"As Busy As A One-armed Man With The Nettle-rash Pasting On Wall-paper"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In order to have a partner for his swindles, Jefferson Peters goes to a mountain village and hires a local law-breaker, Rufe Tatum, whose weakness is stealing pigs. The two men travel west and stop in Lexington, where a circus is playing. Peters buys Rufe new clothes and teaches him the role he is to play in a shell game. When the shell game is going on, Rufe fails to appear. Later back at their hotel, Peters hears noises in Rufe's room and finds Rufe with a pig. Rufe explains that he stole the pig from the circus and plans to send it to his mother. The next morning Peters reads an advertisement in the newspaper offering five thousand dollars for the return of Beppo, "the famous European educated pig." Without showing the article to Rufe, Peters buys the pig from him for eight hundred dollars. Rufe then leaves the hotel, saying he is going to buy some socks. Peters, who is relating the story, continues:

". . . And then I got as busy as a one-armed man with the nettle-rash pasting on wall-paper. I found an old negro man with an express wagon to hire; and we tied the pig in a sack and drove down to the circus grounds."