Posted by Bruce Kahl on February 17, 2004
In Reply to: Picked their nuts for a season posted by ESC on February 17, 2004
: : : : Does anyone know the meaning of the following expression used in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin:
: : : : "Well", said Haley, after they had both silently picked their nuts for a season, "what do you say?"
: : : : Haley was negotiating for the sale of Tom. Even in context I cannot attach a meaning to this phrase. Thanks for any thoughts.
: : : People used to store up food for winter. Placing potatoes in bins in the cellar, etc. Maybe that's what they were doing with the nuts -- gathering enough for a season.
: : No, it just doesn't fit. As I said, they are negotiating the sale of Uncle Tom. Haley (slave trader) and Mr. Shelby (owns Uncle Tom) have just had a discussion on treatment of slaves (on opposite sides) Haley has made an offer to Mr. Shelby for Tom, they have the discussion, then they "silently picked their nuts" and Mr. Shelby closes the discussion with he will think over Haley's offer. Am I being dense that I can't place this in context?
: Could it mean "thought their thoughts"? Nut = head. As in, off your nut. I'll look and see if I can find any expression like that. What we need is an annotated "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
Below is a link to a very authoritative site at the U of Va. about Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Maybe you can find your answer there.