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Woman's enterprise. [volume] (Baton Rouge, La.) 1921-19??, December 15, 1922, Image 12

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89059303/1922-12-15/ed-1/seq-12/

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PLAYING 'POSSUM
(Continued from page nine)
working their way down through the
timber."
Jerry was not to be hurried in this
one business transaction of his life,
and he gave no sign of assent nor any
sign of the delighted vista he saw
opening through the sale of his white
oaks. He saw Lode's old "dugout"
with double paddle relieved from
duty, and in its place a long skiff
with oars moored to the boat stake.
He saw fishing tackle, the finest the
settlement stores boasted of, in his
possession, and when this point of the
prospective prosperity was reached
he was brought to realities of barter
and trade by Morrison saying rather
sharply:
"Well, Mr. Dixon, what are your
figures on one hundred?"
"A hundred white oaks! Mister
Morrison?" he seemed calculating,
but to tell the truth Jerry had no
knowledge of the sale of trees. It
was a new departure. He had cut
down and burned trees to rid his land
of them, but had never looked upon
them as a source of revenue. He
could ride in any direction through
miles and miles of unbroken forests
and regarded trees as a burden to the
soil, nothing more.
Morrison settled the matter by
saying, "I have been buying them at
two dollars apiece as they stand."
"Two hundred dollars!" Jerry was
startled at his ,stolidity by this suid
den succession of wealth, but he
reached out his hand to Morrison
saying, "It's a trade."
"I will have my men down here in
about a week," said Morrison.
"Ov course, ov course," replied
Jerry mechanically.
"Minervy," he suddenly called, is
that 'er Lode 'er whistlin' back of the
shed?"
'Like ez not, I seen him er comin'
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W w-On Saving-e- P% ~ `"' 2
through yonder jest now, but he ain't
got no call to know 'bopt them white
oaks to go blabben all 'round the
settlement."
"Minervy! how did you know 'bout
them white oaks yourself, when yer
was in the house a gitten dinner?"
he asked reprovingly.
"I heered you er talkin' ez I ain't
deaf and wasn't goin' to stuff cotton
in my ears, to keep from hearin' you
all hagglin'," she retorted.
Lode, the heir apparent of Jerry
Dixon's fortunes, came slouching
around the corner of the house at
this point of the conversation and
nodded at John Morrison, at the same
time giving a hitch to his clothes as
if they needed encounagement to
cling to the long lank figure.
"Air dinner ready, 'Nervy?" he
asked.
"Ef you'll just step out ther' an'
fetch me a few sticks of wood, I'll
hav' it neady in no time." To 'Nervy
came a sudden inspiration as she beat
the corn meal, and she whispered to
her brother: "Lode, as he'll be here
for dinner," indicating their guest
with a nod of her head in his direc
tion, 'spose you run down to the set
line an' see if 'taint got a fish on it.
I'll have hot water and scald it, 'twont
take more'n a minute to scale it, an'
'twould help out so."
Lode, infectedd by his sister's spirit
of hospitality, set out with surprising
alacrity.
"We ain't got much," she mused, as
she looked over her stock of table
ware, consisting of a few plates,
three cups with handles intact, a
sugar bowl that was heavy enough to
stand the wear and tear of three gen
erations, and decrepid knives and
forks. 'Nervy looked a trifle dissat
isfied, and scanned the wall of the
apartment, which served as general
living room, as if seeking some adorn
ment for the hospitable board. Her
eyes fell upon a small plate with
edges adorned instructively, if not ar
tistically, by the alphabet in blue, and
a glass mug. These were 'Nervy's
treasures, and had never served a
baser purpose than that of ornament
ing the mantel shelf.
"He do look like a big bug and
powerful peart," said 'Nervy as she
glanced through the door at Morri
son, still hesitating whether or not
to use the "chiny" plate and glass
mug. The glance decided the matter,
and when Lade returned, he was stag
gered by the air of gentility lent the
festive board by this addition to their
tableware.
The aesthetic value of the glass
mug and the educational properties of
the plate were lost on John Morri
son, who ate with keen relish the
flaky corn flakes and a portion of the
fish that Lode had brought in his
set line, and 'Nervy had prepared in
such haste. He ate with the air of a
hungry man whose business at table
is to appease hunger.
Lode felt that there was an unac
countable elation at his father's man
ner, while he himself was overcome
by that embarrassment that ignor
ance feels in the presence of a supe
rior, particularly at table. He ate in
silence, watching the glass mug, filled
with creamy buttermilk at Morrison's
plate, with a strange fascination.
'Nervy stood apart as the three men
ate, only drawing near when her hos
pitable eye detected any need of their
guest.
After dinner Lode was drawn into
the conversation by his father asking:
"Enny news at the store?"
"None as I knows on 'cept that Bill
Hudson saw a deer track in the road
down by Lowry's bridge an' 'lowed it
was a big buck from the size of the
track."
"Yer don't say so!" exclaimed Jerry
with unwonted animation.
"It must be one of 'em come over
from the Amos drive, fur ther ain't
a deer on the Lowrey run for four
years. Any chance of a hunt, Lode?"
"Wa'al, Bill said if me and you
would bring our dogs and meet Jed
and Benson and come 'round to Ma
son's old field, we'd be apt to skeer
up that same old buck. He said how
he couldn't go on account of leaving
the store on Saturday, and the others
couldn't go no other day but Satur
day, so he said we could have his
dogs. Bill would be right thar' arter
that deer, but most folks do their tra
din' at the settlement store on Satur
day," drawled Lode in explanation
to Morrison as to why the hunting
party was to be deprived of the so
ciety of Bill Hendenson, who was not
only owner of a half dozen hounds of
questionable lineage, but also pro
prietor of the one store in the "settle
ment."
enx
"I'll take our dogs," remarked
Jerry as he and Morrison sat on a
bench in the shadow of the cabin
waiting for it to grow cooler before
Morrison returned to his camp up the
river. Lode was squatting near them,
"sitting on his heels," a position pe
culiar to him, the two dogs referred
to were members of this council, two
hounds of doubtful pedigree, who
looked as dejected and cadaverous as
only dogs of their species can.
"As far as I knows," continued
Jerry, "Bill ain't got no dog in his
pack as can start a trail better'n old
Deal, and as for Fashion, she hev a
cold nose for game and can't be beat
in these parts, yer can see for your
self she's built like a deer, she don't
touch the ground nowhere's when
she sights the game."
Old Deal and Fashion, In the man
ner of hounds, understanding this eu
logy, hung their heads still lower
until their long ears fairly covered
their eyes, while they beat a tattoo
of appreciation with their tails upon
the sandy ground. Lode was moved
by his father's enthusiasm, and add
ed:
"It ain't no use trying to judge of
this pot licker Stock, ez they're called,
by looks. Old Deal ain't no beauty,
but he hev the grit, his figger ain't
nothin' to brag on, but he is a power
ful starter, fur sure, and Fashion, a
settin' there, I hey known her to fol
low a trail as has been cold for two
days." At this point of the diagnosis
of the canine characteristics , old
Fashion raised her voice in a pro
longed howl as if to join in the dis
course, or in remembrance of the
"cold trail" referred to.
John Morrison had the eye of a
sportsman and did not disdain to
study the points of "pot licker stock,"
as the hybrid hounds of the country
are called. To one fond of hunting a
dog is always an object of interest.
"I have two English fox hounds up
at my camp; they are excellent Jeer
dogs. While I am in the neighborhood
I would like to join in your hunts.
My dogs are thoroughbreds, of the
famous strain of the Walker dogs of
Kentucky. I think a great deal of
them."
Lode looked with Increased inter
est at the stranger, as he rose to
leave, and joined his father in offers
of hospitality and urged him to re
turn and join the hunt on Saturday,
as they were sure to "jump the old
buck."
Morrison promised if possible to be
there with his dogs at sunrise. Jerry
escorted him across the clearing to
point out a "nigh cut" through the
woods to the bayou ford. 'Nervy
stood on the porch as he mounted his
horse. He lifted his hat with a smile
of acknowledgment and thanked her
for her share in his entertainment,
for which Jerry would accept no re
muneration, then rode away leaving
the girl looking wonderingly after
him and her father who walked be
side the rider with unwonted energy
in his step.
"I 'lowed somebody were comin'
when thet old red rooster crowed on
the steps this mornin'," she said.
PART II.
Minerva Dickson, whose clasical
name had been converted into the less
dignified abbreviation of "Nervy," set
out for the settlement store on Satur
day to do some "tradin'." This was
a rare event, and to her the store,
with its half a dozen loungers rumi*
nating on the rickety steps and gal
lery, its gaily colored lithograph in
the window on an Indian in war paint
drinking beer, its display of canned
fruit, its rows of bottles, and its stock
of prints seemed a very pretentiolns
place to her inexperienced eyes. She
was not often seen at the settlement,
and her presence excited some in*
terest.
"Hello! thar's Jerry Dixon's gal
comin' to the store," exclaimed one of
the outstanders as 'Nervy approach
ed; "it ain't often yer see her 'round
about these diggings."
"Howdy, 'Nervy; how's yer pa?"'
said the proprietor, Bill Hudson, a
gaunt man with vivid red suspenders
that supported a pair of gray jeans
pants that proclaimed to the general
public by their stiffness that they
were a recent acquisition to the wear
er's wardrobe.
"He's tolerable!" responded 'Nervy
returned the greeting, her eyes rest
ing admiringly on the touch of scar
let of her questioner's costume, "he
was right peart startin' on the hunt
this mornin'. Been powerful hoped
up since thet Mr. Morrison come down
t'other day. He went with 'em ahun
ain' today. Did yer see them dogs of
his'n?"
Somthing of a thrill of excitement
stirred the loungers; the one seeming
ly the most inert got up and leaned
against the doorway when 'Nervy
went inside.
"I ain't seen them dogs, but I

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