sat down and got to studying about it, and they ask theyself how come they got to go out and pick blackberries for that little bit of shrunk up chap. They study and study, but the more they study the more foolish they feel.
Well, sir, the tale got out, and it travel 'round and 'round till the King got wind of it, and he took and sent for Tinktum Tidy. This make the folks what pick the blackberries mighty glad, 'cause they got the idea that the King going to put the little shrunk up chap in the calaboose for fooling 'em. But Tinktum Tidy ain't scared. He wrap up a change of clothes in his handkerchief, and put out to where the King stay at. Some of the folks went along for to see what going to come of the little shrunk up chap what fool 'em.
By and by they got to where the King live, and Tinktum Tidy just march right along in, and told 'em that the King done sent for him. They took him in a big room where there was a whole passel of other folks, and told him to wait there till the King come. Everybody look at him hard, he was so shrunk up and puny, and he look right back at 'em, just like he was one of the quality.
After while, here come the King. Time he got settled on the platform, his eye dropped on Tinktum Tidy, and he ask what that there runt doing there.
They up and tell the King that that's the chap what make the folks pick so much blackberries. When the King hear this, he lay back and laugh fit to kill hisself. He call Tinktum Tidy up and ask him all about how he been doing, and then he allow, the King did, that Tinktum Tidy must be mighty smart.
But Tinktum Tidy, he say that it ain't him that's smart, it's the folks what pick the blackberries, 'cause folks what can pick that much in so little time is pleased to be smart.
Then the King run his hand in his pocket and pull out eleven grains of corn. He allow, "Take this here corn and do what you please with it, but the crop I want from it is eleven strong men for to put in my army."
Tinktum Tidy took the corn and tie it up in one corner of his handkerchief. He allow, "Not counting hurricanes and high water, I'll be back in a fortnight. If eleven strong men was as easy to pick as blackberries, I'd send some other folks, but I'll have to go after the men myself."
With that he make his bow, he did, and took his foot in his hand and put out. He travel all that day, and about night he come to a tavern, and there he stop. The man ask him where he come from, what his name, and where he going. He say he come from Chuckerluckertown, and he name Tinktum Tidy, and he going on a long journey. When bedtime come, he call the man in the room and show him the corn.
He allow, "Here the eleven grains of corn the King give me. I'll lay it on the table. I'm feared the Big Gander going to eat it."
The man say he'll shut the door so the Big Gander can't get it. Then they all went to bed. Tinktum Tidy wait till everybody got still, and then he got up and dropped the corn through the crack of the floor. Then he went to sleep.
Next morning he wake up soon and alarm the neighborhood. He holler out, "I told you so! I told you so! The Big Gander done eat the eleven grains of corn what the King give me! The Big Gander done eat the eleven grains of corn the King give me!"
Tinktum Tidy holler so loud and so long that he scare the man. Then the man's old woman, she stuck her head out the window and sat up a squall. She say, "Take the Big Gander and go on off from here! Take him and go!"
Tinktum Tidy took the Big Gander under his arm and went poling down the big road. He travel all that day till night, and he come to another town, and he went and put up at the tavern. When bedtime come, he tied the gander by the leg to the bedstead, and then he call the man.
"Here the Big Gander that eat eleven grains of corn that the King give me. I'll tie him here, 'cause I'm feared the Boo-Boo Black Sheep'll kill him."
Man say, "Black Sheep can't get him here."
In the middle of the night Tinktum Tidy got up and broke the Big Gander's neck and flung him out in the barn-yard. Next morning he got up soon, and begun to holler. He allow, "I told you so! I told you so! Boo-Boo Black Sheep done kill the Big Gander that eat the eleven grains of corn the King give me!"
When the man hear talk of the King, he got scared. It make him shake in his shoes. He say, "Take Boo-Boo Black Sheep and go along! You done fetch me bad luck!"
Then Tinktum Tidy fastened Boo-Boo Black Sheep with a rope, and led him off down the big road. By and by he come to where there was another town, and he went and put up at the tavern. When bedtime come he call the man.
He allow, "Here Boo-Boo Black Sheep that kill the Big Gander, that eat the eleven grains of corn the King give me. I'll tie him here to the bedstead 'cause I'm feared the Brindle Cow'll hook him."
Man say, "Brindle Cow can't get him in here."
'Twixt midnight and day, Tinktum Tidy got up and kill the Black Sheep and put him in the lot with the Brindle Cow. Then he got up soon in the morning, and begun to holler. He allow, "I told you so! I told you so! The Brindle Cow done kill Boo-Boo Black Sheep that kill the Big Gander that eat the eleven grains of corn the King give me!"
This make the man feel scared. He say, "Take the Brindle Cow and go!"
Tinktum Tidy led the Brindle Cow off down the road and make his way to the next town. He got there by the time night come, and put up at the tavern. When bedtime come, he took and call the man. He allow, "Here the Brindle Cow that kill the Boo-Boo Black Sheep that kill the Big Gander that eat the eleven grains of corn the King give me. I'll tie her here by the chimney, where the Roan Horse can't get her."
The man say, "I know mighty well the Roan Horse can't get her here."
Just 'fore day Tinktum Tidy took the Brindle Cow in the stable and made way with her. Then when daylight come he begun to holler. He allow, "I told you so! I told you so! The Roan Horse done kill the Brindle Cow that kill the Boo-Boo Black Sheep that kill the Big Gander that eat the eleven grains of corn the King give me."
The man get scared when he hear the name of the King, and he say, "Take the Roan Horse and go on where you going!"
Tinktum Tidy got on the Roan Horse and went trotting down the big road. He went on and went on, he did, till he come to a place where he had to cross a creek. Close by the road he seed a old man setting. He look at the old man and the old man look at him.
By and by the old man say, "Howdy, son!"
Tinktum Tidy say, "Howdy, Grandsir!"
The old man allow, "Son, come wipe my eyes!"
Tinktum Tidy say, "I'll wipe 'em, Grandsir, if so be it'll do you any good." Then he got down off of the Roan Horse and wipe the old man's eyes.
The old man say, "Thanky-do, son! Thanky-do!"
Tinktum Tidy say, "You are more than welcome, Grandsir!" Then he got on the Roan Horse and was about to ride off.
The old man allow, "Son, come scratch my head!"
Tinktum Tidy say, "I'll scratch your head, Grandsir, if so be it'll do you any good." Then he got down off of the Roan Horse and scratch the old man's head.
The old man say, "Thanky-do, son! Thanky-do!"
Tinktum Tidy say, "You are more than welcome, Grandsir!"
Then he start for to ride off again, but the old man allow, "Son, come help me up!
Tinktum Tidy say, "I'll help you up, Grandsir, if so be it'll do you any good!"
So he went and helped him up, and it seem like that when the old man got on his foots his strength come back. He straighten up, he did, and look lots younger than what he did.
He allow, "Son, I been sitting here going on ten year, and you are the onliest one that ever do what I ask 'em. Some laugh at me, and some cuss at me, but all went on their way, and every one that pass fell in with eleven robbers what live down the road a piece and got robbed. Now beings as you done what I asked you, I'm more than willing for to do what you ask me."
With that, Tinktum Tidy up and told the old man how come he to be going along there, and about how the King want him to fetch back eleven strong men for to go in the army.
The old man allow, "Son, they are waiting for you right down the road. Keep right on till you come to where there's a big white house. Ride 'round that house seven times one way and seven times the other way, and say the words that come in your head. Don't get scared, 'cause I won't be so mighty far off."
Tinktum Tidy ride off down the road, he did, and went on till he come to the big white house. Then he ride 'round it seven times one way and seven times the other way. He allow, "This is the Roan Horse that kill the Brindle Cow that kill the Boo-Boo Black Sheep that kill the Big Gander that eat the eleven grains of corn the King give me. I want eleven strong men for the King's army."
And bless your soul, the door of the big white house flewed open, and eleven strong men come marching out. By that time the old man had come up, and they ask him what they must do.
He allow, "Mount your horses, sons, and go join the King's army!"
So they went, and the King was mighty proud. He look 'round at everybody and say, "I told you so!" and he fix it up so that Tinktum Tidy had just as much as he can eat and wear, and mighty little work for to do all the balance of his days.