Read CHAPTER V of The Life and Adventures of Nat Love Better Known in the Cattle Country as "Deadwood Dick", free online book, by Nat Love, on

Home life. Picking berries. The pigs commit larceny. Nutting. We go to market. My first desire to see the world. I win A horse in A raffle. The last of home.

I now settled down to the work around the farm and the problem of making a living for those dependent on me. The crop was all in and after attending to such work around home as had to be done, we found a source of revenue in gathering berries for market. Large quantities of black berries and others grew wild in the woods near by. And they always found a ready market. With small pails and a big basket mother and I would start out after the work at home was done. Reaching the woods we would sit under the bushes and fill the pails, then empty them into the big basket until that was full which usually comprised our day’s work.

One day, wishing to secure a large quantity of berries for market, we went early in the morning and on reaching the woods we placed the big basket in what we thought a safe place, and after some hours of industrious work, the big basket was full of nice ripe blackberries. We then proceeded to fill our pails again which would be sufficient for the day. This accomplished, we prepared to start for home. But when mother went to take the big basket it was empty.

The stray pigs had found them and committed larceny. Mother felt so bad she cried. We had put in a hard day’s work for nothing. It had been our intention to take them to town on the morrow and buy something for Sunday, but now the fruit of our labor was gone and the disappointment was great. I looked at mother, then at the empty basket and did not know for which to feel most sorry. So I said, “Well, there is no use grieving over spilt milk. If we had not had them we could not have lost them, and there are plenty more of the same kind for the picking.” Mother turned toward me, and said, with a look I will always remember, “My boy, whatever happens, you never get discouraged.” I did not see the use of losing courage and I think the only time I weakened was when father died, as he could not be replaced.

We went on talking and picking berries, and before we knew it the basket was full again and the pails. It was now night so mother took the bushel basket on her head and I took the pails and we were soon home. That night mother took my clothing, as was customary, and washed and pressed it so I would look nice and clean to go to market the next day. As I only had one outfit of clothes I had necessarily to go without them during the washing process, however, mother always kept me clean, at considerable labor on her part. The next morning, early, mother and I started for town, five miles distant, walking along the hot, dusty road, each of us with a basket of berries on our heads and bunches of cucumbers in our hands, mother having much the larger load, but she was a very strong woman. As it chanced we had a lucky day and sold our stock of berries and cucumbers in a short time. We then bought what we needed and had a little money left but for all that, I was not quite satisfied. I wanted mother to buy something that was not necessary, but she said, “My son, if we don’t save a few cents now what will it be later on? We will have to go to the poorhouse.” I said, “Dear mother if there is a house poorer than ours I don’t want to see it.” I will always remember the sight of mother’s face as she turned to me, the tears running down her cheeks as she answered, “Yes, my son, you are right there are few houses poorer than ours now.” The same year when fall came mother and I thought we had the bull by the horns. There were several fine groves of walnut, hickory nut, chestnut and shirly bark nut trees in the woods and I made a sleigh on which I nailed a big box. I tied a rope for a tongue and with a stick on the end, mother and I working as a sort of double team would draw through the woods among the trees gathering the different kinds of nuts and as the box was big, large quantities could be gathered in this manner. During the nut season we worked every day from morning to night, gathering large quantities of nuts for which we always found a ready market. As we worked we talked of what we would buy with the money and making plans for the future. The nuts we sold usually brought us: chestnuts one dollar a bushel; walnuts fifty cents, and hickory nuts fifty cents a bushel. This money added to the proceeds of the crop netted us quite a nice sum and made our condition much better, but I assure you, dear readers, it took hard work from morning to night to make both ends meet but with the help of God we made them meet, and during this time we were always healthy and the knowledge that we were free and working for ourselves gave us courage to continue the struggle. It was about this time that I commenced thinking about going west.

I wanted to see more of the world and as I began to realize there was so much more of the world than what I had seen, the desire to go grew on me from day to day. It was hard to think of leaving mother and the children, but freedom is sweet and I wanted to make more of the opportunity and my life than I could see possible around home. Besides I suppose, I was a little selfish as mortals are prone to be. Finally the desire to go out in the world grew so strong that I mentioned it to mother, but she did not give me much encouragement, and I don’t think she thought I had the courage to go, and besides I had neither clothing or money and to tell the truth, the outlook was discouraging even to me, but I continued to look for an opportunity which happened in a very unexpected manner shortly after. One day a man by the name of Johnson announced that he would raffle a fine beautiful horse at fifty cents a chance. I heard of it at once, but had no money with which to get a chance. However, when there’s a will there’s a way, so I went to the barn and caught two chickens which I sold for fifty cents and at once got a chance. My chance won the horse. Mr. Johnson said he would give me fifty dollars for the horse and as I needed the money more than the horse I sold the horse back. Mr. Johnson at once raffled him off again and again I won the horse, which I again sold for fifty dollars. With nearly a hundred dollars I went home and told mother of what I had done and gave her half of the money, telling her I would take the other half and go out in the world and try and better my condition. I then went to town and bought some underwear and other needful articles, intending to leave at once, but mother pleaded with me so hard to stay home, that I finally consented to remain one more month, but at the end of that time she pleaded for one more and I could not refuse her. During this time my uncle came to live with us and I asked him to take my place at home. This he consented to do gladly. Things were going on fairly well at home now. The farm was yielding a fair living and the children having grown much larger they were a source of help instead of an hindrance and now that my uncle and my brother Jordan were home to look after mother, I felt I could better leave them now, because I was not really needed at home. After gathering what few things I wanted to take with me and providing myself with some needed clothes, I bade mother and the old home farewell, and started out for the first time alone in a world I knew very little about.