To have a hidden agenda or motive.
This expression is believed to have originated from Poor Richard's Almanac by Benjamin Franklin, in which he was a central character in the story.
A man stopped to admire the Franklin's family grindstone. He asked for a demonstration of how it worked and offered the young Benjamin his axe on which to demonstrate.
Once the ax was sharp, the man walked away, laughing. He had used his admiration of the grindstone to cover up his real agenda of getting his ax sharpened.
Nowadays the saying usually has a slightly different connotation: To get someone told off or settle a score with/get even with someone
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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