One time there was a man, and this here man he had a mighty likely daughter. She was so pretty that she had more beaus than what you got fingers and toes. But the gal daddy, he got his suspicions about all of 'em, and he won't let 'em come 'round the house. But they kept on pestering him so, that by and by he give word out that the man what can clear up six acres of land and roll up the logs and pile up the brush in one day, that man can marry his daughter.
Of course, this look like it impossible, and all the beaus drop off excepting one, and he was a great big strapping chap what look like he can knock a steer down. This chap he was named Simon, and the gal, she was named Susanna. Simon, he love Susanna, and Susanna, she love Simon, and there it went.
Well, sir, Simon, he went to the gal daddy, he did, and he say that if anybody can clear up that lad, he the one can do it, leastways he say he gonna try mighty hard. The old man, he grin and rub his hands together, he did, and told Simon to start in in the morning. Susanna, she makes out she was fixing something in the cupboard, but she took and kiss her hand at Simon, and nod her head. This all Simon want, and he went out of there just as happy as a jay-bird after he done robbed a sparrow-nest.
Now, then, this here man was a witch. He could conjure folks, more specially them folks what ain't got no rabbit foot. He been at his conjurements so long, that Susanna done learn most all his tricks. So the next morning when Simon come by the house for to borrow the ax, Susanna she run and got it for him. She got it, she did, and then she sprinkles some black sand on it, and say, "ax, cut; cut, ax." Then she rub her hair across it, and give it to Simon. He took the ax, he did, and then Susanna say, "Go down by the branch, get seven white pebbles, put 'em in this little cloth bag, and whenever you want the ax to cut, shake 'em up."
Simon, he went off in the woods, and started in to clearing up the six acres. Well, sir, them pebbles and that ax, they done the work — they did that. Simon could've been done by the time the dinner-horn blowed, but he hung back 'cause he ain't wanting the man for to know that he doing it by conjurements.
When he shook the pebbles the ax'd cut, and the trees'd fall, and the limbs'd drop off, and the logs'd roll up together, and the brush'd pile itself up. it went on this a-way till by the time it was two hours by sun, the whole six acres was done cleaned up.
About that time the man come 'round, he did, for to see how the work getting on, and, man! He was astonished. He ain't know what to do or say. He ain't wanting to give up his daughter, and yet he ain't know how to get out of it. He walk 'round and 'round, and study, and study, and study how he going rue the bargain. At last he walk up to Simon, he did, and he say, "Look like you sort of forehanded with your work."
Simon, he allow, "Yes sir, when I starts in on a job I'm mighty restless till I gets it done. Some of this timber is rough and tough, but I been had worse jobs than this in my time."
The man say to hisself, "Wat kind of folks is this chap?" Then he say out loud, "Well, since you are so spry, there's two more acres across the branch there. If you'll clear them up 'fore supper you can come up to the house and get the gal."
Simon sort of scratch his head, 'cause he don't know whether the pebbles going to hold out, yet he put on a bold front and he tell the man that he'll go across there and clean up the two acres soon as he rest a little.
The man he went off home, and soon's he get out of sight, Simon went across the branch and shook the pebbles at the two acres of woods, and it weren't no time scarcely 'fore the trees was all cut down and pile up.
The man, he went home, he did, and call up Susanna, and say, "Daughter, that man look like he going get you, sure."
Susanna, she hang her head, and jerk like she fretted, and then she say she don't care nothing for Simon, nohow. Now, she mighty nigh distracted about Simon, and yet she make her daddy believe that she despise him. She know that her daddy was a witch and a mighty mean one in the bargain.
Well, after Susanna done make her daddy believe that she ain't caring nothing at all about Simon, he begun to set his traps and fix his tricks. He up and tell Susanna that after her and Simon get married they must go upstairs in the front room, and then he tell her that she must make Simon go to bed first. Then the man went upstairs and took and took all the slats out of the bedstead excepting one at the head and one at the foot. After that he took and put some foot-valances around the bottom of the bed. Then he took and sawed out the floor under the bed, and there was the trap all ready.
Well, sir, Simon come up to the house, and the man make like he mighty glad for to see him, but Susanna, she look like she mighty shy. No matter about that; after supper Simon and Susanna got married. It ain't in the tale whether they sent for a preacher or whether there was a squire browsing 'round in the neighborhoods, but they had cake with raisins in it, and some of this here syllabub what got more foam in it than there is dram, and they had a mighty happy time.
When bedtime come, Simon and Susanna went upstairs, and when they got in the room, Susanna caught him by the hand, and held up her finger. Then she whisper and tell him that if they don't run away from there they both going to be killed. Simon ask her how come, and she say that her daddy want to kill him 'cause he such a nice man. This make Simon grin; yet he was sort of restless about getting away from there. But Susanna, she say wait. She say, "Pick up your hat and button up your coat. Now, then, take that stick of wood there and hold it above your head.
Whiles he standing there, Susanna got a hen egg out of a basket, then she got a meal-bag, and a skillet. She allow, "Now, then, drop the wood on the bed."
Simon done just like she say, and time the wood struck the bed, the tick and the mattress went a-tumbling through the floor. Then Susanna took Simon by the hand and they run out the back way as hard as they can go.
The man, he was down there waiting for the bed to drop. He had a big long knife in he hand, and time the bed dropped, he lit on it, he did, and stabbed it scandalous. He just naturally ripped the tick up, and when he look, bless gracious, there ain't no Simon there. I lay that man was mad then. He snorted around there till blue smoke come out of his nose, and his eye look red like varmint eye in the dark. Then he run upstairs and there ain't no Simon there, and neither was there any Susanna.
Gentlemens! Then he get madder. He rush out, he did, and look 'round, and away off yonder he see Simon and Susanna just a-running, and a-holding one another's hand. Being a witch, course he can see in the the dark.
Well, this here witch-man, he look off and he see Simon and Susanna running as hard as they can. He put out after 'em, he did, with his knife in his hand, and he kept on a gaining on 'em. By and by, he got so close that Susanna say to Simon, "Fling down your coat."
Time the coat touch the ground, a big thick woods sprung up where it fell. But the man, he cut his way through it with the knife, and kept on a-pursuing after 'em.
By and by, he got so close that Susanna drop the egg on the ground, and time it fell, a big fog riz up from the ground, and a little more and the man would've got lost. But after so long a time fog got blowed away by the wind, and the man kept on a-pursuing after 'em.
By and by, he got so close that Susanna drop the meal-sack, and a great big pond of water covered the ground where it fell. The man was in such a big hurry that he tried to drink it dry, but he ain't can do this, so he sat on the bank and blowed on the water with he hot breath, and after so long a time the water made its disappearance, and then he kept on after 'em.
Simon and Susanna was just a-running, but run as they would, the man kept a-gaining on 'em, and he got so close that Susanna dropped the skillet. Then a big bank of the darkness fell down, and the man ain't know which a-way to go. But after so long a time the the darkness lift up, and the man kept on a-pursuing after 'em.
Man, he made up for lost time, and he got so close that Susanna say to Simon, "Drop a pebble." Time Simon do this a high hill riz up, but the man climbed it and kept on after 'em.
Then Susanna say to Simon, "Drop another pebble." Time Simon drop the pebble, a high mountain growed up, but the man crawled up it and kept on after 'em.
Then Susanna say, "Drop the biggest pebble."
No sooner is he drop it than a big rock wall riz up, and it was so high that the witch-man can't get over. He run up and down, but he can't find no end, and then, after so long a time, he turn around and go home.
On the other side of this high wall, Susanna took Simon by the hand, and say, "Now we can rest."