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ADDIE McGRATH LEE.
The pine needles rustled with that
cadence peculiar to them under'Nervy
Dixon's feet as she made her way
slowly up the hill. Haste had no
place in her vocabulary, for there had
been no occasion for hurrying in all
her life. She had been in search of
an adventurous hen, who had disdain
ed the hay nests in the shed in the
shed loft, and "went-a-settin"' in a
hollow log down in the woods on her
own account. 'Nervy's brown apron
held nine fluffy chicks, while the
mother hen with outstretched wings,
fluttered here and there, .squaking
distractedly, taking sudden fright and
scurrying into the woods, then return
ing with defiant air and the proud
cluck of proprietorship.
"Seems like yer could sense that I
wasn't goin' to hurt 'eh," she remark
dd to the distressed hen, "I'd let 'em
raise out if the varmint's wouldn't
pester 'em, but it ain't no use to
think yer could do better by 'em than
The girl stepped lightly over the
mounds formed by Titan groves of
forest trees, going straight through
the aisles of pine trees to the arch of
light beyond what looked like the
golden gateway of a brighter world,
bat was only her father's clearing
after all, where the sunlight fell un
broken at noonday, and threw length
ened shadows daily from the woods
from east to west anf from west to
east. A forty-acre clearing that gave
evidence of its shiftless proprietor
by its unburnt logs and brush heaps,
and by the briars and weeds that
grew apace with the straggling corn. I
A plowshare lay rusting in the
ground where Jerry's son Lode had
turned his last furrow in the spring.
It seemed a pity to have mutilated
the heart of the forest for such re
sults. Jerry and Lode were averse
to labor of any kind, particularly to
that heroic sort called "deadening
timber" and "log rollin'," and had not
extended their clearing further than
was actually necessary for a bare
sustenance. The great beech trees
standing just outside a straggling
rail fence, of the antiquated "stake
and rider" order and ceased to whis
per its alarms to the pines and oaks
that stood in straight limbed loveli
ness all over the hills down to the
bayou. The blackberry, leading a
host of riotous vines and brambles,
had clamored down the fence and
was in undisputed possession of its
corners. In the early spring of every
year there were tremors of fear
among woodland things lest Jerry
Dixon should extend the unsightly
clearing, but the fears were unfound
ed, for the Dixons had each, rather
sit upon the banks of the bayou and
cast a line for the elusive "goggle
eyed" than open new fields for labor.
No thought of her father's shiftless
ness crossed 'Nervy's mind, for she
had always lived in an atmosphere of
poverty and neglect, and it had no
surprising phases for her. What did
surprise her was the sight of a horse
and rider coming through the woods
from the direction from which she
"Who kin it be anyhow!" she
ejaculated, trying to trace some
points of recognition at a distance.
As is usual in rural districts, the
horse came in for first consideration.
"The creeter do look powerfully like
the one Jim Johnson rid to meetin',
but it ain't gaited like it were, as I
But she had no idea of leaving her
curiosity ungratified, and waited for
the approach of the rider.
"He ain't from these parts," she
concluded, and the discovery seemed
to overwhelm her with confusion, for
she stood gazing at the ground, dig
ging her bare toes into the mellow
surface, and with her disengaged
hand she twitched nervously at the
strings of her sun bonnet, that hung
limp over her back, not doing duty
as a headgear on this occasion.
John Morrison was too tired, dusty
and thirsty, and withal too practical
to be susceptible to artistic impres
sions, else the "study in browns"
would have been deemed worthy of
more than the glance that interrogat
ed, not the girl in meagre brown cot
ton dress, sun-bonnet, whose shapely
feet, sunburnt face took on the same
warm, brown color, but a living crea
ture who only meant to him a source
from which to derive the information
he desired in regard to the timbered
lands through which he had just pass
"Good morning," he said removing
"Howdye!" returned the girl, still
looking down, and it was not until
his gaze went beyond her over toward
the log house that stood on the oppo
site side of the clearing in the shadow
of the pines that 'Nervy dared look
up. One swift wondering glance told
her he was unlike the men she was
accustomed to see around the settle
ment anid placed him under that com
prehensive and exalted category
known as "town folks."
"Can you tell me who lives here?"
"Over yonder?" she indicated the
direction of the house with her head,
"Jerry Dixon," steadily looking down.
"Is he at home?" asked Morrison.
'"Not as I knows on, 'less he's got
hack since I left ther."
"Could you tell me where I'd be
likely to find him?"
"Ther ain't no tellin'; like ez 'not
he'll come ter dinrer, and like ez not
he won't. Yer ain't er wantin' ter
see him ar' yer?" 'Nervy looked sus
piciously at the stranger, and her
wander grew that any man should
desire to see her father "on business,"
as the stranged explained; she had
never known the like to occur before.
"You could go to ther house an'
light, an' wait fer him if yer hav' a
mind to," said 'Nervy, her hospitality
banishing shyness, an' put yer critter
under the shed--ther's corn in the
shuck pen," she added.
"Thank you," the young man re
turned, and dismounting, prepraed to
lead his jaded horse to the point des
ignated. The girl walked ahead in
her characteristic indolent way, paus
ing to utter a fierce "shoo e, shoo e!"
at the adventurous hen whose chicks
she held in her apron, and once she
stopped to watch a squirrel scamper
up the trunk of a tree.
"Is game plentiful hereabout?"
asked Morrison, with an effort at I
"Them ar' and ther's a big chance
of varmints," she answered without
looking at him.
The house when reached was not
unlike the majority of those in that
section, a two-room structure of pine
logs, notched and fitted together, the
crevices filled in with a mixture of
mud and moss, the chimney of this
same compound reared its ungainly
proportions against one end and
seemed a pillar to support the cabin
that possessed an oblipue slant in
that direction. A long handled gourd,
sere and brown, hung near the door,
a sample of last year's product of a
vine that raged rampant over the
fene a*t shed in the rear of the
house. A clambering tyrannical vine
"'that wouldner growed so fine ef
gourds were fitten to eat," as 'Nervy
often declared. She deposited her
chicks in a coop by the shed while
John Morrison put up his horse. "I'll
fetch some cool water from the
spring fer yer," said she, in a cordial
though smileless way, "an' yer make
yerself at home," bringing out a chair
on the rickety porch, but Morrison
picked up the bucket from the shelf
near the steps before she could reach
it, saying: "Tell ale the direction of
the spring and I'll bring the water
This unexpected move caused
'Nervy to remonstrate, "I ain't never
called on company to tote water yit"
--but Morrison only laughed and
started off on a footpath that led
back into the woods, surmising that
the spring was in that direction.
Jeary Dixon's world was narrow,
but he never grew restless because of
its close drawn limits. He knew
nothing of the glorious arena stretch
ing away beyond his boundaries, he
knew nothing of the world, for the
throbbing of its great heart had never
stirred the pulses of this remote set
tlement that was hemmed in on one
side by the D'Arbonne bayou, with
its margin of swamp, a stream that
at unexpected times swelled above its
channel, spreading over the swamps
and impeding travel. Jerry's world
focussed into three points-the bayou,
Hudson's store, and the cabin in the
clearing. He reached the latter point
that August day as John Morrison
laved his face, bravely contending
with the disadvantage of scooping
up the cool water in his hands from a
shallow pewter basin on the water
shelf. Whatever surprise he felt on
seeing a stranger domiciled in his
abode he gave no sign. probably he
felt none, for that emotion was too
'rapid to stir his sluggish pulse.
"Hyar yer?" he said gravely, then
turning to Nervy who was washing
sweet potatoes, making ready for the
"Dunno; down at the ferry like az
Young Morrison, having finished
his ablutions, turned to Jerry and
shook hands in a friendly manner,
"MIr. Dixon, my name is Morrison,
John Morrison. I was prospecting
through this section, have been buy
ing up white oaks, and have learned
at the settlement that you had a well
there and came to find out of you
timbered strip of land on the bayou
cared to sell any of your white oak
Jerry Dixon's equanamity was not
to be disturbed by this rapid way of
coming to business, and he answered
in his usual deliberate way:
"All of them trees ar' mine down
'twixt here and the bayou, and ther's
a sight of white oalks 'mongst 'em.
IWhat do ycr want white oaks fur
more'n red oak or water or pin oak?
I'm got 'em all kinds on that strip."
"I have only been buying white oak
timber; it suits my purpose better
ithan any other, and if you care to
sell I'd like to know your figures."
Jerry had no idea of transacting
business in a standing position nor of
showing an undue haste lest the
stranger might fancy him anxious to
sell. He motionedkl his guest to the
chair 'Nervy had placed on the porch,
seated himself on a wooden settle,
drawing from his pocket his cob pipe.
"Minervy," he called, "bring me a
chunk of fire," he always called her
by her full name when laboring under
strong emotions. The girl appeared
carrying a glowing ember between
two sticks, flourishing it appallingly
near her father's immovable coun
tenance, while placing it on his pipe.
After several moments of smoke
enveloped reflections, Jerry said:
"I never knowed as white oak trees
were enny better'n other sort ov
"Perhaps their general utility is
not greater than other timber, but
I am getting them for a special pur
pose. They are worked up into staves
for making wine casks. I have a
great deal of timber floated down the
bayou andl I am anxious to get all
out before a low stage of water. I
have my men a few miles above here
(Continued on page twelve)
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