The Battle on Billy Goat Hill

When I was a boy, I wanted a goat. I know from where this interest came. I will do my best to explain to you the story.

When I was little, I would sometimes go with my dad to work. My dad was self-employed and so worked at the homes of his customers. Since I was too young to work, and far too interested in the new surroundings to be of much use, I was free to roam.

At one particular home, I remember, the owner had several goats. I had never seen one in person. There were a half-dozen or so. The ladies, as most ladies are, were kind and welcoming. They allowed me to pet them and would dance around me. I examined their eyes, and their strange square-shaped pupils. I gave their beards a tug and this they didn’t mind. However, one drew the line when I tried to ride her.

Then I met him — the brown and white patriarch of the herd. He stood a distance away observing the activity. He was a magnificently arrogant fellow, with a long beard, and one could tell immediately he cherished his position as the head. I’m not sure if he was jealous or if curiosity got the better of him, but he strolled toward the fun and was serious about ending it.

Here he was — a Billy-goat, with a pair of foot-long horns. These he showed me. So I did what I was supposed to do. I grabbed them with both hands. In the absence of a well thought out idea, I reckoned this was a good one at the time. I pushed him back a few steps, and then I twisted his head side to side. I was having a blast. He barely offered a protest. I continued with the fun – pushing, twisting, and turning him. Then he stopped. His neck stiffened, and his legs locked.

He said, “Young man, I know not who you are nor from where you came, but this is my hill and none of my ladies take a liking to anyone, not even a boy, without my permission. And now you are daring me in front of my lovely concubines. This is a dare, I am afraid for you, I have to take.”

He reared up his front legs, and lunged with his spare ones. On my butt I tumbled, and over the top of me he stepped. Even as a boy, I could see that things were serious.

My pride was hurt. I was embarrassed, outdone, and on my butt in front of a group of nice ladies. The Billy-goat stood there proud, half turned, and eying me with the left one. I’m sure I heard him laugh. I spat, flashed my teeth, stood and gave him a shove in the ribs. He straightened and we stood face to face. He showed me his horns. I grabbed them. The tussle began again.

We were locked in combat. Both of us were keenly aware the ladies were watching. This time I leaned in hard and walked him back several feet and when he lunged, I let go, moved out of the way, gave him a passing shove, then grabbed his horns again, and twisted and turned his head some more. This we repeated for some time — neither side winning, neither side losing but tearing up all of God’s creation. The ladies cheered, gasped, one fainted.  Then he quit. I tried to entice him for more combat, feeling robbed of a proper victory, a chance to settle it for good. It was of no use, he’d met his match.

I did what any victor would do. I returned to the company of the nice ladies and danced with all of them. I should have been wiser. Though I won our contest, the Billy-goat was far from defeated. He did not appreciate me adding insult to injury by dancing with his women. I did not see the horned devil coming. I just felt an incredible thud on my right side. He sent my little body flying and tumbling end over end over the ground. (It is a record distance in that town to this day by any goat in a boy throwing contest).

The Billy-goat and I’m afraid to say, even the ladies, thought I cried. That is a lie. During my fall, I got dirt in my eyes, which made my eyes water profusely. I would like to state that clearly and end the matter. I did not cry.

I faced my foe.

“You do not fight fair, sir!” I protested.

“I am a Billy-goat.” He responded.

There is not room here for me to explain the reaction of my father. He was not pleased and I had to stay by his side the rest of the day. Before we left, I pleaded and begged for him to buy me that Billy-goat. He told me no that I would have it so mean in a week’s time  “it wouldn’t be worth shoot’n!”

I’ve never owned a goat but neither have I forgotten that day, and neither have I stopped wanting to own one since.


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