In honor of my first Novel being published I thought I would put a short story I wrote about Nathan’s grandfather Nugget Nate. You can get Nathan’s tale here. I hope ya’ll enjoy Nugget Nate and the Pole Cat incident.
Thirteen year old Nugget Nate sat outside in a tub of tomato juice. It wouldn’t have been so bad except it was the middle of November and the weather was already acting like winter had come and he was cold. The day had started out good enough but then his little sister Aggie had wanted to go with him on his hunting trip into the woods.
“Mom I can’t hunt if I have to take the baby with me. She will make too much noise and scare off all the game.”
Little Aggie stomped her foot, “I’s ain’t no baby I’s four year old. I is as quite as a church mouse youse the one who is noisy. You be stomping round in dem big feets.”
“Nate I can’t watch your sister today. I gots to go over to help the Widow McCullen put up her beans today. So either you take her with you or you can’t hunt today.”
Nate was furious how was he supposed to get as good as Davey Crockett wanted him to be iffen he was always having to take the baby with him? However it was better to get to hunt than being stuck here at the house all day. “Fine mama I will take care of her. I may not get any meat but I will watch the baby.”
Aggie was fit to be tied “I ain’t a baby you cotton pickin Yankee.”
“Agatha Ryder there is no reason to be calling your brother names, now you apologize.”
“But mama, he done called mes a baby! I aint no baby.”
“Well if you want to be treated like a young lady you need to act like one and young ladies apologize for their mistakes and treat their brothers with respect.”
“Yes Mama, I’s sorry youse a cotton pickin Yankee, Nate.”
Nate looked to see if his mama had heard his sisters apology. Realizing that she was already heading out to the Widow’s house Nate decided to let it go. He grabbed his rifle and powder horn made sure he had Davey’s Hatchet as he had taken to calling it after the bear incident. Then grabbing his sister by the arm pulled her out of the house. His mother was getting settled in the wagon. She took the reigns in her hand then looked back at her offspring. “I’ll be back in time to fix supper for you two and yer Pa. Nate, don’t leave Aggie behind. Aggie, you listen to Nate and don’t wonder away from him.”
After she received two “Yes Mama” in reply, she slapped the reigns on the mules back and off she went.
Once she was out of sight Nate turned loose of Aggie and started off heading up the mountain and into the woods. Aggie ran to keep up with her brothers longer strides. “Slow down Nate, yer legs is to fast fer me to keeps up.”
Nate let out a frustrated sigh and stopped waiting for Aggie to catch up. Then he started up again at a slower pace. When they finally reached the spot he had been staking out for days to hunt he told Aggie to sit and be still. “What are we huntin’ Nate? Huh is we after squirrels? Rabbits? A Turkey? You want me to make gobbler sounds fer ya?”
“Aggie you got ta be quite. Iffen you keep runnin’ yer mouth the game aint ever gonna come within range.”
Aggie tried to do as her brother asked, but after a few minutes of sitting absolutely still she realized she had pressing business to attend to. Almost as soon as she became aware she started to squirm. Still trying to behave she whispered “Nate I’s gotta go.”
Nate waved at her but kept looking down the trail watching as a big buck started moving their way. “Nate I gotta go!” Aggie said a little louder. Again Nate waved at her to go ahead. Aggie thought he was waving at her to be quite again. “NATE I GOTS TO GO NOW.”
With that the buck looked towards Aggies voice, sniffed the air, and bounded away just as Nate pulled the trigger. Because of the deer’s running away and Nate jerking at Aggies screech he missed completely.
“Aggie I told you to be quite! That there deer would have fed us for a long time.”
“Nate, I told you I gotta go and I don’t see no outhouse.”
“Yer in the woods, go over behind the tree over there.”
Aggie got a disgusted look on her face. “I’s a lady Nate! Ladies don’t go behind a tree. I needs an outhouse.”
Nathan smiled a sly smile “Well, Lady Aggie, there ain’t no outhouses here. So either you go behind that tree, or you can go in yer knickers, like the little baby I knew youse was.”
Aggie stomped over behind the tree and did her business. As she was pulling her knickers back up she saw a cute little black and white critter a few feet away. “Hey Nate what kinda critter is that over by them bushes? It looks all cute and cuddly?”
Nate looked over where Aggie was pointing. He saw a skunk and was about to warn her when he realized this was the perfect opportunity to get even with her for making him miss his shot and calling him a Yankee. “Oh that’s just a little polecat Aggie. They are harmless and love to be petted. If you can get her to trust you, she’ll make a nice pet for ya.”
“Really, Ok I knew it must be nice, it looks so cute.”
As Nate watched waiting for the inevitable stinky result, Aggie walked over slowly, talking all baby talk to the female skunk. To Nate’s surprise the skunk never even raised her tail, and before his eyes Aggie bent down and started rubbing it under its chin.
It likes me Nate do you think I can keep it?
Nate thought it must have been a tamed skunk he’d heard about such things but never seen one. He decided to go up to it too. So he put down his rifle and walked over to the skunk . When he was about a foot away it suddenly looked his way and before he could take another step raised it’s tail and sprayed all over him. “EEWW, Nate what did you do? You made my kitty stinky!”
“That’s not a kitty, Aggie, it’s a Pole Cat, you know a skunk!”
Why did you tell me to pet it then?
“So this would happen to you. It would have served you right for the way you’ve been acting.”
Nate walked over and got his gun and calling Aggie he headed for home. Aggie started walking behind him but before long she was complaining about the smell. “You stink Nate. Iffen Mister Davey came on you now he wouldn’t have named you Nugget Nate, he’d a called ya Stinky Ryder.”
Before long they were off the mountain and entering their yard. When Aggie saw their mama was back she ran into the house telling her all about what happened to Nate. Mama came to the door and got a whiff of her son. “Don’t you be taking one more step towards this house, Nate. Get some wood and start a fire in the fire pit.”
Nate grabbed some wood and got a fire started, like Mama had told him too.
“Now strip outa them clothes and toss em in the fire.”
As Nate was strippin Mama came outside carryin the Saturday Nite Wash tub.
She went in the root celler and started carryin out jar after jar of canned tomatoes. She dumped them into the tub. “Get in the tub, start rubbin them tomatoes and the juice on ya Nate. It’s gonna burn a bit but it’s the only way to get rid of the smell. Make sure and work it into yer hair real good.”
So there Nate sat, in the setting sun as the temperature started to drop, buck naked and covered in tomatoes and freezing. Inside he could hear Aggie giggling and telling Mama exactly what had happened. What made the whole thing worse was hearing Mama laughin right along with her and hearing them callin him Stinky Ryder.
He heard Preacher Smoot sayin in Sunday School “Remember boys pride goes before a fall.”
“Well” he thought, “I guess I got what I deserved, but that sister of mine has the luck of the irish for certian.”
And that is the tale of Nugget Nate and the Pole Cat.