Another summer season has passed and the usual inquiries have accumulated from folks from away as to why Mainers always say eyah. "I notice," said a summercater to Pete Sawyer one time, "that Maine people never say 'yes.'" "Eyah, " said Pete, "tha's right." It's just a guess, but mine has always been that our Maine eyah derived out of the days when a good part of our early settlers were Scots, and probably had a tendency to say aye. In deference to other Mainers who were not Scots, a man might have said aye and added yes -- aye-yes. Aye-yes persists in a Maine saying, viz: "I asked him point-blank, straight out, but he wouldn't give me no aye, yes, nor no." Maybe such as aye-yes was the great-granddaddy of the Maine eyah.
People used to say that my grandfather and Horace Jordan each made a good living trading cows with the other. Only those who knew not my grandfather and Horace would doubt that, the Horace passed his dickering instincts along to his son Will. Will is now in context because he had a way of saying aye-yes that was something of a trade mark with him. "Aye-yes," he'd say, "that's the story." It was his way of saying that's the way the cookie crumbles, or a Down-East version of the French ca-va.m "Aye-yes," he'd say, "that's the story of Abed and David."
Just what the story of Abed and David may have been was never elucidated, but in an area of four-five double townships, everybody immediately thought of Will Jordan if you mentioned Abed and David. One year, back maybe in the 30s, Will had a portable sawmill set up near the Allen Range road in Freeport, and after he'd stripped the lot, he moved the mill along, as was the defoliating custom of portable sawmill owners. A few days later in the First National Bank of Brunswick, Will was approached by Brice Booker, another solid dickerer who knew his way around in any kind of a trade. "See you've moved the mill," said Brice.
"Aye-yes, that's the story," said Will.
"Looks like you left some good stuff in the yard. You going to clean it up?"
"Depends. What did you have in mind?"
"Well, I got a truck and a couple of boys, and I could set them to cleaning up -- must be some boards and dimension stock there worth looking into."
"Aye-yes," said Will. Will now knew that Brice was about to make an offer. "I ain't looked around to see what's there," said Will, "have you?"
"No, but they's always some scoots and scantlin's -- I'll do you the favor. How about $10"
"Aye-yes," said Will. "That would save me the trouble, but I wouldn't want you to lose money on it. See what you get, and $10 sounds about right."
Brice told me about this long afterwards. He said he put the boys on the lot , and they got a good load of two-by-twice, several loads of fair boards, a lot of edgings, and all the timbers out of the saw carriage foundation. Brice said his brother Bill took the edgings and sold them for kindling wood out of his building-supply store, and on edgings alone was well ahead on his deal with Will Jordan. Then he saw Will again in the First National Bank.
"Morning, Will," said Brice, "how-ya doin'?"
"Just gettin' by," said Will.
Brice said, "Here's $10 for letting me clear up that lot."
Will feigned not to see any $10, and looking over the money at Brice he said, "What did you find?"
"Some pretty good stuff," said Brice.
"About ten truck loads, altogether. Some better'n others."
"Aye-yes," said Will. "That's the story. Ten loads. Let me see -- ten loads at $10 a load; that's an even hundred."
Before Brice said anything, Will went on, "Aye-yes -- I distinctly remember our handshake; $10 a load."
Brice told me, "I gave him a hundred. I made enough so I saw still ahead. Can you beat it? And didn't he shuffle off and go to his just reward before I had a chance to get even?"
"Aye-eye," I said, and Brice said, "That's the story of Abed and David."