The Stuff of Legend

In a hundred and fifty years they’ll throw festivals celebrating Dirty Dan and his Daring Deeds; they’ll roll pianos down Main Street and have mud digging competitions and everything. But right now he’s just plain Dan Miller and he’s the laziest man in the county if not the state.

Dan’s down at the capital, doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that, whatever comes to hand to keep body and soul together. It’s a tiny little economy and cash-as-cash is limited. He does a job for a man and the man pays him in pigs.

Dan scratches the back of his neck. “Th’ hell am I going to do with two pigs?” He’s not irritated, he’s just baffled.

The man shrugs. “Pig’s’re good eatin’,” he offers, almost a question.

Dan takes the pigs back north with him, three days on a steamer at a dollar a night plus seventy-five cents for meals. It’s a frontier ship, but even so the pigs don’t endear themselves to anybody, including Dan Miller.

Back home, he turns the pigs loose to fend for themselves. They get fat and happy and he’s baffled again. He takes his stick and follows the pigs for a day, way out on the tide flats where the salt muck sucks at his boots. The pigs dig up two clams, and Dan scoops them up with a little dance, then sobers up. “Hell,” he says, and tosses one of the clams back to the pigs. “Share and share alike, right, fellahs?”

The pigs say nothing, but they do dig up some more clams.