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heard a man say thet has been up
the bayou that they wa sa clean cut
pair of hounds, but I give out they
ain't outrunnin' them dogs of mine to
day," said Bill proudly.
"I dunno," said 'Nervy as she hesi
tated between a.pink and white, and a
blue and white calico.1 "I dunno
nothin' about a dog noway, but them
hounds of hia'n hey got another look
about them from our'n. Pa and Lode
just took on over 'em till I was wor
ried, fur it did look like they grudged
him ov them."
'Nervy had, after much delibera
tioh, finished her purchases, which
were so much more than Bill was ac
customed to sell to the Dixon family,
that his curiosity was piqued. What
could 'Nervy Dixon want of two
dresses at once, and ribbon, surely
she had never indulged in such ex
travagance before, and he ventured
on a personal remark with a knowing
"I should jedge you and Bob was
about to make it." 'Nervy blushed,
but passed over the insinuation in si
lence, and the storekeeper continued,
"Bob, he's been a gitten out boards
fur the longest and Lijah Moses was
er tellin' me thet he and er lot er the
boys had been asked over to a house
coverin', and they do say Bob's ma is
er ixin' up powerful fer her new dar
ter," he laughed at the joke, "and
aims to hev a quiltin' the same day ez
the house coverin', so the young folks
'round the settlement will have a good
Bob Mason, who had been of the
hunting party that had stated from
'Nervy's home that morning, had
brought a message from his mother
to the girl bidding her come and
spend the day in the absence of the
"men folks." Starting early in the
day, she finished her "tradin"' and
reacher Mrs. Masonls by 10 o'clock.
Mrs. Mason was on the porch carding
cotton in anticipation of the quilting.
She greeted 'Nervy in a quiet un
demonstrative way, as is the custom
of settlers in remote localities, then
went on with her carding, the soft
rolls falling like snow drifts into a
large basket beside her. 'Nervy sat
down fanning herself with her bon
"I think it's goin' to rain, it's so
warm," she said.
"I ain't carin' if it would, an' sorter
cool off things. The sun riz hot this
The intense brilliancy of the day
made the shadows cast by the althea
and peach trees appear as if sketched
with crayon upon the white, sandy
year. The sky was so light a blue
that it looked silver. Against it the
pine trees of the hills and the growth
of the swamps blackened as the sun
blazed through the August day. Mrs.
"I aimed to git a couple of quilts
put up next week some time, and
layed off to hav' a quiltin'."
'Nervy's face brightened and her
gray eyes lighted up with pleasure
at the prospect. She pushed back
her hair from her fore head, where it
clung damply. It was a gesture
habitual to her.
Her hair was almost a golden in a
strong light, and deepened into a
rich brown shadow, waving slightly
over a forehead, white by nature
but tanned to a rich warm color.
The shadows were too darkly ac
cented for beauty, that lay under her
eyes, which were of that peculiar
shade that flash with blue lights,
under emotions, and are pure gray
when in a quiescent state, and per
haps had been black with intense
feeling, but there had been no intense
moments in 'Nervy's life. There had
been no passion gusts, no hopes and
no heights of emotion to gauge, noth
ing but a dead level of monotonous
Her mother died when she was
eight years old, and that one grief
had left no scar. In the ele en years
that had followed she had lived with
her father and Lode, in one cabin or
another, in a sort of migratory way
until they settled at their present
home four years ago. Mrs. Mason
had been her mother's friend, and had
befriended 'Nervy in many ways, even
to offering no objection when her only
son Bob fell in love with her and by
assiduous "keepin' company" had won
the girl's consent to marry him. Mrs.
Mason had proved a valuable coadju
tor to her son, for when 'Nervy had
said she could not leave her father
and Lode with no "wimmin kin to do
for them," Bob's mother replied,
"Shaw, yer pa ez likely to git some
one to look after him, ef he didn't
have you, and Jerry Dixon ain't no
bald sort ef he does I1ok fur easy
places," and so 'Nervy had been
brought to see it was best for her to
marry Bob Mason, and Jerry Dixon
looked with favor on the match.
"I 'lowed," continued 'Nervy's hos
tess, as she plied her cotton cards,
"['d hev you come over and help
"I'd hey you come over the day before
and help me cook up a sight of
things," 'Nervy assented, "that is ef
you ain't too busy yerself. Bob sed ez
how'd you fixed the day between you
the second Monday in September."
'Nervy looked out across the sandy
yard, so blinding hot and white, and
then, as if to rest her eyes, upon the
dark green distance of the pines.
i Mrs. Mason waited a moment,( and
seeing no responsive gesture, went
"Bob said as how it was the most
Sconvenientest time, for Bro. Jones
comes through on his circuit on the
second Sunday, and would stay over
to marry you all. Bob said you didn't
set no store on a justice of the peace
a marryin' of yer."
'Nervy felt no shyness in discussing
the matter with her prospective
mother-in-law. It had been under
consideration many times, but some
hew that morning she felt a strange
reluctance in talking about her wed
ding day. Mrs. Mason was a widow,
her two daughters were married and
settled up in what is known as the
"Rabit Walk" neighborhood near the
Arkansas line, and only paid visits
to their mother at long intervals.
She welcomed the idea of '....ervy's
companionship, as her son's wife, and
her mind recurred constantly to the
theme, and as they cleared up the
dinned dishes she said:
"Hev you been sewin', Nervy?"
"Never had nothin' to sew till to
day for a good while, not since pa
sold the yearlin to Mr. Hudson.
Change has been scarce at our house,
but I did some tradin' today," and
the blue and white calico, a white
lawn dress, the ribbon and thread, a
bit of lace, a handkerchief with print
ed border, and a pair of shoes were
proudly exhibited. "I allus 'lowed to
get me a white dress and the blue
and white one will do for the quiltin'
"Bob he setler me to hev a quiltin'
and it would save trouble, the same
day as the coverin' come off, and then
as the gals wer' a quiltin' and the
boys a coverin' all day, it 'pear like
to hev a sort of gatherin' at night
wiuld be ther thing,"
Mrs. Mason was not averse to a
"gatherin'," and 'Nervy entered into
the scheme of hospitality eagerly, of
course; the quilts had to be quilted
and the shed room and the new barn
covered. It was the custom in many
settlements for neighbors to assist
each other in work of this kind, and
the young men enjoyed the prospect
of a "log rollin'" or "house raisin',"
or "house coverin'," for it meant a
bounteous repast of baked pork,
chicken pie, homemade sausage, boil
ed custard and blackberry pie. It
meant that a number of the settle
ment belles would wait on bthem at
table, and then to end up the day's
labors with a dance in the house that
was raised, or the barn that was cov
ered, was enjoyment indeed.
It was growing late when 'Nervy
nmade her way homeward, through
great aisles of the forest, where the
I pines swing censors of sweet incense
and the air was filled with the melody r
of the orchestra that plays unceas
ingly in the woods made up of the E
buzz of insects, the tapping of the 1
crimson headed woodpecker, the sud- a
den flatter of hawk, the rasping of I
locusts, the staccato call of the car- i
dinal bird, the croak of the wood I
frogs, the whirring of wings and rust- c
ling of leaves. This woodland sym- ;
phony falls unheeded on 'Nervy's :
ears, so accustomed were they to s
these sounds. She had no thought of
the arches of leafy silver overhead,
a ceiling beyond the conception of the
most skilled artisan. Her eyes found t
no beauty in the tree trunks crusted r
with enamel, the fallen logs that have
borrowed the sheen and shades of
costly things, the glow of bronze, the
glitter of emerald, the fretted gold
of the sunlight falling through the
foliage upon the path she trod. A d
great snowy fungi stood in the way, p
smooth like polished ivory on the D
outside, with soft brown velvety lin
ing 'Nervy crushed it under foot,
its very existence was objectionable
to her "Toad stools is rank pizen" t
she said, as if in explanation to her- i
self. The sound of a hunting horn I
in the distance fell upon her ears, she
paused and listened. Again it sound
ed, clearer, louder, a prolonged note,
sweet and resonant, beyond the
woods. She still waited; again it
came, low, tremulous, then swelling
louder until it reached its full volume,
to die away into echoes that seemed
like elflin voices starting up all
around her. .
"They've killed a deer, certain," she
exclaimed; "they allus blows three
times when they gits near home. She
hastened her steps a trifle and was
soon in sight of the cabin, which the
hunters had reached but a few mo
ments before. She was greeted by a
loud baying of the hounds. Old "Deal"
and "Fashion," elated by the day's
successful hunt, led the charge upon
her, followed by the yelping pack.
"Down Rally! Down Roebuck!"
called Morrison to his dogs, that turn
ed at the sound of his voice and
fawned apologetically at his feet.
The onset on 'Nervy changed to
lemonstrations of affection at her
nearer approach on the part of her
father's dogs, while those of Bill
Hudson's seeing their leaders' de
flection became silent and wagged
their tails in a manner that was
meant to indicate they saw their mis
take and were sorry for it.
"Who killed it?" she asked of the i
"He shot it at 60 yards," her fath- S
er said, pointing to Morrison, who I
looked rather proud of his prowhess, 1
as he exhibited a great pair of ant- E
lers. A division had been made of t
the venison and Bob Mason was on z
his horse ready to leave, with his part
of the spoils, and Bill Hudson's also,
for as the latter was represented by
his dogs he was entitled to equal c
"You take Bill his venison," said
'Nervy's father, who was master of
ceremonies, "ez you're pasin that
way, and tell him, Bob, thet Mr. Mor
rison's dogs was half an hour ahead
of our dogs. Tell him it ain't in no
pot licker stock to jine yokes with
his'n. You tell Bill jest how that
black and white spotted hound trailed
and jumped thet deer. Pshaw! I
don't know ez I'd hev the heart to
hunt any more 'thout them dogs of
Mr. Morrison's," he said.
"I'll tell him," said Bob, giving
glances at 'Nervy that were full of
bashful admiration, and had none of
that air of proud certainty one finds
in an accepted lover. Morrison was
looking at her also, and by some oc
cult reasoning, it seems that some
how or somewhere he had seen her or
some one that resembled her at that
moment-perhaps it was some picture
of which she reminded him, standing
there tall and straight, the dogs leap
her particularly before, but now she
seemed to contrast strongly with the
group of men, the horses, the dogs.
There was a sense of reserve force,
and a strong contained manner that
made her different from the father
and brother. She calmly surveyed the
scene, unabashed, observant, until her
eyes for a moment met Morrison's.
Then self-consciousness returned un
der his gaze and a faint color came
into her face; she turned toward Bob
Mason and said in her even, drawl.
ing monotone, "Why yer stay to sup.
Bob looked as if the temptation
1was strong, but he remembered the
evening chores at home, and said, "I
Smust git home; ain't no one ter do
t the feedin' but me, and ma she'd like
Ster bite sonice of the venison fur sup
Sper herself. It's a gittin' late, so I'll
ride," and suited the action to the
"Lode, yer git some lightard and
start a fire, fur you all mus' be cray
in' hungry by now."
Morrison had accepted the invita
ttion to stay for supper, laughingly
saying that the cooks at camp would
3spoil the venison, and it had been long
since he had had the opportunity of
enjoying any, for venison was a lux
Sury in the towns, he explained.
S (To be continued).
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