"Hardboiled As A Picnic Egg"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: This is the story of Jacob Kaime, The Hermit of Shark Tooth Shoal, "who had taken the name of Yukon Jake, the Killer." The line, "Hardboiled as a picnic egg," is just one of the many similes used to describe this terror of the "North Coun-tree." He had not always shown signs of the meanness that made him an outcast on Shark Tooth Shoal, a reef in the Bering Sea. He was a pious youth, "the parson's joy. And had learned to pray, with the hogs and the hay/ On a farm near Keokuk." Whiskey and wild women, however, soon "drained the morals clean as a soup-tureen/ From this poor but honest child." Longing for the rough life of the wild North, he left his home, picked up the habits of the barroom gang, and became the bully of the Yukon. He robbed the tough Yukon men of their gold, drank the bar dry, and did as he pleased. Furthermore, having betrayed "a girl named Ruth" before he had even left home, he proved a constant danger to the ladies. After a synopsis of his life up to this point, comes a passage of general description:

Oh, tough as a steak was Yukon Jake–
Hardboiled as a picnic egg.
He washed his shirt in the Klondike dirt,
And drank his rum by the keg.
In fear of their lives (or because of their wives)
He was shunned by the best of his pals.