This short story was written by a friend of mine George McVey. He took his character, Nugget Nate, and combined him with Aggie Cuttler. They are brother and sister and appear together in the next Cottonwood Series book Giving Love which is due out in Dec. I hope you enjoy an experience they shared as children.
George as a site of short stories www.georgesshorts.wordpress.com
You can find out how Nugget Nate got his name there.
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.
“Ma I can’t hunt if I have to take the baby with me. She’ll make too much noise an’ scare off all the game.”
Little Aggie stomped her foot, “I’s ain’t no baby. I’s four year old. I’s as quiet as a church mouse yous the one who’s noisy. You be stomping round in dem big feets.”
“Nate, I cain’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 cain’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’ll take care of her. I may not get any meat but I’ll watch the baby.”
Aggie was fit to be tied. “I ain’t a baby ya cotton pickin’ Yankee.”
“Agatha Ryder there is no reason to be callin’ your brother names. Now you apologize.”
“But Mama, he done called mes a baby. I aint no baby.”
“Well, if ya wants to be treated like a young lady ya 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 she was already heading out to the Widow’s house Nate decided to let it go. He grabbed his rifle and powder horn making sure he had Davey’s Hatchet as he had taken to calling it after the bear incident. Grabbing his sister by the arm pulled her out of the house. His mother was getting settled in the wagon. She took the reigns then looked back at her offspring. “I’ll be back in time to fix supper for you two an’ yer Pa. Nate, don’t leave Aggie behind. Aggie, listen to Nate an’ don’t wonder ‘way from him.”
She received “Yes Mama” from both then slapped the reigns on the mule’s back nudging him into motion.
Once she was out of site, Nate turned loose of Aggie and started off heading up the mountain and into the woods. Aggie ran to keep up with her brother’s 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. Then he started walking 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 Tturkey? You want me to make gobbler sounds fer ya?”
“Aggie you got ta be quite. Iffen you keep runnin’ yer mouth the game ain’t 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. Then almost as soon as she realized that 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.”
The buck looked towards Aggie’s voice, sniffed the air and bounded away just as Nate pulled the trigger. His shot missed.
“Aggie, I done told ya to be quiet. That 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 that tree 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 yous is.”
Aggie stomped behind the tree and did her business. As she was pulling her knickers 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 to 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’re 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 babyas 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 pet it too. 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 directly at him. “EEWW, Nate what’d ya do? Ya made my kitty stinky!”
“That’s not a kitty Aggie. It’s a Pole Cat, Ya know a skunk!”
“Why did you tell me to pet it then?”
“So this would happen to you. It’d have served ya right for the way you’ve been acting.”
Nate walked over and got his gun and calling Aggie, headed for home. Aggie started walking behind him but before long she was complaining about the smell.
“You stink Nate. Iffen Mister Davey come on yoa 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 that 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.
“Now strip outa them clothes and toss em in the fire.”
As Nate was stripping Mama came outside carrying the Saturday night wash tub.
She went in the root celler and started carrying out jar after jar of canned tomatoes and dumped them into the tub. “Get in the tub and 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, covered in tomatoes, freezing. Inside he could hear Aggie giggling and telling Mama exactly what had happened. What made the whole thing worse was hearing Mama laughing right along with her and hearing them calling him Stinky Ryder.
He heard Preacher Smoot saying 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 certain.”
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Sophie Dawson is my pen name. The real me is the wife of a farmer in western Illinois.
I have two grown sons, one of which is married to a wonderful young woman. They gave us the most wonderful granddaughter ever in November of 2010. I'm not the least bit prejudice. :)