When her father was at home the gun always lay across those two wooden hooks above the door. Her father had cut the hooks out of a green (wood newly cut from a tree) stick with his knife and had driven their straight ends deep into holes in the log. The hooked ends curved up and held the gun securely (safely). Children must never play with their father's gun.
The gun was always loaded and ready to shoot. And it was always above the door, so that her father could get it quickly and easily, any time he needed a gun.
When her father went into the forest, he always made sure that the bullet pouch was full of bullets, and that the tin patch box and the box of caps were with it in his pockets. The powder horn and a small sharp hatchet (small axe) hung at his belt. Then he carried the gun loaded and ready to shoot on his shoulder.
He always reloaded after he fired it. That way he was ready to shoot the gun as soon as he had fired it. That was because he did not want to meet trouble with an empty gun.
Whenever he shot at a wild animal, he had to stop and load the gun—measure the powder, put it in and shake it down, put in the patch and the bullet and pound them down. Then he put a fresh cap under the hammer—before he could shoot again. When he shot at a bear or a panther, he must kill it with the first shot. A wounded bear or panther could kill a man before he had time to load his gun again.
But Laura and Mary were never afraid when her father went alone into the Big Forest. They knew he could always kill bears and panthers with the first shot.
After the bullets were made and the gun was loaded and ready to shoot, came story-telling time.
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.