MoboReader> Literature > Two Little Confederates

   Chapter 11 No.11

Two Little Confederates By Thomas Nelson Page Characters: 11944

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


After circling the edge of the swamp for some time the boys, as it was now growing late, turned toward home. They were full of their valuable discovery, and laid all sorts of plans for the capture of the hogs. They would not tell even their mother, as they wished to surprise her. They were, of course, familiar with all the modes of trapping game, as described in the story books, and they discussed them all. The easiest way to get the hogs was to shoot them, and this would be the most "fun"; but it would never do, for the meat would spoil. When they reached home they hunted up Uncle Balla and told him about their discovery. He was very much inclined to laugh at them. The hogs they had seen were nothing, he told them, but some of the neighbors' hogs which had wandered into the woods.

When the boys went to bed they talked it over once more, and determined that next day they would thoroughly explore the woods and the swamp also, as far as they could.

The following afternoon, therefore, they set out, and made immediately for that part of the woods where they had seen and heard the hogs the day before. One of them carried a gun and the other a long jumping-pole. After finding the trail they followed it straight down to the swamp.

Rolling their trousers up above their knees, they waded boldly in, selecting an opening between the bushes which looked like a hog-path. They proceeded slowly, for the briers were so thick in many places that they could hardly make any progress at all when they neared the branch. So they turned and worked their way painfully down the stream. At last, however, they reached a place where the brambles and bushes seemed to form a perfect wall before them. It was impossible to get through.

"Let's go home," said Willy. "'Tain't any use to try to get through there. My legs are scratched all to pieces now."

"Let's try and get out here," said Frank, and he turned from the wall of brambles. They crept along, springing from hummock to hummock. Presently they came to a spot where the oozy mud extended at least eight or ten feet before the next tuft of grass.

"How am I to get the gun across?" asked Willy, dolefully.

"That's a fact! It's too far to throw it, even with the caps off."

At length they concluded to go back for a piece of log they had seen, and to throw this down so as to lessen the distance.

They pulled the log out of the sand, carried it to the muddy spot, and threw it into the mud where they wanted it.

Frank stuck his pole down and felt until he had what he thought a secure hold on it, fixed his eye on the tuft of grass beyond, and sprang into air.

As he jumped the pole slipped from its insecure support into the miry mud, and Frank, instead of landing on the hummock for which he had aimed, lost his direction, and soused flat on his side with a loud "spa-lash," in the water and mud three feet to the left.

He was a queer object as he staggered to his feet in the quagmire; but at the instant a loud "oof, oof," came from, the thicket, not a dozen yards away, and the whole herd of hogs, roused, by his fall, from slumber in their muddy lair, dashed away through the swamp with "oofs" of fear.

"There they go, there they go!" shouted both boys, eagerly,-Willy, in his excitement, splashing across the perilous-looking quagmire, and finding it not so deep as it had looked.

"There's where they go in and out," exclaimed Frank, pointing to a low round opening, not more than eighteen inches high, a little further beyond them, which formed an arch in the almost solid wall of brambles surrounding the place.

As it was now late they returned home, resolving to wait until the next afternoon before taking any further steps. There was not a pound of bacon to be obtained anywhere in the country for love or money, and the flock of sheep was almost gone.

Their mother's anxiety as to means for keeping her dependents from starving was so great that the boys were on the point of telling her what they knew; and when they heard her wishing she had a few hogs to fatten, they could scarcely keep from letting her know their plans. At last they had to jump up, and run out of the room.

Next day the boys each hunted up a pair of old boots which they had used the winter before. The leather was so dry and worn that the boots hurt their growing feet cruelly, but they brought the boots along to put on when they reached the swamp. This time, each took a gun, and they also carried an axe, for now they had determined on a plan for capturing the hogs.

"I wish we had let Peter and Cole come," said Willy, dolefully, sitting on the butt end of a log they had cut, and wiping his face on his sleeve.

"Or had asked Uncle Balla to help us," added Frank.

"They'd be certain to tell all about it."

"Yes; so they would."

They settled down in silence, and panted.

"I tell you what we ought to do! Bait the hog-path, as you would for fish." This was the suggestion of the angler, Frank.

"With what?"

"Acorns."

The acorns were tolerably plentiful around the roots of the big oaks, so the boys set to work to pick them up. It was an easier job than cutting the log, and it was not long before each had his hat full.

As they started down to the swamp, Frank exclaimed, suddenly, "Look there, Willy!"

Willy looked, and not fifty yards away, with their ends resting on old stumps, were three or four "hacks," or piles of rails, which had been mauled the season before and left there, probably having been forgotten or overlooked.

Willy gave a hurrah, while bending under the weight of a large rail.

At the spot where the hog-path came out of the thicket they commenced to build their trap.

First they laid a floor of rails; then they built a pen, five or six rails high, which they strengthened with "outriders." When the pen was finished, they pried up the side nearest the thicket, from the bottom rail, about a foot; that is, high

enough for the animals to enter. This they did by means of two rails, using one as a fulcrum and one as a lever, having shortened them enough to enable the work to be done from inside the pen.

The lever they pulled down at the farther end until it touched the bottom of the trap, and fastened it by another rail, a thin one, run at right-angles to the lever, and across the pen. This would slip easily when pushed away from the gap, and needed to be moved only about an inch to slip from the end of the lever and release it; the weight of the pen would then close the gap. Behind this rail the acorns were to be thrown; and the hogs, in trying to get the bait, would push the rail, free the lever or trigger, and the gap would be closed by the fall of the pen when the lever was released.

It was nearly night when the boys finished.

They scattered a portion of the acorns for bait along the path and up into the pen, to toll the hogs in. The rest they strewed inside the pen, beyond their sliding rail.

They could scarcely tear themselves away from the pen; but it was so late they had to hurry home.

Next day was Sunday. But Monday morning, by daylight, they were up and went out with their guns, apparently to hunt squirrels. They went, however, straight to their trap. As they approached they thought they heard the hogs grunting in the pen. Willy was sure of it; and they ran as hard as they could. But there were no hogs there. After going every morning and evening for two weeks, there never had been even an acorn missed, so they stopped their visits.

Peter and Cole found out about the pen, and then the servants learned of it, and the boys were joked and laughed at unmercifully.

"I believe them boys is distracted," said old Balla, in the kitchen; "settin' a pen in them woods for to ketch hogs,-with the gap open! Think hogs goin' stay in pen with gap open-ef any wuz dyah to went in!"

"Well, you come out and help us hunt for them," said the boys to the old driver.

"Go 'way, boy, I ain' got time foolin' wid you chillern, buildin' pen in swamp. There ain't no hogs in them woods, onless they got in dyah sence las' fall."

"You saw 'em, didn't you, Willy?" declared Frank.

"Yes, I did."

"Go 'way. Don't you know, ef that old sow had been in them woods, the boys would have got her up las' fall-an' ef they hadn't, she'd come up long befo' this?"

"Mister Hall ketch you boys puttin' his hogs up in pen, he'll teck you up," said Lucy Ann, in her usual teasing way.

This was too much for the boys to stand after all they had done. Uncle Balla must be right. They would have to admit it. The hogs must have belonged to some one else. And their mother was in such desperate straits about meat!

Lucy Ann's last shot, about catching Mr. Hall's hogs, took effect; and the boys agreed that they would go out some afternoon and pull the pen down.

The next afternoon they took their guns, and started out on a squirrel-hunt.

They did not have much luck, however.

"Let's go by there, and pull the old pen down," said Frank, as they started homeward from the far side of the woods.

"It's out of the way,-let the old thing rip."

"We'd better pull it down. If a hog were to be caught there, it wouldn't do."

"I wish he would!-but there ain't any hogs going to get caught," growled Willy.

"He might starve to death."

This suggestion persuaded Willy, who could not bear to have anything suffer.

So they sauntered down toward the swamp.

As they approached it, a squirrel ran up a tree, and both boys were after it in a second. They were standing, one on each side of the tree, gazing up, trying to get a sight of the little animal among the gray branches, when a sound came to the ears of both of them at the same moment.

"What's that?" both asked together.

"It's hogs, grunting."

"No, they are fighting. They are in the swamp. Let's run," said Willy.

"No; we'll scare them away. They may be near the trap," was Frank's prudent suggestion. "Let's creep up."

"I hear young pigs squealing. Do you think they are ours?"

The squirrel was left, flattened out and trembling on top of a large limb, and the boys stole down the hill toward the pen. The hogs were not in sight, though they could be heard grunting and scuffling. They crept closer. Willy crawled through a thick clump of bushes, and sprang to his feet with a shout. "We've got 'em! We've got 'em!" he cried, running toward the pen, followed by Frank.

Sure enough! There they were, fast in the pen, fighting and snorting to get out, and tearing around with the bristles high on their round backs, the old sow and seven large young hogs; while a litter of eight little pigs, as the boys ran up, squeezed through the rails, and, squealing, dashed away into the grass.

The hogs were almost frantic at the sight of the boys, and rushed madly at the sides of the pen; but the boys had made it too strong to be broken.

After gazing at their capture awhile, and piling a few more outriders on the corners of the pen to make it more secure, the two trappers rushed home. They dashed breathless and panting into their mother's room, shouting, "We've got 'em!-we've got 'em!" and, seizing her, began to dance up and down with her.

In a little while the whole plantation was aware of the capture, and old Balla was sent out with them to look at the hogs to make sure they did not belong to some one else,-as he insisted they did. The boys went with him. It was quite dark when he returned, but as he came in the proof of the boys' success was written on his face. He was in a broad grin. To his mistress's inquiry he replied, "Yes'm, they's got 'em, sho' 'nough. They's the beatenes' boys!"

For some time afterward he would every now and then break into a chuckle of amused content and exclaim, "Them's right smart chillern." And at Christmas, when the hogs were killed, this was the opinion of the whole plantation.

* * *

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top

shares