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A Yankee in a Pork-house by Jonathan F. Kelley

 

“Conscience sakes! but hain't they got a lot of pork here?” said a looker-on in Quincy Market, t'other day.

“Pork!” echoes a decidedly Green Mountain biped, at the elbow of the first speaker.

“Yes, I vow it's quite as-tonishing how much pork is sold here and et up by somebody,” continued the old gent.

“Et up?” says the other, whose physical structure somewhat resembled a fat lath, and whose general contour made it self-evident that he was not given much to frivolity, jauntily-fitting coats and breeches, or perfumed and “fixed up” barberality extravagance.

“Et up!” he thoughtfully and earnestly repeated, as his hands rested in the cavity of his trousers pockets, and his eyes rested upon the first speaker.

“You wern't never in Cincinnatty, I guess?”

“No, I never was,” says the old gent.

“Never was? Well, I cal'lated not. Never been in a Pork-haouse?”

“Never, unless you may call this a Pork-house?”

“The-is? Pork-haouse?” says Yankee. “Well, I reckon not—don't begin—'tain't nothin' like—not a speck in a puddle to a Pork-haouse—a Cincinnatty Pork-haouse!”

“I've hearn that they carry on the Pork business pooty stiff, out there,” says the old gentleman.

“Pooty stiff? Good gravy, but don't they? 'Pears to me, I knew yeou somewhere?” says our Yankee.

“You might,” cautiously answers the old gent.

“'Tain't 'Squire Smith, of Maoun-Peelier?”

“N'no, my name's Johnson, sir.”

“Johnson? Oh, in the tin business?”

“Oh, no, I'm not in business, at all, sir,” was the reply.

“Not? Oh,”—thoughtfully echoes Yankee. “Wall, no matter, I thought p'raps yeou were from up aour way—I'm from near Maoun-Peelier—State of Varmount.”

“Ah, indeed?”

“Ya-a-s.”

“Fine country, I'm told?” says the old gent.

“Ye-a-a-s, 'tis;”—was the abstracted response of Yankee, who seemed to be revolving something in his own mind.

“Raise a great deal of wool—fine sheep country?”

“'Tis great on sheep. But sheep ain't nothin' to the everlasting hog craop!”

“Think not, eh?” said the old gent.

“I swow teu pucker, if I hain't seen more hogs killed, afore breakfast, in Cincinnatty, than would burst this buildin' clean open!”

“You don't tell me so?”

“By gravy, I deu, though. You hain't never been in Cincinnatty?”

“I said not.”

“Never in a Pork-haouse?”

“Never.”

“Wall, yeou've hearn tell—of Ohio, I reckon?”

“Oh, yes! got a daughter living out there,” was the answer.

“Yeou don't say so?”

“I have, in Urbana, or near it,” said the old gent.

“Urbanny! Great kingdom! why I know teu men living aout there; one's trading, t'other's keepin' school; may be yeou know 'em—Sampson Wheeler's one, Jethro Jones's t'other. Jethro's a cousin of mine; his fa'ther, no, his mother married—'tain't no matter; my name's Small,—Appogee Small, and I was talkin'——”

“About the hog crop, Cincinnatty Pork-houses.”

“Ye-a-a-s; wall, I went eout West last fall, stopped at Cincinnatty—teu weeks. Dreadful nice place; by gravy, they do deu business there; beats Salvation haow they go it on steamboats—bust ten a day and build six!”

“Is it possible?” says the old gent; “but the hogs——”

“Deu beat all. I went up to the Pork-haouses;—fus thing you meet is a string—'bout a mile long, of big and little critters, greasy and sassy as sin; buckets and bags full of scraps, tails, ears, snaouts and ribs of hogs. Foller up this line and yeou come to the Pork-haouses, and yeou go in, if they let yeou, and they did me, so in I went, teu an almighty large haouse—big as all aout doors, and a feller steps up to me and says he:—

“'Yeou're a stranger, I s'pose?'

“'Yeou deu?' says I.

“'Ye-a-a-s,' says he, 'I s'pose so,' and I up and said I was.

“'Wall,' says he, 'ef you want to go over the haouse, we'll send a feller with you!'

“So I went with the feller, and he took me way back, daown stairs—aout in a lot; a-a-a-nd everlastin' sin! yeou should jist seen the hogs—couldn't caount 'em in three weeks!”

“Good gracious!” exclaims the old gent.

“Fact, by gravy! Sech squealin', kickin' and goin' on; sech cussin' and hollerin', by the fellers pokin' 'em in at one eend of the lot and punchin' on 'em aout at t'other! Sech a smell of hogs and fat, brissels and hot water, I swan teu pucker, I never did cal'late on, afore!

“Wall, as fast as they driv' 'em in by droves, the fellers kept a craowdin' 'em daown towards the Pork-haouse; there two fellers kept a shootin' on 'em daown, and a hull gang of the all-firedest dirty, greasy-looking fellers aout—stuck 'em, hauled 'em daown, and afore yeou could say Sam Patch! them hogs were yanked aout of the lot—killed—scalded and scraped.”

“Mighty quick work, I guess,” says the old gent.

“Quick work? Yeou ought to see 'em. Haow many hogs deu yeou cal'late them fellers killed and scraped a day?”

“Couldn't possibly say—hundreds, I expect.”

“Hundreds! Grea-a-at King! Why, I see 'em kill thirteen hundred in teu hours;—did, by golly!”

“Yeou don't say so?”

“Yes, sir. And a feller with grease enough abaout him to make a barrel of saft soap, said that when they hurried 'em up some they killed, scalded and scraped ten thousand hogs in a day; and when they put on the steam, twenty thousand porkers were killed off and cut up in a single day!”

“I want to know!”

“Yes, sir. Wall, we went into the haouse, where they scalded the critters fast as they brought 'em in. By gravy, it was amazin' how the brissels flew! Afore a hog knew what it was all abaout, he was bare as a punkin—a hook and tackle in his snaout, and up they snaked him on to the next floor. I vow they kept a slidin' and snakin' 'em in and up through the scuttles—jest in one stream!

“'Let's go up and see 'em cut the hogs,' says the feller.

“Up we goes. Abaout a hundred greasy fellers were a hacken on 'em up. By golly, it was deth to particular people the way the fat and grease flew! Two whacks—fore and aft, as Uncle Jeems used to say—split the hog; one whack, by a greasy feller with an everlasting chunk of sharpened iron, and the hog was quartered—grabbed and carried off to another block, and then a set of savagerous-lookin' chaps layed to and cut and skirted around;—hams and shoulders were going one way, sides and middlins another way; wall, I'm screwed if the hull room didn't 'pear to be full of flying pork—in hams, sides, scraps and greasy fellers—rippin' and a tearin'! Daown in another place they were saltin' and packin' away, like sin! Daown in the other place they were frying aout the lard—fillin' barrels, from a regular river of fat, coming aout of the everlastin' biggest bilers yeou ever did see, I vow! Now, I asked the feller if sich hurryin' a hog through a course of spraouts helped the pork any, and he said it didn't make any difference, he s'pected. He said they were not hurryin' then, but if I would come in, some day, when 'steam was up,' he'd show me quick work in the pork business—knock daown, drag aout, scrape, cut up, and have the hog in the barrel before he got through squealin'!

“Hello! Say!—'Squire, gone?”

The old gent was—gone; the last brick hit him!

 
 
 

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