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The Irishman's Game cock

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by F.W.K., Oct 18, 2019.

  1. F.W.K.

    F.W.K. Retired Historican

    THE IRISHMAN’S GAME COCK
    “That was a great day in Providence—when Paddy Roark’s bird outwitted Black John Smith’s fine cock, the mighty Jay Bird,” said the old gambler. “That was the end of the world for me. We’ve had no real sport since that time; the boys are all good nowadays.”

    Briefly put, that is the story of the last gambling bout of a public nature in Providence township, Mecklenburg county. The day of the great battle between the fowls of Roark and Smith marks the beginning of a new era.

    Black John Smith, as he was known far and near, on account of his swarthy complexion, was among the last of his kind in the Southern states that embrace the Piedmont region. He and his sort had their day just after the civil war, when every community in Dixie was in a state of confusion, and horse racing, cock fighting, wrestling and fighting matches were common. Smith was one of the boys—a jolly, good fellow, who liked a good time, and if he could not have it one way he would another. He did not belong to the Southern aristocracy of the age; his blood was tainted, but he was a man of fine sense, never-failing courage, and handsome appearance. His family record being a little off color made him a social outcast and his associates were inferiors. Life to him was just what he made it, and he lived like a lord. His home, The Elms, the former residence of Capt. Jim Davis, the largest slave owner in the southern section of the county, was the rendezvous of second-class sportsmen, who assembled there to drink, revel and try their brawn.

    Being industrious and a first-rate farmer, Black John, who never owned land, but rented the best to be had, always had plenty to eat and drink around him. His corn bread and butter milk, pig jowl and kraut, hog and hominy, wine and brandy, all home-made, were of the best in the land, and, liberal to a fault, he was never without friends.

    If any man were out hunting for trouble for himself, his dog, his rooster, or anything else, he could find it at The Elms when Black John Smith flourished there. Rural athletes, bullies, owners of game cocks, and racing horses met with him on off days for a big time.

    Among those who foregathered at his home were dissipated landlords of the community, but, being of a higher social strata, the better citizens rarely ever tarried at the Smith hearth unless they were there on business.

    In the early eighties there drifted into Providence one Paddy Roark, an Irish artisan, from where no one ever knew. Paddy was a unique character and the people of the good old Presbyterian neighborhood gave him a cordial welcome. Just such a man was needed. At all times he was affable and jolly and made friends everywhere. He was a handy man—could do any sort of turn. It was “Paddy do this” and “Paddy do that.” If a farmer needed a painter, a carpenter, a brick mason, or what not, Paddy was the man. Truly, Paddy was “Dick and the wheel in any tight place.” If the boys and girls of Providence had a frolic or a dance he played the fiddle, or picked the banjo, or sang Irish songs. The good housewives of the community liked him, for he could make the kraut, salt the meat, cook fruit for preserves, make persimmon and locust beer, or take the honey from the bee hive. In fact, Paddy was an all-round citizen, and so long as he behaved himself the good people of the community did not worry about his mysterious past or the suddenness of his advent into that bailiwick. Little did they care, the descendants of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, if he had killed an Englishman or two in the old country.

    Paddy Roark belonged to the social circle of The Elms. He and Black John Smith were friends, but the Irishman, being a man of keen wit and cleverness, did not like the way the lord of the old Davis place towered above his fellows. There sprung up a rivalry between these popular idols. In a clash of[ intellects the man from the Emerald Isle outshone the native Tar Heel. In a test of physical strength they were pretty evenly matched. Paddy was the best boxer, but Black John could throw him down in a wrestle. Paddy was the only man in the Smith set that would challenge the “Chief of The Elms.”

    It was on a cold, drizzly day in September and the boys for several miles around had assembled under the Smith roof to discuss plans for the fall and winter. Black John sat in one corner and Paddy in the other, in front of a big log fire. There was a lull in the conversation.

    “A rooster is the gamest thing on earth,” said Smith.

    “I do not admit that without proof,” said Paddy.

    “The proof is at hand,” declared Smith. “Jay Bird, my dominecker game, is in the yard. He is the champion of the county and I will back him against the feathered kingdom. He carries a chip on his shoulder and challenges the world every time he crows. He can crow louder, shriller, oftener and longer than any chicken in seven states. I can make him come in here and fight you.”

    About that time the clarion call of a rooster was heard.

    “Listen!” shouted Black John. “He says ‘I can lick anything that wears feathers!’

    “I will back him in that declaration.”

    Smith got up, opened the door and yelled: “Jay Bird, come here and defend yourself.”

    Before one could say Jack Robinson twice, a beautiful game rooster—and there is nothing prettier—came flying to the house from the barn. His magnificent head, as keen as an arrow point, was red with life, and his alert brown eye sparkled with fire. His spurs were long and sharp and well set in a pair of splendid legs. His cold, steady eye gave him a fierce appearance; the calm, determined stare of never-failing courage, was what made adversaries quail before him.

    “Come in, Jay Bird, and get on your master’s shoulder,” was the invitation extended. Black John was proud of his cock. He petted and groomed him daily.



    “Jay Bird, they say you can be whipped,” said Smith, when the rooster lit upon his shoulder. “What about it?”

    Flapping his wings, lifting his eagle-head, and crowing, Jay Bird seemed to say: “I can whip any rooster in the land.”

    “A game rooster is proud, daring and fearless if he comes of the right stock,” asserted Black John. “Courageous men or dogs do not fight without an excuse, but the cock goes forth to hunt a foe. Two games will meet far from their own barnyards and fight to the death, when there is no provocation for a meeting, much less a fight. The bold, defiant spirit of their blood urges them on. The one hears the challenge of the other and accepts by going, running, flying and crowing, to meet him.

    “Jay Bird is a bundle of superb courage, and I will pit him against any two-legged fowl.”

    “I accept the challenge,” said Paddy. “Name the time and the place and I will be on hand with my bird. We shall put up $25 a side if you say so.”



    This announcement took the breath from the crowd. The money was put up and the day fixed.

    The acceptance of Black John’s challenge by Paddy Roark was the sensation of the month. The countryside was surprised and delighted. Everybody was asking, “And where did Paddy get a chicken that can stand up against Jay Bird, the wonder?”

    All the answer that Paddy gave was, “Never you moind, I’ll be there at the roight toime, and I will have a foighting cock that will swape the daeck.”

    The word was “put out” and traveled with the wind, crossing out of Providence into Pineville, Morning Star, Sharon and Steele Creek townships, and into Union county and South Carolina. The coming contest was all the talk, and Paddy Roark the hero of the hour. If he brought a fowl that could whip Jay Bird the people of the community stood ready to give him a vote of thanks. The older persons of the neighborhood believed that if Smith could be outdone he might turn from his evil ways and discontinue the parties at his place. All minds were on Paddy, who was admired, for his consummate nerve, by men, women and children. The small boy longed to be a man so that he could model after Paddy Roark, the Irishman. When Paddy attended church on Sunday, which he usually did, the pious communicants turned to look at him. He who dared accept Black John Smith’s challenge was a mighty man.

    The last Saturday in October was the day, and Bald Knob, near McAlpine’s creek, the place for the meet.

    Long before the appointed hour a crowd began to gather from three counties. Men came twenty miles to witness the fight.

    The woods that surrounded the open field in which the main was to take place were alive with horses and mules, and while the beasts of burden whinnied and brayed their owners discussed the approaching event. The mystery that surrounded Paddy Roark and his fowl had excited the quiet citizens of Providence as they had not been excited since the days of the Ku Klux Klan. John Smith, himself, looked pale and confused. Could he have done so gracefully, he would have crawfished, but it was too late to think of such a thing. He had to stand to the rack. Bright and early he was at the right place. Jay Bird had crowed until he was hoarse. He knew that something was in the wind and, from the attention he received, that he was to play a part. Hundreds of people called at his cage to see him. He was in fine form and looked every inch a fighter.

    Paddy Roark, who had not been in his usual haunts for several days, had not shown up. The friends of Smith were saying that the Irishman had fluked, but Paddy had backers aplenty, who assured one and all that he would be on time. Fifteen minutes before the hour arrived Paddy was not in sight. At ten of ten a shout broke on the eastern outskirts of the mob. Paddy, riding a gray mule, came galloping over the hill, from towards Matthews, carrying a sack over his shoulder. As he dismounted from his nag an outburst of applause greeted him.

    It was, “Hurrah, for Paddy Roark, and his bird!”



    “Come on with your critter, whatever it be,” responded the Smithites, “and Jay Bird will knock the filling out of him!”

    At this time the entire hillside was covered with a surging, wild-eyed human mass, each person seeking to get where he or she could see. Above the tumult and the shouting, the shrill cry of Jay Bird could be heard, asserting, “I can whip any cock in the land.”

    Roark was literally mobbed by his friends, who asked: “Paddy, have you brought your rooster?”

    “What kind of a beast is he?”

    “Can he do Jay Bird?”

    “We’re betting on him.”

    “Fetch him out, the time is most up.”

    In the midst of this turmoil and chaos Paddy Roark was cool, calm and deliberate. He smoked his pipe, smiled and told the boys that they might stake all they had on “Jerry.”

    His mule tied, Paddy started for the battle-ground with his tow sack on his back; he would not show his bird to any one, but the bulk in one corner of the bag was encouraging. His supporters were cheering and singing, “We’ll hang Jay Bird on a sour apple tree.”

    As the hour hand moved toward ten the lord of The Elms and the Irish carpenter faced each other, the one holding a rooster and the other, the mouth of a bag.

    “Clear out! Stand back! Give the gentlemen room!” shouted the officer of the day.

    Paddy did not seem to be in any hurry. No one knew what his bag contained for all was quiet inside.

    “That’s the deadest rooster ever,” yelled someone in derision. “He’s asleep. Wake up, birdie, day’s breaking!”

    Paddy made no reply. He seemed satisfied with himself and his “boird.”

    “All’s ready!” shouted the umpire.

    “When I say ‘three’ let them go!”

    Paddy took hold of the bottom of the sack and made ready to empty the contents.

    The spectators at this juncture pressed against the ropes and stood on tiptoe to see Paddy’s bird. When the word was given, Jerry, a large, Muscovy drake, web-footed and clumsy, dropped into the arena. The friends of Paddy were struck speechless, and the supporters of Jay Bird laughed boisterously, treating the affair as a joke, but Jay Bird, and Jerry were serious, and went to sparring at each other.

    Paddy, too, was in earnest; knowing his champion he said: “He’s all roight, boys. All hell can’t thrip him.”

    For a moment Jay Bird was disconcerted; although he had never seen a drake before, he did his best. He had fought turkeys, pea fowls and guineas, but not ducks. It was evident from the outset that Jerry knew what he was doing. He dodged beautifully and let the rooster pass over his head. Jay Bird’s spurs would come together above his back every time. The fighting was not dull. Those who watched it felt that there were surprises ahead for the cock. Jerry was biding his time, and it came by and by. Having knocked off the wire edge, without as much as touching the drake, Jay Bird settled down to a steady lick. That was just what Jerry had hoped for; then he became more aggressive. Sallying forth, ducking and dodging a little, he caught his adversary by the back of the neck. Jay Bird pulled back, but Jerry did not turn loose until he had kicked him in the breast and beaten him over the head with his heavy wings.

    The pounding made the rooster furious, and he flew at his antagonist with more vim than ever, and that time the aim was accurate, the blow falling on the drake’s head.

    It was Jerry’s turn to be angry. He stepped back a step or two and prepared to meet Jay Bird. The chicken went with a rush, half running and half flying, and as he rose to strike, the duck fastened him in the throat, brought him down and thumped him severely.

    The crowd was wild, but the battle had been so fast and furious and full of surprises that all looked on in silence, waiting to see the next move.

    At this stage of the game the drake did a wonderful feat. He ran into Jay Bird, took a firm hold upon his neck, rose and flew, like a hawk. The trick was done so quickly that the engrossed onlookers did not realize for a second what had happened. The big duck, with Jay Bird in his mouth, was going toward the creek. The crowd whirled about and hurried after him.

    “It’s all over now,” Paddy cried; “Jerry will drown Jay Bird in Black John’s swimming hole.”

    When the boys arrived at the edge of the water, Jerry was catching tadpoles, having sunk the body of his foe.

    Black John Smith never recovered from the humiliating defeat and death of his rooster. The beginning of the end had come.

    From the book '' Tar Heel Tales '' by H.E.C. Bryant '' Red Buck '' Charlotte N.C. 1910
     
    Soze the killer and stickler like this.
  2. wicked13

    wicked13 Top Dog

    Cheating ass duck
     

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