One time there was a fellow names Job Eskin, and he come a-walking up to where the ladies was giving a dinner-on-the-ground at the Methodist Church. Job was a ragged peckerwood and pretty dirty, but you can’t turn people away from a church sociable, no matter if he puts any money in the hat or not. They had fried chicken and vegetables and pies and all the trimmings, but Job didn’t touch nothing but Mary Weatherman’s yellow poundcake. He just cut off slice after slice and put butter on it.You wouldn’t believe that a skinny little old man could eat so much, unless you seen it with your own eyes.
Pretty soon it looked like Job was going to eat the cake plumbn up, and the ladies was getting desperate. So they ask him won’t he please sample the fried chicken and the nice beat bisquits. “Thank you, ma’am,” says he, “but you just save them things for the high-toned folks. This here yaller bread is good enough for me.” In the early days we lived on cornbread mostly, and biscuits made of white flour was something extra fine. Country folks didn’t have biscuits only on Sundays, or when company was a-coming. Job was a good sould, but he didn’t know much.
Finally one of them Ledbetter girls whispered something in Job’s ear. He looked considerable set back, and after that he didn’t gobble no more poundcake, but just et chicken and biscuits like the rest of the boys. Poor Mary Weatherman was plumb sick. “I don’t mind men actin’ like hogs, because that’s their nature. It’s what that old feller said that’s a-killin’ me!” And with that she began to giggle, and acted like she was going to throw a fit, so she had to be took home in the buggy.
Mary Weatherman was kind of upset for about a week, and then she come out of it and bustled round same as ever. And so did poor old Job Eskin.
Stiff as a Poker, A Collection of Ozark Folk Tales, collected by Vance Randolph.(Originally published as "The Devil's Pretty Daughter".
Told by Mrs. Pearl Spurlock, Branson Mo. The date is missing from my record, but it must have been in the Winter of 1934 or the Spring of 1935.
Mr. J.C. Edwards, Webster Groves, MO., October, 1950, has an almost identical tale which he read in rural Missouri about 1980. (V.R.)