No Free Corn

The following was recently seen on the Idaho Business Alliance website:

by Steve Washam based on a telling by George Gordon

Some years ago, about 1900, an old trapper from North Dakota hitchedup some horses to his Studebaker wagon, packed a few possessions–especially his traps–and drove south.

Several weeks later he stopped in a small town just north of theOkefenokee Swamp in Georgia.

It was a Saturday morning–a lazy day–when he walked into the general store. Sitting around the pot-bellied stove were seven or eight of the town’s local citizens.

The traveler spoke, “Gentlemen, could you direct me to the Okefenokee Swamp?”

Some of the old-timers looked at him like he was crazy.

“You must be a stranger in these parts,” they said.

“I am. I’m from North Dakota,” said the stranger.

“In the Okefenokee Swamp are thousands of wild hogs,” one old manexplained. “A man who goes into the swamp by himself asks to die!”  He lifted up his leg. “I lost half my leg here, to the pigs of the swamp.”

Another old fellow said, “Look at the cuts on me; look at my arm bit off!”

“Those pigs have been free since the Revolution, eating snakes androoting out roots and fending for themselves for over a hundred years. They’re wild and they’re dangerous. You can’t trap them. No man dare go into the swamp by himself.”

Every man nodded his head in agreement.

The old trapper said, “Thank you so much for the warning. Now couldyou direct me to the swamp?”

They said, “Well, yeah, it’s due south–straight down the road.”  But they begged the stranger not to go, because they knew he’d meet a terrible fate.

He said, “Sell me ten sacks of corn, and help me load them into thewagon.” [This is where I figured out where this story was going… Uncle Romulus]

And they did.

Then the old trapper bid them farewell and drove on down the road.  The townsfolk thought they’d never see him again.

Two weeks later the man came back. He pulled up to the general store, got down off the wagon, walked in and bought ten more sacks of corn.  After loading it up he went back down the road toward the swamp.

Two weeks later he returned and, again, bought ten sacks of corn.  This went on for a month. And then two months, and three.

Every week or two the old trapper would come into town on a Saturdaymorning load up ten sacks of corn and drive off south into the swamp.

The stranger soon became a legend in the little village and the subject of much speculation. People wondered what kind of devil hadpossessed this man, that he could go into the Okefenokee by himselfand not be consumed by the wild and free hogs.

One morning the man came into town as usual. Everyone thought hewanted more corn.

He got off the wagon and went into the store where the usual group of men were gathered around the stove.  He took off his gloves.

“Gentlemen,” he said, “I need to hire about ten or fifteen wagons.  I need twenty or thirty men. I have six thousand hogs out in the swamp, penned up, and they’re all hungry. I’ve got to get them to market right away.”

“You’ve WHAT in the swamp?” asked the storekeeper, incredulously.

“I have six thousand hogs penned up.  They haven’t eaten for two orthree days, and they’ll starve if I don’t get back there to feed and take care of them.”

One of the old-timers said, “You mean you’ve captured the wild hogs of the Okefenokee?”

“That’s right.”

“How did you do that?  What did you do?” the men urged, breathlessly.

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