Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Hog came Home


Sherman and Jason went into the house and proceeded to the kitchen table. Jason was married to Sherman's daughter, Dora, bringing the McCalls into the spreading Owen family. Dora and Jason recently added a new member to the family,  a boy, Elzie.

Sherman poured a cup of coffee for Jason and they sat down at the table to look at the Sale Bill.
Sherman leaned back in his chair and looked at Jason. "I did not think the son-of-a-bitch would have the nerve. We will go to the sale and get the hog and if he wants trouble then he will get it." Robert came into the room and poured a cup of coffee and reached over the stove and got a biscuit.
"What is going on Daddy?" "Patterson is trying to sell our hog at the school sale tomorrow and we are going to get it." "I'm coming too" said Robert. "I will kick his ass" "No need for that "said Sherman " We will just go get the hog and bring it home" "What if he starts trouble" Robert asked.
"If he starts it then we will finish it" "Damn straight " said Jason.

Soon Fred and Leonard came in and got involved in the conversation. Tempers were raging. Leone came in the back door with a jug of buttermilk from the spring. The spring was situated down the hill from the bankhouse and Sherman had dug it out to where it was a deep pool. The water was ice cold and the family used it for drinking water as well as a place to store sweet milk and butter milk. "What is all the ruckus about?" asked Lone. Sherman explained what Patterson planned and Lone asked "You ain't gonna let him get away with that. What do you plan to do?" Sherman looked at Lone and said,"Jason and I are going to the sale and bring the hog home that's what I'm gonna do." Both Fred and Leonard chimed in: "I'm going too" "We don't need a crowd" Sherman said. Lone looked at Sherman and said "Take Leonard and Robert, but leave Fred here with me." "The hell you say" said Fred as he looked angrily at his mother. Sherman said "Fred you heard what your mama said and don't talk to her that a way." Fred glared at his Father and quickly left the room.

While the others were talking in the kitchen, Fred went down toward he corn crib. He glanced around and when he saw no-one was watching he climbed into the loft of the crib and went to back corner. He lifted up a burlap sack and pulled out an old Navy Colt 41. He had traded scrap iron until he had $7.00  and had bought it off Matt Galloway. He unwrapped the cotton cloth the gun was wrapped in and he checked the action. The revolver was fully loaded and the action was smooth. He tucked the gun in his belt and pulled his shirt out to cover it. He went back to the house and walked boldly back into the kitchen as his Mama was setting the table with corn bread and buttermilk. He grabbed a seat and filled a bowl with half sweet milk and half buttermilk. He then broke up a big piece of cornbread into the mixture and salted it . The men were still looking at the sale paper.

Sherman and Jason stayed up late talking about the sale and what to do. When Jason left he told Sherman that he would meet him just downhill from the schoolhouse at 7 in the morning. The sale usually started right at eight o'clock. Sherman went into the bedroom and took down his twin Colt 45's. He took them out on the front porch with a kerosene lantern. As he unloaded and cleaned the pistols he saw the lamps go out in the house as everyone settled in for the night. He wiped and cleaned the guns until they shined. Except for some holster wear on the bluing the guns looked new. The mother of pearl handles glistened in the lantern light. He turned the lamp on low and moved his chair by the porch rail and thought of tomorrow. He knew Wisdom's son-in-law was rumored to be a scrapper but Jason, Leonard and Robert would be with him so he would take on Wisdom and let the others handle the son-in-law.

After a while Sherman went back into the kitchen and poured a cup of coffee. It was not hot but it was warm. He went back out and sat his coffee cup on the porch rail and gazed at the sky. There were dark clouds gathering and he thought maybe a summer thunderstorm was in the making. The wind was picking up and the tall pines swayed at the peaks. He walked down to the barn with the lantern and checked on his blue roan. Rolo nuzzled him and looked at his hands for an apple. Sherman took a pail from the harness rack and put some oats in it. Rolo was glad to get a night snack. Sherman checked his saddle and bridal and headed back to the house. He sat on the porch and finished his coffee and cleaned his pipe with his knife. He took a Prince Albert can from his back pocket and filled the pipe with some mixed Prince Albert and Cherry tobacco. As he lit and puffed the pipe he heard the door open and Leone came over by his side with a wicker chair and sat down. "Don't you think you should come to bed and get some rest Sherm?" "I am O.K. Lone. I'm just a little worried about taking Leonard and Robert tomorrow. I could not live with myself if they got hurt." Lone reached over and patted him on the knee. "It will be all right Sherm. They are men now and you could not hold them back. Just look out for trouble. Just go and get our hog and if Patterson wants a fight you can easily handle him. He is a fancy pants not a hard worker like you." I'm not worried about him but you know what a temper Robert has and he is all riled up. You go on back to bed Lone I'm going to sit for a spell and look out at what's ours. We have made this place a home Lone and no-body is going to mess with me and mine." He hugged her shoulder and she leaned her head against his chest and her long black hair covered his arm. She left and went to bed.  After sitting and finishing his pipe, Sherman picked up the gun belt and went to bed.

The roosters started crowing around five and Sherman got out of bed to find Lone already fixing grits and side meat with biscuits and eggs. The coffee smelled good and he took the big green mug that belonged to his father and filled it to the brim. He ate and went down to the barn with his guns over his shoulder. He found Leonard, Robert and Fred already there. The horses were saddled and the rifles were in the scabbards. Sherman looked at Fred and said, "Fred there is liable to be some trouble and I promised your Mama you would stay with her. If something happens to us, not that it will, but if it does then you are here to care for your mother and this place. You are man enough to do that and your mother is more worried than she puts on. Now I know you want to go but I need one of us to stay out of this so just do what I say and don't cause your Mama no grief." Fred looked at his saddled horse and then at his Daddy. "I won't interfere Daddy." And with that he began unsaddling the grey mare. He turned as watched as his Daddy and his brothers rode down the path toward Diamond Creek. When they were out of sight, he re-saddled the mare and led her into the trees toward the ridge leading toward the schoolhouse. As he tied the mare to a sourwood tree, he looked up into the sky and saw there was a summer storm a brewing.

He went back to the house and went in the kitchen. "Did your Daddy go to meet Jason" asked his mother. "Yes, he left about 10 minutes ago.  I want to go down to Jim Morgan's on the lower side of the creek. His Daddy is building a corn crib and he said we would get paid for helping." "Well you eat some breakfast before you go and don't stay too long. Your Daddy will be back soon and he will need you to gather some leaves for the hog pen." Fred made a sandwich of side meat and a biscuit and gulped down a glass of sweet milk. As he left he patted his back and felt the Colt 41 tucked snugly in his belt. He muttered to himself, "I'll be dammed if I am going to be left out of getting our hog back. I will just stay out of sight of Daddy but I will be there if they need me." He untied the grey mare from the tree and went down the ridge to Diamond creek and crossed at the old logging road leading up to the school house.

Sherman, Leonard and Robert rode into the road about a mile from the school house and found Jason on his white horse waiting for them. "Looks like maybe a rainstorm." said Jason. Sherman said, "I saw the clouds moving in last night. Sometimes these dog day storms come of a sudden. I think this one is moving on through." They rode abreast up the road toward the schoolhouse. It was just after seven and they wanted to be in place before the sale. They looked a sight. Each had on a felt hat with guns strapped to their hips. Robert had donned his Wellington cowboy boots and Leonard wore his company store work boots. They rode along with a determination and purpose.

Fred rode into the school house and went to the west side and tied his horse to a rail. He had made it there before Sherman and his brothers. He walked around the school house and looked at the preparations for the sale. The food table was already set up so he went there and bought a cinnamon roll and a Sun Drop cola for 15 cents. Stepping back to the school house he spied Wisdom Patterson and his son-in-law leading the stolen hog with a rope. The son-in-law had hold of the rope and Wisdom was dressed in his Sunday go to meeting clothes. He wore a black coat and pants with a string tie and shiny boots. Fred was tempted to brace them with his Colt and take the hog but he saw his Daddy and his brothers and Jason riding into the lower entrance to the school yard so he faded back to the far corner of the school house and finished his roll and cola as he watched the sale area.
He slipped the gun from his back and crouched by the corner of the building.

Sherman wasted no time. He rode right up to the front of the school and as he dismounted so did the others. They tied their horses to the rail and as one turned and walked toward Wisdom Patterson. They were within 20 feet when Wisdom saw them and he waved his son-in-law back with the hog and he stepped forward. "Whose hog have you got there?"braced Sherman. I am selling this hog for damages said Wisdom, his eyes taking in Sherman's twin Colts. " I offered you damages and now you get none" said Sherman. " No need for trouble. We came after our hog. But if you insist on trouble then you will get it." Just at that moment, Leonard's wife, Bessie, came from behind and took a knife from her apron and cut the rope holding the hog. She had been at the baked goods table and had appeared quickly.

Things happened quickly. The son-in-law looked stunned as he looked down and saw he was now only holding a short piece of rope in his hand. He quickly pushed Bessie and they both stumbled and fell with Bessie dropping the knife and jumping back up. Wisdom raced after the trailing rope trying to retrieve the loose hog. Robert stepped in front of him and Wisdom reached in his coat and pulled a knife and slashed at Robert as Robert stepped back. The knife cut through Robert's shirt and belt. As Robert stepped back he drew his gun and fired hitting Wisdom in the shoulder area. As soon as Sherman saw Robert stumble backward, he thought that Robert was hurt. He drew his right hand pistol and shot Wisdom.  The son-in-law turned and ran toward the schoolhouse as Leonard drew his gun and fired as Wisdom fell to the ground. People were running all over the sale area and someone started yelling "Murder, Murder". Sherman told Leonard, Get the hog and lets get out of here. Leonard quickly gathered up the hog with Jason's help and they tied the rope to Jason's saddle horn. They mounted up and rode back down Diamond Creek road with the hog in tow. Bessie had already crossed the road and was heading home.

Fred watched as the crowd gathered round and he heard someone say, " He is dead. He is deader than a door nail. "Fred retrieved his mare and quickly rode up Diamond Creek to the logging road. He splashed across the creek and raced his mare down along the creek to the barn where he quickly unsaddled the mare and was almost to the house when Sherman, Leonard, Robert and Jason rode into the clearing and headed for the hog pen. Lone came out onto the porch and saw her husband and her two sons walking up the trail to the house. Robert was holding his pants up as his belt had been cut into. Lone raced down the steps to Robert and grabbed him. "Are you all right son?" " I am fine Mama. It is just my clothes that got cut." She glanced at Sherman and asked, "Any bad trouble?"
"There might be, said Sherman. We shot the hog thief."

STAY TUNED FOR PART 6: The Arrests and the Trial.

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Burdens are a blessing!.