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The character in Fred Gipson's 1956 novel of a family struggling to survive in post-Civil War Texas, and of the family's 14-year-old boy, Travis, who finds and befriends the titular canine, Old Yeller, described as "shiftless" is Bud Searcy. Searcy is introduced to the reader in Chapter Six in the following passage:
"Bud Searcy was a red-faced man with a bulging middle who liked to visit around the settlement and sit and talk hard times and spit tobacco juice all over the place and wait for somebody to ask him to dinner. . . Mama said he was shiftless. She said that was the reason the rest of the men left him at home to sort of look after the womenfolks and kids while they were gone on the cow drive."
While neither Travis nor his mother has much use for Bud, Travis does confess to having a certain fondness for Searcy's 11-year-old granddaughter, Lisbeth. Travis describes Lisbeth as pretty and congenial to have around, but with the discomforting characteristic of being able, the boy believes, to see right through him, to know everything he was thinking. If Lisbeth is presented as reflective or contemplative, however, Bud is anything but. He exists primarily to bum free meals off of people and to tell stories and spread gossip, all the while spitting tobacco juice. He claims to be checking in on the Coates family, but one is left with the definite impression that he is more about free food than about concern over anybody's welfare, irresponsible and lackadaisical as he is. Searcy, though, is the one who warns the Coates' about the dangers of hydrophobia, or rabies, which will be prophetic as Gipson's novel progresses.
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