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HOME > Classical Novels > Being a Boy > IX THE SEASON OF PUMPKIN-PIE
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What John said was, that he didn't care much for pumpkin-pie; but that was after he had eaten a whole one. It seemed to him then that mince would be better.

The feeling of a boy towards pumpkin-pie has never been properly considered. There is an air of festivity about its approach in the fall. The boy is willing to help pare and cut up the pumpkin, and he watches with the greatest interest the stirring-up process and the pouring into the scalloped crust. When the sweet savor of the baking reaches his nostrils, he is filled with the most delightful anticipations. Why should he not be? He knows that for months to come the buttery will contain golden treasures, and that it will require only a slight ingenuity to get at them.

The fact is, that the boy is as good in [Pg 66] the buttery as in any part of farming. His elders say that the boy is always hungry; but that is a very coarse way to put it. He has only recently come into a world that is full of good things to eat, and there is on the whole a very short time in which to eat them; at least he is told, among the first information he receives, that life is short. Life being brief, and pie and the like fleeting, he very soon decides upon an active campaign. It may be an old story to people who have been eating for forty or fifty years, but it is different with a beginner. He takes the thick and thin as it comes, as to pie, for instance. Some people do make them very thin. I knew a place where they were not thicker than the poor man's plaster; they were spread so thin upon the crust that they were better fitted to draw out hunger than to satisfy it. They used to be made up by the great oven-full and kept in the dry cellar, where they hardened and dried to a toughness you would hardly believe. This was a long time ago, and they make the pumpkin-pie in the country better now, or the race of boys would have [Pg 67] been so discouraged that I think they would have stopped coming into the world.

The truth is, that boys have always been so plenty that they are not half appreciated. We have shown that a farm could not get along without them, and yet their rights are seldom recognized. One of the most amusing things is their effort to acquire personal property. The boy has the care of the calves; they always need feeding or shutting up or letting out; when the boy wants to play, there are those calves to be looked after,—until he gets to hate the name of calf. But in consideration of his faithfulness, two of them are given to him. There is no doubt that they are his; he has the entire charge of them. When they get to be steers, he spends all his holidays in breaking them in to a yoke. He gets them so broken in that they will run like a pair of deer all over the farm, turning the yoke, and kicking their heels, while he follows in full chase, shouting the ox language till he is red in the face. When the steers grow up to be cattle, a drover one day comes along and takes them away, and the boy is [Pg 68] told that he can have another pair of calves; and so, with undiminished faith, he goes back and begins over again to make his fortune. He owns lambs and young colts in the same way, and makes just as much out of them.

There are ways in which the farmer-boy can earn money, as by gathering the early chestnuts and taking them to the Corner store, or by finding turkeys' eggs and selling them to his mother; and another way is to go without butter at the table,—but the money thus made is for the heathen. John read in Dr. Livingstone that some of the tribes in Central Africa (which is represented by a blank spot in the atlas) use the butter to grease their hair, putting on pounds of it at a time; and he said he had rather eat his butter than have it put to that use, especially as it melted away so fast in that hot clim............
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