I AM A DUNKARD

The following short story was written by Madison Grant as “The Major.” It was published in “Hank: His Lies and His Yarns”, privately printed (probably by the Boone and Crockett Club) in 1937. 

I AM A DUNKARD

“MAJOR,” said Hank at their camp up Lost Horse Cañon, “I have been thinking all day ’bout them sheep down in the Bitterroot Valley. They do smell something dreadful, don’t they? They ought to be vermin but they ain’t, because they do say in the East there are people that eat sheep, which they call mutton.”

“What has that to do with sheep being vermin?” asked the Major.”Why you sure know, Major, what a vermin is?”

“No,” says the Major, “I don’t.”

“Vermin,” says Hank, “is anything you can’t eat, so sheep ain’t vermin, though they ought to be.”

“Hank, why are you so down on sheep? I know that all cattle-men and hunters detest the brutes, but why are you so especially bitter? Yesterday I was afraid you were going to shoot the shepherd of the flock we rode through.”

Then Hank said, “That Greaser shepherd, he sure ought to be shut. He’s vermin
all right. Well, Major, I tell you why I hate sheep; because they robbed me of my religion.”

“What, robbed you of your religion, Hank?”

“They sure have, I ain’t no Christian no more. I can’t belong to no religion what uses a blatting imbecile of a lamb for a symbol. And they say Christ was a shepherd. I’ve seen pictures of him carrying a lamb. Just look at them half-breed shepherds we saw yesterday. No, I ain’t no Christian, I ain’t.”

“Well, Hank, the sheep and shepherd question has nothing to do with Christianity. They are symbolical. But if you are not a Christian, what are you? You have got to be something, are you an Atheist or a Deist or an Agnostic or a Moslem? You must be something.”

“Well,” said Hank after an embarrassed pause, “I suppose I am a Dunkard.”

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