Pinched wheat [short story by Jack Moses]

[Editor: This is a short story from Beyond the City Gates: Australian Story & Verse (1923) by Jack Moses.]

Pinched wheat

Ikey Isaacs and his brother Abey saw wonderful possibilities in the Poultry Industry, and thus it was that on their adjoining properties were well-regulated fowl-runs.

Of course, even in the suburbs, the man who follows the game of poultry-raising has his drawbacks, and there were times when both Ikey and Abe were perturbed at the high cost of fowl-living.

One morning, after surveying his run with pride, Ikey confided in Abe that keeping poultry had become a luxury, and remarked, feelingly, “it takes all de profit off de eggs vot we get from dem fowls — de chook food is outrageous in de price and ve vill all go broke if ve have to spend so much gelt on keeping de fowls.”

“Vell, Ikey,” enquired Abe, “vot is the best ting vot we do? Tink ve better get some fowl food on de wholesellit vay?”

“Yes, yes,” said Ikey, “I tink it is so; it vill be sometink attempted some vun done. You ’ad better go down by Sussex Street and see some of dem agent men and maybe you pick up a bargain in veet.”

Abey concurred in the suggestion of Brother Ike, and in due course found his way to Sussex Street in quest of chick-wheat. He called upon the first produce merchant whose sign attracted him in the street, and made searching enquiries as to the price of fowl-fodder.

“Yes.” replied a salesman in answer to a query, “we have a suitable wheat at 8/- per bushel.”

“Oh,” protested Abe, “dat is too much — vot have you got vot is cheaper?”

“Well,” smiled the salesman, coming down to earth, “we have some at 1/6 per bushel.”

“Ah, ah,” grunted Abe suspiciously, “dere is a long distance between de price of dose two veets. Vot is de matter mit de veet vot is eighteenpenny?”

“Oh, well,” laughed the salesman, pulling a bag of spuds towards the weighing machine, “that cheap wheat has been pinched.”

“Is dat so? Vell, vell, vell! I go back and tell my brudder about dat veet vot’s pinched.”

Abey returned to Ike and related to him the result of his mission in search of wheat.

“Dere is veet for eight shillins de bushel and dere is veet at eighteenpence de bushel.”

“Shimmorbenee!” exclaimed the brother. “Vot is de matter wit dat eighteenpenny?”

“Nuddings de matter wit de veet, only it’s been pinched.”

“Ah!” exclaimed Ike excitedly, “pinched, vos it? Den Abe, me boy, don’t you have nudding to do mit dat veet, or else maybe you get into some trouble. You don’t want to drop in any pool; you might get pinched yourself. Better you get me a bag of dat eight shillin’ veet.”

Abe returned to Sussex Street, saw his man, and informed him that he had come to complete a purchase.

“My brudder Ike vill take a bag of de eight bob veet, but” lowering his voice “for me I vill take a bag of dat pinched veet.”

The salesman nodded assent and forthwith booked the order.

“We’ll send the wheat along,” he said.

Abe hesitated a moment, looked round the shop to ascertain whether the coast was clear, then in a hushed voice added: “You can trust me I tink. Tell me, vere did you pinch dat veet?”

Jack Moses, Beyond the City Gates: Australian Story & Verse, Sydney: Austral Publishing Co., 1923, pages 117-118

Editor’s notes:
gelt = (Yiddish slang) money (from the German “geld”, meaning money)

pinched = [1] (slang) caught by the police; arrested

pinched = [2] (slang) stolen

pinched wheat = small wheat grain (wheat grain with a small mass, which cannot be effectively milled for flour, and thus is commonly used as feed for animals)

spud = potato

Vernacular spelling in the original text:
’ad (had)
brudder (brother) [German]
dat (that) [German]
de (the) [German]
dem (them) [German]
den (then) [German]
dere (there) [German]
dose (those) [German]
me (my)
mit (with) [German]
nudding (nothing) [German]
shillins (shillings) [German]
sometink (something) [German]
ting (thing) [German]
tink (think) [German]
vay (way) [German]
ve (we) [German]
veet (wheat) [German]
vell (well) [German]
vere (where) [German]
vill (will) [German]
vos (was) [German]
vot (what) [German]
vun (one) [German]
wholesellit (wholesale) [German]
wit (with) [German]

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