**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


Old Daddy Deering: The Country Fiddler
by [?]

“Now, sir; if you want any bootcherin’ done, I’m y’r man. I don’t turn m’ hand over f’r any man in the State; no, sir! I c’n git a hawg on the gambrils jest a leetle quicker’n any other man I ever see; yes, sir; by gum!”

“All right, uncle; I’ll send for you when I’m ready to kill.”


Hog-killing was one of the events of a boy’s life on a Western farm, and Daddy was destined to be associated in the minds of Shep and Milton with another disagreeable job, that of building the fire, and carrying water.

It was very early on a keen, biting morning in November when Daddy came driving into the yard with his rude, long-runnered sled, one horse half his length behind the other in spite of the driver’s clucking. He was delighted to catch the boys behind in the preparation.

“A-a-h-h-r-r-h-h!” he rasped out, “you lazy vagabon’s? Why ain’t you got that fire blazin’? What the devil do y’ mean, you rascals! Here it is broad daylight, and that fire not built. I vum, sir, you need a thrashin’, the whole kit an bilun’ of ye; yessir! Come, come, come! hustle now, stir your boots! hustle y’r boots–Ha! ha! ha!”

It was of no use to plead cold weather and damp chips.

“What has that got to do with it, sir? I vum, sir, when I was your age, I could make a fire of green red-oak; yessir! Don’t talk to me of colds! Stir your stumps and get warm, sir!”

The old man put up his horses (and fed them generously with oats), and then went to the house to ask for “a leetle something hot–mince pie or sassidge.” His request was very modest, but, as a matter of fact, he sat down and ate a very hearty breakfast, while the boys worked away at the fire under the big kettle.

The hired man, under Daddy’s direction, drew the bob-sleighs into position on the sunny side of the corn-crib, and arranged the barrel at the proper slant while the old man ground his knives, Milton turning the grindstone–another hateful task, which Daddy’s stories could not alleviate.

Daddy never finished a story. If he started in to tell about a horse-trade, it infallibly reminded him of a cattle trade, and talking of cattle switched him off upon logging, and logging reminded him of some heavy snow-storms he had known. Each parenthesis outgrew its proper limits, till he forgot what should have been the main story. His stories had some compensation, for when he stopped to try to recollect where he was, the pressure on the grindstone was released.

At last the water was hot, and the time came to seize the hogs. This was the old man’s great moment. He stood in the pen and shrieked with laughter while the hired men went rolling, one after the other, upon the ground, or were bruised against the fence by the rush of the burly swine.

“You’re a fine lot,” he laughed. “Now, then, sir, grab ‘im! Why don’t ye nail ‘im? I vum, sir, if I couldn’t do better’n that, sir, I’d sell out; I would, sir, by gol! Get out o’ the way!”

With a lofty scorn he waved aside all help and stalked like a gladiator toward the pigs huddled in one corner of the pen. And when the selected victim was rushing by him, his long arm and great bony hand swept out, caught him by the ear and flung him upon his side, squealing with deafening shrillness. But in spite of his smiling concealment of effort, Daddy had to lean against the fence and catch his breath even while he boasted:

“I’m an old codger, sir, but I’m worth–a dozen o’ you–spindle-legged chaps; dum me if I ain’t, sir!”

His pride in his ability to catch and properly kill a hog was as genuine as the old knight-errant’s pride in his ability to stick a knife into another steel-clothed brigand like himself. When the slain shote was swung upon the planking on the sled before the barrel, Daddy rested, while the boys filled the barrel with water from the kettle.