He was just an old man with a toothless grin, a wrinkled up face and a
stubbled chin. His clothes were all tattered, and his house was cold, but old
Grandpa Rice had a heart made of gold.
If ever a stranger would pass by Gramp’s shack, he’d rush out to greet him,
and he’d call him on back. He’d holler, "Come in friend, set and chat fer a
spell." Then he’d serve up some tea, and his stories he’d tell.
His yarns were of the "old times", when first he "came here;" how he’d brought
his new bride - oh, he loved her so dear. His eyes filled with tears as he
talked of "dear Bell." He buried her there - and a wee babe, as well.
With him in his shack on the side of a hill, lived a mangy old cat, and a dog
he called "Bill." He existed on tea and boiled up dried beans, and the odd
time he’d stew up some dandelion greens.
He’d say, "Let’s go huntin’ to find us some game." Then old Bill would follow,
though the poor dog was lame. If perchance they should spy a jack rabbit or
mole, they would stand still and watch it run into its hole. Neither one would
attempt to catch, or to kill. They both were alike -- Grandpa Rice and old
Bill. The word spread around to the "animal folk" that the pair’s hunting
habit were merely a joke.
One day out of nowhere came a massive buck-deer. He held his head high,
showing no trace of fear. He watched as the man cocked his rusty old gun. He
heard him tell Bill, "Now, this’ll be fun!"
Grandpa Rice, through the sight, looked the buck in the eye, then he lowered
his gun, with a long weary sigh. The deer gave a snort as he trotted away;
"G’bye Gramps and Bill; there’ll be no meat today!"
Grandpa Rice said, "C’mon, Bill, let’s amble on home. Jist mebby I’ll find you
a dried up old bone. As for me, I kin brew me some dandelion tea, and boil up
some taters, maybe toss in some peas."
Then on came a winter, of storm after storm. Just nothing Gramps did could get
the shack warm. He ran out of tea, had no more dried beans. How he longed for
a stew of dandelion greens. So, soon Grandpa Rice became terribly ill. He
crawled on his cot beside Cat and old Bill.
One day- - near to springtime -- a trapper named, Jack, by chance stumbled
on to a shabby old shack. He ventured inside to check out the site. He
thought that perhaps he could sleep there that night. But there curled
together, under a mat, lay a frozen old man, a dog, and a cat.
Jack won’t soon forget what he saw in that place, Old Grandpa Rice died with a
smile on his face.
* * * * * * * * *
Now, many years later, in that very same spot, lies a pile of old lumber, and
a rusted-out pot. Just stand still and listen, and listen real well. You might
hear him calling, "Come set fer a spell." Amidst all the rubble on the side of
that hill, lies the spirit of Gramps, his cat, and old Bill.