The men came nearly every night and talked about the cock fights to be held near Toome at Easter. They
made plans for Dick's training and arranged how he was to be fed.
About a fortnight before the fights my father got a long box and nailed loose sacking over the front
to keep it in darkness. Dick was put into this and his feathers and tail were clipped... Every morning
we took him from his dark box and gave him a few runs up and down the yard. Johnny Moore had made a red
flannel bag stuffed with straw, and Dick sparred at this daily, and when he had finished my father would
lift him in his arms, stroke him gently, and sponge the feet and head. Day by day the cock grew peevish,
and once when he nebbed at me I gave him a clout that brought my father running to the yard.
The night before the fights the steel spurs were tied on him to see how he would look in the pit. 'Ah,
Jimmy, if you could see him' said my father to the blind man. 'He's the picture of health'. The blind
man fingered his beard and putting a hand in his pocket, took out a few pound notes and spat on them
for luck. 'Put that on him to-morrow. There's not another cock this side of the Bann nor in all County
Derry that could touch him.' Even Johnny Moore risked a few shillings and the next morning before five
o'clock my father wakened me to go to Toome.
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