Two Old Boys by Pauline Shackleford Colyar
Walter's two grandfathers were a pair of jolly chums, as boys.
There is plenty of humour in this tale of a turkey hunt.
"DAY after to-morrow will be Thanksgiving," said
Walter, taking his seat beside Grandpa Davis on
the top step of the front gallery.
"And no turkey for dinner, neither," retorted
Grandma Davis, while her bright steel needles clicked in
and out of the sock she was knitting.
The old man was smoking his evening pipe, and sat
for a moment with his eyes fixed meditatively upon the
blue hills massed in the distance.
"Have we got so pore as all that, Mother?" he asked,
after a while, glancing over his shoulder at his wife, who
was rocking to and fro just back of him.
"I'm obleeged to own to the truth," answered the old
lady dejectedly. "What with the wild varmints in the
woods and one thing an' another, I'm about cleaned out of
all the poultry I ever had. It's downright disheartenin'."
"Well, then," asserted Grandpa Davis, with an unmirthful
chuckle, "it don't appear to me as we've got so
powerful much to be thankful about this year."
"Why, Grandpa!" cried Walter, in shocked surprise,
"I never did hear you talk like that before."
"Never had so much call to do it, mebbe," interposed
the old man cynically.
The last rays of the setting sun touched the two
silvered heads, and rested there like a benediction, before
disappearing below the horizon.
Silence had fallen upon the little group, and a bullfrog
down in the fishpond was croaking dismally.
"Why don't you go hunting, and try to kill you a
turkey for Thanksgiving?" ventured Walter, slipping
his arm insinuatingly through his grandfather's. "I
saw a great big flock of wild ones down on the branch last
week, and I got right close up to them before they flew."
"I reckon there ought to be a smart sight of game
round and about them cane brakes along that branch,"
said the old man slowly, as though thinking aloud. "It
used to be ahead of any strip of woods in all these parts,
when me and Dick was boys. But nobody ain't hunted
there, to my knowledge, not sence me and him fell out."
"I wish you and Grandpa Dun were friends," sighed
Walter. "It does seem too bad to have two grandpas
living right side by side, and not speaking."
"I ain't got no ill-will in my heart for Dick," replied
Grandpa Davis, "but he is too everlastin' hard-headed
to knock under, and I'll be blamed if I go more'n halfway
toward makin' up."
"That's just exactly what Grandpa Dun says about
you," Walter assured him very earnestly.
"Wouldn't wonder if he did," said the old man
pointedly. "Dick is always ben a mighty hand to talk,
and he'd drap dead in his tracks if he couldn't get in the
Be this as it might, the breach had begun when the
Davis cattle broke down the worm fence and demolished
the Dun crop of corn, and it widened when the Dun hogs
found their way through an old water gap and rooted up
a field of the Davis sweet potatoes. Several times
similar depredations were repeated, and then shotguns
were used on both sides with telling effect. The climax
was reached when John Dun eloped with Rebecca, the
only child of the Davises.
The young couple were forbidden their respective
homes, though the farm they rented was scarce half a
mile away, and the weeks rolled into months without
sign of their parents relenting.
When Walter was born, however, the two grandmothers
stole over, without their husbands' knowledge,
and mingled their tears in happy communion over the
tiny blue-eyed mite.
It was a memorable day at each of the houses when
the sturdy little fellow made his way, unbidden and unattended,
to pay his first call, and ever afterward
(though they would not admit it, even to themselves)
the grandfathers watched for his coming, and vied with
each other in trying to win the highest place in his
He had inherited characteristics of each of his grandsires,
and possessed the bold, masterful manner which
was common to them both. "Say, Grandpa," he urged,
"go hunting to-morrow and try to kill a turkey for
Thanksgiving, won't you? I know grandma would feel
better to have one, and if you make a cane caller,
like papa does, I'll bet you can get a shot at one sure."
The old man did not commit himself about going, but
when Walter saw him surreptitiously take down his
gun from the pegs on the wall across which it had lain
for so many years, and begin to rub the barrels and
oil the hammers, he went home satisfied that he had
scored another victory.
Perhaps nothing less than his grandson's pleading
could have induced Grandpa Davis to visit again the
old hunting-ground which had been so dear to him in bygone
days, which was so rich in hallowed memories. It
seemed almost a desecration of the happy past to hunt
there now alone.
The first cold streaks of dawn were just stealing into
the sky the next morning when, accoutred with shot-pouch,
powder-flask, and his old double-barrelled gun,
Grandpa Davis made his way toward the branch. A
medley of bird notes filled the air, long streamers of
gray moss floated out from the swaying trees, and
showers of autumn leaves fluttered down to earth. Some
of the cows were grazing outside the pen, up to their
hocks in lush, fresh grass, while others lay on the ground
contentedly chewing their cuds. All of them raised their
heads and looked at him as he passed them by.
How like old times it was to be up at daybreak for a
hunt! The long years seemed suddenly to have rolled
away, leaving him once more a boy. He almost wondered
why Dick had not whistled to him as he used to
do. Dick was an early riser, and somehow always got
ready before he did.
There was an alertness in the old man's face and a
spring in his step as he lived over in thought the joyous
days of his childhood. The clouds were flushed with
pink when he came in sight of the big water oak on the
margin of the stream, and recollected how he and Dick
had loved to go swimming in the deep, clear water beneath
"We used to run every step of the way," he soliloquized,
laughing, "unbuttonin' as we went, chuck
our clothes on the bank, and 'most break our necks
tryin' to git in the water fust. I've got half a notion to
take a dip this mornin', if it wasn't quite so cool," he
went on, but a timely twinge of rheumatism brought
him to his senses, and he seated himself on the roots of
a convenient tree.
Cocking his gun, he laid it across his knees, and waited
there motionless, imitating the yelp of a turkey the
while. Three or four small canes, graduated in size, and
fitted firmly one into the other, enabled him to make the
note, and so expert had he become by long practice
that the deception was perfect.
After a pause he repeated the call; then came another
pause, another call, and over in the distance there
sounded an answer. How the blood coursed through
the old man's veins as he listened! There it was again.
It was coming nearer, but very slowly. He wondered
how many were in the flock, and called once more.
This time, to his surprise, an answer came from a different
direction—a long, rasping sound, a sort of cross
between a cock's crow and a turkey's yelp.
He started involuntarily, and very cautiously peeped
around. Hardly twenty steps from him another gray
head protruded itself from the bole of another tree,
and Grandpa Davis and Grandpa Dun looked into
each other's eyes.
"I'll be double-jumped-up if that ain't Dick!" cried
Grandpa Davis, under his breath. "And there ain't
a turkey as ever wore a feather that he could fool. A
minute more, and he'll spile the fun. Dick," he commanded,
"stop that racket, and sneak over here by me,"
beckoning mysteriously. "Sh-h-h! they are answerin'
ag'in. Down on your marrow-bones whilst I call."
Flattening himself upon the ground as nearly as he
could, and creeping behind the undergrowth, Grandpa
Dun made his way laboriously to the desired spot.
He had never excelled in calling turkeys, but he was a
far better shot than Grandpa Davis.
Without demur the two old boys fell naturally into
the rôle of former days. Breathless and excited, they
crouched there, waiting for the fateful moment. Their
nerves were tense, their eyes dilated, and their hearts
beating like trip-hammers.
Grandpa Davis had continued to call, and now the
answer was very near.
"Gimme the first shot, Billy," whispered Grandpa
Dun. "I let you do the callin'; and, besides, you know
you never could hit nothin' that wasn't as big as the
side of a meetin'-house."
Before Grandpa Davis had time to reply, there came
the "put-put-put" which signals possible danger. A
stately gobbler raised his head to reconnoitre; two guns
were fired almost simultaneously, and, with a whir and a
flutter, the flock disappeared in the cane brake.
The two old boys bounded over the intervening
sticks and stumps with an agility that Walter himself
might have envied, and bending over the prostrate
gobbler exclaimed in concert: "Ain't he a dandy,
They examined him critically, cutting out his beard
as a trophy, and measured the spread of his wings.
"But he's yourn, after all, Dick," said Grandpa
Davis ruefully. "These here ain't none of my shot, so
I reckon I must have missed him."
"I knowed you would, Billy, afore your fired,"
Grandpa Dun replied, with mock gravity, "but that
don't cut no figger. He's big enough for us to go
halvers and both have plenty. More'n that, you done
the callin' anyhow."
Then they laughed, and as they looked into one another's
faces, each seemed to realize for the first time
that his quondam chum was an old man.
A moment before they had been two rollicking boys
off on a lark together—playing hooky, perhaps—and
in the twinkling of an eye some wicked fairy had waved
her wand and metamorphosed them into Walter's two
grandfathers, who had not spoken to each other since
years before the lad was born.
Yet the humour of the situation was irresistible after
all, and, without knowing just how it happened, or
which made the first advance, Dick and Billy found
themselves still laughing until the tears coursed down
their furrowed cheeks, and shaking hands with as much
vigour as though each one had been working a pump
"I'll tell you what it is, Billy," said Dick at last;
"you all come over to my house, and we'll eat him together
"See here, Dick," suggested Billy, abstracting a nickel
from his trousers' pocket; "heads at your house, and
tails at mine."
"All right," came the hearty response.
Billy tossed the coin into the air: it struck a twig and
hid itself among the fallen leaves, where they sought it
"'Tain't settled yet," announced Dick; "but lemme
tell you what let's do. S'posin' we all go over to-morrow—it'll
be Thanksgivin', you know—and eat him
at John's house."
"Good!" cried Billy, with beaming face. "You always
did have a head for thinkin' up things, Dick, and
this here'll sorter split the difference, and ease matters
"Yes, and our two old women can draw straws, if
they've got a mind to, and see which of them is obligated
to make the fust call," interrupted Dick.
"Jist heft him, old feller," urged one of them.
"Ain't he a whopper, though!" exclaimed the other.
"Have a chaw, Dick?" asked Billy, offering his plug
"Don't keer if I do," acquiesced Dick, biting off a
Seating themselves upon a fallen hickory log, they
chewed and expectorated, recalling old times, and enjoying
their laugh with the careless freedom of their
"Dick, do your ricolleck the fight you and a coon had
out on the limb of that tree over yonder, one night?"
queried Billy, nudging his companion in the ribs.
"He come mighty nigh gittin' the best of you."
"He tore one sleeve out of my jacket, and mammy
gimme a beatin' besides," giggled Dick. "And say,
Billy, wasn't it fun the day we killed old man Lee's
puddle ducks for wild ones? I don't believe I ever
run as fast in my life."
"And, Dick, do you remember the night your pappy
hung the saddle up on the head of the bed to keep you
from ridin' the old gray mare to singin' school, and you
rid her, bareback, anyway? You ricolleck you was
stoopin' over, blowin' the fire, next mornin', when he
seen the hairs on your britches, an' come down on you
with the leather strop afore you knowed it."
Thus one adventure recalled another, and the two
old boys laughed uproariously, clapping their hands
and holding their sides, while the sun climbed up among
"Ain't we ben two old fools to stay mad all this
time?" asked one of them, and the other readily agreed
that they had, as they once more grasped hands before
Walter had arranged the Thanksgiving surprise for
his parents, but when he brought home the big gobbler
he was unable longer to keep the secret, and divulged
his share in what had happened.
"I didn't really believe either one of them could hit
a turkey," he confided to his father, "but I wanted to
have them meet once more, for I knew if they did they
would make friends."
The parlour was odorous with late fall roses next morning,
the table set, and Walter and his parents in gala
attire, when two couples, walking arm in arm, appeared
upon the stretch of white road leading up to the front gate.
One couple was slightly in advance of the other, and
Grandpa Davis, who was behind, whispered to his
"Listen, Mary, Dick is actually tryin' to sing, and
he never could turn a tune, but somehow it does warm
up my heart to hear him: seems like old times ag'in."
After dinner was over—and such a grand dinner it
was—Grandpa Davis voiced the sentiment of the rest
of the happy family party when he announced, quite
"Well, this here has ben the thankfulles' Thanksgivin'
I ever seen, and I hope the good Lord will spar'
us all for yet a few more."