Laura's father was a hunter. His gun was very important to him. That was how he got meat to feed his family. We live in a modern city and do not need a gun to get food.
Every evening before he began to tell stories, her father made the bullets for his next day's hunting. Laura and Mary helped him. They brought the big, long-handled spoon, the box full of bits of lead and the bullet-mould. Lead is a soft, heavy, grey metal used to make bullets. A bullet-mould is used to make bullets the right shape. Then while he sat beside the fireplace and made the bullets, they sat one on each side of him and watched.
First he melted the bits of lead in the big spoon held in the fire. When the lead was melted, he poured it carefully from the spoon into the little hole in the bullet-mould. He waited a minute and then he opened the mould. Out of the mould dropped a bright new bullet.
The bullet was too hot to touch, but it was so shiny and pretty that sometimes Laura or Mary could not help touching it. Then they burned their fingers. But they did not say anything, because their father had told them never to touch a new bullet. If they burned their fingers, that was their own fault; they should have obeyed him (done what he said). So they put their fingers in their mouths to cool them and watched their father make more bullets.
There would be a shining pile of them beside the fireplace before her father stopped. He let them cool. Then with his pocket-knife he trimmed off the little lumps (pieces) left by the hole in the mould. He gathered up the rest of the lead and saved it carefully, to melt again the next time he made bullets. The finished bullets he put into his bullet pouch (a pocket tied to a belt). This was a little bag which their mother had made beautifully of deer-skin, from a big male deer her father had shot.
After the bullets were made, her father would take his gun down from the wall and clean it. Out in the snowy forest all day, it might have gotten wet and the inside of the barrel was sure to be dirty from gun-powder smoke.
The Little House in the Big Woods
Chapter 1 - Part 1: Introduction
Chapter 1 - Part 2: Wolves in the Night
Chapter 1 - Part 4: Smoked Meat
Chapter 1 - Part 5: Food for Winter
Chapter 1 - Part 6: Butchering Time
Chapter 1 - Part 7: After Butchering Time
Chapter 1 - Part 9: Winter Night
Chapter 1 - Part 10: About the Author & Where to Find the Book
Chapter 2 - Part 1: Winter Days and Winter Nights
Chapter 2 - Part 2: Jack Frost
Chapter 2 - Part 3: Laura and Mary Helped Mother with the Housework
Chapter 2 - Part 4: Churn on Thursday
Chapter 2 - Part 5: The Best Time of All
Chapter 2 - Part 6: Her Father Began to Play his Fiddle and Sing
Chapter 2 - Part 7: Father Told Stories
Chapter 2 - Part 8 - The Story of Grandfather and the Panther
Chapter 3 - Part 1: Introduction (The Long Rifle)
Chapter 3 - Part 2: Making Bullets
Chapter 3 - Part 3: Cleaning the Gun
Chapter 3 - Part 4: Loading the Gun
Chapter 3 - Part 5: Where and Why to Keep a Gun
Chapter 3 - Part 6: The Story of her Father and the Voice in the Forest Part 1
Chapter 3 - Part 7: The Story of her Father and the Voice in the Forest Part 2
by John Larrysson
A native English speaker who has been teaching practical English in Hong Kong for over two decades.