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Written by T.S. Dalton   

C H A P T E R  IV.
Grandfather decided to clear a small piece of land, some distance from the house, and sow turnip seed; so he put "General" and me to work at that, piling and burning brush. On our way to work one morning we found a hen’s nest with several eggs in it; but we concluded to wait awhile until there were more deposited, and then we would have a good roast. After a few days had elapsed, we concluded to take the spoil; so we gathered them up and put them in "General’s" cap. This was an old slick cap that his brother had worn in the dissecting room in a medical college, kept one more than two or three weeks before I had it worn out; and grandfather said I should go bareheaded for a while to teach me to take care of them. We went to our work and soon had a brush pile burning, and as soon as the coals were sufficient we opened a place and piled in our eggs to roast; after we thought they had cooked long enough we got a stick apiece and were busy raking them out and rejoicing over what a good time awaited us, when I looked down the path and saw our mothers both coming.

"General" gathered up his eggs, put them in his cap, and put the cap on his head. I gathered mine up and put them in my pockets, and the eggs were like coals of fire. "General" stood around with his hands on his cap, raising it up, and I was standing spraddle-legged, pulling my pants away fro me, as the eggs were almost burning the life out of us, and of course, our mothers knew there was some mischief on hand. Grandmother said to "General," "Come here, son, let me see if there are any ‘buggers’ on your head." General would say, ‘No, mother, they don’t bite at all." But grandmother came up to him and we saw there was no way to escape; so "General" threw off his cap and the eggs scattered all around, and I ran my hands into my pockets and pulled out my eggs. This was indeed a relief to both of us.

Our mothers took a hearty laugh and then asked us where we got the eggs. We told them, and in a short while they left us and went back to the house. Then we gathered up our eggs and had our feast after all. Many a hearty laugh we took over that matter.
"General" and I became separated a few years after this circumstance, and we never met any more until we were grown young men. I shall never forget the night we met again, at the home of old Brother Bryant, in Montgomery County, Tennessee. We sat up all night and talked over old matters.  Sometimes we were crying, and sometimes laughing almost to split our sides, calling up old bygone days. At last, just as we could see day breaking, I said to "General," "Do you remember the eggs we roasted in the new ground?" He burst into a fit of laughter and said, "I have taken many a hearty laugh over that when there was no one to hear."

These were our innocent amusements that harmed no one but ourselves. If children could have these little amusements now instead of so much fine dress, revolvers in their hip pockets, bottles of whisky in their overcoat pockets, and fine buggies to ride out in, looking down on the poor and less fortunate with contempt, there would be fewer crimes committed, and our jails and government workships would have fewer "Young Americas" in them, and the older people would be much happier than they are. 

The world would present a different aspect, times would be better, and fewer people would seek death at their own hands as a relief from this sin-smitten and cruel world. In that age it was considered by the people that children were worth their raising; but now they are looked upon as a nuisance, and all efforts are made by people in what they call higher life, to prevent them from ever seeing light.  

May God pity this sin cursed world, and bring us back to live such lives as we lived in days of yore.
C H A P T E R  V.
Grandfather concluded that a yoke of oxen would be of value to us; so we succeeded in raising one and bought another that we thought would match.  We named them Heck and Buck. We soon got them broken so we could work them; but to us boys this was not satisfactory. We wanted them to ride. We soon got Heck so we could ride him; but Buck was stubborn and somehow was not disposed to be subject to us. So we set apart a certain Sunday to ride him, or kill him. We called in "General," "Pen," "Sockwringer," "Flatnose," "Popeyes," with myself, and early Sunday morning we put the lines on Buck, and "General" held to one rope and "Pen" to the other, "Flatnose" and "Popeyes" stood in front and "Sockwringer" behind. I climbed upon the corner of an old corn crib and mounted him; and as soon as I struck his back he poked out his tongue, almost as long as your arm, and put his nose to the ground and began to blow like a mad adder. I turned to "Sockwringer" and said, "Twist his tail." He gave his tail a wrench, and Buck humped his back and gave me a toss and the next thing I remembered they had me in the house rubbing me with camphor. I asked what happened, and was told that Buck had thrown me against the corner of the crib, and I had been unconscious for nearly two hours. I then turned to the boys and said, "Boys, let him rest today. We’ll ride him next Sunday, or kill him."

When next Sunday came, we met again and soon had Buck harnessed up for the fray. This time one of the boys helped me on him, and "Sockwringer" gave his tail a twist and he went off fine for a while. It seems that he ws only selecting his place to land me, for soon he humped his back and threw me over his head down a hill on a pile of rocks. but aside from a few patches of skin knocked off and a few bruises about the head, face and knees and elbows, I came out all right. But I was not to be baffled so easily as to give it up at that. I rubbed myself a little and mounted him again, and succeeded in breaking him in before night, so that we had but little trouble afterward in riding Buck.  After we got them well broken we had a very good yoke of oxen, which helped us a great deal in doing our work. We plowed them real well, and we soon succeeded in getting a two-wheeled cart for them. Then we could haul our own wood, and go to mill with them; also occasionally we would haul for our neighbors and take flour, meal, meat or other necessaries of life, and by this means we could assist our dear old toiling mother in making a living for us.

After a while one of our old neighbors (a widow) died, and her dog, a very large, shaggy fellow, came to live with us. I raised another to match him and made some harness of strings and straps of leather, such as I could pick up, and soon had them broken to work. In this way I could haul wood from the woods, and run around over the neighborhood and do little jobs for the neighbors, for which they would pay me liberally (more through kindness and sympathy than real value of the labor performed, I presume), yet it made me feel very proud to think that I was us. But an old miser, who lived some distance from us, came over one morning and said he had lost some sheep, killed by dogs, that my old shaggy dog was in it, and that he had to be killed. I began to plead for the dog; so he said he would look and see if there was any wool in his teeth, and if there was not he would not kill him. Then I began to feel good, for I knew the poor old dog had no teeth. But when the man saw that the poor old dog was destitute of teeth, and he was therefore beaten at his own game, he became angered, and swore that he would kill him then for spite, and he did kill him. 

But in my little heart I vowed if I ever lived to be a grown man and that man was living, I would give him one of the worst whippings a man ever had. But before I was grown the old fellow had gone to his long home, whether to a good or bad reward I know not. But I remember that in my childish heart I thought if there was a punishment for evil doers in the other world, that man was surely there; for I could not believe that God would save a man that would treat a little orphan child that way, and really I have not changed much, if any, on that subject yet.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 September 2006 )
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